Part 4 out of 4
the end. "He's been playing me false all the time, and he's got to
pay for it."
"But you never meant to make anything out of him, A.J.!"
"Well, I do now, and I've told you why. Why shouldn't I?"
"Because it's not your game!" I cried, with all the eager persuasion in
my power. "Because it's the sort of thing Dan Levy would do
himself--it's _his_ game, all right--it simply drags you down to his
But there he stopped me with a look, and not the kind of look I often had
from Raffles, It was no new feat of mine to make him angry, scornful,
bitterly cynical or sarcastic. This, however, was a look of pain and even
shame, as though he had suddenly seen himself in a new and peculiarly
"Down to it!" he exclaimed, with an irony that was not for me. "As though
there could be a much lower level than mine! Do you know, Bunny, I
sometimes think my moral sense is ahead of yours?"
I could have laughed outright; but the humour that was the salt of him
seemed suddenly to have gone out of Raffles.
"I know what I am," said he, "but I'm afraid you're getting a hopeless
"It's not the villain I care about," I answered, meaning every word.
"It's the sportsman behind the villain, as you know perfectly well."
"I know the villain behind the sportsman rather better," replied Raffles,
laughing when I least expected it. "But you're by way of forgetting his
existence altogether. I shouldn't wonder if some day you wrote me up
into a heavy hero, Bunny, and made me turn in my quicklime! Let this
remind you what I always was and shall be to the end."
And he took my hand, as I fondly hoped in surrender to my appeal to those
better feelings which I knew I had for once succeeded in quickening
But it was only to bid me a mischievous goodbye, ere he ran down the
spiral stair, leaving me to listen till I lost his feathery foot-falls in
the base of the tower, and then to mount guard over my tethered,
handcuffed, somnolent, and yet always formidable prisoner at the top.
Watch and Ward
I well remember, as I set reluctant foot upon the wooden stair, taking a
last and somewhat lingering look at the dust and dirt of the lower
chamber, as one who knew not what might happen before he saw it again.
The stain as of red rust in the lavatory basin, the gritty deposit in the
bath, the verdigris on all the taps, the foul opacity of the windows, are
among the trivialities that somehow stamped themselves upon my mind. One
of the windows was open at the top, had been so long open that the
aperture was curtained with cobwebs at each extremity, but in between I
got quite a poignant picture of the Thames as I went upstairs. It was
only a sinuous perspective of sunlit ripples twinkling between wooded
gardens and open meadows, a fisherman or two upon the tow-path, a canoe
in mid-stream, a gaunt church crowning all against the sky. But inset in
such surroundings it was like a flash from a magic-lantern in a
coal-cellar. And very loth was I to exchange that sunny peep for an
indefinite prospect of my prisoner's person at close quarters.
Yet the first stage of my vigil proved such a sinecure as to give me
some confidence for all the rest. Dan Levy opened neither his lips nor
his eyes at my approach, but lay on his back with the Red Ensign drawn
up to his chin, and the peaceful countenance of profound oblivion. I
remember taking a good look at him, and thinking that his face improved
remarkably in repose, that in death he might look fine. The forehead was
higher and broader than I had realised, the thick lips were firm enough
now, but the closing of the crafty little eyes was the greatest gain of
all. On the whole, not only a better but a stronger face than it had
been all the morning, a more formidable face by far. But the man had
fallen asleep in his bonds, and forgotten them; he would wake up abject
enough; if not, I had the means to reduce him to docility. Meanwhile, I
was in no hurry to show my power, but stole on tiptoe to the locker, and
took my seat by inches.
Levy did not move a muscle. No sound escaped him either, and somehow or
other I should have expected him to snore; indeed, it might have come as
a relief, for the silence of the tower soon got upon my nerves. It was
not a complete silence; that was (and always is) the worst of it. The
wooden stairs creaked more than once; there were little rattlings, faint
and distant, as of a dried leaf or a loose window, in the bowels of the
house; and though nothing came of any of these noises, except a fresh
period of tension on my part, they made the skin act on my forehead every
time. Then I remember a real anxiety over a blue-bottle, that must have
come in through the open window just below, for suddenly it buzzed into
my ken and looked like attacking Levy on the spot. Somehow I slew it with
less noise than the brute itself was making; and not until after that
breathless achievement did I realise how anxious I was to keep my
prisoner asleep. Yet I had the revolver, and he lay handcuffed and bound
down! It was in the next long silence that I became sensitive to another
sound which indeed I had heard at intervals already, only to dismiss it
from my mind as one of the signs of extraneous life which were bound to
penetrate even to the top of my tower. It was a slow and regular beat, as
of a sledge-hammer in a distant forge, or some sort of machinery only
audible when there was absolutely nothing else to be heard. It could
hardly be near at hand, for I could not hear it properly unless I held my
breath. Then, however, it was always there, a sound that never ceased or
altered, so that in the end I sat and listened to it and nothing else. I
was not even looking at Levy when he asked me if I knew what it was.
His voice was quiet and civil enough, but it undoubtedly made me jump,
and that brought a malicious twinkle into the little eyes that looked as
though they had been studying me at their leisure. They were perhaps less
violently bloodshot than before, the massive features calm and strong as
they had been in slumber or its artful counterfeit.
"I thought you were asleep?" I snapped, and knew better for certain
before he spoke.
"You see, that pint o' pop did me prouder than intended," he explained.
"It's made a new man o' me, you'll be sorry to 'ear."
I should have been sorrier to believe it, but I did not say so, or
anything else just then. The dull and distant beat came back to the ear.
And Levy again inquired if I knew what it was.
"Do you?" I demanded.
"Rather!" he replied, with cheerful certitude. "It's the clock, of
"The one on the tower, a bit lower down, facing the road."
"How do _you_ know?" I demanded, with uneasy credulity.
"My good young man," said Dan Levy, "I know the face of that clock as
well as I know the inside of this tower."
"Then you do know where you are!" I cried, in such surprise that Levy
grinned in a way that ill became a captive.
"Why," said he, "I sold the last tenant up, and nearly took the 'ouse
myself instead o' the place I got. It was what first attracted me to the
"Why couldn't you tell us the truth before?" I demanded, but my warmth
merely broadened his grin.
"Why should I? It sometimes pays to seem more at a loss than you are."
"It won't in this case," said I through my teeth. But for all my
austerity, and all his bonds, the prisoner continued to regard me with
quiet but most disquieting amusement.
"I'm not so sure of that," he observed at length. "It rather paid, to my
way of thinking, when Raffles went off to cash my cheque, and left you to
keep an eye on me."
"Oh, did it!" said I, with pregnant emphasis, and my right hand found
comfort in my jacket pocket, on the butt of the old brute's own weapon.
"I only mean," he rejoined, in a more conciliatory voice, "that you
strike me as being more open to reason than your flash friend."
I said nothing to that.
"On the other 'and," continued Levy, still more deliberately, as though
he really was comparing us in his mind; "on the other _hand_" stooping to
pick up what he had dropped, "you don't take so many risks. Raffles takes
so many that he's bound to land you both in the jug some day, if he
hasn't done it this time. I believe he has, myself. But it's no use
hollering before you're out o' the wood."
I agreed, with more confidence than I felt.
"Yet I wonder he never thought of it," my prisoner went on as if
"Thought of what?"
"Only the clock. He must've seen it before, if you never did; you don't
tell me this little bit o' kidnapping was a sudden idea! It's all been
thought out and the ground gone over, and the clock seen, as I say. Seen
going. Yet it never strikes our flash friend that a going clock's got to
be wound up once a week, and it might be as well to find out which day!"
"How do you know he didn't?"
"Because this 'appens to be the day!"
And Levy lay back in the bunk with the internal chuckle that I was
beginning to know so well, but had little thought to hear from him in his
present predicament. It galled me the more because I felt that Raffles
would certainly not have heard it in my place. But at least I had the
satisfaction of flatly and profanely refusing to believe the prisoner's
"That be blowed for a bluff!" was more or less what I said. "It's too
much of a coincidence to be anything else."
"The odds are only six to one against it," said Levy, indifferently. "One
of you takes them with his eyes open. It seems rather a pity that the
other should feel bound to follow him to certain ruin. But I suppose you
know your own business best."
"At all events," I boasted, "I know better than to be bluffed by the most
obvious lie I ever heard in my life. You tell me how you know about the
man coming to wind the clock, and I may listen to you."
"I know because I know the man; little Scotchman he is, nothing to run
away from--though he looks as hard as nails--what there is of him," said
Levy, in a circumstantial and impartial flow that could not but carry
some conviction. "He comes over from Kingston every Tuesday on his bike;
some time before lunch he comes, and sees to my own clocks on the same
trip. That's how I know. But you needn't believe me if you don't like."
"And where exactly does he come to wind this clock? I see nothing that
can possibly have to do with it up here."
"No," said Levy; "he comes no higher than the floor below." I seemed to
remember a kind of cupboard at the head of the spiral stair. "But that's
"You mean that we shall hear him?"
"And he us!" added Levy, with unmistakable determination.
"Look here, Mr. Levy," said I, showing him his own revolver, "if we do
hear anybody, I shall hold this to your head, and if he does hear us I
shall blow out your beastly brains!"
The mere feeling that I was, perhaps, the last person capable of any such
deed enabled me to grind out this shocking threat in a voice worthy of
it, and with a face, I hoped, not less in keeping. It was all the more
mortifying when Dan Levy treated my tragedy as farce; in fact, if
anything could have made me as bad as my word, it would have been the
guttural laugh with which he greeted it.
"Excuse me," said he, dabbing his red eyes with the edge of the red
bunting, "but the thought of your letting that thing off in order to
preserve silence--why, it's as droll as your whole attempt to play the
"I shall play him to some purpose," I hissed, "if you drive me to it. I
laid you out last night, remember, and for two pins I'll do the same
thing again this morning. So now you know."
"That wasn't in cold blood," said Levy, rolling his head from side to
side; "that was when the lot of us were brawling in our cups. I don't
count that. You're in a false position, my dear sir. I don't mean last
night or this morning--though I can see that you're no brigand or
blackmailer at bottom--and I shouldn't wonder if you never forgave
Raffles for letting you in for this partic'lar part of this partic'lar
job. But that isn't what I mean. You've got in with a villain, but you
ain't one yourself; that's where you're in the false position. He's
the magsman, you're only the swell. _I_ can see that. But the judge
won't. You'll both get served the same, and in your case it'll be a
He had propped himself on one elbow, and was speaking eagerly,
persuasively, with almost a fatherly solicitude; yet I felt that both his
words and their effect on me were being weighed and measured with
meticulous discretion. And I encouraged him with a countenance as
deliberately rueful and depressed, to an end which had only occurred to
me with the significance of his altered tone.
"I can't help it," I muttered. "I must go through with the whole
"Why must you?" demanded Levy. "You've been led into a job that's none of
your business, on be'alf of folks who're no friends of yours, and the
job's developed into a serious crime, and the crime's going to be found
out before you're an hour older. Why go through with it to certain quod?"
"There's nothing else for it," I answered, with a sulky resignation,
though my pulse was quick with eagerness for what I felt was coming.
And then it came.
"Why not get out of the whole thing," suggested Levy, boldly, "before
it's too late?"
"How can I?" said I, to lead him on with a more explicit proposition.
"By first releasing me, and then clearing out yourself!"
I looked at him as though this was certainly an idea, as though I were
actually considering it in spite of myself and Raffles; and his eagerness
fed upon my apparent indecision. He held up his fettered hands, begging
and cajoling me to remove his handcuffs, and I, instead of telling him it
was not in my power to do so until Raffles returned, pretended to
hesitate on quite different grounds.
"It's all very well," I said, "but are you going to make it worth
"Certainly!" cried he. "Give me my chequebook out of my own pocket, where
you were good enough to stow it before that blackguard left, and I'll
write you one cheque for a hundred now, and another for another hundred
before I leave this tower."
"You really will?" I temporised.
"I swear it!" he asseverated; and I still believe he might have kept his
word about that. But now I knew where he _had_ been lying to me, and now
was the time to let him know I knew it.
"Two hundred pounds," said I, "for the liberty you are bound to get for
nothing, as you yourself have pointed out, when the man turns up to wind
the clock? A couple of hundred to save less than a couple of hours?"
Levy changed colour as he saw his mistake, and his eyes flashed with
sudden fury; otherwise his self-command was only less admirable than his
presence of mind.
"It wasn't to save time," said he; "it was to save my face in the
neighbourhood. The well-known money-lender found bound and handcuffed in
an empty house! It means the first laugh at my expense, whoever has the
last laugh. But you're quite right; it wasn't worth two hundred golden
sovereigns. Let them laugh! At any rate you and your flash friend'll be
laughing on the wrong side of your mouths before the day's out. So that's
all there is to it, and you'd better start screwing up your courage if
you want to do me in! I did mean to give you another chance in life--but
by God I wouldn't now if you were to go down on your knees for one!"
Considering that he was bound and I was free, that I was armed and he
defenceless, there was perhaps more humour than the prisoner saw in his
picture of me upon my knees to him. Not that I saw it all at once myself.
I was too busy wondering whether there could be anything in his
clock-winding story after all. Certainly it was inconsistent with the big
bribe offered for his immediate freedom; but it was with something more
than mere adroitness that the money-lender had reconciled the two things.
In his place I should have been no less anxious to keep my humiliating
experience a secret from the world; with his means I could conceive
myself prepared to pay as dearly for such secrecy. On the other hand, if
his idea was to stop the huge cheque already given to Raffles, then there
was indeed no time to be lost, and the only wonder was that Levy should
have waited so long before making overtures to me.
Raffles had now been gone a very long time, as it seemed to me, but my
watch had run down, and the clock on the tower did not strike. Why they
kept it going at all was a mystery to me; but now that Dan Levy was lying
still again, with set teeth and inexorable eyes, I heard it beating out
the seconds more than ever like a distant sledgehammer, and sixty of
these I counted up into a minute of such portentous duration that what
had seemed many hours to me might easily have been less than one. I only
knew that the sun, which had begun by pouring in at one port-hole and out
at the other, which had bathed the prisoner in his bunk about the time of
his trial by Raffles, now crowned me with fire if I sat upon the locker,
and made its varnish sticky if I did not. The atmosphere of the place was
fast becoming unendurable in its unwholesome heat and sour stagnation. I
sat in my shirt-sleeves at the top of the stairs, where one got such air
as entered by the open window below. Levy had kicked off his covering of
scarlet bunting, with a sudden oath which must have been the only sound
within the tower for an hour at least; all the rest of the time he lay
with fettered fists clenched upon his breast, with fierce eyes fixed upon
the top of the bunk, and something about the whole man that I was forced
to watch, something indomitable and intensely alert, a curious suggestion
of smouldering fires on the point of leaping into flame.
I feared this man in my heart of hearts. I may as well admit it frankly.
It was not that he was twice my size, for I had the like advantage in
point of years; it was not that I had any reason to distrust the
strength of his bonds or the efficacy of the weapon in my possession. It
was a question of personality, not of material advantage or
disadvantage, or of physical fear at all. It was simply the spirit of
the man that dominated mine. I felt that my mere flesh and blood would
at any moment give a good account of his, as well they might with the
odds that were on my side. Yet that did not lessen the sense of subtle
and essential inferiority, which grew upon my nerves with almost every
minute of that endless morning, and made me long for the relief of
physical contest even on equal terms. I could have set the old ruffian
free, and thrown his revolver out of the window, and then said to him,
"Come on! Your weight against my age, and may the devil take the worse
man!" Instead, I must sit glaring at him to mask my qualms. And after
much thinking about the kind of conflict that could never be, in the end
came one of a less heroic but not less desperate type, before there was
time to think at all.
Levy had raised his head, ever so little, but yet enough for my
vigilance. I saw him listening. I listened too. And down below in the
core of the tower I heard, or thought I heard, a step like a feather, and
then after some moments another. But I had spent those moments in gazing
instinctively down the stair; it was the least rattle of the handcuffs
that brought my eyes like lightning back to the bunk; and there was Levy
with hollow palms about his mouth, and his mouth wide open for the roar
that my own palms stifled in his throat.
Indeed, I had leapt upon him once more like a fiend, and for an instant I
enjoyed a shameful advantage; it can hardly have lasted longer. The brute
first bit me through the hand, so that I carry his mark to this day;
then, with his own hands, he took me by the throat, and I thought that my
last moments were come. He squeezed so hard that I thought my windpipe
must burst, thought my eyes must leave their sockets. It was the grip of
a gorilla, and it was accompanied by a spate of curses and the grin of a
devil incarnate. All my dreams of equal combat had not prepared me for
superhuman power on his part, such utter impotence on mine. I tried to
wrench myself from his murderous clasp, and was nearly felled by the top
of the bunk. I hurled myself out sideways, and out he came after me,
tearing down the peg to which his handcuffs were tethered; that only gave
him the better grip upon my throat, and he never relaxed it for an
instant, scrambling to his feet when I staggered to mine, for by them
alone was he fast now to the banisters.
Meanwhile I was feeling in an empty pocket for his revolver, which had
fallen out as we struggled on the floor. I saw it there now with my
starting eyeballs, kicked about by our shuffling feet. I tried to make a
dive for it, but Levy had seen it also, and he kicked it through the
banisters without relaxing his murderous hold. I could have sworn
afterwards that I heard the weapon fall with a clatter on the wooden
stairs. But what I still remember hearing most distinctly (and feeling
hot upon my face) is the stertorous breathing that was unbroken by a
single syllable after the first few seconds.
It was a brutal encounter, not short and sharp like the one over-night,
but horribly protracted. Nor was all the brutality by any means on one
side; neither will I pretend that I was getting much more than my deserts
in the defeat that threatened to end in my extinction. Not for an instant
had my enemy loosened his deadly clutch, and now he had me penned against
the banisters, and my one hope was that they would give way before our
united weight, and precipitate us both into the room below. That would be
better than being slowly throttled, even if it were only a better death.
Other chance there was none, and I was actually trying to fling myself
over, beating the air with both hands wildly, when one of them closed
upon the butt of the revolver that I thought had been kicked into the
I was too far gone to realise that a miracle had happened--to be so much
as puzzled by it then. But I was not too far gone to use that revolver,
and to use it as I would have done on cool reflection. I thrust it under
my opponent's armpit, and I fired through into space. The report was
deafening. It did its work. Levy let go of me, and staggered back as
though I had really shot him. And that instant I was brandishing his
weapon in his face.
"You tried to shoot me! You tried to shoot me!" he gasped twice over
through a livid mask.
"No, I didn't!" I panted. "I tried to frighten you, and I jolly well
succeeded! But I'll shoot you like a dog if you don't get back to your
kennel and lie down."
He sat and gasped upon the side of the bunk. There was no more fight in
him. His very lips were blue. I put the pistol back in my pocket, and
retracted my threat in a sudden panic.
"There! It's your own fault if you so much as see it again," I promised
him, in a breathless disorder only second to his own.
"But you jolly nearly strangled me. And now we're a pretty pair!"
His hands grasped the edge of the bunk, and he leant his weight on them,
breathing very hard. It might have been an attack of asthma, or it might
have been a more serious seizure, but it was a case for stimulants if
ever I saw one, and in the nick of time I remembered the flask that
Raffles had left with me. It was the work of a very few seconds to pour
out a goodly ration, and of but another for Daniel Levy to toss off the
raw spirit like water. He was begging for more before I had helped
myself. And more I gave him in the end; for it was no small relief to me
to watch the leaden hue disappearing from the flabby face, and the
laboured breathing gradually subside, even if it meant a renewal of our
But all that was at an end; the man was shaken to the core by his
perfectly legitimate attempt at my destruction. He looked dreadfully old
and hideous as he got bodily back into the bunk of his own accord. There,
when I had yielded to his further importunities, and the flask was empty,
he fell at length into a sleep as genuine as the last was not; and I was
still watching over the poor devil, keeping the flies off him, and
sometimes fanning him with a flag, less perhaps from humane motives than
to keep him quiet as long as possible, when Raffles returned to light up
the tableau like a sinister sunbeam.
Raffles had had his own adventures in town, and I soon had reason to feel
thankful that I had not gone up instead of him. It seemed he had foreseen
from the first the possibility of trouble at the bank over a large and
absolutely open cheque. So he had gone first to the Chelsea studio in
which he played the painter who never painted but kept a whole wardrobe
of disguises for the models he never hired. Thence he had issued on this
occasion in the living image of a well-known military man about town who
was also well known to be a client of Dan Levy's. Raffles said the
cashier stared at him, but the cheque was cashed without a word. The
unfortunate part of it was that in returning to his cab he had
encountered an acquaintance both of his own and of the spendthrift
soldier, and had been greeted evidently in the latter capacity.
"It was a jolly difficult little moment, Bunny. I had to say there was
some mistake, and I had to remember to say it in a manner equally unlike
my own and the other beggar's! But all's well that ends well; and if
you'll do exactly what I tell you I think we may flatter ourselves that a
happy issue is at last in sight."
"What am I to do now?" I asked with some misgiving.
"Clear out of this, Bunny, and wait for me in town. You've done jolly
well, old fellow, and so have I in my own department of the game.
Everything's in order, down to those fifteen hundred guineas which are
now concealed about my person in as hard cash as I can carry. I've seen
old Garland and given him back his promissory note myself, with Levy's
undertaking about the mortgage. It was a pretty trying interview, as you
can understand; but I couldn't help wondering what the poor old boy would
say if he dreamt what sort of pressure I've been applying on his behalf!
Well, it's all over now except our several exits from the surreptitious
stage. I can't make mine without our sleeping partner, but you would
really simplify matters, Bunny, by not waiting for us."
There was a good deal to be said for such a course, though it went not a
little against my grain. Raffles had changed his clothes and had a bath
in town, to say nothing of his luncheon. I was by this time indescribably
dirty and dishevelled, besides feeling fairly famished now that mental
relief allowed a thought for one's lower man. Raffles had foreseen my
plight, and had actually prepared a way of escape for me by the front
door in broad daylight. I need not recapitulate the elaborate story he
had told the caretaking gardener across the road; but he had borrowed the
gardener's keys as a probable purchaser of the property, who had to meet
his builder and a business friend at the house during the course of the
afternoon. I was to be the builder, and in that capacity to give the
gardener an ingenious message calculated to leave Raffles and Levy in
uninterrupted possession until my return. And of course I was never to
return at all.
The whole thing seemed to me a super-subtle means to a far simpler end
than the one we had achieved by stealth in the dead of the previous
night. But it was Raffles all over and I ultimately acquiesced, on the
understanding that we were to meet again in the Albany at seven o'clock,
preparatory to dining somewhere in final celebration of the whole affair.
But much was to happen before seven o'clock, and it began happening. I
shook the dust of that derelict tower from my feet; for one of them trod
on something at the darkest point of the descent; and the thing went
tinkling down ahead on its own account, until it lay shimmering in the
light on a lower landing, where I picked it up.
Now I had not said much to Raffles about my hitherto inexplicable
experience with the revolver, when I thought it had gone through the
banisters, but found it afterwards in my hand. Raffles said it would not
have gone through, that I must have been all but over the banisters
myself when I grasped the butt as it protruded through them on the level
of the floor. This he said (like many another thing) as though it made an
end of the matter. But it was not the end of the matter in my own mind;
and now I could have told him what the explanation was, or at least to
what conclusion I had jumped. I had half a mind to climb all the way up
again on purpose to put him in the wrong upon the point. Then I
remembered how anxious he had seemed to get rid of me, and for other
reasons also I decided to let him wait a bit for his surprise.
Meanwhile my own plans were altered, and when I had delivered my
egregious message to the gardener across the road, I sought the nearest
shops on my way to the nearest station; and at one of the shops I got me
a clean collar, at another a tooth-brush; and all I did at the station
was to utilise my purchases in the course of such scanty toilet as the
lavatory accommodation would permit.
A few minutes later I was inquiring my way to a house which it took me
another twenty or twenty-five to find.
A Secret Service
This house also was on the river, but it was very small bricks-and-mortar
compared with the other two. One of a semi-detached couple built close to
the road, with narrow strips of garden to the river's brim, its dingy
stucco front and its green Venetian blinds conveyed no conceivable
attraction beyond that of a situation more likely to prove a drawback
three seasons out of the four. The wooden gate had not swung home behind
me before I was at the top of a somewhat dirty flight of steps,
contemplating blistered paint and ground glass fit for a bathroom window,
and listening to the last reverberations of an obsolete type of bell.
There was indeed something oppressively and yet prettily Victorian about
the riparian retreat to which Lady Laura Belsize had retired in her
It was not for Lady Laura that I asked, however, but for Miss Belsize,
and the almost slatternly maid really couldn't say whether Miss Belsize
was in or whether she wasn't. She might be in the garden, or she might
be on the river. Would I step inside and wait a minute? I would and did,
but it was more minutes than one that I was kept languishing in an
interior as dingy as the outside of the house. I had time to take the
whole thing in. There were massive remnants of deservedly unfashionable
furniture. The sofa I can still see in my mind's eye, and the steel
fire-irons, and the crystal chandelier. An aged and gigantic Broadwood
occupied nearly half the room; and in a cheap frame thereon, inviting all
sorts of comparisons and contrasts, stood a full-length portrait of
Camilla Belsize resplendent in contemporary court kit.
I was still studying that frankly barbaric paraphernalia--the feather,
the necklace, the coiled train--and wondering what noble kinsman had come
to the rescue for the great occasion, and why Camilla should have looked
so bored with her finery, when the door opened and she herself
entered--not even very smartly dressed--and looking anything but bored,
although I say it.
But she did seem astonished, anxious, indignant, reproachful, and to my
mind still more nervous and distressed, though this hardly showed through
the loopholes of her pride. And as for her white serge coat and skirt,
they looked as though they had seen considerable service on the river,
and I immediately perceived that one of the large enamel buttons was
missing from the coat.
Up to that moment, I may now confess, I had been suffering from no slight
nervous anxiety of my own. But all qualms were lost in sheer excitement
when I spoke.
"You may well wonder at this intrusion," I began. "But I thought this
must be yours, Miss Belsize."
And from my waistcoat pocket I produced the missing button of enamel.
"Where did you find it?" inquired Miss Belsize, with an admirably slight
increase of astonishment in voice and look. "And how did you know it was
mine?" came quickly in the next breath.
"I didn't know," I answered. "I guessed. It was the shot of my life!"
"But you don't say where you found it?"
"In an empty house not far from here."
She had held her breath; now I felt it like the lightest zephyr. And
quite unconsciously I had retained the enamel button.
"Well, Mr. Manders? I'm very much obliged to you. But may I have it
I returned her property. We had been staring at each other all the time.
I stared still harder as she repeated her perfunctory thanks.
"So it was you!" I said, and was sorry to see her looking purposely
puzzled at that, but thankful when the reckless light outshone all the
rest in those chameleon eyes of hers.
"Who did you think it was?" she asked me with a frosty little smile.
"I didn't know if it was anybody at all. I didn't know what to think,"
said I, quite candidly. "I simply found his pistol in my hand."
"Good!" she said grimly. "That makes it all the better."
"You saved my life."
"I thought you had taken his--and I'd collaborated!"
There was not a tremor in her voice; it was cautious, eager, daring,
intense, but absolutely her own voice now.
"No," I said, "I didn't shoot the fellow, but I made him think I had."
"You made me think so too, until I heard what you said to him."
"Yet you never made a sound yourself."
"I should think not! I made myself scarce instead."
"But, Miss Belsize, I shall go perfectly mad if you don't tell me how you
happened to be there at all!"
"Don't you think it's for you to tell me that about yourself
and--all of you?"
"Oh, I don't mind which of us fires first!" said I, excitedly.
"Then I will," she said at once, and took me to the dreadful sofa at the
inner end of the room, and sat down as though it were the most ordinary
experience she had to relate. Nor could I believe the things that had
really happened, and all so recently, as we talked them over in that
commonplace environment of faded gentility. There was a window behind us,
overlooking the ribbon of lawn and the cord of gravel, and the bunch of
willows that hedged them from the Thames. It all looked unreal to me,
unreal in its very realism as the scene of our incredible conversation.
"You know what happened the other afternoon--I mean the day they
couldn't play," began Miss Belsize, "because you were there; and though
you didn't stay to hear all that came out afterwards, I expect you know
everything now. Mr. Raffles would be sure to tell you; in fact, I heard
poor dear Mr. Garland give him leave. It's a dreadful story from every
point of view. Nobody comes out of it with flying colours, but what nice
person could cope with a horrid money-lender? Mr. Raffles, perhaps--if
you call him nice!"
I said that was about the worst thing I called him. I mentioned some of
the other things. Miss Belsize listened to them with exemplary patience.
"Well," she resumed, "he was quite nice about this. I will say that for
him. He said he knew Mr. Levy pretty well, and would see what could be
done. But he spoke like an executioner who was going to see what could be
done with the condemned man! And all the time I was wondering what had
been done already at Carlsbad--what exactly that horrid creature meant
when he was talking _at_ Mr. Raffles before us all. Well, of course, I
knew what he meant us to think he meant; but was there, could there be,
anything in it?"
Miss Belsize looked at me as though she expected an answer, only to stop
me the moment I opened my mouth to speak.
"I don't want to know, Mr. Manders! Of course you know all about Mr.
Raffles"--there was a touch of feeling in this--"but it's nothing to me,
though in this case I should certainly have been on his side. You said
yourself that it could only have been a practical joke, if there was
anything in it at all, and so I tried to think in spite of those horrid
men who were following him about at Lord's, even in spite of the way he
vanished with them after him. But he never came near the match
again--though he had travelled all the way from Carlsbad to see it! Why
had he ever been there? What had he really done there? And what could he
possibly do to rescue anybody from Mr. Levy, if he himself was already in
"You don't know Raffles," said I, promptly enough this time. "He never
was in any man's power for many minutes. I would back him to save the
most desperate situation you could devise."
"You mean by some desperate deed? That's what I feared," declared Miss
Belsize, rather strenuously. "Something really had happened at Carlsbad;
something worse was by way of happening next. For Teddy's sake," she
whispered, "and his poor father's!"
I agreed that old Raffles stuck at nothing for his friends, and Miss
Belsize again said that was what she had feared. Her tone had completely
altered about Raffles, as well it might. I thought it would have broken
with gratitude when she spoke of the unlucky father and son.
"And I was right!" she exclaimed, with that other kind of feeling to
which I found it harder to put a name. "I came home miserable from the
match on Saturday--"
"Though Teddy had done so well!" I was fool enough to interject.
"I couldn't help thinking about Mr. Raffles," replied Camilla, with a
flash of her frank eyes, "and wondering, and wondering, what had
happened. And then on Sunday I saw him on the river."
"He didn't tell me."
"He didn't know I recognised him; he was disguised--absolutely!" said
Camilla Belsize under her breath. "But he couldn't disguise himself from
me," she added as though glorying in her perspicacity.
"Did you tell him so, Miss Belsize?"
"Not I, indeed! I didn't speak to him; it was no business of mine. But
there he was, at the bottom of Mr. Levy's garden, having a good look at
the boathouse when nobody was about. Why? What could his object be? And
why disguise himself? I thought of the affair at Carlsbad, and I felt
certain that something of the kind was going to happen again!"
"What could I do? Should I do anything at all? Was it any business of
mine? You may imagine the way I cross-questioned myself, and you may
imagine the crooked answers I got! I won't bore you with the psychology
of the thing; it's pretty obvious after all. It was not so much a case
of doing the best as of knowing the worst. All day yesterday there were
no developments of any sort, and there was no sign of Mr. Raffles;
nothing had happened in the night, or we should have heard of it; but
that made me all the more certain that something or other would happen
last night. The week's grace was nearly up--you know what I mean--their
last week at their own house. If anything was to be done, it was about
time, and I knew Mr. Raffles was going to do something. I wanted to know
what--that was all."
"Quite right, too!" I murmured. But I doubt if Miss Belsize heard me; she
was in no need of my encouragement or my approval. The old light--her own
light--the reckless light--was burning away in her brilliant eyes!
"The night before," she went on, "I hardly slept a wink; last night I
preferred not to go to bed at all. I told you I sometimes did weird
things that astonished the natives of these suburban shores. Well, last
night, if it wasn't early this morning, I made my weirdest effort yet. I
have a canoe, you know; just now I almost live in it. Last night I went
out unbeknowns after midnight, partly to reassure myself, partly--I beg
your pardon, Mr. Manders?"
"I didn't speak."
"Your face shouted!"
"I'd rather you went on."
"But if you know what I'm going to say?"
Of course I knew, but I dragged it from her none the less. The nebulous
white-shirted figure in the canoe, that had skimmed past Dan Levy's
frontage as we were trying to get him aboard his own pleasure-boat, and
again past the empty house when we were in the act of disembarking him
there, that figure was the trim and slim one now at my side. She had seen
us--searched for us--each time. Our voices she had heard and recognised;
only our actions, or rather that midnight deed of ours, had she
misinterpreted. She would not admit it to me, but I still believe she
feared it was a dead body that we had shipped at dead of night to hide
away in that desolate tower.
Yet I cannot think she thought it in her heart. I rather fancy (what she
indeed averred) that some vague inkling of the truth flashed across her
at least as often as that monstrous hypothesis. But know she must;
therefore, after boldly ascertaining that nothing was known of the
master's whereabouts at Levy's house, but that no uneasiness was
entertained on his account, this young woman, true to the audacity which
I had seen in her eyes from the first, had taken the still bolder step of
landing on the rank lawn and entering the empty tower to discover its
secret, for herself. Her stealthy step upon the spiral stair had been the
signal for my mortal struggle with Dan Levy. She had heard the whole, and
even seen a little of that; in fact, she had gathered enough from Levy's
horrible imprecations to form later a rough but not incorrect impression
of the situation between him and Raffles and me. As for the moneylender's
language, it was with a welcome gleam of humour that Miss Belsize assured
me she had "gone too straight to hounds" in her time to be as completely
paralysed by it as her mother's neighbours might have been. And as for
the revolver, it had fallen at her feet, and first she thought I was
going to follow it over the banisters, and before she could think again
she had restored the weapon to my wildly clutching hand!
"But when you fired I felt a murderess," she said. "So you see I
misjudged you for the second time."
If I am conveying a dash of flippancy in our talk, let me earnestly
declare that it was hardly even a dash. It was but a wry and rueful
humour on the girl's part, and that only towards the end, but I can
promise my worst critic that I was never less facetious in my life. I
was thinking in my heavy way that I had never looked into such eyes as
these, so bold, so sad, so merry with it all! I was thinking that I had
never listened to such a voice, or come across recklessness and
sentiment so harmonised, save also in her eyes! I was thinking that
there never was a girl to touch Camilla Belsize, or a man either except
A. J. Raffles! And yet--
And yet it was over Raffles that she took all the wind from my sails,
exactly as she had done at Lord's, only now she did it at parting, and
sent me off into the dusk a slightly puzzled and exceedingly
"Of course," said Camilla at her garden gate, "of course you won't repeat
a word of what I've told you, Mr. Manders?"
"You mean about your adventures last night and to-day?" said I, somewhat
"I mean every single thing we've talked about!" was her sweeping reply.
"Not a syllable must go an inch further; otherwise I shall be very sorry
I ever spoke to you."
As though she had come and confided in me of her own accord! But I
passed that, even if I noticed it at the time.
"I won't tell a soul, of course," I said, and fidgeted. "That
is--except--I suppose you don't mind--"
"I do! There must be no exceptions."
"Not even old Raffles?"
"Mr. Raffles least of all!" cried Camilla Belsize, with almost a forked
flash from those masterful eyes. "Mr. Raffles is the last person in the
world who must ever know a single thing."
"Not even that it was you who absolutely saved the situation for him and
me?" I asked, wistfully; for I much wanted these two to think better of
each other; and it had begun to look as though I had my wish, so far as
Camilla was concerned, while I had only to tell Raffles everything to
make him her slave for life. But now she was adamant on the point,
adamant heated in some hidden flame.
"It's rather hard lines on me, Mr. Manders, if because I go and get
excited, and twist off a button in my excitement, as I suppose I must
have done--unless it's a judgment on me--it's rather hard lines if you
give me away when I never should have given myself away to you!"
This was unkind. It was still more unfair in view of the former passage
between us to the same tune. I was evidently getting no credit for my
very irksome fidelity. I helped myself to some at once.
"You gave yourself away to me at Lord's all right," said I, cheerfully.
"And I never let out a word of that."
"Not even to Mr. Raffles?" she asked, with a quick unguarded intonation
that was almost wistful.
"Not a word," was my reply. "Raffles has no idea you noticed anything,
much less how keen you were for me to warn him."
Miss Belsize looked at me a moment with civil war in her splendid eyes.
Then something won--I think it was only her pride--and she was holding
out her hand.
"He must never know a word of this either," said she, firmly as at first.
"And I hope you'll forgive me for not trusting you quite as I always
shall for the future."
"I'll forgive you everything, Miss Belsize, except your dislike of dear
I had spoken quite earnestly, keeping her hand; she drew it away as I
made my point.
"I don't dislike him," she answered in a strange tone; but with a
stranger stress she added, "I don't _like_ him either."
And even then I could not see what the verb should have been, or why
Miss Belsize should turn away so quickly in the end, and snatch her eyes
away quicker still.
I saw them, and thought of her, all the way back to the station, but not
an inch further. So I need no sympathy on that score. If I did, it would
have been just the same that July evening, for I saw somebody else and
had something else to think about from the moment I set foot upon the
platform. It was the wrong platform. I was about to cross by the bridge
when a down train came rattling in, and out jumped a man I knew by sight
before it stopped.
The man was Mackenzie, the incorrigibly Scotch detective whom we had met
at Milchester Abbey, who I always thought had kept an eye on Raffles ever
since. He was across the platform before the train pulled up, and I did
what Raffles would have done in my place. I ran after him.
"Ye ken Dan Levy's hoose by the river?" I heard him babble to his
cabman, with wilful breadth of speech. "Then drive there, mon, like the
The Death of a Sinner
What was I to do? I knew what Raffles would have done; he would have
outstripped Mackenzie in his descent upon the moneylender, beaten the cab
on foot most probably, and dared Dan Levy to denounce him to the
detective. I could see a delicious situation, and Raffles conducting it
inimitably to a triumphant issue. But I was not Raffles, and what was
more I was due already at his chambers in the Albany. I must have been
talking to Miss Belsize by the hour together; to my horror I found it
close upon seven by the station clock; and it was some minutes past when
I plunged into the first up train. Waterloo was reached before eight, but
I was a good hour late at the Albany, and Raffles let me know it in his
shirt-sleeves from the window.
"I thought you were dead, Bunny!" he muttered down as though he wished I
were. I scaled his staircase at two or three bounds, and began all about
Mackenzie in the lobby.
"So soon!" says Raffles, with a mere lift of the eyebrows. "Well, thank
God, I was ready for him again."
I now saw that Raffles was not dressing, though he had changed his
clothes, and this surprised me for all my breathless preoccupation. But I
had the reason at a glance through the folding-doors into his bedroom.
The bed was cumbered with clothes and an open suit-case. A Gladstone bag
stood strapped and bulging; a travelling rug lay ready for rolling up,
and Raffles himself looked out of training in his travelling tweeds.
"Going away?" I ejaculated.
"Rather!" said he, folding a smoking jacket. "Isn't it about time after
what you've told me?"
"But you were packing before you knew!"
"Then for God's sake go and do the same yourself!" he cried, "and don't
ask questions now. I was beginning to pack enough for us both, but you'll
have time to shove in a shirt and collar of your own if you jump straight
into a hansom. I'll take the tickets, and we'll meet on the platform at
five to nine."
"What platform, Raffles?"
"Charing Cross. Continental train."
"But where the deuce do you think of going?"
"Australia, if you like! We'll discuss it in our flight across Europe."
"Our flight!" I repeated. "What has happened since I left you, Raffles?"
"Look here, Bunny, you go and pack!" was all my answer from a savage
face, as I was fairly driven to the door. "Do you realise that you were
due here one golden hour ago, and have I asked what happened to you? Then
don't you ask rotten questions that there's no time to answer. I'll tell
you everything in the train, Bunny."
And my name at the end in a different voice, and his hand for an instant
on my shoulder as I passed out, were my only consolation for his truly
terrifying behaviour, my only comfort and reassurance of any kind, until
we really were off by the night mail from Charing Cross.
Raffles was himself again by that time, I was thankful to find, nor did
he betray that dread or expectation of pursuit which would have tallied
with his previous manner. He merely looked relieved when the Embankment
lights ran right and left in our wake. I remember one of his remarks,
that they made the finest necklace in the world when all was said, and
another that Big Ben was the Koh-i-noor of the London lights. But he had
also a quizzical eye upon the paper bag from which I was endeavouring to
make a meal at last. And more than once he wagged his head with a
humorous admixture of reproof and sympathy; for with shamefaced
admissions and downcast pauses I was allowing him to suppose I had been
drinking at some riverside public-house instead of hurrying up to town,
but that the _rencontre_ with Mackenzie had served to sober me.
"Poor Bunny! We won't pursue the matter any further; but I do know where
we both should have been between seven and eight. It was as nice a little
dinner as I ever ordered in my life. And to think that we never turned up
to eat a bite of it!"
"Didn't _you_?" I queried, and my sense of guilt deepened to remorse as
Raffles shook his head.
"No fear, Bunny! I wanted to see you safe and sound. That was what made
me so stuffy when you did turn up."
Loud were my lamentations, and earnest my entreaties to Raffles to share
the contents of my paper bag; but not he. To replace such a feast as he
had ordered with sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs would be worse than
going healthily hungry for once; it was all very well for me who knew not
what I had missed. Not that Raffles was hungry by his own accounts; he
had merely fancied a little dinner, more after my heart than his, for
our last on British soil.
This, and the way he said it, brought me back to the heart of things; for
beneath his frothy phrases I felt that the wine of life was bitter to his
taste. His gayety now afforded no truer criterion to his real feelings
than had his petulance at the Albany. What had happened since our parting
in that fatal tower, to make this wild flight necessary without my news,
and whither in all earnest were we to fly?
"Oh, nothing!" said Raffles, in unsatisfactory answer to my first
question. "I thought you would have seen that we couldn't clear out too
soon after restoring poor Shylock, like our brethren in the song, 'to his
friends and his relations.'"
"But I thought you had something else for him to sign?"
"So I had, Bunny."
"What was that?"
"A plain statement of all he had suborned me to do for him, and what he
had given me for doing it," said Raffles, as he lit a Sullivan from his
last easeful. "One might almost call it a receipt for the letter I stole
and he destroyed."
"And did he sign that?"
"I insisted on it for our protection."
"Then we are protected, and yet we cut and run?"
Raffles shrugged his shoulders as we hurtled between the lighted
platforms of Herne Hill.
"There's no immunity from a clever cove like that, Bunny, unless you send
him to another world or put the thick of this one between you. He may
hold his tongue about the last twenty-four hours--I believe he will--but
that needn't prevent him from setting old Mackenzie to watch us day and
night. So we are not going to stay to be watched. We are starting off
round the world for a change. Before we get very far Mr. Shylock may be
in the jug himself; that accursed letter won't be the only incriminating
thing against him, you take my word. Then we can come back trailing
clouds of glory, and blowing clouds of Sullivan. Then we can have our
_secondes noces_--meaning second knocks, Bunny, and more power to our
elbows when we get them!"
But I was not convinced. There was something else at the bottom of this
sudden impulse and its inconceivably sudden execution. Why had he never
told me of this plan? Well, because it had never become one until after
the morning's work at Levy's bank, in itself a reason for being out of
the way, as I myself admitted. But he would have told me if only I had
turned up at seven: he had never meant to give me time for much packing,
added Raffles, as he was anxious that neither of us should leave the
impression that we had gone far afield.
I thought this was childish, and treating me like a child, to which,
however, I was used; but more than ever did I feel that Raffles was not
being frank with me, that he for one was making good his escape from
something or somebody besides Dan Levy. And in the end he admitted that
this was so. But we had not dashed through Sitting-bourne and Faversham
before I wormed my way to about the last discovery that I expected to
make concerning A. J. Raffles.
"What an inquisitor you are, Bunny!" said he, putting down an evening
paper that he had only just taken up. "Can't you see that this whole show
has been no ordinary one for me? I've been fighting for a crowd I rather
love. Their battle has got on my nerves as none of my own ever did; and
now it's won I honestly funk their gratitude as much as anything."
That was another hard saying to swallow; and yet, as Raffles said it, I
knew it to be true. He was looking me full in the face in the ample
light of the first-class compartment, which we of course had to
ourselves. Some softening influence seemed to have been at work upon
him; he looked resolute as ever, but full of regret, than which nothing
was rarer in A.J.
"I suppose," said I, "that poor old Garland has treated you to a pretty
good dose already?"
"Yes, Bunny; that he has."
"And well he may, and well may Teddy and Camilla Belsize!"
"But I couldn't do with it from them," said Raffles, with quite a bitter
little laugh. "Teddy wasn't there, of course; he's up north for that
rotten match the team play nowadays against Liverpool. But the game's
fizzling, he'll be home to-morrow, and I simply can't face him and his
Camilla. He'll be a married man before we see him again," added Raffles,
getting hold of his evening paper once more.
"Is that to come off so soon?"
"The sooner the better," said Raffles, strangely.
"You're not quite happy about it," said I, with execrable tact, I know,
and yet deliberately, because his view of this marriage had always
"I'm happy as long as they are," responded Raffles, not without a laugh
at his own meritorious sentiment. "I only wish," he sighed, "that they
were both absolutely worthy of each other!"
"And you don't think they are?"
"No, I don't."
"You think such a lot of young Garland?"
"I'm very fond of him, Bunny."
"But you see his faults?"
"I've always seen them; they're not full-fathom-five like mine!"
"Yet you think she's not good enough for him?"
"Not good enough--she?" and he stopped himself at that. But his voice
was enough for me; the unspoken antithesis was stronger than words
could have made it. Scales fell from my eyes. "Where on earth did you
get that idea?"
"I thought it was yours, A.J."
"You seemed to disapprove of the engagement from the first."
"So I did, after what poor Teddy had been up to in his extremity! I may
as well be honest about that now. It was all right in a pal of ours,
Bunny, but all wrong in the man who dreamt of marrying Camilla Belsize."
"Yet you have just been moving heaven and hell to make it possible for
them to marry after all!"
Raffles made another attempt upon his paper. I marvel now that he let me
catechise him as I was doing. But the truth had just dawned upon me, and
I simply had to see it whole as the risen sun, whereas Raffles seemed
under no such passionate necessity to keep it to himself.
"Teddy's all right," said he, inconsistently. "He'll never try anything
of the kind again; he's had a lesson for life. Besides, I don't often
take my hand from the plough, as you ought to know. Bunny. It was I who
brought those two together. But it was none of my mundane business to put
them asunder again."
"It was you who brought them together?" I repeated insidiously.
"More or less, Bunny. It was at some cricket week, if it wasn't two weeks
running; they were pals already, but she and I were greater pals before
the first week was over."
"And yet you didn't cut him out!"
"My dear Bunny, I should hope not."
"But you might have done, A.J.; don't tell me you couldn't if
Raffles played with his paper without replying. He was no coxcomb. But
neither would he ape an alien humility.
"It wouldn't have been the game, Bunny--won or lost--Teddy or no Teddy:
And yet," he added, with pensive candour, "we were getting on like a
semi-detached house on fire! I burnt my fingers, I don't mind telling
you; if I hadn't been what I am, Bunny, I might have taken my courage in
all ten of 'em, and 'put it to the touch, to win or lose it all.'"
"I wish you had," I whispered, as he studied his paper upside down.
"Why, Bunny? What rot you do talk!" he cried, but only with the skin-deep
irritation of a half-hearted displeasure.
"She's the only woman I ever met," I went on unguardedly, "who was your
mate at heart--in pluck--in temperament!"
"How the devil do you know?" cried Raffles, off his own guard now, and
staring in my guilty face.
But I have never denied that I could emulate his presence of mind
"You forget what a lot we saw of each other last Thursday in the rain."
"Did she talk about me then?"
"Had she her knife in me, Bunny?"
Raffles smiled stoically: it was a smile of duty done and odds
"Up to the hilt, Bunny, up to the hilt is what you mean. I stuck it in
for her. It's easily done, and it needed doing, for my sake if not for
hers. Sooner or later I should have choked her off, so the sooner the
better. You play them false, you cut a dance, you let them down over
something that doesn't matter, and they'll never give you a dog's chance
over anything that does! I got her to write and never answered. What do
you think of that for a cavalier swine? I said I'd call before I went
abroad, and only wired to say sorry I couldn't. I don't say it would or
could have been all right otherwise; but you see it was all right for
Teddy before I got back! Which was as it was to be. She would hardly look
at me at first last week; but, Bunny, she wasn't above looking when that
old Shylock was playing at giving me away before them all. She looked at
him, and she looked at me, and I've got one of the looks she gave him,
and another that she never meant me to see, bottled in my blackguard
Raffles looked dim to me across the narrow compartment; but there was
no nonsense in his look or voice. I longed to tell him all I knew, all
that she had said to me and he had unwittingly interpreted; that she
loved him, as now at last I knew she did; but I had given her my word,
and after all it was a word to keep for both their sakes as well as
for its own.
"You were made for each other, you two!"
That was all I said, and Raffles only laughed.
"All the more reason to hook it round the world, Bunny, before there's a
dog's chance of our meeting again."
He opened his paper the proper way up at last. The train rushed on with
flying sparks, and flying lights along the line. We were getting nearer
Dover now. My next brilliant remark was that I could "smell the sea."
Raffles let it pass; he had been talking of the close-of-play scores in
the stop-press column, and I thought he was studying them rather
silently. Or perhaps he was not studying them at all, but still thinking
of Camilla Belsize, and the look from those brave bright eyes that she
had never meant him to see. Then, suddenly, I perceived that his forehead
was glistening white and wet in the lamplight.
"What is it, Raffles? What's the matter?"
He reversed his paper with a shaky hand, and thrust it upon me without a
word, merely pointing out four or five ill-printed lines of latest news.
This was the item that danced before my eyes:
TRAGIC DEATH OF FAMOUS MONEYLENDER
Mr. Daniel Levy, the financier, reported shot dead at front gates of his
residence in Thames Valley at 5.30 this afternoon, by unknown man who
made good his escape.
I looked up into a ghastly face.
"It was half-past five when I left him, Bunny!"
"You left him--"
I could not ask it. But the ghastly face had given me a ghastlier
"As well as you are, Bunny!" so Raffles completed my sentence. "Do you
think I'd leave him for dead at his own gates?"
Of course I denied the thought; but it had come to haunt me none the
less; for if I had sailed so near such a deed, what about Raffles under
equal provocation? And what such motive for the very flight that we were
making with but a moment's preparation? It all fitted in, except the face
and voice of Raffles as they had been while he was speaking of Camilla
Belsize; but again, the fatal act would indeed have made him feel that he
had lost her, and loosened his tongue upon his loss as something had done
without doubt; and as for voice and face, there was no longer in either
any lack of the mad excitement of the hunted man.
"But what were you doing at his gates, A.J.?"
"I saw him home. It was on my way. Why not?"
"And you say you left him at half-past five?"
"I swear it. I looked at my watch, thinking of my train, and my watch is
"And you heard no shot as you went on?"
"No--I was hurrying. I even ran. I must have been seen running! And now
I'm like Charley's Aunt," he went on with his sardonic laugh, "and bound
to stick to it until they catch me by the leg. Now you know what
Mackenzie was doing down there! The old hound may be on my track already.
There's no going back now."
"Not for an innocent man?"
"Not for such dubious innocence as mine, Bunny! Remember all we've been
up to with poor old Levy for the last twenty-four hours."
He paused, remembering everything himself, as I could see; and the human
compassion in his face should have been sufficient answer to my vile
misgivings. But there was contrition in his look as well, and that was a
much rarer sign in Raffles. Rarer still was a glance of alarm almost akin
to panic, alike without precedent in my experience of my friend and
beyond belief in my reading of his character. But through all there
peeped a conscious enjoyment of these new sensations, a very zest in the
novelty of fear, which I knew to be at once signally characteristic, and
yet compatible either with his story or with my own base dread.
"Nobody need ever know about that," said I, with the certainty that
nobody ever would know through the one other who knew already. But
Raffles threw cold water upon that poor little flicker of confidence and
"It's bound to come out, Bunny. They'll start accounting for his last
hours on earth, and they'll stick ominously in the first five minutes
working backwards. Then I am described as bolting from the scene, then
identified with myself, then found to have fled the country! Then
Carlsbad, then our first row with him, then yesterday's big cheque; my
heavy double finds he was impersonated at the bank; it all comes out bit
by bit, and if I'm caught it means that dingy Old Bailey dock on the
"Then I'll be with you," said I, "as accessory before and after the fact.
That's one thing!"
"No, no, Bunny! You must shake me off and get back to town. I'll push
you out as we slow down through the streets of Dover, and you can put
up for the night at the Lord Warden. That's the sort of public place
for the likes of us to lie low in, Bunny. Don't forget all my rules
when I'm gone."
"You're not going without me, A.J."
"Not even if I did it, Bunny?"
"No; less than ever then!"
Raffles leant across and took my hand. There was a flash of mischief in
his eyes, but a very tender light as well.
"It makes me almost wish I were what I do believe you thought I was,"
said he, "to see you stick to me all the same! But it's about time that
we were making the lights of Dover," he added, beating an abrupt retreat
from sentiment, even to the length of getting up and looking out as we
clattered through a country station. His head was in again before the
platform was left behind, a pale face peering into mine, real panic
flaring in those altered eyes, like blue lights at sea. "My God, Bunny!"
cried Raffles. "I believe Dover's as far as I shall ever get!"
"Why? What's the matter now?"
"A head sticking out of the next compartment but one!"
I had seen it in his face.
"After us already?"
"God knows! Not necessarily; they watch the ports after a big murder."
"Swagger detectives from Scotland Yard?"
Raffles did not answer; he had something else to do. Already he was
turning his pockets inside out. A false beard rolled off the seat.
"That's for you," he said as I picked it up. "I'll finish making you up."
He was busy on himself in one of the oblong mirrors, kneeling on the
cushions to be near his work. "If it's a scent at all it must be a pretty
hot one, Bunny, to have landed him in the very train and coach! But it
mayn't be as bad as it looked at first sight. He can't have much to go
upon yet. If he's only going to shadow us while they find out more at
home, we shall give him the slip all right."
"Do you think he saw you?"
"Looking out? No, thank goodness, he was looking toward Dover too."
"But before we started?"
"No, Bunny, I don't believe he came aboard before Cannon Street. I
remember hearing a bit of a fuss there. But our blinds were down,
They were all down now, but by our decreasing speed I felt that we were
already gliding over level crossings to the admiration of belated
townsfolk waiting at the gates. Raffles turned from his mirror, and I
from mine, simultaneously; and even to my initiated eye it was not
Raffles at all, but another noble scamp who even in those days before the
war was the observed of all observers about town.
"It's ever so much better than anonymous disguises," said Raffles, as he
went to work upon me with his pocket make-up box and his lightning
touch. "I was always rather like him, and I tried him on yesterday with
such success at the bank that I certainly can't do better to-night. As
for you, Bunny, if you slouch your hat and stick your beard in your bread
basket, you ought to pass for a poor relation or a disreputable dun. But
here we are, my lad, and now for Meester Mackenzie o' Scoteland Yarrd!"
The gaunt detective was in fact the first person we beheld upon the pier
platform; raw-boned, stiff-jointed, and more than middle-aged, he must
nevertheless have jumped out once again before the train stopped, and
that almost on top of a diminutive telegraph boy, who was waiting while
the old hound read his telegram with one eye and watched emerging
passengers with both. Whether we should have passed him unobserved I
cannot say. We could but have tried; but Raffles preferred to grasp the
nettle and salute Mackenzie with a pleasant nod.
"Good evening, my lord!" says the Scotchman with a canny smirk.
"I can guess why you're down here," says Raffles, actually producing a
palpable Sullivan under the nose of the law.
"Is that a fact?" inquires the other, oiling the rebuff with
"And I mustn't stand between you and poor Dan Levy's murderer," adds
my lord, nodding finally, when Mackenzie steps after him to my
horror. But it is only to show Raffles his telegram. And he does not
follow us on board.
Neither did our disguises accompany our countenances across the Channel.
It was at dead of night on the upper deck (whence all but us had fled)
that Raffles showed me how to doff my beard and still look as though I
had merely buttoned it inside my overcoat; meanwhile his own moustachios
and imperial were disappearing by discreet degrees; and at last he told
me why, though not by any means without pressing.
"I'm only afraid you'll want to turn straight back from Calais, Bunny!"
"Oh, no, I shan't."
"You'll come with me round the world, so to speak?"
"To its uttermost ends, A. J.!"
"You do know now who it really is that I don't want to see again
"Yes. I know. Now tell me what Mackenzie told you."
"It was all in the wire he showed me," said Raffles. "The wire was to say
that the murderer of Dan Levy had given himself up to the police!"
Profane expletives flew from my lips; those of much holier men might
have been no less unguardedly emphatic in the self-same circumstances.
"But who was it?"
"I could have told you all along if you hadn't suspected me."
"It wasn't a suspicion, Raffles. It was never more than a dread, and I
didn't even dread it in my heart of hearts. Do tell me now."
Raffles watched the red end of a ruined Sullivan make a fine trajectory
as it flew to leeward between sea and stars.
"It was that poor unlucky little alien who was waiting for him the other
morning in Jermyn Street, and again last night near his own garden gate.
That's where he got him in the end. But it wasn't a shooting case at all,
Bunny; that's why I never heard anything. It was a case of stabbing in
accordance with the best traditions of the Latin races."
"God forgive both poor devils!" said I at last.
"And other two," said Raffles, "who have rather more to be forgiven."
On one of the worst days of last year, to wit the first day of the Eton
and Harrow match, I had turned into the Hamman, in Jermyn Street, as the
best available asylum for wet boots that might no longer enter any club.
Mine had been removed by a little pinchbeck oriental in the outer courts,
and I wandered within unpleasantly conscious of a hole in one sock, to
find myself by no means the only obvious refugee from the rain. The bath
was in fact inconveniently crowded. But at length I found a divan to suit
me in an upstairs alcove. I had the choice indeed of more than one; but
in spite of my antecedents I am fastidious about my cooling companions in
a Turkish bath, and it was by no accident that I hung my clothes opposite
to a newer morning coat and a pair of trousers more decisively creased
than my own.
But the coincidence in pickle was no less remarkable. In ensuing stages
of physical devastation one had dim glimpses of a not unfamiliar,
reddish countenance; but with the increment of years it has been my lot
to contract short sight as well as incipient obesity, and in the hot
rooms my glasses lose their grip upon my nose. So it was not until I lay
swathed upon my divan that I recognised E.M. Garland in the fine
fresh-faced owner of the nice clothes opposite mine. A tawny moustache
rather spoilt him as Phoebus, and there was a hint of old gold about the
shaven jaw and chin; but I never saw better looks of the unintellectual
order; and the amber eye was as clear as ever, the great strong
wicket-keeper's hand unexpectedly hearty, when recognition dawned on
Teddy in his turn.
He spoke of Raffles without hesitation or reserve, and of me and my
Raffles writings as though there was nothing reprehensible in one or the
other, displaying indeed a flattering knowledge of those pious memorials.
"But of course I take them with a grain of salt," said Teddy Garland;
"you don't make me believe you were either of you such desperate dogs
as all that. I can't see you climbing ropes or squirming through
scullery windows--even for the fun of the thing!" he added with
somewhat tardy tact.
It is certainly rather hard to credit now. I felt that after all there
was something to be said for being too fat at forty, and that Teddy
Garland had said it excellently.
"Now," he continued, "if only you would give us the row between Raffles
and Dan Levy, I mean the whole battle royal that A.J. fought and won for
me and my poor father, that would be something like! The world would see
the sort of chap he really was."
"I am afraid it would have to see the sort of chaps we all were just
then," said I, as I still think with exemplary delicacy; but Teddy lay
silent and florid for some time. These athletes have their vanity. But
this one rose superior to his.
"Manders," said he, leaving his divan and coming and sitting on the edge
of mine, "you have my free leave to give me and mine away to the four
winds, if you will tell the truth about that duel, and what Raffles did
for the lot of us!"
"Perhaps he did more than you ever knew."
"Put it all in."
"It was a longer duel than you think. He once called it a guerilla duel."
"Then make a book of it."
"But I've written my last word about the old boy."
"Then by George I've a good mind to write it myself!"
This was an awful threat. Happily he lacked the materials, and so I told
him. "I haven't got them all myself," I added, only to be politely but
openly disbelieved. "I don't know where you were," said I, "all that
first day of the match, when it rained."
Garland was beginning to smile when the surprise of my statement got home
and changed his face.
"Do you mean to say A.J. never told you?" he cried, still incredulously.
"No; he wouldn't give you away."
"Not even to you--his pal?"
"No. I was naturally curious on the point. But he refused to tell me."
"What a chap!" murmured Teddy, with a tender enthusiasm that made me love
him. "What a friend for a fellow! Well, Manders, if you don't write all
this I certainly shall. So I may as well tell you where I was."
"I must say it would interest me to know."
My companion resumed his smile where he had left it off. "I wonder if you
would ever guess?" he speculated, looking down into my face.
"I don't suppose I should."
"No more do I; not in a month of Sundays; for I spent that day on the
very sofa I was on a minute ago!"
I looked at the striped divan opposite. I looked at Teddy Garland
sitting on mine. His smile was a little wry with the remnant of his
bygone shame; he hurried on before I could find a word.
"You remember that drug I had? Somnol I think it was. That was a risky
game to play with any head but one's own; still A. J. was right in
thinking I should have been worse without any sleep at all. I should,"
said Teddy, "but I should have rolled up at Lord's! The beastly stuff put
me asleep all right, but it didn't keep me asleep long enough! I was
awake before four, heard you both talking in the next room, remembered
everything in a flash! But for that flash I should have dropped off again
in a minute; but if you remember all I had to remember, Manders, you
won't wonder that I lay madly awake all the rest of the night. My head
was rotten with sleep, but my heart was in such hell as I couldn't
describe to you if I tried."
"I've been there," said I, briefly.
"Well, then, you can imagine my frightful thoughts. Suicide was one; but
to get out of that came first, to get away without looking either of you
in the face in broad daylight. So I shammed sleep when Raffles looked in,
and when you both went out I dressed in five minutes and slunk out too.
I had no idea where I was going. I don't remember what brought me down
into this street. It may have been my debt to Dan Levy. All I remember is
finding myself opposite this place, my head splitting, and the sudden
idea that a bath might freshen me up and couldn't make me worse. I
remembered A.J. telling me he had once taken six wickets after one. So in
I came. I had my bath, and some tea and toast in the hot-rooms; we were
all to have a late breakfast together, if you recollect. I felt I should
be in plenty of time for that and Lord's--if only I hadn't boiled all the
cricket out of me. So I came up here and lay down there. But what I
hadn't boiled out was that beastly drug. It got back on me like a
boomerang. I closed my eyes for a minute--and it was well on in the
afternoon when I awoke!"
Here Teddy interrupted himself to order whiskies and soda of a
metropolitan Bashi-Bazouk who happened to pass along the gallery; and to
go stumbling over to his pockets, in his swaddling towels, for cigarettes
and matches. And the rest of his discourse was less coherent.
"Then I did feel it was a toss-up between my razor and a charge of shot!
I had no idea it was raining; if you look up at that coloured skylight,
you can't say if it's raining now. There's another sort of hatchway on
top of it. Then you hear that fountain tinkling all the time; you don't
hear any rain, do you?--It was after three, but I lay till nearly four
simply cursing my luck; there was no hurry then. At last I wondered what
the papers had to say about me--who was playing in my place, who'd won
the toss and all the rest of it. So I had the nerve to send out for one,
and what should I see? 'No play at Lord's'--and sudden illness of my poor
old father! You know the rest, Manders, because in less than twenty
minutes after that we met."
"And I remember thinking how fit you looked," said I. "It was the
bath, of course, and the sleep on top of it. But I wonder they let you
sleep so long."
"How could they know what I'd been up to?" said Teddy. "I mightn't have
had any sleep for a week; it was their business to let me be. But to
think of the rain coming on and saving me--for even Raffles couldn't have
done it without the rain. That was the great slice of luck--while I was
lying right there! And that's why I like to lie there still--for luck
rather than remembrance!"
The drinks came; we smoked and sipped. I regretted to find that Teddy was
no longer faithful to the only old cigarette. But his loyalty to Raffles
won my heart as he had never won it in his youth.
"Give us away to your heart's content," said he; "but give the dear old
devil his due at last."
"But who exactly do you mean by 'us'?"
"My father not so much, perhaps, because he's dead and gone; but self and
wife as much as ever you like."
"Are you sure Mrs. Garland won't mind?"
"Mind! It was for her he did it all; didn't you know that?"
I didn't know Teddy knew it, and I began to think him a finer fellow than
I had supposed.
"Am I to say all I know about that too?" I asked.
"Rather! Camilla and I will both be delighted--so long as you change our
names--for we both loved him!" said Teddy Garland.
I wonder if they both forgive me for taking him entirely at his word?