The Unknown Murderer – The Police at Fault (II)

Part II (of two) Nothing now remained which could throw any suspicion on Abraham Schmidt, and the court endeavoured to follow out the slight traces of suspicion against John Gabriel Schmidt and his half-brother Erhard Dürringer. The former, commonly called big Schmidt, was a married man of forty, with one child; the latter, generally known as little Schmidt, was twenty-seven, also married and had two children. Both were woodcutters, and lived together on excellent terms in the same house. Both were boon companions of Rupprecht's, who was much in their company, particularly in that of John Gabriel, whom he familiarly called his Hans, and with whom he amused himself with all sorts of vulgar pranks and coarse jokes. This intercourse had, however, been interrupted a few months before Rupprecht's Read more [...]

The Unknown Murderer – The Police at Fault (I)

Part I (of two) IN the year 1817 there lived in the town of M. a goldsmith of the name of Christopher Rupprecht. He was between the ages of sixty and sixty-five, and in easy circumstances. He had been twelve years a widower, and had but one child living, a daughter, married to a furrier named Bieringer, a brother and two sisters. Rupprecht could neither read nor write, and therefore kept no accounts either of his trade or of the money he lent out at interest, but trusted entirely to his memory and to the assistance he occasionally received from others in arranging and drawing up his bills. He was a man of vulgar mind and coarse habits, fond of associating with people of the very lowest class, and of frequenting alehouses, where his chief delight was in slang and abuse, and where he suffered Read more [...]

Tennessee’s Partner

by Bret HarteI do not think that we ever knew his real name.  Our ignorance ofit certainly never gave us any social inconvenience, for at SandyBar in 1854 most men were christened anew.  Sometimes theseappellatives were derived from some distinctiveness of dress, as inthe case of "Dungaree Jack"; or from some peculiarity of habit, asshown in "Saleratus Bill," so called from an undue proportion ofthat chemical in his daily bread; or for some unlucky slip, asexhibited in "The Iron Pirate," a mild, inoffensive man, who earnedthat baleful title by his unfortunate mispronunciation of the term"iron pyrites."  Perhaps this may have been the beginning of a rudeheraldry; but I am constrained to think that it was because a man'sreal name in that day rested solely upon his own unsupportedstatement.  Read more [...]

A Retrieved Information

by O. HenryA guard came to the prison shoe-shop, where Jimmy Valen­tine was as­sid­u­ously stitch­ing up­pers, and es­corted him to the front of­fice. There the war­den handed Jimmy his par­don, which had been signed that morn­ing by the gov­er­nor. Jimmy took it in a tired kind of way. He had served nearly ten months of a four year sen­tence. He had ex­pected to stay only about three months, at the longest. When a man with as many friends on the out­side as Jimmy Valen­tine had is re­ceived in the "stir" it is hardly worth while to cut his hair."Now, Valen­tine," said the war­den, "you'll go out in the morn­ing. Brace up, and make a man of your­self. You're not a bad fel­low at heart. Stop crack­ing safes, and live straight.""Me?" said Jimmy, in sur­prise. "Why, I Read more [...]


by Bret HarteWe were eight, including the driver.  We had not spoken during thepassage of the last six miles, since the jolting of the heavyvehicle over the roughening road had spoiled the Judge's lastpoetical quotation.  The tall man beside the Judge was asleep, hisarm passed through the swaying strap and his head resting upon it--altogether a limp, helpless-looking object, as if he had hangedhimself and been cut down too late.  The French lady on the backseat was asleep, too, yet in a half-conscious propriety ofattitude, shown even in the disposition of the handkerchief whichshe held to her forehead and which partially veiled her face.  Thelady from Virginia City, traveling with her husband, had long sincelost all individuality in a wild confusion of ribbons, veils, furs,and Read more [...]

The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

"To the man who loves art for its own sake," re­marked Sher­lock Holmes, toss­ing aside the ad­vert­ise­ment sheet of the Daily Tele­graph, "it is fre­quently in its least im­port­ant and lowli­est mani­fest­a­tions that the keen­est pleas­ure is to be de­rived. It is pleas­ant to me to ob­serve, Wat­son, that you have so far grasped this truth that in these little re­cords of our cases which you have been good enough to draw up, and, I am bound to say, oc­ca­sion­ally to em­bel­lish, you have giv­en prom­in­ence not so much to the many causes celebres and sen­sa­tion­al tri­als in which I have figured but rather to those in­cid­ents which Read more [...]

The Killing of Julius Caesar "Localized"

by Mark TwainBeing the only true and re­li­able ac­count ever pub­lished; taken from the Roman "Daily Evening Fasces," of the date of that tremen­dous oc­cur­rence.Noth­ing in the world af­fords a news­pa­per re­porter so much sat­is­fac­tion as gath­er­ing up the de­tails of a bloody and mys­te­ri­ous mur­der and writ­ing them up with ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stan­tial­ity. He takes a liv­ing de­light in this labor of love—for such it is to him, es­pe­cially if he knows that all the other pa­pers have gone to press, and his will be the only one that will con­tain the dread­ful in­tel­li­gence. A feel­ing of re­gret has often come over me that I was not re­port­ing in Rome when Cae­sar was killed—re­port­ing on an evening paper, and the only Read more [...]

The Outcasts of Poker Flat

by Bret HarteAs Mr. John Oakhurst, gambler, stepped into the main street ofPoker Flat on the morning of the twenty-third of November, 1850, hewas conscious of a change in its moral atmosphere since thepreceding night.  Two or three men, conversing earnestly together,ceased as he approached, and exchanged significant glances.  Therewas a Sabbath lull in the air which, in a settlement unused toSabbath influences, looked ominous.Mr. Oakhurst's calm, handsome face betrayed small concern in theseindications.  Whether he was conscious of any predisposing causewas another question.  "I reckon they're after somebody," hereflected; "likely it's me."  He returned to his pocket thehandkerchief with which he had been whipping away the red dust ofPoker Flat from his neat boots, Read more [...]

The Man with the Twisted Lip

Isa Whit­ney, broth­er of the late Eli­as Whit­ney, D.D., Prin­cip­al of the Theo­lo­gic­al Col­lege of St. George’s, was much ad­dicted to opi­um. The habit grew upon him, as I un­der­stand, from some fool­ish freak when he was at col­lege; for hav­ing read De Quin­cey’s de­scrip­tion of his dreams and sen­sa­tions, he had drenched his to­bacco with laudan­um in an at­tempt to pro­duce the same ef­fects. He found, as so many more have done, that the prac­tice is easi­er to at­tain than to get rid of, and for many years he con­tin­ued to be a slave to the drug, an ob­ject of mingled hor­ror and pity to his friends and re­l­at­ives. I can see him now, with yel­low, pasty face, droop­ing lids, and pin-point pu­pils, all huddled in a chair, the wreck Read more [...]

Pony Express

by Mark TwainIn a little while all interest was taken up in stretching our necks and watching for the "pony-rider"—the fleet messenger who sped across the continent from St. Joe to Sacramento, carrying letters nineteen hundred miles in eight days! Think of that for perishable horse and human flesh and blood to do! The pony-rider was usually a little bit of a man, brimful of spirit and endurance. No matter what time of the day or night his watch came on, and no matter whether it was winter or summer, raining, snowing, hailing, or sleeting, or whether his "beat" was a level straight road or a crazy trail over mountain crags and precipices, or whether it led through peaceful regions or regions that swarmed with hostile Indians, he must be always ready to leap into the saddle and be off like Read more [...]

The Luck of Roaring Camp

by Bret HarteThere was commotion in Roaring Camp. It could not have been a fight,for in 1850 that was not novel enough to have called together theentire settlement. The ditches and claims were not only deserted, but"Tuttle's grocery" had contributed its gamblers, who, it will beremembered, calmly continued their game the day that French Pete andKanaka Joe shot each other to death over the bar in the front room.The whole camp was collected before a rude cabin on the outer edge ofthe clearing. Conversation was carried on in a low tone, but the nameof a woman was frequently repeated. It was  a name familiar enough inthe camp,--"Cherokee Sal."Perhaps the less said of her the better. She was a coarse and, it isto be feared, a very sinful woman. But at that time she was the onlywoman in Roaring Read more [...]


by Mark Twain Ni­a­gara Falls is a most en­joy­able place of re­sort. The ho­tels are ex­cel­lent, and the prices not at all ex­or­bi­tant. The op­por­tu­ni­ties for fish­ing are not sur­passed in the coun­try; in fact, they are not even equaled else­where. Be­cause, in other lo­cal­i­ties, cer­tain places in the streams are much bet­ter than oth­ers; but at Ni­a­gara one place is just as good as an­other, for the rea­son that the fish do not bite any­where, and so there is no use in your walk­ing five miles to fish, when you can de­pend on being just as un­suc­cess­ful nearer home. The ad­van­tages of this state of things have never hereto­fore been prop­erly placed be­fore the pub­lic.The weather is cool in sum­mer, and the walks and dri­ves are Read more [...]

After Twenty Years

by O Henry The policeman on the beat moved up the avenue impressively. The impressiveness was habitual and not for show, for spectators were few. The time was barely 10 o'clock at night, but chilly gusts of wind with a taste of rain in them had well nigh depeopled the streets.Trying doors as he went, twirling his club with many intricate and artful movements, turning now and then to cast his watchful eye adown the pacific thoroughfare, the officer, with his stalwart form and slight swagger, made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace. The vicinity was one that kept early hours. Now and then you might see the lights of a cigar store or of an all-night lunch counter; but the majority of the doors belonged to business places that had long since been closed.When about midway of a certain block Read more [...]

Dick Baker’s Cat

 by Mark TwainOne of my comrades there—another of those victims of eighteen years of unrequited toil and blighted hopes—was one of the gentlest spirits that ever bore its patient cross in a weary exile: grave and simple Dick Baker, pocket-miner of Dead-House Gulch.—He was forty-six, gray as a rat, earnest, thoughtful, slenderly educated, slouchily dressed and clay- soiled, but his heart was finer metal than any gold his shovel ever brought to light—than any, indeed, that ever was mined or minted.Whenever he was out of luck and a little down-hearted, he would fall to mourning over the loss of a wonderful cat he used to own (for where women and children are not, men of kindly impulses take up with pets, for they must love something). And he always spoke of the strange sagacity of Read more [...]

The Signal-Man

  “HAL­LOA! Be­low there!” When he heard a voice thus call­ing to him, he was stand­ing at the door of his box, with a flag in his hand, furled round its short pole. One would have thought, con­sid­er­ing the nature of the ground, that he could not have doubted from what quarter the voice came; but in­stead of look­ing up to where I stood on the top of the steep cut­ting nearly over his head, he turned him­self about, and looked down the Line. There was something re­mark­able in his man­ner of do­ing so, though I could not have said for my life what. But I know it was re­mark­able enough to at­tract my no­tice, even though his fig­ure was fore­shortened and shad­owed, down in the deep trench, Read more [...]

The Murders In The Rue Morgue

What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, although puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture. Sir Thomas Browne. The mental features discoursed of as the analytical, are, in themselves, but little susceptible of analysis. We appreciate them only in their effects. We know of them, among other things, that they are always to their possessor, when inordinately possessed, a source of the liveliest enjoyment. As the strong man exults in his physical ability, delighting in such exercises as call his muscles into action, so glories the analyst in that moral activity which disentangles. He derives pleasure from even the most trivial occupations bringing his talent into play. He is fond of enigmas, of conundrums, of hieroglyphics; exhibiting in Read more [...]

Yermolaij and the Miller’s Wife

One evening I went with the hunts­man Yer­molaï 'stand-shoot­ing.' … But per­haps all my read­ers may not know what 'stand-shoot­ing' is. I will tell you. A quar­ter of an hour be­fore sun­set in spring-time you go out into the woods with your gun, but with­out your dog. You seek out a spot for your­self on the out­skirts of the for­est, take a look round, ex­am­ine your caps, and glance at your com­pan­ion. A quar­ter of an hour passes; the sun has set, but it is still light in the for­est; the sky is clear and trans­par­ent; the birds are chat­ter­ing and twit­ter­ing; the young grass shines with the bril­liance of emer­ald…. You wait. Grad­u­ally the re­cesses of the for­est grow dark; the blood-red glow of the evening sky creeps slowly on to Read more [...]

The Passing of Black Eagle

For some months of a cer­tain year a grim ban­dit in­fested the Texas bor­der along the Rio Grande. Pe­cu­liarly strik­ing to the optic nerve was this no­to­ri­ous ma­rauder. His per­son­al­ity se­cured him the title of "Black Eagle, the Ter­ror of the Bor­der." Many fear­some tales are on record con­cern­ing the do­ings of him and his fol­low­ers. Sud­denly, in the space of a sin­gle minute, Black Eagle van­ished from earth. He was never heard of again. His own band never even guessed the mys­tery of his dis­ap­pear­ance. The bor­der ranches and set­tle­ments feared he would come again to ride and rav­age the mesquite flats. He never will. It is to dis­close the fate of Black Eagle that this nar­ra­tive is writ­ten.The ini­tial move­ment of the story Read more [...]