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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Columbia [PA] Spy, September 21 & 28, 1861
 
“Pray, Sir, Are you a Gentleman?”
by Charles Temple
  “Charles,” said my friend Frank to me, “I have not opened fresh Port for you, because I fancy I recollect your partiality for Madeira; but I will do so in a moment if you wish it.”

“Oh no, thank you,” replied I, “this is perfection in the shape of wine, and I assure you that owing to it I shall soon feel happier; indeed, as happy as a prince, were it not for one thing which I cannot shake off.”

“And what is that, Charles?” asked Frank.

“Why, the fact is, that about a month ago I was foolish enough to bind myself by a promise to write six tales. They must be finished by the 31st. I have only written three, and what on earth I can say in the other three is more than I can imagine: now do help me, there’s a good fellow, and then I shall have a load off my mind.”

“Help you! Not I. Why, you can get out of your predicament easily enough.—Remember Truth is stranger than fiction, and you who have . . .

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On the 23rd of March, 1860, I went to London for a couple of days on business.

Turning the corner of Chancery Lane, I unexpectedly encountered my friend, Frank Stonhouse. I call him my friend, though there was a disparity in our ages,—he being forty-five, I thirty years old. He, moreover, was a married man with a family; I an itinerant animal, without encumbrances, called a bachelor. Still we were very much attached to each other. After an exclamation of surprise and pleasure, Frank rapidly said, “I am very busy now, but you must come and dine with me at 7 o’clock.”

“Very well,” replied I, and we parted.

As my tale will, I fear, be a long one, I must not be prolix in starting, especially as this is but a kind of preface.  So fancy, good reader, dinner over—ladies gone to the drawing room––a most luxurious dessert on the table, and some Madeira.

   

 

 


 

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