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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
The New York Ledger, September 21, 1861.
 
Mysterious Disappearances
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by Sylvanus Cobb, Jr.
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  to cut and make the hay for him, and put it into his own barn; and also to take care of his cattle. His sheep—and he had a large flock—we were to shear, and if we chose to dispose of the wool, we might do so. But there is no need of detailing all the items in our arrangement. Suffice it that the whole bargain was greatly to our advantage, and that we accepted the stipulations most cheerfully. Mr. Pownal went away in April, and we took charge of his place from that time.

Isaac Perkins had been my neighbor only a few years, but I learned to esteem him even above many of the older inhabitants. As a neighbor he was kind and obliging; as a friend he had proved himself true and reliable; and as a man and a Christian he stood above reproach. He was one of the deacons of our church; and in that capacity he had seemed to do his duty truly and faithfully. He had enemies—and who has not?—and there had been some hard things said about him; but I had never given any ear to the stories, because I believed the man to be entirely above them.

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    Our three farms were near together. Mine was a small one; and Deacon Perkins’s was a small one; but that belonging to Mr. Pownal was one of the largest and best in the town. The deacon and I lived upon the top of a gentle eminence, his house upon one side of the road, and mine upon the other; while Pownals’s buildings stood over upon another eminence an eighth of a mile off. One spring Mr. Pownal received a letter from a brother, who resided in Texas, requesting him to come out there to attend to a matter of important business. At first our neighbor thought it would be impossible for him to go; but upon deliberation he concluded that his interests would be answered by obeying his brother’s request. As soon as he had made up his mind to this effect, he set about making arrangements for the care of his farm during his absence. He meant to take his whole family with him; and, at his wife’s request, he decided to shut up his house. He called upon the deacon and myself, and, at his own proposition, the following arrangement was made: We—that is, the deacon and I—were to do all the planting and sowing, and the harvest therefrom was to be ours. We were    

 

 


 

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