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Benjamin Davidson is a friend of Felicity Merriman.

Personality and Facts

Benjamin--nicknamed Ben--is a full time apprentice for Edward Merriman and is about fifteen at the start of the series. Ben is taller than Felicity but skinnier; he is described during his attempted runaway in the article Edward submits that he is about six feet tall with long brown hair and brown eyes. He is originally from Yorktown and his family and friends are back there.

Ben is initially introduced as a quiet and shy young man who keeps to himself and sleeps in the loft above the stables. He is apprenticed to Father to learn how to run a general store, and has been there approximately a month before the start of Meet Felicity in fall 1774. Social rules and expectations regarding apprenticing means he is expected to be treated as well as family by the Merrimans and cared for as an additional family member for the duration of his apprenticeship; for example, Martha provides him good britches for Sunday church.

Felicity does not think much of him to start both because he is quiet and because due to his presence, she no longer is allowed to help her father and Marcus at Merriman's Store and so must must go home and do housekeeping things she finds boring (such as sewing and cooking). As he gets to know Felicity and her family, he opens up and becomes a good friend to Felicity as she does to him.

Ben is observant and picks up news well; he was the one to inform Mr. Merriman about how Jiggy Nye might have obtained Penny and that he's untrustworthy. He is well versed in horses, as he is able to identify Penny as a thoroughbred horse the first time she sees her. He is very headstrong and does not think his actions through many times, much like Felicity, and can be as impatient and hot tempered as her once he finds his cause to believe in: America's rising desire to seek independence from England. Ben believes in the Patriot cause and wants to fight in the army, even going so far as to run away to try to serve.

In the Books

Meet Felicity: An American Girl

Ben is first mentioned when Felicity asks Father if she can stay and help Marcus in the storeroom at at Merriman's Store rather than returning home with the ginger to be used for tonight's supper. Father points out that she has forgotten that with Ben there she isn't needed, and Felicity thinks that it's easy to forget Ben with him so quiet.

When Mrs. Fitchett requests that Mr. Merriman have Marcus deliver oats to her house, he says that Ben can do this as he is heading that way in the afternoon to deliver a bit and harness to Jiggy Nye. This leads to the conversation that Felicity overhears about Penny.

Felicity catches Ben as he is on his way to Mrs. Fitchett's to deliver a package. He is confused and unsure of where to go, and Felicity offers to lead him to her place. He passively allows her. When Felicity complains about her skirts, Ben listens but does not respond until Felicity says that he is lucky to be a boy as he can do what ever he wants; at this, he responds that he can't as he is an apprentice. When Felicity says that he will be happier with friends in his new town, he passively agrees and hides behind the sack of oats again.

Ben and Felicity meet Penny.

Ben tells Felicity she can go home after he delivers the oats, but she stays with him. When they arrive at the tannery, he remarks on the smell. When Felicity hears the horse, she runs off and it is Ben who tells her to stay back. Jiggy yells for him to try and help get his new horse under control. When Ben is unable to and Jiggy spooks the horse, they are both dragged and forced to let go. When Jiggy asks what he's doing there, he says he's there to deliver the bit and harness. Jiggy demands it and Ben says he won't hand it over without the payment, as directed by Mr. Merriman. He quickly leaves when Jiggy tells him and Felicity to leave, but he has to call Felicity to make her leave. He tells Felicity that Penny is a thoroughbred and discourages Felicity from trying to ride Penny, as the horse is too wild for anyone. He does agree with Felicity's name for Penny, and adds that the name is good because he feels the horse is independent. When they get home, he relates his information about the horse to Mr. Merriman and that Jiggy is unable to control the horse, as well as the alleged story of how he got the horse. His story and knowledge surprise Felicity as she has never heard him speak so much and did not realize Ben knew this much information. Ben is seen again at suppertime after Felicity's second visit to Penny, and when he hears what happened he says that he's sure that Jiggy Nye will kill Penny.

Ben catches Felicity with his breeches.

Felicity steals Ben's good Sunday breeches to go out and see Penny, and Mrs. Merriman asks Ben about them when she can't find them in the mending basket. He's initially embarrassed and confused by this. When Ben discovers Felicity with his breeches, he demands to know what she is doing. After learning that she is sneaking out every morning to tame Penny, he is surprised at her actions and that she's been able to tame what appeared to be a vicious horse. He says that she can't keep doing this forever and that she sets her heart on things too much, but that Felicity had better get Penny away as soon as she can. He allows her to keep the breeches as long as she needs them and swears to keep her secret. With this he opens up, whistling and even making jokes at supper. Mrs. Merriman agains asks Ben about the breeches and he says he has lent them to a friend and that the friend needs them more.

When Felicity rides up on Penny, Ben goes out to touch her and Felicity calms Penny enough to allow him to touch. He speaks up to say that Jiggy is starving and beating Penny. After Jiggy Nye takes Penny away and Felicity has cried, Felicity takes Ben his breeches and Ben offers to help buy Penny. He is sure that Jiggy Nye will turn her vicious again and kill her. He says that Penny should be free in the woods, and this convinces Felicity to go out once again and let her go. He does caution that Felicity would never see her again and that the penalty for horse theft is hanging; Felicity wordlessly takes his breeches and sets Penny free anyway. She then returns the breeches to him and tells him what she did. Ben assures Felicity that Penny will not think she's been abandoned. She knows Felicity loves her by giving her her independence. When Mrs. Merriman comments that Ben's breeches have been returned and mended nicely, he says that he is willing to lend them again to his friend. He then shares a secret smile with Felicity.

Felicity Learns a Lesson: A School Story

Felicity mentions that Ben has offered to teach her to whistle. She hopes that when her loose tooth falls out, she will have a bigger gap that helps her whistle. Later that week, when she mentions she'd love to attend the College of William and Mary and learn the same subjects as young men do, Ben smiles and jokes that she could pretend to be a young man and could borrow his breeches (as they both know about her using them to tame Penny).

When Mother announces that Felicity is to learn how to be a gentlewoman and how to serve tea, Ben exclaims with surprise that such lessons exist. On her first day of lessons at Miss Manderly's, Felicity stops by Merriman's Store so Ben can escort her to her lessons. She is dressed up for her first day, and he sympathizes with her discomfort. Ben also comments that the store hasn't been as cheerful lately. When Felicity mentions she overheard a conversation about English tea taxes, Ben explains the tax and says he believes it is wrong and should be stopped. He helps Felicity avoid a mud puddle and offers to pull out her loose tooth for her.

After several weeks of lessons, Elizabeth reveals that Annabelle has a crush on Ben. Felicity giggles and says this explains why Annabelle hangs around Merriman's Store and bats her eyelashes. She initially wants to share the news with Ben, but Elizabeth asks her not to share because it would embarrass her sister. Still, the girls giggle about it together for the rest of the day. A couple of weeks later, they are in Mrs. Cole's room, and Felicity tries on a dark wig. She holds up a wooden head and pretends to be Annabelle declaring her love for Ben. Annabelle storms in and is upset and embarrassed. She threatens to tell their mother about this until Felicity counters her and says if Annabelle does, she'll tell Ben about her crush. Annabelle storms off.

The girls go to the store later that day, and they overhear townsfolk arguing about the tea tax with Mr. Merriman. Ben is present but is quiet until the men leave, when he exclaims that it might take a war for the king to respect the colonists. Mr. Merriman rebukes him and insists that war is nothing to be excited about.

Felicity's Surprise: A Christmas Story

Ben yells at Felicity.

When Felicity receives the invitation to a dance lesson at the Governor's Palace, she goes to her father's store to get his permission to attend. Ben is on a ladder dusting high shelves, and he's surprised to see her, but he smiles and asks if she stopped by for a whistling lesson. When she asks for her father, Ben leads her to he counting room, laughing as Felicity insists the most wonderful thing has happened. After she explains the situation to her father, Ben thinks she shouldn't go. He thinks attending the dance would show support for Lord Dunmore and England. He points out that she would be dancing with Loyalists and their children, who have refused to shop at Merriman's Store after they stopped selling tea. Mr. Merriman thinks Felicity should be able to attend because adults' arguments should not interfere with children's joy, especially at Christmas. He sees the governor and his wife as parents who want their children to be happy, and he hopes that if children are able to dance together, perhaps adults will be able to peacefully settle their differences without fighting or war. However, Ben still frowns at this reasoning and he walks away without answering Felicity's calls. Felicity feels she has disappointed him.

Ben berates Felicity for fawning over her in-progress dress.

Later that month, Ben confronts Felicity about the blue silk dress her mother is sewing for her. He calls her a foolish, selfish girl who only cares about dancing and not what's important. Ben even says that Felicity wouldn't recognize Penny if she returned. He quickly leaves the room, but his words stay with Felicity and she worries about them that night.

Ben stands around Mrs. Merriman with the rest of the family when Felicity returns home and finds that her mother has gotten better. After watching Felicity run the household while her mother is ill, Ben puts aside his opinions to help her. Felicity will only be able to attend the dance if she has an escort, and Mr. Merriman can't leave his wife at home alone. Ben offers to escort her and they ride together to the Governor's Palace. When they arrive at the doors, he squeezes her hand, Felicity thanks him, and he smiles and leaves.

After the dance, Felicity asks Elizabeth how she managed to sneak the blue gown out of the house to finish it. She says they asked Ben, and he was willing to sneak it out of the house and back in again when it was finished. Felicity is surprised, but when Ben arrives to escort her home, she thanks him. She also asks what made him change his mind. Ben says that after seeing her care for her mother and cheer up her siblings, he started to think Mr. Merriman was right and Christmas really could be a season of impossible things when "hopes for peace and happiness should come true." He wanted to make this happen for Felicity. She thanks him again, and they quietly ride home.

Happy Birthday, Felicity!: A Springtime Story

Felicity Saves The Day: A Summer Story

Ben breaks his apprenticeship agreement with Mr. Merriman by running away to join the Patriot Army. When he injures his leg along the way to Yorktown, he hides in the woods near Felicity's grandfather's plantation. Ben leaves a note for Felicity in a bird bottle asking for her help. Felicity finds Ben hurt and gives him food, water and medicine for his leg.

Felicity sees that her father has put a reward for bringing Ben back in the paper. Felicity's father is coming to the plantation to look for Ben, so Felicity warns Ben to get on his way to Yorktown before her father arrives. Felicity helps Ben find the path and draws him a map. She also gives him some money to board the ferry.

Later, she overhears that bounty hunters are going to the ferry to look for Ben. She rides on Penny through the storm to where he is making his way along. Felicity convinces Ben to come back, even though he still wants to be a soldier. He rides Penny with Felicity back to King's Creek Plantation (Grandfather's plantation) and confronts Mr. Merriman.

Mr. Merriman tells Ben that his apprenticeship will last for three more years, but that Ben will turn eighteen within this time. They come to the agreement that Ben may leave when he turns eighteen, on the condition that he returns after the war to finish his apprenticeship to Mr. Merriman.

Changes for Felicity: A Winter Story

Very Funny, Elizabeth

Annabelle flirts with Ben but he thinks she has something in her eye or a toothache. When she asks what color ribbon would match her eyes, he says brown. Annabelle is convinced she can talk him out of being a Patriot. Ben later becomes friends with Lord Harry Lacey.

Peril at King's Creek

Ben appears in Chapter Eight to tell the Merrimans that Edward Merriman is unable to come due to business. He meets Mr. Haskall and later tells Felicity that he saw him as a British soldier in the store before going back home. Later, Felicity writes a letter to Ben, confirming that Mr. Haskall is a Loyalist, and asks him to convince her father to follow her plan, which he does.

Traitor in Williamsburg

Ben waits on Richard Capps when he visits Merriman's store. However, Mr. Capps talks so long about the type of stockings he is looking for that Ben's attention wanders to the customers near him who are talking about the war. This infuriates Mr. Capps and he storms out of the shop. Mr. Merriman chastises Ben for not paying closer attention, especially because times are hard in the war and the shop can't afford to lose customers. Mr. McLeod reassures Ben that Mr. Capps is often angry.

When a mob targets Fergus McLeod and Mr. Merriman leaves to talk them down, Ben and Felicity run into each other in the yard as she is on her way to find her father. Ben asks what's going on, and Felicity explains. He's worried and initially tells her to go back inside, but when she refuses, he agrees to let her come as long as she stays close to him for safety. He refers to her as "a bit of a girl," but she decides to let the comment pass. Ben approaches his friend Walter in the crowd, and the three of them walk together. Felicity panics about her father being attacked as well and she starts to push her way through the crowd, but Ben pulls her back and insists she can't find him this way. Felicity pleads with him that she needs to know her father is safe, and he agrees to help get their group closer. After they ascertain that Mr. McLeod got away, Ben says it's best to get Felicity home and safe, so they split from Walter and return. After Mr. Merriman returns and mentions how the war is splitting up families and friends, Ben exclaims that there's no reason they should accept this. Mr. Merriman agrees. When Felicity worries about her friend Fiona's strange behavior after this event, she talks about it with Ben as they take care of Penny and Patriot.

Ben sleeps inside the house while Mr. Merriman leaves town on business to ensure the family's safety. He also plays jackstraws on the floor with Nan and William one evening. After the children go to bed, he confesses to Felicity that he's lost the store ledger, and he asks her to help him. He also jokes that she'll be proud to know Mr. Capps came in the store the previous day and Ben was polite, even though he stayed forever and didn't buy anything. Two days later, when Felicity recovers from her cold, she goes to the store to help Ben search, only to see him with the ledger. Ben assumes he simply overlooked it when he thought it was lost.

Ben is present when Mr. Merriman is arrested at his store, and he explains the Committee of Safety wanted to see Mr. Merriman's ledgers. They believe he took a secret trip to Portsmouth to sell supplies to the British, and they found supposed evidence of it. Ben sounds disheartened because he admires Mr. Merriman, but he doesn't know why Father wouldn't explain his other reason for being in Portsmouth. Mrs. Merriman later sends Ben to the jail with food and fresh clothes for Mr. Merriman, and the next day, Felicity accompanies him to the jail but doesn't go inside.

He lends Felicity and Elizabeth pairs of breeches for their midnight venture to Bruton Parish Church cemetery to meet with the person accusing Mr. Merriman. When the girls later explain their suspicions about Mr. Capp, Ben writes to Walter to see if they can meet that evening. They meet and Walter agrees to help them find evidence that Mr. Capps is selling to the British army. Felicity, Ben, and Walter go to Mr. Merriman's trial at the Capitol and testify about what has happened. That evening, when Mr. Merriman returns home, the family eats dinner together. Ben eats four biscuits and explains what Walter is doing now that Mr. Capps is in prison. He and Father also return to discussing regular store business.

Lady Margaret's Ghost

Ben rides Penny as a participant for the horse race during Publick Times, as only boys and men are allowed to ride. He chats with Dawson, a boy about his age who was hired to be a jockey. Dawson is looking for work and Ben suggests he stop by the Merriman store because they are in need of extra help during the busy week.

Ben bet all his money on Penny winning the race, and he feels guilty for urging Penny onward when she was hurting from burrs that were stuck under her blanket. The next day--after Penny's sores have gotten worse--he blames himself for not checking on Penny before work. Dawson begins to work at the store, and when Felicity accuses him of stealing a knife, Ben comes in and explains that a knife was promised to Dawson in his wages and he was told to pick one out. Ben knows Dawson's history, and he and Mr. Merriman support him and help him keep a low profile while Dawson hides from the sailors who abducted him.

Gunpowder and Tea Cakes: My Journey with Felicity

Felicity: An American Girl Adventure

Ben's role and characterization do not change significantly in the film. Notably he is much more dismissive of Felicity and less friendly to her, thinking her lessons are silly and her idea of men in petticoats is ridiculous. He is aged down to fifteen years old at the time of his attempt to break the terms of his apprenticeship and join the Patriot army.[1]

He is played by Kevin Zegers.

References

  1.  :Martha Merriman: (reading the notice) "'Runaway apprentice: a lad named Benjamin Davidson. Medium build, brown hair, able-bodied, fifteen years old.'"
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