The Wedding Quilt – Episode 15

“When is Stella coming?”

Mamie turned over the page.

“Oh, I missed this bit. Not right away. There’s some kind of gathering of the Foster family in Niagara Falls in a few weeks’ time and Stella’s father expects her to attend. That means we can’t expect to see her before summer.”

“Maybe not at all if she meets some eligible cousin while she’s there.”

“Now what gives you that idea?”

“Niagara Falls is such a romantic place. Why else would so many people go there on honeymoon?”

*  *  *  *

Stella stared out of her bedroom window, holding a handkerchief in her hand.

The crab-apple trees in the park were a glory of rosy blossom, but for once the sight failed to raise her spirits. Would she ever get over the humiliation heaped on her by Madeleine Parker-Murchison?

Well, she couldn’t say she hadn’t been warned! When she’d told her parents of her engagement to Russell Parker-Murchison they’d exchanged glances that she couldn’t quite understand.

“Are you sure?” her mother asked with a frown.

Of course she was sure! It had all been so romantic – just like one of her favourite novels. The kiss in the moonlight; the tinkling of the fountain in the forecourt of the restaurant where they’d had dinner. Russell going down on one knee, heedless of the damp flagstones on the terrace.

Of course she had agreed to his proposal at once. She loved Russell with all her heart and she knew he felt the same about her.

She held out her left hand so her parents could see the ring.

“It’s an antique that belonged to his great-grandmother,” she explained.

“It’s lovely, dear,” her mother said, taking Stella’s hand in hers.

Her father cleared his throat.

“What do his parents have to say about this, I wonder?”

“I hope they’ll be pleased, Pa, but I haven’t heard anything yet. Russell only asked me last night. He was waiting to see if I accepted him before going home to break it to them.”

“Break it to them. Yes, I see.” Ernest Foster returned to his newspaper, and no more was said.

Later that morning Stella received a note from Russell’s mother, inviting her to afternoon tea.

In a state of barely suppressed excitement, Stella dressed in a summer frock and boater hat before setting out for the Parker-Murchisons’ mansion in Rosedale, the part of the city that was home to Toronto’s wealthiest citizens.

There was so much to be discussed, and Russell’s mother would wish to be part of the planning. The engagement would have to be announced in the “Globe & Mail”.

Stella would have to register in one of the city’s large department stores so that those wishing to buy gifts could discover what the bride’s china pattern was, and her silverware requirements. It was all so exciting!

Stella wanted to follow tradition by being a June bride, which meant that her wedding could not take place until next year, 1921.

They were already in May so to contemplate anything earlier was out of the question. There was so much to be done!

Stella received a cordial greeting from her future mother-in-law and they chatted amiably over the teacups until the last watercress sandwich had been eaten. Then Madeleine Parker-Murchison made her move.

“I understand my son has proposed marriage to you,” she began.

“Yes, he has.”

“It is quite impossible, dear. You must see that.”

Stella opened her mouth to say something, but the words wouldn’t come.

“You see, Miss Foster, Russell has his way to make in the world. We have been too lenient with the boy in the past. Russell is destined for a career in the diplomatic service, like his father and grandfather before him, and it would be the utmost folly to saddle himself with a wife at this point.

“When that day comes he must choose someone with a certain position in society, a lady who can help him to further his career.”

Stella said nothing. Her face felt stiff from the effort of trying to maintain a bland expression. This awful woman mustn’t be allowed to see how much her cruel words had stung.

“This may seem a little unkind, Miss Foster, but in time you’ll come to see that we acted for the best.”

Stella stood up.

“Thank you for my tea, Mrs Parker-Murchison. I must leave now. Mother will be expecting me.”

“Of course, dear. One last thing: I believe that Russell gave you his great-grandmother’s ring. May I have it back? It’s an heirloom, held in trust for the girl he marries.”

Stella pulled off the ring and dropped it into the woman’s hand, resisting the temptation to fling it across the room.

She would leave this house with dignity, or die in the attempt!

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.