- Felicity Merriman
- Martha Merriman
- Edward Merriman
- Nan Merriman
- William Merriman
- Benjamin Davidson
- Jiggy Nye
Chapter by Chapter Summary
Chapter One: Merriman's Store
Felicity walks into her father's store and takes a deep breath, enjoying the smells of the various products therein. Her father greets her, calling her Mistress Merriman. Felicity grins, as her father always treats her like a fine lady when she arrives. Father says that Felicity is wearing a lovely hat and asks her if she's come to buy a feather for it or any other trims. Felicity pushes the hat to hang down her back, saying that her father knows she doesn't like the old straw hat she's wearing, and only wears it because her mother insists on it. Her father points out that the hat is to shade her face. Felicity rubs her nose, which is pretty pink, and says she does forget to wear it. Father says that sometimes Felicity forgets and sometimes she is impatient; despite this, he likes her nose.
Father then asks her what she came to fetch from the store. Felicity, pretending to be a fine lady again, asks for a penny's worth of ginger root. Her father gives her a bit of rock candy and she sucks on it as she waits for him to measure the root for her. As she waits, she looks around at the variant things on the shelves. She daydreams about where some items came from, such as the tulip bulbs from Holland, tea from China, and cotton from India. She thinks her father's store is the finest in the colonies and that the king himself couldn't have a better store.
Her father hands her the package of ginger and says for her to put it in her pocket so that she won't lose it like she did the sugar. Felicity says that she didn't quite lose it, she gave it away. Her father laughs that she gave it to a horse, and that she's give a horse anything as she does love them. Felicity agrees. Father pats Felicity's pocket and says not to give the ginger to a horse as it's meant for a cake with supper, and then tells her to hurry along to help bake the cake. Felicity asks if she must go home; she finds baking less interesting than working in the store. She asks if she can help Marcus in the storeroom. Father says that she need not stay, as Ben helps Marcus in the storeroom. Felicity thinks that Ben, being quiet and shy, is easy to forget; since his arrival a month ago, her father has not needed Felicity's help. Felicity sighs, knowing that she should go home to do work; there is mending waiting for her there. However, she hates the idea of sitting at home and sewing. She would rather stay at the store, but as her father has already turned back to his work, she resigns herself to going home.As she opens the door to leave, Mrs. Fitchett walks in. Felicity steps aside to let Mrs. Fitchett in and Father greets her, saying he has not seen her since the start of the summer. Mrs. Fitchett thanks Mr. Merriman and then turns to Felicity, calling her a pretty maid. She says she has grown tall and pretty with hair as bright as marigolds, and that she will surely have lads flocking around her. She asks Felicity if she is ready for that and if she is working on her sampler to show her sewing skills. Felicity says that she hasn't started a sampler yet. Mrs. Fitchett is surprised, saying that her two daughters had finished their samplers by her age. Mr. Merriman says that Felicity isn't good at stitching as she lacks patience, and Mrs. Fitchett says that she is high spirited and that she will find patience when she decides, most likely when a fellow she fancies comes along. Mr. Merriman says that she's more interested in horses and would rather go riding than to a ball, asking Felicity if this is true. Felicity eagerly agrees, wondering who would prefer dancing over horses. Mrs. Fitchett is reminded that she has come to have oats delivered and asks if Marcus can deliver them. Mr. Merriman says that he can have Ben do it as he is going to deliver a bit and harness to Jiggy Nye as well.
Mrs. Fitchett lowers her voice to a gossipy tone, saying that she knows that Jiggy Nye wants the bit because he has a new work horse. She says that he probably won it gambling or such as he didn't pay for it. Felicity listens closely, wanting to hear more about the horse. However, Mrs. Fitchett goes on about Jiggy Nye, saying that he probably worked his last horse to death and that he is cold-hearted and not to be trusted and that Ben should get payment. Father agrees, as he takes no promises from Jiggy as he would drink it away. He looks at Felicity, but Felicity already knows this about Jiggy. She doesn't dislike him because of his drinking but because he kills cows and horses and turns the hides into leather. Felicity asks her father what Jiggy Nye will do to his new horse, and Mr. Merriman tells her not to worry about the horse as it is most likely strong and healthy and Mr. Nye would be a fool to abuse it. He kisses Felicity on the forehead and tells her to run alone home lest her mother worry where she and the ginger have gotten to. Felicity bids him and Mrs. Fitchett good day, then walks home thinking only one thought: she must go see Mr. Nye's horse as soon as she can.
Chapter Two: Penny
Felicity is at home in the afternoon. Her back itches and she can't scratch it—her left hand won't reach and her right hand is inky from practicing her writing. Her squirming and moving catches her mother's attention, who asks why she is twitching. Felicity complains that she has an itch and that her stays may be laced too tight. Mother laughs and says that Felicity thinks her stays are always too tight, but that they might be too tight so offers her to come over to have them loosened some. Felicity thanks her mother, sighing as they are loosened. Mother says that Felicity's stays would stop pinching if she sat up straight and that if she moved more gracefully she would not be uncomfortable in them. After fixing Felicity's cap, she asks to see her paper so she can see her handwriting practice. Felicity blushes and says she is not quite done. Mother points out that the lettering was fine until the letter H, and the rest of the letters are sloppy and followed by horse sketches. She says that Felicity must learn to finish what she starts and if she thought as much about her writing as she did on horses, she'd have a fine hand. She tells her to go alone to the well and scrub the ink off her hand. Felicity asks if she can accompany Ben on his delivery and her mother allows it as it is no use keeping Felicity indoors when her mind is already outside. Felicity thanks her mother and flies out the door; her mother calls for her to take her hat but Felicity is already halfway to the well.
Felicity arrives at her father's store (with her hand still a little wet and inky) just as Ben steps out. He looks confusedly around, unsure of where to go. Felicity asks him if he knows the way and he says that he'll find it. Felicity says she'll show him, and Ben allows it passively before going quiet. Felicity doesn't mind, instead focusing on being outdoors and small signs of the cooler fall weather approaching. Felicity is supposed to be leading Ben along but his strides are longer than hers and she must trot to keep up; she finally lifts her petticoats and takes longer strides. Aloud she says that she wishes she could wear breeches. Ben questions her and Felicity repeats herself, stating that gowns and petticoats are bothersome since she is forever stepping on the hems and tripping unless she takes small ladylike steps. She feels she can't get anywhere in them and that in breeches she could do more things such as straddle horses, leap fences, and run. Ben does not answer but shifts his sack of oats to the other shoulder and Felicity can now see his face. Felicity goes on about how it is tiresome to be a girl and that she is told the same things over and over such as not talking too loud, walking too fast, fidgeting, and being impatient. She says that it is lucky for Ben to be a lad, as he can do what he wants. Ben corrects Felicity that he can't do what he wants, since he's an apprentice. The two walk in silence for a moment before Felicity asks him if he is happy here in Williamsburg. She goes on that he must miss his friends and family in Yorktown, and that she would never let those she love leave her because she would be too lonely and miserable. She suggests that Ben will be happier when he has friends. Ben agrees before hiding behind the oats again.The two continue along the main street of Williamsburg; the streets aren't very busy, and Felicity notices such things as Mrs. Vobe inviting guests to the tavern and the milliner opening up her shop. After Ben delivers the oats, he says that he can find his way to the tannery and back home from here, but Felicity keeps walking with him, declaring that Jiggy has a new horse she intends to see. She expects Ben to tell her to go, but he says nothing and she is glad for a moment he is so quietand grins to herself. The two arrive at the tannery and Felicity comments on the smell. Ben does too; the two then hear angry shouts and a horse's frightened whinnying. Felicity runs to the pasture gate and sees Jiggy Nye trying to back a horse into the shafts of a work cart. The horse is panickedly rearing up and fighting Jiggy while he is pulling on a rope around her neck. Jiggy threatens to beat the horse. Ben catches up with Felicity and orders her to stay back. Felicity argues that she wants to see the horse and stands behind the open gates. The horse looks poorly taken care of, but Felicity can see that the horse is beautiful underneath this. She whispers that the horse is beautiful.
Jiggy and the horse hear and turn towards her. The horse calms a bit and Jiggy takes the opportunity to tighten the rope. The horse begins to panic again and Jiggy is nearly pulled off the ground when she rears. Jiggy calls the horse a beast and glares at Ben, demanding that he come and help. Ben runs into the pen and grabs the rope, but the horse only panics more. Jiggy yells that he will beat the fire out of her and raises his whip to strike. Felicity screams no and the horse takes off across the pasture. She drags Ben and Jiggy off through the dust, forcing them to let go. Jiggy flails and screams at Felicity that she's spooked the horse, calling her a bothersome chit of a girl. Felicity yells back that he spooked the horse himself. Jiggy turns to Ben and demands to know what he's there for. Ben says he brought the bit Jiggy ordered. Jiggy asks for it and Ben says that he's to wait for payment. Jiggy screams for him to leave, and keep the bit as the horse won't take it anyways. He then tells the two to go before he whips them both. Ben turns to leave but Felicity backs away watching the horse run back and forth inside the fence. Ben tells Felicity to come along and she does so.
On the way back, Felicity asks Ben if the horse is beautiful. Ben agrees, saying that she's a chestnut mare and a blood horse—a thoroughbred, trained the be a gentleman's mount and not a work horse. Felicity declares that the horse should not belong to Mr. Nye as she is much too fine and that she's like to ride a horse like that. Ben says that the horse is too fast for Felicity and that after the way Mr. Nye has treated her she won't trust anyone or let anyone else ride her again. Felicity hears Ben, but does not believe him. While there is frantic anger in the horse's eyes, there is spirit, not viciousness—much like the burrs and mud hide a fine coat. Felicity whispers the name "Penny" and Ben asks her what she means. Felicity repeats herself, saying that she is going to the call the horse that as she is the color of a penny. She asks Ben if it is a good name and he agrees, saying that she is also independent minded as well. Felicity smiles, thinking of the horse as Penny.
By the time the two of them get back to town, the sun is setting and they hurry home. Mrs. Merriman demands to know where they have been and Felicity says they stopped at the tannery and saw a beautiful horse. Father explains that it's Jiggy's new horse. Ben hands over the harness and bit, saying that Jiggy Nye didn't buy the items and he can't control his horse. He says the horse is independent minded and fast as fire. Father asks how he got the horse and Ben says that no one knows for sure; Jiggy says he won the horse in a bet from a man who found it stray in the woods; he put up a notice in the paper but it was never claimed. However, it is just Mr. Nye's story and so not easy to trust. Felicity is surprise at Ben talking so much and all he knows. Mr Merriman says it's a pity Jiggy Nye has the horse and that it won't end well. Felicity can tell from her father's face that Penny is in danger, and makes up her mind to go back to the tannery and see Penny as soon as possible.
Chapter Three: Jiggy Nye's ThreatIt is September, and since thunderstorms are frequent, it has rained three days straight. Felicity is feeling trapped in the house and asks her mother if she can go out. Her mother tell her that she certainly cannot as it's storming and she would be soaked through. Felicity sighs. Her mother points out—with tiredness in her voice—that the apron Felicity has recently worked on has been done poorly; Mother will need to rip out the hem again. She says that there should be twenty stitches to the inch and in a straight line, and that Nan sews much more carefully at her young age. Felicity apologizes and says that her hands just won't go slow. Mother pats her hands and hands back the apron, telling her she will have to be slower with her hands. Felicity protests that there are miles of stitches and they are never done. Mother says she must be slow and steady, as things are done faster when done right and that haste makes waste. Felicity repeats her and she and Mother smile at each other as Felicity is told this at least once every day. Felicity goes back to her sewing and tries to be careful for a while.
The storm stops for a while and Felicity is sent to deliver preserves to Mrs. Deare and to take Nan and William with her. Felicity is disappointed as she wants to go see Penny alone and they will come slowly. But she has no choice and they come with her. William drags a stick through the mud and drop stones in puddles, while Nan takes tiny ladylike steps around the puddles; Felicity is forced to wait on them. Nan points out a fine hat in the milliner's window and asks to go look at it and Felicity tells her no as they don't have time to waste. Nan is miffed, but cheers up when they get to Mrs. Deare's house. She fusses over Nan and William and gives them each a cake, Felicity waiting impatiently. When they leave and head towards the tannery, Nan says that she wants to go home and won't go any further. Felicity tells her they are going to the tannery and to come along. Nan protests that the tannery stinks and she won't go and William says the same. Felicity gets an idea and tells Nan that there are lots of flowers and she can pick them to make her hat like the one she saw. Nan decides this is okay but that she won't speak to Mr. Nye as he's bad. William repeats the word "bad" and swings his sticks like swords.
When they arrive, Felicity leads them past the house and to the pasture, and Penny is there. She looks thinner and her coat is worse; she also has a cut on one leg. Jiggy has tied her to a stake and she is straining to get loose. William says "horse" and Felicity says that the horse is named Penny because of her color and independence. When Nan asks, Felicity explains that it means she has a free spirit and wants to run. Felicity then climbs onto the fence. Nan warns Felicity not to get close to the horse and Felicity says that she won't be hurt. She then calls to Penny and says she has something for her before tossing a sugar lump close to Penny's nose. Nan asks where she got the sugar and Felicity tells her to hush, not turning away from Penny. She is about the tell Nan not to say anything when they get back home when Jiggy Nye's voice startles her.Jiggy grabs Felicity's shoulders and pulls her off the fence while Nan holds William tight. Jiggy calls Felicity a sly, red-headed chit and says he told her to stay away from his horse. Felicity gets out of his grasp and says she's not hurting Penny. Jiggy says that the horse isn't her business; she's vicious, she knocked the fence down trying to get out the pasture, and so she was tied up. He goes on to say that he doesn't want Felicity spooking her and to stay away. Felicity, frightened but angry, tells Jiggy that he's scaring Penny and has no right to treat her badly. Jiggy grabs Felicity again and Penny whinnies wildly. Jiggy yells for Penny to be quiet, grabs a stick, and climbs into the pasture. As he gets closer Penny rears, breaks the rope, and Jiggy falls into the dirt. He shakes his fist as Penny runs to the far end of the pasture, calling her a worthless nag and that he'd give her to anyone who could ride her. He then turns to Felicity tells her to take her and the brats out of here and that he'll skin them alive if he sees them again before storming off. Nan, crying, begs to leave and grabs Felicity's petticoats to drag her away. Felicity looks back to see Penny running free around the pasture. She thinks Penny has done good and that she shouldn't let Jiggy Nye scare her since Felicity won't be scared either.
At supper, William gives away the trip to the tannery by talking about a big horse and a bad man. Nan tries to shush him, but Mother, hearing, asks if Felicity has gone out to see Jiggy Nye's horse. Nan says that Felicity made them go and the horse caused Mr. Nye to fall. She goes on that Mr. Nye called the horse a nag, that anyone who take her if they can ride her, and that he'd skin the children alive if they came back. Mother tells Nan to hush and that she shouldn't repeat those things before turning to Felicity with a serious look. She tells Felicity that she's not to go back to the tannery as it's not a place for children. Nan says that he was going to hit the horse and Father mutters that Jiggy Nye is a villain of the worse sort. Ben speaks up to say that he'll kill the horse, he's sure of it. Felicity says they can't let this happen and they have to help her, suggesting they buy the horse. Mother says they can't as they have two horses already—Old Bess for Father and Blossom to pull carts. Felicity says that Bess is so slow that it's faster to walk and Mother tells her that it wouldn't do Felicity any harm to go slower in everything she does.
Father gently tells Felicity that they have no need for a troublesome horse and that she'd be useless as she couldn't be rode; Marcus has enough to do with the two horses they have and has no time for a third. Felicity protests that she'd take care of Penny and do it all herself, catching Ben's attention. Mother sighs and tells Felicity she is headstrong and impatient, pointing out the many things she gives no patience to such as sewing and writing. She continues that a willful girl and a willful horse are too much for one family and to put the horse out of her head, asking if Felicity hears her. Felicity says yes—because it's true she heard her. But she refuses to put Penny out of her head or heart.
Chapter Four: Ben's PromiseIt is very late at night, with only a little bit of moonlight showing into Felicity's room. Felicity slips out of bed, gets dressed in everything but her shoes, and sneaks downstairs (skipping the creaking step) and outside shaking nervously the whole time. Once she is outside she puts on her shoes, gathers her petticoats, and runs all the way out to the edge of town. She arrives at the pasture out of breath and stands on the lowest rung of the fence, searching in the darkness for Penny. Penny is tied to a thicker stake and she looks up and tosses her head. Felicity whispers that she's here and that while Penny doesn't trust her yet but she will. Felicity leaves a small apple for her near the stake and runs all the way home before sunrise. When Felicity comes to breakfast, Mother points out that her petticoats are wet and muddy and that Felicity's stockings are probably wet right up to her garters, then asks what she was doing. Felicity looks at her hem and says she was in the garden. Her mother says that she's probably digging around the pumpkins she planted and that they aren't going to grow any faster, then tells her to sit down and eat. Felicity thinks to herself that she needs breeches to run in and wonders where to get them. She finds her answer in the mending pile, where Ben has left a pair of thin black cotton breeches. He only wears them to church sometimes and so Felicity thinks they won't be missed if she borrows them. The next morning Felicity sneaks out again before dawn and stops by the stable, where she has hidden the breeches under an old bucket. She pulls them over her shift and ties them on with a rope; Ben is tall and skinny, so the breeches go down to her ankles. She runs to the tannery, thinking that her legs are much freer and for once she can run as fast as she wants. For the next few months, Felicity sneaks out of the house to see Penny early in the morning. At first she stays outside the pasture, but progresses to sitting on the top rail close (but not too close) to where Penny is tied up. She doesn't talk because she might frighten the horse. Felicity—who won't sit still to sew—sits silently next to Penny without moving many mornings, and considers it peaceful as she observes Penny. Felicity thinks that she's thinking about running away. The first time Felicity climbs off the fence, Penny dances about but doesn't shy away. Felicity starts to think that Penny is looking forward to their mornings together and that Felicity is kind and patient and won't hurt her. Felicity wishes that she could send more time with Penny and gain her trust.
One morning after breakfast, Felicity is trying to hide her yawning as she practices sewing. She becomes more alert when she hears Mother ask Ben if he put his breeches in the mending pile as asked. Ben says he did, and Mother says she doesn't see them and asks where they are. Ben says he doesn't know, and Mother fusses that he should look as breeches don't just disappear. Felicity keeps her head down but looks at Ben, who looks confused and embarrassed. She wonders how he would feel if he knew where they were. No one knows though, and Felicity keeps going out to see Penny every morning and keeps her secret. This keeps her happy all through the day, and Penny becomes more and more friendly towards her. Felicity takes an apple to Penny every day and one morning after a few weeks Penny takes the apple from her hand. Felicity stands still and does not try to touch Penny. From then on. Penny makes a game of asking for the apple from Felicity. One morning Felicity offers the apple but before she takes it, she pauses and whinnies worriedly. Felicity asks what's wrong, but hears dogs barking, and realizes Jiggy Nye is coming. She drops to the ground and hides in the grass outside the pasture. Penny whinnies and paws the ground. Jiggy tells Penny not to start anything and stands near Felicity's hiding spot. She doesn't move as Jiggy leaves a bucket of water and says that he won't give Penny any oats until she lets him ride and she can starve to death. As soon as Jiggy turns around, Felicity gets up and runs home. But she does not stop visiting. As the days get colder, she starts being able to spend more time with Penny before sunrise. One morning, Felicity unties Penny from the stake and leads her around the pasture. Penny follows at rope's length for a week, but then follows closer and even starts pushing at her playfully. She also lets Felicity stroke her neck and nose, and Felicity whispers to Penny that she loves her and won't rush her into anything.Felicity's weeks of patience are rewarded. One morning Penny is standing quietly by the fence waiting and Felicity unties the rope and slowly climbs on Penny's back without her moving. Penny starts out trotting with Felicity holding on to her mane and sitting stiffly, but relaxes into a canter and Felicity leans in closer. They move quickly around the pasture, and the speed of the ride makes Felicity's eyes water. As Felicity continues to ride Penny in the morning, she does new things each time. The first time she jumps over a pile of hay, Felicity is so surprised she falls off. They continue to jump over higher and higher things and Felicity does not fall off any more as she learns that Penny tenses her neck just before jumping. One morning Penny jumps over the broken fence and they ride further than ever into the woods. When they get back into the pasture, Felicity hurriedly ties Penny to the stake and runs back home quickly, as the sky is turning pink. She changes back into her own clothes and is rolling up the breeches to hide them when she hears someone behind her—Ben. She turns around silently. Ben asks what she has in a cold voice and comes forward, discovering they are his best Sunday breeches. He takes them from Felicity, noticing they are covered in mud and wet, and then says they smell like horse. Felicity apologizes and says that she needed them. Ben sits down and asks Felicity what she is up to. Felicity explains that she has been going to see Penny at the tannery, and gushes about how fine she is to ride—much to Ben's surprise. Ben shakes his head, saying that he's not sure if Felicity is brave or foolish as he is afraid the horse would throw anyone. Felicity says that she has gained Penny's trust. Ben asks how long she has been going out, and Felicity says since the rain stopped—a month. Ben is quiet for a while, then says that Felicity can't keep doing this as Jiggy will find her and the horse belongs to him. Felicity says that she heard him say that he'd give Penny to whomever could ride her, so she'll have her. Ben says that Felicity sets her heart on things too much as Jiggy Nye will not let her keep the horse—but he also thought no one would be able to ride her. Felicity asserts that she will get Penny away from Jiggy Nye, and Ben said it must be soon; Felicity says she can't rush things, and asks Ben if he wants his breeches back. Ben says not the way they smell, and that Felicity can keep them as long as she likes and he will keep her secret. Felicity thanks him and heads to breakfast.
Felicity notices that Ben is less shy now that he knows her secret; he whistles and even makes jokes at dinner. He also keeps his word. On Sunday, Mother asks Ben if has found his breeches yet as they are fine India cotton and it is not his way to be careless. Ben says he knows where they are; Felicity gets nervous. Ben continues that he lent them to a friend. Mother asks why and Ben says that his friend needs the breeches more. Mrs. Merriman tells him to dust off his old wool ones for church, and Felicity smiles at Ben; he is a true friend. She does realize, however, that she can't keep her secret much longer.
Chapter Five: Independence
Felicity grooms Penny well, getting all the burrs out of her mane and tail. Jiggy has never brushed Penny and Felicity, worried someone would notice her care, has not done much more than pull out burrs. But today Felicity is revealing her secret. Penny is still for her as Felicity grooms her, and Felicity compliments her as she does so, receiving a nuzzle from Penny in response. Felicity says she loves Penny and asks if she is ready, then climbs on her back—she is wearing her coral necklace for luck and her favorite gown. The two head off to town, Felicity assuring Penny that everything will be fine. As the sun rises, Felicity rides down the main street and the few awake stare at her—the Merriman girl is astride a lovely horse riding through town.
Nan is carrying the breakfast bread from the kitchen to the house when Felicity rides into the yard; her mouth falls open and she calls for her parents. Father comes out asking about the fuss, wiping his face with a breakfast napkin. He stops when he sees Felicity. William behind him starts crying out "Lissie's horse!" and Mother asks Felicity what she is doing and where she got the horse. Felicity says it's the horse she told them about. Ben comes close and Penny steps back nervously. Felicity soothes her and Penny calms down and allows Ben to touch her. Father asks if this is the horse from the tannery, what Felicity is doing with it, if Jiggy Nye even knows she has it, and why she has it. Felicity explains she wanted the family to see her and that she was never vicious, only mistreated; Felicity has earned her trust after a long time. Mother asks how long she's been going to her and Felicity says about five weeks, every morning; this causes Mother to sink onto the stairs. Father asks how she tamed her and Felicity said she was simply patient and careful. Father says that Penny is fine and gentle, but that she's not Felicity's to ride and she needs to take her back to the tannery and apologize to Jiggy Nye, and not ride her again unless he allows it. Felicity says that she wants to keep her and that Jiggy said that whoever could ride her could have her. Father says Felicity must have misunderstood as no one would ever give away such a horse. Ben speaks up saying that Jiggy Nye is starving and beating the horse, and Father says this is true but it's still his horse. Felicity begs to keep her.Before Father can respond, Jiggy marches into the yard. Penny rears and Felicity is forced to hold on. Nan screams and William cries. Mr. Nye calls her a headstrong chit and that she stole his horse, then demands she get off. Felicity clings on, saying that he said that anyone could keep her who could ride her, and Jiggy denies it. Nan agrees that he did say that and that he's a bad man. Jiggy says that he never meant for some girl to come take his horse. Father says that no one is trying to steal the horse and that Felicity misunderstood as a child and apologizes for her. Jiggy says horse theft is a crime. Father says the only crime is the way he's treating Penny, that he doesn't deserve the horse, and offers to buy her. Jiggy says he will never sell to the Merrimans, that the horse will always be his, that he'll treat it how he wants, and then demands Felicity be taken off Penny or he'll rip her off. Felicity begs for her father not to let him take Penny, and Father says that the horse isn't hers and she has to let Jiggy take her. Felicity clings to Penny and says she can't let her go. Father gently pulls Felicity off despite her protests. Jiggy ropes Penny's neck tight, then yells at Felicity that if he sees her near the horse again he'll kill it. Mr. Merriman tells Jiggy Nye not to talk to his daughter that way and to leave. Jiggy spits in the dust and leads Penny away. Felicity, feeling dead inside with no hope, runs to the stable to cry.
Father finds her a while later, stroking Old Bess. He puts her arm around her and asks her if she's done crying. Felicity nods and they are quiet for a bit before Felicity says that all the things she did were a waste and were for nothing. Father denies this, saying that she tamed Penny and rode her like a queen. Felicity says it ended bad because Jiggy took Penny back. She continues that she was wrong to try and make Penny hers. Father says that she's not wrong, as it's never wrong to earn something that is loved—only wrong not to try. Felicity put work behind her hope, and Father can only be proud of her for that. He kisses her forehead and tells her to come in when she's ready. After Father leaves, Felicity gets Ben's breeches and goes to his room to give them back. Ben takes them, then says that he has some money to offer Jiggy for the purchase of Penny. Felicity points out that Jiggy Nye is too hateful to sell Penny. Ben says that Penny will go vicious again with Jiggy Nye and that he'll beat her and starve her; Felicity finishes by saying he'll kill her. Ben agrees. Felicity says she must save Penny. Ben says she could be hidden and Felicity says that she won't be happy penned up. Ben says that Penny would be better off in the woods free. Felicity agrees, softly at first but then louder. Ben, realizing what Felicity is saying says that if she lets her loose she won't see her again and that letting her go is stealing, punishable by hanging. Felicity wordlessly takes Ben's breeches and leaves.
Felicity doesn't sleep all night and, in the middle of the night, she pulls on Ben's breeches and runs to the pasture. The gates is chained and locked shut, and Felicity climbs over the gate to see Penny isn't tethered. Felicity whistles and Penny trots over. Felicity climbs on her back and they ride around the pasture, Penny picking up speed and Felicity holding on tight. Penny runs round the pasture and then towards the broken part of the fence, and Felicity sees the fence is now fixed. She's sure Penny can't jump it, but Penny leaps over it smoothly and Felicity falls off just as she's halfway over and into the pasture. Penny runs towards the woods, but stops and turns to face Felicity who is winded. Felicity tells her to go on as she's free. Penny pauses, then nickers and runs into the woods. Felicity waits, sitting on the ground, to make sure Penny isn't coming back; Penny's freedom is all that matters to her. She is not even worried if Jiggy finds her or if she's late getting home. Finally, she gets up, dusts herself off, and goes home.
Later that morning she takes Ben his breeches; he asks if she let her go. Felicity nods and says Penny freed herself. Ben says this is best, and Felicity says she hopes Penny doesn't think she's been abandoned. Ben says that Penny knows she loves her because she let her go free and gave her what she needed most—independence. Felicity is quiet for a moment and agrees.
The next Sunday, Mother points out that Ben has his breeches back from his friend and that they are nicely mended. Ben agrees and when Mother asks him to keep an eye on them Ben says he will—but they will be available for his friend if they are needed again, and he and Felicity share a smile.
Looking Back: America in 1774
Discusses America at the dawn of the America Revolution. Topics discussed:
- The thirteen colonies of England in America and the reasons for colonization (and that Native people were there before the English or any other Europeans).
- Towns like Williamsburg and daily life
- People's ideas of balance in homes, gardens, and daily life.
- Clothing styles and elements for men, women, and children (including dresses for young boys).
- Dining and food and the elegance thereof
- Slavery and apprenticeship in the colonies
- Colonial Williamsburg as a "living museum" today.
Items associated with Meet Felicity
- With the change of Felicity's meet dress from the Rose Garden gown to the Traveling Gown, two scenes in Meet Felicity were photoedited to put Felicity in the dress: where she first hears about Penny in her father's store and later when she first sees her at the tannery.
- ↑ While the section discusses that stays were laced tightly for fashion, this is incorrect; stays were for upper body support and were not laced tightly by most women.