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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Ballou’s Dollar Monthly Magazine, November, 1862

This story was later included in the collection Leaves from the Note-Book of a New York Detective: The Private Record of J. B. Edited by John B. Williams, M.D. (New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1865. 30-5.). The stories in this volume were purportedly written by the fictional character James Brampton.

 

 
The Accusing Leaves

by A New York Detective

  words ensued between them. At last the youngman rose from his seat as if to strike the old gentleman. It was then that I caught light of his face for the first time, and recognized in him a noted pickpocket. I thought it was now time for me to interfere. I laid my hand gently on the young man's shoulder, he turned sharply round, but the moment he saw me he turned pale, and could not utter a word.
 
“Don't you think you had better leave the theatre, Emory?” said I.

“Certainly, Mr. Brampton, if you say so,” he replied, completely cowed by my presence.
 
“Go, then!” I exclaimed, pointing to the door.

Emory took up his hat and walked out without saying a word. When he was gone the old gentleman introduced himself to me as Mr. Palmer, and thanked me for the interference in his behalf, although he could not understand the power I exercised over his antagonist. This, however, I soon made clear to him by relating to him the nature of my profession, and the . . .

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    It is astonishing what a small circumstance will sometimes serve to detect a criminal. I have known the most simple thing, which in itself seemed so trivial as to be deemed scarcely worthy of notice, in more than one instance serve to clear up a mystery and bring a guilty party to justice. The history I am about to relate is a case in point.

Some six years ago there lived in a good substantial dwelling, about a mile from Hoboken, a gentleman of the name of Palmer. His household consisted of himself, an only daughter, and a servant girl. I became acquainted with Mr. Palmer in a rather curious manner.
 
I was at the theatre one night, and noticed an old gentleman seated in front of me, who was very vociferous in his applause. This appeared to annoy a young man who sat by his side, and he several times made some disparaging remark at the old man's expense. This at last became so annoying that the latter took it up, and high

   

 

 

 
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