It was nearly 10 o’clock at night when the policeman strolled up the avenue. Chilly gusts of wind and showers of rain had emptied the streets.

 He made sure that doors were locked, and swung his club as he walked along. Now and then he turned to look down side streets with his watchful eyes. With his powerful build he was a fine protector of the peace. The area was one that closed early. Only a couple of cigar stores and all-night restaurants were open. Most of the doors belonged to business places and had closed long ago.

 Halfway down one of the blocks, the policeman slowed his walk. Inn the doorway of a darkened clothes shop he saw a man. The man leaned against the door with an unlit cigar in his mouth. As the policeman walked up to him the man spoke quickly.

 “It’s all right officer,” he said, “I’m just waiting for a friend. It’s an appointment we made twenty years ago. That sounds a little funny to you, doesn’t it? Well, Id like to explain everything. About twenty years ago this clothes shop used to be a restaurant – ‘Big Joe’ Brady’s restaurant.”

 “It was until five years ago,” said the policeman.

 The man in the doorway struck a match and lit his cigar. The light showed a pale, square-jawed face, with intense eyes. He had a little white scar near his right eyebrow. His tie clip was a large diamond.

 “Twenty years ago tonight,” said the man, “I dined here at ‘Big Joe’ Brady’s with Jimmy Wells, my best friend, and the finest man in the world. We both grew up here in New York, and we were like brothers. I was eighteen and Jimmy was twenty. The next morning I was going out West to make my fortune. But Jimmy wouldn’t come. He thought New York was the only place in the world. Well, we agreed that night to meet here again in exactly twenty years, no matter what we were doing, or how far we had to come. We thought that in twenty years each of us would have chosen our way in life, and made our fortunes, whatever they would be.”

 “It sounds pretty interesting,” said the policeman. “But it seems too long between meetings to me. Haven’t you contacted your friend since you left?”

 “Well, yes, we wrote letters for a while. But after a year or two we lost contact. You see, the West is a big place, and I moved around a lot. But I know Jimmy will meet me here if he’s alive. He was always the most honest and loyal guy in the world. He’ll never forget. I came a thousand miles to stand here tonight. And it will be worth it if Jimmy turns up.”

 The waiting man looked at his watch. It was set with small diamonds.

 “Three minutes to ten,” he said. “It was exactly ten o’clock when we parted at the restaurant door.”

 “You made a lot of money in the West, didn’t you?” said the policeman.

 “Absolutely! I’ll be happy if Jimmy has done half as well as me. He was a great guy, but a little bit slow and careful. I had to compete with the toughest people to make my fortune. A man gets in a routine in New York. If Jimmy had come out West with me he would have learnt a lot.”

 The policeman swung his club around and started to walk away.

 “Gook luck. How long will you wait?”

 “I’ll wait half an hour at least. If Jimmy’s alive on earth he’ll be here. Goodbye, officer.”

 “Goodnight, sir,” said the policeman, continuing his patrol, checking doors as he walked.

 There was now steady, cold drizzle falling. The wind was blowing harder. The few people our walking hurried past silently, with their coat collars turned up, and their hands in their pockets. And in the darkened door of the clothes shop the man who had come a thousand miles to keep a twenty year appointment, smoked a cigar and waited.

 For about twenty minutes he waited. And then a tall man in an overcoat, with the collar turned up to his ears, hurried across the road. He went straight to the waiting man.

 “Is that you, Bob?” he asked, uncertainly.

 “Is that you, Jimmy Wells?” cried the man in the door.

 “My god!” exclaimed the new arrival, taking both the other’s hands in his. “It’s you, Bob! I knew I’d find you here. Well, well, well! Twenty years! It’s a long time, the restaurant’s gone, Bob. I wish we could have had another meal there. What happened to you in the West?”

 “It was great. I got everything I wanted. You’ve changed, Jimmy. You’ve got taller.”

 “Oh! I kept growing after I was twenty.”

 “Are you doing well in New York, Jimmy?”

 “I’m doing pretty well. I have a position in a city department. Come on, Bob, we’ll go to a place I know, and have a good long talk.”

 The two men walked up the street, arm in arm. The man from the West started to tell his story. The other, hidden in his overcoat and hat, listened with interest.

 At the corner stood a cigar shop, bright with electric lights. They both turned to look at the other’s face.

 The man from the West stopped suddenly, and pulled away his arm.

 “You’re not Jimmy Wells,” he said. “Twenty years is a long time, but it doesn’t change a man’s eye color.”

 “It sometimes changes a good man into a bad one,” said the tall man. “You’re under arrest, ‘Silky’ Bob. The Chicago department warned us that you might be coming here. Now, before we go to the station here’s a note I was asked to had you. You may read it here, in the light. It’s from Officer Wells.”

 The man from the West unfolded the little piece of paper. His hand was steady when he began to read, but it trembled a little when he finished. The note was very short.

 Bob: I was there right on time. When you struck the match to light your cigar I saw it was the face of the man wanted in Chicago. Somehow I couldn’t arrest you. So I got someone else to do the job.


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