“And Solomon had seven hundred wives,” read Pastor Brandt.
Gretchen Edeler sat up to listen. A new idea had come to her. A distressing state of affairs existed in the village of Eisen. There had gone to the war from the village over three hundred men. From the war there had returned fifty-one—only fifty-one—and there in Eisen were two hundred and eighty-one girls wanting husbands.
Of the fifty-one returned soldiers twenty had wives and families already. Two had married during the war, married the nurses they had had in the hospital. Hilda Sachs, the rich widow, had captured one. That left just twenty-eight men available for husbands—twenty-eight to two hundred and eighty-one girls.
Yet no marriages occurred. The men wished to marry as much as the girls, but how could a man decide with so many to pick from? Thus stood matters that Sunday morning.
After the service Gretchen waited to speak to Pastor Brandt.
“Everything in the Bible,” she asked anxiously, “is it always right?”
“Ja,” the herr pastor affirmed, “the Bible always gives right.”
“Ja, about everything.”
“The Bible says that Jacob had two wives and that Solomon had seven hundred wives. Is it right for men to have many wives?”
“It was right in Bible days,” affirmed the pastor guardedly. “In those times many wives were needed to populate the land.”
“Many wives are needed now to populate the land,” asserted Gretchen. “Why should not each man in Eisen take now ten wives?”
“It is against the law,” declared the pastor.
“It is not against Bible law.”
The pastor pondered ten minutes.
“Nein,” he answered, “it is not against Bible law.”
“It would be for the good of the Fatherland.”
The pastor pondered twenty minutes.
“Ja,” he decided, “it would be for the good of the Fatherland.”
“We will do it,” announced Gretchen. “Ten of us will take one husband. Better a tenth of a husband than never any husband. Will you marry us?”
The pastor pondered thirty minutes.
“Ja,” he said at length, “for the good of the Fatherland.”
Quickly Gretchen spread her news. Quickly the girls accepted the Gretchen plan. Quickly they formed themselves into groups of ten and selected a husband. Quickly the twenty-eight men accepted. What man wouldn’t?
Only Selma Kronk, the homeliest of homely old maids, was left unmated. In indignant dismay she hastened to Frau Werner’s kaffee-klatch and unfolded to the married women assembled there the schreckliche Gretchen plan.
“Impossible!” asserted Frau Stern.
“Unspeakable!” declared Frau Heitner.
“It must not be!” announced Frau Werner.
In outraged wrath they appealed to their husbands to interfere.
“It is for the good of the Fatherland,” the husbands one and all declared. “What man would not have ten wives if he could?”
They appealed to the Mayor, to the Governor, even to the Kaiser himself, but in vain. To a man they welcomed the idea.
So the Gretchen plan was carried out. Each war hero took ten wives, not only in Eisen, but throughout the land.
Nevertheless, Frau Werner and the other aggrieved respectable advocates of monogamy had their revenge.
As invariably happens after a war, all the babies born were boy babies.
“Aha!” cried Frau Werner exultantly, as each new birth was announced. “Twenty years from now there will not be women enough to go around. Each wife then will have to have ten husbands. I wonder how the men will like that?”