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Roads of Destiny

A Retrieved Reformation
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 café of
one Mike Dolan and shook hands with Mike, who was alone behind the bar.
 
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