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. 8

long pause; “but you must perceive that unless the circumstances I have related to you are in some way explained, you stand in a perilous predicament.”

“You are right,” he replied, after some hesitation. “It is a tangled web; still, I doubt not that some mode of vindicating my perfect innocence will present itself.”

He then relapsed into silence; and neither of us spoke again till the coach stopped, in accordance with a previous intimation I had given the coachman, opposite the gate of the Kendal prison. Mr. Bristowe started and changed color, but, instantly mastering his emotions he calmly said,

“You of course but perform your duty; mine is not to distrust a just and all-seeing Providence.”

We entered the jail, and the necessary search of his clothes and luggage was effected as forbearingly as possible. To my great dismay we found among the money in his purse a Spanish gold piece of a peculiar coinage, and in

    the lining of portmanteau, very dexterously hidden, a cross set with brilliants, both of which I knew, by the list forwarded to the London police, formed part of the plunder carried off from Five Oakes House. The prisoner’s vehement protestations that he could not conceive how such articles came into his possession excited a deserved smile on the face of the veteran turnkey; while I was thoroughly dumbfounded by the seemingly complete demolition of the theory of innocence I had woven out of his candid open manner and unshakable hardihood of nerve.

“I dare say the articles came to you in your sleep!” sneered the turnkey as we turned to leave the cell.

“Oh,” I mechanically exclaimed, “in his sleep! I had not thought of that!” The man started; but I had passed out of the prison before he could express his surprise or contempt in words.

The next morning the justice room was densely crowded to, hear the examination of the prisoner. There was also a very numerous attendance of magistrates; the case, from the

Continued on p. 10


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