Lavinia strode distractedly up high street. She tried to look like she wasn't looking for someone, when she was. Holding her younger sister Malina's hand, she hardly heard her protests about wanting to stop and look at ribbons. In her distraction, she walked right past the shop she had come to visit.
Up ahead, she saw a small crowd gathered, and a smile dawned on her young face. Malina was truly protesting now and tugging at her hand. She let her go, and told her to go find Ted at the printer's shop, giving her a playful swat as her sister darted away. Then she turned back to the crowd up ahead.
She smoothed the front of her pale pink gown with her hands, even as she remembered her brother William's taunting remarks about wearing a ballgown just to walk into town. Now, it was worth it.
As she approached, she tried to come at an angle that he couldn't help but see her--even though she could see that he was engaged in conversing with some men at the center of the circle. She saw his deep brown eyes rise for a moment and catch her figure as she approached lightly, smiling quietly. A smile lit his face for just a moment before he returned to his discussion.
Wanting an excuse to talk with him, she stood at the back of the circle to listen and then recoiled as she realized that the men in the center of the circle were preachers--Mormon missionaries. She had heard of them, but never seen any. She was curious, but suddenly nervous. She knew that if her father or brothers saw her, she would have a hard time answering their questions. She glanced over her shoulder and stepped back a pace. Then, she heard his voice--so steady and clear, questioning the men. Her heart picked up it's pace, and she felt a flush of pride. He may be just an apprentice with no father, but he was intelligent and quick. His question was pointed and logical. She knew he would put these liars in their places, and felt far less uncomfortable suddenly.
But his tone was not attacking, simply honest. He had no intention of making fools of them, although she sensed that he easily could've. They announced that they would be preaching that night, at a cottage meeting and invited the listeners to attend. People muttered lowly and turned to walk away.
Not wanting to seem bold, she had started walking slowly back down the street, stopping to admire a new display in a shop when she heard his sure footstep fall easily behind her.
She turned to him, standing close behind her, and smiled. His deep brown eyes smiled back, and he offered to escort her back to her father's printing business. She nodded slightly and they began to walk, side by side.
She commented, politely, on his question to the Mormon ministers, and then complimented him on trying to help them to see the error of their doctrine.
He was silent a moment before replying, "Yes. But their arguments are sound, even if they aren't logical. They speak with conviction. I admire that."
Turning to him slightly, "But, surely, you don't intend to attend their cottage meeting tonight, Charles?"
He was quiet, before proceeding thoughtfully, "I hear much of them--the bad and the good. I wish only to see for myself."
Lavinia realized that her hands were clasped quite tightly into fists as they had walked. She had a small pit in her stomach.
She knew, deep down, what an uphill battle was facing her in regards to Charles William Mann. As far as her family, and their whole community, was concerned--he was a no one. No family connections. His only prospects due entirely to an uncle who had taken him in out of charity, and who owned his whole life until his apprenticeship was finished. Although she loved the sight of his brown eyes and the sound of his deep voice, she knew that there would be no point in hoping, if he chose to mix with this new faith.
Impulsively, she asked if he wasn't planning to attend a small gathering of friends that night at Honeywick, her cousin's home. She blushed, and realized how forward and obvious she was being. He would guess, surely, that she was just trying to keep him away from that cottage meeting. Trying to be in the same place that he was.
He only smiled as they reached her father's print shop and said "If your cousins were to extend the invitation, I could not refuse." He looked down at her for a brief moment, and then turned and strode away.