We have already quoted at some length from an interesting work entitled "Asmodeus in New York," recently published in Paris, and we now ask the reader's attention to the following sketch of an entertainment given at the mansion of a female, whose infamous exploits as an abortionist have earned her the title of "the wickedest woman in New York."

                    A BALL AT THE WICKEDEST WOMAN'S.

We entered. The lady of the house, richly attired in a silver-brocaded dress and wearing a crown of diamonds, very kindly welcomed us, thanking Asmodeus for bringing in a distinguished stranger. The introduction over, we mingled with the crowd, and went through the rooms opened to the guests, while the lady led to an adjacent room a few female friends, to show them her necklaces, rings, bracelets, and other jewels.

'American ladies,' said Asmodeus, 'avail themselves of every opportunity to exhibit their treasures, down to their silver, china, and linen. They are fond of jewels, the most showy being especially in favor. But I would not warrant that all those gems that flash in the gaslight are genuine stones. There is such a demand now for California diamonds that, very likely, many sets now adorning the wives of lucky speculators are mingled with worthless imitations. Time is necessary to learn how to distinguish precious stones from spurious ones, and few persons can devote as much leisure as did yonder Jew banker in collecting pearls, the smallest of which in his possession is worth twenty thousand dollars. He recently gave to his wife a necklace made up of twenty of such pearls, and their number increases every year.'

In the meanwhile, dancing had commenced in several spacious rooms; in others, card-playing was being indulged in. Servants, wearing black garments and white neckties, were busy carrying refreshments around. Many persons, preferring the pleasure of eating to those of playing or dancing, were seated in another room at a table loaded with meats and delicacies. Next to this, another room, elegantly furnished, was crowded with young and old men, indulging in smoking. Boxes of cigars were piled up on elegant etageres; and I noticed that many a smoker, besides the cigar he was smoking, filled his pockets with that luxury. While going through the several rooms opened to the public, Asmodeus called my attention to their costly furniture. Some of these rooms were lined with fine brocatelle, imported from France, Italy, China, and Japan, the latter conspicuous for their fantastical drawing and patterns; others with Persian and Indian cloths; and the several pieces of furniture were of unexceptionable taste. Some were inlaid with gold, bronze, or china; some were made up of rosewood, artistically carved. Gems of art and curiosities of every description were displayed upon etageres; and through the house, made bright as day by hundreds of gaslights, one walked on soft, smooth carpets of the best manufactures of Europe. They alone were worth a fortune.

Amazed at such luxury, exceeding that of many a patrician family in Europe, I thought our Amphitryon was either one of those wealthy merchants whose ships carry the American flag over the broad ocean, or those manufacturers who build up enormous fortunes at the expense of the public.

'You are mistaken,' said Asmodeus. 'We will call, by and by, on one of those merchant-princes you allude to. For the present we are in the house of one of Juno's priestesses. You are aware, Juno was called Lucina when she superintended the birth of children. But the lady who has welcomed us so kindly is far from assisting in the birth of children; her calling, on the contrary, is to prevent it; she practices infanticide every day, and it is by carrying on this business she has obtained the wealth she is making so great a display of. Every one of those window-shades, so nicely arranged to ward off the rays of the sun, cost one thousand dollars. They were painted by our best artists, none of them having declined to display his talents for the benefit of Madame Killer - such is the name of the owner of this splendid residence. As there are thirty windows, you may easily figure up the cost of those gorgeous shades. That of all the furniture is in the same proportion: every piece of it, I dare say, has been purchased with the money received for the murder of a child.'

Bewildered at these revelations, I thought Asmodeus was deceiving me. He quietly continued:

'That stout gentleman, going from one to another, and making himself affable with everybody, who looks like a good-natured person, and whose unctuous manners remind one of a clergyman, is the husband of Madame Killer. He is an accomplished scholar, and has obtained his diploma from one of our best medical colleges. He might have obtained a competency by honest practice. But when Madame Killer, already enriched through her nefarious business, hinted that she was disposed to marry him, Bungling eagerly took the hint, and espoused this abortionist.

'Of course, after the marriage, Madame Killer retained her own name, as it was already a notorious one. Love, you may be sure, had nothing to do with this matrimonial transaction. Madame Killer married Bungling because his science might be of some service in many delicate circumstances - in about the same way a merchant takes in a partner when he has too much to do. The couple have been uniformly prosperous since they married, about ten years ago. True, they had two or three unpleasant misunderstandings with the police, on account of a few poor creatures dying of ill-treatment at their hands; but they came out of all of them triumphantly.'

'Must I infer from this that the laws of America do not punish infanticide?' said I, 'that fearful crime of getting rid of children before or after their natural birth. Even the unfortunate who stakes her life to conceal the consequences of a fault, is amenable to law; she is punished for child-murder, as well as her accomplice, in every civilized country.'

'By and by,' answered Asmodeus, 'I will explain that subject to you. I will content myself, for the present, by saying that the laws of America are no less severe than those of Europe, as regards the crimes of infanticide and abortion. But in such cases, as well as in many others, the law often remains a dead letter.'

I longed to depart from the house. I fancied, after Asmodeus's frightful revelations, the very air we breathed was impregnated with deadly miasma. Dancing had been interrupted for awhile; and in a hall, connected with a conservatory, filled with rare and odoriferous plants, a concert was beginning. Every note from a sonorous piano sounded in my ear like the wailing of one of those poor little beings the Amphitryons had brought to an untimely death. And then, of what character were those women, crowding the rooms, in spite of the crumpling of their splendid dresses? Who were those men, who had either accompanied or were courting them?

'You are quite mistaken,' said Asmodeus, 'if you believe we are in the midst of a mixed crowd, such as that denominated the demi-monde in the French capital, and not tolerated, as yet, at private receptions here, or at places of public resort. To be sure, what is called the social evil unfortunately exists in New York, as in the large cities of Europe; but it keeps aloof from decent society. It is true, that such is the discretion of corrupt females, it is often impossible to distinguish an honest woman from one who has lost her chastity. Of course I do not speak of those creatures so deeply fallen into habits of corruption, that they shrink no longer from exhibiting their degradation. Perhaps we shall have an opportunity of visiting the backgrounds of our civilization, where those wretched creatures live. For the present, I must set you right concerning the standing in society of the guests of this house.

'Most of those men, who so often appreciate the good things served around by the waiters, are wealthy merchants, lawyers, and physicians. I even recognize among them a few magistrates and legislators. They have accompanied their wives; and some, even, have brought their daughters to this dreadful house, where some unfortunate woman is, perhaps, dying in the upper story, and paying with her life the violation of nature's laws. Some guests have come through curiosity, attracted by the splendors of a residence opened for the first time to the gaze of strangers. Others have availed themselves of the opportunity of gayly spending here a few idle hours, and do not trouble themselves with the Amphitryons' respectability. Lastly, many guests did not deem it safe to decline Madame Killer's invitation; for that Thug of society holds in her hands the honor of hundreds of families, and it would be dangerous to arouse her resentment. A single word from her lips, some well-concocted story, would bring on awful scandals. She could, for instance, apprise yonder husband, so attentive to his wife, that the latter, during the two years he has served his country abroad, has applied to Madame Killer's art to remove the consequences of an adulterous intrigue. That young man, who has just inherited a large estate, and seems so much enamoured of that light-haired young lady, might learn, tomorrow morning, through an anonymous letter, that the fair beauty, instead of spending, as he believes she did, the summer months in the country, had secreted herself in Madame Killer's hospitable house.

'Undoubtedly, the dread of some awful revelation has brought here many persons, as out of five hundred invited guests only a few do not attend Madame Killer's soiree. But I am far from believing that they would not have come, under any circumstances, even had they been free from fear of personal consequences. Madame Killer is wealthy, and nobody cares about the way she has obtained her wealth. Whoever is worth one million dollars, no matter how acquired, honestly or dishonestly, is welcome everywhere, and his soirees and receptions are attended by the best society. I see, for instance, talking with Madame Killer, a merchandise broker, whose name was given to a ship launched this very morning, and who would be shut out of decent society in any other country. Three years ago, he failed to the amount of two or three millions of dollars. According to his balance-sheet, he could pay fifty cents on the dollar. But, when his book-keeper joyfully informed his employer of such an unexpected result, "Change it, by all means," exclaimed the broker, "my creditors do not expect even fifteen cents on the dollar, and were I to give them fifty, what benefit would I derive from my failure?" And he paid ten cents only on the dollar.

'Near that honest broker - who has become wealthy in consequence of that transaction, and at the same time a man of importance, being now a director of a trust company, and other concerns - see that young man, wearing side-whiskers, after the English fashion. His light hair and blue eyes denote his German origin. He is an exchange broker, and made two hundred thousand dollars last year in this quick way: Pretending to have realized large profits in stock gambling, he succeeded in inspiring such confidence in the president of one of our most respectable banks, where he kept his account, that his checks were indiscriminately certified by that officer. One check for two hundred thousand dollars was in that way certified, and the money had just been paid out to a compeer, when the directors of the bank discovered that the adventurer had but a small deposit in their hands. He failed the next day, and the president, who had rashly caused a heavy loss to the bank, blew out his own brains.

'The guest who is making his bow to the lady of the house, was formerly secretary of one of our railroad companies. The stock had gone up one hundred per cent. above par, on the strength of the manager's report, exhibiting the prosperous condition of the company's affairs, when an over-issue of stock, to the amount of two millions of dollars, was detected. To satisfy the public clamor, the secretary and another officer of the company were discharged. But all inquiry respecting this stupendous fraud was indefinitely postponed. The discharged employes of the company now live in high style, and give parties, which their former employers, the directors of the railroad concern, do not fail to attend.

Next to him, that dandy, who is talking with a gentleman whose beard, though he is a judge of the Supreme Court, might grace the chin of a musketeer, is a wealthy banker's son. He is fresh from the State's prison; and, strange indeed, the magistrate he is speaking to, is the very one who sentenced him - perhaps, because of the pressure of public opinion, which must, after all, be taken into consideration. Our dandy, when his father retired, became sole manager of a banking house, and attempted to double, in a few weeks, the wealth his father had toiled thirty years to accumulate.

Discarding legitimate speculation, he gambled at the Stock Exchange, which soon swallowed up the money and other deposits confided to his keeping. Then he became almost crazy. To keep up his credit with our banks and procure resources - and led astray by the hope of realizing profits large enough to make up his losses - he became a forger. He imitated the signatures of his correspondents, his own friends, in fact, of everybody in town; and, one morning, the people were startled in reading in the newspapers that forged notes, amounting to several millions of dollars, were flooding the street. The young man was sentenced to prison for a term of five years - one for each forged million! as remarked the wag who is now talking with him.'

'How is it he is out of prison?'

'That is precisely a point of American law which deserves a passing notice. Most of the State governors are vested with the pardoning power. When the exercise of such a prerogative devolves upon State legislatures, corrupting influences are less to be apprehended. A single individual may be coaxed to pardon by his political friends, or even bribed. But money, and political connections, are of little avail when one has to deal with one hundred legislators. In New York State, the legislature has no control over the pardoning power, which is vested exclusively in the governor. The family and friends of that youth represented his crime, stupendous as it was, as the first he had ever committed. Its enormity was represented as a proof of temporary insanity - the great argument, now-a-days, of our lawyers - and he was set free by the governor, after remaining a few months in prison. He shows himself again among the wealthy classes, and is as kindly received by them as he would have been had he never forged notes to the amount of several millions of dollars - so deeply-rooted in the American people is the feeling of tolerance, and especially when those who are the objects of it are millionaires, or in a fair way to become so.' 
       * * * * *

At this moment, we noticed some excitement among a few young ladies standing near a songstress who had just been rapturously applauded. A gentleman of commanding appearance, but deadly pale, was speaking to her, in a tone loud enough to be heard by those standing by. 'You are certainly much indebted to Madame Killer,' said the gentleman, 'but I wonder how you can sing in a house where you brought to death an innocent being!' And, bowing low to Madame Killer, he disappeared among the bewildered assembly.

"'Ah!' said Asmodeus, with a sarcastic smile, 'the wronged husband tells his false wife some bitter truths.'"

                     HOW SHE CONDUCTS HER BUSINESS.

The wickedest woman lives in a magnificent house, in a fashionable street. A part of her fortune was made as a female physician. She made money rapidly. The police were frequently called on to arrest her for child murder, but she always managed to escape conviction and punishment. After several years of profitable practice, she opened a home for unfortunate women. She advertised her business extensively, and soon became well known. Women who wished to conceal the results of their shame, sought her out, and found a tender and thoughtful friend during their period of trial. Such conduct, on her part, brought her a constant run of custom, and paid well.

Her present business is conducted upon the same system. Her rooms are elegant, and perfectly secluded. Her patients have every comfort, every care, bestowed upon them. The doctress is gentle and considerate in everything, and her patients soon learn to love her as a friend. She charges heavily for all this, and her fees are usually paid, in full, in advance. Sometimes the party engaging the rooms gives no name, sometimes an assumed name is given. The wickedest woman asks no questions.

Honest wives, in the comfort of their own homes, surrounded by love and respect, shrink from that hour of trial and anguish, which is at once a woman's cross and crown. How sad, then, is the trial of the erring creature in this splendid mansion. Terror, anguish, despair, remorse, and shame, struggle at her heart, and deprive her of courage, prudence, and almost of reason. At such times, few can resist the appeal of the wickedest woman, to confide in everything to her. The poor sufferer reveals her whole history, her name, and that of the father of her child. The wickedest woman, while soothing her, listens attentively, and carefully records the whole story, with all the names. If the child is born alive, it is faithfully attended to, and every precaution is taken by the doctress to have it reared in health. The mother knows nothing of its fate, and, with recovered health, goes back to her position in society, carrying with her the assurance of the wickedest woman that her secret is safe.

The wickedest woman never loses sight of either patient. As those who seek her assistance are apt to be persons of means, she has a motive in doing so. It may be one or ten years after her services were rendered, but, at what she considers the proper time, she renews her acquaintance with them. She will startle them by a call, or a note, recalling to them the events they would gladly forget, and soliciting a loan for a short time. The appeal is generally made to the man, and is sustained by such strong proofs that he dares not refuse to comply with the demand. Of course he knows that the wickedest woman will never return his money, but he is forced to send whatever sum she pleases. The child, which has been carefully reared, is a living witness against him, and the wickedest woman threatens to produce it if her demands are refused. Every year the demand is renewed. Men have been driven to bankruptcy, to ruin, and to death, by these heartless extortions. Still, the wickedest woman continues her course. She boasts that society in New York cannot do without her, and the facts seem to justify this boast.