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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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Published in
New York Ledger, April 10, 1858.

This story was reprinted anonymously in the Fort Atkinson [Wisconsin] Standard, November 28, 1861.

   
The Left-Handed Thief
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by Sylvanus Cobb, Jr.
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“How many young men have been injured and perhaps ruined, by false suspicion,” remarked my mercantile friend, as we were conversing upon the subject of the panic a few evenings since. Suspicion is like an assassin in the dark; it stabs its victim and he knows not whence the blow comes. Or it may be more like the keen frost seizing upon the ears, and driving back the life-blood, and yet the poor man is totally ignorant of his situation till he comes in contact with the heat, and begins to feel the stinging pain. But I believe I never told you of the time that suspicion of evil was fastened upon me. It has nothing to do with the subject under consideration, though it serves to show how merchants lose money.

When a mere youth I was placed in the hands of Jacob Wharton, a merchant doing a good business. I was frugal, industrious, and faithful, and at the age of twenty-one I was advanced to the position of book keeper with a good salary.

    I had charge of the books and the safe, and all the money left over banking hours was also in my care. I tried to do my duty faithfully and Ithink I succeeded. Mr. Wharton was a close methodical man, with a quick eye and ready understanding of business, and as I fancied he was satisfied, I felt much pleased.

I had been a book keeper a year, when I thought my employer’s manner towards me seemed changed – he began to treat me more coolly and finally I was sure he watched my movements with distrustful glances; I became nervous and uneasy, for I feared I had offended him. But the thing came to a head at length.

One evening when I was alone in the store engaged in making up my cash account, Mr. Wharton came to me with a troubled look and spoke. His voice was tremulous and I could see that he was deeply affected; he said:

“George, I am sorry for the conviction which has been forced upon me; I fear you have . . .

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