The Wedding Quilt – Episode 05

The three miles of country roads that led to Drusilla’s home seemed to melt away as Beasie strode out, gratefully breathing the soft, mild air.

She and Drusilla Carmody had been close friends since their first day at the schoolhouse, where 30 children between the ages of six and fourteen had studied under the care of a single teacher.

Drusilla had wanted to train as a nurse, but she had been needed at home instead, due to her mother’s failing health.

Sadly, Mary Carmody had succumbed to the Spanish flu and now Drusilla kept house for her father.

“Beasie!” she exclaimed, stepping forward to drag her chum inside. “Am I glad to see you! I thought this was going to be a horrible day and now you’ve come instead.”

“Why horrible?” Beasie asked.

“I have to do something about the kitchen cupboards. Dad keeps putting things back in the wrong place. He thinks he’s helping, but I’d rather do things myself. He feels lost without Mum.”

Josh Carmody was the station agent at a stop on the small branch railway line.

His job wasn’t all consuming and Beasie could imagine that he might find himself at a loose end at times, particularly in the evenings when the last train had gone through.

“Mum sent you some cookies,” Beasie said, handing over the packet. “Fresh baked this morning. Let’s sit down and catch up on all our news. I haven’t seen you for ages.”

“Our Frank was asking for you,” Drusilla said with a sly look. “He’s sweet on you, you know.”

Beasie wasn’t sure how to answer. She’d have liked nothing better than to become her best friend’s sister-in-law, but Frank Carmody wasn’t her idea of a knight in shining armour.

He was no Rudolph Valentino. He couldn’t make her heart beat faster. No doubt he would make a good husband for some girl, but it wouldn’t be her.

“What is he up to these days?” she asked at last.

“Still working for the railroad up north, and studying to become a conductor. It’s good, steady work, and Dad is pleased for him. We don’t see him as often as we’d like.”

Beasie knew working for the railroad was a tradition in many families, either on the trains as engineers or brakemen, or as members of the section gangs who kept the lines clear.

Section work was hard after a winter storm, when men armed with shovels had to walk in front of the train, cutting through snowdrifts as they went.

Even so, these men had an interesting life compared to their wives. They weren’t stuck at home all day like Beasie was.

There was silence for a moment or two while the girls enjoyed their snack, then Beasie blurted out what was on her mind.

“I’m thinking of leaving home, Dru.”

Her friend stared at her.

“Why would you want to do a thing like that? You’ve got lovely parents, and you live off the fat of the land in your dad’s store.”

“I’m getting older by the minute! I want to get married and have children, not leave it too late.”

“Have you thought this through? What will you do?”

“I’ll go to Ararat. I can be a mother’s helper, or work in a shop.”

“And that’ll make a change, won’t it?”

“There’s no need to be sarcastic, Drusilla!”

“I’m only pointing out the obvious. By the time you pay for your board and lodging you’ll have nothing left over.”

“If only Dad had let me attend high school,” Beasie mourned. “I could have been a nurse or a teacher. I could have gone out west to work and married a homesteader. Plenty of men to choose from out there!”

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”.