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. 3

O, if some of these awakened people who had the goodness to pray for me, had taken me by the hand and whispered an encouraging word in my ear, I could have died for them. They would have made me happy beyond expression. But I had to weep in solitude; nobody spoke to me good or ill.

“On my return to my mother’s house, I had to pass through the town of P—, where, in consequence of a heavy fall of snow, I was compelled to remain all night. At the stage-house I met an old acquaintance, some three or four years my senior, who had recently established himself in the town as a lawyer. He was a graduate of my college, but he had not heard of my disgrace; he asked me a thousand questions about the professors and students, and at last invited me to his room. I was glad to accept his invitation, but I determined before I left him, to tell him of my expulsion from college, and the cause of it.

“He had a box of segars and a basket of champagne in his room, but I could not smoke, and I had never tasted of champagne. Indeed I had never before seen a champagne bottle. He

    brought me a couple of slender wineglasses and a basket of small cakes, and pressed me to drink. I drank one glass full of the champagne, and felt quite happy. The sparkling liquor produced a temporary insanity. Never before had I experienced in the slightest degree the sensation of drunkenness. The wine sparkled charmingly, my friend was pressing, and I drank again and again. I was mad with delight. I laughed, and shouted, and danced. I forgot all my troubles, and in my delirium of joy behaved, I fear, in a very improper manner. Whilst we were engaged in boisterous revelry, another young law­yer came in, the friend of my friend. We were introduced to each other, and soon after I discovered the two lawyers whispering together.

“‘I suppose you are talking about me?’ I said.

‘“Yes, you thief, we were,’ replied my friend; ‘how dare you impose yourself upon me, when you knew that I had not heard of your villainy?’

“I had been treated with cold contempt by my

Continued on p. 5

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