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American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
United States Democratic Review, August 1845
    “The Innocent Convict,” continued from p. 1

one of my classmates lost a considerable sum of money; it was stolen from his room, which adjoined my own, and it was the first theft which had ever been committed in the College. His name was Dracut, and although a townsman of my own, I had never been on intimate terms with him, for he was of a trifling temper, and his habits were irregular. We never liked each other, and I had avoided his company when I could without rudeness. The news of the theft caused a very great excitement in the College, the more so from Dracut having told the President that he believed one of his classmates had robbed him. But we repelled the imputation with scorn, and willingly submitted our premises to be searched. The president, a very good, but a very stern man, conducted the examination himself. To avoid all suspicion, we locked our doors and gave the keys of our rooms into the president’s hands, but after I had done so, I remembered that I had, the night before, left the miniature of Fielia, the president’s daughter, in my trunk. I had worn it next to my heart, suspended from my neck more than a month, but the hair chain by which it hung had parted,

    and I put it away until I could get it repaired. Fielia and myself had formed an attachment for each other which I had promised not to reveal, and she had given me her miniature, on the occasion of her going to visit a relation in a distant part of the state. When I thought that the sight of the miniature in my possession would reveal our secret to her father, I was very much agitated, and very imprudently asked permission to enter my room for a moment before it was searched, that I might remove it; for, in truth, the thought of suspicion resting upon me, had never entered my mind. The president looked sternly at me, and I, knowing that in a few moments he would be in possession of my secret, blushed and trembled.

“‘Be cautious, young man,’ he said, as he shook his finger at me.

“‘I submit,’ I replied, but said nothing more. But when he took hold of my trunk I trembled violently, and tried to fortify myself against his wrath when he should discover the cause of my apprehensions. As the miniature lay on top, it was the first object that met his eye. ‘How

Continued on p. 3

   
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