O. Henry. A Retrieved Reformation (in English, adapted for advanced)

O. Henry. A Retrieved Reformation. Part 4 (read in English)

4. One afternoon Jimmy Valentine and his suit-case climbed out of the mail coach in Elmore, a little town five miles off the railroad down in country of Arkansas. Jimmy, looking like an athletic young senior just home from college, went down the board side-walk toward the hotel.

A young lady crossed the street, passed him at the corner and entered a door over which was the sign “The Elmore Bank.” Jimmy Valentine looked into her eyes, forgot what he was, and became another man. She lowered her eyes and colored slightly. Young men of Jimmy’s style and looks were rare in Elmore.

Jimmy collared a boy that was loafing on the steps of the bank and began to ask him questions about the town, giving him dimes at intervals. By and by the young lady came out, looking unconscious of the young man with the suit-case, and went her way.

“Isn’t that young lady Miss Polly Simpson?” asked Jimmy slyly.

“No,” said the boy. “She’s Annabel Adams. Her pa owns this bank. What’d you come to Elmore for? Is that a gold watch-chain? I’m going to get a bulldog. Got any more dimes?”

Jimmy went to the Planters’ Hotel, registered as Ralph D. Spencer, and booked a room. He said he had come to Elmore to look for a location to go into business. How was the shoe business, now, in the town? He had thought of the shoe business. What were the chances?

The clerk was impressed by the clothes and manner of Jimmy and cordially gave him information.

Yes, there ought to be good chances to open a shoe line. There wasn’t a shoe-store in the place. The dry-goods and general stores handled them. Business in all lines was fairly good. Hoped Mr. Spencer would decide to settle in Elmore. He would find it a pleasant town to live in, and the people very sociable.

Mr. Spencer thought he would stop over in the town a few days and look over the situation.

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