Mrs. Orrin James may possibly have been Mrs. Orville James Victor. The name and the style of stories of the two writers are similar. Since this is only a guess, her novels are listed here separately.
† In an old Beadle and Adams catalogue of 1868, now in my possession, pencil annotations, apparently contemporary, opposite the names of some of the pseudonymous authors, are correctly assigned in the cases of those known to me. Opposite Mrs. James's name appears "Mrs. Metta V. Victor."
Dime Novels. Nos. 126,131, 154,162, 465, 496, 525
American Library (London). No. 84
Pocket Novels. No. 190
Boy's Library (octavo). No. 766
Pocket Library. Nos. 358, 454
SPECIMEN OF MRS. ORRIN JAMES STYLE
"Old Jupe; or, A Woman's Art." Dime Novels No. 126, pp. 36-39.
In the morning the storm broke—sudden, swift, overwhelming—a tempest, leaping out of the very sunshine—not a cloud, not a note of warning—all was peace, when the bolt struck, and one happy home was in ruins.
When Mr. Miller arose, he saw no promise of the rain he had predicted; the sky was clear, the grass glittering with dew. Auntie Clare had prepared a choice breakfast; for, as Mary's health grew more delicate, no dainty could be too much trouble to prepare for her. Mary, in a white wrapper, with a pink ribbon in her hair, came forth to the table, as fresh and neat as if Luke's admiring eye were upon her. The family had nearly finished their meal when two men appeared at the open door.
"Good-mornin', neighbors, good-mornin'. Had your breakfasts? Won't you step in and take a cup of coffee? Haven't any writ to serve on us, have you, sheriff?" said kind old Mr. Miller, laughing at his own joke. He was the last man in the world to be afraid of a sheriff, for he owed no man a dollar, and his conscience was as clear of stain as a spotless mirror.
The men looked embarrassed. They came in; but refused the coffee, and an invitation to be seated.
"Fine weather for the corn," continued the host.
"Yes, 'tis—fine weather. Go on with your breakfast, Mrs. Bryant; don't mind us."
"Oh, I've finished," said Mary, with one of her childlike smiles, as she pushed back her chair, remaining seated through a diffidence very pretty in a young wife.
"Hum!" continued the sheriff, drawing a paper from his pocket, and walking slowly toward her, where she sat. "I'm sorry for you, neighbor Miller—I am, indeed —and for your wife; but, the fact is, my duty requires me to arrest your daughter, Mary Bryant, for passing counterfeit money."
Mary turned a shade paler, but smiled still, thinking Mr. Purdy was growing rather coarse in his jests.
'"Tain't no joke, ma'am, as you'll find to your cost, I'm afraid. People are sick of this kind of work, and they've made up their minds to put a stop to it, no matter whose fingers get pinched."
He spoke rudely, betraying his own belief in her guilt, to the young creature, who had arisen to her feet, and stood looking at him with wide-open, incredulous eyes.
"What you talkin' about, sheriff?" screamed Mrs. Miller, darting in between him and Mary, as if her mother's love were stronger than the strong arm of the law. "Ain't you ashamed of yourself, when you see what her health is, comin' here and givin' her such a fright?"
"I mean just what I say, Mrs. Miller. I'm sorry for you, for I don't suppose you're implicated in it; but Mrs. Bryant has been passing counterfeit money, and she's got to suffer the penalty—that is if she's convicted. We shall give her a fair trial, certain. Nothing shall be done out o' the course of the law, though some of the citizens are greatly excited. If she can prove herself innocent, when she is tried before the court, well and good; if not, I s'pose she'll be served like others who do the same."
"Who says I have passed counterfeit money?"
Mary looked angry and resentful, rather than frightened; she by no means realized the danger of her position.
"Two hundred and fifty dollars of the three hundred you paid Jordan yesterday, was filled. Very cleverly done, or it wouldn't have taken him in, even for an hour."
"I took that gold of Mr. Brown and two other merchants, as I can prove; I locked it up the day I received it, and have never touched it since until yesterday."
"They remember very well that you exchanged notes for gold; but, unfortunately for your case, not that kind of gold that you paid for your lot. There's other cases known of your passing counterfeit bills, in small sums; but I'm not here to try you; the court'll do that. I've a search-warrant to search the premises."
Mr. Miller lifted up his clenched hand as if to strike down the officer of the law.
"Hold, father, dear father! you will only make matters worse for me! Why should we object to his searching the house, since we are innocent?" and taking the keys of her bureau and boxes from her pocket, she handed them to Mr. Purdy.
Mrs. Miller sat down, for she was too faint to stand; but Mary remained proudly erect, watching the proceedings.
Her little treasure box was soon found and opened. Upon applying the test to the remaining portion of the five hundred dollars, the greater part of it was found to be "filled," the same as that which she had yesterday paid out. In her purse was a five-dollar counterfeit, on a Cincinnati bank. The officers were rigid in the performance of their duty. They even ascended into the loft, which was only used as a place of storage, and reached by a step-ladder. They expected, perhaps, to find some evidence that counterfeit coin had been manufactured on the premises. At last, in the bottom of a keg full of hops, which had been gathered the year before, and stood there, dusty and dry, they discovered some dies for stamping "quarters" and "halves."
That was all; and enough. The glance they gave Mary when they came down showed their pitiless belief in her criminality. The finding of the dies rendered it proper to have Mr. Miller also placed under arrest, but as yet they had no warrant for doing so.
Aunty Clare, by this time aware of what was going on, rushed into the room, shaking her fist in the sheriff's face, and daring him to lay a finger on her young mistress. This championship did poor Mrs. Bryant no good, irritating the officers, and causing them to be less considerate in their orders to her to get her shawl and bonnet and go with them to the county jail.
"Get a buggy! get a hoss and buggy, I tells ye! You can't be so mean as to take a lady through de streets on foot, fer de boys to be runnin' arter. Sheriff Purdy, may de Lord drag yer darter in de mud, if ye hain't heart enough fer dat."
"I've no objections to getting a buggy, if Clark'll wait and guard the prisoner," said the sheriff, a little moved by the old servant's frantic vehemence.
Half an hour later Mary Bryant, the pride of the village, passed out of her mother's door, a prisoner in the hands of justice.
"Don't yer fret, honey; don't yer fret one bit! Old Clare'll take car' o' yer till Massa Bryant get back. Wen he gets home, folks as has had a hand in dis, better look out! Dey'll be sorry dey ever played wid fire. Don't yer be cas' down, Miss Mary. De good Lord will reach down his han' to you."
The young wife had retained her self-possession remarkably; for the sake of her husband, for the sake of her child, she resolved to control herself, so as to let this cruel episode do her as little injury as possible; but, when Clare spoke of the protection which Massa Bryant would afford her, the thought of the outrage she was suffering, and he so far away, for a few moments overcame her. She burst into tears; but not for long. Before the carraige reached the jail, she was as firm and quiet as before.
† Correction made as per Volume 3.