Forever Young (Chapter 7, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 7

Prudence led Samantha along the circle of cottages. "How do you tell them apart?" Samantha asked. "They're all alike."

"There are little differences. After you've been here a while you'll understand." She stopped at the fifth cottage they passed and pointed to a gray blotch on the bottom of the doorframe. "That happened when I spilled some of the dye we use on the wool. I didn't want to waste any of the whitewash on such a small spot."

"And it makes yours different than the others."

"That is an added benefit," Prudence said. She twisted the doorknob and Samantha followed her into a dark room. While Samantha squinted to make out anything, Prudence went to the windows and opened the curtains without hesitation.

Sunlight filled the room and Samantha found herself standing next to a strange contraption. It was a wooden frame shaped like an L with strings along each side. A bit of gray fabric hung from the lower half of the L. "What is this?" Samantha asked.

"This is my loom. It's how I make the clothes."

"You make everyone's clothes with this thing?"

Prudence patted the gray fabric on the loom. "I was working on fabric to make you a new set of clothes."

"Really? That's nice of you."

"It's nothing special. I make everyone's clothes. I even made a suit for the reverend."

"All by yourself?"

"Sometimes Miss Brigham or one of the girls will help me if it's something complicated or important. I'll teach you how to use the loom so you can be my assistant."

"Assistant? How about co-seamstress."

Prudence giggled at this and then put a hand to her mouth. "If that's what you want. First, let me alter your dress so it fits better. I need you to stand on this stool so I can take measurements," she said.

Samantha did as she was told, standing on a stool in the center of Prudence's workshop. Prudence went back to the windows, closing the curtains except for a crack. She lit a fire in the hearth, dim orange light filling the room. "Could you take off your dress, please?"

Samantha shrugged off the oversized dress and shivered in the sudden cold. Not knowing what else to do with her arms, she crossed them over her chest. From off a table, Prudence picked up a measuring tape. She started with Samantha's waist, sighing at the low number.

"Have you ever wanted to live in a place where you could tell jokes or sing a song or read a book?" Samantha asked.

"Those are wicked things to do."

"No they aren't. There's nothing wrong any of those. Do you do everything the reverend tells you?"

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