Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day 139: Lavinia, Chapter 14

Not letting go of her hand, Charles pulled Lavinia over to a small path at the side of the lane and sat down on a low stone wall. She sat next to him as he silently looked at the ground, trying to compose his thoughts. He released her hand, and clasped his together for a minute, closing his eyes briefly. She waited.

Finally, he turned and looked into her eyes, "Lavinia, I needed to see you; to talk to you, but I don't even know exactly how to say what I want to say. All of the things I had intended to say, sound so simple now" his voice trailed off. Gazing downward, he seemed to gather his courage before continuing, "I need you to understand, about me. I need you to understand why I'm doing what I'm doing. So you can make your choice."

She was a little confused, "Make my choice?"
"Yes" he said in a rush "because... I would ask you to be mine. But I feel that I cannot ask you that, if you don't understand." With that he reached for her hand again.

Sitting on the cool stone wall, suddenly she could hear the wind in the trees and the rustling of their leaves. The sun on her back was warm, glinting off the dew on the grass, and birds sung lightly overhead. His hand was warm on hers. She was amazed, in this moment, to find that her thoughts were still and composed, like untroubled water. She had not expected Charles to propose, which he just had. She had especially not expected that she would feel so utterly alert and peaceful.

"What is it, then, that you need me to understand?" she asked calmly.
"About my new faith, Lavinia. I can't ask you to marry me and be my wife, if you don't understand this part of me."
At the mention of this strange religion, she suddenly felt an icy coldness course through her veins, but she remained silent. Something in her whispered that now was not the time for her to speak.

And so he began, in a rush, "I met the elders, as you know, in the square. I was just curious--like most people are, I think. I attended their cottage meeting that night, well--you remember. I do not know what I expected, but I went, even though I felt torn, because I wanted to see you as well. But something told me to go.

When I got there, the two elders spoke. The first one spoke of a prophet, like Moses or Elijah, on the earth--right now. The second spoke of a book that he has translated by the power of God, called the Book of Mormon. I was fascinated by the things they talked about--not because of how new they were, but because of how the pieces seemed to make everything fit. Everything made sense. So, I borrowed a copy of this book from one of the elders."

Looking up now, at the trees overhead, Charles seemed to speak more to himself than to her. "I began to read it, and I knew it was true. I didn't even have to pray about it. I just knew. I decided that I would be baptized into their faith. I don't have to tell you, because I am sure that you have already heard, that when I told my uncle of my intentions, he made it very clear that he would disown me if I chose to be baptized. I would lose my apprenticeship. I would be penniless, and I have nowhere else to go. So I have not been baptized."

Lavinia suddenly exhaled in relief. She had not known if he had actually joined this church or not. He had not. So, there was still hope. He looked up at the sound, and stared at her for a moment--trying to understand the reaction.

"I intend to be baptized, Lavinia. As soon as I can be. I have just decided that I will wait until I have saved enough to sail to America, and then I will be baptized, and go to join the other members of my faith there."

With that sentence, all of Lavinia's hopes shriveled inside of her. She felt herself go numb. He was leaving. He was going to be baptized into this church, and then he was going to leave. Tears sprung to her eyes, and she didn't even care if he saw.

His gaze softened as he pressed her tiny hand inside his, "Lavinia, I cannot ask you to marry me, now. To come with me. I know that is not fair. But, I can ask you, please, to at least read this book." At that, he drew a small, tan volume out of his pocket and placed it in her hand. "If you will only read it. Consider it. If you have any feelings for me, at all. If your answer is no..." and his voice caught. He paused a moment. "If your answer is no, then all you have to do is leave the book on my doorstep. But, if your answer is yes..." he looked at her, his eyes shining, "if your answer is yes. Then you can return the book to me, yourself."

Having finished, he looked spent. Lavinia stared at her skirt, and the little book laying there. After a moment, he stood quietly and said "I have to go. Thank you, for listening to me."

She did not say a word.

No comments: