'Invalided out of the R.A.F., Geoffrey Curtis decided to take his Australian-born wife to his native Canada, but on the passage over he became ill and died suddenly, leaving Madeleine to land alone in a country of which she knew nothing. Her first thought was to return, but she resolved first to visit her husband’s cousin, Stephen Curtis, who, with his wife Lorna, had befriended Geoffrey when he had been a small boy.
The Curtis family lived at Three Forks, a remote village in the British Columbia timber country. On the long railway journey across, Madeleine met one of the family, young Dick, a sailor of the merchant navy, discharged because of an injured leg. Dick made a very poor impression, and Madeleine’s doubts were increased by remarks passed by Dan Stuart, a forest ranger, who bluntly advised her to keep clear of Three Forks. He told her that Lorna Curtis had left her husband years before, and that the children had been badly brought up by their father, a man of rather odd disposition.
Madeleine was not to be turned aside, although her spirits sank when, with Dick, she reached Three Forks to find the once-magnificent Curtis home almost in ruins through neglect. Still, the fourteen-year-old twins, Audrey and Doreen, and their younger brother, Gerald, seemed pleased enough to see her, although she was still uncertain about their father’s attitude.' (Publisher’s abstract)