en-fr  O. Henry - A Retrieved Reformation
Une réhabilitation sauvée

Tiré de : Les Chemins du destin (Roads of Destiny) (1909)

De O. Henry - William Sydney Porter (11 septembre 1862 - 5 juin 1910).

Un garde arriva dans l'atelier de chaussures de la prison, où Jimmy Valentine cousait avec assiduité des empeignes et l'accompagna au bureau d'admission. Là, le gardien lui remit sa grâce qui avait été signée le matin même par le gouverneur. Jimmy la prit de manière nonchalante. Il avait presque effectué dix mois sur une condamnation de quatre ans. Il s'attendait à ne rester que trois mois environ, au maximum. Quand un homme avec autant d'amis à l'extérieur que Jimmy Valentine est jeté « en taule », ça ne vaut vraiment pas la peine de lui couper les cheveux.
– C'est bon, Valentine, déclara le garde, vous allez sortir dans la matinée. Ressaisissez-vous, et devenez un homme. Vous n'êtes pas un mauvais type dans le fond. Arrêtez de percer des coffres-forts et menez une vie honnête.
– Moi ? dit Jimmy, avec étonnement. Allons, je n'ai jamais percé un coffre-fort de toute ma vie.
Vraiment, ironisa le gardien. — Bien sûr que non. Nous verrons, dorénavant. Comment avez-vous écopé de ce travail à Springfield ? Était-ce parce que vous ne vouliez pas fournir un alibi de peur de compromettre quelqu'un de la haute société? Ou était-ce simplement le cas d'un méchant vieux jury qui avait une dent contre vous ? C'est toujours l'un ou l'autre avec vous, les victimes innocentes.
– Moi ? dit Jimmy, l'air vertueux et ébahi à nouveau. – Mais, gardien, je n'ai jamais été à Springfield de ma vie !
– Emmenez-le, Cronin ! dit le gardien, et arrangez-le avec des vêtements civils. Libérez-le à sept heures du matin et faites-le venir au bureau. Vous feriez mieux de réfléchir à mon conseil.
Le lendemain matin à sept heures et quart, Jimmy se tenait dans le bureau extérieur du gardien. Il portait un de ces costumes prêts-à-porter affreusement mal ajustés et une de ces paires de chaussures raides et couinantes que l'état procure à ses hôtes forcés libérés.
Le greffier lui remit un billet de chemin de fer et le billet de cinq dollars avec lequel la loi s'attendait à ce qu'il se réhabilite dans la bonne citoyenneté et la prospérité. Le gardien lui donna un cigare et lui serra la main. Valentine, 9762, fut mentionné dans les registres en tant que «Grâcié par le gouverneur», et M. James Valentine sortit dans le soleil.
Sans tenir compte du chant des oiseaux, des arbres verts ondulant dans le vent et du parfum des fleurs, Jimmy se dirigea directement vers un restaurant. Là, il goûta aux premières joies douces de la liberté sous la forme d'un poulet grillé et d'une bouteille de vin blanc - suivis d'un cigare bien meilleur que celui que le gardien lui avait donné. De là, il se rendit tranquillement à la gare. Il jeta un quarter dans le chapeau d'un aveugle assis près de la porte et prit son train. Trois heures de trajet l’amenèrent dans une petite ville près de la frontière de l'état. Il se rendit au café d'un certain Mike Dolan et serra la main de Mike, qui était seul derrière le bar
— Désolé, nous ne pouvions pas le faire plus tôt, Jimmy, mon garçon, déclara Mike. — Mais il a fallu s'opposer à cette objection de Springfield et le gouverneur a presque refusé. Tu te sens bien?
— Bien, dit Jimmy. T'as ma clef?
Il prit sa clef, monta à l'étage et déverrouilla la porte d'une chambre sur l'arrière. Tout était comme il l'avait laissé. Là, sur le sol, il y avait encore le bouton de col de Ben Price qui avait été arraché du collet de la chemise du célèbre détective lorsqu'ils avaient maîtrisé Jimmy lors de son arrestation
Après avoir rabattu du mur un lit escamotable, Jimmy fit glisser un panneau dans le mur et en sortit une mallette couverte de poussière. Il l'ouvrit et contempla avec émotion le plus bel équipement de cambrioleur de tout l'Est. C'était un équipement complet, fait d'acier trempé spécial, les tout derniers modèles de perceuses, poinçons, vilebrequins et forets, pinces-monseigneur, serre-joints et tarières, avec deux ou trois nouveautés inventées par Jimmy lui-même, dont il était fier. Ça lui avait coûté neuf cents dollars pour les faire fabriquer à ........, un endroit où on fabriquait des trucs de ce genre pour la profession.
Une demi-heure après Jimmy descendit l'escalier et traversa le café. Il avait revêtu des vêtements bien coupés et élégants et portait à la main sa valise dépoussiérée et astiquée.
T'as des projets? demanda cordialement Mike Dolan.
— Moi? dit jimmy, perplexe. Je ne comprends pas. Je représente la Compagnie des céréales croustillantes et des petits biscuits crackers réunis de New York.
Cette affirmation amusa Mike à tel point qu'il dut prendre sur le champ un lait froid à l'eau de seltz. Il ne touchait jamais aux boissons "fortes".
Un mois après la libération de Valentine 9762, il y eut un boulot soigné de perçage de coffre-fort à Richmond, dans l'Indiana, sans aucun indice sur son auteur. Il n'y eut qu'un maigre butin de huit cents dollars. Deux semaines après, un coffre breveté, amélioré, à l'épreuve des voleurs, fut ouvert comme un fromage pour un montant de quinze cents dollars en monnaie; valeurs mobilières et argent ne furent pas touchés. Cela commença à intéresser les chasseurs de canailles. Alors un vieux coffre- de banque démodé de Jefferson City redevint actif et projeta hors de son cratère une éruption de billets pour un montant de cinq mille dollars. Les pertes étaient maintenant suffisamment élevées pour en référer à la catégorie professionnelle de Ben Price. En comparant les constats, on remarqua une remarquable similarité des méthodes des cambrioleurs. Ben Price étudia les scènes des cambriolages et on l'entendit remarquer : "C'est la signature de Dandy Jim Valentine. Il a reprit le boulot. Regardez cette poignée à combinaison... extraite aussi facilement qu'en arrachant un radis par temps humide. Il possède les seules pinces capables de faire ça. Et regardez comment ces commutateurs ont été perforés proprement! Jimmy n'a jamais à percer qu'un seul trou. Oui, il me faut M. Valentine. Il aura son compte la prochaine fois sans aucun délai ni clémence irresponsable.
Ben Price connaissait les habitudes de Jimmy. Il les avait apprises en travaillant sur l'affaire de Springfield. De grands sauts, des fuites rapides, pas d'acolytes, et un goût pour la haute société... ces méthodes avaient aidé M. Valentine à avoir la réputation d'un fraudeur au châtiment plein de succès. On annonça que Ben Price était sur la piste de l'insaisissable cambrioleur et les autres propriétaires de coffres à l'épreuve des voleurs se sentirent plus rassurées.
Un après-midi, Jimmy Valentine et sa valise descendirent de la malle-poste à Elmore, petite ville à cinq miles de la voie ferrée au pays du chêne black-jack en Arkansas. Jimmy, l'air d'un jeune de 3e année d'université de retour chez lui, descendit le trottoir en planches vers l'hôtel.
Une jeune dame traversa la rue, le dépassa au coin et entra par une porte surmontée de l'enseigne "Banque Elmore". Jimmy Valentine la regarda dans les yeux, oublia ce qu'il était et devint un autre homme. Elle baissa les yeux et rougit légèrement. Les jeunes gens du genre et de l'allure de Jimmy étaient rares à Elmore.
Jimmy accosta un garçon qui traînassait sur les marches de la banque comme si c'était l'un des actionnaires et commença à lui poser des questions sur la ville en lui refilant dix cents de temps à autre. Un peu plus tard la jeune dame sortit, ignorant royalement le jeune homme à la valise et s'en alla.
— N'est-ce pas la jeune Polly Simpson ? demanda Jimmy, faussement astucieux.
— Nan, dit le garçon. C'est Annabel Adams. Son papa, c'est le propriétaire de la banque. Pourquoi vous êtes venu à Elmore. C'est une chaîne de montre en or? Je vais acheter un bulldog. Z'avez encore des cents ?
Jimmy s'en alla à l'Hôtel des Planteurs, s'enregistra sous le nom de Ralph D. Spencer et loua une chambre. Il se pencha sur le comptoir et annonça son programme au réceptionniste. Il dit qu'il était venu à Elmore pour chercher un endroit pour se lancer en affaires. Comment se porte le commerce de chaussures, actuellement, en ville? Il avait envisagé le commerce de chaussures. Y-avait-il une opportunité?
L'employé fut impressionné par les vêtements et l'attitude de Jimmy. Lui-même était un peu un modèle de mode pour la jeunesse légèrement dorée d'Elmore mais il comprenait maintenant ses insuffisances. En tentant d'imaginer la façon dont Jimmy nouait son nœud de cravate, il lui donna aimablement des informations
Oui, il devait y avoir une bonne opportunité dans le commerce de chaussures. Il n'y avait pas un seul magasin de chaussures de luxe dans la ville. Les grands magasins et les merceries s'en chargeaient. Les affaires dans tous les secteurs étaient relativement florissantes. Il espérait que M. Spencer se déciderait à s'implanter à Elmore. Il trouverait une ville agréable à vivre et des gens très sociables.
M. Spencer pensait qu'il séjournerait quelques jours dans la ville et étudierait la situation. Non, il n'était pas nécessaire que l'employé appelle le garçon. Il porterait sa valise lui-même; elle était plutôt lourde.
M. Ralph Spencer, le phénix qui avait surgi des cendres de Jimmy Valentine... cendres abandonnées par la flamme d'une attaque d'amour soudaine et bouleversante... resta à Elmore et prospéra. Il ouvrit un commerce de chaussures et s'assura un bon courant d'affaires.
Socialement il eut aussi du succès et se fit de nombreux amis. Et il accomplit le souhait de son cœur. Il rencontra Mlle Annabel Adams et fut de plus en plus fasciné par ses charmes.
A la fin de l'année, la situation de M. Ralph Spencer était la suivante: il avait gagné le respect de la communauté, son magasin de chaussures était florissant et lui et Annabel devaient se marier dans deux semaines. M. Adams, typique banquier régional laborieux, approuvait Spencer. Annabel avait presque autant de fierté que d'affection pour lui. Il était aussi à l'aise dans la famille de M. Adams et celle de la sœur mariée d'Annabel que s'il en était déjà membre.
Un jour, Jimmy s'assit dans sa chambre et écrivit cette lettre, qu'il posta à l'adresse sûre d'un de ses vieux amis à St Louis : Mon cher vieux camarade, Je veux que tu ailles chez Sullivan à Little Rock, mercredi prochain au soir, à neuf heures. Je veux que tu boucles quelques petites affaires pour moi. Et, aussi, je veux te faire cadeau de ma boîte à outils. Je sais que tu seras contents de les avoir... tu ne pourrais pas avoir l'équivalent pour un millier de dollars. Disons, Billy, que j'ai laissé tomber l'ancien boulot... il y a un an. J'ai un joli magasin. Je gagne ma vie honnêtement et je vais épouser la plus jolie fille du monde d'ici deux semaines. C'est la seule vie, Billy... la vie sérieuse. Et maintenant, je ne toucherais pas un dollar appartenant à quelqu'un d'autre pour un million. Dès que je serai marié, je vais vendre et partir à l'ouest, où il n'y aura plus autant de danger que de vieilles affaires me retombent dessus. Je te le dis, Billy, c'est un ange. Elle croit en moi et je ne ferai plus aucun autre coup tordu pour tout l'or du monde. Viens sans faute chez Sully car il faut que je te vois. Je rapporterai les outils avec moi.
Ton vieil ami, Jimmy.
Dans la soirée du lundi après que Jimmy eut écrit cette lettre, Ben price trottinant discrètement dans Elmore dans un buggy de location. Il flanna dans la ville à sa façon discrète jusqu'à ce qu'il ait trouvé ce qu'il voulait savoir. Depuis l'épicerie de l'autre côté de la rue qui venait du magasin de chaussures de Spencer il put bien observer Ralph D. Spencer.
— Tu vas te marier avec la fille du banquier Jimmy? se dit Ben doucement. "Eh bien je ne sais pas!
Le lendemain matin Jimmy prit le petit-déjeuner chez les Adam Ce jour-là il devait se rendre à Little Rock pour commander son costume de mariage et acheter quelque chose de joli pour Annabel. Ce serait la première fois qu'il quitterait la ville depuis qu'il était arrivé à Elmore. Il s'était maintenant écoulé plus d'un an depuis ces derniers boulots professionnels et il pensait qu'il pouvait s'aventurer à l'extérieur sans danger.
Après le petit déjeuner tout un groupe familial se rendit au centre-ville... M. Adams, Annabel, Jimmy et la sœur mariée d'Annabelle avec ses deux petites filles âgées de cinq et neuf ans. Ils passèrent par l'hôtel où Jimmy logeait encore et il monta en vitesse à sa chambre et rapporta sa valise. Puis ils se rendirent à la banque. Là se tenaient le cheval et le buggy de Jimmy et Dolph Gibson qui allait le conduire à la gare.
Tous pénétrèrent à l’intérieur des hautes barrières chêne sculpté dans le hall de la banque... y compris Jimmy car le futur gendre de M. Adams était bienvenu partout. Les employés furent ravis d’être salués par ce jeune homme agréable et de belle allure qui aller épouser Miss Annabel. Jimmy posa sa valise. Annabel, dont le cœur bouillonnait d’une vive jeunesse et de bonheur, coiffa le chapeau de Jimmy et attrapa la valise. — Ne ferais-je pas un bon représentant de commerce? dit Annabel. Mon Dieu ! Ralph, combien pèse-t-elle ? On dirait qu’elle est pleine de lingots d’or.
— Elle est pleine de fers à cheval nickelés, dit Jimmy nonchalamment, que je vais rapporter. J’ai pensé que j’économiserais des frais de colis express en les emmenant. Je deviens terriblement économe.
La banque Elmore venait juste d’installer un nouveau coffre fort et une nouvelle chambre forte. M. Adams en était très fier et insista pour que tous en fassent l’inspection. C’était une petite chambre forte mais elle avait une nouvelle porte brevetée. Elle se fermait avec trois solides verrous en acier actionnés simultanément par une seule poignée et était équipée d'une serrure à horloge. Avec enthousiasme, M. Adams expliqua son fonctionnement à M. Spencer qui montre un intérêt courtois mais distrait. Les deux enfants, May et Agatha, étaient enchantées par le metal brillant et la drôle horloge et les boutons.
Pendant qu'ils étaient ainsi occupés, Ben Price se promenait d'un pas nonchalant et s'appuyait sur son coude, regardant avec désinvolture à l'intérieur entre les grilles. Il dit au caissier qu'il ne voulait rien ; qu'il attendait seulement un homme qu'il connaissait.
Soudainement, il y eut un cri ou deux de femmes et une agitation. Sans que les adultes s'en rendent compte, May, la fille de neuf ans, dans l'intention de jouer, avait enfermé Agata dans la chambre forte. Elle avait alors fermé les verrous et tourné la poignée de la combinaison comme elle l'avait vu faire par M. Adams.
Le vieux banquier sauta vers la poignée et la tira un moment. — La porte ne peux pas être ouverte, gémit-il. L'horloge n'a pas été remontée ni la combinaison réglée.
La mère d'Agatha cria encore, hystériquement.
— Silence ! dit M. Adams, en levant une main tremblante. Taisez-vous tous un instant. Agatha ! appela-t-il aussi fort qu'il le pouvait. Ecoute-moi. Durant le silence qui s'ensuivit ils purent seulement entendre le bruit faible de l'enfant hurlant dans l'obscure chambre forte, complètement terrorisée.
— Ma précieuse chérie ! hurla la mère. — Elle va mourir de peur ! Ouvrez la porte ! Oh, enfoncez-la! Vous les hommes, vous ne pouvez rien faire?
— il n'y a personne plus près que Little Rock qui puisse ouvrir cette porte, dit M. Adams, d'une voix mal assurée. — Mon Dieu ! Spencer, qu'allons-nous faire? Cette enfant... elle ne peut pas rester longtemps là-dedans. Il n'y a pas assez d'air, et, de plus, elle aura des convulsions de peur.
La mère d'Agatha, maintenant éperdue, frappait la porte de la chambre forte de ses mains. Quelqu'un suggéra radicalement la dynamite. Annabel se tourna vers Jimmy, ses grands yeux pleins d'angoisse mais pourtant pas désespérés. Pour une femme rien ne semble tout à fait impossible pour les capacités de l'homme qu'elle adore.
Peux-tu faire quelque chose, Ralph...essaie, s'il te plaît ?
Il la regarda avec un étrange et doux sourire sur ses lèvres et dans ses yeux vifs. — Annabel, dit-il, donne-moi cette rose que tu portes, veux-tu ?
Croyant à peine qu'elle l'avait bien compris, elle détacha le bouton de rose du devant de sa robe et le plaça dans sa main. Jimmy le fourra dans la poche de sa veste, ôta son manteau et retroussa ses manches. Avec cette action Ralph D. Spencer mourut et Jimmy Valentine prit sa place.
— Éloignez-vous de la porte, vous tous, ordonna-t-il, brusquement.
Il posa sa valise sur la table et l'ouvrit en grand. À partir de cet instant il sembla ne plus être conscient de la présence de quiconque. Il étala les étranges ustensiles brillants rapidement et méthodiquement, en sifflotant pour lui-même comme il le faisait toujours quand il travaillait. Immobiles et dans un profond silence, les autres le regardaient comme sous le charme.
En une minute la perceuse préférée de Jimmy mordait doucement dans la porte d'acier. En 10 minutes... battant son propre record de perceur de coffre... il se débarrassa en des verrous et ouvrit la porte.
Agatha, presque évanouie, mais saine et sauve, fut déposée dans les bras de sa mère.
Jimmy Valentina enfila son manteau et marcha à l'extérieur des grilles vers la porte principale. Tandis qu'il s'éloignait il eut impression d'entendre une voix lointaine qu'il avait connue autrefois appeler "Ralph!". Mais il n'hésita jamais.
A la porte, un gros homme se tenait quelque peu sur son chemin.
– Bonjour, Ben ! dit Jimmy, toujours avec son sourire étrange. Vous y êtes finalement arrivé, n'est-ce pas ? Eh bien, allons-y. Je ne sais pas si cela fait beaucoup de différence, maintenant.
Et alors Ben Price agit de manière plutôt étrange.
– Je pense que vous vous trompez, M. Spencer, dit-il. Je ne crois pas vous reconnaître. Votre buggy vous attend, n'est-ce pas ?
Ben Price se retourna et se promena dans la rue.

FIN
unit 1
A Retrieved Reformation.
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unit 2
From: Roads of Destiny (1909).
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By O. Henry - William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910).
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unit 5
There the warden handed Jimmy his pardon, which had been signed that morning by the governor.
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unit 6
Jimmy took it in a tired kind of way.
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unit 7
He had served nearly ten months of a four year sentence.
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unit 8
He had expected to stay only about three months, at the longest.
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unit 10
"Now, Valentine," said the warden, "you'll go out in the morning.
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unit 11
Brace up, and make a man of yourself.
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unit 12
You're not a bad fellow at heart.
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unit 13
Stop cracking safes, and live straight."
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unit 14
"Me?"
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unit 15
said Jimmy, in surprise.
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"Why, I never cracked a safe in my life."
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unit 17
"Oh, no," laughed the warden.
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unit 18
"Of course not.
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unit 19
Let's see, now.
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How was it you happened to get sent up on that Springfield job?
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Or was it simply a case of a mean old jury that had it in for you?
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It's always one or the other with you innocent victims."
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"Me?"
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unit 25
said Jimmy, still blankly virtuous.
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"Why, warden, I never was in Springfield in my life!"
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"Take him back, Cronin!"
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said the warden, "and fix him up with outgoing clothes.
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Unlock him at seven in the morning, and let him come to the bull-pen.
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unit 30
Better think over my advice, Valentine."
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At a quarter past seven on the next morning Jimmy stood in the warden's outer office.
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The warden gave him a cigar, and shook hands.
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From there he proceeded leisurely to the depot.
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He tossed a quarter into the hat of a blind man sitting by the door, and boarded his train.
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unit 40
Three hours set him down in a little town near the state line.
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He went to the cafe of one Mike Dolan and shook hands with Mike, who was alone behind the bar.
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unit 42
"Sorry we couldn't make it sooner, Jimmy, me boy," said Mike.
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"But we had that protest from Springfield to buck against, and the governor nearly balked.
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unit 44
Feeling all right?"
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unit 45
"Fine," said Jimmy.
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unit 46
"Got my key?"
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He got his key and went upstairs, unlocking the door of a room at the rear.
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unit 48
Everything was just as he had left it.
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unit 51
He opened this and gazed fondly at the finest set of burglar's tools in the East.
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In half an hour Jimmy went down stairs and through the cafe.
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unit 56
"Got anything on?"
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unit 57
asked Mike Dolan, genially.
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unit 58
"Me?"
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unit 59
said Jimmy, in a puzzled tone.
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unit 60
"I don't understand.
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unit 61
I'm representing the New York Amalgamated Short Snap Biscuit Cracker and Frazzled Wheat Company."
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unit 63
He never touched "hard" drinks.
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unit 65
A scant eight hundred dollars was all that was secured.
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unit 67
That began to interest the rogue- catchers.
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unit 69
The losses were now high enough to bring the matter up into Ben Price's class of work.
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unit 70
By comparing notes, a remarkable similarity in the methods of the burglaries was noticed.
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unit 72
He's resumed business.
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unit 73
Look at that combination knob-- jerked out as easy as pulling up a radish in wet weather.
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unit 74
He's got the only clamps that can do it.
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unit 75
And look how clean those tumblers were punched out!
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unit 76
Jimmy never has to drill but one hole.
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unit 77
Yes, I guess I want Mr. Valentine.
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unit 78
He'll do his bit next time without any short-time or clemency foolishness."
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unit 79
Ben Price knew Jimmy's habits.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 80
He had learned them while working on the Springfield case.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 86
Jimmy Valentine looked into her eyes, forgot what he was, and became another man.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 87
She lowered her eyes and coloured slightly.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 88
Young men of Jimmy's style and looks were scarce in Elmore.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 91
"Isn' that young lady Polly Simpson?"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 92
asked Jimmy, with specious guile.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 93
"Naw," said the boy.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 94
"She's Annabel Adams.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 95
Her pa owns this bank.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 96
Why'd you come to Elmore for?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 97
Is that a gold watch-chain?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 98
I'm going to get a bulldog.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 99
Got any more dimes?"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 100
Jimmy went to the Planters' Hotel, registered as Ralph D. Spencer, and engaged a room.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 101
He leaned on the desk and declared his platform to the clerk.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 102
He said he had come to Elmore to look for a location to go into business.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 103
How was the shoe business, now, in the town?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 104
He had thought of the shoe business.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 105
Was there an opening?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 106
The clerk was impressed by the clothes and manner of Jimmy.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 108
unit 109
Yes, there ought to be a good opening in the shoe line.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 110
There wasn't an exclusive shoe-store in the place.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 111
The dry-goods and general stores handled them.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 112
Business in all lines was fairly good.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 113
Hoped Mr. Spencer would decide to locate in Elmore.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 114
He would find it a pleasant town to live in, and the people very sociable.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 115
Mr. Spencer thought he would stop over in the town a few days and look over the situation.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 116
No, the clerk needn't call the boy.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 117
He would carry up his suit-case, himself; it was rather heavy.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 119
He opened a shoe-store and secured a good run of trade.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 120
Socially he was also a success, and made many friends.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 121
And he accomplished the wish of his heart.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 122
He met Miss Annabel Adams, and became more and more captivated by her charms.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 124
Mr. Adams, the typical, plodding, country banker, approved of Spencer.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 125
Annabel's pride in him almost equalled her affection.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 128
I want you to wind up some little matters for me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 129
And, also, I want to make you a present of my kit of tools.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 130
I know you'll be glad to get them--you couldn't duplicate the lot for a thousand dollars.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 131
Say, Billy, I've quit the old business--a year ago.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 132
I've got a nice store.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 133
I'm making an honest living, and I'm going to marry the finest girl on earth two weeks from now.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 134
It's the only life, Billy--the straight one.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 135
I wouldn't touch a dollar of another man's money now for a million.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 137
I tell you, Billy, she's an angel.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 138
She believes in me; and I wouldn't do another crooked thing for the whole world.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 139
Be sure to be at Sully's, for I must see you.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 140
I'll bring along the tools with me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 141
Your old friend, Jimmy.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 143
He lounged about town in his quiet way until he found out what he wanted to know.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 144
unit 145
"Going to marry the banker's daughter are you, Jimmy?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 146
said Ben to himself, softly.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 147
"Well, I don't know!"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 148
The next morning Jimmy took breakfast at the Adamses.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 149
unit 150
That would be the first time he had left town since he came to Elmore.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 154
Then they went on to the bank.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 158
Jimmy set his suit-case down.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 160
"Wouldn't I make a nice drummer?"
3 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 161
said Annabel.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 162
"My!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 163
Ralph, how heavy it is?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 164
Feels like it was full of gold bricks."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 165
"Lot of nickel-plated shoe-horns in there," said Jimmy, coolly, "that I'm going to return.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 166
Thought I'd save express charges by taking them up.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 167
I'm getting awfully economical."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 168
The Elmore Bank had just put in a new safe and vault.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 169
Mr. Adams was very proud of it, and insisted on an inspection by every one.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 170
The vault was a small one, but it had a new, patented door.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 173
The two children, May and Agatha, were delighted by the shining metal and funny clock and knobs.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 175
He told the teller that he didn't want anything; he was just waiting for a man he knew.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 176
Suddenly there was a scream or two from the women, and a commotion.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 178
She had then shot the bolts and turned the knob of the combination as she had seen Mr. Adams do.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 179
The old banker sprang to the handle and tugged at it for a moment.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 180
"The door can't be opened," he groaned.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 181
"The clock hasn't been wound nor the combination set."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 182
Agatha's mother screamed again, hysterically.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 183
"Hush!"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 184
said Mr. Adams, raising his trembling hand.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 185
"All be quite for a moment.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 186
Agatha!"
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 187
he called as loudly as he could.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 188
"Listen to me."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 190
"My precious darling!"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 191
wailed the mother.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 192
"She will die of fright!
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 193
Open the door!
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 194
Oh, break it open!
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 195
Can't you men do something?"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 196
unit 197
"My God!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 198
Spencer, what shall we do?
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 199
That child--she can't stand it long in there.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 200
There isn't enough air, and, besides, she'll go into convulsions from fright."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 201
Agatha's mother, frantic now, beat the door of the vault with her hands.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 202
Somebody wildly suggested dynamite.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 203
Annabel turned to Jimmy, her large eyes full of anguish, but not yet despairing.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 204
To a woman nothing seems quite impossible to the powers of the man she worships.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 205
"Can't you do something, Ralph--/try/, won't you?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 206
He looked at her with a queer, soft smile on his lips and in his keen eyes.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 207
"Annabel," he said, "give me that rose you are wearing, will you?"
2 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 209
Jimmy stuffed it into his vest-pocket, threw off his coat and pulled up his shirt- sleeves.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 210
With that act Ralph D. Spencer passed away and Jimmy Valentine took his place.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 211
"Get away from the door, all of you," he commanded, shortly.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 212
He set his suit-case on the table, and opened it out flat.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 213
From that time on he seemed to be unconscious of the presence of any one else.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 215
In a deep silence and immovable, the others watched him as if under a spell.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 216
In a minute Jimmy's pet drill was biting smoothly into the steel door.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 217
In ten minutes--breaking his own burglarious record--he threw back the bolts and opened the door.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 218
Agatha, almost collapsed, but safe, was gathered into her mother's arms.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 219
Jimmy Valentine put on his coat, and walked outside the railings towards the front door.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 220
As he went he thought he heard a far-away voice that he once knew call "Ralph!"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 221
But he never hesitated.
2 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 222
At the door a big man stood somewhat in his way.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 223
"Hello, Ben!"
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 224
said Jimmy, still with his strange smile.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 225
"Got around at last, have you?
2 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 226
Well, let's go.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 227
I don't know that it makes much difference, now."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 228
And then Ben Price acted rather strangely.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 229
"Guess you're mistaken, Mr. Spencer," he said.
2 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 230
"Don't believe I recognize you.
2 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 231
Your buggy's waiting for you, ain't it?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 232
And Ben Price turned and strolled down the street.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 233
-THE END-
2 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
GCHOTEAU • 2259  translated  unit 233  1 year, 1 month ago
Oplusse • 13882  commented on  unit 186  1 year, 1 month ago
markvanroode • 6517  commented on  unit 41  1 year, 1 month ago
"."
GCHOTEAU • 2259  translated  unit 58  1 year, 1 month ago

A Retrieved Reformation.

From: Roads of Destiny (1909).

By O. Henry - William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910).

A guard came to the prison shoe-shop, where Jimmy Valentine was assiduously stitching uppers, and escorted him to the front office. There the warden handed Jimmy his pardon, which had been signed that morning by the governor. Jimmy took it in a tired kind of way. He had served nearly ten months of a four year sentence. He had expected to stay only about three months, at the longest. When a man with as many friends on the outside as Jimmy Valentine had is received in the "stir" it is hardly worth while to cut his hair.
"Now, Valentine," said the warden, "you'll go out in the morning. Brace up, and make a man of yourself. You're not a bad fellow at heart. Stop cracking safes, and live straight."
"Me?" said Jimmy, in surprise. "Why, I never cracked a safe in my life."
"Oh, no," laughed the warden. "Of course not. Let's see, now. How was it you happened to get sent up on that Springfield job? Was it because you wouldn't prove an alibi for fear of compromising somebody in extremely high-toned society? Or was it simply a case of a mean old jury that had it in for you? It's always one or the other with you innocent victims."
"Me?" said Jimmy, still blankly virtuous. "Why, warden, I never was in Springfield in my life!"
"Take him back, Cronin!" said the warden, "and fix him up with outgoing clothes. Unlock him at seven in the morning, and let him come to the bull-pen. Better think over my advice, Valentine."
At a quarter past seven on the next morning Jimmy stood in the warden's outer office. He had on a suit of the villainously fitting, ready-made clothes and a pair of the stiff, squeaky shoes that the state furnishes to its discharged compulsory guests.
The clerk handed him a railroad ticket and the five-dollar bill with which the law expected him to rehabilitate himself into good citizenship and prosperity. The warden gave him a cigar, and shook hands. Valentine, 9762, was chronicled on the books, "Pardoned by Governor," and Mr. James Valentine walked out into the sunshine.
Disregarding the song of the birds, the waving green trees, and the smell of the flowers, Jimmy headed straight for a restaurant. There he tasted the first sweet joys of liberty in the shape of a broiled chicken and a bottle of white wine--followed by a cigar a grade better than the one the warden had given him. From there he proceeded leisurely to the depot. He tossed a quarter into the hat of a blind man sitting by the door, and boarded his train. Three hours set him down in a little town near the state line. He went to the cafe of one Mike Dolan and shook hands with Mike, who was alone behind the bar.
"Sorry we couldn't make it sooner, Jimmy, me boy," said Mike. "But we had that protest from Springfield to buck against, and the governor nearly balked. Feeling all right?"
"Fine," said Jimmy. "Got my key?"
He got his key and went upstairs, unlocking the door of a room at the rear. Everything was just as he had left it. There on the floor was still Ben Price's collar-button that had been torn from that eminent detective's shirt-band when they had overpowered Jimmy to arrest him.
Pulling out from the wall a folding-bed, Jimmy slid back a panel in the wall and dragged out a dust- covered suit-case. He opened this and gazed fondly at the finest set of burglar's tools in the East. It was a complete set, made of specially tempered steel, the latest designs in drills, punches, braces and bits, jimmies, clamps, and augers, with two or three novelties, invented by Jimmy himself, in which he took pride. Over nine hundred dollars they had cost him to have made at ----, a place where they make such things for the profession.
In half an hour Jimmy went down stairs and through the cafe. He was now dressed in tasteful and well-fitting clothes, and carried his dusted and cleaned suit-case in his hand.
"Got anything on?" asked Mike Dolan, genially.
"Me?" said Jimmy, in a puzzled tone. "I don't understand. I'm representing the New York Amalgamated Short Snap Biscuit Cracker and Frazzled Wheat Company."
This statement delighted Mike to such an extent that Jimmy had to take a seltzer-and-milk on the spot. He never touched "hard" drinks.
A week after the release of Valentine, 9762, there was a neat job of safe-burglary done in Richmond, Indiana, with no clue to the author. A scant eight hundred dollars was all that was secured. Two weeks after that a patented, improved, burglar-proof safe in Logansport was opened like a cheese to the tune of fifteen hundred dollars, currency; securities and silver untouched. That began to interest the rogue- catchers. Then an old-fashioned bank-safe in Jefferson City became active and threw out of its crater an eruption of bank-notes amounting to five thousand dollars. The losses were now high enough to bring the matter up into Ben Price's class of work. By comparing notes, a remarkable similarity in the methods of the burglaries was noticed. Ben Price investigated the scenes of the robberies, and was heard to remark:
"That's Dandy Jim Valentine's autograph. He's resumed business. Look at that combination knob-- jerked out as easy as pulling up a radish in wet weather. He's got the only clamps that can do it. And look how clean those tumblers were punched out! Jimmy never has to drill but one hole. Yes, I guess I want Mr. Valentine. He'll do his bit next time without any short-time or clemency foolishness."
Ben Price knew Jimmy's habits. He had learned them while working on the Springfield case. Long jumps, quick get-aways, no confederates, and a taste for good society--these ways had helped Mr. Valentine to become noted as a successful dodger of retribution. It was given out that Ben Price had taken up the trail of the elusive cracksman, and other people with burglar-proof safes felt more at ease.
One afternoon Jimmy Valentine and his suit-case climbed out of the mail-hack in Elmore, a little town five miles off the railroad down in the black-jack country of Arkansas. Jimmy, looking like an athletic young senior just home from college, went down the board side-walk toward the hotel.
A young lady crossed the street, passed him at the corner and entered a door over which was the sign, "The Elmore Bank." Jimmy Valentine looked into her eyes, forgot what he was, and became another man. She lowered her eyes and coloured slightly. Young men of Jimmy's style and looks were scarce in Elmore.
Jimmy collared a boy that was loafing on the steps of the bank as if he were one of the stockholders, and began to ask him questions about the town, feeding him dimes at intervals. By and by the young lady came out, looking royally unconscious of the young man with the suit- case, and went her way.
"Isn' that young lady Polly Simpson?" asked Jimmy, with specious guile.
"Naw," said the boy. "She's Annabel Adams. Her pa owns this bank. Why'd you come to Elmore for? Is that a gold watch-chain? I'm going to get a bulldog. Got any more dimes?"
Jimmy went to the Planters' Hotel, registered as Ralph D. Spencer, and engaged a room. He leaned on the desk and declared his platform to the clerk. He said he had come to Elmore to look for a location to go into business. How was the shoe business, now, in the town? He had thought of the shoe business. Was there an opening?
The clerk was impressed by the clothes and manner of Jimmy. He, himself, was something of a pattern of fashion to the thinly gilded youth of Elmore, but he now perceived his shortcomings. While trying to figure out Jimmy's manner of tying his four-in-hand he cordially gave information.
Yes, there ought to be a good opening in the shoe line. There wasn't an exclusive shoe-store in the place. The dry-goods and general stores handled them. Business in all lines was fairly good. Hoped Mr. Spencer would decide to locate in Elmore. He would find it a pleasant town to live in, and the people very sociable.
Mr. Spencer thought he would stop over in the town a few days and look over the situation. No, the clerk needn't call the boy. He would carry up his suit-case, himself; it was rather heavy.
Mr. Ralph Spencer, the phoenix that arose from Jimmy Valentine's ashes --ashes left by the flame of a sudden and alterative attack of love-- remained in Elmore, and prospered. He opened a shoe-store and secured a good run of trade.
Socially he was also a success, and made many friends. And he accomplished the wish of his heart. He met Miss Annabel Adams, and became more and more captivated by her charms.
At the end of a year the situation of Mr. Ralph Spencer was this: he had won the respect of the community, his shoe-store was flourishing, and he and Annabel were engaged to be married in two weeks. Mr. Adams, the typical, plodding, country banker, approved of Spencer. Annabel's pride in him almost equalled her affection. He was as much at home in the family of Mr. Adams and that of Annabel's married sister as if he were already a member.
One day Jimmy sat down in his room and wrote this letter, which he mailed to the safe address of one of his old friends in St. Louis:
Dear Old Pal:
I want you to be at Sullivan's place, in Little Rock, next
Wednesday night, at nine o'clock. I want you to wind up some
little matters for me. And, also, I want to make you a present of
my kit of tools. I know you'll be glad to get them--you couldn't duplicate the lot for a thousand dollars. Say, Billy, I've quit
the old business--a year ago. I've got a nice store. I'm making an honest living, and I'm going to marry the finest girl on earth two weeks from now. It's the only life, Billy--the straight one. I
wouldn't touch a dollar of another man's money now for a million. After I get married I'm going to sell out and go West, where there won't be so much danger of having old scores brought up against me. I tell you, Billy, she's an angel. She believes in me; and I wouldn't do another crooked thing for the whole world. Be sure to be at Sully's, for I must see you. I'll bring along the tools with me.
Your old friend, Jimmy.
On the Monday night after Jimmy wrote this letter, Ben Price jogged unobtrusively into Elmore in a livery buggy. He lounged about town in his quiet way until he found out what he wanted to know. From the drug-store across the street from Spencer's shoe-store he got a good look at Ralph D. Spencer.
"Going to marry the banker's daughter are you, Jimmy?" said Ben to himself, softly. "Well, I don't know!"
The next morning Jimmy took breakfast at the Adamses. He was going to Little Rock that day to order his wedding-suit and buy something nice for Annabel. That would be the first time he had left town since he came to Elmore. It had been more than a year now since those last professional "jobs," and he thought he could safely venture out.
After breakfast quite a family party went downtown together--Mr. Adams, Annabel, Jimmy, and Annabel's married sister with her two little girls, aged five and nine. They came by the hotel where Jimmy still boarded, and he ran up to his room and brought along his suit- case. Then they went on to the bank. There stood Jimmy's horse and buggy and Dolph Gibson, who was going to drive him over to the railroad station.
All went inside the high, carved oak railings into the banking-room-- Jimmy included, for Mr. Adams's future son-in-law was welcome anywhere. The clerks were pleased to be greeted by the good-looking, agreeable young man who was going to marry Miss Annabel. Jimmy set his suit-case down. Annabel, whose heart was bubbling with happiness and lively youth, put on Jimmy's hat, and picked up the suit-case. "Wouldn't I make a nice drummer?" said Annabel. "My! Ralph, how heavy it is? Feels like it was full of gold bricks."
"Lot of nickel-plated shoe-horns in there," said Jimmy, coolly, "that I'm going to return. Thought I'd save express charges by taking them up. I'm getting awfully economical."
The Elmore Bank had just put in a new safe and vault. Mr. Adams was very proud of it, and insisted on an inspection by every one. The vault was a small one, but it had a new, patented door. It fastened with three solid steel bolts thrown simultaneously with a single handle, and had a time-lock. Mr. Adams beamingly explained its workings to Mr. Spencer, who showed a courteous but not too intelligent interest. The two children, May and Agatha, were delighted by the shining metal and funny clock and knobs.
While they were thus engaged Ben Price sauntered in and leaned on his elbow, looking casually inside between the railings. He told the teller that he didn't want anything; he was just waiting for a man he knew.
Suddenly there was a scream or two from the women, and a commotion. Unperceived by the elders, May, the nine-year-old girl, in a spirit of play, had shut Agatha in the vault. She had then shot the bolts and turned the knob of the combination as she had seen Mr. Adams do.
The old banker sprang to the handle and tugged at it for a moment. "The door can't be opened," he groaned. "The clock hasn't been wound nor the combination set."
Agatha's mother screamed again, hysterically.
"Hush!" said Mr. Adams, raising his trembling hand. "All be quite for a moment. Agatha!" he called as loudly as he could. "Listen to me." During the following silence they could just hear the faint sound of the child wildly shrieking in the dark vault in a panic of terror.
"My precious darling!" wailed the mother. "She will die of fright! Open the door! Oh, break it open! Can't you men do something?"
"There isn't a man nearer than Little Rock who can open that door," said Mr. Adams, in a shaky voice. "My God! Spencer, what shall we do? That child--she can't stand it long in there. There isn't enough air, and, besides, she'll go into convulsions from fright."
Agatha's mother, frantic now, beat the door of the vault with her hands. Somebody wildly suggested dynamite. Annabel turned to Jimmy, her large eyes full of anguish, but not yet despairing. To a woman nothing seems quite impossible to the powers of the man she worships.
"Can't you do something, Ralph--/try/, won't you?"
He looked at her with a queer, soft smile on his lips and in his keen eyes. "Annabel," he said, "give me that rose you are wearing, will you?"
Hardly believing that she heard him aright, she unpinned the bud from the bosom of her dress, and placed it in his hand. Jimmy stuffed it into his vest-pocket, threw off his coat and pulled up his shirt- sleeves. With that act Ralph D. Spencer passed away and Jimmy Valentine took his place.
"Get away from the door, all of you," he commanded, shortly.
He set his suit-case on the table, and opened it out flat. From that time on he seemed to be unconscious of the presence of any one else. He laid out the shining, queer implements swiftly and orderly, whistling softly to himself as he always did when at work. In a deep silence and immovable, the others watched him as if under a spell.
In a minute Jimmy's pet drill was biting smoothly into the steel door. In ten minutes--breaking his own burglarious record--he threw back the bolts and opened the door.
Agatha, almost collapsed, but safe, was gathered into her mother's arms.
Jimmy Valentine put on his coat, and walked outside the railings towards the front door. As he went he thought he heard a far-away voice that he once knew call "Ralph!" But he never hesitated.
At the door a big man stood somewhat in his way.
"Hello, Ben!" said Jimmy, still with his strange smile. "Got around at last, have you? Well, let's go. I don't know that it makes much difference, now."
And then Ben Price acted rather strangely.
"Guess you're mistaken, Mr. Spencer," he said. "Don't believe I recognize you. Your buggy's waiting for you, ain't it?"
And Ben Price turned and strolled down the street.

-THE END-