The Wedding Quilt – Episode 22

Mamie was surprised when her daughter announced she was travelling home with them instead of riding in the Carmodys’ buggy, but she didn’t ask questions.

Making room for a fourth person in their neighbour’s vehicle was a squash, but they hadn’t far to go.

They were all so pleased at the Ryans’ happy ending that nobody had the heart to complain. One thing was certain: the events of this day would not soon be forgotten.

The story of Paddy Ryan’s return to the land of the living would go down in the folklore of the community. In fact, the editor of “The Ararat Advertiser” would probably make much of it in next week’s edition. She must remember to paste the clipping into her scrapbook.

At home once again, Matt Burke turned the card on the shop door to read Open and went outside to survey his newly turned garden plot.

The traditional time for planting vegetables was Queen Victoria’s birthday, known as Victoria Day in Canada, and Empire Day in other parts of the world.

The old Queen had been dead for two decades, but the holiday was still celebrated, providing gardeners with a handy reminder for getting on with the job. There was no point in planting earlier, when frost was likely.

His wife and daughter, having changed clothes, met in the kitchen where it was time to think about the evening meal. Beasie stared gloomily at a bag of wizened potatoes that were already sprouting.

“Look at this lot, Mum! Is it worth trying to do anything with them or shall I throw them out?”

“Throw them out, my girl? No, indeed. Your dad would have a fit. Do what you can with them and then go down to the cellar and find some carrots.”

Beasie pulled a face. They kept their carrots in boxes of sand, but at this time of year those were past their best as well.

“Before you do that, will you tell me what’s wrong between you and Drusilla?”

“Nothing, Mum.”

“That’s not what I think. You were meant to be travelling with the Carmodys, then all of a sudden the pair of you parted company with cross faces. Whatever has happened between you must be sorted out. You and Drusilla Carmody have been best friends since your first day at the school. Whatever it is, can you not say sorry and let bygones be bygones?”

“That’s not fair, Mum! She’s the one who should be saying sorry, not me.”

Mamie frowned.

“You must have done something, love.”

“She’s angry because I agreed to go out with Black Paddy Ryan. Just a drive out to the lake some Sunday afternoon. Nothing more than that.”

“And why should that upset her? Did she want him for herself, perhaps?”

“She wants me to marry Frank.”

“And I suppose you don’t want to.”

“Oh, Mum! You make it sound as if Frank has proposed marriage and I’ve turned him down. It’s nothing like that. He hasn’t asked me out, though I can tell by the way he looks at me that he’s interested.

“Drusilla seems determined to throw us together, and she’s invited me to lunch.

“I can see it now! She’ll mutter something about having things to do, so she can leave the two of us alone. Who does she think she is, some sort of old-time matchmaker? What gives her the right to interfere in my life?”

“There is no harm in having lunch with friends, my girl. Don’t be silly. Of course you must go. Besides, won’t Josh be there? Frank isn’t likely to get down on one knee with his father present.”

“But he’ll probably ask me to go out walking or something, and I’ll have to say I’m seeing Paddy, which could be awkward.”

“Ah, yes. Paddy.” Mamie sat down on a chair, drying her hands on her apron. “Are you sure you’re doing the right thing there?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Then try to work it out, Beasie. Think of the life you’d have married to Paddy Ryan. He’s a river driver, just about the most dangerous job there is. If nothing else makes you see sense, just recall the look of poor Nellie Ryan’s face when she was standing in line today, accepting condolences. You marry that boy and before you can turn around you could find yourself widowed, possibly left with a baby or two to care for.”

“Mum –”

“Don’t interrupt your mother when she’s speaking, Beatrice Burke! And just suppose he’s lucky enough to survive. He’ll still be going to the shanty every winter, leaving you at home to mind the livestock. That’s what farmers’ wives have to do. Is that what you want for yourself?”

In local parlance “going to the shanty” referred to the lumber camps where men spent the winter felling trees as a way of augmenting the income derived from farming their rocky land.

“I’ll fetch the carrots,” Beasie said.

What a day this had turned out to be. First Drusilla throwing her weight around, and now Mum!

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.