American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Harper's New Monthly Magazine, June 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.
Edward Drysdale
  was much the richest of the two, having contrived to pick up a considerable amount ofprize-money, in addition to a rather large sum inherited from his father. Neither did the difference of circumstances oppose in Bradshaw’s opinion, the slightest obstacle to the union of his niece and heiress, Rachel Elford, with Edward Drysdale, his fellow veteran’s only surviving offspring. The precedent condition, however, was that Edward should attain permanent rank in the Royal Navy; and with this view, a midshipman’s warrant was obtained in ’99 for the young man, then in his eighteenth year, and he was despatched to sea.

The naval profession proved to be, unfortunately, one for which Edward Drysdale was altogether unfitted by temperament and bent of mind; and sad consequences followed. He had been at sea about eighteen months, when news reached England of a desperate, but successful cutting-out affair by the boats of . . .


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About the year 1798, James Bradshaw and William Drysdale, both invalided masters of the Royal Navy, cast anchor for the remainder of their lives at about twelve miles’ distance from Exeter, on the London road. Bradshaw named his domicile, an old-fashioned straggling building, “Rodney Place,” in honour of the Admiral, in whose great victory he had fought. Drysdale’s smaller and snugger dwelling, about half a mile away from “Rodney Place,” was called “Poplar Cottage,” and about midway between them stood the “Hunter’s Inn,” a roadside public house, kept by one Thomas Burnham, a stout-hearted, jolly-bellied individual, the comeliness of whose rubicund figurehead was considerably damaged by the loss of an eye, of which, however, it is right to say, the extinguished light appeared to have been transferred in undiminished intensity to its fiery, piercing fellow. The retired masters, who had long known each other, were intimate as brothers, notwithstanding that Bradshaw





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