A Visit from Raffles

Produced in 1909 at the Empress Theatre in Brixton, South London.1

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: The text of this play is provided courtesy of the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham, reference: MS127/A/3/4. Many thanks to Mark Eccleston and Peter Rowland for their kind offices in finding this among E.W. Hornung’s papers, and providing it to us.

By E. W. Hornung and Charles Samson2


A.J. RAFFLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the Amateur Cracksman3

BUNNY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . his Pal

REUBEN ROSENTHALL . . . . . . . . . a South African Millionaire

CHARLEY PURVIS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . a retired prize-fighter

MAUD & KATE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . their Lady Friends

Scene:4 –ROSENTHALL’s dining-room. Massive modern furniture. Door at the back opening into the vestibule, which opens on the garden. Another door, L., communicates with the rest of the house; and there is a window –R.

In the middle of the room, a table laid for dinner; in a corner a sideboard, on which are decanters, glasses, &c. A man’s portrait by Sir Joshua5 hangs on the wall.

ROSENTHALL, PURVIS, MAUD and KATE, discovered at table. It is the end of dinner. The men are in evening dress, the women in theatre toilette; décolletée6; flowers in their hair, &c. All are smoking, except PURVIS, who is asleep in his chair, and all are somewhat flushed with the pleasures of the table. RAFFLES and BUNNY, with white stockings and powdered wigs7, are waiting on the party; the two Kaffirs stand motionless in the background.

MAUD: (with marked Cockney accent, raising her glass) ’Ere’s to yer, Rosy! (drinks with gusto)

KATE: (same business; superior accent; very careful with the aspirate8) Your good health, Mr. Rosenthall!

MAUD: (smacking her lips) Talk about champigne! (holds out her glass to Raffles, who begins to replenish it)

ROSENTHALL: That’ll do, Johnson! (Raffles desists, stands with bottle in hand)

MAUD: Oh, Rosy, you are mean9!


KATE: P’raps he’s afraid of it going to your head, my dear.

MAUD: (flaring up) P’raps he isn’t — an’ p’raps I could pass a remark about you, miss — if I liked to demean myself.

ROSENTHALL: Come, come, come! (to Raffles) Mr. Purvis’ll finish the bottle.

PURVIS: (waking up) He will so. (Raffles fills his glass)

ROSENTHALL: I’ve got something better for you young ladies — something that sparkles more. (drawing small jeweller’s case from either pocket) This one’s for our fiery little friend, (handing first case to Maud) and that’s for your ladyship. (hands second case to Kate)

MAUD and KATE: (opening cases) Diamonds! (Raffles looks over their shoulders, but retires with a shrug and a grimace for Bunny at what he sees)

MAUD: A ring!

KATE: A pendant!

MAUD: Are they reel?

ROSENTHALL: What do you take me for?

MAUD: A daisy! (embraces him)

KATE: A peach! (embraces him)

ROSENTHALL: (taking Purvis aside as the women put on the jewels, and compare notes, looking radiant) Interim dividend10 payable in advance. Sweets for the sweet — and precious stones for the precious stony11! (chuckles)

PURVIS: (Looking at Rosenthall’s studs)12 Just what I’m afraid some one will say if you come to the Empire13 with them on.

ROSENTHALL: Aha! My Kimberley studs; put ‘em on in honour of our little pals.

PURVIS: (shaking his head) I should take ‘em off again before we go out.

ROSENTHALL: Look here, my tame heavy-weight, what d’you suppose you get your screw14 for, if it ain’t as my blessed body-guard? And what’s the good of a stud prize-fighter if he can’t mind my prize studs?

The women rejoin them.

KATE: Prize studs! I should think they were.

MAUD: They should be kep’ along o’ the Regilier15 in the Tower.

ROSENTHALL: (to Raffles) What do you say, Johnson? Would you feel safer with these out o’ the house?

RAFFLES: Not at all, sir. I should be happy to take charge of all your valuables if you wished it, sir.

ROSENTHALL: Ah! You never saw them before; you little know how valuable they are.

RAFFLES: Of course, sir, I am no judge of diamonds, but I never saw any to compare with yours.

ROSENTHALL: Exactly what Raffles said the other night at the opera.

RAFFLES: Indeed, sir?

PURVIS: A.J. Raffles?

ROSENTHALL: Yes; that great young chap who gets asked to all the best country houses for his good looks, his parlour tricks, and his bong mose.16

RAFFLES: Not to mention his skill with the ball, sir. (makes a bowling gesture)

ROSENTHALL: So you know the gentleman?

RAFFLES: I was once the gentleman’s gentleman17.

ROSENTHALL: Now I think of it, you remind me of Mr. Raffles.

RAFFLES: (modestly) I modelled my style on his.

ROSENTHALL: Well, when I know you better I may put you on guard over the safe.

RAFFLES: Thank you, sir.

ROSENTHALL: But a man who has only just entered my service must show his mettle18 first.

RAFFLES: You’ll find I have plenty of nerve. (rejoins Bunny and Kaffirs up stage, and superintends clearing away)

ROSENTHALL: (winking to the others) I didn’t tell him I had five thousand pounds on my little finger and another couple in my shirt-front!

MAUD: Well, I never!

KATE: But you don’t go about with that fortune on you?

ROSENTHALL: Of course I do; that’s where the fun comes in, turning the young bloods19 green with envy and making Dooks20 and Duchesses eat out o’ me ’and.

MAUD: Strikes me it’s a dingerous gime.

PURVIS: That’s what I say. (Rosenthall grins)

MAUD: I should mind my weather eye, if I was you.

KATE: I should certainly engage the services of a private detective.

ROSENTHALL: (his smile turning to a frown) Don’t talk about ’tecs21 to me. (shudders) I hate the sight of ’em. Good old Charley’s good enough for me, and if he fails me this chap won’t. (draws revolver from hip-pocket)

MAUD: My crikey!22 (scuttles behind Purvis)

KATE: Gracious! (gets behind Maud)

PURVIS: You’re scaring the gals.

ROSENTHALL: There’s nothing to be afraid of — thieves and cracksmen are the only parties that are best out o’ my range. (cocks revolver. Bunny, shaking, knocks glasses against each other in removing them from the table. Raffles curses him sotto voce23) You watch, my poppets! See that bare wall? I’ll write my name on it — or yours if you like it better — with bullets!

KATE: (fingers in ears) I know I shall swoon24.

MAUD: (to Kate) You ’ang on to me, my dear.

PURVIS: (to Rosenthall) Blaze away.

ROSENTHALL: Right! Never mind the names. See that cove25 who will keep his eye on us? (aims at portrait) It’s by old Josh Reynolds26. (aims) I’ll dot his eyes for him. (fires twice at picture, putting out one eye after the other)

PURVIS: Shooting!

ROSENTHALL: (complacently) His staring days are done.

MAUD: You tike the cike. (to Kate) All over, dear. (Kate opens eyes and removes fingers from ears with much ostentatious timidity)

ROSENTHALL: (to Raffles) What do you say, Johnson?

RAFFLES: There aren’t many burglars that would take you on, sir.

ROSENTHALL: Many! You show me one, and I’ll shoot him dead by inches. (restores revolver to hip-pocket. More byplay between Raffles and Bunny)

PURVIS: Well, what about that box at the Empire?

ROSENTHALL: I’m ready.

KATE: We mustn’t miss the ballet.

MAUD: No — it wouldn’t be like old times.

ROSENTHALL: Want to see how it strikes you from the front, do you?27 (to the servants) The ladies’ cloaks, and our coats and hats. (the Kaffirs, at a sign from Raffles, go for the cloaks, while he attends to Rosenthall and Bunny to Purvis) I shall be very late. You needn’t sit up for me, Johnson.

RAFFLES: (helping him into coat) Thank you, sir.

ROSENTHALL: Everybody can go to bed.

RAFFLES: As you please, sir, but I shall not close an eye till you return.

ROSENTHALL: I hope you may never lose one like that cove up there. (jerking his hand towards picture)

RAFFLES: (earnestly) I would give them both for your diamonds, sir.

ROSENTHALL: (turning to Purvis and the women without grasping double-entendre in last line) All aboard the motor28! (exeunt the two couples, arm in arm)

Kaffirs finish taking away. Noise of hilarious departure outside; hoot of motor-horn, and momentary gleam of acetylene lamps29. Sounds cease. Raffles takes whisky-jar out of sideboard, and Bunny gets ready decanters. Exeunt Kaffirs.

RAFFLES: (after glancing outside and listening at all the doors) Bunny!


RAFFLES: I thought they were never going. There’s not a moment to lose. (begins hastily preparing drinking and smoking paraphernalia, Bunny assisting preparations, which supply business30 for first part of ensuing scene)

BUNNY: Then you still mean business?

RAFFLES: Rather! Would you have the criminal classes of the old country defied and terrorised by the scum of the Rand31? Not while I’m alive to strike a blow for England, home and — booty!

BUNNY: But is the booty worth having? Diamonds like those must be known all over Europe. You couldn’t wear them — and you’re the last man to cut ‘em up — and you couldn’t dispose of them as they are.

RAFFLES: I shall be quite content to dispose of his theory that he can’t be robbed. The honorary nature of the effort is half its charm32.

BUNNY: I’m blowed if I can see it.

RAFFLES: (shrugging) My account’s so often overdrawn. But ever since our last little enterprise there’s been a handsome balance in my favour. And I’ve a jolly good mind to practise what I preach for once.

BUNNY: (incredulously) I should like to see you!

RAFFLES: All right, Bunny, you shall! Old Rosenthall shall have a lesson, but he shan’t pay for it through the nose as he deserves.

BUNNY: But what crime has he committed?

RAFFLES: Don’t you know? The man’s a thief — a bigger thief than I am — don’t you know how he made his money?


RAFFLES: I.D.B.33 — in the beginning.

BUNNY: I.D. who?

RAFFLES: Illicit Diamond Buying. It’s known all over South Africa. Many a man no worse than Rosenthall is working as a convict on the Cape Town breakwater34.

BUNNY: Well, it’s hardly for us to bring him to book.

RAFFLES: It is — it’s what we’re here for. I’ve always sworn I’d put him right if nobody else did, and you did say you’d see me through. But if you think better of it, Bunny, it’s not too late—-

BUNNY: It is.

RAFFLES: It’s never too late to bolt.

BUNNY: Oh, damn your eyes, I’ll see you through!

RAFFLES: (taking his hand) I thought you would.

BUNNY: (with nervous eagerness) When can we get to work?

RAFFLES: Not till they come back —

BUNNY: And turn in?

RAFFLES: And turn in — unless—-

BUNNY: Unless what?

RAFFLES: If only he’d shake hands with me, Bunny, the trick would be done!

BUNNY: By shaking hands — how?

RAFFLES: (producing minute pair of pincers like a cigar-cutter35) See that?

BUNNY: What is it?

RAFFLES: (fitting forceps on two fingers of left hand) My own invention. See? (shows action of forceps) Draws diamonds like teeth — painless dentistry — but they’ve got to shake hands with you first, and you’ve got to give them the devil of a grip with both paws. (does so to Bunny, making trick quite plain both to him and the audience) and Rosy’s not the man to shake hands with his own butler.

BUNNY: But he would with his friend A.J. Raffles!

RAFFLES: And suspect him afterwards? No, Bunny, you don’t catch me giving A.J. away; we won’t even give the new butler and footman away if we can help it.

BUNNY: But how can we?

RAFFLES: By a sudden transformation of the immaculate menial into the hairiest cutthroat you ever saw, “rolling down the Ratcliff Road, drunk and raising Cain.”36 I’ve a complete kit ready for us both.

BUNNY: Where?

RAFFLES: Empty house next door — I’ve got a regular greenroom37 there. If we’re seen — as we really ought to be — we shall never be connected with our present incarnation — let alone our last. There’s only one thing that can penetrate our disguise.

BUNNY: What’s that?

RAFFLES: (cheerfully slapping him on back) A bullet!

BUNNY: And you laugh!

RAFFLES: “It’s worth the risk to life and limb and neck, boys.38

BUNNY: (pointing to picture) Suppose he shoots out our eyes?

RAFFLES: (giving Bunny a drink at sideboard)39 What’s the odds so long as you can still find the way to your mouth? (drinks himself) Come on, Bunny; it’s time we opened the fancy-dress ball. (opens window and motions Bunny to get through)

BUNNY: (quaking visibly) Why this way?

RAFFLES: Short cut next door — way back too.

BUNNY: (reluctantly climbing out — before disappearing) You mean when they’re all in bed?

RAFFLES: No–the sooner the better–to lie in wait for the jolly dogs40.

Bunny disappears with a lugubrious shake of the head. Raffles turns out the electric light, humming “Slap-bang, here we are again? What jolly dogs are we!” as he follows Bunny out of window, which he shuts after him. The air might be taken up by muted strings in orchestra to fill a sufficient pause before Rosenthall enters quickly by door at back, followed by Purvis. Rosenthall goes to window and draws the curtains; turns on the light; goes to each door, opens it and shuts it again after casting a glance outside; examines the furniture and looks behind and under things generally. Purvis, keenly interested, follows all these movements with his eyes and an expression of increasing wonderment.

PURVIS: Strike me purple, if I know what you’re up to — leaving the ladies high and dry in the box — then saying we’re going out for a drink and then scorching back ‘ere at forty mile an hour41!

ROSENTHALL: (finishing investigations, and joining Purvis) Then creeping into my own house like a thief in the small hours, and sniffing about as though I’d lost one o’ these (touching ring and stud) — eh?

PURVIS: You haven’t, have you?

ROSENTHALL: Not yet, and I don’t mean to — (meaningly) Johnson or no Johnson.

PURVIS: Johnson — the new butler?

ROSENTHALL: (very ironically) Ah! Johnson — the new butler! (gets himself a drink)

PURVIS: What’s wrong with him?

ROSENTHALL: A bit of all-wrong — if you ask me.

PURVIS: (mixing a drink) I thought ’e come with a good character42?

ROSENTHALL: Yes—- too good to be true.

PURVIS: But he says he was once with Raffles.

ROSENTHALL: I’d like to hear what Raffles has to say. It may be a lie — or he may have been sacked for thieving.

PURVIS: Thieving!

ROSENTHALL: That’s his game, you bet your shirt! You recollect the whole set o’ suspicious characters who used to keep hangin’ about outside here? The pavement artist43 who couldn’t draw for chestnuts — the crossing-sweeper44 we spotted with the silver cigarette-case — and that drunken devil who didn’t even smell of drink? They’ve all disappeared since our new butler and footman came — to take their places!

PURVIS: To take their places?

ROSENTHALL: It’s my belief they’re all members of the same gang; they couldn’t work anything from the outside, so they put in a couple of indoor men instead. I shouldn’t wonder if Johnson was head of the gang.

PURVIS: It strikes me you’ve precious little to go upon.

ROSENTHALL: Ah! You don’t know all I know about crooks! I looked into their room just now — they’re neither of them there. What if they were only here to prepare the ground? What if they’re gone to fetch the cracksmen?

PURVIS: (finishing drink and squaring up45) I’m ready for ’em! (produces revolver from hip-pocket — flourishes fist and pistol alternately) You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

ROSENTHALL: (finishing drink and producing brace of revolvers46 in same fashion) Shooters for me.

PURVIS: Shooters it is.

ROSENTHALL: And lights out. (puts them out) Everything as we found it, (opens curtains, admitting strong moonbeam) or else they’ll know we’re back. I don’t believe we shall have long to wait. ’Ssshhh! (pause) Steps outside!

PURVIS: (hoarsely) Hip, hip—-

ROSENTHALL: (drawing back from window and out of moonbeam) Shadows!

PURVIS: Hurray!

ROSENTHALL: Out by that door! (pointing to door at back) Shut it, and wait for me!

Purvis goes out by door at back. Rosenthall steals across and takes key from door L, opens it, and changes key to outside of door, which he shuts and is heard to lock after making his exit. Enter Raffles and Bunny by the window. They are dressed like the lowest ruffians. The theatre is lit only by the rays of the moon, in which Bunny pauses, while Raffles stands in the dark.

RAFFLES: Blowed if I ever saw such a blackguard as you look, Bunny! (gets into moonlight)

BUNNY: (getting into shadow) You can’t see yourself, A.J.!

RAFFLES: Arcades ambo47, which is blighters both. Only mind, if it comes to talking, you’ve got to talk the part as well as dressing it. Cockney accent — (putting one on) — thieves’ slang if yer know any — if not, keep yer mouf shut and leave the gab to me. (looking out of window as the stage darkens) Good ole moon! ‘Id ‘erself be’ind a bloomin’ cloud.

BUNNY: Where the devil are we to hide? It’s as dark as pitch.

RAFFLES: Black as a bloomin’ chimbley. (noise at back) What’s that?

BUNNY: I barked my shin.

RAFFLES: Strike a light.

ROSENTHALL: (in loud voice, up C) Allow me!

The lights are switched full on, revealing Rosenthall and Purvis standing shoulder to shoulder on threshold of door at back, which has been noiselessly opened in the darkness. Bunny is thunderstruck. Raffles does not flinch. The two Kaffirs stand motionless behind Purvis and Rosenthall.

ROSENTHALL: Good evening, boys. Is that light enough for you to see ‘em by?

RAFFLES: See what by, gov’nor?

ROSENTHALL: What you’re after — these ‘ere sparkles.

RAFFLES: Gord love yer, gov’nor, wot’s the use o’ sparkles to me an’ my mate? We came in for somethin’ to eat — we’re starvin’!

ROSENTHALL: That be blowed for a yarn48! You’re in with Johnson — he’s put up this job.

RAFFLES: Johnson — who’s Johnson?

ROSENTHALL: One o’ your mangy gang. I’ve had my eye on the lot of you — the pavement artist — the crossing-sweeper — the other ‘umbug49 that shammed tight50 — the bogus butler and flunkey — I saw through the jolly lot. What do you say to that?

RAFFLES: It’s a fair cop51. (produces foul handkerchief) Don’t go for to fire on the white flag.

ROSENTHALL: Give up your arms.

RAFFLES: We ain’t got none — s’help me Gord — you may just as well lower yours.

ROSENTHALL: You don’t catch me that way. I know too much.

RAFFLES: (altering his tone) Ah! You do, do you?

ROSENTHALL: A darn sight too much about the likes o’ you.

RAFFLES: Set a thief to catch a thief, eh52?

ROSENTHALL: What’s that?

RAFFLES: I tell you you’re a thief yourself, and a damned sight bigger one than I ever was or will be. (Rosenthall flourishing pistols furiously) Old I.D.B. that should be doin’ convict labour with yer betters on that brikewater at Cipe Town!

ROSENTHALL: (lowering weapons) Where in hell did you get hold o’ that?

RAFFLES: Where did I get hold of it? The man in the pub — the copper on the beat — the King on ’is throne53 — they all know all about you.

ROSENTHALL: (to Purvis) For God’s sake bash the blighter before I blow his brains out!

RAFFLES: That’s it! Tike the lor into yer own ’ands, if yer wants the lor to do the same by you.

PURVIS: (reluctantly pocketing his pistol) He may stick a knife into me.

RAFFLES: Catch me do the country’s dirty work! What’s the country done for me — letting bloated swindlers like you go scot-free — driving poor devils like us to the workhouse or the gaol54? (to Rosenthall) You and your white bully and your black slaves! You and your motors and champagne! Living on the fat o’ the land when it should be skilly55 an’ dry bread! Getting your pick o’ the basket o’ life, when yer should be picking oakum56! So much for good old England and her plucky laws; you can gag ’em both when the gag’s made o’ gold. Luckily there’s what you call the likes of us. The law calls us felons — burglars — criminals. But we ain’t; we’re avengers, scavengers, instruments o’ justice — yes, justice! Nothing you’ve got is yours by rights. You stole it. I steal it from you. And the world an’ you are quits57 at last58!

ROSENTHALL: Are we? You ain’t took nothing yet.

PURVIS: And we’ve took you.

RAFFLES: I can bide my time.

PURVIS: I’m damned if I can. (throws himself on Raffles)

ROSENTHALL: (brandishing revolvers) Let go of him — stand clear and give me a shot at him!

Purvis, in obedience to Rosenthall, lets go and is immediately tripped up by Raffles, who dashes through the open window, followed by a shot from Rosenthall’s revolver.

RAFFLES: (off) Wide! (another shot) No ball — take him off59!

PURVIS: (picking himself up) Deuce60 roast his soul! (squares up to Bunny)

ROSENTHALL: After him! After him! The niggers’ll hang on to this one. (exit through the window)

PURVIS: (dancing around Bunny) I’ll make it easy for ’em. (scientifically61 knocks Bunny out, so that he falls back into Kaffirs’ arms. Rushes to window, well pleased with himself) See him?

ROSENTHALL: (outside) Not yet.

PURVIS: I’m coming. (jumps out)

ROSENTHALL: I’ll blow him inside out.

PURVIS: Let me bash him first.

ROSENTHALL: Over that wall!

PURVIS: After him!

ROSENTHALL: No! We’ve got one of ’em; he shall pay for both.

Bunny, who has come to himself during this dialogue, makes a desperate effort to escape from the Kaffirs. There is a short struggle, which is ended by the return of Rosenthall and Purvis by door at back.

ROSENTHALL: (to Bunny) Ha, ha! Here’s the other bloke trying it on62. I’ll soon finish him. (to the Kaffirs) Truss him up against that door. (they drag Bunny in front of door L) That’s it! Now hang on one to each arm, like as if you meant to pull him in two. (aiming, as they execute this order) That’s it — like a cussed cracker63.

PURVIS: (intervening) Here! What are you going to do?

ROSENTALL: Empty all six chambers into his dirty carcase64.

PURVIS: You can’t do that.


PURVIS: (standing in line of fire) It’ll be murder.

ROSENTHALL: Murder when the blackguards broke into my house? (to Bunny —dodging to take aim) Say yer prayers!

PURVIS: Much better let me give him a good bashing.

ROSENTHALL: You want all the fat65! See here, I won’t shoot at him, but all round him like the cove with the knives. Look! One — two — three! (he fires. The bullets strike splinters from the door all round the terrified Bunny’s head) Move an inch, you juggins66, and your blood be on your own scalp67.

Sudden knocking at the door at back. Rosenthall and Purvis look at each other in astonishment.

PURVIS: (going up to door) Who’s that?

RAFFLES: (outside) The police.

Rosenthall and Purvis face each other in consternation.

RAFFLES: Open gentlemen, if you please.

ROSENTHALL: He can’t make us — it’s irregular.

PURVIS: What price68 your shooting? (renewed knocking) You’d better let me open.

ROSENTHALL: (savagely) Oh, all right! (to the Kaffirs) Let go of him. (they release Bunny as Purvis admits Raffles in policeman’s uniform)

RAFFLES: (after brief survey of room) I’m sorry, sir, but I heard the shots and feared it was a case of armed burglars.

ROSENTHALL: Armed burglars? Exactly what it was — two of ’em — after my diamonds. You know who I am, officer69?

RAFFLES: (respectfully) Oh, yes, sir.

ROSENTHALL: I caught the scoundrels — in league with my butler — one got away and I disarmed the other.

BUNNY: That’s a lie.

RAFFLES: (producing pocket-book) Anything that you say will be put down and used against you.

BUNNY: Meaning more lies.

RAFFLES: (making note) Used abusive language to the police. (to Rosenthall) But he fired several shots before you succeeded in disarming him?

BUNNY: No — that was ’im.

RAFFLES: Is there any truth in that, sir?

ROSENTHALL: I was only giving him a fright.

BUNNY: (whimpering) Singein’ the wery ‘air o’ me ‘ead70.

RAFFLES: (shaking his head) You’d have done better to call in the police. It never pays to take the law into your own hands, not in the Old Country, sir.

PURVIS: I told you so.

ROSENTHALL: (earnestly) I’m really very sorry, officer. It shan’t happen again, sergeant71.

RAFFLES: (putting away note-book) Well, you can’t make a note of what you never saw. (to Bunny) But you must come along with me. (producing handcuffs) And since you’re fond of jewels, here’s a pair of bracelets that will cost you nothing but the trouble of wearing them.

BUNNY: (whining and resisting) But, Mr. Policeman72 . . .

RAFFLES: (in almost his own voice, his face close to Bunny’s) Don’t resist, you fool!

BUNNY: (recognizing him) You!

ROSENTHALL: (suspiciously) What’s that?

PURVIS: They know each other!

RAFFLES: (smiling) Them and us sometimes do. It’s not the first I’ve seen of this man in the way of business. (handcuffs Bunny) Now, my lord! (begins to march Bunny towards door)

PURVIS: (eagerly) I’ll come with you and lend a hand.

RAFFLES: Thank you, sir, but he won’t give no trouble now. I thought he’d come to his senses when he knew who he’d got to deal with. (with a shake of Bunny’s shoulder) None o’ your tricks on me!

BUNNY: (fervently) No, Mr. Policeman.

RAFFLES: (to Rosenthall) We shall want you at Marylebone73 to-morrow morning, sir, but you’ll get a proper notice.

ROSENTHALL: Shall I see you there?

RAFFLES: (smiling) When the case comes on, sir, but not before.

PURVIS: (producing coin, and first showing it to Rosenthall, who shrugs) Meanwhile here’s a trifle for yourself74.

RAFFLES: (drawing himself up) Very sorry, sir, but it’s against the rules.

ROSENTHALL: Fine fellow! Have a drink instead?

RAFFLES: (shaking his head) I should get into trouble, sir, thank you very much.

ROSENTHALL: But we can’t let you go like this after all you’ve done. You must take something.

RAFFLES: (unbending with a grin) Well, sir, will you let me take your hand? (draws off his gloves, showing audience the pincers ready adjusted underneath the left glove)

ROSENTHALL: Only my hand?

RAFFLES: It would be honour enough, sir, for a poor policeman such as I am, to wring the hand of a gentleman like yourself.

ROSENTHALL: (much gratified, extending his hand) The British constable is a credit to the country. (winces) Not so hard, damn you!

RAFFLES: (putting his hands behind his back, and transferring stones75 from pincers to left hand, and thence into pocket, within view of audience) I’m sorry, sir, but I don’t often get such a chance. Good-night, gentlemen. (to Bunny) Now, my lad! (exeunt Raffles and Bunny)

PURVIS: Good chap, that copper!

ROSENTHALL: (as though his hand still hurts him) Yes; but I was a fool to shake hands with him.

PURVIS: So it seems.

ROSENTHALL: (irritably) And you were another to try to tip him; you’re no judge of faces.

PURVIS: (with doubled fists) I’ve had a good many through my hands.

ROSENTHALL: Still you don’t know an honest man when you see one. I do.

PURVIS: (consulting his watch) I say, what price our little pals at the Empire?

ROSENTHALL: Yes, it’s about time we had an eye on them. (sharply, discovering the loss of his diamond) My Lord!

PURVIS: What’s up now?

ROSENTHALL: My diamond — the one in this ring?




ROSENTHALL: Look! There’s the ring — the stone’s gone.

PURVIS: It may have fallen out. (looks about floor)

ROSENTHALL: No — it was wrenched out — I see it all!

PURVIS: Wrenched out? Who by?

ROSENTHALL: That swine who would shake hands with me — no wonder he hurt.

PURVIS: The policeman?

ROSENTHALL: Policeman! One o’ the gang — part o’ the scheme — the blackguards!

PURVIS: But he had such an honest face.

ROSENTHALL: Damn his honesty.

PURVIS: Well, you said so, and you know an honest man when you see one. I don’t. I’m not a judge of faces. (continues to grope on floor)

ROSENTHALL: Come on after him! It’s no use looking there. (enter a Kaffir, L, with salver and visiting-card, which he hands to Rosenthall) Nice time to call. (reading card) Good! Show him in. (exit Kaffir)

PURVIS: More policemen?

ROSENTHALL: Not this time — no — it’s the one man who might help us.


ROSENTHALL: (exultantly) Good old Raffles!

Enter Raffles in evening dress, light overcoat, opera hat, &c76.

RAFFLES: I really must apologise—-

ROSENTHALL: Apologise? You’re always welcome! (they shake hands. Raffles and Purvis exchange nods)

RAFFLES: The fact is, I only heard tonight that a man who was once in my service had wormed himself into yours.

ROSENTHALL: The villain!

RAFFLES: Exactly — I came to warn you against him.

PURVIS: It’s too late.

ROSENTHALL: He’s gone.

RAFFLES: I know — I met him just now at your gate.

ROSENTHALL: You met him?

RAFFLES: In a policeman’s uniform!

PURVIS: The same man!

ROSENTHALL: And I never spotted it!

PURVIS: That was his honest face.

RAFFLES: I knew it as well as my own. Guessed what he’d been up to, and tackled the devil on the spot.

ROSENTHALL: Tackled him?

RAFFLES: I’d brought this with me in case he made trouble (producing revolver), and I held it to his head. I said, “You’ve been after Mr. Rosenthall’s diamonds; fork out77 or I’ll march you to the police-station.”

ROSENTHALL and PURVIS together: And did he?

RAFFLES: I don’t know.

ROSENTHALL and PURVIS: Don’t know?

RAFFLES: How many diamonds have you lost?


RAFFLES: Then he did; forked out this one, dropped it on the pavement, and was off like a streak of lightning as I stopped to pick it up.

ROSENTHALL: (taking diamond, and then Raffles’s hand, with much emotion) Raffles! Raffles!

RAFFLES: (to Purvis) I was afraid he’d done me78, you see, he’s a pretty smart chap, the London cracksman.

ROSENTHALL: Too smart for me. (Raffles smiles, but stops smiling as Rosenthall suddenly proffers the diamond to him) Here — take it — it’s yours!


ROSENTHALL: You deserve it.

RAFFLES: Oh, no, I don’t79. I couldn’t take it from you, really.


RAFFLES: I have tried. I mean—-

ROSENTHALL: Try again!

RAFFLES: If you knew how you embarrass me—-

ROSENTHALL: You’ve got to have it. (forces diamond upon him; then exultantly to Purvis) There’s no one in the world like Raffles!80


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2 Responses to A Visit from Raffles

  1. luinor says:


    I’m really glad to know about the play titled A Visit from Raffles!
    If you have any information about the cast of the play, I really want to know it.

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