American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Janesville [WI] Gazette, November 7, 1850

This story was originally published as “Recollections of a Police-Officer: The Twins” in Chambers' Edinburgh Journal on June 21, 1850.

This story was later published in the collection Recollections of a Police-Officer by William Russell, under the pseudonym Thomas Waters (London: J.& C. Brown & Co., 1856).

Prior to the British publication of this volume, a pirated collection of the stories—also titled Recollections of a Police-Officer—was published in America (New York: Cornish and Lamport, 1852).



"The Twins," continued from p. 8

well. The landlord soon gave us the signal to be on the alert, and in we jammed ourselves, locking the wing doors on the inside. A minute or two afterwards, Sir Charles and Mr. and Mrs. Williams, entered, and papers, pens and ink having been brought, business commenced in right earnest.

Their conversation it is needless to detail. It will suffice to observe, that it was manifest that Sir Charles by a heavy bribe, had induced the acoucher and his wife to conceal the birth of the male child, which, as I suspected, was that which Williams and his spouse were bringing up as their own. I must do the fictitious baronet the justice to say that he had manifested the utmost anxiety that no harm should befall the infant. It was now insisted, by the woman more especially, that the agreement for the large annual payment to be made by Sir Charles should be fairly written out and signed in plain “black and white,” to use Mrs. Williams’ expression, in order that no future misunderstandings might arise.

A silence of some minutes followed, broken only by the scratching of the pen on the paper.

    The time to me seemed an age, squeezed, crooked, and stifled as I was in that narrow box, and so I afterwards learned it did to my fellow sufferer. At length Mr. Malvern said in the same cautious whisper in which they had hitherto spoken, “This will do, I think;” and read what he had written. Mr. and Mrs. Williams signified their approval; and as matters were fairly ripe, I gently turned the key and very softly pushed open the door. The backs of the amiable trio were towards me, and as my boots were off, and the apartment was thickly carpeted, I approached unperceived, and to the inexpressible horror and astonishment of the parties concerned, whose heads were bent eagerly over the important document, a hand which belonged to neither of them was thrust silently and swiftly forward and grasped the precious document.

A fierce exclamation from Mr. Malvern as he started from his seat, and a convulsive scream from Mrs. Williams followed; and to add to the animation of the tableau, my friend at the opposite wing emerged at the same moment from his hiding place.

Continued on p. 10


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