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. 4

has been chopped off, and it answers to the name Fidele.” Underneath the reader was told in writing to “inquire within.”

“Fidele!” I mentally exclaimed.—”Any relation to M. le Breton’s fair correspondent’s Fidele, I wonder?” In a twinkling my pocketbook was out and I reperused by gaslight on one of the perfumed scraps of paper the following portion of a sentence, “ma pauvre Fidele est per”—.The bill, I observed, was dated nearly three weeks previously. I forthwith entered the shop, and pointing to the bill said I knew a person who had found such a dog as there was advertised for. The woman at the counter said she was glad to hear it, as the lady, formerly a customer of theirs, was much grieved by the animal’s loss.

“What is the lady’s name?” I asked.

“I can’t rightly pronounce the name,” was the reply. “It is French, I believe; but here it is, with the address, in the daybook, written by herself.”

I eagerly read—”Madame Levasseur, Oak

    Cottage; about one mile on the road from Edmonton to Southgate.”—The handwriting greatly resembled that on the scraps I had taken from M. le Breton’s desk; and the writer was French, too! Here were indications of a trail which might lead to unhoped for success; and I determined to follow it up vigorously. After one or two other questions, I left the shop, promising to send the dog to the lady the next day. My business at Stoke-Newington was soon accomplished. I then hastened westward to the establishment of a well-known dog-fancier, and proured the loan at a reasonable price, of an ugly Italian hound; the requisite loss of the tip of its tail was very speedily accomplished, and so quickly healed, that the newness of the excision could not be expected. I arrived at the lady’s residence about twelve o’clock on the following day, so thoroughly disguised as a vagabond Cockney dog-stealer, that my own wife when I entered the breakfast parlor just previous to starting, screamed with alarm and surprise. The mistress of Oak Cottage was at home, but indisposed, and the servant said she would take the dog to her, though, if I would take it out of the basket,

Continued on p. 6


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