“No,” said Mrs. Cliff. “But all your reasoning is on a wrong basis. I haven’t the least doubt in the world—–I don’t see how any one can have a doubt—that the captain intends to come back and claim you as his wife; and if anything more be necessary to make you such, as I consider there would be, he would be as ready as anybody to do it. And, Edna, if you could see yourself, not merely as you look in the glass, but as he would see you, you would know that he would be as ready as any of us would wish him to be. And how will he feel, do you suppose, when he finds that you renounce him and are going about under your maiden name?”
In her heart Edna answered that she hoped he might feel very much as she had felt when he did not come to see her in San Francisco, but to Mrs. Cliff she said she had no doubt that he would fully appreciate her reasons for assuming her old name.
Ralph’s remarks were briefer, and more to the point.
“He married you,” he said, “the best way he could under the circumstances, and wrote to you as his wife, and in San Francisco you took his name. Now, if he comes back and says you are not his wife, I’ll kill him.”
“If I were you, Ralph,” said his sister, “I wouldn’t do that. In fact, I may say I would disapprove of any such proceeding.”
“Oh, you can laugh,” said he, “but it makes no difference to me. I shall take the matter into my own hands if he repudiates that contract.”
“But suppose I give him no chance to repudiate it?” said Edna. “Suppose he finds me Miss Edna Markham, and finds, also, that I wish to continue to be that lady? If what has been done has any force at all, it can easily be set aside by law.”
Ralph rose and walked up and down the floor, his hands thrust deep into his pockets.
“That’s just like a woman,” he said. “They are always popping up new and different views of things, and that is a view I hadn’t thought of. Is that what you intend to do?”
“No,” said Edna, “I do not intend to do anything. All I wish is to hold myself in such a position that I can act when the time comes to act.”
Ralph took the whole matter to bed with him in order to think over it. He did a great deal more sleeping than thinking, but in the morning he told Edna he believed she was right.
“But one thing is certain,” he said: “even if that heathen marriage should not be considered legal, it was a solemn ceremony of engagement, and nobody can deny that. It was something like a caveat which people get before a regular patent is issued for an invention, and if you want him to do it, he should stand up and do it; but if you don’t, that’s your business. But let me give you a piece of advice: wherever you go and whatever you do, until this matter is settled, be sure to carry around that two-legged marriage certificate called Cheditafa. He can speak a good deal of English now, if there should be any dispute.”