Точная наукао замужестве

The exact science of matrimony

Генри (O'Henry)

The Exact Science of Matrimony - Точная наука о супружестве

Jeff Peters and Andy Tucker could never be trusted . One day , the two men decided to open a marriage business to make some quick and easy money . The first thing they did was to write an advertisement to be published in newspapers . Their advertisement read like this : « A charming widow , beautiful and home - loving , would like to remarry . She is only thirty - two years old . She has three thousand dollars in cash and owns valuable property in the country . She would like a poor man with a loving heart . No objection to an older man or to one who is not good - looking . But he needs to be faithful and true , can take care of property and invest money with good judgment . Give address , with details about yourself . Signed : Lonely , care of Peters and Tucker , agents , Cairo , Illinois .» When they finished writing the ad , Jeff Peters said to Andy Tucker : « So far , so good . And now , where is the lady ?» Andy gave Jeff an unhappy look . « What does a marriage advertisement have to do with a lady ?» he asked . « Now listen ,» Jeff answered . « You know my rule , Andy . In all illegal activities , we must obey the law , in every detail . Something offered for sale must exist . It must be seen . You must be able to produce it . That is how I have kept out of trouble with the police . Now , for this business to work , we must be able to produce a charming widow , with or without the beauty , as advertised .» « Well ,» said Andy , after thinking it over , « it might be better , if the United States Post Office should decide to investigate our marriage agency . But where can you hope to find a widow who would waste her time on a marriage proposal that has no marriage in it ?» Jeff said that he knew just such a woman . « An old friend of mine , Zeke Trotter ,» he said , « used to work in a tent show . He made his wife a widow by drinking too much of the wrong kind of alcohol . I used to stop at their house often . I think we can get her to work with us .» Missus Zeke Trotter lived in a small town not far away . Jeff Peters went out to see her . She was not beautiful and not so young . But she seemed all right to Jeff . « Is this an honest deal you are putting on , Mister Peters ?» she asked when he told her what he wanted . « Missus Trotter ,» said Jeff , « three thousand men will seek to marry you to get your money and property . What are they prepared to give in exchange ? Nothing ! Nothing but the bones of a lazy , dishonest , good - for - nothing fortune - seeker . We will teach them something . This will be a great moral campaign . Does that satisfy you ?» « It does , Mister Peters ,» she said . « But what will my duties be ? Do I have to personally reject these three thousand good - for - nothings you speak of ? Or can I throw them out in bunches ?» Jeff explained that her job would be easy . She would live in a quiet hotel and have no work to do . He and Andy would take care of all letters and the business end of the plot . But he warned her that some of the men might come to see her in person . Then , she would have to meet them face - to - face and reject them . She would be paid twenty - five dollars a week and hotel costs . « Give me five minutes to get ready ,» Missus Trotter said . « Then you can start paying me .» So Jeff took her to the city and put her in a hotel far enough from Jeff and Andy's place to cause no suspicion . Jeff Peters and Andy Tucker were now ready to catch a few fish on the hook . They placed their advertisement in newspapers across the country . They put two thousand dollars in a bank in Missus Trotter's name . They gave her the bank book to show if anyone questioned the honesty of their marriage agency . They were sure that Missus Trotter could be trusted and that it was safe to leave the money in her name . Their ad in the newspapers started a flood of letters – more than one hundred a day . Jeff and Andy worked twelve hours a day answering them . Most of the men wrote that they had lost their jobs . The world misunderstood them . But they were full of love and other good qualities . Jeff and Andy answered every letter with high praise for the writer . They asked the men to send a photograph and more details . And they told them to include two dollars to cover the cost of giving the second letter to the charming widow . Almost all the men sent in the two dollars requested . It seemed to be an easy business . Still , Andy and Jeff often spoke about the trouble of cutting open envelopes and taking the money out . A few of the men came in person . Jeff and Andy sent them to Missus Trotter and she did the rest . Soon , Jeff and Andy were receiving about two hundred dollars a day . One day , a federal postal inspector came by . But Jeff satisfied him that they were not breaking the law . After about three months , Jeff and Andy had collected more than five thousand dollars , and they decided it was time to stop . Some people were beginning to question their honesty . And , Missus Trotter seemed to have grown tired of her job . Too many men had come to see her and she did not like that . Jeff went to Missus Trotter's hotel to pay her what she was owed , and to say goodbye . He also wanted her to repay the two thousand dollars that was put into her bank account . When Jeff walked into the room she was crying , like a child who did not want to go to school . « Now , now ,» he said . « What's it all about ? Somebody hurt you ? Are you getting homesick ?» « No , Mister Peters ,» she said . « I'll tell you . You were always a good friend of my husband Zeke . Mister Peters , I am in love . I just love a man so hard I can't bear not to get him . He's just the kind I've always had in mind .» « Then take him ,» said Jeff . « Does he feel the same way about you ?» « He does ,» Missus Trotter answered . « But there is a problem . He is one of the men who have been coming to see me in answer to your advertisement . And he will not marry me unless I give him the two thousand dollars . His name is William Wilkinson .» Jeff felt sorry for her . He said he would be glad to let her give the two thousand dollars to Mister Wilkinson , so that she could be happy . But he said he had to talk to his partner about it . Jeff returned to his hotel and discussed it with Andy . « I was expecting something like this ,» Andy said . « You can't trust a woman to stick with you in any plan that involves her emotions .» Jeff said it was a sad thing to think that they were the cause of the breaking of a woman's heart . Andy agreed with him . « I'll tell you what I am willing to do ,» said Andy . « Jeff , you have always been a man of a soft and generous heart . Perhaps I have been too hard and worldly and suspicious . For once , I will meet you half - way . Go to Missus Trotter . Tell her to take the two thousand dollars out of the bank and give it to this Wilkinson fellow and be happy .» Jeff shook Andy's hand for a long time . Then he went back to Missus Trotter . She cried as hard for joy as she had done for sorrow . Two days later , Jeff and Andy prepared to leave town . « Wouldn't you like to go meet Missus Trotter once before we leave ?» Jeff asked Andy . « She'd like to express her thanks to you .» « Why , I guess not ,» Andy said . « I think we should hurry and catch the train .» Jeff was putting all the money they had received in a belt he tied around his body . Then Andy took a large amount of money out of his pocket and asked Jeff to put it together with the other money . « What's this ?» Jeff asked . « It's Missus Trotter's two thousand dollars ,» said Andy . « How do you come to have it ?» Jeff asked . « Missus Trotter gave it to me ,» Andy answered . « I have been calling on her three nights a week for more than a month .» « Then you are William Wilkinson ?» Jeff asked . « I was ,» Andy said .