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One of the most interesting occurrences of my crowded life was my participation in the famous Closure Castle jewel robbery.

I was staying with Lord Bunderbourne. His old Jacobean mansion embowered in trees was an ideal spot for a daring burglary.

modest doll's house

ring tree It was, I remember, midwinter. The fountain was frozen.

We had just finished dinner

convertible dining/billiards table

policeman measuring tape when the local constable burst in to say that a convict had escaped from the neighbouring prison.

It was too true. The safe was empty.


Our cigars were forgotten in the excitement of the moment.

cigar in ash tray

A detective was telephoned for, and came at once.

detective with flat cap and cane

He first made a plan of the house,

sewing kit (opened)

and hurried next to the kitchen garden, where he stood aghast at his discovery.

man at cold frame

Then on to the out-houses, where it was noticed that one of the doors was partly open.


Ponto, the watch dog, seemed dazed. He had been drugged, the detective said.

dog, cross-eyed, toy

He also pointed out that the horse's neck was strangely swollen.

mutant horse

The detective next interrogated the whole house party, although some were in déshabille.

detective/lady-in-combinations montage

Suspicion fell first on the chief footman, whose embarrassment was greatly in his disfavour.

doorman, fawning slightly

Passing to the man's room, the detective saw at a glance that the bed had not been slept on.

detective and bed frame

Meanwhile, being alone in the drawing room, I had an instinctive feeling that someone was hiding behind the screen,

japanese screen

knife sharpener and I was certain that I heard the sound of the sharpening of a knife.

Having no other weapon handy, I produced my toothpick.

multi-blade pocket knife

But at this moment the detective returned, in a disguise calculated to baffle the keenest observer.


marmalade cutter The contents of the mysterious bag having been analysed,

he showed us that the ring was movable,

tea infuser

tilting lamp and drew our attention to the fact that there were signs of a struggle.

fuzzy mitt He then showed us the print of a blood-stained hand on the wall

and producing his pocket book, convinced us that in spite of certain superficial differences, they were one and the same man.

pocket book, open

We were immensely impressed, and in a few moments the burglar was fairly trapped.

bookbinding press

The detective then resumed his natural appearance,

that detective again

and was presented by Lord Bunderbourne with a heavy cheque.

While waiting for the prison van

toy car

cloth cupboard he told us some good stories of his career. It was he, it seems, who was the real hero of the Charlotte Street anarchist plot, which he discovered by overhearing a conversation between two of the miscreants in a Soho restaurant.

tree pruner He gave us also some curious information about the ingenious methods of famous criminals. There was, for example, the notorious one-eyed Jimmy Snaffles, who used a housebreaking implement of his own construction, which he would try on the trees outside before breaking into the house.

couple on ladders And there were that very respectable couple, Tom Bilks and his wife, who entered houses with scaling ladders at night, and kept a blameless registry office in Balham through the day.

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