Much later, in the privacy of their bedroom, Matt was finally able to tell his story.
“Frank came to me months ago, looking for my permission to court Beasie. I gave him my blessing, but before he could do anything about it that business with Paddy Ryan cropped up.
“I suppose we couldn’t blame the girl for falling for the fella the way she did. All the girls admire a river driver, and on top of that he served his country with honour during the war. The man works hard to help support his family, too. You have to give him credit for that. All the same –”
“All the same, you didn’t want him for Beasie.”
“Only because I could see he had the soul of a wanderer. It’s my belief he thrives on danger. He’s gone homesteading now, but how long will it be before that isn’t enough for him? Paddy Ryan has led a charmed life until now, but one of these days his luck will run out. Luckily the lad could see that for himself and he set her free.”
“And what about Frank?”
“I had a talk with him. Beasie has been close to him all her life and we don’t always value what we have until we’re in danger of losing it. I told Frank that if he could make her understand that, she’d see him in a different light. It seems he’s hatched a little plot and it’s worked.”
“You were taking a chance, Matt. Poor Frank! What if it had gone wrong?”
“Then he’d have had to bite the bullet and get on with his life, what else?”
As autumn came and went, Mamie watched as a new chapter unfolded.
Frank became a frequent visitor to the Burkes’ home. Beasie went out with him on these occasions without making a fuss, and her parents were wise enough not to comment on it.
At last Mamie could stand it no longer.
“There’s a nip in the air tonight,” she observed. “We’ll have snow before long and Frank won’t feel like driving in an open buggy. Will you miss your outings, or have you seen enough of your beau?”
Beasie’s cheeks reddened but she didn’t answer.
The following evening, after seeing Frank, she joined her parents in the kitchen, holding out her left hand to display a pretty garnet ring.
“Frank’s asked me to marry him, and I’ve said yes!” she cried.
“Oh, my darling girl, I’m so pleased for you!” Mamie exclaimed. “I want to hear everything!”
But the words that Frank had whispered to Beasie were too precious to share with anyone, even her own dear mother. She simply looked at her with tears of joy in her eyes, and Mamie understood.
“Are you sure about this, Beasie?” Matt asked. “Is Frank the man for you?”
“I’m as sure as I’ll ever be, Dad. We’d like to be married at Christmas, so we have plenty of time to prepare. Is that all right?”
Mamie was ecstatic. Her daughter had come to realise that first love is not necessarily the same as last love, but it is our last love that endures.
And oh, to think of it! The double ring wedding quilt would accompany Beasie Carmody to her new home! Could there be a happier ending to any mother’s story?