American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, November 1850

This story was originally printed in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal as “Recollections of a Police-Officer: Legal Metamorphoses” on September 28, 1850 and was reprinted under the title “Legal Metamorphoses” in the Janesville Gazette, April 24, 1851.

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).

    "Villainy Outwitted" continued from p. 10

and bills that they could be consumed or otherwise destroyed on the slightest alarm, and that the open arrest of Levasseur, and a search of Oak Cottage, would in all likelihood, prove fruitless. “There will be only two of them,” I said in reply to a remark of the superintendent as to the somewhat dangerous game I was risking with powerful and desperate men, “even should Le Breton be there; and surely Jackson and I, aided by the surprise and our pistols, will be too many for them.” Little more was said, the superintendent wished us luck, and I sought out and instructed Jackson.

I will confess that, on setting out the next day to keep my appointment, I felt considerable anxiety. Levasseur might have discovered my vocation, and set his trap for my destruction. Yet that was hardly possible. At all events, whatever the danger, it was necessary to face it; and having cleaned and loaded my pistols with unusual care, and bade my wife a more than usually earnest farewell, which, by the way, rather startled her, I set off, determined, as we used to say in Yorkshire, “to win the horse or lose the saddle.”

    I arrived at Oak Cottage, and found my host in the highest possible spirits. Dinner was ready, he said, but it would be necessary to wait a few minutes for the two friends he expected.

Two friends!” I exclaimed, really startled. “You told me last evening there was to be only one, a Monsieur le Breton.”

“True,” rejoined Levasseur, carelessly; “but I had forgotten that another party as much interested as ourselves would like to be present, and invite himself, if I did not. But there will be enough for us all, never fear,” he added, with a coarse laugh, “especially as Madame Levasseur does not dine with us.”

At this moment a loud knock was heard. “Here they are,” exclaimed Levasseur, and hastened out to meet them. I peeped through the blind, and to my great alarm saw that Le Breton was accompanied by the clerk Dubarle! My first impulse was to seize my pistols and rush out of the house; but calmer thoughts soon succeeded, and the improbability that a plan had been laid to entrap me recurred forcibly. Still, should the clerk recognize me? The

Continued on p. 12


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