Thank you for your time! I'm not a native English speaker. This passage is a bit long and not easy to understand for me, especially the last sentence, which makes me very confused.

(424 words)

The train to the East stopped at Denver, America. Two passengers, handcuffed together, went on the train. The only seat was the one facing an attractive young woman. Here they seated themselves. The young woman's eyes fell on them, then with a lovely smile, she held out her hand.
“Mr Easton, is that you, my old friend?”
The younger man seemed shocked at first and then embarrassed at the sound of her voice. “Miss Fairchild,”he held the woman's fingers with his left hand and said with a slow smile. “I'll ask you to excuse the other hand of mine. I can't use it just at the moment.”
He raised his right hand and showed the handcuffs. The glad look in the woman's eyes soon changed to a frightened one. Just as Easton was about to speak again, the other man cut in.
“Excuse me, Miss, I see you're an old friend of the young officer here. If you ask him to speak a good word for me, it'll make things easier. He's going to take me to a prison for the next seven years.”
“Oh!” said the woman, with a deep breath and returning calmness.
“So that is what you are doing out here? An officer!”
“My dear Miss Fairchild,” said Easton, “I had to do something. You know it takes money to live a good life.”
“Don't worry about them, Miss,” said the older man. “All officers handcuff themselves to their prisoners to avoid them from running away.”
“Will I see you again soon in Washington, Mr Easton?” asked the woman.
“Not soon, I think,” said Easton. “My relaxing days are over, I'm afraid.”
“I love the West,” said the girl. “Mamma and I spent the summer in Denver. She...”
“Sorry, Mr Officer,” complained the older man. “I'm needing a drink, and haven't smoked all day. Haven't you talked long enough? Take me out now, won't you?”
The two travellers rose to their feet, Easton with the same slow smile on his face.
“I can't refuse a petition like this,” he said. “Goodbye, Miss Fairchild. It's my job, you know.”
Another two passengers in a seat near them had heard most of the talk. Said one of them, “That officer's truly a good man.”
“And pretty young to be an officer, isn't he?” asked the other.
“Young?!” said the first speaker, surprisingly. “Why — Oh! Didn't you notice that? Do you think an officer will put handcuffs on his right hand?

  • That last sentence especially sounds awkwardly written. Are you sure you quoted it correctly and it says "will" and not "would"? If you've quoted it correctly, it may be written by a non-native speaker, since it doesn't seem idiomatic.
    – YonKuma
    Commented Apr 22 at 13:38
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    Is this a paraphrase of O. Henry's Hearts and Hands? Wherein the last paragraph is "Young!" exclaimed the first speaker, "why--Oh! didn't you catch on? Say--did you ever know an officer to handcuff a prisoner to his right hand?" Commented Apr 22 at 13:47
  • @YonKuma double-checked. I guess that the author meant to write "would" but goofed and wrote "will". This is a reading comprehension exercise from my study guide. Commented Apr 22 at 13:51
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    And the original text is again at Project Gutenberg. Whoever wrote your assignment has generally goofed it. It begins with At Denver there was an influx of passengers into the coaches on the eastbound B. & M. Express. Not what your version says. Commented Apr 22 at 13:52
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    @WeatherVane - But Easton only says that he can't use his right hand; the marshall cuts in before he can say any more, and Easton plays along with it. Commented Apr 22 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


The point being made is that most people are right-handed and a policeman is unlikely to put handcuffs on his own dominant hand. Therefore, it is probably the young man who is the criminal.

The real policeman spares Miss Fairchild's feelings by pretending that he is the prisoner and Easton the detective, but then leaves the carriage before the conversation can go any further.

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    Just before me! Easton isn't the marshall, but is going to jail for fraud. Commented Apr 22 at 14:02

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