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: So I didn’t have this ready before I had to leave today. Now that I’m finally able to sit down with my computer with internet again, I can post this.

Searching for Leftovers

“Are there any more of those little sandwiches?”

Robert frowned. She had not been lying when she said that she could eat when she was craving things. He swore she’d been through enough food to feed three people already, and she did not seem close to stopping. He had never seen any woman eat so much, and he should, he thought, be repulsed by it, but instead he found it rather fascinating. His mother had never had any other children, never tried, at least not that he could tell from his parents’ cold and indifferent manners toward each other when they were not hosting some sort of social function. When they were alone, they were worse than strangers—they were the sort of people that he did not want to become, the reason he would not rush to give Violet and the child his name and the “protection” of marriage. He had seen what such arrangements led to, and he did not want to be a part of one. Still, since he lacked any sort of experience with pregnant women—no sister or aunts to educate him in those matters—he found himself paying more attention to everything that Violet did. He could not help the curiosity.

“You ate them all,” her mother said, though she sounded rather pleased. “I will see about getting more, though. Do you need anything, Mr. Winston?”

Robert shook his head. “Oh, no, I ate plenty, and if I forgot to thank the cook, do send her my compliments, but I think it best that I see these letters to the post office now that they are complete.”

“Do you think anything will come of your inquiries?”

“I do not know, Mrs. Carpenter, but I do hope so, since I would like to find the man who stole my name and see to it that there is some sort of repercussion for his actions. I keep thinking that I should know him, and yet he is still a stranger to me. I can think of no one who would extend this kind of malice toward me. I am not perfect, and yet he chose me to malign, and I do not know why. I should, but I do not.”

“Were it not for the way his stories coincide with yours, there would be no reason to think that he knew you at all,” Violet said, turning her hand in circles on her stomach. “He could have picked you at random. Indeed, all he would need is some kind of social register, and he could have your name and those of your family. He would not need to know much more than that since no one here knew you or anyone connected to you. The distance between your home and my was no doubt a reason for his successful deceit. Without it, it might never have worked.”

“Yes, but why pick me? Why go so far as to marry you? Unless…”

Violet sat up, frowning at him. “Unless what, Robbie? What is it that put that look upon your face and made you stop speaking?”

He grimaced. He did not much like the thought, but he supposed he owed her the honesty of voicing it. Concealing it would only lead to trouble and hurt feelings. “I could not help wondering if perhaps the reason for taking my name had to do with… with his social position. If he were from a lower class, if he had no money or connections of his own, he would want to use the name of someone who had both—or so they would assume, since few people realize how little I have of my own or my dependence on my father.”

“And you think that without such a pretense he could not have married me?” Violet shifted in her seat, shaking her head. “I know that it would gall most people, but I had no interest in making any sort of… advantageous marriage. I have only a modest inheritance from my father, and it is nothing to boast over, not the sort that someone should hope to steal. Yet… your idea suggests the possibility that he left before his ruse was uncovered.”

“By whom? I was still across the country, and you said no one here knew him—or me—or anyone by my name, I suppose is the best way to say it.” Robert shook his head. “If that was all he wanted, I do not think he would have left. He stood a greater chance of the deception never being known had he stayed. The only reason that you and are in contact now is because he left you. Otherwise I might never have known that he took my name.”

Violet sighed. “It is a bit foolish to hope that he left for that reason, isn’t it?”

Robert looked at her. He had a suspicion that she still retained some affection for the man despite her words and all her bravery. Perhaps she needed to believe that she had not been completely betrayed. “I would not call it foolish.”

She let out a breath. “I do not know what else you can call it. Oh, Mother, do not bother with the sandwiches. I have lost my appetite again.”

Robert cleared his throat. “I… Would it be better if we adjourned to the garden for a while? Perhaps the fresh air would help.”

“Yes, I think I would like that, actually.”

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