Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Importance of Being Earnest (not about the play) (08/04/11)
TITLE: Tea and Retribution
By marcella franseen
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Now, everyone knows that it is poor manners to reach across an elegantly dressed table, but, William, being a boy of ten, entirely missed this point. Seeing how no one had thought to place a dollop of Devonshire on his tiny Rosewood plate by which he could fully enjoy his scone, and seeing how both parents were deep in conversation, he proceeded to reach across the table for the jar. Just as he was about to grab it, his mother, realizing her son’s lapse in etiquette, screeched, “William!” in a voice only a mother can produce. This caused him to jump, dropping the jar of Devonshire and knocking over Jane’s cup of tea; which, in turn, sent Devonshire and hot tea all over Jane and her exquisite lacy, cream dress. In utter dismay, she flew from the table in a huff and stomped up the stairs.
William was grieved over the unfortunate instance and desired to make amends. He purchased a bouquet of flowers from a small flower stand and proceeded to Jane’s home. The servant let him enter and led him to the parlor where he waited while she carried the bouquet to Jane. After only a few minutes, the servant returned carrying the bouquet with her. She then handed William the flowers and shook her head. His attempt at amends had been scorned. Feeling quite dejected, he left Jane’s home.
The next day he decided to try anew. He marched to the local Chocolatier’s and purchased a small box of the most exquisite chocolates, proceeding once again to Jane’s. The servant opened the door, letting him enter, and led him another time to the parlor. He waited there for her to carry the chocolates- along with his regret over the horrible incident at tea-to Jane. After only a few minutes, the servant returned, chocolates in hand, shaking her head. William was sincerely miserable.
The next day he had all but given up hope of ever winning the forgiveness and affection of Jane, but, after much consideration, decided to try one last time-believing Jane worthy of the effort. As he paced the streets in search of an appropriate gift–something much more suitable than flowers and chocolates had been-a grand scheme entered his head. With renewed confidence, he rushed home to put on his best Sunday suit-the one his great-aunt had special made for him-and then dashed to Jane’s home.
The servant opened the door, and seeing William once again-this time empty-handed and dressed like he was going to Sunday Service-she sighed and rolled her eyes. She did let him enter, though, and ushered him to the parlor.
“Do you have some sort of old towel?” William asked, once inside the parlor, “Oh, and would you also bring me a pot of tea?” The servant stared at him a moment, then uttering something under her breath, turned to retrieve the towel and pot of tea requested.
William placed the towel under his feet, took the pot of tea, and-without a moment’s hesitation-poured the whole of its contents down his chest. The servant, saucer-eyed and mouth agape ran from the room to retrieve Jane. William stood there, dripping, for what seemed an eternity before Jane burst into the parlor. She stood for a moment, taking in the sight of William-his best Sunday suit soaked in hot tea, and then rushed right back out without speaking a word. William was quite confused. Not sure how to proceed at this point, he was just about to gather himself and leave, when Jane re-entered the room followed by a servant carrying a fresh towel, a tray of cakes, and…tea.
In the kitchen, the cook and servant listened to the giggles and whispers coming from the parlor. “Well, it seems young William has finally made amends with our Jane,” the cook said.
“Yes, and thank the good Lord,” responded the servant. “I think retribution has been made. I must say, he certainly pursued it in earnest.”
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