Young Hearts (Chapter 1, page 2 of 4)


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Chapter 1

A snort came from the blankets, followed by a pale hand emerging. Like a bird hatching from an egg, Prudence's round face appeared, followed by her barrel-shaped chest. She brushed hair back from her eyes, blinking a few times before recognizing Samantha. "What time is it?" she asked.

"I'm not sure. Morning." Two weeks without being able to see out a window had left them all disoriented about the time. "I got the doors open downstairs. We have to see what's left."

"Is it that bad?"

"Drifts almost as high as the church roof. Get dressed and let's go," Samantha said.

Prudence gasped at this and then heaved off the bed. A winter of strict rationing had taken its toll on Prudence's ample frame so that her nightgown hung loose over her bulging stomach. Samantha waited in the parlor for Prudence, strapping on a pair of snowshoes Wendell had carved. She gave a similar pair to Prudence when she emerged from the bedroom.

They tried the front door, but it still wouldn't budge. Prudence hesitated a moment before following Samantha down the ladder to the sleeping chambers. This time as Samantha made her way down the aisle Helena whispered, "Where are you going?"

"We're going outside to take a look around."

"Outside?" Helena said too loudly. The girls around her began to stir. "Can we finally go outside?"

"Not yet. We have to make sure it's safe."

"Why can't we come?" Helena asked with a whine that hadn't left her since she was a toddler. Around her, the other girls asked the same question with their nervous eyes.

"We don't know what it's like out there yet. It's too dangerous for everyone to go. Once we know it's safe, then the rest of you can go outside for a little while."

"I want to go now," Helena said. She crossed her arms over breasts that had started to blossom during the hard winter.

"We won't be long. In the meantime, all of you stay here."

At times like this she wished Rebecca hadn't asked to live away from the dormitories to raise little Molly. Samantha would have to stop by their cottage to make sure they'd survived the blizzard. She opened the doors and climbed out into the white world. She offered Prudence a hand up and then closed the doors behind them. Samantha thought of trying to find a way to latch the doors from the outside but didn't want to trap the others in case something happened.

"It's unbelievable," Prudence said. "I can't remember ever seeing this much snow before."

"Neither can I," Samantha said. "We better start with the boys and make sure they didn't kill each other."

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