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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Frank Leslie’s Pleasant Hours, vol. 37. p. 353-354.
   
Who Killed Him? or, The Twisted Ring

DEAD—mysteriously murdered in his bed. Those silver locks, dabbled in blood! the awful sight haunted me; more appalling, perhaps, because I knew it only from description, than the fearful reality, because the imagination reveled in horrors. In the still hours of the night, in the tumult of the day, came the cry for vengeance; above the roar of battle, on the sultry plains of India, it thrilled through my veins, giving a headlong dash in action that won me the name of the bravest man in the service.

To solve this mystery, which had baffled all research, was to me an expiation, for a sadness amounting to horror hung over the memory of the lost.

We had parted in the bitterest anger. The parent who had been all indulgence, all fond affection to my boyhood and youth, had been roused to vindictive fury by a marriage contracted without his consent; his indomitable pride would listen to no excuse; with curses and maledictions on his part, he had driven me forth from the old manor house, and we never

    met again.

In the background of that picture, for ever engraven on my memory, stood my cousin Marian, in her haughty, stately beauty. Her golden hair floated lightly over her white muslin robe, and her deep blue eyes blazed with the scornful, withering contempt she was too proud to express.

Well, I knew she never would forgive my slighting her charms and my father’s express commands, to gratify a fancy for a little wayside violet—Alice, the curate’s daughter. In the heyday of youthful passion I cared little for the broad possessions my father threatened to settle on her. They were of more value to me now, as the rightful inheritance of my son.

Alice, the fair flower I had gathered to my bosom, had gone to the shadowy land, withered with the heat of her torrid home. I was free at last; on the invalid list, returned for life to England. I could not control the feverish impatience of my soul to be at home. The . . .

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