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. 8

effectually, and, I am vain enough to think, cleverly done.—One evening a rakish-looking man, who ostentatiously and repeatedly declared himself to be Mr. Trelawney of Conduit Street, and who was evidently three parts intoxicated, seated himself directly in front of us, and with much braggart impudence boasted of his money, at the same time displaying a pocketbook, which seemed pretty full of Bank of England notes. There were only a few persons present in the room besides us, and they were at the other end of the room. Levasseur, I saw, noticed with considerable interest the look of greed and covetousness which I fixed on the same pocketbook. At length the stranger rose to depart. I also hurried up and slipped after him, and was quietly and slyly followed by Levasseur. After proceeding about a dozen paces I looked furtively about, but not behind; robbed Mr. Trelawney of his pocketbook, which he had placed in one of the tails of his coat; crossed over the street, and walked hurriedly away, still, I could hear, followed by Levasseur. I entered another public house, strode into an empty back room, and was just in the act of examining my prize,


when in stepped Levasseur. He looked triumphant as Lucifer, as he clapped me on the shoulder, and said in a low exulting voice, “I say that pretty trick, Williams, and can, if I like, transport you!”

My consternation was naturally extreme, and Levasseur laughed immensely at the terror he excited. “Soyez tranquille,” he said at last, at the same time ringing the bell; “I shall not hurt you.” He ordered some wine, and after the waiter had filled the order and left the room, said, “Those notes of Mr. Trelawney’s will of course be stopped in the morning, but I think I once heard you say you knew of a market for such articles?”

I hesitated coyly, unwilling to further commit myself. “Come, come,” resumed Levasseur, in a still, low, but menacing tone, “no nonsense. I have you now; you are, in fact, entirely in my power; but be candid, and you are safe. Who is your friend?”

“He is not in town, now,” I stammered.

“Stuff—humbug! I have myself some notes to

Continued on p. 10


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