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. 5

she herself could tell me if it was Fidele or not. I replied that I would only show the dog to the lady, and would not trust it out of my hands. This message was carried upstairs, and after waiting some time outside—for the woman, with natural precaution, considering my appearance, for the safety of the portable articles lying about, had closed the street door in my face—I was readmitted, desired to wipe my shoes carefully, and walk up. Madame Levasseur, a showing-looking woman, though not over-refined in speech or manners, was seated on a sofa, in vehement expectation of embracing her dear Fidele; but my vagabond appearance so startled her, that she screamed loudly for her husband, M. Levasseur. This gentleman, a fine, tall, whiskered, mustached person, hastened into the apartment half-shaved, and with his razor in his hand.

“Qu’est ce qu’il y a done?” he demanded.

“Mais voyez cette horreur la,” replied the lady, meaning me, not the dog, which I was slowly emancipating from the basket kennel. The gentleman laughed; and reassured by the presence of her husband, Madame Levasseur’s

    anxieties concentrated themselves upon the expected Fidele.

“Mais, mon Dieu!” she exclaimed again, as I displayed the aged beauty I had brought for her inspection, “Why, that is not Fidele!”

“Not, marm?” I answered with quite innocent surprise. “Vy, ere is her wery tail;” and I held up her mutilated extremity for closer inspection. The lady was not, however, to be convinced even by that evidence; and as the gentleman soon became impatient of my persistence, and hinted very intelligibly that he had a mind to hasten my passage downstairs with the toe of his boot, I, having made the best possible use of my eyes during the short interview, scrambled up the dog and basket, and departed.

“No female relative or acquaintance, hasn’t he?” was my exulting thought as I gained the road. “And yet, if that is not M. le Breton’s picture between those of the husband and wife, I am a booby and a blind one.” I was no longer in the least doubted that I had struck a brilliant trail; and I could have shouted with exultation,

Continued on p. 7


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