The Wedding Quilt – Episode 16

Jessie Clark was scrubbing the kitchen table when a brisk knock came at the door.

Hastily wiping her hands on her apron, she went to see who was coming to call at this time on a Monday morning. It couldn’t be Mr Fraser; he had collected their rent on Saturday.

She hoped it wasn’t some anxious ex-soldier trying to sell items she couldn’t pay for. She was too soft-hearted to refuse.

“Can I help you?”

The well-dressed man on the doorstep looked familiar, somehow. Where could she have met him before?

The smart car drawn up beside the pavement was a sight you didn’t often see on their street! For a moment hope flared.

Could this be someone from the factory, here to tell her they had thought better of letting her go and needed her back in the office?

Smiling, the man doffed his hat.

“Mrs Clark? I was hoping to find your husband.”

“I’m afraid he’s out looking for work. Can I take a message?”

The visitor rubbed his nose.

“Perhaps I can speak to you instead. May I come inside?”

Jessie hesitated.

“I’m afraid the place isn’t very tidy at the moment.”

“I really would like to talk to you. I’m sorry; I should have introduced myself. I’m Donald Stewart. I’ve just driven here from Perth.”


“Your husband wrote to me, Mrs Clark. I believe we may be cousins.”

Jessie’s hand flew to her mouth.

“You’d best come in, Mr Stewart.”

True to his word, Robbie had written a letter in response to the advertisement in “The Herald”, but she hadn’t expected anything to come of it. Now this!

Her thoughts went to her empty store cupboard. Thank goodness there was enough tea left in the caddy that she could offer a cup to this unexpected visitor.

At his request she took down the family bible, eager to prove a relationship between Robbie and this well-to-do young man.

“It seems that we’re on the right track,” Donald said. “Euphemia was my grandfather’s elder sister, and that makes your husband my second cousin. I’m pleased to have found him at last. I can’t tell you how many people replied to my advertisement, all claiming to be descendants of Great-aunt Effie!”

Jessie was about to ask why it was so important for Donald to find his kin when the door opened and Robbie limped in, demanding to know what that posh car was doing outside.

Jessie’s heart sank, for his early return meant there was no work for him today.

Before she could reply Donald Stewart was on his feet, introducing himself, and she relaxed in her chair, intrigued to see the two men standing side by side.

No wonder she had thought Donald Stewart looked familiar. There was a definite family resemblance there.

“Our great-grandfather Stewart was a cabinet-maker by trade,” Donald began, when the Clarks were ready to hear what he had come to tell them. “He made fine furnishings for churches: oaken pews and ornate pulpits and all the rest.

“He became known for his work far beyond Scotland and by the end of his life he owned a factory, employing many men.

“There was nothing of the assembly line about his products. Each and every piece was a work of art, designed to last for a hundred years.

“He was a canny man who invested money in property. There were lean years in Scotland following the war and he was determined his family should never suffer poverty like some he had seen when he was starting out.”

“I take it your father eventually inherited the business,” Robbie said.

“There was more to it than that, Robert. Our great-grandfather established a family trust which is now worth a considerable sum. The money from this is to be distributed among all his living descendants fifty years after his death.

“As he died in 1871 that trust will be broken next year.”

“All his descendants?” Robbie asked.

His cousin nodded.

Jessie wondered how many descendants there might be. By the time they received their share it might only be a pittance, though anything at all would be most welcome.

“So this is why you’ve been trying to trace other members of the family,” Robbie went on, looking hopefully at his cousin.

“That’s right. The problem is, there’s a snag.”

Jessie’s shoulders slumped.

“There always is,” she murmured.

Well, it had been a lovely dream while it had lasted.

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.