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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
The Manitowoc [WI] Pilot, December 23, 1859.

The Manitowoc [WI] Pilot credited the London periodical Once a Week.

 
The English Highwayman
  it up easily, because, you see, no one thought of resisting Tom. So it was that all sorts of conflicting descriptions of his person got abroad. One said he was an awfully tall man, with thunder; another that he was a mild little man with black eyes and light hair, He was a fiery fat man, with blue eyes and black hair, with some; he had a jolly red face—he was pale as death; his nose was Roman one day—Grecian or snub the next. His dress was all the colors of the rainbow, and as for his horse, that was of every shade and breed that was ever heard of, and a good many more besides, that have yet to be found out. He wore a black half mask, but somehow it was always obliging enough to slip off, so as to give each of his victims a full view of his face, only no two of them could ever agree as to what it was like.

My father was a Gloucestershire man.—He stood six feet three inches in his stockings and measured thirty-six inches across his chest. He could double up half a crown between his finger and thumb, and was brave as a lion. He had many a time and oft, when anyone talked of the dangers of the road, would set his . . .

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Tom Rocket was a highwayman. No one ever christened him Tom, and his father’s name was not Rocket. When he was tried for his life in Warwick assizes, he was arraigned as Charles Jackson, and they were particular about names then.— If you indicted a man as Jim and his true name was Joe, he got off; and when the law was altered, so that they could get such errors corrected at the trial, people, leastwise lawyers, thought that the British constitution was being pulled up root and branch. But that’s neither here nor there. I cannot tell you how it was that he came to be know as Tom Rocket, and, if I could, it would not have anything to do with my story. For six years he was famous thief in the midland counties, and for six years no one knew what he was like. He was a lazy fellow, was Tom; he never came out except when there was a good prize to be picked up, and he had his scouts and his spies all over the place, to give him information about booty and warn him of danger. But, to judge by what people said, he was “on the road” at half at dozen different places at once, every day of his life; for, you see, when anyone was robbed of his property, or found it convenient so to account for it, why he laid it upon Tom Rocket as a sort of excuse for giving

   

 

 


 

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