Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, and one of the finest mechanics in Botswana, if not the finest, was proud of his wife, Precious Ramotswe, progenitor and owner of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Many men are proud of their wives in one way or another, although not all of them are as vocal in their pride as their wives might like them to be. This is a failing of men, and must be added to the list of men's failings, although all of us have failings and weaknesses — men and women alike — and it is not always helpful to point them out.

But of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's pride in Mma Ramotswe there could be little doubt. Sometimes, for instance, he would just gaze at her in silence and think, There is no other lady quite like Mma Ramotswe in all Botswana. That thought alone filled him with pride, just as much as it was a comfort to him. To think that of all the women in the country she should have come into his life — that was a humbling realization, and reminded him of just how great a role chance plays in our human existence. It could so easily have been otherwise: she might have decided not to go out on that fateful day on which they had met. She might have gone elsewhere, encountered somebody else altogether, and married that somebody else. And yet she had not. They had met, and after a great deal of anxious hesitation he had eventually plucked up enough courage to ask her to be his wife. And she — oh, heaven-sent good fortune — had agreed.

Excerpted from "The Colors of All the Cattle," ©2018 by Alexander McCall Smith. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.