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. 4

classmates, but no one had dared to call me a thief. My blood was on fire, and stepping up to my friend I struck him in the face with all my might. I have no distinct recollection of what immediately followed, but I know that I fought hard for a while, and at last found myself lying in a snow bank in the street. The cold air revived me in a degree, but I was still in a state of derangement. My head seemed like a balloon, and I ran yelling through the streets until I came to a house where I heard music, and I forced my way through the door into a room where a party of soldiers were dancing to the music of a fife and drum. It was a rendezvous for enlisting men to go to Florida. I was thirsty and called for drink; what they gave me I do not know, nor what happened afterwards. But I shall never forget my feelings when I awoke the next morning and found myself lying upon the floor in a dirty room surrounded by drunken recruits in their ill fitting dresses. My head was burs­ing with pain, and my throat was burning with thirst, while my limbs were so stiff that I could scarce stand upon my feet. It was very cold, and I looked round for my hat but could not find it. I

    felt in my pockets, and they were empty. I woke up one of the men who was asleep on a bench, and learned from him that I was in a rendezvous for enlisting soldiers, and that I had enlisted myself in the service for five years. I was alarmed and called for the sergeant, who not only confirmed what the man had told me, but refused to allow me to leave the house. I told him my trunk was at the stage-house, and that I must leave that morning for home. He still refused to allow me to leave his house, unless I repaid him the bounty which I had received, but I had no money to return, neither could I get any. I sent to the stage-house for my trunk, and found that it had been carried away in the stage at daylight. I was in a strange town, without a cent in my pocket, or a hat upon my head, and in the depth of winter. The sergeant swore that I had received the bounty and had spent it at the bar, and he produced a receipt which certainly had something like my name signed to it. I could do nothing but submit to my fate, which I did with as good a grace as possible, for I supposed that I should meet with no difficulty in getting free as soon as I saw the commanding officer of the station.

Continued on p. 6

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