Spelling Bee

Spelling Bee

From A 5th Portion of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Spelling Bee

Rather fail by honor than succeed by fraud.


In the fourth round of a national spelling bee in Washington, eleven-year-old Rosalie Elliot, a champion from South Carolina, was asked to spell the word avowal. Her soft Southern accent made it difficult for judges to determine if she had used an a or an e as the next to last letter of the word. They deliberated for several minutes and also listened to tape recording playbacks, but still they couldn’t determine which letter had been pronounced. Finally the chief judge, John Lloyd, put the question to the only person who knew the answer. He asked Rosalie, “Was the letter an a or an e?”

Rosalie, surrounded by whispering young spellers, knew by now the correct spelling of the word. But without hesitation, she replied that she had misspelled the word and had used an e.

As she walked from the stage, the entire audience stood and applauded her honesty and integrity, including dozens of newspaper reporters covering the event. While Rosalie had not won the contest, she had definitely emerged a winner that day.

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