The Stolen Name

- A Serialized Novel -

A man learns that his name has been used by someone else and sets out to find the man who stole his name and help those whom the imposter betrayed.

Author’s Note: Robert had a long night. He might not have been thinking clearly. I might not have been, either.

Awkward Once Again

“How are you feeling?”

“I think I feel better than you look,” Violet said, rubbing her back and wondering what left him in such a state. He appeared so haggard that she would have thought he’d spent the night drinking, though that would be difficult in a dry town, but then again, a man determined to drink would find a way—and it was not that far to their sister city where alcohol had never been banned. “What happened?”

“Oh, I thought… I thought, that’s what I did. Over and over, all night through, didn’t do anything but think. That left me rather lacking in sleep, and so I suppose I must seem rather… unkempt despite my best efforts to be presentable.”

She shook her head. “Your clothes are in order. You just look as though you are ailing somehow.”

“I rather feel it,” he said, letting out a breath as he sat down. “I’ve been trying to determine what I should do at this point, and I can’t seem to make a decision that I stick to for more than a few minutes. I thought I’d stay and ask others about the man who stole my name, but I am not certain there is much point. If he told them the same stories as the ones he told you, then all I end up doing is repeating what I already know. If I don’t ask them, there’s asking you, but that has been causing you a great deal of grief lately, and I do not want to do that again. I should probably go home. I think there is very little I can do here.”


She fidgeted, not certain that she liked that idea much, even with the way she’d struggled with every time he claimed one of the stories as his own instead of Winston’s. She didn’t want him to go, but she was also wondering if that might not be for the best. She didn’t know. She was still very confused. She didn’t like this sort of confusion, either. She was sick at heart, sick to her stomach thanks to her child, and she could hardly think, so she felt even worse than she had during the most terrible time of her pregnancy so far.

Oh, she did not think she would survive to see the child born, not with all this strain.


She looked up, biting her lip. “I am sorry. I did not mean to become distracted. I have been trying to find… Did you put the inn as your address on those letters you sent? Or did you have them sent to your home?”

He frowned. “I… I think I wrote down the inn since I was still expecting to be here, and I didn’t want to send them to my home just to have someone interfere with them. I would not trust my father with them, not with the way he had opened other letters of yours and thought this matter could be ignored. Any response I got might never reach me if I had it sent home first.”

“So then you have to wait here to get it? Or can you have them send it on to you when you are back home?”

“That is another delay on the information that has already taken long enough to acquire.”


“I suppose I cannot leave immediately, though I might have been tempted.”

She let out a breath, not sure that she dared be relieved by the idea of him staying. She shouldn’t be. She should be bothered by it, shouldn’t she? She did not know anymore. “The cook wasn’t fooled by the tomatoes, was she?”

He laughed. “Well, she shouldn’t have been, but there was a commotion that day because of the rat—that had nothing to do with me, I swear—and so by the time she got to baking the pie, she didn’t know her right hand from her left. That poor woman. She hated me so much… I remember I ran off to find some strawberries to replace the ones that I’d switched with tomatoes and—”

“Oh, this must be worse than the rest of it. What did you find? A poisonous plant?”

He smiled. “No, I didn’t. I did know what most of those were, at least. No, I went all the way into town, went to the market, bought as many of those beautiful little strawberries I could find and come to find out later that they are raspberries and that I am allergic to them. Oh, the cook liked that, I can assure you. She became a true master at baking anything and everything with raspberries in it.”

Violet found herself laughing. She shouldn’t find this so amusing, but she did. “What about the tomato pie?”

“You should have seen my father’s face. I wish I’d had a camera just then, but then you’re supposed to hold still for that, and he’d never have allowed such a violation of his dignity. He doesn’t much care for cameras. Mother adapted to that better than he did. She’s the one who insists on having them instead of painted likenesses of us all. I think my father would like to burn them all someday, but he is too vain to destroy his own face.”

“It’s not much of a face.”

Robert frowned. “You haven’t seen my father.”

She grimaced. “I… Winston showed me a picture of his father once. I suppose I don’t know if that man was even his father. I don’t know anything about him. He wasn’t your father, though, and I don’t know why I said that. I know better.”

“Sometimes it must be very hard to tell us apart.”

She lowered her head. “Yes, it is. It has been so much harder than I thought it would ever be. You do not look that much alike or sound that much alike, but with those stories he stole from you… I don’t know what to do.”

“I can go. I had come only to tell you that I was going—”

“You’re not, though. You decided not to go.”

“I… Yes, I suppose I am staying, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay here bothering you.”

“You are not bothering me.”

“I’m not?”



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