American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Jefferson Democrat, November 20, 1856

This story was reprinted as
“Adventure in a Gaming House in the Liberty Tribune [Clay County, MO], January 30, 1857.

Thrilling Adventure in a Gaming House

[From the Boston Traveller]
  He called himself George Thorn of Kentucky; so his card read, which he gave me in exchange for mine. In truth he was a noble specimen of the Corn-cracker State. Full six foot in height, a clear, intelligent blue eye, broad forehead, and light curly hair, muscular arms, and the chest of a Hercules, he challenged the admiration of more than one of the passengers, as with his serious and never smiling face he paced the promenade deck or sat apparently buried in thought in the saloon.

“Do you never play at cards?” said I to him, as he left a group that were standing about a table of four players, and noting the progress of the game. I had frequently seen him invited, but he invariably, like myself, refused to participate in the game.

“Oh yes,” said he, “but where is the use of playing here; those fellows (nodding toward the players) can tell every card in the pack by their backs, and they are trying hard to pluck poor some poor pigeon from among these . . .


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It was the Spring of 18-- that I found myself gliding upon the waters of the mighty Mississippi, and bound for the Crescent City, New Orleans.

With a single exception I had formed no traveling acquaintance on board the boat, although I had been nearly two days upon my journey, which was becoming somewhat monotonous. The individual with whom I singularly enough fraternized seemed like myself, to have but little inclination to extend his acquaintance among the passengers, though he seemed to be constantly upon the look out for someone, and from the close manner in which he regarded the operations of two or three of those individuals, whose profuse display of vest chains and jewelry and proficiency with cards at the tables in the saloon, betrayed their profession, I more than once set him down as some sort of police detective in disguise.





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