A Retrieved Reformation (Henry)

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A Retrieved Reformation
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «Roads of Destiny»
Microsummary: A skilled safecracker turned his life around, opened a shoe store, and fell in love with a banker's daughter, but when a child was accidentally locked in a vault, he risked his new life to save her.

Jimmy Valentine, a skilled safecracker, was released from prison after serving ten months of a four-year sentence. The warden advised him to live a straight life, but Jimmy denied ever having committed a crime.

Jimmy Valentine — narrator; former safecracker turned honest businessman; skilled, resourceful, and in love with Annabel.

Brace up, and make a man of yourself. You’re not a bad fellow at heart. Stop cracking safes, and live straight.

After his release, Jimmy resumed his criminal activities, burglarizing several banks and attracting the attention of detective Ben Price.

Ben Price — determined detective; initially pursuing Jimmy but ultimately lets him go.

One day, Jimmy arrived in the small town of Elmore, where he decided to start a new life. He opened a shoe store and became engaged to Annabel Adams, the daughter of the local bank owner.

Annabel Adams — banker's daughter; kind, innocent, and supportive of Jimmy.

A year later, Jimmy wrote a letter to an old friend, telling him that he had quit his criminal life and was planning to marry Annabel and move West.

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.

Detective Ben Price, who had been tracking Jimmy, arrived in Elmore just as Jimmy was preparing to leave for Little Rock to buy his wedding suit. While at the bank with Annabel and her family, a young girl accidentally locked her sister in the bank's new vault, which had a time-lock and could not be opened. In desperation, Annabel asked Jimmy to help.

Jimmy revealed his safecracking skills and quickly opened the vault, saving the trapped girl. As he left the bank, he encountered Ben Price, who surprisingly did not arrest him, instead pretending not to recognize him.

Guess you’re mistaken, Mr. Spencer. Don’t believe I recognize you. Your buggy’s waiting for you, ain’t it?

Jimmy then left with his fiancée, seemingly free to start his new life.