American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Harper's New Monthly Magazine, October 1852.

This story was later published in the collection Leaves from the Diary of a Law-Clerk by the Author of “Recollections of a Detective Police Officer,” &c. London: J.C. Brown & Co., 1857.
A Dark Chapter from the Diary of a Law Clerk
  closely into his deceased father’s affairs, that were everybody paid, he himself would be leftlittle better than a pauper. Still, if the noble landlord could be induced to give a very long day for the heavy balance due to him,—not only for arrears of rent, but moneys received on his lordship’s account, —Mark, who was a prudent, energetic young man, nothing doubted of pulling through without much difficulty,—the farm being low rented, and the agency lucrative. This desirable object, however, proved exceedingly difficult of attainment, and after a protracted and fruitless negotiation, by letter, with Messrs. Winstanley, of Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, London, his lordship’s solicitors, the young farmer determined, as a last resource, on a journey to town, in the vague hope that on a personal interview he should find those gentlemen not quite such square, hard, rigid, persons as their written communications indicated them to be. Delusive hope! They were precisely as stiff, formal, accurate, and unvarying as their . . .


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A small pamphlet was printed at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in 1808, which purports to be “A Full and Complete Summary of the Extraordinary Matters brought to light concerning the Bridgman Family and Richard Green, of Lavenham, with many Interesting Particulars never before published.” By this slight brochure—which appears to have had a local circulation only, and that a very confined one—I have corrected and enlarged my own version of the following dark page in the domestic annals of this country.

One Ephraim Bridgman, who died in 1783, had for many years farmed a large quantity of land in the neighborhood of Lavenham, or Lanham (the name is spelt both ways), a small market-town about twelve miles south of Bury St. Edmunds. He was also land agent as well as tenant to a noble lord possessing much property thereabout, and appears to have been a very fast man for those times, as, although he kept up appearances to the last, his only child and heir, Mark Bridgman, found, on looking





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