The Wedding Quilt – Episode 47

“There’s a letter for you, Mummy, and a picture postcard,” wee Janet said, bursting into the kitchen.

“Where is the card from? Does it say?”

“Ni . . . Niag . . . It’s a funny word, Mum. We haven’t had that at school.”

“Let me see, dear. Oh, Niagara Falls. That’s a big waterfall between Canada and America.” She turned the card over. Return delayed. Letter following. Stewart.

The letter was addressed in Donald’s copperplate writing and postmarked Toronto. The card must have been held up somewhere along the way.

They wouldn’t have to wait for their curiosity to be satisfied, and because the envelope was addressed to both Mr and Mrs Clarke Jessie felt justified in opening it right away.

Wiping her hands on her apron, she sat at the table, filled with anticipation.

I have decided to stay on longer than I planned, Donald had written. I am confident that Robbie will have matters well in hand at home, leaving me free to follow my heart.

Heart? What did he mean by that? Had he had a shipboard romance on the way to Canada? Ships’ captains could perform marriages, couldn’t they?

Was Donald already married? What would happen to the Clarks if he wanted to reclaim his house to install a new bride there?

But when Jessie turned over the page she learned that although their cousin had indeed met somebody, he was going about his courtship with caution.

While he was sure that this Stella was the girl for him, he meant to proceed one step at a time. If all went well he would defer his homecoming until November, taking advantage of the last Atlantic crossing before winter set in.

Stella’s father had agreed that they could correspond during the next few months. If they were both of the same mind by spring, Donald would return to Canada in time for the June wedding favoured by the prospective bride.

By the time her husband came home that evening Jessie had read the letter several times and knew Donald’s words by heart.

“And that’s all he says! I’m happy for him, I suppose, but he might have given a thought to where this leaves us.”

“Is there no word of the inheritance? Has he not found any trace of Great-uncle Dugald over there?”

“He says nothing at all, Robbie. See for yourself.”

He read the letter she handed him, which left him none the wiser.

“Huh! It sounds as if this young woman has turned his head to the point where he’s no thought for anything else. Well, I suppose the man has a right to live his own life.”

“What’s to become of us? Have you thought of that?”

“Dinna fret, lassie. I’ll have my salary until November, and after that, who knows? We can hardly be worse off than we were before.”

“But I canna help worrying, Robbie.”

“The Lord will provide,” he told her. “He aye tempers the wind to the shorn lamb. Meanwhile, be thrifty with the income we have, for the good Lord helps those who help themselves.”

Comforted by her husband’s faith, Jessie reminded herself of a text often quoted by her mother.

“Weeping endures for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Morning seemed to be a long time coming, but all was explained two weeks later when the postman delivered a tattered letter into her hand.

“It’s been in the wars, by the look of it,” he said, pointing to some scrawled words defacing the envelope.

Having torn it open and scanned the contents, Jessie flung her apron aside and set off for the factory. This news was too good to keep.

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.