The man did not appear to be on the run from the authorities, for he seemed to be moving at an uncommonly slow pace, which made the situation all the more puzzling. Jennie and Betsy each held their breath as Deputy Stone and Constable Rhodes both approached the stranger, who turned around and, after realizing what was going on, stopped walking and simply stood at the side of the street as the officers both got out of their cars.
"I wish we could hear what they're saying," Betsy lamented. "Suppose we should walk down there and find out?"
"No, I think the Constable would prefer it if we stayed here," Jennie said sensibly. "I'm sure he'll tell us everything once he finds out what's going on."
Constable Rhodes had been speaking to the man, but now it appeared that the Asian man was talking. He made no move to escape, and after a few minutes Deputy Stone returned to the patrol car and Constable Rhodes handcuffed the man and put him in the backseat of the patrol car before getting into Betsy's old sedan and driving back up Dewdrop Lane towards Betsy's house. The patrol car drove back towards the police station.
"Well, I never!" Jennie exclaimed, thoroughly surprised. "Looks as if they will lock him up after all, or at least further question him. My, aren't you glad we called Constable Rhodes?"
When the constable had parked Betsy's car back in her garage and opened the door to get out, the two ladies were simply bursting with questions.
"What did he say?"
"Is he the same man who robbed Mr. Hadley?"
"Are you going to lock him up?"
"He told me his name is Howard Weinstein," Constable Rhodes said after the ladies had calmed down a bit. "Apparently he and his two brothers Bob and Harvey are a criminal gang stationed in Mayors Income, Tennessee, who have been at large for several years now. And yes, it was him who robbed Ed Hadley's store."
"He confessed all that?" Jennie was astonished.
"That and more. It seems he has quite a record of thefts around these parts."
"So why did he not try to escape?" Jennie wondered. "What was he doing back in Blue Island anyway?"
"Well, it is rather a long story," Constable Rhodes said, taking off his hat and absently scratching his head.
"Oh, well, perhaps you would like to come in and have tea while you tell us everything," Betsy suggested, and so the three of them went into Betsy's cozy little kitchen and Jennie and Constable Rhodes sat down at the table while Betsy prepared the tea and a plate of scones.
"Well, this Weinstein fellow told us that he and his two brothers have been criminals for near around five years now," the constable began. "He's the youngest of the three, and apparently he's always rather followed in his brother's footsteps, but he said that several months ago, around the time he robbed Hadley's store, he began to contemplate the meaning of his life and the meaning of being an outlaw. Leastways, that's what he said. Apparently he felt so convicted about his lifestyle and so guilty for all the things he had done that he decided to mend his ways, and he went back to all the people he had stolen from and paid them back for everything he had taken. He said he was just on his way to Hadley's now to return the money he took, so I told Deputy Stone to escort him there and then take him to the police station."
My goodness, what a story!" Jennie exclaimed. She and Betsy were both very moved by it, and Betsy brushed away a tear from the corner of her eye.
"Are you going to lock him up, then?" Betsy asked.
"Well, the man has confessed to everything, even telling us the whereabouts of his two brother outlaws, and it seems he has reformed his ways. We'll keep him at the station today to question him further, but then I suppose we'll have to get a judge to come to town for a fair hearing and trial."
"Oh. How thrilling", Betsy said reverently.
"Thank you so much for telling us all this," Jennie said. "We both very much appreciate it, don't we, Betsy dear?"
Betsy nodded. "We're so grateful you came when you did, even though it looks as if nothing would have happened. You are a credit to your profession, Constable."
The constable blushed modestly and rose from his chair. "I'm just glad it all worked out fine. Thank you every much, ladies, for the tea and scones, and I hope to see you both again very soon."
Jennie and Betsy walked with the constable to the door, where he remembered that Deputy Stone had taken the patrol car, and Betsy assured him he could drive hers and return it the following day. They thanked Constable Rhodes once again, bid him goodbye, and went back into Betsy's kitchen after he drove away.
"Well, what an adventure!" Betsy sighed, taking the teacups to the kitchen sink. "I declare, that is the first time I have ever seen an ex-criminal-- and an Asian one, at that-- walking the streets of Blue Island!"
"It has been a very eventful day, indeed," Jennie agreed. "I'd better return home now, Betsy dear, but I'll see you tomorrow. And perhaps we'll go down to the police station. I think I'd like to meet this Howard Weinstein."
"Oh yes, most intriguing," Betsy agreed as she dried her hands on a dish towel.
"Goodbye, Betsy," Jennie said as she embraced her friend.
"Farewell, Jennie, and good night."
Jennie returned to her own house and went in through the kitchen door to find her cat, Cimarron, waiting for her on the rug.
"Hello, Cimarron," she sang out as she turned the lightswitch on and made her way over to the stove to heat up some soup for supper. After she had put the soup in a small saucepan and had given Cimarron her supper, she went over to the telephone on the wall and lifted the receiver from its hook.
"Let's see," she said aloud. "Who shall I call first?"
That's all, folks! I hope you enjoyed the story! : )