American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Harper’s New Magazine, May 1852.

This story was reprinted as "The Parisian Police" in The Flag of Our Union, November 11, 1865.

Crime Detected.—An Anecdote of the Paris Police.
  “A great and terrible, but necessary and inevitable deed,” he continued, “is to be done. Time presses; a soul about to pass into eternity implores your ministry. If you come you must allow your eyes to be bandaged, ask no questions, and consent to act simply as spiritual consoler of a dying woman. If you refuse to accompany me, no other priest can be admitted, and her spirit must pass alone.”

After a moment of secret prayer, the curé answered, “I will go with you.” Without asking any further explanation, he allowed his eyes to be bandaged, and leaned on the arm of his suspicious visitor. They both got into a coach, whose windows were immediately covered by wooden shutters, and then they drove off rapidly. They seemed to go a long way, and make many doublings and turnings ere the coach drove under a wide archway and stopped.

During this time, not a single word had been exchanged between the travelers, and ere . . .


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PREVIOUSLY to the year 1789, but at what precise date I cannot say, the city of Paris possessed as guardian of its safety, and chief minister of police, a man of rare talent and integrity. At the same period, the parish of St. Germais, in the quarter of the Rue St. Antoine, had for its curé a kind venerable old man, whose whole life was spent in doing good to both the souls and bodies of his fellow-creatures, and whose holy consistency and dignified courage caused him to be loved by the good, and respected by even the most abandoned characters. One cold dark winter’s night, the bell at the old curé’s door was rung loudly, and he, although in bed, immediately arose and opened the door, anticipating a summons to some sick or dying bed.

A personage, richly dressed, with his features partly concealed by a large false beard, stood outside. Addressing the curé in a courteous and graceful manner, he apologized for his unseasonable visit, which, as he said, the high reputation of monsieur had induced him to make.





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