The Wedding Quilt – Episode 26

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“Haven’t you see the baker’s van in town? Or the milk wagon? They deliver, Beasie. You can do the same. Go out once a week and take the shop to them! Carry a range of goods – the staples people need all the time – and let them climb into the wagon and pick out what they want.

“You could take orders to be delivered the following week. Busy housewives would love it, and they wouldn’t have all the upheaval of going to town and dragging supplies back with them. Oh, the train is comfortable enough, but they still have to make it home when they get to the other end.”

Beasie thought about it for a moment and then her face fell.

“We could never afford a van, Paddy. Dad can’t even drive one. It’s a grand idea, but it won’t work for us.”

“Don’t dismiss the idea, Beasie. I happen to know that old Billings, the ice man, is looking for a place to pasture his horse for the summer. You have that field behind the store; why not take the animal, and use him in this new venture?”

“But where would we get a wagon?”

Paddy laughed.

“You can’t expect me to solve all your problems for you, Beasie Burke! Go home and tell your dad about my idea, and let him see what he can come up with. Meanwhile, I’m curious to know what you’ve got in that covered basket at your feet. I’m starting to feel hungry!”

“I’ve brought fried chicken, boiled eggs and a wedge of cheese. And bread, apple-pie and raspberry vinegar, all home-made.

“There are advantages to living in a shop! And no, Paddy Ryan, you can’t dip into it now. You’ll just have to wait until we get to the lake, and then we’ll spread a tablecloth and sit down, like civilised people!”

Paddy clicked his teeth and the horse gathered up speed again. The sun shone, birds sang, and Beasie felt more carefree than she had done since Dad had first dropped his bombshell.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Was it possible that Paddy had found a solution to her parents’ dilemma?


Beasie stood at the roadside, watching until Paddy’s buggy disappeared from view.

What a lovely afternoon it had been, driving slowly along the leafy country lanes, chatting about this and that.

Then their arrival at the lake, with everything there was to see and hear, including the sighting of a pair of hooded mergansers drifting on the water.

“Probably the same pair I saw last year,” Paddy observed. “I saw the female with twelve ducklings in tow. It’s amazing how she was able to keep track of all those little ones.”

“A lot of human mothers have that many children and manage very well,” Beasie pointed out.

“Yes, but not all at once! Come on, Beasie – I’ll spread the tablecloth while you unpack the food!”

And so it went on throughout the afternoon, with the pair of them laughing and talking until it was time to head for home.

To cap it all off, Paddy had invited her to come out the following Sunday, so Beasie had that to look forward to.

Now, as she turned to go indoors, she was conscious of a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.

She had to broach the idea of her father starting up a delivery service in the district, and what had seemed a sensible idea when she’d talked it over with Paddy now seemed like a flight of fancy.

She would have to be careful how she approached Matt.

That moment came when the three Burkes settled down for the evening in their living quarters behind the store.

Mamie and Beasie had put away the remains of the evening meal and done the washing-up. The cat was asleep in front of the wood stove, twitching in its sleep with some feline dream.

Mamie had brought out her quilting materials and was carefully joining the pieces together and Matt was settled with that week’s “Ararat Advertiser”.

Beasie braced herself. It was now or never.

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.