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. 3

room, writing. He eyed me for a moment, somewhat askance, I thought, but I gave him no opportunity for a distinct view of my features; and I presently handed M. Bellebon a card, on which I had contrived to write unobserved, “send away that clerk.” This was more naturally done than I anticipated; and in answer to M. Bellebon’s glance of inquiry, I merely said, “that as I did not wish to be known there as a police officer, it was essential that the minute search I was about to make be without witnesses.” He agreed, and the woman was sent away on a distant errand. Every conceivable place did I ransack; every scrap of paper that had writing on it I eagerly perused. At length the search was over without result.

“You are quite sure, Monsieur Bellebon, as you informed the superintendent, that Monsieur le Breton has no female relations or acquaintances in their country?”

“Positive,” he replied. “I have made the most explicit inquiries on the subject, both of the clerk Dubarle and the woman servant.”

Just then the clerk returned out of breath with

    haste, I noticed, and I took my leave without even now affording the young gentleman so clear a view of my face as he was evidently anxious to obtain.

“No female acquaintance!” thought I as I reentered the room of the tavern I had left an hour before. “From whom, then, came those scraps of perfumed notepaper I have found in his desk, I wonder?” I sat down and endeavored to piece them out, but after considerable trouble, satisfied myself that they were parts of different notes, and so small, unfortunately, as to contain nothing which separately afforded any information except that they were all written by one hand, and that a female one.

About two hours after this, I was sauntering along in the direction of Stoke-Newington, where I was desirous of making some inquiries as to another matter, and had passed the Kingslaw Gate a few hundred yards, when a small discolored printed handbill, lying in a haberdasher’s shop window, arrested my attention. It ran thus: “Two guineas reward.—Lost, an Italian greyhound. The tip of its tail

Continued on p. 5


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