The Wedding Quilt – Episode 08


Puzzled, Mamie stared after her husband’s retreating back.
She hoped he wasn’t coming down with something. The recent Spanish flu pandemic had left everyone jumpy, always suspecting the worst.

But when Matt returned to the house the walk seemed to have done him good, for he accepted a cup of tea and one of her oatmeal cookies with every appearance of pleasure.

When he was settled in his grandfather’s old rocking-chair and had begun to draw on his pipe, she felt she could safely begin.

She showed him the quilt patch she had made up.

He glanced at her handiwork, nodding briefly in acknowledgement.

“I thought we could start up a quilting club of local ladies, meeting in each other’s homes once a month,” she went on.

“Hmm.”

Mamie took a deep breath.

“I want us to stock yard goods in the store, Matt.”

“We don’t have the room, love. Besides, fabrics would get messy with all the food and grease around.”

“I keep a clean shop, Matt Burke. As for space, we’ll move the boots and galoshes upstairs, which gives us three big shelves for the material.”

The store had been so designed that a wide staircase went from the main floor up to a half-storey loft, with ample storage space.

A wall on one side of the stair was equipped with hooks from which many items were suspended within easy reach.

“I don’t believe there’s much call for yard goods, Mamie. Most women in these parts are lucky if they can afford one new dress a year. There’s no point in having bales of fabric gathering dust when we need the space for stock that we can move.”

Mamie sighed.

“Do pay attention, Matt! I don’t believe you’ve heard a word I’ve said!”

“Of course I have! You want to run dressmaking classes for the neighbour women. You think you can sell them the stuff to make blouses and such. It’s a nice idea but, as I said, it’s not practical.”

“No, dear,” Mamie said, through gritted teeth. “The classes and the fabrics are for making quilts like this one.”

She thrust her sample under his nose, determined to make him understand.

He frowned.

“I may be a mere male, but even I know that quilts are made from odd scraps cut from garments that are too far gone to mend, or bits left over from dressmaking.

“No woman is going to cut up new material into pieces she’ll just have to sew together again. What would be the point? A waste, I call it.”

Silently, Mamie counted to five.

“This is an art form, if you like to call it that. Like painting in watercolours, or making a sculpture. Don’t women deserve pretty things after years of wartime austerity?” By the look on his face she knew she’d lost him. He just didn’t understand.

Hoping to save something from the discussion, she drew his attention to a pile of novels with their tattered dust jackets. That at least got his attention.

“Here, those are mine! Is this the start of spring cleaning or something? I hope you don’t mean to throw them out!”

“Far from it. I’d like to order more the next time the sales rep comes.

“Beasie and I thought we’d start a lending library in the shop. John Buchan, Ralph Connor, L.M. Montgomery; the sort of thing everybody wants to read. It will go down well.”

She was alarmed when her husband jumped up abruptly, sending the rocking-chair into frenzied motion behind him.

“I don’t know where these fancy notions have come from,” he bellowed, “but you’re not bringing them into my shop, woman! Do I make myself clear?”

He charged out of the room, sending the cat skittering away in fright.

Mamie was left open-mouthed, wondering what was going on.

He had never spoken to her like that in all the years of their marriage. He was such a mild, jovial man as a rule, and it was most unlike him to lose his temper.

And what did he mean by calling it his shop? Hadn’t they worked side by side in the place for a quarter of a century? If you wanted to split hairs, it was Mamie who had done the lion’s share of the work because she ran their home as well.

To give Matt his due, he often acknowledged that fact, saying they pulled together like a well-matched team of Percherons.

Yes, it was obvious that something was going on, and if she didn’t get to the bottom of it before she was very much older, her name wasn’t Mamie Burke!

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 aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.