A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories
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The Secret Cell
I’ll know no more;— the heart is torn
By views of woe we cannot heal;
Long shall I see these things forlorn.
And oft again their griefs shall feel,
As each upon the mind shall steal;
That wan projector’s mystic style,
That lumpish idiot leering by,
That peevish idler’s ceaseless wile,
And that poor maiden’s half- formed smile,
While struggling for the full- drawn sigh—
About eight years ago, I was the humble means of unraveling a curious piece of villainy that occurred in one of the suburbs of London; it is well worth recording in exemplification of that portion of “Life” which is constantly passing in the holes and corners of the Great Metropolis. My tale, although romantic enough to be a fiction, is excessively common- place in some of the details— it is a jumble of real life; a conspiracy, an abduction, a nunnery, and a lunatic asylum are mixed up with constables, hackneycoaches, and an old washerwoman. I regret also that my heroine is not only without a lover, but is absolutely free from the influence of the passion, and is not persecuted on account of her transcendent beauty.
Mrs. Lobenstein was the widow of a German coachman who had accompanied a noble family from the continent of Europe and, anticipating a lengthened stay, he had prevailed upon his wife to bring over their only child, a daughter, and settle down in the rooms apportioned to his use over the stable in one of the fashionable mews at the west end of London. But Mr. Lobenstein had scarcely embraced his family ere he was driven off, post- haste, to the other world, leaving his destitute relict, with a very young daughter, to buff et her way along the rugged path of life.
With a little assistance from the nobleman in whose employ her husband had for some time been settled, Mrs. Lobenstein was enabled to earn a respectable livelihood, and fi lled the honorable situation of laundress to many families of gentility, besides diverse stray bachelors, dandies, and men about town. The little girl grew to be an assistance, instead of a drag, to her mother, and the widow found that her path was not entirely desolate, nor “choked with the brambles of despair.”
In the sixth year of her bereavement, Mrs. Lobenstein, who presided over the destinies of my linen, called at my rooms, in company with a lady of equal width, breadth, and depth. Mrs. L was of the genuine Hanseatic build— of the real Bremen beam; when in her presence, you felt the overwhelming nature of her pretensions to be considered a woman of some weight in the world and standing in society. On the occasion of the visit in question, her friend was equally adipose, and it would have puzzled a conjurer to have turned the party into a tallowy trio. Mrs. L begged leave to recommend her friend as her successor in the lavatorial line— for her own part, she was in de pen dent of work, thank heaven, and meant to retire from the worry of trade.
I congratulated her on the successful termination of her flourish with the wash tubs. Copyright ©2012 by Michael Sims
Featuring luminaries like Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Bret Harte and Arthur Conan Doyle, Michael Sims’ The Dead Witness gathers many of the finest adventures among private and police detectives from the 19th and early 20th centuries (including a treasure trove of overlooked gems!)
The 1866 title story by Australian writer Mary Fortune is a treat, indeed. The first known detective story by a woman, it’s a suspenseful, clue-strewn manhunt in the Outback. Other highlights include works by Anna Katharine Green and C.L. Pirkis, who introduces you to little-known detectives like Violet Strange and Loveday Brooke. The Dead Witness reveals the delicious antecedents of what became the most popular genre of the 20th century!
Softcover Book : 608 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Uk ( January 03, 2012 )
Item #: 13-496527
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 1.52inches
Product Weight: 19.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)