The Wedding Quilt – Episode 02

Other people might make New Year’s resolutions, promising themselves to overcome some character defect.

In the Burke household they did things differently. On the first day of January each member outlined a plan for something they hoped to achieve in the coming months.

As head of the household, Matt Burke had the privilege of speaking first, but his forecast was predictable. His seed catalogues gave him hours of pleasure, and his aim was to win ribbons at the county fair for the magnificent vegetables he grew.

“What about you, Mum? What do you have in mind?” Beasie hoped her mother would have something more exciting to share.

Mamie held out a magazine, displaying pictures of quilts.

“I thought I’d try this one,” she said. “The pattern is called the double wedding ring. Perhaps you’d like to help me piece it together, Beasie.”

“It’s gorgeous, but it looks complicated, Mum!”

Not only did the pieces have curved edges that would call for great skill in sewing them together, but the actual quilting, done when the layers of fabric were sewn together, formed intricate patterns instead of straight stitching.

Mamie passed the magazine to her husband.

“What do you think?”

He gave it a cursory glance.

“Very nice, I’m sure. Well, I’m about ready to turn in. Are you coming up?”

“In a minute, dear. You go ahead.”

Beasie grinned. Her father was a good man, but he was inclined to dismiss skills like embroidery and knitting as women’s work.

“A fancy quilt can’t compete with a new variety of onions!” she said, getting up to rinse the mugs. “What do you mean to do with it when you get it done? Give it to somebody for a wedding present?”

Mamie bit her lip.

“That’s not the half of it, Beasie. I want to expand the store, and this quilt is just the beginning.”

“You want to expand the store? But why?”

“Because whether Matt knows it or not, we’ll be twenty-five years married in 1920, and I want to do something special to celebrate. I want more shelves to display yard goods and sewing notions, and this quilt will help to advertise it.

“If it turns out all right I might even enter it in the county fair and win a ribbon. And then we could hold quilting workshops, too.

“Beasie, we’ve all spent so much time rolling bandages for the Red Cross and knitting socks and balaclavas for our boys overseas! Don’t you think we’re ready for something pleasurable and frivolous instead of doom and gloom? I’ve seen enough khaki yarn to last me a lifetime.”

“But building on to the store, Mum! Will Dad go for that? It sounds expensive.”

“Well, I don’t mean to go that far! We’ll rearrange things a bit to free up some shelf space. All those galvanised pails can go in the shed with the scythes and the washtubs, and most of the galoshes and work boots can go to the loft.

“We’ll keep a couple of pairs downstairs as samples, and somebody can run up to fetch a pair in the right size, if necessary.”

Mamie’s eyes sparkled.

“That counter is just right for spreading out a bale of broadcloth, as long as we make sure there aren’t any crumbs or dust on it. What do you think, Beasie?”

“It sounds lovely, if we can talk Dad into it.”

“You leave your father to me! I thought we might have a lending library,too. Just a few of the authors that people round here like to read. We could charge a membership fee and use the money to buy books.”

“Dad might call it a waste of time. He likes to read, but I know what he’ll say! Where’s the profit?”

“I’ll tell him that it will bring people into the store more often,” Mamie said firmly. “While they’re here something else may catch their eye and they’ll buy it!”

It was almost two o’clock before they banked down the stove and went to bed.

It was only when Beasie was huddled under the bedclothes, trying to draw some warmth from them, that she realised she hadn’t had a chance to say what her own resolutions were.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.