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Here's how one man solved the problem of a jealous wife and a beautiful secretary:

"The Perfect Secretary"

by Will Lozier



Vol. 11, No. 5,  February 1954

     Having graduated with honors from the Mars Technological Institute, I am, of course, thoroughly qualified to build robots. I can also install them, repair them when they get out of whack and, as I studied medicine before studying engineering, I can prescribe for them when they are ill. I do not wish to seem egotistical but on one occasion, at least, I performed a particularly delicate operation which I shall not describe here. If you are interested in the surgical procedure which was employed, you can find a detailed account in the Journal of the Martian Medical Association, Vol. 790, November 2095.
     My brother, William, was not technically inclined. He was the executive type and it surprised no one when he decided to enter upon a commercial career. I hesitate to describe William because, as he is my brother, you are likely to think I am prejudiced in his favor. So simply permit me to say that he is well over six feet in height, has a fair complexion and blue eyes, and up until the time he got married was a dominating sort of chap, totally uninfluenced by the opinion of others.
     We had not seem him for several months; he had accepted an executive position with a manufacturing concern in town called New York, which is one of the most important cities on Earth. He had fallen in love with an Earth woman by the name of Jenny, and they had been married about six weeks when the interplanetary telephone on my desk flashed its green signal.
     "Answer it," I said to my secretary.
     I hated to be bothered at that particular moment; there was a shortage of doctors on Mars, and I was in the midst of an experiment which was designed to give Robot No. 7,802-K the ability to diagnose the most obscure disease.
     From the corner of my eye I saw Paul, my secretary, coming toward me.
     "I'm sorry to disturb you, Dr. Horowitz," he said, "but your brother William is calling from New York."
     "Damnation!" I muttered and went to the phone. "Look, Bill," I said, almost before I had the receiver to my ear, "I'm a very busy man. Tell me what's on your mind as quickly as you can and let me get back to work."
     "I want you to get back to work, too," Bill said. "But I can't. Not unless I get your help."
     Ordinarily, Bill doesn't go round asking help from anybody, so I guess my voice sounded a bit nervous when I asked him what was the trouble.
     "It's my wife," Bill explained.
     "Is she sick?"
     "No. I'm the one that's sick," Bill said. "At least, I can't work. Efficiency all shot, office morale low, sales dropping off to zero. I'm going to get fired unless something is done real quick."
     "What," I demanded somewhat irritably, "has this got to do with your wife?"
     "I don't want to discuss it over the telephone," Bill said. "It's a strictly private affair, and for all I know, the whole universe is listening in."

     I asked my wife to get out my flying suit and the following afternoon I arrived in New York. Bill took me straight to his office and locked the door. He ignited the end of a thin, oblong object, and blew a curiously evil smelling cloud of smoke in my direction.
     "I'll have to talk fast," he said. "jenny has got into the habit of dropping into the office at the most unexpected times." He lowered his voice and a haunted look of uncertainty crept over his face. "Jack," he whispered, "do you know anything about the emotion of jealousy?"
     "Not much," I admitted.
     I had run across one or two cases in private practice back in Marstown, but had referred them a psychiatrist.
     "My wife," Bill said solemnly, "is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. And I swear I have always been true to her. But, like so many females on Earth, poor Jenny is affected with the pathological condition which Earth people euphemistically refer to as a jealous disposition."
     I said, "Hummm" in my best bedside manner and waited for him to go on.
     "When I took charge here, The Worldwide Perfume Corporation had a nice business. But the stockholders were not entirely satisfied and so they hired me to speed up production and show an increase in sales." He blew another cloud of that vile smoke out of his mouth. "Production is up, but sales have dropped to practically nothing."
     He was beginning to get my interest.
     "How," I asked, "do you account for it?"
     "My wife's jealousy," he replied without hesitation. "You can't transact a wholesale perfumery without female help."
     "Naturally," I agreed.
     He leaned back in his swivel chair and stared dreamily up at the ceiling.
     "I had a very efficient secretary," he murmured. "She was also very beautiful. But I had to let her go. But that isn't all," he said hastily as I started to interrupt. "I've has to discharge every stenographer in the organization and replace them with men. The payroll has gone up, sales have gone down, and Worldwide is going to pot."
     "Bill," I said with just a hint of exasperation in my voice, "I'm sorry for you but I don't see how I can help."
     "You're a doctor," Bill pointed out.
     "True," I admitted, "but I have reformed, and since I graduated from Tech, I have done nothing but build robots.
     "That," and Bill's face lit up with hope, "is exactly the point. You are acknowledged to be the foremost robot engineer in the entire universe."

     So the next morning I went to work making robots to take the place of the secretaries and stenographers that Bill had been forced to discharge. By the middle of the week the office was functioning again; eleven robots sat at eleven desks, taking dictation, typing letters, and chewing gum.
     The twelfth robot was really a work of art. She sat in Bill's private office and in order to indulge his sense of the aesthetic, I had provided her with gentle curves in the precise places where they would do the most good.
     Bill examined her carefully. Then he glanced at the photograph of Jenny which occupied a prominent place on his desk.
     "I think," he murmured, "that this robot would look better if she had a few clothes on."
     "Okay with me," I said, so Bill called up the Personal Shopping Bureau at Macy's and asked them to send over one of their representatives.
     While we were waiting, I explained the mechanism of some of the more intricate gadgets.
     "She certainly is beautiful," Bill exclaimed, pressing his thumb against a small button on the upper left side of the robot's chest. 
     "Leave that alone," I commanded sharply.
     "But I want to see how it works," Bill protested.
     "It has no function at all," I said. "It is strictly ornamental."
     Presently the representative from Macy's arrived and took the measurements of the robot. When she got through she stood back and nodded her head in approval.
     "This girl," she said, "is a perfect thirty-six."
     "Never mind about that," Bill interrupted. "Get some clothes on her. You see," he explained after the personal shopper had left the office, "Jenny said she might drop in around noon and go to lunch with me."
     He sat down in his swivel chair and started to shuffle through a big stack of correspondence.
     "I've got some letters that ought to be answered right away," he murmured.
     "Go ahead and answer them," I suggested.

     The robot reached over, picked up a pencil and notebook from the desk and no matter how rapidly Bill dictated, she had no trouble in keeping up with him. Bill went over the first two letters and found them to be accurate in every detail. After that, he rattled off a long succession of letters, and had taken care of a really immense amount of correspondence by the time the representative from Macy's returned.
     She had her arms full of bundles. Bill and I watched her unwrap them and got to work.
     Unadorned, the secretary had been beautiful; but dressed in all the lovely things from Macy's, she was a stunning girl whom I would have been proud to walk down Main Street with when I got back home. The woman from Macy's was just fastening the top of the robot's stocking to an elastic supporter when the noonday whistle blew and a moment later the door of the office opened and in walked Jenny.
     "Bill, darling," she cried, "the office looks so funny with all those robots sitting at the desks."
     She had not yet noticed the private secretary. Bill and I hastened to get in front of it but we were too late.
     "Who," Jenny demanded, pointing an accusing finger at the robot, "is that awful creature?"
     "Just a mechanical secretary, my dear," Bill murmured placatingly.
     "Says you," replied Jenny. She walked over to the robot. "Get out of here before I scratch your eyes out."
     The girl from Macy's slipped quietly out of the office. I was tempted to follow her example but, as the saying goes, un Horowitzes always stick together.
     "Let's not get emotionally unstrung, Jenny," I said. "You evidently do not realize it, but you are making a big fuss about nothing."
     "Nothing!" she screamed. "Either that girl's got to go or--"
     Jenny's mouth fell open a couple of inches. She walked up to the secretary and touched it; she leaned down and probed its nylon-clad ankle with a suspicious finger and then, straightening up, she pried open the secretary's lips and inspected its teeth.
     "All right," she said, "it's a robot. But just the same, I don't like it."
     Bill got up enough courage to put his arm around her shoulder and patted her comfortingly on the cheek.
     "Please let me keep the robot, Jenny. It's the most efficient secretary I've ever had."
     Jenny shook her determined little head in a way that seemed to settle the matter forever.
     "No, Bill. I couldn't trust you with anything as good looking as that."

     He turned despondently away. He went to the window and stood staring down  into the street. Suddenly he whirled and pointed a reproachful finger at me.
     "It's all Jack's fault," he yelled. "I asked him to construct a mechanical secretary. I did not ask him to make one that's so beautiful she reminds me of you."
     Some of the tightness left Jenny's lips.
     "Am I really as pretty as she is, Bill?"
     "You're prettier," replied Bill instantly. "In fact, I've already decided to name her Jenny the Second."
     "Well," Jenny sighed uncertainly, "perhaps--"
     I didn't wait to hear the rest. The next ship for Marstown left in exactly forty minutes. I wanted to be on it. I was anxious to get home, put the finishing touches on the robot who was to be the universe's infallible diagnostician, and then see what I could do about constructing a female secretary of my own.
     In comparison with the diagnostician, the construction of the secretary turned out to be quite simple. After it was finished, I held open house and everybody in Marstown came to see the secretary in operation and let their eyes linger on its graceful lines. I received congratulations from practically every one--and not one single word of criticism.
     As a matter of record, the only person who failed to appreciate it completely was my wife.

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