American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Daily State Journal [Madison, WI], January 10, 1857
The Pedler’s [sic] Story

A cold winter’s night several years since found a stage load of travelers gathered around a warm fire of a tavern barroom in a New England village.  Shortly after we arrived a pedler drove up and ordered that his horse should be stabled for the night.—After we had eaten supper we repaired to the barroom and as soon as the ice was broken the conversation flowed freely.  Several anecdotes had been related, and finally the pedler was asked to give us a story, as men of his profession were generally full of adventures and anecdotes.  He was a short, thick man, somewhere about forty years of age, and gave evidence of great physical strength.  He gave his name as Lemuel Vitney, and his home was in Dover, New Hampshire.

“Well, gentlemen,” he commenced, knocking the ashes from his pipe, and putting it in his pocket, “suppose I tell you about the last thing of any consequence that happened home.  You see I am now right from the far West and on my way home for winter quarters.  It during the early part of last spring, one pleasant evening, I pulled up at the door of a small

    village tavern in Hancock, Indiana.  I said it was pleasant—I meant it was cloudy and likely to be very dark.  I went in and had my horse taken care of.  It began to rain about 8 o’clock and for a while it poured down good, and it was very dark out of doors.

Now, I wanted to be in Jackson early the next morning, for I expected a load of goods there for me, which I intended to dispose of on my way home.  The moon would rise about midnight, and I knew if it would not rain I could get along very comfortable after that.  So I asked the landlord if he could not see that my horse was fed abut midnight, as I wished to be off before two.  He expressed some surprise at this, asked why I did not stay for breakfast.  I told him I had sold my last load about all out, and that a new lot of goods were waiting for me at Jackson, and I wanted to be there before the express agent left in the morning.  There was a number of people sitting around while I told this but I took little notice of them, one only arrested my attention.  I had seen that week notices for the detection of a notorious . . .


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