The Wedding Quilt – Episode 45

Mamie produced the family bible while Donald displayed the transcripts he had made from his own and that of Robbie Clark.

“Sadly, Beasie and I are the only living descendants of Dugald Stewart,” she explained.

“But isn’t Miss Foster . . .” he began.

“Stella’s mother is my cousin on my mother’s side.”

“Ah, I see.” Donald nodded.

“We have a lot of catching up to do, so why don’t we have a nice cup of tea while we compare notes? Put the kettle on, Beasie, and then you can go and root out those old family photographs. I’m sure I have a photo of old Dugald Stewart, taken when he was young.”


Beasie had Paddy all to herself at last. Stella had gone walking with Donald Stewart and the pair seemed absorbed in each other.

For once the girl had given up her flirtatious ways, as if she understood that such behaviour would not please the quiet Scot.

“What’s Stella doing today?” Paddy asked. “I thought she’d be coming with us.”

“Oh, she has a new admirer, our cousin from the old country, and I’m glad. I could do without her tagging along.”

Paddy grinned.

“Why, don’t tell me you’re jealous, Beasie Burke?”

She took a deep breath.

“Since you mention it, I’m not best pleased with the way you’ve been leaving me out in the cold.

“You’re supposed to be my beau, and she has no right to push in.”

Paddy pulled on the reins and the buggy came to a stop. He turned to her, his expression solemn.

“Beasie Burke, the light of my life,” he began. His Irish brogue was strong, even though he was Canadian-born. “You can’t say I’ve made you any promises now, can you?”

“Well, no, but I thought . . .”

“I’m not one to lead a poor girl on, so I’m not. Where’s the harm in taking a pretty girl out for a drive now and then, or stealing a kiss or two in the moonlight?

“If I were ever to think of settling down it might be you I’d choose, Beasie, but maybe I’m not the marrying kind. Maybe those words are hard to hear, but that’s the way of it, so it is.”

Beasie gulped.

“But I suppose we can still see each other?” she managed to say.

Paddy hesitated.

“There’s something you ought to know,” he said. “I’m going West.”

“You mean on the harvest excursion?” The Canadian Pacific Railway ran special trains each year at harvest time to transport farm labourers to the prairies.

“No. I’m going out there to take up land.”

“But why? You can farm here.”

“I have three brothers, Beasie. When they’re grown, with families of their own, Dad’s hundred acres of rocky land won’t support them all. One hundred and sixty acres they’ll give me in Alberta if I settle there, and that’s not to be sneezed at.”

Beasie was silenced, remembering what she’d read about the trials of homesteading in the West.

Settlers were pouring in from all over Europe, faced with the task of clearing land that had never been farmed before.

Some men, penniless and without the oxen or horses that were so desperately needed, had been known to hitch their wives to the plough in order to prepare the land for a crop.

Paddy had money saved up so he wouldn’t need to go to those lengths, but he still couldn’t manage alone.

“A homesteader needs a wife,” she said. “I’ve seen all those notices in the newspapers by men advertising for wives. Mail-order brides; isn’t that what they call them?”

“My sister Bridie is coming with me. She’ll keep house for me if I can stop her from being stolen from me by one of those fellas.

“She lost her beau in the war, you know, and she swears she’ll never fall in love again. Coming West will help her find some purpose in her life again. Mam’s all for it.”

“So that’s it, then? You’re off out West and I’ll never see you again?”

He shrugged.

“Never is a long time, Beasie Burke. But supposing I was ever to pass this way again, sure, wouldn’t I find you’d gone and got married on me, and you with a brood of little ones at your skirts?”

“I’m never going to be married! I was born to be an old maid. I know that now.” She fumbled in her pocket for a handkerchief, for the tears were flowing fast.

Paddy gathered her into his arms and kissed her forehead.

“Hush, now! You’ll find a far better man than Black Paddy Ryan, and when that day comes you’ll look back and thank your lucky stars I had the good sense to leave you free to take up with him.” He gave her a gentle smile that almost broke her heart.

“I think you’d better take me home,” she told him, and without another word he gathered up the reins and guided the horse to a place in the road where it was possible to turn the buggy around.

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.