American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
M’Kean [PA] Miner, November 24, 1860.

This story was reprinted as
“Vidocq; or, the Charcoal Burner of Rouen” in The Appleton [WI] Crescent December 29, 1860
Oconto [WI] Pioneer, January 12, 1861.
or the Charcoal Burners of France
A Thrilling Sketch
  birds were gaily singing, and the rays of an afternoon sun not too warm, were gilding the tree tops. In the very heart of the forest, surrounded by heaps of smoking earth, stood one of these burners. He was a splendid specimen of a man, as far as physical proportions went; fully six feet in height, and stout in proportion. His broad shoulders might have contained the strength of a Hercules. His head was large and covered with a shaggy mass of hair, and his features were decidedly repulsive. His eyes were small and nearly covered with bushy eyebrows. He had altogether a cruel and malevolent appearance.

As we introduce him to the reader he was leaning upon a large axe, apparently in a listening position. The road ran by a place where he was standing but he could not see far along it, on account of a sudden turn a little distance from him. The clatter of a horse’s hoofs, however, could be plainly heard, and in a few minutes horse and rider came into . . .


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    Not many miles from the city of Rouen, in France, is located a wild and somewhat extensive forest. The wood is chiefly inhabited by charcoal burners; and many are the dark legends in which they figure. Of course, the tales are mostly exaggerated, and in some cases have no foundation at all. — During the year 183--, however, several travelers, whose way lay through this forest, mysteriously disappeared. The whole place was scoured, and the inhabitants rigorously examined, but no clue was obtained: and they were dismissed. For several months after this, no more travelers were missed, and finally the public excitement was allayed. It was at this time that the incident related in this sketch occurred.

It was a fine day in early autumn, and the woods presented a beautiful appearance. The





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