Forever Young (Chapter 9, page 1 of 2)

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Chapter 9

Samantha left Reverend Crane's house skipping until a voice echoing Prudence's warned her she shouldn't. She settled instead for walking briskly, the rocky path now as soft as clouds beneath her feet. She still couldn't believe what had happened in the reverend's kitchen. When she pinched her arm, she winced and then smiled at the realization this was no dream.

The sun was beginning to set when she returned to Eternity. As she approached the dormitory, she heard a growl behind her. Then came another one to her left, followed by one to her right. She saw Pryde's dogs all around, closing in on her. Samantha raised her arms, closed her eyes, and shivered from head to toe. "Mr. Pryde?" she called. "Are you there?"

"What're you doing out here?" he rasped.

"I was visiting the reverend."

"Don't let me catch you out here after curfew again."

"You won't. I promise." The growling stopped and Samantha opened her eyes to see the dogs had gone. She waited a moment to collect herself and then dashed into the girl's dormitory.

Inside, she found the girls kneeling beside their beds, whispering a prayer. She squatted down next to the doorway, mumbling a prayer of thanks for the gifts Reverend Crane had given her. When Miss Brigham looked in her direction, Samantha held up her arms. By now the angry red streaks had faded to a pink blush; the reverend's potion had cured her.

"Amen," said the girls in unison.

"Goodnight children. I shall see you in the morning," Miss Brigham said. She went to the doorway, inspecting Samantha's arms up close. "Your wounds look much better now."

"They feel better too," Samantha said.

"That's wonderful, dear. In the morning we'll discuss your new assignment."

"You know?"

"Of course, dear. The reverend discussed it with me this afternoon. I think it's a wonderful idea to make the best use of your talents."

"Thank you, Miss Brigham. I won't let you down."

To Samantha's surprise, Miss Brigham gave her a hug. "I'm certain you won't. Now, off to bed with you. We have much to do tomorrow."

Samantha nodded and bounced away, rushing over to Prudence. "Did you hear?" she asked.

"Hear what?"

"The reverend wants me to be Miss Brigham's assistant. And he promised to find my family. Isn't it great?"

Prudence nodded, but didn't smile. "It is good news."

Samantha knelt down in front of her friend's bed. "Aren't you happy for me?"

"I am happy for you. But I don't want you to get your hopes up. There are some things not even the reverend can do."

"If he does find them, you can come with me."

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