[H] Mysterious Story
This hitherto unnoticed sketch seems plainly to be the germ of what would soon be Lippard’s major success, The Quaker City (1844-45). Like that slightly later novel this sketch featured a haunting description of a “large and magnificent mansion,” furnished in luxurious splendor, situated in an unnamed precinct of Philadelphia, functioning as a secret headquarters for drinking and gambling as well as other forms of “revelry and debauchery,” populated by “shameless females,” and attracting hitherto upstanding young men who were morally corrupted by the “sinful although bewildering pleasures” on offer within. There was a dark hint, too, that anyone who betrayed “the secrets of the establishment” would be murdered forthwith by the proprietor. In short, the mise-en-scène of The Quaker City.