Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Manuscript (04/29/10)
TITLE: Courting Cousin Lavinia, or Saved by the Manuscript
By Caitlyn Meissner
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Uncle Roderick met us at the gate and ushered us inside. There we were greeted by Aunt Katherine and a lanky young man, our cousin, Richard.
“But where is Lavinia?” Uncle Roderick asked. Then he yelled “Lavinia! Come and meet your cousins.”
With a rustle of skirts, Cousin Lavinia swept into the room. I gaped in surprise. The little girl I vaguely remembered had blossomed into a beautiful woman. Her golden hair cascaded down her back, and as her eyes met mine I fell instantly in love.
Perhaps I wouldn’t bother with Frederick DeLaney after all.
Soon, however, I realized Rolland also admired Lavinia. It was evident by the way he gawked at her whenever they met. And when vibrant strains of music erupted outside my window one evening, I knew matters were growing serious. Peering out into the darkness I beheld a group of minstrels, all unaware that they were singing the praises of “Sweet Lavinia” beneath the wrong window.
Roaring, I flung open the casement and hurled a goblet at their heads. Shrieking in alarm they disappeared into the shadows.
Hoping to take my mind off Rolland and Lavinia, I sat down at my desk and pulled out my manuscript. But my own hand betrayed me. Frederick DeLaney, trapped in the Baron’s dungeon, was rescued by a beautiful maiden and quickly fell in love.
It was while Frederick was deciding how to propose that an idea struck me. I would write Lavinia a letter, a passionate, moving letter telling her of my love.
Laying my manuscript on the floor I began to write, but before I could sign my name Rolland walked into the room.
Instinctively I tried to cover the letter, but then I stopped. It didn’t matter if Rolland saw it. I knew my twin brother couldn’t read or write.
“I need your help, Edmond,” Rolland said, looking embarrassed. “I want you to write a letter for me.”
“Couldn’t you ask Uncle’s scribe?”
“Certainly not. I don’t want HIM spying on my letter.”
“Because I want to ask Lavinia to marry me,” Rolland replied.
My heart sank.
“Giles!” I yelled.
My servant poked his head through the door.
“Fetch me some ink. I’m running low.”
“Now then,” I said, taking a deep breath, “what should I say?”
As I wrote what Rolland told me to, I began to feel more confident. His proposal sounded awkward and unflattering, even to my ears. And if I hated it, Lavinia would, too.
Just as I finished the last line, Giles reappeared carrying an inkpot. Crossing the floor, he tripped on the rug and bumped into a table, spilling the contents of a flower vase … all over my manuscript!
Chaos reigned as I tried to save my stained manuscript and chastise Giles at the same time. Chuckling, Rolland signed his letter and left. Only after I’d banished a miserable Giles from the room did I turn back to my letter.
But it was gone. Only Rolland’s proposal remained on my desk. Rolland had taken my letter by mistake!
Enraged, I glared at the remains of Frederick DeLaney. By trying to save the manuscript I had sacrificed my letter and all hope of Lavinia.
But then, without even knocking, Lavinia herself slipped into my room.
“Lavinia!” I cried, surprised.
“Shhh!” she whispered, holding out a letter, MY letter. “I need you to read this for me.”
A million questions swept through my mind, but I asked only one. “Why?”
“That’s no secret,” she replied. “I can’t read. I never learned. Books are such a bore! But this letter Rolland gave me … I know it must be special. Won’t you read it to me, Edmond?”
Horrified, I stared at her. Was this the girl I hoped to marry? She hated books! She couldn’t read! And she’d never understand how much I loved both.
Suddenly I knew what to do.
“Have a seat, cousin,” I said, taking my letter, “and let’s see what Rolland has to say.”
Later that night Frederick DeLaney returned to his adventures, after escaping from the Baron AND the maiden, and I realized how much I’d learned about myself, as I continued drying my manuscript.
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