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. 1

severely blamed for not having done so as he received the different notes and bills; it was on going to the chest immediately on his return from Paris, for the purpose of fulfilling the peremptory instructions he had received, that M. le Breton had discovered the robbery.

The letter went on to state that should the offer be acceded to, a mystically worded advertisement—of which a copy was enclosed—was to be inserted in the Times, and then a mode would be suggested for safety—in the interest of the thieves, of course—carrying the agreement into effect. M. Bellebon was half-inclined to close with this proposal in order to save the credit of the house which would be destroyed unless its acceptance, now due in about fourteen days, could be met; and without the stolen moneys and bills of exchange, this was, he feared, impossible. The superintendent, to whom M. Bellebon showed the letter, would not hear of compliance with such a demand, and threatened prosecution for composition of felony, if M. Bellebon persisted in doing so. The advertisement was, however, inserted, and an immediate reply directed that Le Breton, the agent, should

    present himself at the Old Manor House, Green Lanes, Newington, unattended, at four o’clock on the following afternoon, bringing with him of course the stipulated sum in gold. It was added, that to prevent any possible treason, (trahison, the letter was written in French) Le Breton would find a note for him at the tavern, informing him of the spot—a solitary one, and far away from anyplace where an ambush could be concealed—where the business would be concluded, and to which he must proceed unaccompanied, and on foot! This proposal was certainly quite as ingenious as it was cool, and the chance of outwitting such cunning rascals seemed exceedingly doubtful. A very tolerable scheme was, however, hit upon, and M. le Breton proceeded at the appointed hour to the Old Manor House. No letter or message had been left for him, and nobody obnoxious to the slightest suspicion, could be seen near or about the tavern. On the following day another missive arrived, which stated that the writer was quite aware of the trick which the police had intended playing on him, and he assured M. Bellebon that such a line of conduct was as

Continued on p. 3


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