Thanks so much to everyone who reviewed Chapter 1! I didn't know what the reaction to this story would be, since this is a small fandom that I'd never written for before, and your feedback means a lot.
Although Chapter 1 was set several years later, this chapter takes place just shortly after credits. I was inspired to write it after looking at the movie's full cast list on its IMDb page and noticing a credit for Sheila James Kuehl as "Jenny - Dorcas' Sister." Hope you all enjoy! :)
And let this be, because it's true
A lesson to the likes of you...
Benjamin knew that it might be a long while before Dorcas's pa warmed up to him — if ever. But he could accept that. He and Dorcas were finally married, and they were so happy that Benjamin felt almost invincible, like nothing on God's green earth could destroy their happiness. Besides, his five younger brothers were all having the same problem with their fathers-in-law.
He could accept the tension from Mr. Galen, but he was bound and determined to make a good impression on Dorcas's ma and little sister. The day after their wedding, Dorcas's whole family hitched their wagon and rode up from town to visit and meet Benjamin properly. Dorcas was so excited to see them again that her face hurt from smiling; she'd missed her ma and Jenny, her little sister, mightily over the long winter. Benjamin was was so nervous to meet them that he scrubbed and shaved and put on his best clothes, the orange shirt and kakhi britches that he'd worn to the barn-raising last fall.
The Galens pulled up in front of the house, and before their wagon had even come to a full stop, Jenny sprang out like a grasshopper and jumped to the ground. She was all pigtails and freckles and long, gangly legs as she darted straight over to Benjamin, who'd been waiting outside to greet them. She stopped short right in front of him, and with a scowl on her face and one mighty swing of her leg, she kicked a cloud of dust all over Benjamin's best pants.
"That's what I think of you, Benjamin Pontipee!" she shouted, and with that, she ran past him into the house, leaving Benjamin so shocked, that he could only stand there, gaping like a fool.
"She was scared of you, that's all," Dorcas told him later that evening.
"Oh, sure," Benjamin grumbled, still brushing the dust off his pants. "Yep, she acted real scared of me, all right."
Dorcas put down her sewing and said sternly, "Ben, imagine you're a ten-year-old gal, going to bed, and suddenly, you hear the window slide open, and your sister screams, and when you light a candle, you see she's disappeared."
Benjamin hung his head, guilt clawing at him again for snatching Dorcas away in the night. He'd seen how angry it had made her, but he'd never considered how much it must've frightened Jenny. Listening to Dorcas's description, he realized it was a terrifying experience for any child, especially a little girl.
"Why, she spent all that long winter building you up as a boogey-man," Dorcas went on. "She was scared of you, and when Jenny's scared of someone, she lashes out at 'em worse than a wet cat. I did the same thing when I was that age, 'cept I was even worse."
Benjamin smirked. Well, he could believe that.
Dorcas had described Jenny as such a sweet gal, and her shouting and kicking dust on him had taken Benjamin by surprise like a blizzard in July. He would've just gone on standing there, with his mouth hanging open and dust all over his pants, until his brothers saw him and laughed, but he quickly remembered how he'd made his mind up to make a good impression on Dorcas's family. Adam always said that no Pontipee brother had ever made his mind up to do something and not done it, and Benjamin wouldn't be the brother who proved him wrong. He'd swore to win them over, and win them over, he would.
In the kitchen, they all ate slices of fresh apple pie that Dorcas and Millie had baked just for their visit. The food did a lot to smooth things over, and so did Benjamin, who served up humble pie and groveled and apologized to Jenny.
"I can't blame you for bein' mad at me," he said to her across Dorcas, who sat between them. "No mam, I can't blame you one bit. I dragged Dorcas all the way up here to the mountains to marry me. 'Course you must hate me for takin' her so far away."
He carried on like that, and Dorcas's ma smiled, clearly pleased to see him swallowing his pride and trying to make amends. Benjamin even thought he saw Mr. Galen's hard eyes soften a bit. But Jenny just scowled and glared at him, still as mad as a hornet, like she'd made up her own mind to not be won over. Even Dorcas's cajolings — "Jenny, you should at least say how do to Benjamin. I just know you'll like him, if you give him a chance." — had no effect on her.
It wasn't until later — while Benjamin and Dorcas were showing her family around the house and farmyard — that Jenny's iciness began to thaw. As they walked into the barn, the brothers' mousing cat, Black Susan, jumped down from the hayloft and came towards them. She had always been ornery, and Benjamin almost shooed her away, but to his surprise, Black Susan rubbed against Jenny's legs and purred.
"Aw, what a sweet kitty," Jenny said, reaching down to pet her. "What's her name, Benjamin?"
Benjamin felt like winter was over and spring had sprung. "Black Susan," he answered, smiling. "She's our mousing cat. She is real sweet, ain't she?" As if this wasn't the same cranky old cat that had hissed and scratched at him a hundred times.
Later, as the Galens saying goodbye, promising to come back to visit again soon, Benjamin noticed that Jenny was holding Black Susan in her arms. He'd never even been able to pick up that cat, but she just switched her tail and closed her eyes contentedly, and Jenny climbed right up into the wagon with her. There was a sly little smile on her face, just like Dorcas's.
"Uh, hold on just a minute now," Benjamin said uncertainly, approaching the wagon. "Say, Jenny, you can't take Black Susan. We need her for catching m—"
"Ha!" Jenny laughed triumphantly, as if she'd been waiting for this. "You took my sister away with you, so I'm takin' your cat away with me! Now we're even! How do you like that, Benjamin Pontipee!"
Benjamin looked around for help, but Mr. and Mrs. Galen were turned away, facing towards the horses — Benjamin suspected that they were ignoring Jenny on purpose — and Dorcas was trying not to laugh at her sister's trick. Benjamin was stuck standing there again, gaping as the Galens' wagon rode away with Black Susan, until at last, he sighed, resigned. If losing Black Susan was what it took to win over Jenny, maybe it was worth it. Benjamin turned away to find Adam, to tell him that they needed a new mousing cat for the barn.