Caleb and Ruth

Chapter 5

Caleb Pontipee sighed heavily as he chopped up the last wood for the day. It was an early afternoon, and the snow had started to fall softly again. He gazed up at the grey sky with a saddened expression, it was the middle of April and yet, no sign of Spring whatsoever. One might wonder why Caleb awaited so eagerly for the end of the winter. After all, warm sunshine would melt the snow and the blocked pass would be open once more. His beautiful, sweet, and gentle Ruth would be free to leave the farm and go back to town. Third oldest Pontipee brother dreaded that more than ever. He knew that Ruth would never marry him now, but he wanted to be forgiven by her. At least to know, that the woman of his dreams did not hate him any longer. His golden haired sweetheart was hardly capable of such thing as 'hate', but he had crossed the line! Caleb had taught her how to hate and despise by kidnapping her on that fateful night. Third born of the Pontipee boys growled in frustration when he remembered Ruth's prank on him couple of months ago. She had tricked him into believing that he was forgiven...and soon afterwards fed him the most disgusting pie ever! His brothers had laughed at him, Ruth shouted at him in their presence and it was absolutely the most terrible day in his entire life. He had been such a fool!

Oh, how Caleb had missed his goldielocks. He couldn't give up like that. It had been months since his last encounter with Ruth however, he made up his mind to finally apologize to her properly. Out of the six younger brothers, Benjamin started to act strange and for a while, Caleb couldn't figure out what was going on with him. One afternoon though, he saw his older brother chatting with beautiful Dorcas at the porch...and then it hit him. Benjamin was forgiven! If his brother managed to win the maiden's heart, why couldn't he win it? Caleb shook his head. 'No.' Ruth was so different than Dorcas. She had been genuinely angry with him, how could he ever fall into her graces again? He would find a way! Caleb Pontipee was not accustomed to give up so easily especially, when it came to Ruth Jebson.

"Alice, why don't you read something to me, honey?" Ruth asked softly as she peeled the potatoes for the soup.

The Reverend's daughter frowned and grimaced. "Oh, no. I've been reading all morning!"

Ruth giggled at Alice's comments. She shook her head with a small sigh. "As you wish, princess."

The two blonde ladies were helping Milly with the afternoon dinner, Martha and Dorcas were upstairs washing their laundry while, Liza and Sarah fussed around the house and busied themselves with cleaning.

"You are a princess." Alice replied with a teasing grin while Ruth laughed. "Besides, if I start reading, who will chop the carrots for you?"

"You got a point there." Ruth said sarcastically and smiled.

Alice rolled her eyes which caused Ruth to giggle again.

"I'm so glad we convinced Milly to rest a bit." The preacher's girl changed the subject after a while, Ruth nodded in agreement.

"She can sleep for an hour...we'll wake her up when dinner's ready."

The two of them set quietly for few minutes and continued peeling and chopping vegetables for the soup. Alice sighed and gazed out of the window. "Oh, won't believe how much I've missed Spring and Summer. Sometimes I feel like they'll never come."

"I know. I feel the same way." The older girl nodded in agreement. "I always wanted to to find the first bloom."

"The first bloom?" Alice repeated confused. "What do you mean?"

"It used to be a Medieval festival hundreds of years ago. Kings and Queens celebrated the Winter's Ease Feast, when the First Bloom of the year showed itself. It represented the coming end of winter."

"I never heard of that..." Alice said quietly with an impressed expression. "Wasn't it still winter though?"

"Yes, but the sightings of first blooms, gave everyone hope that the Spring would eventually arrive. And so they danced, sang, and celebrated the new beginnings." Ruth replied with a dreamy far-off look. "The one who'd find the First Bloom was crowned as the May Queen for the following Spring festival."

"We also celebrate May Day...but I've never heard of the Winter's Ease Feast." Alice smirked with a mischievous gaze.

"Maybe we should set out to find first blooms too?" Liza suggested with an excitement. She had been sweeping the floor in the living-room and heard the conversation in the kitchen. The two blonde girls jumped in fright, when they heard their friend's unexpected voice.

"Liza!" Alice gasped. "You scared us." Ruth added.

The dark haired girl let out a hearty laugh in exchange. "I didn't mean to. I just got really excited. This first bloom festival thing sounds so much fun. And we need a good time."

"Are you serious?" Ruth asked surprised. "I can never tell when you're being sarcastic or-"

"Of course, I'm serious!" Liza cut in anxiously. "New beginnings, dancing, and hope for Spring is exactly what we all need right now."

Did I just hear dancing?" Dorcas cried out happily, as her head poked in the kitchen. "I'm in!"

This time, it was Liza's turn to shriek in fright which caused the others to burst out laughing.

Martha and Sarah just stood in the living-room, shaking their heads with disapproving faces. "That soup won't cook itself, you know?" Martha warned.

The next day, Caleb decided to have a straight up talk with his older brother. He needed to know how exactly Benjamin had outsmarted him and won his girl's heart. Caleb had a way with words unlike Benjamin. So he couldn't understand how his older brother managed to get back in Dorcas' good graces. It probably had something to do with the tall girl's flirty personality. Ruth wasn't like her. She wouldn't cooperate. Despite the negative thoughts, Caleb decided to remain positive and when his younger brothers went out to do their daily chores, he sought out Benjamin who was busy fixing the fence.

"Ran out of work, Caleb?" Ben asked teasingly, a small smirk spreading across his face.

"Not exactly." The third oldest Pontipee replied with all seriousness.

"Is there anythin' I can help ya with?" The older brother questioned, too eager to get back to his chores.

"As the matter of fact, yes." Nodded the desperate brother.

"What's wrong?" Benjamin dropped his work, walking closer towards his younger brother. "You alright?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. I just want to...sort of know h-how you managed to back your gal."

Embarrassment was written all over Benjamin's face as he smiled sheepishly. How could Caleb know about this? He opened his mouth to speak, but his brother cut him off.

"Don't try to deny it...I've seen you two chatting romantically by the fence and sometimes on the porch every single day. Well, almost every single day. So I guess, what I'm trying to find out here did you do it?" Caleb finished his sentence bit quietly.

"Do what?" Ben raised his eyebrows.

"You aren't exactly the talking type. So how did you manage to win her heart?"

Benjamin smirked proudly. "Well, this might sound very unlike me, but I listened to my heart. I did what I had to do, you know?"

"I guess." Caleb answered, sounding unsure. He was little bit confused.

"Come on, Caleb!" Ben exclaimed. "It's not like you don't know what to do."

"I don't! I really don't! Not after the stunt Ruth pulled on me." Caleb insisted, shaking his head in dismay.

"You mean the pie she fed you?" Chuckled the older brother, causing Caleb to roll his eyes in irritation. "Listen," Ben started seriously, "I know that Dorcas is different from the rest of the girls. She's strong and isn't shy to make a first move. I guess, I love that part about her too. But Caleb, you claim to love Ruth, right? So you must know at least somethin' 'bout her. I'll let you figure that out on your own. Do what's best for both of ya, okay?"

"That's all you can say?"

"That's right. Besides, when did you need anyone else to do the talking for ya? Aren't you the smooth brother?" Laughed Benjamin.

That caused a small smile on Caleb's face. "Alright, I'll let you get back to your chores now."

"You get to work as well!" Ben called out to him. "Don't be a lazybutt."

Caleb nodded as he kept walking away, he stopped for a while and then turning to his brother said. "Thank you for the advice, Ben."

Benjamin winked at him and nodded his head in understanding.

Caleb was determined to find his girl now more than ever. Doesn't matter what he'd say to her, he was ready for everything. He had to ask her for forgiveness and give her some sort of peace offering. Caleb knew very well, that unlike the overly sensitive and proper Martha, Liza and Sarah, Ruth was very easygoing, gentle, sweet, and kind. But not without little bit of spice. He had to lure her out somehow and pour her heart to her. He stumped in the heavy snow with these thoughts circling in his mind. As he was about to enter the barn, Caleb spotted a small velvet flower sticking out of the thick layered white snow. It looked so pretty and at the same time fragile. Suddenly, Caleb realized that this was a sign of hope and new beginning. This was the first bloom! Maybe it was telling him something...maybe he did have a chance after all.

As he was still gazing at the beautiful dainty bloom, he heard loud cheerful voices ringing out of the house. The six girls had come out to search for the hidden flower. They couldn't wait any longer, so knowing that the boys had gone off to work, they thought it was safe to have fun. Caleb hid himself in the barn, not wanting to run into one of the girls. Especially, Martha, Sarah, and Liza! These three women appeared way too hard to handle. LORD knows what kind of shouting, yelling, and pranks he'd get if he'd encounter them. about his gentle girl? What would she do? Probably the same thing, but he deserved it! It didn't matter though, Caleb was ready and too determined to face Ruth. He wanted to apologize to her properly and hand her a peace offering. Something she'd remember him by if she wanted to.

Meanwhile, Ruth shyly stood at the porch of the Pontipee house, watching Dorcas, Alice, and Liza run off to find the infamous First Bloom. She was still deciding what to do. Was this a good idea? Ruth sighed as she wrapped her shawl tighter around herself. In few minutes, Martha appeared next to her bundled up in warm and fuzzy coat.

"I thought you didn't like this plan." The golden haired girl asked softly.

"Eh, whatever. I want to have fun, you know?" Martha shrugged simply. "I can't just be cooped up in this house!"

Ruth nodded in agreement with a gentle smile.

"Sarah, you comin' dear?" Martha called, as she descended the wooden porch stairs to join the other girls in their quest. "Let's go find this flower."

"I'm coming!" Sarah hustled through the door in her warm attire and followed after her friend. Ruth also went along, little bit timidly and kept looking around so that she could avoid running into the boys...the last thing she wanted was an unexpected meeting with Caleb. However, since she was the last one to leave the cabin, all of the girls were already out of sight, running into different areas to spot the First Bloom, each of them excited to throw a celebration the following evening...oh, if only they could find it!

Ruth's thoughts were somewhat scattered, she seemed distant and couldn't figure out why her stomach was suddenly filled with butterflies when she kept thinking about Caleb Pontipee. The slender blonde crunched into the heavy snow passively, she was usually a very positive person but at the moment, things appeared to be hopeless. The whole homestead was covered in a white piles of snow. How could she possible find anything? Let alone a pretty flower. She started realizing that she was all alone now. Her heart skipped a bit and she picked up her skirts to run and find her excited friends, by no means she wished to stay behind. She was stopped by a very gentle voice calling from back. "Ruth." Caleb called sweetly and approached her.

"Caleb?" Ruth answered, her heart skipped very suddenly. When she noticed that he was making an advance, she took a step back unintentionally. That caused Caleb to stop and frown, he didn't mean to frighten her.

"I'm sorry, I didn't want to scare you." He told her softly, trying to gain her favor.

"I...uh...have to go." Ruth said uneasily, peering over her shoulder, hoping to spot her dear friends.

"Please, Ruth. I've been meaning to speak with you for a while now." The third born of Pontipee brothers spoke in desperation. "Allow me to explain myself."

Ruth licked her lips uncomfortably, she was torn. "Um,...alright, but be quick." She replied hesitantly, not wanting to be caught talking with Caleb by the rest of girls.

Caleb extended his hand to her. "Follow me, I'd like to show you something." His eyes were tenderly gazing at her. Ruth's heart was swelling...and her stomach was filled with butterflies. "I don't know, Caleb." She told him unsure. "I can't stay long...the girls are waiting for me."

"Please, Ruth." Caleb begged, "I know I don't deserve your attentions, but allow me to get this out. I won't take much of your time...I promise." He knew that the only way to gain some sort of trust from the girl, was for him to be patient and understanding with her.

"Alright." Ruth answered softly, sheepishly taking his hand and followed him.

The two walked quietly in the snow covered landscapes, it was truly very beautiful sight. The sun was slowly setting, the close-by mountains were magnificent, everything looked still and peaceful. Ruth thought that she was in some kind of fairytale. After a while, Caleb stopped and approached something gently and then he gazed back at Ruth with a smile. "Ruth, I'm not asking you to forgive me right away. I just want us to be peaceful with one another." He told her tenderly, his eyes never leaving hers. "I guess, I'm hoping that like this little flower here managed to bloom in such cold conditions, maybe we can also put the unpleasant past behind us, and start fresh..."

The curly haired blonde let out a gasp of surprise when she noticed the pretty bud in front of her. "Why, Caleb!" She exclaimed. "That's the First Bloom!"

The third Pontipee brother nodded at her quite amused, with how excited Ruth was. "Yes, it is. It's really rare around this time of the year."

"I can't believe I found it! Wait till I show the girls!" The lovely blonde cried happily, but then stopped when she noticed that Caleb was staring at her with a small grin. "...well, I mean it was you who found it."

Caleb shook his head, walking closer to her and taking her hands in his. "No, we found it, Ruth." He reached out and tenderly brushed her cheek, as the slender girl blushed hard.

"I really hope that someday you'll forgive me, for what I did." His voice was gentle and soothing. "For now, I just ask you to stop hating me."

"I don't hate you." Ruth spoke quietly, her eyes lowered. "How can I? when I..." Then she suddenly blushed and closed her mouth. Immediately regretting the words she was about to blurt out. But the third Pontipee brother was way too intrigued. He wasn't about to let her go like this.

"When you what?" Caleb asked eagerly.

"Nothing." The golden curled girl waved his comment away.

"Alright, if you're afraid to say it...I will!" Caleb said in determination, sensing what the girl before him wanted to say. "Ruth Jebson, I love you with all my heart."

Ruth gasped in awe at how honest and confident Caleb was when it came to her. He took out something from his coat pocket, and handed it to her. It was a paper. Ruth gazed at him questionably, and then looked down at her gift. It was a drawing... and she was on display. "You're an artist?" She asked in surprise. Caleb drew her! And quite well too!

Caleb shrugged simply. "I don't know. I just like to draw beautiful things. And you're more than that, cause you're amazing inside and out. Please, save it as a peace offering."

Ruth was becoming red with such compliments, she smiled at him, as she looked down and read a small note at the bottom of the portrait. "My angel?" She asked, after reading the words.

"Well, at that time I didn't know you were such a prankster and troublemaker." Caleb chuckled, little bit embarrassed.

"I forgive you, Caleb." Ruth said unexpectedly, and went up and kissed him on the cheek. She turned around to leave his presence, ready to tell the girls that she had won the exciting game, thanks to Caleb. However, something made her gain the confidence and suddenly, she marched back at the third Pontipee brother, who was gazing after her longingly. Ruth ran up to him and slammed her lips on his, as Caleb, shocked with this forward gesture, took her in his arms and kissed her right back. When the two broke apart, the blonde girl's eyes sparkled with mischief. "I love you too, Caleb Pontipee." With that, she slowly walked away to find her friends. Caleb gazed after her with a huge grin, his face was all bright with happiness. How could things turn out so well for him? It was like a dream come true! Both of them became sure that this was just a first bloom of their relationship. Things would get even better! Just wait and see.

Thanks for all the patience as I finally managed to update this story. Thanks for all the support! Stay tuned for Alice and Gideon.