As the offeror is at liberty to make no offer at all he is also at liberty to dictate whatever terms he sees fit if he chooses to make an offer. Among his requirements may be accept-ence within a specified time, and if no acceptance is made within that time the offer necessarily expires.20 The limitation of time may be exactly fixed, or it may be fixed by words of somewhat indefinite meaning. Thus an offer may require telegraphic acceptance on receipt.21 An offer requiring "prompt wire acceptance " is not fulfilled by answering at 2:45 p. m. a telegraphic offer received at 11:30 A. m.,22 and a telegraphic offer with a requirement of "immediate" designation of the route for shipment, delivered early in the day was not accepted sufficiently early by a reply sent at night rates at 6:25 p. m. of the same day.23 A common requirement is an answer by return mail. This requirement must be complied with though the words would probably not be literally construed. An acceptance by any method of communication actually arriving as soon as return mail would reach the offeror would doubtless be held sufficient.24 And in a city where mails are very frequent it is probable that a prompt reply would be held sufficient though the reply did not go out in the next mail leaving the city after the delivery of the offer.25
20 Tinn v. Hoffman, 29 L. T. (N. 8.) 271; Waterman p. Banks, 144 U. S. 394, 30 L. Ed. 47ft, 12 S. C. Rep. 646; Mac-lay v. Harvey, 90 111 525; Miller v. Sharp, 52 Ind. App. 11,100 N. E. 108; Potts v. Whitehead, 20 N. J. Eq. 55; Longworth v. Mitchell, 26 Ohio St. 334, and see cases in the following notes.
21 Eagle Mill Co. v. Caven, 76 Mo. App. 458. An acceptance on the following day was held insufficient. Home v. Niver, 168 Mass. 4, 46 N. E. 393.
22 Brewer v. Lepman, 127 Mo. App. 693, 106 S. W. 1107.
23 Van Camp Packing Co. v. Smith, 101 Md. 565, 61 Atl. 284.
24Tinn v. Hoffman, 29 L. T. (N. S.) 271; Bernard v. Torrance, 5 G. & 3. 383. So in Eliason v. Henshaw, 4 Wheat. 225, 4 L. Ed. 556, where the offer required an answer "by return of wagon" the court said an acceptance would be sufficient which "was not delayed beyond the time ordinarily employed by wagons."
25 Ortman v. Weaver, 11 Fed. Rep. 358, 362; Palmer v. Phoenix Mut. L. I. Co., 84 N. Y. 63.
A condition is imposed by the offer, making an answer by return mail essential, though the offeror merely requests such an answer,26 and introduces the request with the word "please " 27 or with "you will confer a favor." 28 Not infrequently an offeror who has imposed a limit of time in his offer does not care to insist upon it and by further negotiations may indicate a continued willingness to stand by the terms of his offer. Any such manifestation of continued willingness is in effect a new offer, which may be accepted and if accepted will ripen into a contract.29