Forever Young (Chapter 8, page 1 of 4)


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Chapter 8

By evening Prudence had finished with Samantha's dress, which now fit her snugly instead of like a tent. Samantha accepted the dress without a word before sitting on the rocking chair and turning to face away from Prudence. Samantha had nothing to say to her former best friend.

"I know those meant something to you," Prudence said. "I'm sorry to throw them away, but I had no choice. Images like that are against the rules."

"Everything is against the rules."

"Everything sinful."

Samantha said nothing. She felt too sore and tired to continue arguing. Tonight I'm going to get out of here, she decided. She didn't care anymore if Pryde's dogs tore her apart; she couldn't take another day like this.

The church bells sounded and Prudence stopped working the loom. "It's time to turn in," she said.

"Already? It's still light out."

"First dinner, then evening prayers, and then bedtime. You don't want to be outside after dark."

"Why not?"

"Mr. Pryde's dogs guard the town at night. They'll kill anything that moves without a second thought."

"Don't they ever sleep?"

"No."

Despite this bad news, Samantha remained undeterred to escape from Eternity tonight. She could find a way around a couple mangy mutts. Then she would be free.

She followed Prudence out of the workshop and back to the dormitories. The dining room was situated between the sleeping areas for the boys and girls with rows of rough-hewn tables and benches packed into the room. The girls all sat on the side near their dormitory while the boys sat on the side nearest to theirs. For now the boys' side was empty except for a handful of toddlers. Prudence and Samantha sat at their own table in the back, nearest to the door.

"Where are the boys?" Samantha asked.

"They're coming back from the fields."

The doors opened and the boys filed in, marching in two columns like soldiers. They lined up at their respective tables and sat down as one. Behind them came Miss Brigham, who gasped and hurried over to Samantha's table. "Oh dear, what happened to you?" she asked loud enough that everyone in the dining room turned to stare.

"A little accident," Samantha whispered. She looked down at the table, but still felt everyone staring at her. "It's nothing serious, really."

"We should see the reverend about this immediately." Miss Brigham clucked her tongue and shook her head in Prudence's direction. "I would have expected you to use better judgment, young lady. I'm very disappointed in you."

"It's not her fault-"

"Come now, dear and we'll get you healed." Miss Brigham raised her voice for the other children to hear. "I expect all of you to behave yourselves in my absence."

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