How it was possible, I did not pause to ask myself; if one man on earth could annihilate space and time, it was the man lying senseless at my feet; and that was Raffles, without an instant's doubt. He was in villainous guise, which I knew of old, now that I knew the unhappy wearer. His face was grimy, and dexterously plastered with a growth of reddish hair; his clothes were those in which he had followed cabs from the London termini; his boots were muffled in thick socks; and I had laid him low with a bloody scalp that filled my cup of horror. I groaned aloud as I knelt over him and felt his heart. And I was answered by a bronchial whistle from the door.
"Jolly well done!" cheered my asthmatical friend. "I heard the whole thing - only hope my mother didn't. We must keep it from her if we can."
I could have cursed the creature's mother from my full heart; yet even with my hand on that of Raffles, as I felt his feeble pulse, I told myself that this served him right. Even had I brained him, the fault had been his, not mine. And it was a characteristic, an inveterate fault, that galled me for all. my anguish: to trust and yet distrust me to the end, to race through England in the night, to spy upon me at his work - to do it himself after all.!
"Is he dead?" wheezed the asthmatic coolly.
"Not he," I answered, with an indignation that I dared not show.
"You must have hit him pretty hard," pursued young Medlicott, "but I suppose it was a case of getting first knock. And a good job you got it, if this was his," he added, picking up the murderous little life-preserver which poor Raffles had provided for his own destruction.
"Look here," I answered, sitting back on my heels. "He isn't dead, Mr. Medlicott, and I don't know how long he'll be as much as stunned. He's a powerful brute, and you're not fit to lend a hand. But that policeman of yours can't be far away. Do you think you could struggle out and look for him?"
"I suppose I am a bit better than I was," he replied doubtfully. "The excitement seems to have done me good. If you like to leave me on guard with my revolver, I'll undertake that he doesn't escape me."