Love, the Law & the End of a Marriage

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Face wet with tears, Maddie continued to hold the letter against her aching heart. If only James knew how much she loved him and wanted to be with him. Not a day went by when she didn’t think about him–wonder how he was and remember the times when they were together in North Africa. When he was in the hospital after being shot by the sniper, how she wished that he wasn’t married and had a family to return to.

The things he said to her warmed her heart but she knew that they didn’t have a future, not only because he had a wife and children but because of the differences in their color. He couldn’t divorce his wife and marry her. Interracial marriage was illegal in America. No one would marry them. And the last thing she wanted was to be a married man’s mistress. She would rather deny her happiness for the sake of propriety. Her parents were dead but she couldn’t do anything that would have made them ashamed of her. They were decent people who had raised her to be a God-fearing woman. She couldn’t let them or herself down.

She couldn’t see James or speak to him even though she desperately wanted to. She would keep his letter and photo, though. She folded the letter and placed it back into the envelope with the photo into her handbag. She took out a handkerchief and wiped her eyes. Oh, James, if only we lived in a world where we were free to love each other and to be with each other. If only we lived in a world where color didn’t matter. If only we didn’t have a law which forbids us to marry and spend the rest of our lives together. If only you weren’t married…

James leaned against the post, his eyes closed. Did Maddie receive his letter? Should he call her and find out? He had written it a couple of days after he had telephoned her and Jane had overheard his declaration of love and confronted him about it.

When he returned home from taking the letter to Sergeant McCoy who knew Maddie’s address and who was happy to mail it to Maddie, Jane whose eyes were red from crying, informed him that she was leaving him and taking the children with her. He wasn’t surprised. He had expected it. “Where are you going to go?” he had asked, his expression somber as he looked at her.

“I’m going back home–to Sydney,” she told him, her voice trembling slightly. Her face was very pale.

“For how long?”

“For good, James. The children and I aren’t coming back.”

“When are you leaving?”

“This afternoon.”

“This afternoon?”

“Yes. I–I can’t stay another minute in this house, knowing that–knowing that you’re in love with another woman and that if it weren’t for some law, you would have left the children and me by now.”


She turned and scurried from the study. That afternoon, he watched as the children and she got into the taxi and drove away. Instead of going back inside the house, he went for a walk. He walked and walked, thinking and feeling badly about hurting Jane. He never meant to hurt her. He never imagined that he would fall in love with someone else. When he met Maddie, he knew. He could feel it in his gut. His life changed at that moment and he knew that if it were possible for them to be together, he would have been the one leaving instead of Jane and the children.

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Was Jane going to divorce him? Most likely she was and who could blame her? How could she remain married to a man who was in love with another woman? Poor Jane. She was such a wonderful person–a great wife and mother. He had loved her–he still loved her but he wasn’t in love with her. Come to think of it, had he ever been?

He never knew what true love was until he met Maddie. Maddie. He should telephone her and tell her that Jane had left him. What would she say? Would she tell him where she was so that he could go to her? Or would she want to wait until he was divorced? Could he wait until then to see her? Knowing Maddie, he would have to wait until then.

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