American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
The New York Ledger, March 30, 1861
The Horse Detective

by Dr. S. Compton Smith

  approaching a thicket on the northern side of the path, our horses suddenly shied to the right, and evidencing great alarm, refused to pass the spot.

Dismounting, and throwing the rein of my bridle over the pummel of my friend’s saddle, I entered the thicket, to discover the cause of their unusual excitement.

I perceived in the dust of the road, the appearance of something heavy having been dragged through it in the direction of the bank of the bayou, and following this track into the dark shadow of the clump, I was horrified at the sight that met my eyes.

Before me lay the body of a large, well-dressed man, who had been most inhumanly murdered, for beside a pistol shot through the head, the throat was cut from ear to ear, and the embroidered vest and fine linen shirt bosom were slashed and dabbled with gouts of blood, from wide knife-wounds in the breast and side.

The man had but just been murdered, for . . .


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    In the winter of 1836, I was stopping for a while with a planter friend, whose extensive cotton fields stretched along the west bank of the Boque Chitto, where that stream, after traversing Pike County, in the State of Mississippi, crosses the State line into the Parish of Washington, Louisiana. The plantation lay wholly in the former State, but its southern limit was formed by the highway that led westward from the Pearl River to the Mississippi. This road lay directly on the surveyed boundary of the two States, so that two neighbors, meeting in their morning ride, could shake hands from their saddles, and each in his own State—the Mississippian and the Louisianian standing each on his own soil.

One morning business made it necessary for me to ride to Franklinton, the county town of Washington parish, and the weather being unusually fine, my friend proposed to accompany me there.

We had reached the State line road, along which our road lay for a little way, when, on




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