The many problems that lead customers to Mma Ramotswe’s door seem to be multiplying, and no sooner has she settled into her newly married state than she finds herself looking into several troublesome matters at once. There is, to begin with, a disturbing case of blackmail and theft from the Government catering college. Then, while on an errand for her husband to the Mokolodi Game Reserve Mma Ramotswe is summoned to investigate an unpleasant situation that may be due to witchcraft, or something worse. There are sinister goings-on at a health clinic to be looked into, not to mention any number of small wrongs to be righted along the path to detective triumph. And to further complicate matters, Grace Makutsi may have scared off her own fiance. Yet even while Mma Ramotswe must consider weighty questions of a philosophical nature—on, for example, whether it is right to find happiness in small things, such as a new pair of blue shoes, a slice of cake, or a red sunset over the Kalahari—her adventures never fail to entertain.
Mma Makutsi pondered this for a few moments. In general, she thought that Mma Ramotswe was right about matters of this sort, but she felt that this particular proposition needed a little bit more thought. She knew that there were some people who were unable to make of their lives what they wanted them to be, but then there were many others who were quite capable of keeping themselves under control. In her own case, she thought that she was able to resist temptation quite effectively. She did not consider herself to be particularly strong, but at the same time she did not seem to be markedly weak. She did not drink, nor did she over-indulge in food, or chocolate or anything of that sort. No, Mma Ramotswe’s observation was just a little bit too sweeping and she would have to disagree. But then the thought struck her: could she resist a fine new pair of shoes, even if she knew that she had plenty of shoes already (which was not the case)?
“I think you’re right, Mma,” she said. “Everybody has a weakness and most of us are not strong enough to resist it.”
Mma Ramotswe looked at her assistant. She had an idea what Mma Makutsi’s weakness might be, and indeed there might even be more than one.
“Take Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, for example,” said Mma Ramotswe.
“All men are weak,” said Mma Makutsi. “That is well known.”
She paused. Now that Mma Ramotswe and Mr J. L. B. Matekoni were married it was possible that Mma Ramotswe had discovered new weaknesses in him. The mechanic was a quiet man, but it was often the mildest-looking people who did the most colourful things, in secret of course. What could Mr J. L. B. Matekoni get up to? It would be very interesting to hear.
“Cake,” said Mma Ramotswe quickly. “That is Mr J. L. B. Matekoni’s great weakness. He cannot help himself when it comes to cake. He can be manipulated very easily if he has a plate of cake in his hand.”
Mma Makutsi laughed. “Mma Potokwani knows that, doesn’t she?” she said. “I have seen her getting Mr J. L. B. Matekoni to do all sorts of things for her just by offering him pieces of that fruit cake of hers.”
Mma Ramotswe rolled her eyes up towards the ceiling. Mma Potokwani, the matron of the orphan farm, was her friend, and when all was said and done she was a good woman, but she was quite ruthless when it came to getting things for the children in her care. She it was who had cajoled Mr J. L. B. Matekoni into fostering the two children who now lived in their house; that had been a good thing, of course, and the children were dearly loved, but Mr J. L. B. Matekoni had not thought the thing through and had failed even to consult Mma Ramotswe about the whole matter. And then there were the numerous occasions on which she had prevailed upon him to spend hours of his time fixing that unreliable old water pump at the orphan farm—a pump which dated back to the days of the Protectorate and should have been retired and put into a museum long ago. And Mma Potokwani achieved all of this because she had a profound understanding of how men worked and what their weaknesses were; that was the secret of so many successful women—they knew about the weaknesses of men.