E. W. Hornung: A Thief in the Night

8. The Spoils of Sacrilege

There was one deed of those days which deserved a place in our original annals. It is the deed of which I am personally most ashamed. I have traced the course of a score of felonies, from their source in the brain of Raffles to their issue in his hands. I have omitted all. mention of the one which emanated from my own miserable mind. But in these supplementary memoirs, wherein I pledged myself to extenuate nothing more that I might have to tell of Raffles, it is only fair that I should make as clean a breast of my own baseness. It was I, then, and I alone, who outraged natural sentiment, and trampled the expiring embers of elementary decency, by proposing and planning the raid upon my own old home.

I would not accuse myself the more vehemently by making excuses at this point. Yet I feel bound to state that it was already many years since the place had passed from our possession into that of an utter alien, against whom I harbored a prejudice which was some excuse in itself. He had enlarged and altered the dear old place out of knowledge; nothing had been good enough for him as it stood in our day. The man was a hunting maniac, and where my dear father used to grow prize peaches under glass, this vandal was soon stabling his hothouse thoroughbreds, which took prizes in their turn at all. the country shows. It was a southern county, and I never went down there without missing another greenhouse and noting a corresponding extension to the stables. Not that I ever set foot in the grounds from the day we left; but for some years I used to visit old friends in the neighborhood, and could never resist the temptation to reconnoiter the scenes of my childhood. And so far as could be seen from the road - which it stood too near - the house itself appeared to be the one thing that the horsey purchaser had left much as he found it.

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