Narrator’s Note

The life of man, according to the Scriptures, is three score years and ten1; but who shall measure that of the modern mediocre novel?  With luck it may attain as many days.  And who remembers even A. J. Raffles, Cricketer and Cracksman, late of the Albany (among other haunts), now that thirty moons have come and gone since the faithful learned the last of him in a book called The Amateur Cracksman?  Yet if he, too, has been utterly forgotten, the fault lies not with the subject of all these papers, but with their pseudonymous perpetrator, his sometime accomplice and most unworthy Boswell2; and I have the less hesitation in reminding the few aforesaid that we left our Raffles swimming for his life in blue water, while I was put in prison for my crimes.  I was far from sure (if they remember) whether or not it was Raffles’s head which I saw at the last, ‘a mere mote dancing in the dim grey distance, drifting towards a purple island, beneath a fading western sky’, as I was pleased to put it at the time; my one conviction (since quashed) was that I never should set eyes on him again.  In what wise we did actually meet once more, how we went in together as before, and how I strove yet again to keep up a worthless wicket while my dear old Raffles flogged the bowling, is all set forth (and nothing extenuated) in the following fresh chapters from our common life.  But it was no second innings that we played together; it was a new match; and we played no more for love.  Take us, then, not as you left us but as you find us now, Amateur Cracksmen no longer, but professionals of the deadliest dye; knowing nobody, without a Club between us, doing little in broad daylight and nothing in our own names; but peeping our last upon a law-abiding world, through the narrow eyelets of The Black Mask.

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One Response to Narrator’s Note

  1. Frank Shailes says:

    I’ve been reading the Raffles stories in a penguin edition from 1950, that seems to collect 14 stories from the beginning through to “An Old Flame”. The Holmes-style “Reichenbach/hiatus” is quite an interesting change of direction, and reading this introduction would have helped considerably. But it is great to see it now!

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