American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Harper’s Weekly, February 27, 1858.
The Pet of the Law
  as plump as a butcher, and looking as if he had been at the seaside for a long season. My eldest son, aged twenty-two, is out on a ticket-of-leave; and we often talk together about the way in which he interested the chaplain in his welfare. He said he thought he could be of immense service in trying to convert his family from the evil course they had adopted, and the chaplain and the governor of the prison—a governor of the new school—thought he could. To do the young man justice, he mentioned the subject once or twice when he came home; but I think he broke down when he pretended to prove to his sister, in the presence of the chaplain, that needlework was, in the long run, more profitable than shoplifting. What effect his arguments might have had if he could have devoted more time to enforcing them, I cannot tell; but he is out a great deal, especially at night, and is doing very well, to judge by the money that I have seen him with lately. The rumor that he was the man who gave. . .


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Ever since I can remember, up to the period when I reached fifty years of age, I was a thief; not an amateur occasional thief, not one of those impulsive fallen respectabilities who do some piece of inartistic crime, and then are sorry for it; but a regular professional trained thief, who was, and is still, proud of his profession.

I am married, and have four children, three boys and a girl—all thieves, and all, I am happy to say, at this present time doing well. The girl, aged nineteen, has a decided talent for shoplifting, and I have had proposals for her hand from a celebrated housebreaker (I must not mention names), which I shall certainly accept, as it will be a very good match. I have also apprenticed my youngest boy, aged twelve, to this artist, to learn his branch of the trade, and I hear very satisfactory accounts of the lad’s progress. My next boy, aged fifteen, who has taken quite naturally to the pickpocket and church business, has just returned, after a twelve-months’ imprisonment,





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