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[H1] "Mysterious Story," Spirit of the Times, Feb. 5, 1842

MYSTERIOUS STORY.—The following particulars of a most astounding development in the progress of crime, luxury, profligacy and fraud in our city, are mere embodiments of the thousand and one rumors which are flying around the community.

Here are some glimpses at the facts.

In a certain densely and fashionably populated region of our city, there is established a large and magnificent mansion, owned by a good humored, affable and polite gentleman of insinuating manners, portly figure, indicative of good living, and altogether as "clever a fellow" as one might wish to see in two successive summer day's walks. Yet under this plausible guise he conceals a heart as black as that of the most servile fiend in the lower regions. His mansion is ostensibly a private dwelling, and this gentleman is ostensibly a bon vivant, a jolly good fellow, a good liver, and all that. Yet why is it that little groups of well-dressed persons are seen slyly pouring into his mansion at all hours of the night? Why is it that every nook and cranny of the mansion is indicative of stir and bustle in the still hour of midnight? Why is it that the finest curtains, the closest shutters, and the very best Venetian window blinds, cannot altogether conceal the flashes of lights, the glimpses of brilliant illuminations within, which steal through the crevices of curtains, shutters and blinds?

We will tell you.

This establishment is kept up as a decoy for all young men of wealth, whether merchant's clerks, law students, medical students, or even divinity students. They are invited to this place by some plausible friend, and the first night of their visit they are enchanted by the good wine and intellectual conversation of their host. On the next visit, they are introduced to a set of elderly gentlemen—by degrees "play" is proposed, and the crowd of young and wealthy dupes are no less pleased with the good humor of the company, than the ease with which they become winners in every game. A degree of great familiarity is thus established among all the persons forming the good humored host's select party. The next step is then taken. The host gradually sounds the passions of each of his dupes, and as he finds them inclined, so he uses them. One by one they are introduced to scenes of revelry and debauchery, that realize the dreams of the Arabian tales. Luxurious banquets are succeeded by the society of beautiful though shameless females; the poor dupe becomes lost to morality, then forgetful of his honor, and in the end a robber, and a swindler.

What with the visionary appearance of magnificent chambers, hung with gorgeous curtaining, with carpets of Turkish manufacture, with splendid ottomans and with pictures no less beautiful in design than lascivious in their tendency, the charm is fulfilled, the fascination is complete, and it is with loathing and regret, the unfortunate young man beholds the approach of the day which is to cut short for twelve short hours, his sinful although bewildering pleasures.

How is the day employed!

If a clerk, the dupe robs his employer, that he may sustain the losses which he now finds himself nightly encountering at the gaming board of the good humored host. If a student from a distant city, the remittance of an indulgent parent or other relative are applied to this purpose, and yet the parent wonders why, after the lapse of a few years, his son returns to him, broken in health, corrupted in morals, if not beggared and pennyless.

This, however, is not all. The remorse of the unfortunate dupes have in one or more cases, resulted in suicide. It is rumored also, that several of the plundered wretches, after having been reduced to beggary and want, threatened to betray the secrets of the establishment, and they were silenced by a resort to the most desperate means. This rumor is supported by much plausible testimony, and the guilt of the matter seems to rest upon the head of the proprietor.

What we have said, is but a glimpse of these dark and fearful truths. We shall resume the subject again. Should the owner of the establishment pursue his shameless course, we shall feel it our duty to give his name, and thus set the police authorities on the proper track.