P. E. S. (Patricia Ethel Stonehouse) Scott.

The eternal triangle online

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" No one can idly lay aside the book, it being one of those
enthralling tales that at once arrests the reader's attention
and holds it closely to the finish." Scot's Pictorial.

" Of the sincerity of the writer, there can be no doubt,
and the forcible character of her book challenges attention."
Melbourne Age.

" A powerful and sincere piece of writing." Sydney
Morning Herald.

" This is a novel worth reading." Western Mail, Perth.


" A powerfully written story . . . characters are well
drawn, and the pictures of smaller scenery and of the street
life of Melbourne, reveal evidences of the seeing eye and
the reflective brain. A story which, though melodramatic,
is not without considerable literary merit." Melbourne Age.


' The Years of Forgetting ' is full of vivid human
interest and sincerity." Birmingham Gazette.

" A remarkable study, and quite a remarkable book
. . . . Undoubtedly a book to be read." Liverpool Courier.

This new story is a great advance in workmanship on
its predecessors." Adelaide Register.





Author of " Souls in Pawn," etc. etc.





The verses at the head oj the chapters are

by Lindsay Russell, except where otherwise

marked, in which case the authors name

is given.

The Eternal Triangle


" Love crowns some with roses
And some with Calvary's thorns."

THE galvanised iron roof of the old farmhouse
half hidden among the plantation of she-
oaks and pine-trees, reflected dully the red
light as the sun dipped slowly behind the rugged
peak of Ben Glothian. All around the lonely
valley towered the great mountains, and beyond the
valley again the broken, rugged outlines stretched
across the sky line, blurring into the blue haze of
distance. Here, where the Ben Glothian hills
circled the small, isolated valley, the shadows were
rapidly lengthening and deepening.

Rosemary Wildwood had often said to herself that
the mountains, like Fate, irrevocably penned in
her small, solitary world.

She came out of the milking-yard now, carrying
a tin bucket, and pausing at the gate to let down the


With one hand shading her eyes from the last
rays of the sun, Rosemary Wildwood stood looking
over at the mountains, where the trees were fast
merging into dark smudges on the rocky slopes.
One by one, contentedly chewing the cud, and with
languidly swishing tails, the cows filed slowly past
the girl. Mechanically she bent down and replaced
the wooden panels, then went back to her half-
wistful, half-unconscious scrutiny of the ranges.

Often she stood thus at dusk and dawn she
scarce knew why more than once to be startled
by Martha Wildwood's sharp voice fretfully asking
the world in general why people wasted their time
so, and generally adding a scriptural quotation
about idleness.

Martha Wildwood, the dour, grim sister of Rose-
mary's father, quoted Scripture on every possible
occasion, or railed at the deplorable wickedness
of the world .outside the sheltered valley. Perhaps
that was why, when the work of the day was over,
and in the quiet hour that comes between dusk
and sunlight, Rosemary Wildwood pondered more
and more often on that unknown world of the
cities which lay beyond the ranges.

Once when Aunt Martha had sharply reprimanded
the girl for wasting time, remarking with grim
humour that the mountains would be there the
next morning, Rosemary had answered in passionate
mood :

' There is nothing else to look at."

In this isolated Tasmanian valley there was not
another house to be seen, and the nearest township


was over thirty miles away. In all the twenty-one
years that had passed over her head, Rosemary had
gone to that distant town only five times since her
schooldays there. She wrote to no one. No school
friendship had been kept green by association or
correspondence. Such had been the wish and will
of Josiah Wildwood and his sister.

" The world is a wicked place, a very wicked
place," Martha would say in her colourless monotone.

" Aye," Josiah Wildwood would respond sternly,
and his eyes, with something fierce and strange in
their depths, would seek his daughter's face a face
that, to use Martha's phrase, was cursed with

The girl was indeed beautiful, with a beauty
that was fascinating and rather foreign-looking ;
there was a far-off ancestress whose eyes had opened
on the hills of Spain. Her hair of a strange dead
brown, silky but with never a glint of red or gold
in it, crowned a face of the exquisite colourless
cream of a camelia.

Perhaps it was her eyes that gave that fleeting
exotic impression big eyes they were, curiously
grey-green in colouring, long-lashed, and mystifying.

Did she resemble her dead mother ? She never
knew. In that dreary house her mother was never
recalled, nor was her name even, or the lonely
grave in one of the far paddocks ever mentioned.

To-night as the girl came out of the cool, white-
washed dairy, where she had set the milk in the
shallow pans, she looked over at the farmhouse,
hesitating a moment.


She caught the dull monotone of a voice reading,
and with a little rebellious pucker of her brows and a
little upward gesture of both hands that said more
than speech, the girl turned swiftly and passed, out
of the farmyard, on to the winding road that led
towards the hills. She stopped for a moment at
one of the smaller paddocks, to watch the men
herding and branding the sheep, the dogs adroitly
turning and rounding the sheep into a corner, the
sudden rush forward of the boy with the tarred
iron, all the familiar details of the primitive

One of the sheep-dogs followed her as she
turned away, to come, at last, to the tiny railed-in
enclosure with its one tablet, that bore a simple,
almost severe, inscription. Once, long ago, over
that grave she had planted flowers, until there came
the day when her father, suddenly discovering
what she had done, sternly forbade it.

" He could never have loved my mother never
never ! " she had said to herself pitifully, resentfully ;
" and he has never loved me, either."

Leaning on the old shaky fence, by that neglected
grave, her thoughts went back to the farmhouse.

Her father, always morose and stern, was grow-
ing more and more silent as he aged ; in his
rare moments of speech she had detected of late a
certain childishness. Would she have to spend her
life in these surroundings, she had often asked
herself, with this grim couple this stern father
who never uttered word of praise or affection, and
whom men called a miser with Martha Wildwood,


dour, bitter, of narrowest vision, always denouncing
the wickedness of the world ?

The affection that she had given had been repressed,
flung back upon itself, as long as she could remember.
Under his heavy eyebrows Josiah Wildwood often
looked at her as if the hate he seemed to bear for the
dead mother he gave also to his child. Long years
of brooding in that forgotten corner of Tasmania
had made him silent, uncouth of speech. His
sister was a replica of himself, a little harder, if
anything. In a sense the girl was afraid of them

" Neither seems to want me," she whispered
passionately, clenching and unclenching her hands,
and she looked down, commiseratingly, on those
hands all roughened and red, the hands of the
daughter of one of the richest landowners in the

" I am twenty-one twenty one ! " she cried
aloud to the mountains. " I was born here and I
will die here, and my life will always be as it is
now, day after day the same. Is this all that life
will ever give me ? "

But the mountains did not answer. In the dusk
they towered high and dark, blotting out the light ;
only overhead, were the first stars peeping down at
her, twinkling a message of hope.

The girl looked down at the grave that grave
over which weeds made riot, and where the thistles
grew so thickly around the tablet that they hid the
very name.

" And you ? " she whispered ; " and you, whom


I cannot remember, save as in a dream ? Did it
kill you ? Did it crush out your individuality ?
They never speak of you . . . they never tell me
why you died so young, so soon after your
marriage. You came from a great city, from
life and brightness, from that world they deem so
wicked ! "

And even as she spoke the sound of the coach,
on the curving road that edged the hills, came
very clearly to her. It always passed at this hour,
its cheerful rattle echoing among the hills, and some-
times she could hear the driver singing a rollicking
song. Then when it was gone the stillness would
seem deeper than before.
To-night the coach did not pass.
The trained ear of the bush-girl heard the hoof
of the horses, hoofs resound more dully on the road
that led inwards to Wildwood Farm ; heard the
rattle drawing nearer ; heard the driver's voice as
he spoke to his horses, guiding them along the
unaccustomed narrow track.

It was too far away to see, hidden as the track
was by intervening timber, but once she heard dis-
tinctly a woman's amused laugh. She stood and
listened, hearing the coach turn in the wide curve
that led direct to the homestead.

" Some one after land, I suppose," she said wearily,
for her father had received many offers for the Ben
Glothian property. It was proposed to lay a
railroad through his property, but he had stead-
fastly refused to sell. Only that morning he had
told a persistent estate agent that he intended to


live and die there, and that Ben Glothian would
remain as it was till he died.

Yes, he would live and die there. And night
after night, when the table was cleared, her father
would sit, staring into the fire in winter or out at
the prisoning hills in summer, while Martha in her
dull monotone, would solemnly read from the
huge tome in front of her !

And she, Rosemary ? Year after year that
was to be her life also her days filled with the
duties of the servantless house, to light the lamp at
dusk, and to extinguish it punctually at nine each
night, no matter how the beauty of the night called
her outside ! $

Down at the house the dogs were barking excitedly.
And a queer thrill of excitement leapt suddenly
through her, when she saw that the coach was empty.

Like a red eye peering through the wind-bent
she-oaks, a light flashed out of the farmhouse.

" Light in the best sitting-room ! " she said in
amaze, and knew then that something out of the
ordinary was toward.

With fast beating heart she paused at the gate,
looking with fascinated eyes at the open window
with its undrawn blinds.

A woman sat there, a wonderful, beautiful crea-
ture that surely could not live outside the pages of a
novel, her hair was so wondrously gold, the profile
of her face so perfect, the poise of her head so
queenly. Against the pane, the long dark plume
of her extravagant hat showed blackly ; and one
bare white forearm, resting idly along the wide,


polished sill, showed at the wrist a curiously-wrought
bracelet of beaten gold and fiery rubies, red as blood.

At the click of the opening gate the woman
languidly turned her head and saw the girl standing
there in the dusk. She stared a moment as if in
astonishment, then said something to some one in
the room.

Then Josiah Wildwood's stern voice called her
gruffly, and bade her enter.

Standing now in the room, in the sudden hush
that received her, she raised her eyes and looked
around at them all.

One man among them the man who sat in the
shadow always remembered how wonderfully,
vividly beautiful were her eyes, how lovely her face
was against the dark background of the smoke-
stained wall.

She was youth, vivid, wonderful, alluring, holding
out both hands to Life, and demanding her heritage.

Chambers-Hartley felt his heart beat suddenly,
unaccountably, as she turned and went to Bevington.

Her hands in those of her uncle, she looked over
his head at Millicent, Millicent who stood to her for
all the womanhood of the wonderful world without.
Her eyes looked at them all, one by one rather
through them and beyond them.

She stood poised on the Threshold of Life, looked
through the open door, saw the dancing, rose-veiled
paths of Youth, glowing incarnate.

For her uncle Bevington had come to offer her
the key of the long-dreamed-of Paradise.


At the window Millicent Bevington yawned,
frankly bored and more than a trifle resentful.
It was so like Bevington, his wife fretfully told
herself, to have this scene and thrash the matter
out, when to write a letter and ask Rosemary,
now that she was of age, to come to them,
was all that was needed ; but no, in the very
midst almost of the social season, he had with
dogged persistence announced that he not only
meant to offer his dead sister's daughter a home,
but that he intended to go to Ben Glothian

"It is what Aida always desired," he had said
coldly. " Rosemary is twenty-one now. I promised
Aida when she was dying that when her child was
her own mistress I would go to her and tell her the

Chambers-Hartley perhaps because he was a
partner in the legal firm of Bevington and Chambers-
Hartley, perhaps for no other reason than that the
fishing was accountably good had also elected
to come ; and at the last hour Millicent herself
had consented to accompany them.

" So my mother died died years ago."

The girl had risen, and was standing slim and
tall in the ill-lit room, one trembling hand against
her chair for support. Her eyes travelled swiftly
from one face to another ; past Bevington, seated
at the table with innumerable papers spread before
him, to that other man standing in shadow, and
then back to that of her father, old and stern,
with strange bitterness in his eyes.



Instinctively she shrank before his gaze, and
her hold on the chair tightened.

Martha Wildwood, sitting primly on one of the
hideous, old-fashioned, antimacassared horsehair
chairs, pursed her thin lips in virtuous disapproval.
Rosemary knew that look only too well.

" My mother died " the girl's voice rose, tremb-
ling but insistent " her grave lies out there in one
of the paddocks . . ."

There was a deep breath in the room.

Rosemary looked again, piteously, fearfully, at
the old man, his knotted hands tightening on his

" She died to me," he cried sternly. " She died
to all in this house."

Through the sternness, the suppressed bitterness
of years that was in the old voice, ran a thread
of childish and malignant exultation that seemed
to charge the quiet sitting-room with electricity.

" The wages of sin is death," Martha said, her
withered hands grimly clasped in her lap. She
had always hated Aida, that pretty butterfly
wife of her brother. Millicent, she had heard,
was even more of a butterfly, so she dutifully intro-
duced her " word in season."

No one heeded.

All eyes were on the girl standing there, shrinking
now as if in fear of some sudden blow, of something
she dreaded to hear.

" Sit down, little woman ! "

It was the man in the shadows who spoke now,
and he leaned forward and pressed her gently down


into the chair, a sympathetic, understanding smile
on his quiet, clear-cut face.

His grey eyes were genuinely friendly, and before
them the vague, terrible doubt in Rosemary's mind
slowly receded.

Over his pince-nez Bevington also shot her a
reassuring glance ; but when he looked at the old
man and at Martha Wildwood, sour and stony,
his lips set into a firm line.

His slow voice rang through the room.

" Your mother, after her marriage, differed from
your father in many things. She had always been
used to the ways of the city. Your father brought
her here. It is lonely and isolated here. Tasmania
seemed to her an island cut off from the whole
world. . . . They separated from what the law terms
' incompatibility of temperament.' It is a cold,
legal term that covers a great deal of suffering,
Rosemary. To cut the story short, your mother
and your father were not suited to each other "

" She was a wicked, wicked woman," interrupted
Martha fiercely. " She was of the world. . . ."

" The law " Bevington's quiet voice broke icily
across that angrily hysterical outburst " the law
gave you to your father from the moment of your
birth. Some day perhaps it may be altered, so
that women have equal rights as well as men, and
that women who go down into the valley of death,
in the mystery of birth, will have a greater and a
juster claim to the child of their suffering. As it is
the law is the law."

Millicent turned and looked at her husband. He


seemed to be again the brilliant man she had married,
and no more the splendid failure men declared him
to be.

"You were two years old when your mother
left," he went on. " She thought that afterwards
you might come to her by some means ; but you
were guarded too closely. Afterwards, in her longing
for you, she wanted to come back " he paused
perceptibly " to you."

The old man made a sudden, harsh movement.

" Every one of her letters that came here," he
said, " went into the fire unopened."

There was a second's silence.

" It was part of her punishment," said Martha
Wildwood. " The way of transgressors is hard. It
shall be according to their works."

" She would be the sensation of the year," Millicent
whispered to Chambers-Hartley, who, at the beckon-
ing of her jewelled fingers, had joined her.

" Who Martha ? " he asked, and smiled as she
nodded maliciously.

" The girl Rosemary is very beautiful," he
added slowly. " Green eyes, did you notice ?
And that dead-brown hair. I don't remember
ever seeing quite her type before."

" She is fascinating," Mrs. Bevington admitted,
and she moved a trifle petulantly. She never felt
very cordial towards any beauty likely to rival
her own delicate Dresden china-like fairness.

" She will have all the budding poets of our
crowd writing sonnets," Hartley went on teasingly,
" and you will develop into a chaperon. Perhaps


Byron Whayte will lose his heart to her, and most
certainly D'Aubray will rhyme her. How will it
go ? Something like

Emerald eyes
And seaweed hair,
Seaweed in the sunlight. . .

For it is sea-weedy in colouring, anyway."

" Nonsense ! " Millicent's eyes flashed a little.
" Personally, I don't see anything especially wonder-
ful about the girl. She is uncommon, certainly ;
but she lacks poise, finish, all the hundred things that
make for charm. And men don't like uncommon
women, or clever women. They are afraid of

" She will soon learn all the little tricks of the
trade," Hartley laughed a little sarcastically.
" They come like second nature to the sex. Take
the Lanon, for instance. Before she was the shining
light of the Folies Bergeres, rumour has it that she
and her mother ran a little hand laundry, yet she
came into the Town Hall at the last Mayoral recep-
tion, as one to the manner born. Even the Gover-
nor's lady dropped far behind her in graciousness
and apparent culture."

Millicent shrugged her shoulders. " I am sick
of hearing Lorelei Lanon's name ! You haven' t
heard the latest rumours evidently, John ! "

They heard Bevington's voice, rising a little now,
and they looked over the group at the table.

" So my wife and I make you the offer of our
home, Rosemary."


The girl looked over towards Millicent, radiant
in her Parisian gown, the pale pink of her skin
gleaming through the delicate silk net at throat
and elbows.

" With you away from here ? " she laltered,
and her eyes widened. A world of admiration
filled them, for Millicent seemed to her the most
beautiful thing she had ever seen. ^

Millicent smiled the little fascinating, encouraging
smile that the occasion demanded.

" You can come if you wish." Her voice was
very sweet. "We would be very pleased to have

The old man by the fireplace said no word.
Under his bushy brows his eyes still held their
bitter light.

" The world is a wicked and treacherous place,''
intoned Aunt Martha. " It lies in wait for young,
trusting souls. There are terrible things done
out in that world, so terrible that some day the
wrath of the Almighty will descend upon it. It
will be deservedly consumed by fire."

" Isn't she delicious ? " whispered Millicent,
and a faint, amused smile broke over her delicate,
haughty face, while her eyes, sweeping with languid
impertinence over the old Scotch woman, met
those of Rosemary.

A flush overspread the girl's pale face. It was as
if a veil were lifted and she saw with new eyes
the eyes of the delicate, beautiful creature at the
window this home, this alien home-life.

Suddenly she knew it had always been alien to


her, and that she wanted to burst its narrow con-
fines and rush away.

She hated it, she hated it, she loathed it fiercely,
and with all the fire and passion of her youth.

It was well enough for these old people : for her
father, old and bitter and practically childish ;
for this old woman, her aunt, with her squinting
religious -wision, her imperfect conception of the
wonderful world without.

She, Rosemary, was a butterfly, long fettered,
kept in darkness, and now the light was before her
and her eyes were dazzled.

Would she go or stay ? they were asking her.

Was it selfish that she should desire to spread her
new-found wings and fly away out into the glorious
sunlight, out into that world where life and happiness
and brightness rioted ?

Books were cold things. One read, one read, but
one's sight was restricted, the vision was blurred,
and when the book was closed and the story ended,
the vision faded.

Not so with life. She, herself, would pass into
that land, no longer on the wings of a fading dream
brought by a book, but on the strong pinions of

Her youth thrilled within her as Life called her,
Life with its siren-sweet voice, whispering that these
were dead things, that each day in these surround-
ings was a dead thing trailing another dead thing,
and vanishing at last into the gulf of nothingness.

" You have never lived," Life whispered ; " child,
you have never lived. Come out from among the


dead ! Step over the threshold ! This is but a
living tomb for your youth and beauty. All the
world is before you. Choose ! "

Her heart thrilled ; every fibre of her being
thrilled ; and her voice, too, thrilled with passion
and music when she spoke in answer to the clamant

" I will come ! "

Her eyes met those of the man in the shadow.
He half rose as if to step out into the light. But no
he paused, and then slipped into the shadow


We fritter life away so carelessly,

As if earth's days were endless and in vain,

And we but thistledown blown on the wind,
Deeming that nothing matters loss nor gain.

LADY ANGELA was still in the drawing-room at
The Towers when Byron Whayte came in.

" Cold tea and deservedly cold recep-
tion/' she remarked with her calm, friendly smile,
as the young politician piloted his way skilfully
through the maze of gilt tarantula-legged furniture
and innumerable bric-a-brac with which Mrs. Beving-
ton chose to decorate her rooms.

Millicent Bevington was an ardent collector of all
that was quaint and bizarre ; and as the rage of the
moment was for distinctively French drawing-
rooms, there were to be found everywhere spindle-
legged chairs, Recamier couches, all richly
carved and begilt, and faded-rose cushions d la

Millicent slim, almost fairy-like, in her grey
tea-gown of crfepe de chine was reclining in ap-
proved Recamier fashion on one of the gilt and



pink settees when the footman announced Byron
Whayte. She rose and held out her hand.

" Do you know that you are a whole hour late ? "
she said accusingly.

" The old but plausible excuse detained at the
House," he laughed. " And how are you, Lady
Angela ? "

He turned and bent over her hand, the hand so
like Angela Routney herself, large and firm and

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Online LibraryP. E. S. (Patricia Ethel Stonehouse) ScottThe eternal triangle → online text (page 1 of 17)