American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Milwaukee Sentinel and Gazette, November 1 & 2, 1849
The Daily Sanduskian, November 7, 8, 9, 1849
The Sheboygan Mercury, November 10, 1849
The Oskosh True Democrat, November 23, 1849

This story was originally published as “Recollections of a Police-Officer: Guilty or Not Guilty?” in Chambers' Edinburgh Journal on August 25, 1849.

It was later published in the collection Recollections of a Police-Officer by William Russell, under the pseudonym Thomas Waters (London: J.& C. Brown & Co., 1856).

Prior to the British publication of this volume, a pirated collection of the stories—also titled Recollections of a Police-Officer—was published in America (New York: Cornish and Lamport, 1852).

    "Guilty or Not Guilty?" continued from p. 15

“Is not that fellow sober yet?” I demanded of one of them.

“No, he has been lying about drinking and snoring ever since. He went to bed, I hear, this afternoon; but he appears little the better for it.”

I had an opportunity soon afterwards of speaking to Barnes privately, and found that one of the fellows had brought a chaise cart and horse from Kendal, and that all three were to depart in about an hour, under pretense of reaching a town about fourteen miles distant, where they intended to sleep. My plan was immediately taken, I returned to the parlor, and watching my opportunity, whispered into the ear of the young gentleman whose nerves had been so shaken by Barnes’ ventriloquism, and who, by the way, was my old acquaintance—“Dick Staples, I want a word with you in the next room.” I spoke in my natural voice, and lifted for his especial study and edification, the wig from my forehead. He was thunderstruck; and his teeth chattered with terror. His two companions were absorbed over a low game at cards, and did not observe.

    “Come,” I continued in the same low whisper, “there is not a moment to lose; if you would save yourself, follow me!” And he did so, and I led him into an adjoining apartment, closed the door, and drawing a pistol from my coat pocket, said— “You perceive, Staples, that the game is up; you personated Mr. Bristowe at his uncle’s house at Five Oaks, dressed in a precisely similar suit of clothes to that which he wears. You murdered his servant”—

“No—no—no, not I,” gasped the wretch, “not I—I did not strike her.”

“At all events you were present, and that, as far as the gallows is concerned, is the same thing. You also picked the gentleman’s pocket during our journey from London, and placed one of the stolen Spanish pieces in his purse; you then went on the roof of the coach, and by some ingenious means or other contrived to secrete a cross set with brilliants into his portmanteau.”

“What shall I do—what shall I do?” screamed the young fellow half dead with fear, and slipping down on a chair; “What shall I do to

Continued on p. 17


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