- 41. The Wedding Quilt – Episode 41
- 42. The Wedding Quilt – Episode 42
- 43. The Wedding Quilt – Episode 43
- 44. The Wedding Quilt – Episode 44
- 45. The Wedding Quilt – Episode 45
- 46. The Wedding Quilt – Episode 46
- 47. The Wedding Quilt – Episode 47
“I’ve had the oddest letter,” Mamie told her husband the next day. “I don’t quite know what to make of it.”
“What’s that all about, then?”
“It’s from a fellow calling himself Donald Stewart, a businessman over here from Scotland. He seems to think he’s my cousin and he’s asking leave to call on us as soon as possible. He says he has urgent business to discuss.”
“Do you think he’s on the up and up?”
“I’m not sure. He says he’ll explain when he sees us, but why me? Of course, I’m a Stewart by birth, but so are thousands of other people in this country. I can’t figure out why he’s picked on me. The odd thing is that he seems to have got as far as Ararat. It’s a mystery.”
“Better invite him out and see what he has to say for himself. Just make sure he comes when I’m at home, that’s all.”
“But what if he’s some kind of confidence trickster?”
“If he hopes to get money out of us he’s come to the wrong place. There’s something not right about this, Mamie. Why wouldn’t he have written to us before setting out? Why travel three thousand miles on the off chance we’d be at home when he called?”
“Then what do you want me to do? Will I tell him to come, or not?”
“Let him come ahead, for if we don’t you’ll never quit wondering what this was all about. Let him come, and if we don’t like what we hear I’ll put the run on him. Will that satisfy you?”
“I suppose so, but I do wish he’d told us a bit more in his letter. I shan’t stop worrying until I find out more.”
Two days later all was quiet in the Burkes’ kitchen until Beasie, who had gone outside to hang dish cloths on the line, ran back in, looking perturbed.
“The neighbour’s cows are out! They’ll be in Dad’s garden in a minute and he’ll lose everything he’s planted if we don’t herd them back home. Come on, Stella! You’ll have to come and help me!”
“Me? I can’t! I’m afraid of cows!” her cousin quavered.
“Oh, for goodness’ sake!” Mamie cried, snatching up a corn broom and rushing to the door. “We may be gone a while, Stella, so you’ll have to mind the store.”
“But I shan’t know what to do,” Stella began, but Mamie was gone in Beasie’s wake, letting the screen door slam shut behind her.
“I wouldn’t have come here if I’d known they expected me to be a shop assistant,” she muttered.
The cat stared at her with what she could have sworn was an expression of disgust on its handsome face.
“It’s all very well for you,” she told him. “You’re a country cat, and I’m a city girl. I don’t belong here, do I? Come and sit on my lap and cheer me up.”
She reached out a hand to the animal, feeling in need of consolation. The cat ignored her and began to wash its ears.
A bell pinged and she realised with dread that someone had entered the store. Praying that she wouldn’t make a fool of herself, she went to see what was wanted. She found a pleasant-looking man standing diffidently beside the counter.
He was the first to speak.
“Miss Burke? Miss Beasie Burke?”
“No, I’m Stella Foster, here on a visit. I’m afraid I’m the only one here at the moment. Can I help you?”
“I wrote to Mrs Burke. I’m Donald Stewart, her cousin from Scotland. I was hoping she’d be here when I arrived.”
Stella bit her lip.
“I don’t think she’ll be long; would you care to come in and wait?” If the man was a member of Mamie’s family she could hardly turn him away.
Donald followed her inside, utterly bemused. He didn’t believe in love at first sight – at least, that’s what he had always told himself – but something had happened to his heart when he set eyes on this vision. The words of an old song came into his head: “I did but see her passing by, and yet I love her till I die.”
Thus it was that when Mamie, returning from the chase red-faced and wild-haired, heard the story of their inheritance to come, Donald Stewart gladly accepted her offer to stay as a house guest.
No man could be expected to go on his way without learning more about the young woman who had taken his fancy!