Read an excerpt and download The Amateur Cracksman by E.W. Hornung for iPhone, iPad, Nook, Android, and Kindle in PDF and all popular eBook reader formats (AZW3, EPUB, MOBI).
A. J. (Arthur) Raffles is a prominent member of London society, and a national sporting hero (regularly representing England in cricket matches).
But, A.J. Raffles also has a secret life as a gentleman thief and uses his celebrity to steal from his rich acquiantances.
THE IDES OF MARCH
It was half-past twelve when I returned to the Albany as a last desperate resort. The scene of my disaster was much as I had left it. The baccarat-counters still strewed the table, with the empty glasses and the loaded ash-trays. A window had been opened to let the smoke out, and was letting in the fog instead. Raffles himself had merely discarded his dining jacket for one of his innumerable blazers. Yet he arched his eyebrows as though I had dragged him from his bed.
"Forgotten something?" said he, when he saw me on his mat.
"No," said I, pushing past him without ceremony. And I led the way into his room with an impudence amazing to myself.
"Not come back for your revenge, have you? Because I'm afraid I can't give it to you single-handed. I was sorry myself that the others—"
We were face to face by his fireside, and I cut him short.
"Raffles," said I, "you may well be surprised at my coming back in this way and at this hour. I hardly know you. I was never in your rooms before to-night. But I fagged for you at school, and you said you remembered me. Of course that's no excuse; but will you listen to me—for two minutes?"
In my emotion I had at first to struggle for every word; but his face reassured me as I went on, and I was not mistaken in its expression.
"Certainly, my dear man," said he; "as many minutes as you like. Have a Sullivan and sit down." And he handed me his silver cigarette-case.
"No," said I, finding a full voice as I shook my head; "no, I won't smoke, and I won't sit down, thank you. Nor will you ask me to do either when you've heard what I have to say."
"Really?" said he, lighting his own cigarette with one clear blue eye upon me. "How do you know?"
"Because you'll probably show me the door," I cried bitterly; "and you will be justified in doing it! But it's no use beating about the bush. You know I dropped over two hundred just now?"
"I hadn't the money in my pocket."
"But I had my check-book, and I wrote each of you a check at that desk."
"Not one of them was worth the paper it was written on, Raffles. I am overdrawn already at my bank!"
"Surely only for the moment?"
"No. I have spent everything."
"But somebody told me you were so well off. I heard you had come in for money?"
"So I did. Three years ago. It has been my curse; now it's all gone—every penny! Yes, I've been a fool; there never was nor will be such a fool as I've been.... Isn't this enough for you? Why don't you turn me out?" He was walking up and down with a very long face instead.