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American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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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.
 
Ellen Stephenson
  obliging person to his customers. I think his unprepossessing aspect was the more noticed by us from the striking contrast between it and the clear, candid brow, and altogether gentle and winsome countenance of his daughter, Ellen, the damsel who waited upon the parlour guests, and certainly one of its chief attractions. This, at least, was emphatically the case as regarded Mr. Richard Barstow, a superior young man, who had recently commenced business as a bookseller in Skinner Street. He, it was quite clear, encountered nightly the murky atmosphere of tobacco cloud entirely for the sake of the bright eyes, which ever and anon shone through it with a light from heaven; and I was not at all surprised to hear him say, as we one evening walked home together, — “Ellen Stephenson is certainly the prettiest girl, with the sweetest voice, the gentlest temper, and nicest manners in the world. I have a mind to pop the question, notwithstanding that prudence bids me . . .

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I was for several years in the frequent habit of spending an evening in the cozy parlour of a tavern, at no great distance from Farringdon Street, which has long since been pulled down, but at the period I write of had a prosperous trade, and was kept by a man of the name of Stephenson. This, in my wife’s very decided opinion, extremely objectionable practice, was brought to a sudden end by the alarming advent of twins, in swift succession to three single blessings of the same kind; previous, however, to which connubial catastrophe, one or two circumstances had occurred in connection with mine host of the Star and Garter, to which after events gave a strange colour and significance.

I must premise that I never liked the man,—the attraction of his house to me consisting solely in the company which frequented it,—though I could have given no other reason for the disfavour with which I and others regarded him, than a certain downcast, furtive expression of countenance which seldom left him, for he was a scrupulously civil and

   

 

 


 

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