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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Kindred of the Dust.

“I wrote to the State Board of Health at Sacramento.  There is no record of my marriage there.”

“That’s strange.  Why didn’t you write the county clerk, of the county in which the license was issued?”

She smiled at him.

“I did.  I had to, you know.  My honor was at stake.  The license was issued in Santa Clara County.”

“Well, it will be a simple matter to comb the list of ministers until we find the one that tied the knot.  A certified copy of the marriage license, with a sworn affidavit by the officiating clergyman—­”

“The officiating clergyman is dead.  A private detective agency in San Francisco discovered that for us.”

“But couldn’t you cover your tracks, Nan?  Under the circumstances, a lie—­any kind of deceit to save your good name—­would have been pardonable.”

“I couldn’t help being smirched.  Remember, my father was the only person in Port Agnew who knew I had been married; he heeded my request and kept the secret.  Suddenly I returned home with a tale of marriage in anticipation of my ability to prove it.  In that I failed.  Presently my baby was born.  People wondered who my husband was, and where he kept himself; some of the extremely curious had the hardihood to come here and question me.  Was my husband dead?  Of course not.  Had I fibbed and told them he was, they would have asked when and where and the nature of the disease that carried him off.  Was I divorced?  Again I was confronted with the necessity for telling the truth, because a lie could be proved.  Then the minister, to quiet certain rumors that had reached him—­he wanted me to sing in the choir again, and there was an uproar when he suggested it—­wrote to the California State Board of Health.  When he received a reply to his letter, he visited me to talk it over, but I wasn’t confiding in Mr. Tingley that day.  He said I might hope for salvation if I confessed my wickedness and besought forgiveness from God.  He offered to pray for me and with me.  He meant well—­poor, silly dear!—­but he was so terribly incredulous that presently I told him I didn’t blame him a bit and suggested that I be permitted to paddle my own canoe, as it were.  Thanked him for calling, but told him he needn’t call again.  He departed in great distress.”

“I hold no brief for the Reverend Tingley, Nan; but I’ll be shot if your story will hold water in a world that’s fairly well acquainted with the frailty of humankind.  Of course I believe you—­and, for some fool reason, I’m not ashamed of my own intelligence in so believing.  I have accepted you on faith.  What sets my reason tottering on its throne is the fact that you insist upon protecting this scoundrel.”

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