Forever Young (Chapter 4, page 1 of 3)

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Chapter 4

Reverend Crane never reappeared to inspect Samantha's work, so after a while she left the bucket and brush sitting by his podium. Outside, she found Prudence waiting for her with a pair of shoes. "I think these will fit better," she said. "I got them from Miss Brigham."

Samantha blushed as she slipped into one adult-sized shoe, dreading the teasing she would endure if the shoe didn't fit. She sighed with relief when it did. "These are much better. Thank you."

"You missed breakfast," Prudence said. From her apron, Prudence took out an apple and gave it to Samantha. She took a bite and nearly spit it out. The apple tasted tart and bitter, but since she couldn't remember the last time she ate, she devoured the apple anyway.

Once Samantha finished breakfast, Prudence took her hand and led her down the road into the forest. At the fork in the road, they headed away from the stream. "Where are we going?"

"It's time for studies. We don't want to be tardy. Come on, I know a shortcut." Prudence steered Samantha onto a narrow trail overgrown with trees and brush. Thorns and branches tore at Samantha's new clothes, but Prudence passed through without anything touching her.

"You have school out in the woods?"

"Miss Brigham holds class in the meadow when it's warm. For cold or rainy days we stay in the dining room."

Samantha continued fighting the underbrush up a steep hill, at the top of which she found a lush green meadow dotted with yellow, white, and purple wildflowers. Beyond this, she saw green fields stretching to the horizon. "Those are the fields," Prudence said. "The boys work there in the afternoon. Except for harvest time. Then everyone goes out to help."

"It's beautiful," Samantha said. She and Prudence sat down in the grass to watch as a flock of geese flew overhead in a V-formation. "Do you ever wish you could fly away from here?"

"Of course not. Eternity is my home."

"I wish I knew where my home was."

"I'm sorry about what happened at church."

"You saw? Why didn't you say anything?"

"I didn't see them, but I know them. They pick on me too." Prudence looked down at the ground with shame. "I should have said something. It's sinful what they did."

"You really believe in this Way stuff, don't you?"

"I don't want to go to Hell. It's a terrible place with fire and demons poking you with swords."

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