Title: Ben and the Boys
This story is part of the Glimpses of Ben Series.
Tom Sloan and the few boys of his age that lived in the area sat on 'The Rock' as it had come to be called. This was the rock were they first captured a reluctant Benton Fraser, and removed his clothing so he could join in their reverie in mud and water. Four little boy heads looked towards the path where Ben usually emerged from his side of the creek. Each boy's hair showed bits of dappled sunlight as it filtered through the trees. Four sets of feet twitched on the surface of the sand colored rock with its bits of mossy patches. A loud cheer went up when Ben emerged from the woods and raised something high over his head and grinned.
Ben ran up to the rock and sank down on his knees with a big grin. "I got it." He held the object out and settled down beside Tom. Ben's hand held a small green book with a vivid picture on the front. There were vines and tree and in the middle of the front cover stood a young boy of their own age dressed in a robin hood style hat complete with feather and a short outfit with leggings that danced down into elfin style leather shoes with upturned toes.
"So that's what he looks like." Tom said with awe. He stretched out a finger and traced the elfin figure on the book cover. "Wow. Just like you said."
"Grandma has an older copy," Ben began. "My Dad sent me this one when I was very little." The words sounded aged coming from the eight year old mouth.
Tom curled his legs into a comfortable position and nodded to the other boys. "Go ahead, start."
Four pairs of eyes begged Ben to open his precious book and begin reading. He wet his lips with his tongue and began.
Peter Breaks Through
All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.
Of course they lived at 14..."
Ben looked around to see his listeners settling in to all sorts of comfortable positions. Satisfied that they weren't looking bored, he continued to read. He read for the longest time, checking for his listener's attention every once in a while.
The words flowed from Ben's mouth as he read:"Oh, do come out of that jug, and tell me, do you know where they put my shadow?"
The loveliest tinkle as of golden bells answered him. It is the fairy language. You ordinary children can never hear it, but if you were to hear it you would know that you had heard it once before."
Several of the boys snickered. "Come on get to the funnier part." One of them whispered, so Ben continued to read. He smiled as he read:"Tink said that the shadow was in the big box."
The boys got a little fidgety and wavered in their attention for most of the first part of the book. Being young boys they felt that those first parts were meant for girls. But when Ben began to read of the Island and Captain Hook their attention was soon riveted on the story again.
When the last parts were finally read, the boys stood and stretched. Tom looked down at his shadow on the ground as it followed him. He puffed out his chest and pranced. "Naw, Peter shouldn't have tried soap. Too slippery." Ben and the others laughed. Ben set the book down carefully on the rock and they all tried crowing. They spent the afternoon pretending to be Peter and his band. Two of the more inventive boys even tried flying, and of course they had no success. Tom and Ben fashioned swords out of tree branches twined together with roots. By the time the sun began it's lower course over the world the five little Never Never Landers were well into their game and it was finally only the draw of empty stomachs that made them quit.
Ben and Tom reluctantly put down their swords with a tired sigh. Ben had been Peter and Tom had been Hook for most of the afternoon. The merry band broke and each headed towards home.
Entering the cabin where he lived with his grandparents, Ben left his dirty shoes at the door and ran up the steps to clean up in the bathroom. He took a quick bath, grabbed his robe and ran to his bedroom. He emerged just in time for dinner and ran to see his grandmother waiting for him.
Martha Fraser gave the dearest little boy in her life a warming smile and beckoned him into the kitchen. "What were you doing today Ben?"
Ben's slow grin let Martha know he had been with what she and her husband, George, called 'The Boys' again. "We played pirate by the creek Grandmother."
"Pirates. Do you mean like Buccaneers and the Spanish Main?"
Guiltily Ben hung his head. English History was one of the subjects he was supposed to be studying now and he wasn't sure how his grandmother was going to take the fantasy play. "No Mam, not Buccaneers."
"Ah, then you must be referring to the Pirates of the Orient who prevented trade for so long between the smaller islands."
"Well, Ben what pirates were you pretending to be."
Ben shuffled his feet and looked down. "Tom was Captain Hook." Ben looked up between his dazzling lashes. "I was Peter."
"I always liked Wendy myself." Martha grinned.
"Boys aren't the only ones who like adventure Ben." She put a glass of milk down on the table. "Were you story telling or using the book Ben?"
Ben plopped in his chair and hung his head in his hands. "I left my book in the woods." He looked up at her with big pleading eyes, "May I go retrieve it?"
"You know right where you left it?"
"Yes, Mam. I was careless in not bringing it home."
George Fraser walked into the kitchen holding his left hand behind his back. "Heard some boys crowing in town this afternoon. Would you know anything about that Ben? Young Tom Sloan roared past me on his way home brandishing a pretend sword."
"Yes, sir. We played Peter Pan down by the creek this afternoon."
"Ah, then that's how this book got down in the woods." He held Ben's book out to him.
Ben got up and took the book gently from his Grandfather's hands and turned it over and over to check for harm. "Thank you Granpere."
"Who were you Ben?"
"I was Peter." Ben stated with a great deal of pride. He marched past his grandparent and raced up the stairs to place his book in its honored place on his bookshelf.
George and Martha sighed. "Peter had no mother." Martha said sadly.
"Peter never grew up. Ben will." George replied.
They heard Ben at the top of the stairs giving a loud crow before he raced down the steps.
"One or two flights of fantasy won't hurt the boy." George said with a grin as Ben slid up to his chair and sat down.
Martha gave George a quick scowl. "Ben tomorrow we'll go over what you know about real pirates." She hesitated before continuing, "Maybe the Spanish Maine will get your attention."