The Paradise of Thieves By, G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton’s short story “The Paradise of Thieves” brings out the romantic adventure of “the great Muscari, most original of the young Tuscan Poets”. An adventurous fellow, he meets his friend Ezzawho “has been a prodigy at college” and “when he appeared in the world he failed”. The meeting takes place in an Italian restaurant after a very long time. Ezza has come as a courier to conduct the rich banker Mr. Harrogate. He has brought his daughter Miss. Ethel Harrogate and his son Frank Harrogate.
Ezza is supposed to guide the banker through a perilous mountain path. The peril comes not from the avalanche but from the brigands who still haunts and holds the mountain ridge. Montano, the king of thieves, has made the mountain path resound his terror with “his fierce proclamation nailed in every mountain village”.
“A day or two afterwards”, they set off in a coach. Ezza and the young banker carry loaded revolvers. Muscari is seated near to Miss. Ethel Harrogate. A priest by name Brown, “fortunately a silent individual” joins them. As they travel, they come “under overwhelming cliffs”. The horses are scared that they become ungovernable. They rear up and the whole coach “healed over like a ship and crashed over the cliff”.
Muscari helps everyone back to the normal position. All too suddenly, Muscari sees the brigands “six of them” advancing towards him. Then one of the brigands appears calling aloud “Montana – I am the king of thieves”. Muscari is shocked to find the brigand to be none other than his friend Ezza. He has wisely tricked the rich banker into the trap. Everyone has been taken prisoner by Ezza and his brigand group. He holds the Harrogate family for a ransom of three thousand pounds.
Yet, Muscari puts up a shift resistance as he manages to strike the brigand King (Ezza) on the shoulder. Rescue in the form of Italian policemen arrives on the scene. One of the policemen catches holds of Ezza and states the fact that the latter is going to be imprisoned for playing nasty tricks. The brigand story was well devised by the Banker himself.
Mr. Harrogate has embezzled funds of the Hull & Huddersfield Bank. He flees along with his children, to Italy. Soon after he pays Ezza a lot of money put up a scene that he has actually got himself captured. The Ransom money demanded will “explain both the disappearance of him”. For years he has been doing this. Now he is caught and there is no chance of way out. Desperately, Mr. Harrogate leaps out of his coach into “a thousand feet below, to become a wreck of bones in the valley”.
Muscari leads away the unhappy Miss. Ethel Harrogate, “who held hand to him as she did for many a year after”. Ezza is sent to the prison, and may be many more prisons in Glangow, Chicago, and “in short too enlightened, energetic, civilized society”. To Muscari, these places are “the real Paradise of Theives”.