Jimmy Valentine, a known criminal who breaks into bank safes, is being tracked down by Ben Price:
Ben Price knew how Jimmy worked. Jimmy would go from one city to another far away. He always worked alone. He always left quickly when he was finished. He enjoyed being with nice people. For all these reasons, it was not easy to catch Mr. Valentine.
Valentine gets along well with people. He is sociable and attractive and easily welcomed into towns. When Annabel Adams (a beautiful unmarried woman) first makes eye contact with Jimmy, she blushes. (He must have been a fairly handsome man.)
She looked away, and brighter color came into her face. Young men like Jimmy did not appear often in Elmore.
Jimmy finds out information about Annabel (and the town) by having casual conversations with townspeople. For instance, he has a conversation with a young boy outside the bank:
"Isn’t that young lady Polly Simpson?" asked Jimmy. "No," said the boy. "She’s Annabel Adams. Her father owns this bank."
Later, Jimmy goes into the hotel and gets a room under a fake name. He asks one of the hotel workers questions about the quality of the shoe businesses in Elmore. (He claims that he might want to go into business locally.) People like Jimmy's friendly appearance, and they answer his questions without hesitation. For instance, the hotel worker enjoys having a conversation with him:
The man thought that Jimmy’s clothes and manners were fine. He was happy to talk to him.
By asking questions, Jimmy finds out the information that he needs to rob banks and escape without getting into trouble.