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Newspaper Page Text
Bennett came toward him, hoe in
hand. "Mr. Home," he said, with a
flushed face. "1 ought to have told
you something. I came out of Elmira
last month, where they sent me for
three years for theft. I got in with
bad companions when I came to the
city. Nobody would give me work
after that and the police hounded
me. I walked out from New York.
I want a chance to do better."
"You can have it, Bennett," an
swered Home, truning away abruptly.
"Now I wonder what made me tell
the fellow that!" he soliloquized.
Nobody in the town knew of Ben
nett's record, except Home. Gradual
ly the boy's step grew lighter, his
complexion clearer. He" was the best
worker Home had ever had. It was
evident that he had been sincere in
his expressed intentions. Home
ceased to think of his past xcept as
youthful folly. He made him manager
of his diary a year later. Bennett
went to night school. Everybody
spoke well of him.
What turned Home's thoughts
along very serious lines was the evi
dent attachment that was springing
up between Bennett and .Minnie. The
two would saunter along the lanes,
arm in arm, after the day's work was
done. At first Home thought little of
it. It was ilot until he saw, in the
darkness, a black sleeveline against
the white of his daughter's waist that
he realized she would some day leave
He fought it all out alone and came
to his conclusion.
"He's slipped," he said. "Well so
have many of us. I shall feel satis
fied. He's a fine young fellow, and
if Minnie loves him "
He was expecting Bennett to come
to him. But instead of that he came
home to find Minnie in tears and Ben
nett gone. A letter was lying on the
table and Home read it.
Bennett wrote tha the couldn't face
Home and tell him that he had de
ceived him. Since leaving the refor
matory he had committed a burglary.
Suspicion had never directed itself to
him, but that was the real reason why
he had left New York. He had tried
hard during these two years.to put it
out of his mind, but now that he loved
Minnie he was going back to take "his
punishment and asked the njto tor
Home whistled and took his daugh
ter, in his arms. "The fellow was a
scoundrel," he said.
"No, father," she answered. "I love
him. He is a good man."
Home said no more, but the days
that followed were sad pnes. To Ben
nett, waiting in his cell, they were as
purgatory. He knew that the- crime
belonged to a past period of his life,
that it was the result of boyish mis
judgment He had thought' all men
were crooks; his stay with Home had
brought him face to face with reality.
Now he was a man in mind. But the
punishment for the past awaited him.
He hardly discerned the faces in the
courtroom. He stood patiently before
the judge. How much would he get?
Five years? Seven to twelve years?
e could hardly expect mercy; the
crime naa Deen piannea in me re
formatory. And Bennett had refused
to divulge the name of his confed
erate. The counsel for the state was
speaking. The name of the othertnali
was known, he said. He was asking
the judge for clemency on the ground
tha Bennett had lived a decent life
since then. Somebody else would
speak for him.
Wonderingly Bennett saw Home
standing before him, speaking to the
judge. He told him of his life. In tha
village and how he had voluntarily
come in to the city to surrender him
self because the past preyed on his
conscience. He was asking for a sus
Bennett did not know what the
judge vas saying. He stood dumbly
in the box until the warden touched
him on the arm.
"You're free," he said.
Bennett only stared at him. The