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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. 122-6.

 

 
Esther

by A Retired Member of the Detective Police

[William Russell]

Chapter I.
  stone from a dock.”

“Murder! Mur-d-e-r! Mur-d-e-r!”

Up starts Jacob Allen. The dire words, distinct to the last drowned syllable, take possession of him like spirits. For a moment, resting half upright he listens; but there is nothing more. So now he stands up and thinks.
 
“That was a woman’s voice. And it came from up stream. If some poor creetur had been shoved overboard, she’ll float down this way. Tide’s turned by this time. The boat!–quick!”
 
He has sculled out, under the starlight over the black river; and there he stands, waiting, eyebrows contracted, fingers parted, leaning forward, piercing, as far as he can, into the darkness.

“There! No! Yes! There is something! Here it comes!”
 
He clutches at it, on his knees, leaning over the gunwale of the heeling boat; he struggles . . .

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    Jacob Allen, captain of a timber sloop, which lay at her pier far up on the North River side of the city, chose to sleep, one hot, close night, two summers ago, on the deck of his Lady Franklin “The Lady,” as he familiarly called her, was his own from keel to streamer; and he liked better to “stay at home” in her cabin or on her deck, than to find lodgings ashore. The tide was high at the stillest hour, not long before dawn, and there was neither ripple at rudder, nor flutter at pennant; and Jacob lay wide awake—it happened so—looking up at the stars. Far off, on the opposite shore, he hears the barking of a dog; on this side, but from streets and streets away, comes the dull rattling of a cart: hardly another sound does he hear, although conscious of faint, indefinite murmurs in the air.
 
Splash!
 
“What’s that? A rat, I suppose; or a loose
   

 

 

 
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