Saturday, September 24, 2011

Winners Revealed!!!

I (quite accidentally) scheduled the ending of the Merry Auld England Writing Challenge to be on the very first day of Autumn! It doesn't signify anything much, but it made me happy all the same. :) Around here it was not cold at all. It was wet and humid and sticky. The outside world was rainy it was...sweaty. [Blech] But enough of me! I had a monumental task in choosing the winner of this contest! I printed off all the entries, agonized over them, got opinions from my family, agonized over them some more, and finally chose the winners. Are you ready? Are you sure? First off I wanted to let everyone know that you did a great job! Every one of your entries was intriguing, amusing, or inspiring. I had as much fun hosting this contest as you all had entering it! Unfortunately though, I can only choose one winner from each category.
And that honor and glory in the Prose category goes to: Miss Katie Sabelko of Whisperings of the Pen for her short story: Mary Cass! Miss Sabelko will win this beautiful set of Jane Austen Stationary for her efforts. :) (Full story will be printed below, following other winning announcements.) I chose Katie's story for the lovely characters and glimpses of human nature it contained, besides the fact that it made me laugh, and I've a weak spot for amusing things.

The winner of the Poetry category is Miss Maria Elisabeth for her poem entitled "Bath". This young lady will receive the lovely prize of this hand decorated/covered box!
 I had the most terrible time over choosing the poetry winner, for poetry is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. There were three poems I kept revolving round as if I were a whirligig, but it was as hopeless being stuck in a revolving door, so I took the liberty of asking my beautiful mother's opinion and getting her thoughts. I chose Maria Elisabeth's poem for three reasons:
1. Because it was set in Bath, of which I have many fond literary memories. :)
2. She did her research, as you will see in a moment
3. And it was a fun read on an original topic that could have been made very dull indeed.

And last but not least we come to the winner of the Drama category! Now, I will admit I hadn't thought anyone would actually enter this category. I am not an aficionado of the theater myself and would hardly know how to begin! In fact, there was only one entry in the category, but I have chosen it as the winner not for that reason, nor for the fact that anyone who actually goes through with writing a play deserves a prize (though that's true) but because this young lady managed to present us with a story, play it out, and finish it up in the space of a few pages. That young lady is Miss Mercedes Brink with her play, "In Her Mother's Shawl." Miss Brink will win Miss Egglantine Benedict--the impudent, loveable, opinionated paperweight doll! :) 
Are you ready to read the entries? Hmmmm? Without further ado, I present Mary Cass by Katie Sabelko:

Mary Cass
Written by: Katie S.

“She fancies herself a writer, you know,” Miss Meredith Ashburn said, taking a tea cake delicately from the tray. “It is the most scandalous thing.”

“Oh! And she wanders the countryside after dusk! Or—or so I have heard, of course. So I have been told.” Miss Esther Hurst replied, dropping her biscuit into her tea.  

“Her man is an insipid fool. A farmer.” Mrs. Helen Farrell chimed in, delicately turning her tea cup around on its saucer to inspect the painted design on its side. “A farmer—a ‘child of the moors’, they say—of all things.”

The three nodded in unison. They were seated on the veranda of Miss Ashburn’s family home, a rather old and handsome estate, sharing the daily gossip. It was their weekly custom to gather together in such form, to spill over with the latest news as they tittered away over afternoon tea. Seldom a week went by when the three did not meet, and woe be to the one who interrupted their proceedings!

“Indeed. When was it, exactly, that she married?” Molly feigned nonchalance, as she watched Esther gaze sadly after her pastry. “Take another, dear, they are so slippery with the butter-glaze. No, do, dear.”

“Oh, well, thank you very much.” Esther’s plump, white cheeks colored up to her ears. “I am just a bit clumsy, I’m afraid.”

Molly and Helen exchanged looks, guardedly, over their tea.  

“It hasn’t been more than half a year, Meredith. It was only a month before I myself became Mrs. Farrell, you remember.” Helen replied.

“Yours was a much more suitable marriage, Helen, dear. It quite wipes away one’s memory of little Mary’s foolishness!” Molly said.

“Indeed!” Esther offered with cautious vivacity after a few moments had passed and she deemed it safe enough to speak, or at least to offer forth this neutral, noncommittal word of agreement.   

The three paused in their talk. Esther nibbled on her biscuit, dunking it absentmindedly in her tea, and suppressed the tune that would come to her lips at the mention of the northern moors. Helen watched the ritual dunking and nibbling and, consequently, the dripping of the honey-colored liquid upon the frill of Miss Esther’s bodice, with an ill disguised contempt. Molly, who had only recently had her coming out, sat straight and tall as she attempted to look sophisticated and genteel and see everything and nothing at the same time—she only succeeded in looking dreadfully bored, but her effort did her great credit nonetheless.

“And how is Mr. Farrell? Is his cough mending?” It was Molly who broke the silence, feeling very keenly her duty as hostess to keep the conversation flowing. “Chills and coughs are so very common this time of year. Doctor Dawson advised us all to take great and immediate precautions against them when he last visited.” 
“Charles is well.” Helen replied, and sipped her tea languidly.

Another pause ensued, in which Esther had to pin her foot to the ground rather abruptly to keep it from tapping all on its own, and young Molly’s color heightened with embarrassment as she grew more and more unsettled by the lack of conversation. 

“Oh, indeed! I am so glad.” Molly said a bit desperately. It was all she could do to keep from biting her lip. “The weather is fine today.”

“It is.” Esther agreed.

Helen sighed, her gaze coming up off her tea and unto her young hostess. “We spoke earlier of Mary Cass.” She paused, slowly moving her head from its upright position to a more sideways one. Her chin she stuck out very straight in front of her and her gaze she transferred very importantly into the distance. “It was mentioned that her marriage was badly arranged, for though she did not come from money, her father’s status could have carried her much further. And so I would tell you, Molly, to steer clear of all influence of the woman. Do not even speak of her, nor think of her actions. It will do your mind no end of harm, impressionable as it now is. You’ve reached a very gentle age. Mind how you occupy your thoughts. Mind whose company you seek to cultivate. Mind whose example you strive to follow.”

Molly nodded slightly, her little grey eyes now but timidly shining in their sockets. “I would never—”

“You must strive for perfection in everything you do, my dear Molly. It is expected of you. Be the perfect example of a lady to these sorts of women, be always—”    

“I’ve heard she writes under the name of a man! For a newspaper!” Molly could not contain herself; at the mention of ‘those sorts of women’ she quite lost her head. Desperate as she was, her social graces failing as they had most appalling through the course of the interview, her mind would grasp at any comment that came into her head. Immediate regret followed. 

“Sir Eugene Eldestone the Third, if I do recall. I rather fancy—well, people, you know, they fancy her stuff really rather witty.” Esther added, fumbling a bit of her biscuit over her teacup.

“Lack of taste, decorum, and refinement.” Helen pronounced each word as a death sentence, her head snapping back into its proper position and her tranquil gaze growing sharp. She was always out of temperament when interrupted, or when her superior advice was thus ignored as it so often was by young Molly. 

“It’s quite honestly the most vulgar thing!” Molly cried.

One would think this a rather strange occurrence amongst so familiar, so docile, so sophisticated a group: but the truth was that most of their afternoon visits took exactly this turn. They would start with hearty conversation that waned as the tea did, then Molly would speak whatever was in her mind and consequently loose all sense of her newly found and cherished propriety, Helen would be rendered out of temper by such foolishness and lack of social grace, Esther would be flustered by it all and drop anything that came to be in her grasp, and they would all part, each one out of temper in their own way. Molly ashamed of herself and determined to play her part better next time, Helen out of temper with the whole of the countryside and its lack of civilized company, and Esther wondering why she even opened her mouth to speak at meetings of this kind.

Helen was about to pronounce that ‘vulgar’ was a very unbecoming term for a young lady’s vocabulary, when Molly straightened once again.

“There she is! Mary Cass!” she said in a hoarse whisper.

And there indeed she was, Mrs. Mary Cass herself, walking through the country with her husband. Though they were not at all within earshot, and would not come close enough to speak to in the course of their walk, Mary’s figure was quite viewable from Molly’s angle; one could see her long dress and thick shawl very plainly against the backdrop of gold and brown the countryside afforded. Mary was a rather pretty young woman in a simple way, short and rosy with a plethora of yellow hair pulled loosely back into a bun. It was always peeping out of its confinements, rebelling against all things used to bind it. Molly reached up to stroke her own hair, smooth and tightly pulled back and braided in the latest fashion, and quieted slightly.

“Does she walk this way often at this hour?” Helen inquired, pulling her teacup closer to her body.

“I do not know,” Molly answered. 

The ladies watched at the couple drew nearer. That the two were deep in animated conversation was easily seen by all, and Helen clucked her tongue with annoyance when a newspaper and book came into view under Gil Cass’ arm.

“How they dare to walk about with the evidence of such inappropriate frivolity, I cannot fathom.”

“She does look happy though, doesn’t she?” Esther spoke up, and smiled complacently, setting the last of the biscuit in her empty teacup. “And he is happy, too. His eyes will tell you that.” She had been watching the two young people with a quiet and decided sort of air, and her eyes did not leave them now—no. Those orbs that mirrored so innocently the secret thoughts of Esther’s heart had begun to dance. Perhaps it was to the very tune that seemed still to burn an impatient line upon her lips. 

“Why, Esther, I do not comprehend you! What foolishness!” Helen gasped, her teacup now perilously close to her bosom. “How can she be happy?”

Molly was quiet. 

“In fact I—well. I think I will join them. It is high time I should be off. Mother will be expecting me.” Esther placed her teacup gently down upon the tray, took another biscuit in hand, thanked both Molly and Helen dearly, and placed a rather busy-looking bonnet upon her dark locks.  
It took some time for Esther to reach the two, and once they saw her they stopped in their course and waited. Then Esther walked off, arm in arm with little Mary. Molly and Helen watched her disappear behind the hills in silence, willing contempt and disdain to scar their youthful faces as they looked down upon their fellow kinsman. In response to this, laughter filled the waning afternoon air and teemed thickly around the two; the fields and grounds around them seemed to swell and dance with life of a surreal and strange, ethereal nature. One of the group turned their face to talk to another, and then, then Molly and Helen saw upon that face a smile that seemed to grow out of the laughter itself. Not a beautiful one, not a perfectly rehearsed and charming smile, but a real one. A smile that held worlds of good in it, a smile that reached to the very eyes and back into the soul.

As she watched, there flickered  in Molly’s eye a light of childish longing. In Helen’s eyes there was nothing. In Esther’s there appeared a strange sort of belonging. In Mary’s, contentment. There was nothing but a sense of easy cheer in Gil’s eyes, and he threw back his merry head and laughed.

*Happy sigh*. Wasn't that a perfect ending? :) I love it. Now for the poem "Bath" by Maria Elisabeth:

I’m not very special now, but I think I was something then,
Before people started writing with pencils and when authors used a quill-pen.
Before doctors had treatment that worked and when people came here for their health.
All people – the old and the young and the poor, and especially the rich with their wealth.

I’m not very special now, but I think I was something then,
When I was called Aquae Sulis and the Britons came in from the fens
And Romans and soldiers and farmers delighted to come to my waters.
Romans and soldiers and farmers, with their wives and their sons and their daughters.

I’m not very special now, but I think I was something then,
When high society came to stay here, in groups of hundreds and tens
To sit in my steaming waters, and meet all their friends and talk
Or to read horrid novels, or just to go out for a walk.

I’m not very special now, but I think I was something then,
In the south of western England, on the banks of the River Avon.  
When anyone who could came (and those who couldn’t did not.)
And everyone who saw me declared that it was the loveliest spot.

I’m not very special now, but I think I was something then,
It was a long time ago, and I hope you will not ask, “When?”
The long time ago that was then, as you read it in books
Curled up in a couch by the fire, or somewhere in your own private nooks.

I’m not very special now, but I think I was something then,
Before people started writing with pencils and when authors used a quill-pen.
Before doctors had treatment that worked and when people came here for their health.
All people – the old and the young and the poor, and especially the rich with their wealth.

And then we come to the play written by Mercedes Brink: "In Her Mother's Shawl."

In her Mothers Shawl
Mercedes Brink

Characters in: In Her Mothers Shawl [in order of appearance]

BETTY KIETH: a young orphan girl

MARY KIETH: the mother of Betty

MRS. PHIPS: Rich lady who runs the household.

MRS. BELL: the old orphanage care taker

COOK: a rough lady who is in charge of the kitchen.

MAID ONE: works in kitchen

MAID TWO: works in kitchen

MR. WHITE: a old man who runs his own vegetable stand in the market.

JIM BAKER: runs the baker shop.

RUFFIANS: [four boys]

Act ONE:

: A wet cold and dark evening in the streets of London near a orphanage.

MARY KEITH: [Holding the hands from a little seven years old girl] There you go precious. Now wait here. [Reaching the front door she lets go of her. It begins to rain and she slips off her shawl, and puts it on Betty. Knocks on door and runs away. She awaits by a corner in the dark]

MRS. BELL: [Opens door] Hello? [looks down ] Oh you poor child! Where is your father or mother?

BETTY: She told me to wait here.

MRS. BELL: Poor child going to catch your death out here. [Picks girl up then shuts door]

MARY KIETH: Walks out and peaks through the orphanage window. Sees Betty being well taken care of] It’s for the best [walks away]

Close curtain.

Act TWO:

ANNOUNCER: Three years later [walks off stage]

: In a living room of a large house in the mid afternoon.

MRS. PHIPS: [sternly] Betty! Betty Keith get over here!

BETTY: Yes Ma’m? [ten year old girl appears with a dirty smudged face and a tired look]

MRS. PHIPS: Betty where have you been?

BETTY: Dusting Ma’m like you to’l me.

MRS. PHIPS: Hurry up. Guests are coming for dinner, and our cook has some errands for you. [stares at Betty a moment] Don’t just stand there!

BETTY: Yes, Ma‘am [ leaves and finishes dusting. Enters the kitchen]

: Kitchen. One Cook and a maid busy cooking.

COOK: [seeing Betty says roughly] Here I have got this list of things I need at the market. Mind you no dilly dallying. I must have those tomatoes. [Hands Betty basket]

BETTY: [heads for door]

MAID ONE: [Enters in just as Betty goes to door. rudely] Out of my way.

BETTY: Sorry. [goes to coat rack] Where is my shawl?

COOK: Being washed. It was filthy. [busy rolling dough]

BETTY: But it is cold out and I am afraid I won’t keep warm without it.

COOK: [not turning around answers] Wear the coat. You will live.

BETTY: [Puts on a big coat that is huge. leaves]


: On a busy street in town. Carriage goes by with a father and two children.

BETTY: [looks longingly as carriage disappear] Oh, I wish I could be one of those in a grand carriage. [ Sighs. Goes to a vegetable stand]

MR. WHITE: Why hello there Betty, what brings you here on this wet day?

BETTY: Hello Mr. White. I need some tomatoes. [smiles]

MR. WHITE: Well, we just got some fresh ones today. [shows basket.]

BETTY: [ Betty chooses four and hands coins] Thank you. [leaves]

MR. WHITE: [mutters] Poor girl. She deserves better than the life she has. That Mrs. Phips treats her like dirt.

BETTY: [making her way across the street when a carriage comes towards her]

JIM BAKER: Look out! [pulls her to the side]

BETTY: [screams]

JIM BAKER: Are you okay?!

BETTY: Yes, thank you. [watches carriage goes by. Shudders]

JIM BAKER: What is your name?

BETTY: Betty Sir.

JIM BAKER: My name is Jim Baker. I am glad you’re safe.

BETTY: Thank you Mr. Baker. [Looks down at her basket. Cries out] I lost my tomatoes and I have no more money!

JIM BAKER: Here now, don’t fret. I’ll give you some coins, and you can buy some more. [Digs in pocket]

BETTY: Than you sir, but I cant take it ..I must go now I am already late. [runs off]

JIM BAKER: Good bye. [Goes in his baker shop]

MARY KEITH: Dressed in a beautiful dress and hat. [Was watching out bakers window] Who is she? I have never seen her before?

JIM BETTY: She said her name’s Betty. I see her every so often. That was a close one with the carriage.

MARY KEITH: Yes it was. I had a girl once named Betty. [Looks into the distance as if deep in thought. Abruptly] But I must be going now. [leaves in a carriage]


: At Mrs. Phips house in kitchen.

BETTY: [Enters kitchen breathless and wet]

COOK: [Sternly looking at Betty] What took you so long?

BETTY: Sorry, I was nearly run over! [Takes off jacket and puts basket down] The tomatoes got ruined I am afraid.

COOK: What! You foolish girl! You shall have no supper now.

BETTY: [Pleadingly] I can go back ma’am.

COOK: [Serving steamed soup into nice bowls] Too late now. Guests have arrived and I want you to help after you clean yourself up. Quick!

BETTY: Yes Ma’am. [As she is cleaning herself up she mumbles] I wish I had my mama back.

In kitchen. Betty eating hot oatmeal and only maid is there.

MAID TWO: Cook wants you to get some more tomatoes. Hurry with breakfast.

BETTY: [Nods her head then after bringing her bowl to the sink she slips on grey shawl and basket]

: Near market. It’s not raining, but it’s wet and muddy.

BETTY: [Walking past a group of boys a little nervous]

RUFFIAN: [One pushes Betty into a big puddle. All the boys laugh]

BETTY: [Picks herself up]

MARY KIETH: [Saw what had happened near by and rushes to Betty’s side] That’ll be enough! [Looks at boys angrily]

RUFFIANS: [Seeing the lady is upset they quickly leave]

MARY KEITH: [Asks gently] Are you all right?

BETTY: Yes ma’am thankye kindly. [Smiles at lady to show she is okay]

MARY KEITH: [Sees shawl. Stares at it a moment then looks at Betty’s face. After a moment she puts her hand to her mouth] Why bless my soul. Betty is that you?

BETTY: [Confused] Ma‘am?

MARY KEITH: [Points to shawl] That was mine three year ago! Don’t you remember? I brought you to the orphanage, and gave that shawl to you. And can see your fathers face in you! God be praised. He has answered my prayer at last. I have found you!

BETTY: [Slowly she recognizes Mary Keith and begins to remember and smiles] Oh Mama! It is you!

Betty and Mary hug.

Curtains close

There you have it! That was rather an exhausting task to choose just one winner from each category! A big thank you to everyone who entered, and everyone give a round of applause to the winners! Girls who won, you can email me at and we'll discuss how to get your prizes to you! ~Rachel


Josiphine said...

Congratulations! I'm glad that they won. The entries were excellent!

Rhoswen Faerie Wrose said...

Yay! Katiesis!!! :-D
And a Yay! for everyone else! :-)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Mercedes and Maria! Your works are lovely. ^.^

Thank you so much, Rachel! I am so, so very honored. You have no idea how high my heart-rate shot up when I read this post; I was shaking all over with excitement. I am exceedingly glad you enjoyed my little story. ^.^

Thank you!

Unknown said...

Congratulations to the winners!

Katie I loved you story the end gave me delicious thrills down my spine, and left me with a glowing warm feeling.

Thank you Rachel for doing this challenge! :)