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. 11

situation was undoubtedly a critical one; but I was in for it, and must brave the matter out in the best way I could.

Presently a conversation, carried on in a loud, menacing tone in the next room, between Levasseur and the newcomers, arrested my attention, and I softly approached the door to listen. Le Breton, I soon found, was but half a villain, and was extremely anxious that the property should not be disposed of till at least another effort had been made at negotiation. The others, now that a market for the notes and securities had been obtained, were determined to avail themselves of it, and immediately leave the country. The almost agonized entreaties of Le Breton that they would not utterly ruin the house he had betrayed, were treated with scornful contempt, and he was at length silenced by their brutal menaces. Le Breton, I further learned, was a cousin of Madam Levasseur, whose husband had first pillaged him at play, and then suggested the crime which had been committed, as the sole means of concealing the defalcations of which he, Levasseur, had been the occasion and promoter.

    After a brief delay, all three entered the dining room, and a slight but significant start which the clerk Dubarle gave, as Levasseur, with mock ceremony, introduced me, made my heart, as folks say, leap into my mouth. His half-formed suspicions seemed, however, to be dissipated for the moment by the humorous account Levasseur gave him of the robbery of Mr. Trelawney, and we sat down to a handsome dinner.

A more uncomfortable one, albeit, I never assisted at. The furtive looks of Dubarle, who had been only partially reassured, grew more and more inquisitive and earnest. Fortunately Levasseur was in rollicking spirits and humor, and did not heed the unquiet glances of the young man; and as for Breton, he took little notice of anybody. At last this terrible dinner was over, and the wine was pushed briskly round. I drank much more freely than usual, partly with a view to calm my nerves, and partly to avoid remark. It was nearly the time for the Jew’s appearance when Dubarle after a scrutinizing and somewhat imperious look at my face, said abruptly, “I think, Monsieur Williams, I have seen you somewhere before!”

Continued on p. 13


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