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Raffles

The Knees Of The Gods
I
"The worst of this war," said Raffles, "is the way it puts a fellow off his work."
It was, of course, the winter before last, and we had done nothing dreadful since
the early autumn. Undoubtedly the war was the cause. Not that we were among
the earlier victims of the fever. I took disgracefully little interest in the
Negotiations, while the Ultimatum appealed to Raffles as a sporting flutter. Then
we gave the whole thing till Christmas. We still missed the cricket in the papers.
But one russet afternoon we were in Richmond, and a terrible type was shouting
himself hoarse with "'Eavy British lorsses--orful slorter o' the Bo-wers! Orful
slorter! Orful slorter! 'Eavy British lorsses!" I thought the terrible type had
invented it, but Raffles gave him more than he asked, and then I held the bicycle
while he tried to pronounce Eland's Laagte. We were never again without our
sheaf of evening papers, and Raffles ordered three morning ones, and I gave up
mine in spite of its literary page. We became strategists. We knew exactly what
Buller was to do on landing, and, still better, what the other Generals should have
done. Our map was the best that could be bought, with flags that deserved a
better fate than standing still. Raffles woke me to hear "The Absent-Minded
Beggar" on the morning it appeared; he was one of the first substantial
subscribers to the fund. By this time our dear landlady was more excited than we.
To our enthusiasm for Thomas she added a personal bitterness against the Wild
Boars, as she persisted in calling them, each time as though it were the first. I
could linger over our landlady's attitude in the whole matter. That was her only
joke about it, and the true humorist never smiled at it herself. But you had only to
say a syllable for a venerable gentleman, declared by her to be at the bottom of it
all, to hear what she could do to him if she caught him. She could put him in a
cage and go on tour with him, and make him howl and dance for his food like a
debased bear before a fresh audience every day. Yet a more kind-hearted
 
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