When You Were Young (Chapter 8, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 8

After Samantha opened all her gifts, Mama Veronica sent for Helena and Phyllis to carry the many toys, dresses, and other gifts to the cottage. Of everything she got, Samantha liked the princess costume the best. The costume came with a shiny white dress, a pair of white slippers, a gold scepter, and a jeweled tiara. "Can I put it on now, Mama?" she asked.

"All right, sweetie, but try not to get it dirty." Mama Veronica took her over to the bakery where she worked so that Samantha could change. The dress fit as though made especially for Samantha and the tiara rested comfortably in her hair. Mama Veronica smiled at her and bowed. "My little princess. Why don't you play with your friends in the meadow, Your Highness?"

"Thank you, Mama," Samantha said. She kissed Mama Veronica on the cheek before running outside, where the twins waited.

"Wow, that looks really great," Prudence said.

"It's pretty," Wendell said from behind his sister.

"Mama said we can pway in the meadow," Samantha said.

"What should we play?" Prudence asked as they skipped down the forest path towards the meadow.

Samantha looked around at the dark forest and shivered. She wished Mama Veronica had come with them. At any moment she expected a big scary monster to jump out of the forest at them. "Wet's pwetend I'm a pwincess, and Pwoodance is a duchess and Wendeww is the scary monster twying to eat us," she said.

"I don't want to be a monster," he said.

"Shut up. You have to be the monster," Prudence said.


"Because you can't be a princess or a duchess."

"Why not?"

"Because you're a boy, idiot."

"Oh." He broke off a stick and started waving it around like a sword. "What's a monster do?"

"You chase after us and go like this-" Prudence growled like some kind of animal, the sound chilling Samantha. "Then we'll run away and you have to catch us."

"That's stupid," Wendell said.

"You're stupid." Prudence shoved Wendell, who maintained his balance by leaning on the broken stick. Samantha liked Prudence, but she wished her new friend wouldn't be so bossy. This game was Samantha's idea and it was her birthday after all.

Wendell's eyes watered and his face turned red. "I don't want to play," he said. "I'm going home."

"Oh come on, stop being a baby," Prudence said.

"We can pway something else," Samantha said. She no longer cared about the game so much as getting out of this forest.

"Fine, be that way," Prudence said to Wendell. She glowered at him for a moment, but then in the next started chattering merrily about a bird she saw.

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