If love does not know how to give and take without restrictions,it is not love,but a transaction. — Emma Goldman 如果爱不是自然而然地付出与获得，那它就不是爱，而只是一种交易。 ——艾玛•高曼
Edward Wellman bade good-bye to his family in the old country headed for a better life in America. Papa handed him the family’s savings hidden in a leather satchel. “Times are desperate here,” he said, hugging his son goodbye. “You are our hope.”
Edward boarded the Atlantic freighter offering free transport to young men willing to shovel coal in return for the month-long journey. If Edward struck gold in the Colorado Rockies, the rest of the family could eventually join him.
For months, Edward worked his claim tirelessly, and the small vein of gold provided a moderate but steady income. At the end of each day, as he walked through the door of his two-room cabin, he yearned for the woman he loved to greet him. Leaving Ingrid behind before he could officially court her had been his only regret in accepting this American adventure. Their families had been friends for years and for as long as he could remember; he had secretly hoped to make Ingrid his wife. Her long, flowing hair and radiant smile made her the most beautiful of the Henderson sisters. He had just begun sitting by her at church picnics and making up silly reasons to stop by her house, just so he could see her. As he went to sleep in his cabin each night, Edward longed to stroke her auburn hair and hold her in his arms. Finally, he wrote to Papa, asking him to help make this dream come true.
After nearly a year, a telegraph came with a plan to make his life complete. Mr. Henderson had agreed to send his daughter to Edward in America. Because she was a hardworking young woman with a good mind for business, she would work alongside Edward for a year to help the mining business grow. By then both families could afford to come to America for their wedding.
Edward’s heart soared with joy as he spent the next month trying to make the cabin into a home. He bought a cot for him to sleep on in the living area and tried to make his former bedroom suitable for a woman. Floral cloth from flour sacks replaced the burlap-bag curtains covering the grimy window. He arranged dried sage from the meadow into a tincan vase on the nightstand.
At last, the day he had been waiting for his whole life arrived. With a bouquet of fresh-picked daisies in hand, he left for the train depot. Steam billowed and wheels screeched as the train crawled to a stop. Edward scanned every window looking for Ingrid’s glowing hair and smile.
His heart beat with eager anticipation, then stopped with a sinking thud. Not Ingrid, but her older sister Marta, stepped down from the train. She stood shyly before him, her eyes cast down.
Edward only stared － dumbfounded. Then with shaking hands he offered Marta the bouquet. “Welcome,” he whispered, his eyes burning. A smile etched across her plain face.
“I was pleased when Papa said you sent for me,” Marta said, looking into his eyes briefly, before dropping her head again.
“I’ll get your bags, “Edward said with a fake smile. Together they headed for the buggy.
Mr. Henderson and Papa were right. Marta did have a great grasp of business. While Edward worked the mine, she worked the office. From her makeshift desk in one corner of the living area, she kept detailed records of all claim activity. Within six months, their assets doubled.
Her delicious meals and quiet smile graced the cabin with a wonderful woman’s touch. But the wrong woman, Edward mourned as he collapsed onto his cot each night. Why did they send Marta? Would he ever see Ingrid again? Was his lifelong dream to have her as his wife forsaken?
For a year, Marta and Edward worked and played and laughed, but never loved. Once, Marta had kissed Edward on the cheek before retiring to her room. He only smiled awkwardly. From then on, she seemed content with their exhilarating hikes in the mountains and long talks on the porch after suppers.
One spring afternoon, torrential rains washed down the hillside, eroding the entrance to their mine. Furiously, Edward filled sand bags and stacked them in the water’s path. Soaked and exhausted, his frantic efforts seemed futile. Suddenly there was Marta at his side holding the next burlap bag open. Edward shoveled sand inside, then with the strength of any man, Marta hurled it onto the pile and opened another bag… For hours they worked, knee-deep in mud, until the rains diminished.
Hand in hand, they walked back to the cabin. Over warm soup Edward sighed, “I never could have saved the mine without you. Thank you, Marta.”
“You’re welcome,” she answered with her usual smile, then went quietly to her room.
A few days later, a telegraph came announcing the arrival of the Henderson and Wellman families next week. As much as he tried to stifle it, the thought of seeing Ingrid again started Edward’s heart beating in the old familiar way.
Together, he and Marta went to the train station. They watched as their families exited the train at the far end of the platform. When Ingrid appeared, Marta turned to Edward. “Go to her,” she said.
Astonished, Edward stammered, “What do you mean?”
“Edward, I have always known I was not the Henderson girl you intended to send for. I had watched you flirt with Ingrid at the church picnics.” She nodded toward her sister descending the train steps. “I know it is she, not me, you desire for your wife.” “But ...”
Marta placed her fingers over his lips. “Shhh,” she hushed him. “I do love you, Edward. I always have. And because of that, all I really want is your happiness. Go to her.”
He took her hand from his face and held it. As she gazed up at him, he saw for the first time how very beautiful she was. He recalled their walks in the meadows, their quiet evenings before the fire, her working beside him with the sandbags. It was then he realized what he had known for months.
“No, Marta. It is you I want.” Sweeping her into his arms, he kissed her with all the love bursting inside him. Their families gathered around them chorusing, “We are here for the wedding!”