A Thief in the Night
A Trap to Catch a Cracksman
I was just putting out my light when the telephone rang a furious tocsin in the
next room. I flounced out of bed more asleep than awake; in another minute I
should have been past ringing up. It was one o'clock in the morning, and I had
been dining with Swigger Morrison at his club.
"That you, Bunny?"
"Yes - are you Raffles?"
"What's left of me! Bunny, I want you - quick."
And even over the wire his voice was faint with anxiety and apprehension.
"What on earth has happened?"
"Don't ask! You never know - "
"I'll come at once. Are you there, Raffles?"
"Are you there, man?"
"Ye - e - es."
"At the Albany?"
"No, no; at Maguire's."
"You never said so. And where's Maguire?"
"In Half-moon Street."
"I know that. Is he there now?"
"No - not come in yet - and I'm caught."
"In that trap he bragged about. It serves me right. I didn't believe in it. But I'm
caught at last ... caught ... at last!"
"When he told us he set it every night! Oh, Raffles, what sort of a trap is it? What
shall I do? What shall I bring?"
But his voice had grown fainter and wearier with every answer, and now there
was no answer at all. Again and again I asked Raffles if he was there; the only
sound to reach me in reply was the low metallic hum of the live wire between his
ear and mine. And then, as I sat gazing distractedly at my four safe walls, with
the receiver still pressed to my head, there came a single groan, followed by the
dull and dreadful crash of a human body falling in a heap.
In utter panic I rushed back into my bedroom, and flung myself into the crumpled
shirt and evening clothes that lay where I had cast them off. But I knew no more
what I was doing than what to do next I afterward found that I had taken out a
fresh tie, and tied it rather better than usual; but I can remember thinking of
nothing but Raffles in some diabolical man-trap, and of a grinning monster
stealing in to strike him senseless with one murderous blow. I must have looked
in the glass to array myself as I did; but the mind's eye was the seeing eye, and it
was filled with this frightful vision of the notorious pugilist known to fame and
infamy as Barney Maguire.