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: It wasn’t easy to find an answer to this particular legal question. Most of what I did find ended up being lawyers saying to consult with them if this were the case (that is, if one party married under a fake name.) I did find that it was probably a question of divorce or annulment, though some people insisted that the marriage wasn’t valid at all. I have no idea what they would have said about it back around the first world war, though. It was hard enough finding a modern answer.

Legalities and Other Hard to Answer Questions

“I have a confession to make.”

“I didn’t know that you were Catholic.”

“What? No, we’re not. I…” Violet shook her head, wringing her hands together. He’d had to say something like that, didn’t he? She didn’t know how to compose herself again. She’d been walking with him for long enough, trying to gather her courage, and now, when she needed it the most, it would not come. “That wasn’t what I meant, and even if it was, you are not a priest, so it does not matter.”

“True. I should make a poor priest, I would think, and I do not want to try. Religion has been difficult for me since the war.”

“I understand. I admit, I have struggled to have much faith since Winston left. I thought I had done the right thing, behaved as I should, and yet he left anyway and—”

“That was his mistake, his wrong, not yours. I don’t know why he started this, but I do know that he was a fool to leave you,” Robbie said, touching her face. She blinked, aware that she was very close to tears. If he did not move his hand, if he kept speaking that way, she would cry. “He was. If he was out for revenge, if your aunt was… It doesn’t matter. He should have given it up and stayed with you forever. Your love was a gift, one he did not deserve. He should have stayed and held onto it with everything he had. You gave him your heart, and you will give him a child, and I don’t know how he could think to turn away from those things.”

She frowned. “I am not sure that you should say that. It’s not like you were one to rush in and say that you wanted those things.”

Robbie lowered his hand. He let out a breath. “Violet, you were a stranger to me, and you loved a man that was not me. I have been reconsidering, and it is possible that some would consider you still married to him. Even if the name he put on that paper was a lie, the rest of it could be binding. It’s not the sort of thing I can be free to ask for, and I am in no position to, being rather… poor at present. I have nothing to offer you.”

She swallowed. He almost sounded as though he would offer something if he could, and yet how could he do such a thing? She did not understand. This whole thing had gotten so convoluted, so out of control. She didn’t know what to think or feel all over again.

“I suppose no response came from the lawyer, did it? Do we know what the legal standing of the marriage is? We should contact a local lawyer, one here in town that knows the laws of this state and see what he can tell us about the situation. I guess I thought waiting for your family’s lawyer was best. I don’t know why.”

“It seemed best to me at the time, but you are right. We should go speak to one tomorrow. I think that you need to know your options.”

She frowned. “My options?”

“If they determine that the marriage is valid because you did marry him even if he lied, then… you may need a divorce or an annulment to separate you from him. You’d have to decide if that’s what you want or not. I mean, I think he doesn’t deserve you, but that isn’t necessarily a good reason for a divorce. Yes, he’s lied, and he’s abandoned you, and it’s possible that he’s even been unfaithful to you while he was gone, but he’s the baby’s father and perhaps his reason for this deception might earn him some leniency. I don’t know.”

“Leniency. You mean… forgiveness.”

Robbie nodded. He took her arm, leading her over to the bench. “Were it me, I do not think I could forgive him. What he did was cruel and so unnecessary… If he didn’t want to be married, he didn’t have to be. If he didn’t love you, he should not have said so. If he didn’t want to be himself, he should have made efforts to be a better man, not steal a name. A name doesn’t change who he is or what he was. It doesn’t make him me, and goodness knows that I don’t know why anyone should want to be me.”

“I think you a better man than you believe.”

“I don’t know that it would be that difficult to achieve such a state. I have a rather low opinion of myself.”

She knew that. She didn’t understand why, not truly, unless it was the war or possibly something from his father—not standing against the man’s behavior sooner or perhaps allowing that man to make him feel less than worthy, as he had tried to do to Violet. “That should improve with time. Perhaps with guidance.”


“Yes. Well, no, perhaps love is a better word for it. We need our friends and family to help us see reasons to love ourselves when we cannot summon those reasons on our own.”

He studied her for a moment. “I… I almost wonder if…”


He shook his head. “No, it is—it does not matter. It was a foolish fancy. Would you like me to go see the lawyer now or at least arrange for an appointment?”

She wondered if he had been close to thinking that she might love him, that she might offer him reasons as a friend or more, and she wished he’d not stopped himself from saying so. “Robbie, if I were free, if there was no Winston and no baby, would you want to marry me?”

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