The opening paragraphs of Margaret’s 1979 book Valley of the Hawk.
“I’m sorry, John, I can’t go through with it.”The colour drained from his face. “But, Corrie, why? Is it something I’ve done or – ” He frowned suddenly. “Is there someone else? If there is, I’ll wring his neck. I swear it.”
She shook her head sadly. “There’s no one else, it’s just – well, something personal has cropped up and I can’t marry you until I’ve – ” She tailed off, unsure how to go on.
“You mean you’re only postponing the wedding?” The look of relief on his face was plain. “Why didn’t you say so?” I thought you meant – oh, to hell with what I thought.” He pulled her into his arms, holding her close as if he never wanted to let her go.
Corrie turned her pale face away from his eager mouth, her wide blue eyes troubled, haunting shadows marring the creamy perfection of her skin. Her whole world felt as though it had been blown apart.
Insensitive for the moment to her inner torment John continued to embrace her, turning her face to his and kissing her lips, only letting go when he received no response. “Can’t you tell me what’s troubling you?” he asked, thrusting his hands deep into his trouser pockets and scowling blackly. “Why all the secrecy? If it’s something personal surely I’ve the right to know? After all, I‘ll be your husband soon – I hope – but I’m beginning to have doubts.”
Corrie looked up into his anxious brown eyes. Dear John, he wasn’t particularly handsome, but he was good and kind – and reliable. She hated hurting him, but what else could she do? She couldn’t marry him, not until she had got this thing clear in her mind. “You’ll probably tell me I’m a fool, but I can’t help it, John. I just have to find out, I really do.”
“Find out what, for Pete’s sake? Quit stalling, Corrie, and tell me what’s bugging you.”
Corrie twisted a strand of her long platinum hair round her fingers. “A-Anne and David are not my real parents.” She could no longer bring herself to say Mom and Dad, their revelation had hurt deeply, even though she knew they had only her best interests at heart.
“You mean you’re adopted?” asked John breezily. “So what? Thousands of kids are. It doesn’t make me love you any the less.” He laughed. “If it’s all that’s bothering you, you silly goose, then you’ve nothing to worry about. I don’t mind, I really don’t.”
“It’s not that simple,” she said slowly. “They – never legally adopted me.”
“You mean your real parents could come along and claim you at any time?”
“I hardly think they’re likely to do that,” said Corrie flatly, “not after all this while. Besides, no one knows who my father was.”
“They weren’t married?”
She shook her head. “But I made Anne tell me about my real mother. She didn’t want to, not at first, but when she could see I was determined she gave in. Apparently she was the sister of Anne’s best friend and was only sixteen when she had me.”
“And she never tried to see you – or claim you back?”
“No, she left England after I was born.”
“Then I can’t see what your problem is,” said John. “It’s all best forgotten.”
“But I have to find her, don’t you see?” hissed Corrie. “She’s my own flesh and blood, she’s all the family I have and I want to meet her.
“Corrie.” John shook her by the shoulders, “don’t do this, you’ll only hurt yourself. Think of Anne and David too, think of all the love and care they’ve unstintingly given you. Don’t throw it all away, don’t hurt them any more than it must have done to tell you this. They’ve given their whole lives to you and they only told you the truth now because they love you and felt it right that you should know.”
“I can’t help it.” Corrie shrugged herself free. “It’s something I must do. I shall never be happy until I’ve see this thing through.”
John looked worried. “You’re stubborn, Corrie, I’ve never seen you like this before. Do Anne and David know what you plan to do?”
“And do they approve?”
“No, but they won’t stand in my way, not like you’re doing now.”
“Where does she live, this – this person you’re so intent on finding?”
"Her last address was in Ireland, that was two years ago. I don’t know whether she’s still there, but I intend to find out.”
“I’ll come with you,” he said decisively. “I don’t like the idea of you travelling alone.”
“No, John, I’m sorry, but this is something I have to do. It’s personal, I don’t want you with me.”