American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Ballou’s Dollar Magazine, January, 1863.

This story was later included in the collection Leaves from the Note-Book of a New York Detective: The Private Record of J. B. Edited by John B. Williams, M.D. (New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1865. 95-100). The stories in this volume were purportedly written by the fictional character James Brampton.

Mr. Sterling’s Confession

by A New York Detective
  where I found him poring over a parchment.

“Brampton,” said he, after he had shaken hands with me, “do you know Mr. Sterling?”
“Sterling—Sterling,” said I, endeavoring to recollect; “I cannot say I do. But stay,” I continued, “I remember Mr. Sterling, a banker, with whom my father did business.”
“Exactly,” replied Mr. M., “he died last night.”

“Indeed,” I continued, supposing, of course, there was some mystery about his death to be investigated.
“Yes,” continued Mr. M., speaking slowly, “and he has left you by will seventy-five thousand dollars.”
“What!” I exclaimed, starting up from my chair, as If I had been shot.
“He has left you seventy-five thousand dollars,” repeated Mr. M., in a quiet tone.

“Impossible!” I returned; “I did not know . . .


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    My father was a respectable merchant, living in New York City. He met a terrible end perishing by fire. I was studying medicine at the time, with Dr. Betton, when I received the intelligence that my father’s house, in White Street, had been burned to the ground, and that he had perished in the flames. My mother was rescued. I immediately left for New York for the purpose of consoling her under her great affliction. When my father’s affairs came to be investigated, it was found that he had left my poor mother almost penniless, though I had been led to believe that he quite wealthy. It was partially this reason that made me give up the medical profession, for I knew from my mother’s scanty means she could ill afford the expense necessary to prosecute it vigorously.
It was about a year ago that my friend Mr. M., the well known New York attorney, sent for me, begging my immediate presence. I immediately hurried to his residence, supposing that he wished to consult me on some case. I was shown at once into his study,




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