American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Ballou’s Monthly Magazine, December 1866
The Scarlet Ribbon
A Detective Story

by Rett Winwood

  relative I had living, and she was the housekeeper at Colonel Lester's, one of the first families, residing on Fifth Avenue. It is about this family, principally, that I have to tell you. The colonel and his wife could both boast of an ancient and honorable lineage, and were as proud, high feeling a couple, as it was ever my lot to meet. They had one son, Maurice, their very opposite in this particular, a whole-souled, noble-hearted fellow, though a trifle wild, perhaps. He could never be brought to sympathize with the exclusive feelings of his parents. Indeed, he was quite too free in his associations. I believe he would nearly as soon have made an intimate of me or one of the servants as any one in his own peculiar sphere. He seemed to utterly ignore caste, and was careless of appearances.

After I came to be detective, there seemed a little better chance for running about, but I kept steadily at work, early and late. I found enough to keep me busy, hands and brain. There was always some sink of iniquity to be cleaned out, or some case of mystery and crime to be . . .


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    It was all a mere dog's life that I led till I came to be a crusty old bachelor of forty odd years. I was always too poor to think of anything but work, work, day after day, and so it happened that I had few ties, and hardly an intimate friend, in all the busy world that was constantly surging turbulently around me.

In the first place, I was only a watchman. When the police system was started, I went into that corps. I can honestly say that I always tried to do my duty, in either situation. My superiors seemed to think so, too, for by-and-by my name was up before them for the new detective force that was to be organized. I was counted “knowing,” and had done some pretty sharp things by way of hauling up offenders, during my life, and when the subject was once agitated, I was of course sure of my place, and on the whole, ready enough to accept it.

At this time my mother was the only near



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