When "A Retrieved Reformation " opens, Jimmy Valentine has been serving time in a state prison for a safecracking job in Springfield, Illinois. He received a four-year sentence but was pardoned by the governor of that state through the influence of Jimmy's many important friends on the outside. But...
When "A Retrieved Reformation" opens, Jimmy Valentine has been serving time in a state prison for a safecracking job in Springfield, Illinois. He received a four-year sentence but was pardoned by the governor of that state through the influence of Jimmy's many important friends on the outside. But he had committed a great many other such crimes before he got caught in Springfield. He has become notorious as the best safecracker in the country. Once he gets out of prison he gets his specially designed tools and goes back to work. O. Henry describes the three crimes he commits after his release.
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.
These are apparently the only crimes Jimmy commits after his release from prison. He falls in love with Annabel Adams in Elmore, Arkansas, and decides to go straight. Ben Price is Jimmy's nemesis. It was Price who arrested Jimmy for the safecracking job in Springfield. These were the days before the federal government got involved in insuring funds deposited in banks, so banks used private agencies like the Pinkerton National Detective Agency for protection. Ben Price is evidently a private detective and not a lawman.
O. Henry writes about his subject with authority. He himself served several years in prison for embezzlement before he became a famous writer. He learned a great deal about the lives and methods of criminals from the men he was forced to associate with in prison.