I don't know about you girls, but this was such a fun contest! It was super hard for me to choose one winner from those submissions. I had to print them off and consult my family! But at last I have chosen the talented young lady who will win the set of three coordinating book-marks. (Still no picture--it's been raining all day and the lighting is terrible for picture-taking. :P)
All ready for the unveiling?
The winner of "A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words" contest is......
“My lord, a great blessing has come upon your home: a child, a daughter has been born this day!”
The lord of the castle ceased staring out over the meadows awash in brilliant color from the sunset and strode quickly to his wife’s chambers where he found a bustle of activity among the serving maids there. Propped up with pillows, his lovely young wife lay, exhausted but joyful, upon the bed with a tiny bundle at her side. Gently peeking around the soft blanket, the man saw the tiny rosy face of his firstborn child, his little daughter. As he watched in silent awe, the babe opened her eyes; dark blue flecked with silver. Just like his.
“What shall we call her, my lord?” His wife asked
He smiled, “We’ll call her Blessing.”
The babe grew into a healthy, happy child. At the age of ten, she began her studies. Sewing, both practical and decorative, embroidery, knitting, reading, writing, and etiquette were her first studies; added to them over the years were cooking, history, astronomy, gardening, horseback riding, fencing, and music. Her book-ish lessons were done in the mornings, her physical lessons in the afternoon; every evening she would sit at her father’s knee and listen as he expounded a lesson from the Bible to her. As the years increased, so did her stature and beauty. She developed a gentle, compassionate nature with a ready smile and a kind word always near at hand for any who had need of them.
Ever willing to help, she was often found following the servants around, assisting them while learning the proper way to do certain practical things and listening to stories of their homes and families. Her name fit her well, for she was truly a blessing to the household.
One day, at the age of twelve, Blessing accompanied two of the scullery maids to purchase some items for the evening meal. Keeping close to the elder of them, Blessing watched attentively till her keen ears caught the sound of crying. Curious and concerned, she looked around till she spotted, huddled in a far corner nearby, a dirty little boy her age dressed in rags. Quickly, Blessing ducked through the crowd and made her way to the boy who looked up in fear at her approach. His tearstained face touched her heart.
“There, there, don’t cry. Everything will be all right,” Blessing said comfortingly.
“Nay, it won’t be!” He disagreed, beginning to cry again.
“Why ever not?” Blessing asked in distress.
“My mother is dead, my father is gone and my brother has sent me away; nothing will ever be right again!”
Blessing’s heart broke at his sorrow and tears rolled down her cheeks. The maids, seeing them both in tears, scooped them up and carried them to Blessing’s father who accessed the situation, reassured the children and sent the boy to his brother and sister-in-law who joyfully took in the lad.
Over the years six more children, two girls and four boys, were born and in addition to her studies and frequent visits to the poor in her father’s district, Blessing’s days were filled with games of various sorts, running errands for her mother, and caring for the children when her ladyship was needed elsewhere or when the nursemaid needed a break. Her bond with the children grew strong; they became Blessing’s best friends and most trusted advisors.
When she was eighteen, Blessing’s father called her into his study. “My daughter, this day your studies are concluded and you are of age to marry. What do you wish to do?”
Blessing thought quietly for a moment. “Father, I wish to remain at home and help the girls with their studies. I should also like to teach Madame Hammond’s daughters how to read and write. Does this please you?”
“Very much so, my meek, beloved Blessing. But what of a husband? Surely you desire to one day marry and have children of your own.”
“I do, but I trust Almighty God and you to provide a good, honest man for me and till the day he is revealed, I shall remain here usefully occupied.”
“An honorable knight perhaps?” Her father smiled.
“Aye, if God wills it.”
Three years passed; Blessing had continued spreading love and kindness to the people and her family, assisting whenever possible in the many duties of the household servants. Her father was in the garden one day when a young man was announced. Curious, he looked up as a tall knight, vaguely familiar, entered behind the servant. “Do I know you?” He finally asked.
“Aye, my lord. Many years ago you did me a great service when I was brought here, dirty and in rags. You showed compassion on me, fed me, clothed me and sent me to live with your brother and his wife who treated me as their own son.”
He interrupted the young man excitedly. “Aha! You were the boy Blessing brought home from the market!”
The knight smiled. “Aye.
“Well lad, what brings you here?”
“I have come to ask for Blessing’s hand.”
“Can you prove yourself worthy of her?”
“That is for you to judge for I have neither wealth nor riches in abundance, I have not slain a dragon nor conquered a country in her honor. But I have studied hard, I have diligently followed my God, I have served the poor and helped the needy, I have had compassion on the sick and aged, I have respected the fair, and honored the grey-haired, I have worked hard and honestly earned my bread.”
“What is your name?”
Blessing’s father sent for her and she came immediately, stopping long enough upon descending the stairs to smell a bowl of roses upon a low ledge, unaware of either the surprise awaiting her in the garden beyond nor of the happy future in store for her with her honorable knight.
Although it was a really hard decision, I chose this story because of the great dialog, the values behind it, and the fact, perhaps, that I love such noble romances. ;) I had such a hard time deciding that I had to sit around the table with my favorites printed off and spread before me, reading and re-reading them. :D Then I consulted my advisors and chose a winner! :) Thank you, Elaine for your wonderful story--your writing has great potential! And thanks to everyone else for your entries too! Maybe I'll have another contest sometime soon! :)