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 [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / Novel Excerpts  /

The Mayfair Bandit. A novel by Hugh Drummond.
 
Hugh Drummond - 03:02am May 25, 1999 PST
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

Hello again, fellow mystery-netters. This is an extract from my second work, The Mayfair Bandit. To be exact, it's part of the prologue The Mayfair Bandit.

Prologue.

We Meet the Bandit

The London streets were dark and deserted for the main part. This was one of the residential areas of W1, where people love, live and sleep, but do it behind doors. If they want to do anything outside, they go elsewhere to do it. Mainly to their respectable clubs, or guiltily to low night clubs, where no gentleman ever goes.

Yet somewhere, above the Mayfair streets, someone moved.

Now, the very existence of a someone was a cause for concern. People who roam rooftops hardly ever do so for completely legitimate reasons. The appearance of the someone was a further cause for concern, or would have been if anyone had seen him.

He was six foot tall, and dressed entirely in black, making him almost invisible against the black sky. So much was hardly unusual. Black is virtually the uniform of the cat-burglar, for very practical reasons.

What was unusual was his hat, a wide-brimmed, black felt sombrero, it’s band decorated with silver embroidery, which glittered like stars in the moonlight; that and his long black cloak, fastened at the throat with a silver clasp, and his gauntlet-like gloves, of black leather.

But, above all these things, the oddest thing about him was the long, slim rapier by his side, in it’s black velvet sheath.

In all, the effect was rather like an old-fashioned bandit, of a type long-gone, transported to the present. Zorro on the rooftops of Mayfair, pursuing his eternal quest for justice. An apt allusion.

The bandit bent down to examine a sky-light at his feet. With nimble fingers and a variety of bright steel instruments, he opened the light, having first circumvented the complex alarm in a manner that showed, however old-fashioned his clothing, his technical skills were bang up to date.

Silently, he opened the skylight and dropped through, into an attic room beneath, onto a soft carpet. Not that his crepe-soled boots would have made a sound on bare boards.

The bandit looked about himself. He was in a small room, fitted out as a bedroom, a woman’s bedroom. In the cast-iron bedstead slept a blonde angel of a housemaid.

He smiled.

‘Don’t worry, I haven’t come for you tonight. The honest can sleep soundly.’

But he said it to himself, and she remained sleeping.

He left her there, sleeping, and moved down into the main part of the house, a part of the house decorated with Old Masters and New Messes, arranged in a manner which seemed to indicate that their owner didn’t appreciate their artistic merits, only their snob value. The antique furniture, all styles and all periods, and the sculpture, bore out that unpleasant impression of ignorant eclecticism.

‘Caramba!’ the bandit muttered, ‘such injustice. So much of this would be better in a museum than here.’

He strolled insolently down the corridor, as if he owned the place, his rapier swinging jauntily by his side.

Reaching a tall pair of double doors, he opened them silently and stepped into the room beyond.

The room was in darkness. But it was a city darkness, not a true darkness, and the bandit was used to darkness of an inkier, desert, kind. He saw that the room was utterly feminine, and decorated in impeccable taste, unlike the rest of the house. In the bed lay a woman in her thirties, twice as beautiful as her newspaper portraits. She looked so peaceful. Yet the bandit knew she was not.

He left her there, asleep. She was not his target, and he had no wish to rob her. She was a victim, after all. His quarrel was with the man whose victim she was.

He opened another door and stepped through. Instantly he knew this was the room he wanted. It held a double bed, and sprawled on that bed were two naked figures, a fat man of forty-something, and a skinny girl who couldn’t be a day over nineteen, and was probably a lot younger.

The room was decorated with the same disregard for taste as the rest of the house, and the girl in the bed was decorated too, with gold and diamonds wherever jewels could be put, within reason.

The man in the bed was the husband of the woman whose room the bandit had accidentally entered. The girl was a model. Why, the bandit had no idea. To his critical eye she was just a plain, skinny girl, a mere child, a thin, flat-chested creature, with an angular figure and dull eyes.

With a soft touch and a dispassionate eye, the bandit stripped every jewel from her immature body, every necklace and bangle. Her ear-rings, the gold chain about her waist, even her rings, went into his velvet bag. The man’s Rolex joined them.

But those were trinkets, a bonus strike at the evil rich. His real target was elsewhere.

He moved to the fireplace. Over


Hugh Drummond - 03:05am May 25, 1999 PST(#1 of 5)
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

He moved to the fireplace. Over it hung a Picasso, a priceless painting. He touched the frame, and the picture slid aside, revealing the blued steel door of a safe. But that was no obstacle to the bandit. He knew where the man kept the key to the door, and he unlocked the safe with it. Inside was a large stack of currency. And then the currency wasn’t in the safe, but in the plain velvet bag. Being a tidy person, the bandit closed and locked the safe. The Picasso slid back into position. He smiled at the sleeping figures, a mocking smile, behind his velvet mask. ‘Sleep well, young lovers.’ Then the rapier flashed into his hand. With the touch of an artist he carved the letter ‘E’ on the picture, comprehensively ruining it. Then he left. He went straight to the room of the lady of the house. This time, as he entered, he turned on the lights. The woman awoke with a start. The bandit swept off his hat and bowed low.

HUD


Amanda Dickerson - 12:38am Jun 20, 1999 PST(#2 of 5)

Hugh-

Oh my! My romantic heart cheers for your Zorro character. I wonder if this might work better as a romance novel.

However, wouldn't the rapier be really loud? It's a whip, right? I heard that they make a cracking sound because they break the sound barrier, that's how fast the tip travels.

I was depressed when I starting reading this bit of prose, but you put a smile on my face. Thanks!

Amanda


Rebecka Persson - 06:22pm Jul 2, 1999 PST(#3 of 5)

Hugh-

I really like the way you begin your story. The writing flows well and it engaged my interest. However, I find it hard to believe that the bandit can remove so many pieces of jewelry from two people who are merely asleep, unless, of course, you want to hint that they are something else, such as unconscious or even (gasp!) dead. Yes, I can see the latter option creating quite an interesting conundrum for your dashing burglar. Was this your intention? Also, I doubt that a really good burglar would bumble his way through two other bedrooms before reaching the one he intends to rob!

Otherwise, great beginning, Hugh!


Hugh Drummond - 08:56am Aug 31, 1999 PST(#4 of 5)
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

One other Bedroom. He intended to enter through the skylight, and the Maid's bedroom had the only accessible one in the house. As for removing the jewels, he has a very light touch. Thanks for the dead suggestion, though I dare not use it... Blast! I must leave, never to return! (Not for three weeks, anyhow.

Oh, and it is a bit of a romance too. All my novels are, Like E.W.

HUD


Hugh Drummond - 03:32am Sep 1, 1999 PST(#5 of 5)
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

Sorry. My last visit here was rather brief, as the place where I'm online from was about to close.

The suggestions are all greatly appreciated. However, I must make it clear that this is a prologue, Its function is to introduce Espada, not the plot. That is introduced in Chapter one, along with the other principal characters (such as Espada's romantic interest).

I appreciate the bedroom bit though. I'll re-write that the minute I get back to Norfolk.

And all thanks is, of course, greatly appreciated.

HUD

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 [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / Novel Excerpts  / The Mayfair Bandit. A novel by Hugh Drummond.

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