by Madeline Raffel
June 20, 1498, Elgame, Miyad
My most dearest diary,
This is what today had in store for us:
"Mistress, thy father has summoned thee." A servant announced, knocking at the door (It was a difficult task to open the door). "Tell my father that l am coming!" I shouted, pulling on a lavender gown. "Yes, mistress." The servant responded. I hated that dress! I wished I could change into my soft riding breeches. Ugh! Dismissing these thoughts, I looked in the mirror. The face that leered back at me was not a pretty sight. It had freckles dotting my nose and my cheeks. My flaming red hair was all tied in knots and my face was accented with splashes of mud from my previous riding trip (I had gone to great pains to disguise this from the guards at the gate). I hastily washed my face off at the washbasin on the night stand and briefly combed my hair. There! I looked presentable enough.
It was not my father whom I dressed up for, it was for whomever he wanted to introduce me to. I was almost positive who it would be: either one of his friends, a relative, or a suitor. I hoped it was not a suitor, but what were the chances of that! Suitors came once in a while, most of them leaving in disgust at my unladylike ways and my tendency to speak what I thought, but some lingered. I put on some silk slippers and struggled with the huge door. To get in was hard enough, but getting out...
Suddenly, the door swung open. I almost fell for after all I had been leaning on the door very hard. I ran down the carved stone staircase. I took a quick glance downstairs. There was my father and a middle-aged, handsome man wearing expensive furs. Seeing this, I started to run slowly, almost tripping on my long gown. Like always, I was excited to see my uncle. He had been off on one of his long trips to Pilan, the capital. My uncle laughed at this. He knew this was not my normal hurried self. I curtsied in front of him, wobbling a bit. I'm not sure he noticed. His arms outstretched, he got up from his chair. I thudded into his arms. We embraced.
My father smiled at our happy reunion. "Jacqueline, Gabrielle's in the stables." He announced. I gave my uncle one last hug and ran off. I ran through the kitchens, almost running into Agnes, the cook. She had been preparing a special meal for Midsummer's' Day. Agnes smiled and greeted me and continued her previous activity. Finally, I ran outside. It was a beautiful day. I could see the mountains and the beautiful asters dotting the countryside. Then I saw a figure on the hill by the stables, waving. I recognized the figure as my cousin, Gabrielle. There were smaller figures beside her. I immediately knew the smaller figures were Alan and Thom. They were not yet two winters old. I sped up the hill. I ran into Gabrielle. We both fell over. I landed on Gabrielle violently. Alan had climbed on us both, giggling. I quickly got off my cousin. Gabrielle sat up, her face flushed. "Oh, I've missed you so!" Gabrielle exclaimed. " Me too!" I answered. "Jakline!" Thom said, hard to understand. I laughed and hugged him gently. Alan tugged on my leg as if he wanted a hug too.
I let the little twins pull me down. They both clambered into my lap. Gabrielle giggled at the two toddlers curled up in my lap. We began to talk about what had happened over the past year. I marveled about the things that Gabrielle told me about Pilan. We spent the afternoon there on the hill, just talking, playing, and exploring a cave nearby. We had to stop because the twins had fallen asleep in our arms. Then, Agnes called us for supper. We came inside. Gabrielle was carrying Alan, I Thom. We handed them to their nurse and headed toward the dining hall. There were flowers strewn all over the dining hall! I sat down next to my mother. Gabrielie sat next to me. The first course came out, a lentil soup. We all ate it with relish. My younger sister, Marguerite, slurped at her soup. My mother threw her a stern glace. Marguerite immediately stopped. She knew she was treading on dangerous territory when she misbehaved. The second course came out, a roasted turkey. The other courses came out. We had finally finished supper when our parents demanded we retire for the night. We obeyed, sneaking quietly to my chamber. Gabrielle would sleep with me tonight. We silently struggled with the door. Finally, we got in my chamber. Gabrielle and l were both relieved none of the younger children had followed us. We sat down on my cot. We read passages of books to each other, most preferably stories of knight and damsels... Now, since Gabrielle is asleep, l'm using the time to write in you.
... Good night!
June 21st, 1498, Elgame, Miyad
My most dearest diary, Today is Midsummer's Day, Gabrielle and I are having the best of all times. In the early morning, we quickly got dressed and rode around on our horses. My stallion is called Chesnut; Gabrielle's mare is called Midnight. After a while, we came back home to prepare for the holiday. We dried herbs for the meal with Mother, assisted Agnes with a new experiment, helped Father and Adrian with the firewood... After those chores, we played hoops with Alan and Thom. Alan was pretending to be a lion jumping through a hoop, Thom a tiger. It was quite a scene! Everyone watching was quite amused. Then Thom picked a few flowers and gave one to Gabrielle, one to my mother who was nearby, and one to me. It was really quite sweet. We spent a joyful morning there, playing with the two little twins. After that, friends and their families came to visit. Gabrielle, Catherine, Tristan, and I played in the large field. We hid in the tall grass and the wheat. Not many could find Catherine! We finally found her behind a stack of logs. We quickly found Gabrielle and Tristan. They had not put much thought into their hiding! Soon after, we had dinner consisting of meat, fruit, bread, and cheese. It was delicious! After, we went to our rooms to make gifts for one another... I have finished my gifts so I am writing in you. Father is calling, I need to take leave...
"The judges would like to have seen this developed into a story. Of the finalists submitted to the judges, this is the best entry in the 6-9-year-old group. The writer gives the piece a good period feeling and gives careful attention to detail, but it only presents a picture. It is not yet a story."