The Amateur Cracksman
A Costume Piece
London was just then talking of one whose name is already a name and
nothing more. Reuben Rosenthall had made his millions on the diamond fields
of South Africa, and had come home to enjoy them according to his lights;
how he went to work will scarcely be forgotten by any reader of the
halfpenny evening papers, which revelled in endless anecdotes of his original
indigence and present prodigality, varied with interesting particulars of the
extraordinary establishment which the millionaire set up in St. John's Wood.
Here he kept a retinue of Kaffirs, who were literally his slaves; and hence he
would sally, with enormous diamonds in his shirt and on his finger, in the
convoy of a prize-fighter of heinous repute, who was not, however, by any
means the worst element in the Rosenthall melange. So said common gossip;
but the fact was sufficiently established by the interference of the police on at
least one occasion, followed by certain magisterial proceedings which were
reported with justifiable gusto and huge headlines in the newspapers
And this was all one knew of Reuben Rosenthall up to the time when the Old
Bohemian Club, having fallen on evil days, found it worth its while to organize
a great dinner in honor of so wealthy an exponent of the club's principles. I
was not at the banquet myself, but a member took Raffles, who told me all
about it that very night.
"Most extraordinary show I ever went to in my life," said he. "As for the man
himself--well, I was prepared for something grotesque, but the fellow fairly
took my breath away. To begin with, he's the most astounding brute to look
at, well over six feet, with a chest like a barrel, and a great hook-nose, and
the reddest hair and whiskers you ever saw. Drank like a fire-engine, but only
got drunk enough to make us a speech that I wouldn't have missed for ten
pounds. I'm only sorry you weren't there, too, Bunny, old chap."
I began to be sorry myself, for Raffles was anything but an excitable person,
and never had I seen him so excited before. Had he been following
Rosenthall's example? His coming to my rooms at midnight, merely to tell me
about his dinner, was in itself enough to excuse a suspicion which was
certainly at variance with my knowledge of A. J. Raffles.
"What did he say?" I inquired mechanically, divining some subtler explanation
of this visit, and wondering what on earth it could be.
"Say?" cried Raffles. "What did he not say! He boasted of his rise, he bragged
of his riches, and he blackguarded society for taking him up for his money
and dropping him out of sheer pique and jealousy because he had so much.
He mentioned names, too, with the most charming freedom, and swore he
was as good a man as the Old Country had to show--PACE the Old