I conceive it to be a prominent fault of most of the tales of fiction that are written and published at the present day, that they are not sufficiently natural—their style is too much exaggerated—and in aiming to produce startling effects, they depart too widely from the range of probability to engage the undivided interest of the enlightened and judicious reader. Believing as I do that the romance of reality—the details of common, everyday life—the secret history of things hidden from the public gaze, but of the existence of which there can be no manner of doubt—are endowed with a more powerful and absorbing interest than any extravagant flight of imagination can be, it shall be my aim in the following pages to adhere as closely as possible to truth and reality; and to depict scenes and adventures which have actually occurred, and which have come to my knowledge in the course of an experience no means limited—an experience replete with facilities for acquiring a perfect insight into human nature, and a knowledge of the many secret springs of human action. The most favorable reception which my former humble productions have met with, at the hands of a kind and indulgent public, will, I trust, justify the hope that the present Tale may meet with similar encouragement. It certainly shall not prove inferior to any of its predecessors in the variety of its incidents or the interest of its details; and as a romance of city life, it will amply repay the perusal of all country readers, as well as those who reside in cities. With these remarks, preliminary and explanatory, I proceed at once to draw the curtain, and unfold the opening scene of my drama.