The Wedding Quilt – Episode 09


Seated beside her friend in Josh Carmody’s buggy, with Drusilla handling the reins, Beasie felt at peace with the world.

“I’ve made up my mind,” she said. “I’m leaving home as soon as I can find work in Ararat.”

“Your dad won’t like it,” Drusilla observed. “He wouldn’t let you go there to attend high school, so what makes you think he’ll feel any differently now?”

“I’m not fourteen years old any longer, am I? I’m twenty-three, which is old enough to make my own decisions. He may kick up a bit of a fuss at first, but he’ll get used to it. How am I supposed to find a husband, stuck out here in the back of beyond?”

“He may feel you’ve a duty to your parents, being their only daughter.” Drusilla kept house for her widowed father and knew all about duty.

“My parents are in perfect health and don’t need me about the place. There’s not enough work for three people, so I won’t be missed. And when the day comes that they do need looking after, of course I’ll be there for them.”

In her mind’s eye Beasie saw herself returning to the Burkes’ store with a husband in tow.

They would attend to their customers while their children played happily nearby, and her parents sat in comfortable retirement in the living quarters at the back.

Now all she had to do was find the man of her dreams!

“I shall tell them tonight,” she decided.

“Rather you than me,” Drusilla muttered. “What about Frank? You know how he feels about you. Won’t you give him a chance?”

“It will be nice to see Frank again,” Beasie said diplomatically, though she didn’t have any special feeling for her friend’s brother. On the other hand she might do worse.

Was there such a thing as the sort of mad passion you read about in novels?

Frank was studying to become a conductor on the railway and he’d make a steady husband.

It was comforting to think of herself staying safely at the store while he was away on overnight trips.

She gave herself a mental shake. How horrid she was being, thinking she might settle for Frank if nothing more exciting turned up!

“I was thinking I might throw a supper party when Frank comes home,” Drusilla mused. “Invite some of his old school pals, like Black Paddy Ryan. What do you think?”

“Why not? He should be back from the lumber camp by then.”

Paddy was the son of a family known by the colour of their hair as the Black Ryans to distinguish them from the Red Ryans, who lived nearby. And what a fine-looking fellow he was, with his black curls and twinkling blue eyes! Yes, Beasie wouldn’t mind meeting up with Black Paddy again.

*  *  *  *

“Is that you, Beasie?”

“Yes, Mum.”

Beasie entered the room to find her parents sitting close to the wood stove, for the evening had turned cold and a brisk wind rattled the window frames.

“Did you have a nice time with Drusilla? I hope she’s not too lonesome all by herself in that house without her poor mother.”

Matt Burke stood up, yawning.

“That’s me done for the day. I think I’ll turn in. Morning comes early.”

Beasie took a breath.

“No, Dad, wait! Can we talk? There’s something I need to say.”

“Can it wait till morning?

“I’d rather not leave it. I’ve decided to leave home.”

“What?”

“I won’t go far. I’ll find a job in Ararat and I’ll visit every chance I get.”

Mamie frowned, shaking her head at her daughter, but Beasie ploughed on.

“It’s not as if you really need me here, is it? There are days when I sit behind that counter for an hour without someone coming in.”

Matt grunted.

“So the rats are leaving the sinking ship already, are they?”

“There’s no call for that, love,” Mamie murmured. “She didn’t mean anything by it. Perhaps the time has come for her to spread her wings. Why don’t we listen to what she has to say? Do sit down, Beasie, and we’ll discuss this sensibly.”

But her husband could not be appeased.

“What’s brought this on, my girl? I suppose you want to go and work for the opposition, is that it?”

Mamie stood up and went to put an arm around her husband. She noticed that his shoulders were shaking.

“Out with it!” she said firmly. “You’ve been out of sorts all day and you mustn’t go to bed weighed down with worry.”

“We’re going to lose the store,” he mumbled. “I’m going to lose the business.”

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”.