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which would be double Dutch to you; moreover, I have still to test your
discretionary powers. I may say, however, that that poor gentleman
presents at once the most complex and most troublesome case, which is
responsibility enough without certain features which make it all but
insupportable. Beyond this I must refuse to discuss my patient for the
present; but I shall certainly go up if I can find time."

He went up within five minutes. I found him there on my return at
dusk. But he did not refuse my stall for the Lyceum, which Raffles
would not allow me to use myself, and presented to him off-hand without
my leave.

"And don't you bother any more about me till to-morrow," snapped the
high thin voice as he was off. "I can send for you now when I want
you, and I'm hoping to have a decent night for once."


III

It was half-past ten when we left the flat, in an interval of silence
on the noisy stairs. The silence was unbroken by our wary feet. Yet
for me a surprise was in store upon the very landing. Instead of going
downstairs, Raffles led me up two flights, and so out upon a perfectly
flat roof.

"There are two entrances to these mansions," he explained between stars
and chimney-stacks: "one to our staircase, and another round the
corner. But there's only one porter, and he lives on the basement
underneath us, and affects the door nearest home. We miss him by using
the wrong stairs, and we run less risk of old Theobald. I got the tip
from the postmen, who come up one way and down the other. Now, follow
me, and look out!"

There was indeed some necessity for caution, for each half of the
building had its L-shaped well dropping sheer to the base, the parapets
so low that one might easily have tripped over them into eternity.
However, we were soon upon the second staircase, which opened on the
roof like the first. And twenty minutes of the next twenty-five we
spent in an admirable hansom, skimming east.

"Not much change in the old hole, Bunny. More of these magic-lantern
advertisements ... and absolutely the worst bit of taste in town,
though it's saying something, in that equestrian statue with the gilt
stirrups and fixings; why don't they black the buffer's boots and his
horse's hoofs while they are about it? ... More bicyclists, of course.
That was just beginning, if you remember. It might have been useful to
us.... And there's the old club, getting put into a crate for the
Jubilee; by Jove, Bunny, we ought to be there. I wouldn't lean forward
in Piccadilly, old chap. If you're seen I'm thought of, and we shall
have to be jolly careful at Kellner's.... Ah, there it is! Did I tell
you I was a low-down stage Yankee at Kellner's? You'd better be
another, while the waiter's in the room."

We had the little room upstairs; and on the very threshold I, even I,
who knew my Raffles of old, was taken horribly aback. The table was
laid for three. I called his attention to it in a whisper.

"Why, yep!" came through his nose. "Say, boy, the lady, she's not
comin', but you leave that tackle where 'tis. If I'm liable to pay, I
guess I'll have all there is to it."

I have never been in America, and the American public is the last on
earth that I desire to insult; but idiom and intonation alike would
have imposed upon my inexperience. I had to look at Raffles to make
sure that it was he who spoke, and I had my own reasons for looking
hard.

"Who on earth was the lady?" I inquired aghast at the first opportunity.

"She isn't on earth. They don't like wasting this room on two, that's
all. Bunny - my Bunny - here's to us both!"

And we clinked glasses swimming with the liquid gold of Steinberg,
1868; but of the rare delights of that supper I can scarcely trust
myself to write. It was no mere meal, it was no coarse orgy, but a
little feast for the fastidious gods, not unworthy of Lucullus at his
worst. And I who had bolted my skilly at Wormwood Scrubbs, and
tightened my belt in a Holloway attic, it was I who sat down to this
ineffable repast! Where the courses were few, but each a triumph of
its kind, it would be invidious to single out any one dish; but the
Jambon de Westphalie au Champagne tempts me sorely. And then the
champagne that we drank, not the quantity but the quality! Well, it
was Pol Roger, '84, and quite good enough for me; but even so it was
not more dry, nor did it sparkle more, than the merry rascal who had
dragged me thus far to the devil, but should lead me dancing the rest
of the way. I was beginning to tell him so. I had done my honest best
since my reappearance in the world; but the world had done its worst
by me. A further antithesis and my final intention were both upon my
tongue when the waiter with the Chateau Margaux cut me short; for he
was the bearer of more than that great wine; bringing also a card upon
a silver tray.

"Show him up," said Raffles, laconically.

"And who is this?" I cried when the man was gone. Raffles reached
across the table and gripped my arm in a vice. His eyes were steel
points fixed on mine.

"Bunny, stand by me," said he in the old irresistible voice, a voice
both stern and winning. "Stand by me, Bunny - if there's a row!"

And there was time for nothing more, the door flying open, and a dapper
person entering with a bow; a frock-coat on his back, gold pince-nez on
his nose; a shiny hat in one hand, and a black bag in the other.

"Good-evening, gentlemen," said he, at home and smiling.

"Sit down," drawled Raffles in casual response. "Say, let me introduce
you to Mr. Ezra B. Martin, of Shicawgo. Mr. Martin is my future
brother-in-law. This is Mr. Robinson, Ezra, manager to Sparks &
Company, the cellerbrated joolers on Re-gent Street."

I pricked up my ears, but contented myself with a nod. I altogether
distrusted my ability to live up to my new name and address.

"I figured on Miss Martin bein' right here, too," continued Raffles,
"but I regret to say she's not feelin' so good. We light out for
Parrus on the 9 A. M. train to-morrer mornin', and she guessed she'd
be too dead. Sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Robinson; but you'll see I'm
advertisin' your wares."

Raffles held his right hand under the electric light, and a diamond
ring flashed upon his little finger. I could have sworn it was not
there five minutes before.

The tradesman had a disappointed face, but for a moment it brightened
as he expatiated on the value of that ring and on the price his people
had accepted for it. I was invited to guess the figure, but I shook a
discreet head. I have seldom been more taciturn in my life.

"Forty-five pounds," cried the jeweller; "and it would be cheap at
fifty guineas."

"That's right," assented Raffles. "That'd be dead cheap, I allow. But
then, my boy, you gotten ready cash, and don't you forget it."

I do not dwell upon my own mystification in all this. I merely pause
to state that I was keenly enjoying that very element. Nothing could
have been more typical of Raffles and the past. It was only my own
attitude that was changed.

It appeared that the mythical lady, my sister, had just become engaged
to Raffles, who seemed all anxiety to pin her down with gifts of
price. I could not quite gather whose gift to whom was the diamond
ring; but it had evidently been paid for; and I voyaged to the moon,
wondering when and how. I was recalled to this planet by a deluge of
gems from the jeweller's bag. They lay alight in their cases like the
electric lamps above. We all three put our heads together over them,
myself without the slightest clew as to what was coming, but not
unprepared for violent crime. One does not do eighteen months for
nothing.

"Right away," Raffles was saying. "We'll choose for her, and you'll
change anything she don't like. Is that the idea?"

"That was my suggestion, sir."

"Then come on, Ezra. I guess you know Sadie's taste. You help me
choose."

And we chose - lord! What did we not choose? There was her ring, a
diamond half-hoop. It cost L95, and there was no attempt to get it for
L90. Then there was a diamond necklet - two hundred guineas, but
pounds accepted. That was to be the gift of the bridegroom. The
wedding was evidently imminent. It behooved me to play a brotherly
part. I therefore rose to the occasion; calculated she would like a
diamond star (L116), but reckoned it was more than I could afford; and
sustained a vicious kick under the table for either verb. I was afraid
to open my mouth on finally obtaining the star for the round hundred.
And then the fat fell in the fire; for pay we could not; though a
remittance (said Raffles) was "overdo from Noo York."

"But I don't know you, gentlemen," the jeweller exclaimed. "I haven't
even the name of your hotel!"

"I told you we was stoppin' with friends," said Raffles, who was not
angry, though thwarted and crushed. "But that's right, sir! Oh, that's
dead right, and I'm the last man to ask you to take Quixotic risks.
I'm tryin' to figure a way out. Yes, SIR, that's what I'm tryin' to
do."

"I wish you could, sir," the jeweller said, with feeling. "It isn't as
if we hadn't seen the color of your money. But certain rules I'm
sworn to observe; it isn't as if I was in business for myself; and - you
say you start for Paris in the morning!"

"On the 9 A. M. train," mused Raffles; "and I've heard no-end yarns
about the joolers' stores in Parrus. But that ain't fair; don't you
take no notice o' that. I'm tryin' to figure a way out. Yes, SIR!"

He was smoking cigarettes out of a twenty-five box; the tradesman and I
had cigars. Raffles sat frowning with a pregnant eye, and it was only
too clear to me that his plans had miscarried. I could not help
thinking, however, that they deserved to do so, if he had counted upon
buying credit for all but L400 by a single payment of some ten per
cent. That again seemed unworthy of Raffles, and I, for my part, still
sat prepared to spring any moment at our visitor's throat.

"We could mail you the money from Parrus," drawled Raffles at length.
"But how should we know you'd hold up your end of the string, and mail
us the same articles we've selected to-night?"

The visitor stiffened in his chair. The name of his firm should be
sufficient guarantee for that.

"I guess I'm no better acquainted with their name than they are with
mine," remarked Raffles, laughing. "See here, though! I got a scheme.
You pack 'em in this!"

He turned the cigarettes out of the tin box, while the jeweller and I
joined wondering eyes.

"Pack 'em in this," repeated Raffles, "the three things we want, and
never mind the boxes; you can pack 'em in cotton-wool. Then we'll ring
for string and sealing wax, seal up the lot right here, and you can
take 'em away in your grip. Within three days we'll have our
remittance, and mail you the money, and you'll mail us this darned box
with my seal unbroken! It's no use you lookin' so sick, Mr. Jooler;
you won't trust us any, and yet we're goin' to trust you some. Ring
the bell, Ezra, and we'll see if they've gotten any sealing-wax and
string."

They had; and the thing was done. The tradesman did not like it; the
precaution was absolutely unnecessary; but since he was taking all his
goods away with him, the sold with the unsold, his sentimental
objections soon fell to the ground. He packed necklet, ring, and star,
with his own hands, in cotton-wool; and the cigarette-box held them so
easily that at the last moment, when the box was closed, and the string
ready, Raffles very nearly added a diamond bee-brooch at L51 10s. This
temptation, however, he ultimately overcame, to the other's chagrin.
The cigarette-box was tied up, and the string sealed, oddly enough,
with the diamond of the ring that had been bought and paid for.

"I'll chance you having another ring in the store the dead spit of
mine," laughed Raffles, as he relinquished the box, and it disappeared
into the tradesman's bag. "And now, Mr. Robinson, I hope you'll
appreciate my true hospitality in not offering you any thing to drink
while business was in progress. That's Chateau Margaux, sir, and I
should judge it's what you'd call an eighteen-carat article."

In the cab which we took to the vicinity of the flat, I was instantly
snubbed for asking questions which the driver might easily overhear,
and took the repulse just a little to heart. I could make neither
head nor tail of Raffles's dealings with the man from Regent Street,
and was naturally inquisitive as to the meaning of it all. But I held
my tongue until we had regained the flat in the cautious manner of our
exit, and even there until Raffles rallied me with a hand on either
shoulder and an old smile upon his face.

"You rabbit!" said he. "Why couldn't you wait till we got home?"

"Why couldn't you tell me what you were going to do?" I retorted as of
yore.

"Because your dear old phiz is still worth its weight in innocence, and
because you never could act for nuts! You looked as puzzled as the
other poor devil; but you wouldn't if you had known what my game really
was."

"And pray what was it?"

"That," said Raffles, and he smacked the cigarette-box down upon the
mantelpiece. It was not tied. It was not sealed. It flew open from
the force of the impact. And the diamond ring that cost L95, the
necklet for L200, and my flaming star at another L100, all three lay
safe and snug in the jeweller's own cotton-wool!

"Duplicate boxes!" I cried.

"Duplicate boxes, my brainy Bunny. One was already packed and
weighted, and in my pocket. I don't know whether you noticed me
weighing the three things together in my hand? I know that neither of
you saw me change the boxes, for I did it when I was nearest buying the
bee-brooch at the end, and you were too puzzled, and the other Johnny
too keen. It was the cheapest shot in the game; the dear ones were
sending old Theobald to Southampton on a fool's errand yesterday
afternoon, and showing one's own nose down Regent Street in broad
daylight while he was gone; but some things are worth paying for, and
certain risks one must always take. Nice boxes, aren't they? I only
wished they contained a better cigarette; but a notorious brand was
essential; a box of Sullivans would have brought me to life to-morrow."

"But they oughtn't to open it to-morrow."

"Nor will they, as a matter of fact. Meanwhile, Bunny, I may call upon
you to dispose of the boodle."

"I'm on for any mortal thing!"

My voice rang true, I swear, but it was the way of Raffles to take the
evidence of as many senses as possible. I felt the cold steel of his
eyes through mine and through my brain. But what he saw seemed to
satisfy him no less than what he heard, for his hand found my hand, and
pressed it with a fervor foreign to the man.

"I know you are, and I knew you would be. Only remember, Bunny, it's
my turn next to pay the shot!"

You shall hear how he paid it when the time came.



A JUBILEE PRESENT

The Room of Gold, in the British Museum, is probably well enough known
to the inquiring alien and the travelled American. A true Londoner,
however, I myself had never heard of it until Raffles casually proposed
a raid.

"The older I grow, Bunny, the less I think of your so-called precious
stones. When did they ever bring in half their market value in L.s.d.
There was the first little crib we ever cracked together - you with
your innocent eyes shut. A thousand pounds that stuff was worth; but
how many hundreds did it actually fetch. The Ardagh emeralds weren't
much better; old Lady Melrose's necklace was far worse; but that little
lot the other night has about finished me. A cool hundred for goods
priced well over four; and L35 to come off for bait, since we only got
a tenner for the ring I bought and paid for like an ass. I'll be shot
if I ever touch a diamond again! Not if it was the Koh-I-noor; those
few whacking stones are too well known, and to cut them up is to
decrease their value by arithmetical retrogression. Besides, that
brings you up against the Fence once more, and I'm done with the
beggars for good and all. You talk about your editors and publishers,
you literary swine. Barabbas was neither a robber nor a publisher, but
a six-barred, barbed-wired, spike-topped Fence. What we really want is
an Incorporated Society of Thieves, with some public-spirited old
forger to run it for us on business lines."

Raffles uttered these blasphemies under his breath, not, I am afraid,
out of any respect for my one redeeming profession, but because we were
taking a midnight airing on the roof, after a whole day of June in the
little flat below. The stars shone overhead, the lights of London
underneath, and between the lips of Raffles a cigarette of the old and
only brand. I had sent in secret for a box of the best; the boon had
arrived that night; and the foregoing speech was the first result. I
could afford to ignore the insolent asides, however, where the apparent
contention was so manifestly unsound.

"And how are you going to get rid of your gold?" said I, pertinently.

"Nothing easier, my dear rabbit."

"Is your Room of Gold a roomful of sovereigns?"

Raffles laughed softly at my scorn.

"No, Bunny, it's principally in the shape of archaic ornaments, whose
value, I admit, is largely extrinsic. But gold is gold, from
Phoenicia to Klondike, and if we cleared the room we should eventually
do very well."

"How?"

"I should melt it down into a nugget, and bring it home from the U.S.A.
to-morrow."

"And then?"

"Make them pay up in hard cash across the counter of the Bank of
England. And you CAN make them."

That I knew, and so said nothing for a time, remaining a hostile though
a silent critic, while we paced the cool black leads with our bare
feet, softly as cats.

"And how do you propose to get enough away," at length I asked, "to
make it worth while?"

"Ah, there you have it," said Raffles. "I only propose to reconnoitre
the ground, to see what we can see. We might find some hiding-place
for a night; that, I am afraid, would be our only chance."

"Have you ever been there before?"

"Not since they got the one good, portable piece which I believe that
they exhibit now. It's a long time since I read of it - I can't
remember where - but I know they have got a gold cup of sorts worth
several thousands. A number of the immorally rich clubbed together
and presented it to the nation; and two of the richly immoral intend to
snaffle it for themselves. At any rate we might go and have a look at
it, Bunny, don't you think?"

Think! I seized his arm.

"When? When? When?" I asked, like a quick-firing gun.

"The sooner the better, while old Theobald's away on his honeymoon."

Our medico had married the week before, nor was any fellow-practitioner
taking his work - at least not that considerable branch of it which
consisted of Raffles - during his brief absence from town. There were
reasons, delightfully obvious to us, why such a plan would have been
highly unwise in Dr. Theobald. I, however, was sending him daily
screeds, and both matutinal and nocturnal telegrams, the composition of
which afforded Raffles not a little enjoyment.

"Well, then, when - when?" I began to repeat.

"To-morrow, if you like."

"Only to look?"

The limitation was my one regret.

"We must do so, Bunny, before we leap."

"Very well," I sighed. "But to-morrow it is!"

And the morrow it really was.

I saw the porter that night, and, I still think, bought his absolute
allegiance for the second coin of the realm. My story, however,
invented by Raffles, was sufficiently specious in itself. That sick
gentleman, Mr. Maturin (as I had to remember to call him), was really,
or apparently, sickening for fresh air. Dr. Theobald would allow him
none; he was pestering me for just one day in the country while the
glorious weather lasted. I was myself convinced that no possible harm
could come of the experiment. Would the porter help me in so innocent
and meritorious an intrigue? The man hesitated. I produced my
half-sovereign. The man was lost. And at half-past eight next
morning - before the heat of the day - Raffles and I drove to Kew Gardens
in a hired landau which was to call for us at mid-day and wait until we
came. The porter had assisted me to carry my invalid downstairs, in a
carrying-chair hired (like the landau) from Harrod's Stores for the
occasion.

It was little after nine when we crawled together into the gardens; by
half-past my invalid had had enough, and out he tottered on my arm; a
cab, a message to our coachman, a timely train to Baker Street,
another cab, and we were at the British Museum - brisk pedestrians
now - not very many minutes after the opening hour of 10 A.M.

It was one of those glowing days which will not be forgotten by many
who were in town at the time. The Diamond Jubilee was upon us, and
Queen's weather had already set in. Raffles, indeed, declared it was
as hot as Italy and Australia put together; and certainly the short
summer nights gave the channels of wood and asphalt and the continents
of brick and mortar but little time to cool. At the British Museum the
pigeons were crooning among the shadows of the grimy colonnade, and the
stalwart janitors looked less stalwart than usual, as though their
medals were too heavy for them. I recognized some habitual Readers
going to their labor underneath the dome; of mere visitors we seemed
among the first.

"That's the room," said Raffles, who had bought the two-penny guide, as
we studied it openly on the nearest bench; "number 43, upstairs and
sharp round to the right. Come on, Bunny!"

And he led the way in silence, but with a long methodical stride which
I could not understand until we came to the corridor leading to the
Room of Gold, when he turned to me for a moment.

"A hundred and thirty-nine yards from this to the open street," said
Raffles, "not counting the stairs. I suppose we COULD do it in twenty
seconds, but if we did we should have to jump the gates. No, you must
remember to loaf out at slow march, Bunny, whether you like it or not."

"But you talked about a hiding-place for a night?"

"Quite so - for all night. We should have to get back, go on lying low,
and saunter out with the crowd next day - after doing the whole show
thoroughly."

"What! With gold in our pockets - "

"And gold in our boots, and gold up the sleeves and legs of our suits!
You leave that to me, Bunny, and wait till you've tried two pairs of
trousers sewn together at the foot! This is only a preliminary
reconnoitre. And here we are."

It is none of my business to describe the so-called Room of Gold, with
which I, for one, was not a little disappointed. The glass cases,
which both fill and line it, may contain unique examples of the
goldsmith's art in times and places of which one heard quite enough in
the course of one's classical education; but, from a professional point
of view, I would as lief have the ransacking of a single window in the
West End as the pick of all those spoils of Etruria and of ancient
Greece. The gold may not be so soft as it appears, but it certainly
looks as though you could bite off the business ends of the spoons, and
stop your own teeth in doing so. Nor should I care to be seen wearing
one of the rings; but the greatest fraud of all (from the aforesaid
standpoint) is assuredly that very cup of which Raffles had spoken.
Moreover, he felt this himself.

"Why, it's as thin as paper," said he, "and enamelled like a
middle-aged lady of quality! But, by Jove, it's one of the most
beautiful things I ever saw in my life, Bunny. I should like to have
it for its own sake, by all my gods!"

The thing had a little square case of plate-glass all to itself at one
end of the room. It may have been the thing of beauty that Raffles
affected to consider it, but I for my part was in no mood to look at it
in that light. Underneath were the names of the plutocrats who had
subscribed for this national gewgaw, and I fell to wondering where
their L8,000 came in, while Raffles devoured his two-penny guide-book
as greedily as a school-girl with a zeal for culture.

"Those are scenes from the martyrdom of St. Agnes," said he ...
"'translucent on relief ... one of the finest specimens of its kind.'
I should think it was! Bunny, you Philistine, why can't you admire the
thing for its own sake? It would be worth having only to live up to!
There never was such rich enamelling on such thin gold; and what a good


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