Is this an honest deal you are putting on, Mr. Peters? she asks me when I tell her what we want.
Mrs. Trotter, says I, Andy Tucker and me have computed the calculation that 3,000 men in this broad and unfair country will endeavour to secure your fair hand and ostensible money and property through our advertisement. Out of that number something like thirty hundred will expect to give you in exchange, if they should win you, the carcass of a lazy and mercenary loafer, a failure in life, a swindler and contemptible fortune-seeker.
Me and Andy, says I, propose to teach these preyers upon society a lesson. It was with difficulty, says I, that me and Andy could refrain from forming a corporation under the title of the Great Moral and Millennial Malevolent Matrimonial Agency. Does that satisfy you?
It does, Mr. Peters, says she. I might have known you wouldnt have gone into anything that wasnt opprobrious. But what will my duties be? Do I have to reject personally these 3,000 ramscallions you speak of, or can I throw them out in bunches?
Your job, Mrs. Trotter, says I, will be practically a cynosure. You will live at a quiet hotel and will have no work to do. Andy and I will attend to all the correspondence and business end of it.
Of course, says I, some of the more ardent and impetuous suitors who can raise the railroad fare may come to Cairo to personally press their suit or whatever fraction of a suit they may be wearing. In that case you will be probably put to the inconvenience of kicking them out face to face. We will pay you $25 per week and hotel expenses.
Give me five minutes, says Mrs. Trotter, to get my powder rag and leave the front-door key with a neighbour and you can let my salary begin.
So I conveys Mrs. Trotter to Cairo and establishes her in a family hotel far enough away from mine and Andys quarters to be unsuspicious and available, and I tell Andy.
Great, says Andy. And now that your conscience is appeased as to the tangibility and proximity of the bait, and leaving mutton aside, suppose we revenoo a noo fish.
So, we began to insert our advertisement in newspapers covering the country far and wide. One ad was all we used. We couldnt have used more without hiring so many clerks and marcelled paraphernalia that the sound of the gum-chewing would have disturbed the Postmaster-General.
We placed $2,000 in a bank to Mrs. Trotters credit and gave her the book to show in case anybody might question the honesty and good faith of the agency. I knew Mrs. Trotter was square and reliable and it was safe to leave it in her name.
With that one ad Andy and me put in twelve hours a day answering letters.
About one hundred a day was what came in. I never knew there was so many large-hearted but indigent men in the country who were willing to acquire a charming widow and assume the burden of investing her money.
Most of them admitted that they ran principally to whiskers and lost jobs and were misunderstood by the world, but all of em were sure that they were so chock-full of affection and manly qualities that the widow would be making the bargain of her life to get em.
Every applicant got a reply from Peters & Tucker informing them that the widow had been deeply impressed by his straightforward and interesting letter and requesting them to write again; stating more particulars; and enclosing photograph if convenient. Peters & Tucker also informed the applicant that their fee for handing over the second letter to their fair client would be $2, enclosed therewith.
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