Grantville, January 1635

"Why are you asking, Missy?" Debbie Jenkins asked.

"You know Pam Hardesty. In the going-to-be-a-librarian-someday classes with me. She's thinking about when she comes to get married. If she does. And what she's going to tell a respectable down-time man about that blank spot on her birth certificate. If she should marry one. A respectable down-time man, that is. Not that he's asked her, yet. If there was one on the horizon. So I thought, maybe . . . Well, everyone knows what Velma Hardesty was like, so maybe nobody knows. But I thought that maybe you and Dad had picked up some gossip back then. About who her father was, I mean. Or might have been."

"If even Velma knew." Debbie could be a little catty at times.

"Someone else had that tow-blond hair like Pam's," Chad Jenkins said.

Debbie raised her eyebrows.

"Cory Joe has it. Her brother," Missy pointed out.

"He's obviously not her father," Debbie said. "Cory Joe was only two when Pam was born."

"Besides Cory Joe," Chad said. "George Trimble."

"You're right." Debbi nodded. "George Trimble and all three of his sons, before they went prematurely gray. And George's mother. Mary Margaret Lang, she was. She just died last year."

Chad folded his newspaper and put it down. "Betty Mae Trimble's boys had it too—the Lunds, George's nephews. It ran all through those Langs. Harry and Tom Lund both had to get married. Either one of them would have been perfectly capable of it."

Debbie nodded her head. "I'd put my money on Rodney Trimble, though. If I were a betting woman."

"You know what?" Missy said.

"What?"

"They've all gone prematurely gray. Every single one of them. More like prematurely white. Pam is not going to be pleased at the thought that she's likely to have snow white hair by the time she's forty."

February 1635

Pam Hardesty climbed the steps to the assisted living center. She hadn't wanted to come, really. But after Missy told her what she had gotten from her parents, she couldn't seem to let it go. Mr. Trimble might be the easiest one to talk to. He hadn't married for, oh, years and years after she was born, and his wife was from California. She might not be so uptight about past history as Harry Lund's widow was likely to be.

If she didn't learn anything from Rodney Trimble, maybe she would screw up her courage and talk to Tom Lund next. His first wife had died in 1632 and his new wife was German. Past history for her, too. Harry Lund was dead. No way did she intend to tackle his widow Cheryl about it. Ever. She'd been in the same high school class as Jonathan Lund, Harry's son. His mom was a holy terror.

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- The Grantville Gazette Staff