Despite the two decades that have passed and the markedly different paths that the two men in "After Twenty Years" have taken in their lives, the bonds of friendship prove stronger than any differences between them. For, it is only the professionalism of Jimmy that overrides his continuation of this friendship. That he is professional is indicated in the exposition of the story:
Trying doors as he went, twirling his club with many intricate and artful movements, turning now and then to cast his watchful eye adown the pacific thoroughfare, the officer, with his stalwart form and slight swagger, made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace.
Because they have been friends for so long, Jimmy Wells does not have the heart to arrest Bob as he should when he discovers "Silky Bob's" identity in the light of the match Bob strikes for his cigar. Instead, knowing that the friend will wait in the doorway because he has been true to his word to return for the reunion, Officer Wells sends a plain clothes man to make the arrest. On both parts of the men, the trust of friendship plays out, but to an ironic ending.