The Wedding Quilt – Episode 31

When a knock came at her door she awoke with a start, wondering for a moment where she was.

“Stella? Are you in there? It’s almost dinnertime and your father will be coming in at any moment.”

“All right, Mother. I’m awake now.”

Somehow she’d have to explain to her parents that the man she had believed to be the love of her life had let her down. She didn’t know which would be worse: Sarah’s sympathy or Ernest grunting, “I thought as much.”

Washing her face in cold water, she decided to tell them that Madeleine Parker-Murchison had put her foot down, and leave it at that. She hadn’t responded to Natalie’s story and the girl had no idea that she had actually been engaged to Russell, if only for a few hours.

Wasn’t it better for everyone to think that their friendship had merely been interrupted by his trip to Europe, which was an errand of mercy for his uncle’s benefit?

Stella straightened up, dried her cheeks and smoothed her hair. She would go to stay with her mother’s cousins at their quaint little country store, and see if any likely candidate turned up there.

Never let it be said that Stella Foster was destined to become an old maid!


Mamie was determined to tackle her husband on the subject of their store and its future, and she refused to let the sun go down on another day when no decisions had been made.

Beasie had gone to a card party with Paddy, so she wouldn’t be there to argue the toss. The girl’s heart was in the right place, but she was too much like her father in temperament and the pair tended to rub each other up the wrong way at times.

This subject called for some delicacy!

In a way it was just as well that Matt sat slumped in his chair with a miserable expression on his face, for it gave her the cue she needed.

“You look worried, dear,” she began. “Won’t you tell me what the matter is?”

“Can’t you guess? I’ve decided to close the store while the good weather is here. We’ll hold an auction to make what we can on the existing stock. There must be men who want work boots or garden tools.”

“You’d make that decision without consulting me? I thought we were equal partners in this venture.”

“Of course, my love, but it’s my responsibility to provide for you, and I’m not doing a very good job.”

“Nonsense! I want for nothing, and you know it.”

“Oh, we’re all right now, but that can’t last. I wouldn’t mind letting the store go. I rather like the notion of just retiring from business life and working in my garden. But what happens when our savings run out?

“There’s no point trying to sell this place. Who would want it if it can’t be made to pay? And then we’d have to move to Ararat and pay rent on some cramped apartment on a noisy street. The real trouble is, I’m just too old, Mamie. Old and useless.”

“Oh, Matt! Of course you’re not.”

“If I were younger I could go to the shanty with the rest of the men from these parts, but who would hire a man in his sixties, barely able to swing an axe?”

“You could always consider Beasie’s idea.”

“It would never work.”

“Surely it’s worth a try?”

“And when it failed, what then? I’d be the talk of the district. Old Matt Burke, who doesn’t know enough to quit when he’s beaten.

“Don’t you see, Mamie? If I simply close the store people will think I want to retire. That’s what fellows of my age do! But this other way everyone will know I’ve failed and I’ll be a laughing stock. A man has his pride, you know.”

“Well, if you’d rather let me down than lose face . . . ”

Matt looked at her, shocked. It wasn’t like his wife to sound bitter. Did she really mean it?

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.