The Wedding Quilt – Episode 34

Perth was a beautiful place, Jessie Clark thought. If she had her way they would stay here for ever, and never return to the poorer quarters of Glasgow.

It was a pity that the people weren’t as pleasant as their surroundings, but perhaps they would mellow in time.

Before his departure for Canada, Donald had introduced the family to his work force, explaining that Robbie Clark would be in charge during his absence.

The men had gazed at the newcomers in silence, but it was obvious from the look on their faces that they were less than happy with this turn of events.

Unfortunately it was the Clark children who bore the brunt of their displeasure.

Jessie had hoped that her two would make new pals, and indeed they were soon absorbed into a group of youngsters who played the games that were familiar to them from the streets of Glasgow.

Inevitably, wee Janet came in from school crying. She refused to say what the matter was when her mother tried to comfort her, but ten-year-old Jamie was more forthcoming.

“It was that Lindy Fraser,” he explained. “She says that Dad stole her father’s job and it’s not fair. Dad didn’t do anything wrong, did he, Mum?”

“Of course not. Archie Fraser is the foreman, and he still has his job. I’m afraid Lindy is mixed up.”

Janet rubbed her eyes with her knuckles.

“The girls made a ring round me in the playground and sang nasty songs.”

“Are you sure you’re not mistaken? It sounds like a game. I expect the songs are different up here.”

“They were singing ‘wee daftie Janet, her daddy is a baddie’,” Jamie said. “It’s true, Mum. I heard them.”

“And you didn’t protect your little sister? Shame on you, James Clark.”

“I couldn’t help it, Mum. The girls have a different playground and I’d be in trouble if I climbed the wall.”

“Then don’t worry, I’ll see to this nonsense,” Jessie vowed, prepared to march up to the school to give the bullies their comeuppance, and to give the headmaster a piece of her mind.

But when she’d calmed down she wondered if this was a great idea after all. As far as she could see, the real fault lay with Donald Stewart’s employees, and if she rushed in, all guns blazing, Robbie could lose face with the men.

He had difficulties enough without having them sneer at him for hiding behind his wife’s skirts. Perhaps she should let him handle this, although whether he would make an issue of it was quite another thing.

He had lost so much confidence since the war that he might not want to face a group of surly men.

But Jessie had reckoned without Robbie Stewart’s love for his small daughter.

“I’ve heard by way of the grapevine that the senior employees are meeting tonight, and I haven’t been invited,” he told her. “I don’t know what they have in mind, but I sense trouble coming, and I intend to nip it in the bud.”

Jessie was alarmed.

“Oh, Robbie, do you think you should? What if things turn nasty?”

Her husband scowled.

“I faced the Hun at Ypres, Jessie, and lived to tell the tale. Do you think I’m afraid of a bunch of rowdies? I’ll not hesitate to sack the ringleaders if I feel it necessary; Donald has given me that right. And anyone who can stir up children to bully a lassie like our Janet deserves no consideration from me.”

“I’m coming with you! I’ll bring my pad and pencil and take a note of the proceedings! What’s the good of having a wife who graduated from business college if she can’t put her skills to good use when the need arises?”

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.