The Price of Blood

The Price of Blood

By: Howard Pyle Complete Authored Works
Published by: Richard G. Badger & Co.
Publication Date: 1899

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In the year 1807 New York was grown to be a city of no small pretension to an extremely cosmopolitan cast of society. Being a sea port of considerable importance and of great conveniency to foreign immigration, it had even before this become a favorite haven for itinerant visitors from European countries, who for reasons best known to themselves did not find it to fit their inclinations to remain at home. These people, being received into the society of the most exclusive and particular fashion of the town, soon lent to the community a tone characteristic of the manners and customs of European centres of civilization.

Could the reader have been introduced into our American city at this period of its history, he might easily have flattered himself that he was in London or Paris. Or could he have stood upon Courtlandt Street corner, and have beheld young gentlemen of style dressed in the latest English mode or the young ladies gay with red hats and red shawls worn à la Française passing in review upon their evening promenade, he might have believed himself to have been transported into a community composed of both those European cities. Madame Bouchard, the mantua-maker upon Courtlandt Street, vied in public favor with Mrs. Toole, the English woman, whose shop upon Broadway had for so long been the particular emporium of fashionable feminine adornment. Fashionable bucks, who could afford to do so, drank nothing but Imperial champagne at Dodge's; and young ladies who aspired to the highest flash of ton made it a point to converse in French from the boxes of the theatres between the acts of Mr. Cooper's performances. Monsieur Duport taught dancing to young people of quality at twenty-five dollars a quarter, and the French waltz and the English contra-dance divided the favor of the most récherché assemblies.

So much as this has been told with a certain particularity that the author may better invite the confidence of the discerning reader; for otherwise it might cause him some misgivings to accept with entire assurity the fact that a deposed East India Rajah should secretly have maintained his court in an otherwise unoccupied house on Broadway, and it might shock his sense of the credible to accept the statement that an Oriental Potentate should have been able successfully to pursue his vengeance against the authors of his undoing in so unexpected a situation as the town of New York afforded.

It is with so much a preface as this that the author invites his reader to embark with him upon the following narrative, which, though it may at times appear a little strange and out of the ordinary course of events, may yet lead the thoughtful mind to consider how easy it is for the innocent to become entangled in a fate which in no wise concerns him, and for the discreet to become enveloped in a network of circumstances which he himself has had no part in framing.

Accordingly, while the frivolous may easily read this serious story for the sake of entertainment, the sober and more sedate reader will doubtless carry away with him the moral of the discourse which the author would earnestly point out for his consideration.

From the introduction of the first edition.

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