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. 3

confederate with them. Even of this latter personage he could afford no tangible information; and the inspector having quietly listened to his statement—intended, doubtless, as a mystification—told him the police should make inquiries, and wished him good morning.

As soon as he had turned out of Scotland Yard by the street leading to the Strand, I was upon his track. He walked but without pausing until he reached the Saracen’s Head, Snow-Hill, where to my great astonishment, he booked himself for Westmoreland by the night coach. He then walked into the inn, and seated himself in the coffee room, called for a pint of sherry wine and some biscuits. He was now safe for a short period at any rate; and I was about to take a turn in the street, just to meditate upon the most advisable course of action, when I espied three buckishly attired, bold-faced looking fellows—one of whom I thought I recognized, spite of his fine dress—enter the booking office. Naturally anxious in my vocation, I approached as closely to the door as I could without being observed, and heard one of them—my acquaintance sure enough, I could not be deceived in that voice—ask the

    clerk if there were any places in the night coach to Westmoreland! Why, what in the name of Mercury could a detachment of the Swell-mob be wanting in that country of furze and frieze coats? The next sentence uttered by my friend, as he place the money for booking three insiders to Kendal on the counter was equally or perhaps more puzzling: “Is the gentleman who entered the office just now—him with a foraging cap I mean—to be our fellow passenger?”

“Yes, he has booked himself; and has, I think, since gone into the house.”

“Thank you; good morning.”

I had barely time to slip into one of the passages, when the three gentlemen came out of the office, passed me, and swaggered out of the yard. Vague, undefined suspicions at once beset me relative to the connection of these worthies with the “foraging cap” and the doings at Kendal. There was evidently something in all this more than natural, if police philosophy could but find it out. I resolved at all events to try; and in order to have a chance

Continued on p. 5


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