American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Ballou’s Dollar Magazine, April 6, 1861.
Rodden the Gambler
by Mary Orme
  spend the winter in New Orleans.

“On our last trip down,” said the captain, “I observed a party on board that I did not feel very happy to see. I don’t like snags on two legs. The party consisted of a young man, about thirty or thirty-five years old, with his wife and a young babe, and his mother. The young man was hard, decidedly. He had on a gray coat and pants, and purple velvet vest, with a massive gold chain strung across his breast. He had abundant black hair, which curled, and was redolent of macassar. His face was red and fluffy, and his eyes were black and wicked. He had been [good] looking, or might have been, if his mother had not brought him up. She was a tall and stately woman, quite as tall as her son, about fifty years, or perhaps older. She wore a false front, and her forehead was shaved, so as to look larger than it was naturally. She was made up in the most careful way, so I can’t answer for her age, and was dressed in the richest moiré antique and the costliest lace. There was not a sin of the civilized world that was not written on that woman’s face. I have seen a great many women in whom but little of womanly virtue and . . .


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    “I know you are wondering what ails my hand,” said the captain of our steamboat, who had appeared with his arm in a sling since we went on board, several days previous. We had made his acquaintance, and liked him, and had wondered about his hand, as he said, but not enough to ask the chambermaid, or the men.

“I am sick of running a steamboat,” said he. “I want a plantation, tho’ maybe some hand would ‘cut up,’ and give me as bad a hurt as this. It is no use telling everything to everybody, but I don’t mind telling you.”

“Seeing it’s you,” said my wife, smiling.

“Yes, ‘seeing it’s you,’ as the peddlers say, I will tell you. I hope, Madam, you will not see any rough work on the river. My word for it, it would use you up mighty quick.”

My wife was an invalid, and we were escaping from the cold and coal-smoke of Cincinnati, to





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