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. 6

punishment would have been dismissal from office. These men were citizens of the country, in its service like their officers, and why they should receive this degrading punishment, I could neither understand then nor now. My spirits almost gave out while I remained in confinement, for I was unused to exposure and coarse food, but my health was good, and every day I grew stronger and more reconciled to my condition. In about a month a court-martial was held, and I was acquitted on the score of ignorance.

“During my arrest there had been a change of officers at the fort, and our new commander, Major A—, gave me leave of absence for a day and night, as a compensation for my unjust confinement in the black hole, as the dungeon in which I was shut up was called. I was glad enough to be allowed the privilege of stretching my limbs beyond the walls of the fort, but my delight was not excessive, since I was forced to wear the degrading livery of a hired soldier; a mark of shame that gains the wearer the intuitive contempt of all honest men. I wandered away by myself, and to escape
    observation spent nearly the whole day in a burying ground. At night I went into the town and joined a party of soldiers, on liberty, like myself, in the cellar of a cookshop, where I ate a hearty supper of fried beef and onions at their expense, for I had not a copper in my pockets. They soon went out and left me alone, and while I sat by the fire there came in two men, who seemed by their dress to be mechanics. They called for a supper of oysters, and asked me to join them. I refused, but they pressed me, and I consented. Indeed, I felt grateful for their notice.

“It was one of the first acts of kindness that

had been shown me since my expulsion from college. My entertainers were extremely rude, and I thought that they had a sinister look; but I could not but think that I, who had suffered so severely from unjust suspicions, should not suspect others without better reasons than mere appearances! After their supper was over, they asked me to go with them to their aunt’s house. They took me to an old house in the outskirts of the town, with a dim light in one of the upper windows. Finding the door

Continued on p. 8

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