American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Strange Stories of a Detective; or, Curiosities of Crime. New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1863. 170-7.
The Doctor’s Story

by A Retired Member of the Detective Police

[William Russell]

  A blazing fire is provocative of thought, and a cup of tea is no preventive; I sat, therefore, and sipped and thought. I was staring into the blaze, and recalling a hundred days in the past—a hundred incidents, having a chain that led invisibly from my first thought. I recalled the night when I sat in my humble lodg­ing the first day of my arrival in New York, fresh from the small town where I was accounted of some importance among my peers, and how my self-esteem was lowered from my one day’s experience of the great city. I recalled my first entrance in the Medical School, my disgust, and my ambition; the grad­ual sloughing from the half-rude country lad to the rather stylish city-dressed young man. The going into society, and the first and last real passion of my life, Marianne Graydon, that more than sacred memory to me of twenty years—­that memory for which I sit here a solitary, solemn man, wifeless and childless at forty-five—I sat before the blazing fire that night and thought of it all.

I met her first at a musical soirée. Before I . . .


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    One cold, blustering, snowy night in November, I had reached my home utterly tired and exhausted with my day’s labor; and as I threw myself into the great arm-chair before a blazing fire of bituminous coal, and felt the cozy com­fort of my room, the luxury of the warm dry stockings and slippers, the grateful fumes of the tea and steak standing before me on the table, I could not but feel great happiness in the thought that I had nothing further to draw me away from the house that night. I had left each and all of my patients in a state that my services could be dispensed with till morning. This is a circumstance so seldom enjoyed by a physician in good practice, that when it does occur it is looked upon as no common holiday.

I could listen to the mutterings of the wind, and the tapping of the frozen snow against the window-pane, almost with enjoyment, or rather with a feeling that added a zest to what I was partak­ing of inside.




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