A Cautionary Tale

We have been posting love stories from the sunnier side of this Valentine’s Day week, but we feel we must also warn you of the dangers of seeking romance.  We’ll let this story from far south of Skidmore do the talking.  From the January 5, 1904 Skidmore Standard, page 4, let this be a lesson to us all:

What Happened to Freeman.

This good gentleman of Cass county first courted by means of a want ad, which he composed as follows:  “Ladies your attention please.  If you are hunting a husband I shall be easily found.  I am 51 years of age and money is no object to or with me, but a good woman is.”

This lottery ticket, as it were, drew a widow.  Mr. Freeman says that a lady informed him that she was worth $15,000, and he, heedlessly, courted her, incidentally telling her that he was a rich farmer.  Afterwards, to a jury of twelve peers, he explained that he had lied to her.  Said he:  “It was as big a walloper as I ever told, and I’ve told some in my time.  I lied to her about that.  My only excuse is that I was redhot to get her.  And that’s all fair in courtin’ and hoss tradin’.  I tell you, when I thought she was worth $15,000 she looked mighty good to me.  I tell you, men, money comes purty nigh makin’ any woman look good.  She may have a hip knocked down or two or three splint knots or spavins, but if she has money she looks as clean cut and smooth-limbed as a colt.  Yes sir, this one looked mighty sweet to me until I found out that she had nothin’ on earth.  Her beauty just seemed to fade away with that $15,000 and I soured on her right there.”

According to reports, the lady had borrowed $45 of him.  “When I found out that she didn’t have nothin’,” he continued to the jury “I just naturally went back on her and demanded that $45.  When she wouldn’t pay it I had her arrested.  Maybe I hadn’t ought to have done that.  If I had it to do over again I would not do it.  But hindsight is always better than foresight.”

The jury likewise considered that he hadn’t ought to done it, and they awarded the lady $1000 damages against him for false arrest.

The suit some how gives the suggestion that all’s not as open and aboveboard as it should be in matrimony and in the negotiations leading thereto.  This same Mr. Freeman, who is 65 years old, instead of 51, as his ad set forth, admits that he has been engaged so many times that he can’t remember them all, and by his own statement he seems to have been out after the dough each time.  And, upon the whole the evidence showed that in the present case the parties “wa’n’t particularly stuck on each other.”

The $1,000 verdict should have a salutary effect, generally. For the good of the institution of marriage, more of our insincere and sordid old gallants ought to be punished.  On the other hand there is not much sympathy for the widows who consent to be wooed through the medium of a matrimonial ad, and then misrepresent their fiscal conditions.  Though Jove, perhaps, laughs at lovers’ perjuries, he surely must be sickened at the false returns of those impecunious old dodderers who would turn the sacred temples into money marts.  The lovers that Jove and all mankind love are of a very different order.