Today it’s time for the fourth in a series of writing challenges in the Ardent Author’s Writing Challenge, hosted by the incomparable Zielle at My Homeschool Notebook.
Like other writing challenges which I have participated in, I will be posting my entries on this blog, and … I may not always stick to the schedule. Like today. Which is Sunday.
Team Forest is behind, but we can fix this! Write, write, write! *glares at all the other teams*
|Getting Extra Points|
| Challenge 4 Prompts |
“And they rode away in the sunset.”
“What’s a sunset?”
“I don’t know. But my Grandad saw one once.”
For Zielle: I used two of the prompts as well as my team name as well as illustrations. And I submitted in time, haha. So 2 + 1 + 1 + 18 = 22!
The Marvelous Machine, Part 4
March 1874, Cambridge, MA
Peter hitched his satchel higher on his shoulder and lengthened his strides to keep up with Riley, who always managed to effortlessly outpace him. He always had.
They walked over the green, slightly forested grounds of Harvard College and straight to the lecture halls. Peter was just making sure Riley got there, however – his business wasn’t there, but in the office of the Harvard Magenta.
It was only a biweekly newspaper at the time – and it was semi-discouraged by college faculty as well. But Peter loved working there. He had been around newspaper offices all his life – and he felt that the Magenta had a chance of sending him somewhere.
Even if he was only at Harvard due to his aunt, he would not squander this opportunity.
After seeing that Riley had safely made it to his class, he jogged back across the grounds to the Magenta office. When he entered the room, he was immediately approached by a co-founder of the Magenta, Charles Austin Mackintosh.
“Strauss, we need to look over that article about the rowing team. I have a few suggestions.” Charlie smiled and turned towards his desk, waving to another chair. “Sit down, please.”
Peter took the seat quickly. Charlie frightened him a little. He was generally very approachable – much more so than most upperclassmen – but he was still quite popular and well-thought-of, and Peter wanted his good opinion.
“Strauss?” Charlie said. “Are you all right? You look a little … frightened.”
“Sorry,” said Peter. “You’re the first person I’ve spoken to in ten years.” This was a private joke amongst the Magenta editors. When Peter had first shown up at the office, he hadn’t said more than a few words, and they had all surmised him to be ‘half-mute.’
“I thought so,” Charlie said with dead seriousness. He smiled, bright and brief, then returned his attention to Peter’s article. In minutes, they’d gone through the critique of it. Though none of Peter’s work had been actually run in the paper, it was still good practice, and he definitely needed all the advice he could get.
“How’s the poetry coming?” Charlie asked as he straightened his desk and tucked a few papers into a briefcase.
“I haven’t had much time lately,” Peter admitted.
Charlie looked at the window for a moment. “You should always make time for beauty.” He turned to Peter with a half-smile. “I see you going places, honestly. I just think you need to make a path instead of letting the river carry you. Can’t just do one or the other.”
“Hum,” was all Peter replied.
He cocked his head to the side, glanced at Peter up and down, and leaned back against his desk. “Now you’re thinking, ‘And what’s wrong with the river? I like the scenery!’ I know it. I like it, too; perhaps more than I like the rush.”
Peter raised his eyebrows. “You?” he exclaimed before he thought.
Charlie nodded. “Naturally. You wouldn’t know it, now, would you? All my life, I’ve been that bright, handsome boy who was going places. And all my life, I’ve thought I’d rather just enjoy God’s creation. But … there is something worth what a man fights for more than what he is given – or what he earns easily, at any rate. So – I’ve determined to work half my life and worship the other.”
Peter took a deep breath. This was new. Could one do both? Could one be a poet and still live in the real world? “I see what you mean.”
Charlie smiled. “I’ll be going now. I don’t know if I’ll see you again, Strauss. But I wish you the best of luck.”
After he’d sat down and rewritten his article, Peter left the building behind.
Outside, it had began to drizzle. As Peter walked back to the dormitory he shared with Riley, the rain began pelting down like a waterfall pouring from the sky. Thankfully, he was prepared with his umbrella – though the water splashing all around made it basically useless. He rushed into the building and hurried up the stairs to change out of his wet clothes.
Riley arrived back some time later, not drenched at all as the cloudburst had diminished almost as soon as it had begun. “A little mussed, aren’t we?”
Peter glanced in a small mirror hanging from the wall to find his hair sticking up in ten places. He smoothed it down. “Thank you. How did the lecture go?”
“Dull as dishwater. Want to find a bar tonight? Have some fun?”
Peter rolled his eyes. Riley asked him every night without fail, and every night Peter gave him the same answer. “When Heaven burns to a crisp.”
Riley chuckled. “Well, I’ll stay home then, too.”
Peter glanced up, surprised. “Oh?”
“Yep! Gotta go over the plans for my machine again. Really a pity I couldn’t take it with me, eh?”
Peter coughed and picked up the book he was reading.
Riley glared at him. “Say, I don’t think you really believe I can do it.”
Peter smiled weakly. “Well, Riley, it’s … it’s definitely a different idea. But I think the most important thing is for you to study up and learn all you can … and then you’ll make the bar exam in a couple years.”
“And that will please my father.” Riley sighed. “Honestly, Peter, sometimes I just wish I could … do what I want to do.”
Then something struck Peter. Was Riley … going with the flow, too? He’d never have thought about, but it was true. Though Riley was vastly independent, different, and individual in many ways … he was bending in to what his father wanted.
Perhaps Peter wasn’t such a bad person after all. But … buckling in when it came to an affair of the heart seemed worse than giving in to your father over a career choice. He glanced at the photograph of his family – including Maddie – resting on his bedside table and sighed.
Faint heart never won a lady fair …
Some sayings were tirelessly true.
SOME NOTES ON HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Some of you may be familiar with the ‘Harvard Crimson,’ which is now the Harvard collegiate paper. However, when it was founded in January 1873 by ten ’74 graduates, it was called the Harvard Magenta – which was the color of Harvard at that time!
I have yet to dig into the history too thoroughly, but I did choose to include a real-life person – Charles Austin Mackintosh, because I like his name. 😛
He was a founder of the Magenta and graduated in 1874. He was born in West Roxbury, MA, August 25th 1853. He became a lawyer the following year and was very successful in the bar. He died June 9th, 1889 of an illness, though I haven’t been able to figure out of what. And I found his whole memorial here.
I did take a lot of liberties with his character, so take it with a grain of salt … but I did try to base it on what people said he was like in said memorial.
Whatcha think? Is the plot moving forward? Not sure how many rounds there are for AAWC, so I’m hoping to start wrapping it up.
And yes, this post is extremely late – like, over twenty-four hours late. I just had a pretty awful Saturday for various reasons … and the week before that wasn’t so much fun, either. I’m just not in the mood for life right now, lol. 😉