Benjamin and Dorcas
He had to make this right. Now that Adam was gone, Benjamin Pontipee was the older and responsible brother who had to set a good example for his younger brothers. He still couldn't believe it. How foolishly and blindly he had followed Adam's reckless plan. It was ridiculous. This wasn't what he wanted. He didn't imagine on spending the night in the barn, let alone living in there with the rest of the livestock all winter.
But Benjamin knew that he deserved it...they all did. He just wished that he could take it all back. A week had passed since the kidnapping occurred, Benjamin however, was growing more and more anxious. The women were in the house and showed no interest in talking to any of the boys. They were all still very upset and homesick. Milly delivered food to the brothers regularly, but she too was cold towards them. The winter became cooler and stronger day by day. It was freezing and snowy most of the time. Benjamin and the five younger Pontipees continued their hard labour, but they were all sad and lamented the fact that they had forever lost their sweethearts.
One cold morning, when the brothers went out to do their daily chores, Benjamin Pontipee realized that it could and should not go on like this. He had to apologize and give a peace offering to Dorcas. He had acted like an animal! Kidnapped a poor girl in the middle of the night when she was getting ready to sleep. Benjamin knew that Dorcas had a lovely younger sister. He had seen her at the barn-raising, a cute and energetic child. By abducting Dorcas he had not only scared the parents, but he had also probably frightened the little girl to death. Yes, Benjamin hated himself and was determined to fix the mess he had made. It wasn't going to be an easy job though, the damage was done, hearts were broken, and tears were shed. Now he had to somehow make a first move and show his younger brothers a good and righteous path. He had to face Dorcas and tell her how remorseful he was. Others also wanted to apologize to the girls, but since the women weren't coming out of the house, the younger Pontipees became shy and didn't know what to do. So Benjamin decided that it was time for him to man up and do whatever it was necessary to show Dorcas that he didn't mean to be such an oaf and was so sorry.
At moment, Benjamin was repairing tools and other equipments. Winter did not mean vacation for the Pontipee brothers. They were farmers and lot of things still had to be down around their homestead. Some of the boys were feeding the livestock, while some of them were chopping wood and shoveling snow. Benjamin couldn't concentrate on his work for he was thinking hard on how to see Dorcas, and how to apologize to her.
He had never really been good with words. Adam was mostly the talker and the leader of the family, Caleb also spoke with an ease and usually was really good with words, just like ma. Frank and Gideon were the talkative brothers who threw out their sentences before thinking. Benjamin however, preferred to ooze silent masochism. He did order his brothers around now that Adam had left, but talking to girls seemed really stressful to him. Benjamin knew nothing about females, let alone beautiful young ladies like Dorcas. What he knew was that women, and generally everyone, admired honesty. After making such a terrible mistake, Milly felt ashamed of the boys. And she had every right to be ashamed of them! After all, they had disgraced her with their reckless behavior. First the disastrous barn-raising, and then as if it wasn't enough that the Pontipees were banished from the town due to their fight with the local men, the Pontipee brothers had abducted the girls that were promised to other well-off gentlemen, and caused an avalanche to trap them to their farm.
The six young women were the daughters of the well-known and leading people of the neighbouring town. Dorcas Gailen was the daughter of a former officer of the military, Ruth Jebson was the niece of the local restaurant owner, Martha's father was a well-known trader and her mother was a main midwife. Liza was the daughter of a famous theater dancer and talented pianist from the East, Sarah Kine's father was a businessman from Washington, and Alice Elcott was the Reverend's daughter. And all of them already had successful and interesting young admirers. Matthew Straither was the Lieutenant's oldest son, and he had been Dorcas' suitor ever since they had moved West. Milly had given this information to the Pontipee brothers after they were kicked out of town. She had tried to make them understand that it would be difficult to court those girls and compete with such fine gentlemen.
As Benjamin thought of these things, he realized how selfishly he behaved. He had kidnapped the girl because of his want and lust. For if he had shown his true love, Benjamin would think about Dorcas' feelings. Instead, he acted like a wild animal and grabbed the young woman against her will, not even stopping for a moment and asking her what she wanted, and who she wanted to marry. No, none of that stuff. He and his brothers had acted like pure savages.
No wonder Milly and the girls were so mad at them!
Benjamin loved Dorcas...he really did. And he was determined to apologize to her. He just had to do it! Adam, the older Pontipee, acted shamefully. He did not realize his mistake, and did not even try to stay and mend things with Milly. Adam had acted very immature, and instead of staying and showing his younger brothers a good example, he had left everyone and everything and departed to the trapping cabin. It was only then, when Benjamin and his brothers realized that maybe Adam was not always right. They had been treating him as a role model, and followed him without objections. Now however, things were different. Benjamin's eyes were opened and he was starting to understand many things. Things that he did not realize before.
It was a freezing weather, and Benjamin did not have the heart to drag poor Dorcas outside. Going inside the house to see her and apologize to her, was also out of question. But the second oldest Pontipee couldn't wait any longer. He wanted to tell Dorcas how he felt that very day. Benjamin was not going to waste another week. And neither snow or cold weather would stop him from making things right.
So Benjamin Pontipee, the wild and blunt backwoodsman, decided to do the impossible. He was going to write a very heartfelt letter to the woman he loved. Writing to Dorcas would be the hardest thing he'd ever done. He couldn't remember the last time he had properly written anything. His Ma used to teach him and Adam how to read and write. Both he and Adam took much more interest in hunting with their father, rather than sitting at home and studying. Caleb however, even though great with outdoor chores, was also really good when it came to intellectual knowledge. He liked to read and write, and even owned a journal in which he wrote daily. Unfortunately, that was a long time ago...before their beloved mother would pass away. After the death of their parents, the boys became wild and untamed. Even Caleb, who one time enjoyed learning, payed no mind to reading or writing. The seven Pontipee brothers had much more important things to do, which was taking care of their big farm.
But today was the day Benjamin Pontipee would hold a pencil and write an apology to Miss Gailen. He wondered if they had a pencil and paper at all on their homestead. Since it was afternoon, the boys were all out doing their heavy winter labours, and Benjamin had a perfect opportunity to stay alone and think about what to write to his sweetheart.
The second oldest Pontipee went into the barn, and started looking for pencil and paper in Caleb's belongings. After Milly banished the brothers to live in the barn, she made sure that all of the boys had their personal things with them.
Benjamin searched as hard as he could, but with no success. He was about to give up when he remembered Caleb's childhood hiding place. Benjamin quickly went up to the hayloft and finally found the old journal that his brother had kept after all these years. It was hidden in a little wooden box. Benjamin managed to find the old pencil case as well. He sighed in relief, ripped unused papers from the journal, and got started.
Benjamin Pontipee was known as the toughest, and most rugged brother. He had always been great with outdoor chores and was not afraid to lift the heavy weights, and get his hands dirty when it was needed. He took it like a boss!
But whatever Ben was doing right now, was the most difficult thing he'd ever done in his entire life. He went into couple of bad starts and ripped the paper anxiously. Benjamin was becoming more and more frustrated. He just couldn't get anything right. But the second oldest Pontipee was not giving up so easily. He decided to write everything from his heart and be as genuine and honest as possible.
After what seemed like hours to Benjamin, he finished writing and was actually impressed with himself. His grammer was normal, and for the first time since his Ma's death, Ben poured his heart on the paper. It seemed so odd that he had written such a heartfelt apology letter to Miss Gailen, instead of just speaking to her directly. Then again, Benjamin wasn't good with talking either. He was so thankful to God that He had helped him today. Ben looked around and was surprised to see that only an hour had passed. He thought that he'd been composing the text forever. Benjamin let a deep breath out, quite content with how things were going. He put the letter in his pocket and was about to exit the barn, when he remembered something very precious to him: His Ma's wedding dress.
Adam, being the oldest Pontipee brother, wanted to give their mother's beautiful gown to his his bride. But Mrs. Pontipee was tall and built woman, while Milly was petite and small in structure. So naturally, the dress was too big for her. Milly didn't have the heart to redesign the lovely wedding gown to fit her. So both Adam and Milly gave the dress to Ben, who was the second oldest Pontipee, and if he would marry someday, the wedding gown would belong to his bride. Dorcas had similar structure of Ma Pontipee. She was also tall, slender, and beautiful. Ben hoped that the dress would fit her.
"I don't know Benjamin, this doesn't sound like a good idea." Milly told him later in the evening, when she had come to deliver the boys dinner.
"Come on, please, Milly. I beg you!" Ben answered desperately. They were talking on the porch of the house.
"I think the weddin' dress is bit too much." Milly said sternly.
"It's not what ya think."
"Well then, what is it?" Milly asked, still disapproving Ben's plans.
"It's a peace offering." Ben answered simply.
"A peace offering?" Milly lifted her eyebrows, not sure what to do with her brother-in-law's reckless idea.
"It ain't what you think, Milly. Everything is explained in this letter. Please, give it to Dorcas." Ben begged and handed her the letter he had written.
Milly took it bit hesitantly, quite not sure what Benjamin had in mind.
"Alright." Milly answered slowly.
"The dress too. Please!"
"No, that's a crazy idea!" Milly exclaimed, clearly displeased.
"Milly, I ain't asking her to marry me, alright? The dress is a gift. You and Adam gave it to me, and I'll give it to whoever I want." Benjamin answered confidently. "I know, it's suppose to belong to my future bride. But I don't think I'll ever love anyone as much as I love Miss Dorcas."
"Oh alright! Fine!" Milly gave up. She saw how Benjamin loved the girl and could no longer protest. "I'll get the dress from the attic, put it neatly in a box, and I'll give it to Dorcas along with this letter."
Benjamin embraced his dear sister-in-law happily. "Thank you, Milly!"
"But remember, if Dorcas gets upset with this gesture, you'll pack your bags and join Adam at the trapping cabin!" Milly warned sternly and went into the cabin.
Now the real stress began for Benjamin Pontipee as he awaited for Dorcas' responce. He made his way towards the barn, hoping that he would not regret his decision.
The six young stolen women had finished their dinner and were fussing around the house. Ruth and Sarah sat by the fireplace and kept sewing. Martha read out load to the girls, while Liza and Alice were making gooseberry tarts.
Dorcas was in the kitchen and had just finished washing the dishes, when Milly walked in from the back door.
"Dorcas dear, I gotta tell you something." Milly said softly as she approached the tall girl.
"What is it, Milly?" Dorcas asked calmly and sat down on the nearby chair.
"Well, you see..." Milly sat next to her hesitantly. "Benjamin insisted on giving you this." She showed Dorcas the big white box and top of it was the letter.
Dorcas' eyes widened and she looked at Milly very surprised. "W-what's this?"
The blue eyed woman shook her head. "I don't know, Dorcas. But he really wanted you to have it."
Dorcas took the box and the letter from Milly. Her stomach suddenly was filled with butterflies and she wasn't sure what she was feelings. Her confidence was fading away and nervousness took over her whole body.
Once in the boys' old bedroom, she sat down on the wooden chair and slowly opened the letter. Her heart was pounding. Dorcas couldn't believe that strong and rugged mountain man, could write anything at all...let alone a letter to a girl. Soon enough, she fixed her eyes on the paper and started reading what Benjamin Pontipee had written her.
To Miss Gailen:
I don't know where to begin. I ain't even sure if I should be writing this to ya. But allow me to ask your pardon. I behaved like a wild beast and there's no excuse for it. I really am so sorry for what I did. My actions were extremely selfish! I should have asked you to marry me like a proper gentleman. But the problem is that I am not a gentleman...and I'll never be the perfect man for you. You deserve someone better! But I want you to know that I really love you, and causing you pain was not my intention. Despite my feelings, I still think that I ain't good enough for ya. Matthew Straither, the Lieutenant's son is the one who deserves a beautiful gal like you. I'll tell ya that man is very lucky. Please, accept this gift that I presented to you as a peace offering. It belonged to my deceased Ma. She wanted me to give it to the woman i'd love with all my heart. And that woman is you, Dorcas. I love you very much. I'd be pleased to know if you'd wear this on your weddin' day. You deserve happiness and I wish you all the best. I'm givin' you my word that in Spring, once that way is clear, I'll take you back to your parents and back to your suitor. Again, I'm really sorry for what I did, and I ask for your forgiveness.
Dorcas' eyes were all watery with tears and she quickly looked down at white box. Dorcas could never imagine that the tough man she knew would be this soft and caring. No matter what she told herself, it was obvious that she had fallen in love with Benjamin Pontipee at the barn-raising...and she had been dreaming about him ever since.
She opened the white box and found a dress inside it. It was obviously a wedding dress. It wasn't very glamorous, but rather simple and comfortable. It was covered with delicate laces and pretty blue flowers. Dorcas couldn't believe that Ben's mother had worn this dress at one point. After lots of thinking, she decided to try it on and was stunned to see that the dress was the perfect fit.
It was still very early and Benjamin shoveled the snow by the henhouse. He had lots of things in his mind, but most importantly he thought of Dorcas. Did she read the letter? Was she angry at him? Did he cross the line? Benjamin was becoming more and more overwhelmed, when he heard a crack. Must be some of his brothers bugging him with unnecessary questions. Ben cursed under his breath.
"What now Frank?!" He turned around and exclaimed. But instead of seeing his rough brother, he saw a beautiful and slender figure. Ben's eyes widened when he realized that it was indeed Dorcas standing in front of him. Her eyes were sparkling like two diamonds, her cheeks were pink from the chilly winter air, and she had a red shawl over her shoulders.
Immediately Benjamin lost his control and became mesmerized with her. Only after few minutes, he finally managed to say. "D-Dorcas?"
"What's the matter Benjamin?" The tall brunette asked with a sultry voice. "Are you feeling alright?"
And there it goes...Ben's confidence disappeared and instead, nervousness washed over him. Even though it was a cold snowy morning, Benjamin noticed that he was sweating. What was happening to him? This girl made him weak at his knees. Just five minutes ago, he was ready to confidently and firmly lecture his little brothers.
"I'm um...f-fine." He blurted out, trying to act cool and calm.
"Well, I came here to tell you that I read your letter." Dorcas announced and neared him.
Ben's heart started beating even more rapidly. "Really?" He asked, trying very hard to look confident and tough.
"Yes...and I also saw the wedding dress." Dorcas answered. She had realized that Benjamin was very anxious and nervous, so she decided to tease him a bit.
Ben froze...was she mad? Had he offended her with his so called 'peace offering'?
"What did ya think?" The second oldest Pontipee asked, after a moment of silence.
"I don't think you have rights to decide my fate." Dorcas told him confidently.
"What do you mean?" Benjamin asked yet again, suddenly finding courage to speak with her boldly.
"What I mean is, that you men don't have rights to treat us women like some porcelain dolls. I have my own opinion, and I'm allowed to choose whoever I want to marry! First you kidnap me as a bride, and now you've decided to make me Matthew Straighter's future wife?"
Benjamin's heart sank in sadness. "Dorcas, that wasn't my intention. I just wan-" He didn't get to finish his sentence when the tall brunette went up to him and slammed her lips on his.
Benjamin kissed her right back and wrapped his arms around her small and gorgeous waist.
"I forgive you." Dorcas whispered, after the two broke apart. "But don't let this kiss get to you. I only did it to shut you up." She grinned.
Benjamin chuckled slightly. "Oh really?"
"Really." Dorcas confirmed with a teasing glare. "We're just friends, for now."
Benjamin nodded and beamed at her. "Deal."
"And please, let me decide my own fate when the Spring comes." Dorcas said before turning towards the house.
Benjamin's heart was soaring with happiness. He still couldn't believe that this was real.
"Did the dress fit ya?" He asked her now with full confidence and walked towards her.
Dorcas blushed hard. "It was a perfect fit. Thank you."
Benjamin smiled and gazed in her pretty brown eyes. "I know I probably shouldn't ask you this, but will I see you again?"
Dorcas smiled at him with a mischievous expression. "I don't know." And she ran up the wooden stairs of the porch.
As Ben was about to turn away, she called him. "Meet me by the fence tomorrow!" After that, Dorcas stepped in the house and bolted the door.
Benjamin sighed as if the weight of the world was lifted from his shoulders. He praised the LORD quietly and was quite sure now that by Spring, he and Dorcas would be more than just friends.
This is sort of like continuation to "Well-Deserved Pranks". It's about the Pontipee boys giving the peace offerings to their girls, and their reconciliation. Which couple do you want to see next?