E. W. Hornung: A Thief in the Night

10. The Last Word (continued)

"That night - I mean the next night - they were all. going out to several places, but I stayed behind at Palace Gardens. I had gone up to the drawing-room after dinner, and was just putting on the lights, when in walked Mr. Raffles from the balcony. I knew him at once, because I happened to have watched him make his hundred at Lord's only the day before. He seemed surprised that no one had told me he was there, but the whole thing was such a surprise that I hardly thought of that. I am afraid I must say that it was not a very pleasant surprise. I felt instinctively that he had come from you, and I confess that for the moment it made me very angry indeed. Then in a breath he assured me that you knew nothing of his coming, that you would never have allowed him to come, but that he had taken it upon himself as your intimate friend and one who would be mine as well. (I said that I would tell you every word.)

"Well, we stood looking at each other for some time, and I was never more convinced of anybody's straightness and sincerity; but he was straight and sincere with me, and true to you that night, whatever he may have been before and after. So I asked him why he had come, and what had happened; and he said it was not what had happened, but what might happen next; so I asked him if he was thinking of you, and he just nodded, and told me that I knew very well what you had done. But I began to wonder whether Mr. Raffles himself knew, and I tried to get him to tell me what you had done, and he said I knew as well as he did that you were one of the two men who had come to the house the night before. I took some time to answer. I was quite mystified by his manner. At last I asked him how he knew. I can hear his answer now.

"'Because I was the other man,' he said quite quietly; 'because I led him blindfold into the whole business, and would rather pay the shot than see poor Bunny suffer for it.'

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