Chapter 28 and Chapter 29 Summary
Mr. and Mrs. Caraway meet them at the hotel, and the five of them have lunch before Susan boards a bus to take contestants to a local high school. The morning’s contestants have finished, and it is time for the second group to present their speeches. Ten finalists will be chosen to continue the competition this evening. To no one’s surprise, Susan makes the cut for the finals. What is surprising is that the speech she gives is not the speech she had been rehearsing so diligently for weeks.
Her speech, entitled “I Might Have Heard a Moa,” was full of enchanted and mystical elements woven together in a lyrical and almost magical way. After the congratulations are given, Leo asks Susan if she had been practicing a second speech without telling anyone. With a smile, Susan says she simply opened her mouth and there it was. Leo is incredulous and asks what she is going to say tonight at the finals. Her answer is simple: “Who knows?”
After dinner, Susan changes into an outfit her mother made her, and she is off on the bus once again. Seven boys and two girls on the stage look frightened—Susan is comfortable and relaxed. Speaker after speaker nervously approaches the microphone and presents a prepared oration. When Susan’s name is called, she bounces to the microphone and immediately engages with the audience. In fact, she is so engaging that the audience does not realize for several minutes that she is actually presenting her speech. The crowd grows silent, and Susan finishes with a dramatic question as she leans toward the audience and whispers, “Can you hear it?” The silence intensifies as she takes her seat, and suddenly the room erupts with applause. Leo bursts into tears, and the cheering, whistling, and shouting of fifteen hundred people sounds much the same as a crowd at a championship basketball game.
The silver plate is shiny and beautiful, and Susan hardly lets it out of her hands. Crowds gather around her, television cameras interview her, and everyone wants to be her or be connected to her. Back at the hotel, everyone seems to know there is a star in their midst. Leo and Susan are welcomed into the nightclub, where they dance and see...
(The entire section is 592 words.)