guard came to the prison shoe shop where Jimmy Valentine was working and took him to the prison office. There the warden handed Jimmy his pardon， which had been signed that morning by the governor. He took it quietly; he was too tired to show excitement. He had been in prison nearly ten months and he had been sentenced to four years. True， he had expected to stay only about three months， at the longest. He had a lot of friends and he had been sure they would help him.
“Now， Valentine，” said the warden， “You’ll go out in the morning. Make a man of yourself. You’re not a bad fellow really. Stop breaking open safes and be honest.”
“Me?” said Jimmy， in surprise. “Why， I’ve never broken open a safe in my life.”
“Oh， no，” laughed the warden. “Of course not. And what about that Springfield job? Do you mean to say you didn’t take part in it?”
“Me?” said Jimmy still more surprised. “Why， warden， I’ve never been to Springfield in my life!”
“Take him back，” the warden said to the guard smiling， “and give him some clothes. Unlock him at seven in the morning and let him come to me. Better think over my advice， Valentine.”
At a quarter past seven the next morning Jimmy stood in the warden’s office. He wore a badly-fitting ready-made suit and the cheap shoes that the state gives to prisoners， when they are set free. The clerk handed him a railroad ticket and the five-dollar bill with which he was supposed to start a new， honest life. The warden gave him a cigar， and they shook hands. Valentine， 9762， was registered on the books “Pardoned by Governor，” and Mr. James Valentine walked out into the sunshine.
Disregarding the song of the birds， the green trees， and the smell of the flowers， Jimmy went straight to a restaurant. There he ordered a roast chicken and a bottle of white wine and a better cigar than the one the warden had given him. Then he walked slowly to the railroad station. He put a quarter into the hat of a blind man sitting by the door， and took a train. Three hours later he arrived at his native town， went directly to the cafe of his old friend Mike Dolan and shook hands with Mike， who was alone behind the counter. “Sorry we couldn’t make it sooner， Jimmy， my boy，” said Mike. “It wasn’t so easy this time and we had a lot of trouble. Are you all right?”
“Fine，” said Jimmy. “Have you got my key?”
He took his key and went upstairs， unlocking the door of his room. Everything was just as he had left it. There on the floor was still the collar-button that had been torn from the shirt of Ben Price—the well known detective—when Price had come to arrest him. Jimmy removed a panel in the wall and dragged out a dust-covered suitcase. He opened it and looked fondly at the finest set of burglar’s tools in the East. It was a complete set， made of special steel. The set consisted of various tools of the latest design. He had invented two or three of them himself， and was very proud of them. Over nine hundred dollars they had cost him! They had been made at X.， a place where they make such things for the profession.
In half an hour Jimmy went downstairs and walked through the cafe. He was now dressed in an elegant new suit， and carried his cleaned suitcase in his hand. “What are you going to do next? To break another safe?” asked Mike Dolan smiling cheerfully.
“I don’t understand. I’m representing the New York Amalgamated Biscuit Company.”
This statement delighted Mike to such an extent that he gave Jimmy a seltzer-and-milk on the spot. Jimmy never touched “hard” drinks.
A week after the release of Valentine， 9762， there was a new safe-burglary in Richmond， Indiana. Only eight hundred dollars were stolen. Two weeks after that another safe was opened and fifteen hundred dollars disappeared; securities and silver were untouched. That began to interest the detectives. A few days later the Jefferson City Bank was robbed and banknotes amounting to five thousand dollars were taken. The losses were now so high that it was time for so well known a detective as Ben Price to begin investigation. When all the cases were compared， a striking similarity in the methods of burglaries was noticed. Ben Price investigated the scenes of the robberies and was heard to say.
“That’s all Jimmy Valentine’s work. He’s resumed business. He’s got the only tools that can open any safe without leaving the slightest trace. Yes， it is Mr. Valentine.”
Ben Price knew Jimmy’s habits. He had learned them while investigating the Springfield case.
One afternoon Jimmy Valentine and his suitcase climbed out of a train in Elmore， a little town in Arkansas. Jimmy， looking like a student who had just come home from college， walked out of the station and went toward the hotel.
一天下午，基米·范林丁带着他的手提箱在阿肯色州的一个名叫爱尔摩的小镇下了火车。基米看上去就像一个刚从学校回家的大学生。他出了车站，向旅馆走去。 A young lady crossed the street， passed him at the corner and entered a door over which was the sigh “The Elmore Bank”. Jimmy Valentine looked into her eyes， forgot what he was， and became another man. She lowered her eyes and blushed slightly. Young men of Jimmy’s style and looks were scarce in Elmore.
Jimmy called a boy that was standing on the steps of the bank as if he were one of the stockholders， and began to ask him questions about the town， giving him dimes from time to time. By and by the young lady came out， passed Jimmy again， pretending not to see him， and went on her way.
“Isn’t that young lady Miss Polly Simpson?” asked Jimmy slyly.
“No，” said the boy. “She’s Annabel Adams. Her father owns this bank. What have you come to Elmore for? Is that a gold watch-chain? I’m going to get a bulldog. Have you 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 intentions to the clerk. He said he had come to Elmore to start business. How was the shoe business now in the town? He had thought of the shoe business. Was it worthwhile opening a shoe-store? The clerk was impressed by the clothes and manner of Jimmy and he was ready to give the young man any information he desired.
Yes， it was worthwhile investing money in the shoe business， he thought. There wasn’t a shoe-store in the place. The dry-goods and general stores sold them. Business in all lines was fairly good.
“I hope， Mr. Spencer， you’ll decide to stay in Elmore. You’ll find it a pleasant town to live in， and the people are very nice，” continued the clerk.
“我希望，斯宾塞先生，你能决定在爱尔摩居住。你会发现住在这个小镇是非常令人愉快的。这里的人都很好，”店员继续说道。 Mr. Spencer said that he would stop in the town for a few days and consider the situation.
The clerk wanted to call the boy to carry up the suitcase， but Mr. Spencer said that he needn’t do it. He would carry his suitcase 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 attack of love—remained in Elmore and prospered. He opened a shoe-store and made large profits. In all other respects he was also a success.
He was popular with many important people and had many friends. And he accompanied the wish of his heart. He met Miss Annabel Adams， and fell more and more deeply in love with her.
In a year the situation of Mr. Ralph Spencer was this: he had won the respect of most of the inhabitants of the place， his shoe-store was prospering， and he and Annabel were to be married in two weeks. Mr. Adams， Annabel’s father， who was a typical country banker， approved of Spencer. Annabel herself was very proud of her fiancé. In fact her pride almost equaled her affection. Jimmy 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 sent to the address of one his old friends:
一天，基米坐在他的房里，给一个好友写了这样一封信： “Dear Old Chap，
I want you to be at Brown’s Cafe， in Little Rock， next Wednesday night at nine o’clock. I want you to do something for me. And， also， I want to make you a present of my tools. I know you’ll be glad to get them—you couldn’t get such a set for a thousand dollars. Say， Billy， I gave up the old business—a year ago. I’ve got a nice store. I’m making an honest living， and in two weeks I’m going to marry the finest girl on earth. 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 my store and go west， where there won’t be so much danger of meeting people who knew me before. I tell you， Billy， she’s an angel. She believes in me and I would never do another crooked thing for the whole world. Do come to Brown’s， for I must see you. I’ll bring the tools with me.
Your old friend， Jimmy.”
On the Monday night after Jimmy wrote this letter， Ben Price， the detective， arrived in Elmore. He walked about the town quietly until he found out what he wanted to know. From the drugstore across the street from Spencer’s shoe-store he got a good look at Ralph D. Spencer.