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Last Raffles Story
Y brother Ralph, who now lived w H I) me on the edge of I Iain
Common, had come home from Australia. wiUi a curious
affection of the eyes, due to long exposure to the glare out
there, and necessitating the line of clouded spectacles in the
open air. He had not the rich complex iou of the typical colonist, Iwing
Indeed peculiarly pale, but it appeared that he had been routined to
bis berth for the greater part of the voyage, while his prematurely
gray hair was sufficient proof that the rigors of bush life had at last
undermined an originally tough constitution. Our landlady, who
spoiled my brother from the first, was much concerned on hi behalf
and wished to call In the local doctor; but Kulph said dreadful things
alout the profession and quite frightened the good woman by arbi
trarily forbidding her ever to let a doctor Inside her door. I had to
apologize to her for the painful prejudlei a and violent language of
"these colonist," but the old soul was easily uiollilled. She had fallen
In love with my brother at first sight, and she never could do too much
for blui. It was owing to our landlady that I took to calling him
Ralph, for the first time In our lives, on her beginning to speak of and
to him as "Mr. Raffles."
"This won't do," said he to nie. "It's a name that sticks."
"It must b( ruy fault! She must have heard It from me," said I,
"You must tell her It's tho short for Ralph."
"Rut Its longer."
"It's the short" said he "and you've got to tell her no.
Henceforth I heard as much of "Mr. Ralph," his likes and his dis
likes, what he would fancy and what he would not, and, oh, what a
dear gentleman he was, that I often remembered to say, "Ralph, old
It was an ideal cottage, as I said when I found It, and In it our
delicate man became rapidly robust Not that the air was also ideal,
for, when it was not raining, we had the same faithful mist from No
vember to March. Rut It was something to Ralph to get any air at all,
other than night air, and the bicycle did the rest. We taught our
selves, and may I never forget our earlier rides through and through
Richmond Tark when tho afternoons were shortest upon the incom
parable Ripley Road when we gave a day to It. Raffles rode a Beeston
Humber, a Royal Sunbeam was good enough for me, but he insisted on
our both having Dunlop tires.
"They seem tho most popular brand. I had my eye on the road
all the way from Ripley to Cobham, and there were more Dunlop
murks than any other kind, Bless you, yes, they all leave their special
tracks, and we don't want ours to be extra special; the Dunlop's like
a rattlesnake, and the l'almer leaves telegraph wires, but surely the
serpent Is more in our line."
That was the winter when there were so many burglaries In. the
Thames Valley from Richmond upward. It was said that the thieves
corner nearest the key, and you
use a knife when you can, bo
cause It makes least noise. But
It docs take minutes, and even
I can remember shifting the elec
tric torch from one hand to the
other before the aperture was
large enough to receive the hand
and wrist of Raffles.
lie had at such times a
motto of which I might have
made earlier use, but the fact is
that I have only once before de
scribed a downright burglary In
which I assisted, and that with
out knowing It at the time. v The
most solemn student of these
annals cannot allirm that he has
cut through many doors In our
company, since (what was to
me) the maiden effort to which
I allude. I. however, have
cracked only too many a crib In
conjunction with A. J. Ruffles,
and at the cruclul moment he
would whisper, "Victory or
Wormwood SCrubba, Runny!"
or instead of . Wormwood
Scrubbs it might be Port land
Hill. This time it was neither
one nor the other, for with tiint
very word "victory" upon his
Hps they whitened and parted
with the first taste of defeat
"My hand's held!" gasied
Raffles, and the white of his
eyes showed all round the Iris,
a rarer thing than you may
At the sume moment I
heard the shuttling feet and the
low, excited young voices on the
other side of the door, and a
faint light shone round Raffles'
"Well done. Beefy!"
"Hang on. to him!"
"Good old Beefy!"
"Beefy's got him!"
"So have I so have I!"
e ii aac vv iiPiiKiiJiuuat;
By E. W. HORINUNO.
Author of "The Shadow of the Rope," "The Rogue's March.'
"A Bride from the Bush," "Stingaree Stories," "Dead Men Tell No
Tales," etc. i
H fCoDTrlcht. im. br Charles
: A : -
u b , . v try m
iThc Amateur Cracksman
"WE BOTH WOIOIKD TUUOUGU.,
And Raffles caught my arm with his one free hand. "They've got
used bicycles in every case, hut what is not said; They were some- nie tlgnt ne whiHpered. . "I'jn done."
times on foot to my knowledge, and we took a great interest In tbo , ..Hinze throuch the door." I nreed. and mleht have done it had I
series, or .rather, sequence, of successful crimes. Raffles would often
get his devoted old lady to read him the latest local accounts, while I
was busy with my writing (much I wrote) In my own room. We even
rode out by night ourselves to see If we could not get on the tracks of
the thieves, and never did we fall to find hot coffee on the hob for our
return. We bad Indeed fallen upon our feet Also, the misty nights
might have been made for the thieves. But their success was not so
consistent &nl never so enormous, as people said, especially the suf
ferers, who lost more valuables than they had ever been known to pos
sess. Failure was often the caitiffs' portion, and disaster once; owing,
ironically enough, to that very mist which should have served them.
But I am going to tell the story with some particularity, and perhaps
some gusto, you will see why who read.
The right house stood on high ground near the river, with quite a
drive (In at one gate and out at the other) sweeping past the steps. Be
tween the two gates was a half-moon of shrubs, to the left of the steps
a conservatory, and to their right the walk leading to the tradesmen's
entrance and the back premises; here also was the pantry window, of
which more anon. The right house was the residence of an opulent
stock broker who wore a heavy watchebaiu and seemed fair game.
There would have been two objections to It had I been the stockbroker.
xne uduo was uuo ui a rvw, luuugu a guoui; ruw, uuu au tuiuy-cruiu-yuer
had established himself next door. There Is a type of such lnsti-
tutions in the suburbs, the youths go about in knickerbockers, smoking
pipes, except on Saturday nights, when they lead each other home
from the last train. It was none of our business to spy upon these
boys, but their manners and customs fell within the field of observa
tion. And we did not choose the night upon which the whole row was
likely to be kept awake.
The night that we did choose was as misty as even the Thames
Valley Is capable of making them. Raffles smeared vaseline upon the
plated parts of his Beeston Humber before starting, and our dear land
lady cosseted us both and prayed we might see nothing of the nasty
burglars, not denying as the reward would be very handy to them that
got it to say nothing of the honor and glory. We had promised her a
liberal perquisite in the event of our success, but she must not give
other cyclists our idea by mentioning it to a soul. It was about mid
night when we cycled through Kingston to Surblton, having trundled
our machines across Ham Fields, mournful In the niUt as those by
Acheron, and so over Teddlngton Bridge.
I often wonder why the pantry window Is the vulnerable point
of nine houses out of ten. This house of ours was almost the tenth,
(or the window In question had bars of sorts, but not the right sort
The only bars that Raffles allowed to beat him were the kind that are
let Into the stone outside; those fixed within are merely screwed to the
woodwork, and you may unscrew as many as necessary if you take
the trouble and have the time. Barred windows are usually devoid
of other fasteners worthy the name; this one was no exception to that
foolish rule, and a push with the penknife did its business. I am
giving householders some valuable hints, and perhaps deserving a good
mark from the critics. These, in any case, are the points that I would
see ot, were I a rich stockbroker in a river-side suburb. In giving
good advice, however,. I should not have omitted to say that we had
left our machines In the seml-clrcular shrubbery In front, or that
Raffles had most Ingeniously fitted our lamps with dark slides, which
enabled us to leave them burning.
It proved sufficient to unscrew the bars at the bottom only, and
then to wrench them to either side. Neither of us had grown stout
with advancing years, and In a few minutes we had both wormed
through Into the sink, and thence to the floor. It was not an abso
lutely noiseless process, but once In the pantry we were mice, and no
longer blind mice. There was a gas bracket but we did not meddle
with that. Raffles went armed these nights with a hotter light than
gas; If It were not Immoral, I might recommend a dark lantern which
was more or less his patent. It was that handy Invention, the electric
torch, fitted by Raffles with a dark hood to fulfil the functions of a
slide. I had held It through the Lais whllu he undid the screws, and
now he held It to the keyhole, In which a key was turned upon the
There wss a pause for consideration, and In the i ause we put on
our masks. It was never known that these Thames Valley robberies
were all committed by miscreants decked iu the livery of crime, but
that was because untU this night we had never even shown our masks.
It was a oint upon which Raffles had Insisted on all feasible occasions
since his furtive return to the world. Tonight It twice nearly lost us
v everything but you shall hear.
There Is a forceps for turning keys from the wrong side of the
Jyloor, but the Implement Is not so easy of manipulation as It might be.
X'ou go through the panel because that Is thinnest of course In the
been armed. But I never was. It was Raffles who monopolized that
risk. , . - .,-'
"I can't It's tha boys the wrong house!" he whispered. "Cursa
the fog it's done nie. ' But you get out Bunny, while you can; sever
mind me, it's my turn, old chap." . . "
His one hand tightened In affectionate farewell. I put the electric
torch in it before I went trembling in every inch, but without a word.
Get out! His turn! Yes, I would get out, but only to come in
again, for It was my turn mine not his. Would Raffles leave me held
by a band through a hole in a door? What would he have done in
my place was the thing for me to do now. I began by diving head
first through the pantry window and coming to earth upon all fours.
But even as I stood up and brushed the gravel from the palms of my
hands and the knees of my knickerbockers I had no notion what to do
next And yet I was half-way to tho front door before I remembered
the vile crape mask upon my face, and tore It off as the door flew open
and my feet were on the steps.
"He's Into ihe next garden," I cried to a bevy of pajamas with
bare feet and young faces at either end of them.
"Who? Who?" said they, giving way before me.
"Some fellow who came through one of your windows headfirst"
"The othef Johnny, the other Johnny," the cherubs chorused.
"Biking past saw the light why, what have you there?"
Of course, it was Raffles' hand that they had, but now I was in
the hall among them. A red-faced barrel of a boy did all the holding,
one hand round the wrist, the other palm to palm, and his knees
braced up against the panel. Another was rendering ostentatious but
Ineffectual aid, and three or four others danced about In their pajamas.
After all, they were not more than four to ooe. I had raised my
voice, so that Raffles might hear me and take heart and now I raised
it again. Vet to this day I cannot account for my Inspiration, that
proved nothing less.
"Don't talk so loud," they were crying below their breath; "don't
wake 'em upstairs, this Is our show."
"Then I see you've got one of them," said I, as desired. "Well,
If you want the other you cad have him, too. I believe he's hurt him
self." "After him, after him!" they exclaimed, as one,
"But I think he got over the wall"
"Come on, you chaps, come on!"
And there was a soft stampede to the hall door.
"Don't all desert me, I say!" gasped the red-faced hero who held
"We must have them both, Beefy!"
"That's all very well"
"Look here," I Interposed, "I'll stay by you. I've a friend outside,
I'll get him, too."
"Thanks, awfully," said the valiant Beefy.
The hall was empty now. My heart beat high.
"How did you hear them?" I inquired, tv eye running over him.
"We were down having drinks game o' nap In there."
Beefy Jerked his great head toward an open door, and the tall of
my eye caught the glint of glasses In the firelight, but the rest of it
was otherwise engaged. '
"Let me relieve you," I said, trembling. ,
"No, I'm all right."
tThen I must Insist."
And before he could answer I had him round the neck with such
a will that not a gurgle passed
my tiugcrs, for they were almost
buried uis n,,t' smooth flesh.
Oh, I am not proud of It; the act
was as vile as act could be; but
I was not going to see Raffles
taken, my one desire was to be
the saving of him, and I tremble
even now to think to what
lengths I might have gone for Its
fulfilment. As It was, I squevzed
and tugged until one strong hand
gave way after the other and
came feeling round for toe, but
feebly because they had held on
so long. And what do you sep
poso was happening at the same
moment V The pinched white
hand of Raffles, reddening with
returning blood, and witli a clot
of blood upon the wrist, was
craning upward and turning the
key In the lock without a mo
"Steady on. Bunny!"
And I saw that Beefy's ears
were blue; but Raffles was feel
ing in his pockets as be fqoke.
"Now let him breathe," said he,
clapping his handkerchief over
the poor youth's mouth. An
empty phial was In his other
hand, and the first few Ftert
ous breaths that the ioor boy
took were the end of him for" the
time being. Oh. but it was vil
lainous, my part especially, for
he must have been far gone to
go the rest of the way so read
ily. I began by saying I was
not proud of this deed, but its
dastardly character has come
home to me more than ever with
the penance of writing it out
I see In myself, at least my then
self, things that I never saw
quite so clearly before. ' Yet let
me be quite sure that I would
not do the same again. I bad
not the smallest desire to throttle this Innocent lad (nor did I), but
only to extricate Raffles from the most hopeless position he was ever
In; and, after all, it was better than a blow from behind. On the
whole, I will not alter a word, nor whine about the thing any more.
We lifted the plucky fellow Into Raffles' place in the pantry,
locked the door on him, and put the key through the panel. Now was
.the moment for thinking of ourselves, and again that infernal mask
which Raffles swore by came near being the undoing of us both. W
had reached the steps when we were hailed by a voice, not from with
out, but from within, and I had Just time to tear the accursed thing
from Raffles' face before he turned.
A stout man with a blond mustache was on the stairs, in his paja
mas like the boys.
"What are you doing here?" said he.
"There has been an attempt upon your bouse," said I, still spokes
man for the night, and still on the wings of inspiration.
"Indeed. Well, they heard it, drove off the thieves and have given
"And where do you come in?" inquired the stout man, descending.
"We were bicycling past, and I actually saw one fellow come
headfirst through your pantry window. I think he got over the walL"
Here a breathless boy returned.
"Can't see anything of him," he gasped.
"It's true, then," remarked the crammer.
"Look at that door." said I.
But unfortunately, the breathless boy looked also, and now he
was being Joined by others equally short of wind.
"Where's Beefy?" he screamed. "What on earth's happened to
"My good boys," exclaimed the crammer, "will one of you be kind
enough to tell me what you've been doing, and what these gentlemen
have been doing for you? Come In all, before you get your death. I
see lights in the dajssroonj, and more than lights. Can these be signs
of a carouse?"
"A very innocent one, sir," said a well-set-up youth with more
mustache than I have yet.
"Well, Olphert, boys will be boys. Suppose you tell me what hap
pened, before we come to recrliuiuatlons."
The bad old proverb was my first warning. I caught two of the
youths exchanging glances under raised eyebrows. Yet their stout,
easy-going mentor had given me such a reassuring glance of sidelong
humor, as between man of the world and man of the world, that it
was difficult to suspect him of suspicion. I was nevertheless Itching
to be gone.
Young Olphert told his story with engaging candor. It was true
that they had come down for an hour's nap and cigarettes; well, and
there was no denying that was whisky In the glasses. The boys were
now all back In their classroom, I think entirely for the sake of
warmth; but Raffles and I were In knickerbockers and Norfolk Jackets,
and very naturally remained without while the army-crammer (who
wore bedroom slippers) stood on the threshold, with an eye each way.
The more I saw of the man the letter I liked and the more I feared
him. His chief annoyance thus far was that they had not called him
when they heard the noise, that they had dreamt of leaving him out
of the fun. rfut he seemed more hurt than angry about that
"Well, sir." concluded Olphert "we left old Beefy Smith hanging
on to his hand, and this gentleman with him, 60 perhaps he can tell
us what happened next?"
"I wish I could," I cried, with all their eyes upon me, for I had
bad time to think.
ANOTHER SERIES OF
Fascinating Sherlock Holmes Stories
By. A. CON AN DOYLE
'priE unparalleled popularity of the Sherlock Holmes stories printed in The Bee has created a demand which
can be filled only by another series of STARTLING ADVEXTUKEK from the pen of the same author
depicting the marvelous result achieved by that MOSt'kKILLFUL OF ALL DETECTIVES. These tstories
which will appear from week to week in The Sunday Itee are sure to hold the interest of every reader from
the beginning to the end of the series. To avoid mining any of them make cure you receive The Uee as a
A SHERLOCK HOLMES STORY NEXT SUNDAY
"Some of you must have heard nie say I'd fetch my friend in from
"Yes, I dil," piped an innocent from within.
"Well, and when I came back with htm things were exactly a
you see them now. Kvldently the man's strength was too much for
the boy's; but whether he ran upxtalrs or out 1 know no more than you."
"It wasn't like that boy to run either way," said the crammur .
cocking a dear blue eye on nie. '
"But If he gave chase!"
"It wasn't like him even to let go."
"1 don't believe Beefy ever would," rut in Olphert. "That's why
we gave him tho billet."
"lie may have followed through the pantry wludow," I suggested.
"But the door's shut," put In a boy.
"I ll have a look at It" suld the crammer.
And the key no longer In the lock, aud the Insensible youth within!
The key would be missed, the door kicked In; nay, with the man's eye
still upon nie, I thought I could smell the chloroform, 1 thought I could
hear a moan, and prepared for either nny moment Aud how he did
stare! I have detested blue eyes ever since, and blond mustaches, and
the whole stout, easy -going type that Is not such a fool as It looks. I
had brazened it out with the loys, but the first grown man was too
many for me, and the blood ran out of my heart as though there was
uo It a tiles at my back. Indeed, I had forgotten him. I had so longed
to put this thing through by myself! Even iu my extremity It was
almost a disappointment to me when his dear, rool voice fell like a
delicious draught upon my ears. But its effect upon the others is
more Interesting to recall. 1'ntll now the oronimer had the center of
the stage, but at this point Unfiles usurped a place which was always
his at will. Teople would wait for what he had to say, as these people
waited now for tho simplest ond most natural thing In the world.
"One moment!" he had begun.
"Well?" said the crammer, relieving me of his eyes at last
"I don't want to lose any of the fun"
"Nor must you," said the crammer, with emphasis.
"But we've left our bikes outside, and mine's a Beeston Humber,
continued Raffles. "If you don't mind, we'll bring 'em in before these
fellows get away on them."
And out he went without a look to see the effect of his words, I
after him with a determined imitation of his self-control. But I would
have given something to turn ronud. I believe that for one moment
tbe shrewd Instructor was taken in, but as I renched tho steps I heard
him asking his pupils whether any of them had seen bicycles outside.
That moment however, made the difference. Wo were In the
shrubbery, It a files with his electric torch drawn aud blazing, when we
beard them kicking at the pantry door, and In the drive with our
bicycles before man and boys poured pell-mell down the steps.
We rushed our machines to the nearer gate, for both were shut
and we got through and swung it home behind us In the nick of time.
Even I could mount before th'ey could reopen tho gate, which Baffles
held against them for half an Instant with unnecessary gallantry. But
he would see me In front of him, and so it fell to me to lead the way.
Now, I have said that it was a very misty night (hence the whole
thing), nnd also that these houses were on a hill. But they were not
nearly on the top of the bill, and I did what I firmly believe that almost
everybody would hava done in my pluoe. Kafiles, Indeed, said he
would have done it himself, but that was his generosity, and he was
the one man who would not What I did was to turn in the opposite
direction to the other gate, where we might so easily have been cut
off, and to pedal for my life up hill!
"My God!" I shouted when I found it out
"Can you turn in your own length?" asked Raffles, following
"Then stick to It Yon couldn't help It. But it's tho devil of a hill!"
"And here they come!"
"Let them," said Raffles, and brandished his electric torch, our
only light as yet.
A hill seems endless In the dark, for you cannot see the end, and
with the patter of bare feet gaining on us, I thought this one could
have no end at all. Of course the boys could charge up It quicker
than we could pedal, but I even heard the voice of their stout instruc
tor growing louder through the mist
"Oh, to think I've let you In for this!" I groaned, my head over
the handle-bars, every ounce of my weight first on one foot and then
on the other. I glanced at Raffles, and in the white light of his torch
he was doing It nil with his ankles, exactly as though be had been
riding In a gymkhana.
"It's the most sporting chase I was ever In," said he.
"All my fault!"
"My dear Bunny, I 'wouldn't have missed it for the world!"
Nor would he forge ahead of me, though he could have done so In,
a moment, be who from his boyhood had done everything of the kind
so much better than anybody else. No, he must ride a wheel's length
behind me. aud now we could not ouly hear the boys running, but
breathing also. And then of a sudden I saw Rattles on my right strik
ing with his torch; a face flew out of the darkness to meet the thick
glass bulb with the glowing wire Inclosed; It was the face of the boy
Olphert, with his enviable mustache, but It vanished with the crash of
glass, and the naked wire thickened like a tuning-fork struck red-hot
I saw no more of that One of them had crept up on my side
also; as I looked, hearing him pant be was grabbing at my left handle,
and I nearly sent Rallies Into the hedge by the sharp turn I took to
the right. His wheel's length saved him. But my boy could run, was
overhauling me again, seemed certain of me this time, when all at
once the Sunbeam ran easily; every ounce of my weight with either
foot once more, and I was over the crest of the hill, the gray road reel
ing out from under me as I felt for my brake. I looked back at
Raffles. He had put up bis feet I screwed my bead round still
further, and there were the boys In their pajamas, their hands uin
their knees, like so many wicket-keepers, and a big man shaking his
fist. A lamp-post was on the bill-top, and that was the last I saw.
We sailed down to the river, then on through Thames Dixon as
far as Tsher Station, when we turned sharp to the right and from
the dark stretch by Iraber Court came to light in Molesey, and were
soon pedalling like gentlemen of leisure through Bushley Park, our
lights turned up, the broken torch put out and away. The big gates
had long been shut, but you can maneuvre a bicycle through the
others. We had no further adventures on the way home, and our
coffee was still warm upon the hob.
"But I think It's an occasion for Sulllvans," said Raffles, who now
kept them for such. "By all my gods. Bunny, It's been the most sport
ing night we ever had In our lives! And do you know which was the
most sporting part of It?"
"That up-hill ride?"
"I wasn't thinking of It."
"Turning your torch Into a truncheon?"
"My dear Buuny! A gallant lad I hated hitting him."
"I know," I said. "Tbe way you got us out of the house!"
"No, Bunny," said Rallies, blowing rings. "It came before that,
you sinner, and you know It!"
"You don't mean anything I did?" said I, self consciously, for I
began to see that this was what he did mean. And now at latest it
will also be seen why this story has liecn told with undue and inex
cusable gusto; there is none other like it for me to tell; it Is my ons
ewe-lamb In all these aunals. But Rallies had a ruder name for it
"It was the Apotheosis of the Bunny," said he.
I hardly knew what I was doing or haying," I said. "The whole
thing was a fluke."
"Then." said Raffles. "It wss the kind of fluke I always trusted
jou to make when runs were wanted."
And he held out his dear ojd band.
(END OF LAST RAFFLES STOUT)
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