Ella Cameron, or The maid, wife & widow of a day. An extraordinary revelation, being a true picture of high life in Washington … By an ex-member of Congress. Philadelphia: Barclay & Co., 1861.
AAS owns nearly 80% of all pre-1877 titles listed in Lyle Wright’s bibliography of American fiction. Every quarter we add a few more—as well as various reprint editions of titles already here—but it is slow going. A fine copy in original wrappers of the anonymous novelette Ella Cameron recently fell into our dragnet. The daughter of an ex-governor of South Carolina, Ella is the toast of late 1850s Washington society, with Walter Moreland, “a young Texan of high birth but reduced fortune,” in hot pursuit. Stuffy old Colonel Leonard stands in the way, but Moreland strategically “wings” him in a duel, then replenishes the family fortune with $25,000 won at cards at “a magnificent gambling saloon” where “grave senators were seen in conversation with the well dressed roué and gambler.” Hastening off to New York’s dodgy Five Points district, Moreland hires a band of lowlifes to “kidnap” Leonard and his still-virginal bride, but the bumblers kill him instead. Crazed by greed, they demand Ella’s diamonds at gunpoint, but Moreland appears and now proves a surer shot. Still, both Ella and Moreland take bullets. “Their wounds were found to be quite serious but not necessarily mortal,” and following a respectable recuperation/courtship, they are finally wed. Purchased from Between the Covers. Henry F. DePuy Fund.