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Halley and Hardy

Trivia brain teasers have some element of trivia in them, but they are not just pure trivia questions.


Puzzle ID:#30172
Fun:*** (2.45)
Difficulty:*** (2.81)
Submitted By:norcekrius****




"I'm sorry, Corman, I have other plans tomorrow." Nora Shekrie had no trouble sounding sorry: Her initial meeting and four dates with Professor diNoni had been highly enjoyable.
"Ah; someone up to your intellectual standards, I hope?" He sounded genuinely interested, not jealous.
"What makes you think it's a 'someone'?" she protested.
"If it was a 'something', you'd explain. 'Other plans' is Anglo-Saxon for 'another date'." His voice was smiling; Nora felt awful. Had she known only an hour earlier that Corman was coming ... Her niece, Sharon, had recommended Hardy Chance to her for insurance. Nora came away with personalized quotes for home, life, and auto insurance, as well as a dinner invitation. At the time, she'd had nothing better to do, and Hardy seemed interesting enough to invest a few hours.
"I throw myself on the mercy of the court. If you'd only called this afternoon! Will you be in town for long?" Corman's current research brought him to the city once in a while, more often since meeting Nora.
"Three days, but the good Doctors already have me for Saturday night." Much of the inspiration in mathematical theory came from the three of them trading less serious ideas at the Leland home. Corman had taken Nora once; she understood perhaps a quarter of the conversation.
Nora was silent for several seconds, balancing her self-respect with her desire to see him. One simply did not cancel plans for "a better offer."
Corman bulled ahead. "Let's see; he's tall, dark blond, ruggedly handsome, and used to play tennis. He has a master's degree, but made his career in another field. He's interested in classical music and presidential trivia." Speculating on "the competition" was decidedly indelicate, but Nora was appreciative of Corman's judiciously-applied iconoclasm; her giggle was all the reward he needed.
"Nope. He's stocky, couldn't make the track team even as the only discus thrower, and I don't know how much education he has. He's my niece's insurance agent, and I'm not sure he knows who's president now, let alone 'the last President of the *United* States."
Corman heard the challenge, and thought for a minute. "Van Buren?" he ventured.
"Give the man a kewpie doll!"
"Whew! I was guessing."
"From proper historical principles, in context. When South Carolina seceded, he was afraid for the country. Speaking of insurance, that may be almost all Hardy knows, but he seems to be good company so far."
"Do tell?" Corman sounded like the friend he was, rather than a disappointed suitor ... which he also was.
"Oh, he first caught my interest with his collection of reproduction documents. He's has a copy of Banker's first sales contract. You know -- the guy who invented the real estate agency after the San Francisco earthquake."
"As in Coldwell-Banker?"
"You're 2-for-2 today."
"2-for-3, actually." She wasn't counting the missed date. She pressed on.
"He also has reproductions of the Magna Carta, including the signatures of King John and all 20-odd surety barons, and the four supposed versions of the Gettysburg address; he rotates them weekly. His favorite is the one faked-up on an envelope."
"Is that legend true?"
"At least partly; that's why he likes it. His pride and joy, though, is a copy of Edmund Halley's life insurance policy."
"Really? I'm not familiar with that." Corman sounded genuinely interested.
"He went on about it at some length, the history of insurance, and the historical importance of it all."
Corman's voice was a warm chuckle. "Which, of course, is your avocation."
"He said it's the first whole-life policy ever written."
"Ah, yes! Halley, the astronomer with the comet! He compiled the first set of actuarial tables, which allowed the industry to develop. So he got the first policy?"
"So the man says. No policy number, but with the signature of Sir George Lloyd himself."
"George Lloyd, founder of Lloyd's of London."
"My lady, I do not mean to interfere in your personal affairs ..." he sounded hesitant, somewhat worried.
"I expect you to continue being *part* of my personal affairs, if that's what you're worried about. What is it?"
"I'm not sure you want to have dinner with him -- or perhaps you'd better."

It took Nora nearly five minutes to coax out what Corman knew, but she spent even less time in raising the matter with Hardy Chance. When he was done fumbling, she was relieved that he was the one who offered to rescind their date.

What did Corman know that restored his record to 3-for-3?

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