MY chum and I were sitting on the hearth-rug warming our feet. We had been sitting there with the light out for some time, talking about house-breaking. I was urging that it was a safe and lucrative occupation; he had taken the opposite ground, and, as usual, was having rather the best of it.

"Just think of the risks a burglar runs," said he "For instance, if a man should try our door now, you could hide behind the curtain there, and I could get into the coal-closet; and when he got in we would let him get together all the things he wanted in this room, and when he went into one of the bedrooms we could spring out and shut him up."

This seemed plausible, and I told him so, but there were many conditions which he had not considered; such as - and I stopped to listen to a step on the stair, a soft and catlike step, as of one in his stocking-feet. "Some one has stolen Jones's boots," whispered my chum.

But no, it wasn't Jones, for the steps approached our door, and we heard the noise of a pair of shoes set cautiously down. Then a key was thrust quietly into the lock; there was no hesitation, it went straight in, but did not govern it. Then it was removed, and there was a suppressed rattling heard, as of a key-bunch.

"Jove!" said I, "we'd better try your plan."

I could see him nod his head in the firelight as he turned to the closet. I fled to the curtain. You have no idea how long it seemed as I waited for the entrance of the burglar. I could feel the wind blow in through the cracks in the window; it wasn't comfortable. But at last a dexterous turn threw the bolt, and the door opened. A dark form crossed the room and entered my bedroom, shutting the door carefully. I came out into the room, my chum did the same; we seized our canes from the chandelier, and I lighted the gas.

"What in the name of wonder - ?" I ventured.

"Hush!" said my chum, "we must bag our game."

We walked to the door, cane in hand; when we were quite near, the lock clicked furtively.

"Well, I never!" said I.

My chum said nothing. He went into his bedroom and took the key from that door. He then tiptoed to the burglar's fortress, and pushed the key into the key-hole. We heard a key drop on the other side.

"Now," said he, "as I open the door, rush in, I'll back you up."

To tell the truth, I did n't feel very enthusiastic about rushing; but my courage was at stake, and with my heart in my mouth, I said, "All right."

He opened the door, and in I went, cane raised. The room was dark; I gave at random all the cuts of the sabre exercise, when, as the door opened wider, I saw that the room was empty, but the window open. I pointed to it.

"Pshaw!" said my chum, "bring a match." I lighted the gas. Where do you think the burglar was? In my bed, with his eyes shut.

"Idiot!" said I, "he 's shamming sleep; cold water will do him good."