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. 2

came you by this?’ he said angrily; but I made no reply. I was choked with mortification, and fear of being expelled from college. He took up a cravat next. Something dropped out of the folds upon the floor. Professor Wilson, who is now President of a Western college, picked it up, and turning pale as he spoke, exclaimed, ‘It’s the lost money!’ It was a small roll of bank bills. All eyes were turned upon me, and for a moment only I was dumb with amazement. The next, I dropped upon my knees and called Heaven to witness that I was innocent. But my agony and solemn protestations only gained me scornful looks, and a sharp reproof from the President, who now accused me of stealing his daughter’s miniature. This, I knew, would soon be disproved, but as to the other, I was in despair. I begged with tears and prayers that my classmates and the Professors would believe me innocent; or that at least, for my mother’s sake, I might not be expelled from college. I made use of every argument that I could to convince the President of my innocence, but all without effect. I was expelled, but not prosecuted, and I had the mortification of being

    made the subject of a prayer meeting, for there happened to be a revival among the students, held with special reference to my crime. I had one consolation. I knew that my mother would believe me innocent. But O, what a blow to her tender heart, to have me accused of theft, and to see me expelled from college, without the honors which she had hoped to see me obtain! And then, Fielia! How could I ever hope to convince her of my innocence, or that she would ever listen to my addresses again. To add to my other miseries, I had not money enough to pay my travelling expenses home. I would not wait for a remittance from my mother, and I had no friend in the college of whom I could borrow. But I had an antiquated gold watch, of little intrinsic value, but a precious jewel to me, for it had been worn by my ancestors, and was bequeathed to me as a memento of affection. By pawning this precious heirloom and my books to the college bookseller, I raised money enough to take me home. I was nearly dead with grief, and if it had not been for thoughts of my mother, I think that I should have destroyed myself. On every side I encountered nothing but scornful looks.

Continued on p. 4

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