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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. 6

so eager was I not only to retrieve my, as I fancied, somewhat tarnished reputation for activity and skill, but to extricate the plundered firm from their terrible difficulties; the more especially as young M. Bellebon, with the frankness of his age and nation, had hinted to me—and the suddenly tremulous light of his fine expressive eyes testified to the acuteness of his apprehensions—that his marriage with a long-loved and amiable girl depended upon his success in saving the credit of his house.

That same evening, about nine o’clock M. le Levasseur, expensively, but withal snobbishly attired, left Oak Cottage, walked to Edmonton, hailed a cab, and drove off rapidly towards town, followed by an English swell as stylishly and snobbishly dressed, whigged, whiskered and moustached as himself; this English swell being no other than myself, as prettily metamorphosed and made up for the part I intended playing, as heart could wish.

M. Levasseur descended at the end of the Quadrant, Regent Street, and took his way to Vine Street, leading out of that celebrated thoroughfare. I followed; and observing him

    enter a public house, unhesitatingly did the same. It was a house of call and general rendezvous for servants out of place. Valets, couriers, cooks, of many varieties of shade, nation, and respectability, were assembled there smoking, drinking, and playing at an insufferably noisy game, unknown, I believe, to Englishmen, and which must, I think, have been invented in sheer despair of cards or dice or other implements of gambling. The sole instrument of play were the gamesters’ fingers, of which the two persons playing suddenly and simultaneously uplifted as many, or as few, as they pleased, each player alternately calling a number; and if he named precisely how many fingers were held up by himself and opponent, he marked a point. The hubbub of cried—”cinq,” “neu,” “dix,” &c.—was deafening. The players—almost everybody in the large room—were too much occupied to notice our entrance; and M. Levasseur and myself seated ourselves, and called for something to drink, without, I was glad to see, exciting the slightest observation. M. Levasseur, I soon perceived, was an intimate acquaintance of many there; and somewhat to

Continued on p. 8

   


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