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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Brooklyn Eagle, October 5, 1850
Excerpted from “The Detective Police” by Charles Dickens in Household Words, August 10, 1850 (vol. 1, no. 20, p. 457-460)
   
The Butcher's Story—A Detective Police Party
[by Charles Dickens]

“It’s just about six years ago, now, since information was given at Scotland Yard of there being extensive robberies of lawns and silks going on, at some wholesale houses in this city. Directions were given for the business being looked into; and Straw, and Fendall, and me—we were all in it.”

“When you received your instructions,” said we, “you went away, and held a sort of Cabinet Council together!”

The smooth-faced officer coaxingly replied, “Ye-es. Just so. We turned it over among ourselves a good deal. It appeared, when we went into it, that the goods were sold by the receivers extraordinarily cheap––much cheaper than they could have been if they had been honestly come by. The receivers were in the trade, and kept capital shops––establishments of the first respectability––one of ’em at the West End, one down in Westminster. After a lot of watching and inquiry, and this and that

    among ourselves, we found that the job was managed, and the purchases of the stolen goods made, at a little public house near Smithfield, down by Saint Bartholomew’s; where the Warehouse Porters, who were the thieves, took ’em for that purpose, don’t you see? and made appointments to meet the people that went between themselves and the receivers. This public house was principally used by journeymen butchers from the country, out of place, and in want of situations; so, what did we do, but—ha, ha, ha!—we agreed that I should be dressed up like a butcher myself, and go and live there!”

Never, surely, was a faculty of observation better brought to bear upon a purpose, than that which picked out this officer for the part. Nothing in all creation could have suited him better. Even while he spoke, he became a greasy, sleepy, shy, good-natured, chuckle-headed, unsuspicious, and confiding young butcher. His very hair seemed to have suet in it, as he made it smooth upon his head, and . . .

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