Chapter 26

I sat there behind huge piles of hay for thirty minutes. It was already dark, and even though Summer was approaching, chilly mountain air stung me and made me shiver. I waited for Ephraim anxiously and eagerly. Would he listen to me? Did he want me to stay? What were his plans? The thought of my papa hanging my sweetheart to the nearest tree, made my heart jump from fear. Oh how I wished to close my eyes and never open them. I would rather die than see either one of my beloved get hurt. I loved Robert, papa, and Ephraim so much. How could I handle their death?

I was still in my deep thoughts when suddenly, I heard the brothers. They were calling for us and begging us to come back. "Dorcas, come back! Don't get hurt", "Please Alice!" Must've been Benjamin and Gideon. From a far I heard Alice's hysterical cries. And finally, someone was approaching me. "C'mon Ruth!" It was Caleb, looking for his sweetheart. When I saw that he was coming closer towards me, I decided to sneak away. But alas! He noticed me! I quickly picked up my skirts and tried to ran away, but Caleb grabbed my dress and caught me strongly. As I struggled and tried to resist, we both lost balance and fell on the ground.

"No, no! I'm staying here with Ephraim!" I cried out

"You gotta return now!" Caleb answered sternly and swung me over his shoulders, just like Ephraim did when he abducted me.

"Put me down this instant!" I screamed and beat on his back.

Caleb dragged me towards the wagon where Adam was, and I saw the other girls screaming and trying their best to resist. We were all caught and they were forcing us to return home! Unbelievable! First they forcefully kidnapped us, and now they are trying to force us to go back. Caleb dumped me in the wagon like piece of cloth, but I was not giving up. I did not intend to sit meekly in the wagon and wait to be taken passively back to town. Martha pushed Daniel away and escaped yet again together with Sarah, while Ephraim and Daniel were in hot pursuit. Ruth bit Frank's arm, and Dorcas knocked off Benjamin from the wagon. Gideon was trying to catch me, but I quickly climbed down from the wagon and rushed towards the barn. It was a big chaos! I was about to hide behind the livestock when I bumped into Frank. He picked me up and tried forcefully to take me and return me to the wagon, but I struggled so hard that we both fell down. I was becoming so determined to stay here, that I hardly realized how strongly I fought. I didn't struggle this much when I was kidnapped, but now I was ready to fight for my right to stay here! All of the girls were! It was obvious that the Pontipees were having difficult time. Frank was on top of me, while I was lying on the ground trying very hard to stay right where I was.

"Come on Liza! Don't make this so difficult!" Frank begged.

"You let me go now!" I screamed and tried to push him away. All of a sudden, I heard very familiar voices. " Sarah! Liza! Ruth! Martha! Dorcas! Alice!"

I didn't have time to realize what was happening, when townsfolk quickly came and knocked Frank off of me and took him away. "Get up Pontipee!" From the corner of my eye I saw Robert as he grabbed Ephraim and forcefully lead him out of the barn.

I stood up and rushed towards Matt Straither, former suitor of Dorcas. "What are you gonna do to him?" I asked terrified.

"We'll hang him with the rest of them to the nearest tree!" Matt exclaimed bitterly.

My heart suddenly sank and tears filled my eyes. "Oh pa!" I started crying in his arms as he held me close and kissed my forehead.

"It's alright dear. It's over. Daddy's here." He whispered gently.

This made me cry even more, because papa clearly misunderstood the situation and thought I was being assaulted. What could I possible say? It was all over! They would hang them all for what they did.

The other girls were also rounded up and I clung onto Martha and all of us sobbed bitterly.

"Just a minute!" Reverend Elcott, Alice's father called out. "Before we go, there's one thing we've got to know from our girls!"

Me and the girls were too caught up in our own cries and didn't even pay attention to him.

"Girls! Girls!" Mr. Galien raised his voice.

All of us looked up at the Reverend who stood on the ladder looking worried. "Now Reverend, what is it that you want know?" Mr. Galien, Dorcas' father asked.

"We're all fathers here, and we love you. So, don't be afraid to answer." Reverend Elcott spoke softly. "A while back I heard a wee baby crying in the house. Whose is it?"

Me and the girls quieted for a second and looked at each other silently.

"Well, whose is it? " Reverend asked again. "Don't be afraid to tell."

I was so desperate to save Ephraim, that I didn't care about my morals and virtues anymore. They will certainly not kill them after I say this - "MINE!" I cried out, not realizing that we had all said the same thing. Six of us girls were so eager to save our sweethearts that we had indeed claimed Milly's baby as our own.

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