The two men are jilted, or at least unsuccessful, lovers. Winfield vows to get a wife soon, despite being stuck in the "girlless wilderness" of a ranch in Montana. His friend tells him about the town of Tusculum, New York, which is nearly overrun with women (as all the men move to New York City to make their mark). The Nine Cent-Girls are sisters who each look like the face of the Indian lady on the little red cent, "the neatest and most artistic coin that the United States government has ever struck."
Despite being resigned never to marry, Cutter is deputed to visit the girls on behalf of the ranchers. But, when he calls at their home in Tusculum, he learns that the patriarch had died and no male relative had assumed a similar head of household role for them. "The whole scheme [is] busted," Cutter thinks. Still, somehow, he convinces the eldest of the women, Euphrosyne, to bring the whole group to the ranch in Montana. Euphrosyne, apparently in her 30s, is too old to get married herself, but she thinks it would be good for her sisters. Accordingly, she sells the house and prepares to go West.
|Illustration by S. B. Griffin, 1891|
"Why, Mr. Cutter!" Miss Euphrosyne cried, "I had no idea that you — you — ever — though of — is it Clytie?
"No," said Mr. Cutter, "it isn't Clytie."
"Is it — is it — " Miss Euphrosyne's eyes lit up with hope long since extinguished, "is it Aurora?"
"No!" Dick Cutter could have been heard three rooms off. "No!" he said, with all his lungs... "It's YOU — Y-O-U! I want to marry you, and what's more, I'm going to!"
Sure enough, they are married an hour later (though it's not stated if the wedding took place on the train or at one of the stops). Despite the odd circumstances behind their marriage, it seems Mr. and Mrs. Cutter are quite happy — and, what's more, the other eight Cent-Girls are soon married too. The author, Henry Cuyler Bunner, was himself married, though Alice Learned Bunner was from neither New York nor Montana; she was from Connecticut (and a published author herself).