American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, November 1850

This story 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. 2

unwise as it would be fruitless, inasmuch as if ‘good faith’ was not observed, the securities and notes would be inexorably destroyed or otherwise disposed of, and the house of Bellebon and company be consequently exposed to the shame and ruin of bankruptcy.

Just at this crisis of the affair I arrived in town from my unsuccessful hunt after the fugitives who had slipped through my fingers at Plymouth. The superintendent laughed heartily, not so much at the trick by which I had been duped, as at the angry mortification I did not affect to conceal. He presently added, “I have been wishing for your return, in order to intrust you with a tangled affair, in which success will amply compensate for such a disappointment. You know French, too, which is fortunate; for the gentleman who has been plundered understands little or no English.” He then related the foregoing particulars, with other apparently slight circumstances; and after a long conversation with him, I retired to think the matter over, and decided upon the likeliest mode of action. After much cogitation, I determined to see M. Bellebon alone; and for this purpose I dispatched the waiter of a tavern

    adjacent to his lodgings, with a note expressive of my wish to see him instantly on pressing business. He was at home, and immediately acceded to my request. I easily introduced myself, and after about a quarter of an hour’s conference said carelessly—for I saw he was too heedless of speech, too quick and frank to be intrusted with the dim suspicions which certain trifling indices had suggested to me—”Is Monsieur le Breton at the office where the robbery was committed?”

“No; he is gone to Greenwich on business, and will not return until late in the evening. But if you wish to re-examine the place, I can of course enable you to do so.’

“It will, I think, be advisable; and you will, if you please,” I added, as we emerged into the street, “permit me to take you by the arm, in order that the official character of my visit may not be suspected by anyone there.”

He laughingly complied and we arrived at the house, arm in arm. We were admitted by an elderly woman; and there was a young man—a moustached clerk—seated at a desk in an inner

Continued on p. 4


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