Two wealthy families in a remote mountain town decide to write to their agent in the city to send two suitable young men to be husbands to their respective daughters. The agent locates two young men of appropriate breeding and arrangements are made for their journey. Along the way, the young men's coach is attacked by bandits and one of the men is killed. The other completes the journey but upon his arrival in the remote town, the mothers of the two debutantes are incensed . Each demands that the surviving man must marry her daughter and they take the matter to the local magistrate.
Since the two families shared expenses in the entire matter of arranging for the young men's selection and travel, the magistrate can find no grounds to give preference to either family.
He finally assembles the parties to offer his verdict: "Since there is only one young man and two brides, the young man is to be cut in half and the pieces given to the families to do as they see fit."
The first prospective mother-in-law is appalled. "There is no need for such barbarism, we relinquish our claim."
But the second prospective mother-in-law is thrilled with the proposed arrangement. "Agreed! Let us send for the surgeon."
"That" says the magistrate, "is the young man's true mother-in-law."