Summary: Ben’s memories of the past and dreams of the future all revolve around a simple pearl ring.
Rated: K (679 words)
Long Ago and Far Away
The instant Ben opened the box, he could feel her presence. The delicate scent of rose filled his nostrils, bringing with it visions of evening walks along the beach and the grit of sand clinging to his bare feet. If he strained his ears, he could almost swear that off in the distance a ship’s bell tolled, mingling with the, “heave ho!” sing-song of sailors manning the capstan bars. The salty tang of the sea tingled on his tongue.
No longer was he nearing sixty-five; instead, he was twenty-two again. He was brimming with hopes, dreams, and passion—passion for life…and for the captain’s young daughter. The world was his oyster.
“Elizabeth.” Her name fell from his lips like a prayer. She had been beautiful, all wild, chestnut curls and fiery, hazel eyes. It wasn’t only her lovely form that had caught his attention though, but her brilliant mind as well. They had spent hours over endless games of chess, discussing strategy, their own experiences at sea, their likes and dislikes, and, of course, books. She found pleasure in the writings of William Shakespeare and the poetry of Byron, while Ben preferred the more adventurous novels of James Fenimore Cooper. However, they both agreed that Milton’s Paradise Lost was a masterpiece. Once Adam was of an age to appreciate it, Ben had passed on Elizabeth’s copy of the epic poem, even though it had pained him to do so. His eldest son had inherited more than just his mother’s eyes; he had been gifted with her bibliophile tendencies as well. He devoured every book he could get his hands on—which were few and far between out in the Nevada Territory.
With an effort, Ben managed to drag himself out of his musings of the past. He peered into the velvet-lined innards of the box. There, resting on a thick packet of time-worn love letters, lay the ring. It was a simple thing. A smile tugged at the corners of his lips. He had bought the pea-sized, pink pearl from a fisherman and managed to scrape up enough money to have a jeweler set the gem upon a simple, gold band. He had feared that it would be far too plain for such a fine lady as Elizabeth Stoddard, but he needn’t have worried. She had adored it. Later on, after they had wed, she had admitted that she would have married him even if all he could have afforded was a band made of twine, for he had given her the most precious gift of all: his heart.
With reverent fingers, he picked the ring up, cradling it in his calloused, age-worn palm. After Elizabeth’s passing, Ben had hidden it away inside her jewelry box for safekeeping, all the while knowing that one day Adam would ask him for it to give to his own dear lady. There had been many a girl who had caught the boy’s fancy, but not a one had managed to capture his heart.
The image of the widowed Laura Dayton appeared before Ben’s mind’s eye. Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps his son’s heart was now engaged. Adam had been paying more attention to the blonde young woman and her daughter, Peggy, and Ben was far from being too old to not recognize the signs of a budding relationship. She was, he had to admit, a bit flighty, less sensible than he would have expected in a possible mate for his child. Had he been able to choose a bride for his son….
He shook his head. No. He is a grown man, he can make his own decisions.
The ring would rest on Laura’s finger or it would not. Either way, it would be Adam’s choice.
“Soon.” With a mingled sense of reluctance and relief, Ben placed the trinket back inside the box and shut the lid. “Soon, my darling, but not just yet.”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author Notes: According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first known usage of the term “bibliophile” was in 1820.
This was written for a Bonanza Boomers writing challenge called “Bonanza Ballads #4”. I was given the song title “Long Ago and Far Away” by James Taylor and wrote a story based solely on the title and not the content of the song.
Special thanks goes to Tracy from Bonanza Boomers who Beta read my story.