“The Hammerpond Park Burglary” is a short story by the English author H. G. Wells (1866–1946) first published in The Pall Mall GazetteEvening newspaper launched in London in 1865, which introduced investigative journalism into British journalism, along with other innovations. in 1894 and subsequently in the The Stolen Bacillus and Other IncidentsCollection of 15 short stories by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895. (1895). The story, told by an unnamed third-person narrator, concerns the events surrounding a burglary that at first seems to go badly, but is eventually successfully concluded.
The story begins by recounting how the newspapers have been full of news of the marriage of Lady Aveling to Lord Aveling, and the munificence of their wedding presents. On learning that the couple’s honeymoon is to be spent at Hammerpond, Teddy Watkins, a professional burglar, and his assistant resolve to visit Hammerpond in a “professional capacity”.
Watkins decides to pose as a landscape artist, claiming that the purpose of his visit is to paint Hammerpond House, the home of the Avelings, by night; his assistant is to join him on the final day of his stay. On the appointed day, Watkins sets up his easel in a position overlooking the house. He is soon joined by his assistant, who sets up trip wires to alert the pair to any intruders. Suddenly, as Watkins is preparing to enter the house via the dressing-room window, he hears a violent crash and a muffled curse as someone trips over the wire, and he makes a run for it. He is dimly aware of being pursued by two people, and thinks he can see the figure of his assistant ahead of him. Watkins catches up with the figure, but as the man turns his head Watkins realises that he does know him. The man flings himself at Watkins and the two men begin fighting on the ground, joined by the unknown man’s accomplice.
When Watkins recovers his senses he finds himself surrounded by eight or ten men, and supposes that he has been captured. But he notices that he has not been handcuffed, and someone is offering him a flask of brandy. He also sees that the two men he had been fighting with are part of the group, but they have been bound together. Lord Aveling introduces himself to Watkins, and thanks him for his efforts in apprehending the two young men, who had evidently been intent on stealing Lady Aveling’s jewels. His lordship invites Watkins into the house as a guest and offers him a room for the night, as he has suffered badly at the hands of the two tyro thieves, who turn out to be local amateurs. After a pleasant evening enjoying the hospitality of his host, Watkins eventually makes his way up to bed, in the little red room next to Lord Aveling’s suite.
Dawn finds a deserted easel in the grounds of the house, with a canvas on which “one brief uncivil word” has been daubed in a brilliant green. Hammerpond House is in commotion, as Teddy Watkins and the Aveling diamonds are nowhere to be found.
- H. G. Wells bibliographyList of publications written by H. G. Wells during the more than fifty years of his literary career.
- Full text of “The Hammerpond Park Burglary” at Project Gutenberg