The Wedding Quilt – Episode 13

As soon as they got off the train, Mamie led the way to the dry goods store on Main Street.

The business was evidently doing well, for the counters were piled high with bedding, tablecloths and net curtains – in fact, all the items necessary to make a comfortable home.

Beasie would have liked to stop to examine the pretty pillowcases, but Mamie pressed ahead to the fabric department, which was in a back room.

They passed a table loaded with items such as doilies, antimacassars and tea towels. A large notice proclaimed these treasures to be For The June Bride.

The first thing they saw inside the department was a girl standing with a huge swath of white satin draped over her shoulder while an older woman rubbed the material between her thumb and finger.

The girl couldn’t have been more than sixteen, but she was already on the verge of marriage, whereas she, Beasie thought, was in danger of becoming an old maid. Why was life so unfair?

She smiled at the girl who smiled back, her face alight with happiness.

Mamie reached her goal.

“I’m looking for broadcloth to make a quilt top,” she told the assistant.

“Yes, madam. What did you have in mind?”

“I’m making the double wedding ring pattern. I thought a pale green for background, with purple and mauve for contrast.”

“Let me show you what we have.” She turned to take down a bale of pale green fabric which she displayed in front of Mamie.

Delighted, Mamie consulted her list and looked on happily while the girl measured the correct amount against the yardstick on the counter.

Having been presented with their neatly wrapped purchases, they waited while Mamie’s money was placed in a container that whizzed away on an overhead wire to a small glass-fronted office, reached by a stair from the ground floor.

Moments later it came back with the change from their carefully hoarded dollar bills.

Beasie was impressed by the place. It was so modern and bright. Their own store was old-fashioned by comparison, but it sold foodstuffs and household goods and there wasn’t much you could do to improve the decor.

If the worst happened and she was forced to find work to help support her parents, she could see herself in a place like this, handling pretty towels or showing bedding to admiring customers. Yes, every cloud has a silver lining, she told herself, and this could well be hers.


Matt Burke stared at the exterior of his store with a critical eye. Should he give it a lick of paint, or would it do for another year?

Things always looked dull in winter, and once the last of the snow disappeared you needed to think about making changes.

Someone was coming. He could make out the sound of a horse’s hooves on the gravel road.

Moments later Josh Carmody’s buggy hove into view. The placid old horse stopped in front of Matt without waiting to be told.

“Mail call,” Josh announced, clambering down from his perch.

“Wasn’t Mamie on the train?” Matt asked.

“She was, and your girl as well. I offered them a ride but they turned me down. Something about wanting to show my daughter what they’d found in town. She said they’ll be along later. Drusilla can bring them over.”

Matt grunted.

“Got to humour the womenfolk, I suppose. Could you relish a pop? I’ve some dandelion and burdock in the cooler.”

“I wouldn’t say no. I’ve a terrible thirst on me this morning now the weather’s turned hot.”

The two men sat on the bench outside the door, enjoying their drinks and chatting about nothing in particular.

“Well, I’d best be off,” Josh said at last, standing up to leave. “Thanks for the pop; it hit the spot nicely.”

“No need to rush away, man. The next train’s not due for hours yet. Your time is your own,” Matt said, reluctant to be left alone with his thoughts.

Josh pulled a wry face.

“I’ve got a telegram to deliver and I’d best get it over with. Word came in over the wire this morning. It’s Black Paddy Ryan, Matt. He was drowned on the spring drive yesterday. They haven’t recovered the body.”

“No, not Paddy! His poor mother! Seems like she’s only just got him back from the war, and now he’s gone like this.” There was silence for a moment. “I sold him his spiked boots,” Matt murmured.

There was no need to say more. Paddy was one of the daring young men who worked as river drivers.

When the ice melted in the spring, the logs that had been cut in the lumber camps during the winter were floated down the swollen rivers on their way to market.

Armed with long poles and equipped with hooks, the men balanced on the logs, keeping them moving and breaking up jams.

It was said that many an unknown grave was hidden in these riverbanks, each one the last resting place of some unlucky river driver.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.