American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
United States Democratic Review, August 1845
The Innocent Convict. A Tale
by C. F. Briggs
  I promised.

“You have always known me by the name of Goodwin, but my true name is Godspeed; this was the name of both of my parents. They were cousins, and I was an only child. The house in which I was born, my grandfather was also born in. It was built on the Merrimack river, by one of my ancestors, a few years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. My father died when I was a child, and left my mother with but slender means for her support. But she was a prudent woman, though very ambitious, and I fear that she deprived herself of many comforts that I might enjoy the advantages of a collegiate education. It was her chief desire to see me a preacher of the gospel, and tenderly as she must have loved me, I believe that she hoped to see me a missionary in India. Poor fond old woman! My worthless Latin cost you many a pang, and I fear your life!”

Goodwin hesitated for a few moments, wiped his eyes, and went on with his story.

“I had nearly finished my college course, when

Continued on p. 2

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    “And were you really a prisoner?” I said, “or was it only in your character of Visitor that you learned all these things.”

“I was really a prisoner,” replied Goodwin, “I served five years in the — State Prison, and yet, I trust, I need not say to you that I was never guilty in my life of transgressing the law in the smallest degree.”

“No, you need not say so,” said I, “I think I know you well enough to feel certain that you could never have committed an offence which would entail such a disgrace upon you. We all know that there are plenty of rogues who go unpunished, but I was not prepared to hear that innocent men are sent to prison. Pray, how did it happen?”

“If you have patience to hear, I will tell you, if you will promise never to allude to the subject again. You may well believe that it is extremely painful to me; but, beyond that, I have no desire for the notoriety which the knowledge of my singular misfortune would give me in the world.”




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