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1. 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."
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