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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. 7

hopelessly drunk; and so savagely quarrelsome, too, did he become, that I expected every instant to hear my avocation pointed out for the edification of the company. Strange to say, utterly stupid and savage as he seemed, all dangerous topics were carefully avoided. When the coach stopped, he got out—how I know not—and reeled and tumbled into the taproom, from which he declared he would not budge an inch till the next day. Vainly did the coachman remonstrate with him upon his foolish obstinacy; he might as well have agued with a bear; and he at length determined to leave him to his drunken humor. I was out of patience with the fellow; and snatching an opportunity when the room was clear, began to upbraid him for his vexatious folly. He looked sharply round and then, his body as evenly balanced, his eyes as clear, his speech as free as my own, crowed out in a low, exulting voice, “Didn’t I tell you I’d manage it nicely?”

The door opened, and, in a twinkling, extremity of drunkenness of both brain and limb, was again assumed with a perfection of acting I have never seen equaled. He had studied from nature, that was perfectly clear. I was quite

    satisfied, and with renewed confidence obeyed the coachman’s call to take my seat. Mr. Bristowe and I were now the only inside passengers; and as further disguise was useless, I began stripping myself of my superabundant clothing, wig, spectacles, &c., and in a few minutes, with the help of a bundle I had with me, presented to the astonished gaze of my fellow traveler the identical person that had so rudely accosted him in the coffee room at the Saracen’s Head inn.

“Why, what in the name of all that’s comical, is the meaning of this?” demanded Mr. Bristowe, laughing immoderately at my changing appearance.

I briefly and coolly informed him; and he was for some minutes overwhelmed with consternation and astonishment. He had not, he said, even heard of the catastrophe at his uncle’s. Still, amazed and bewildered as he was, no sign which I could interpret into an indication of guilt escaped him.

“I do not wish to obtrude upon your confidence, Mr. Bristowe,” I remarked, after a

Continued on p. 9

   


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