Young Family (Chapter 5, page 1 of 3)

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Chapter 5

Every night Samantha told the other girls a story. Other than the Bible the only book left on the island was a tattered copy of a novel called Forever Young, its heroine having the name Samantha Young. For a while Samantha had read this book over and over, until the girls could all recite it from memory.

After about two years, Samantha began working in different stories. These sprang from the depths of the memory she couldn't consciously access. Most of the stories dealt with little girls getting into trouble. In one a little girl in a cloak with a red hood ran afoul of a wolf impersonating her grandmother. In another a little girl came upon a cabin belonging to three bears. Samantha always ended these stories happily so the youngest girls wouldn't suffer from nightmares. Still there had been several nights when Rebecca or Annie or sometimes even Helena would crawl into her pallet for comfort.

As was always the case, the girls had gathered around Samantha's old pallet, which was across from Prudence's. Prudence usually sat on her bed, listening intently even though she was too old for fairy tales. Tonight her pallet was empty.

Samantha pulled the chair from her room over to sit on. The girls had already dressed in their nightgowns and brushed their hair for bed. A few of the younger ones clutched dolls made from bits of old cloth stuffed with straw. Samantha had kept such a doll until she was eight, when she decided it set a bad example for the other children.

"Is everyone all cleaned up and ready for bed?" she asked as she usually did.

"Yes," they said in unison.

"All right. In that case, once upon a time there was a beautiful princess who lived in a castle far away-"

"What was her name?" Annie asked.

"She should be named Helena. That's what pretty girls are named."

"Nuh-uh, she should be named Phyllis."

Helena made a face at her friend. "Only ugly cooks are named Phyllis."

"I'm not ugly!"

"Settle down, girls," Rebecca said. "Let Samantha tell the story."

"Thank you. As I was saying, there was a beautiful princess who lived in a castle far away. Her name was Samantha."

"No fair," Helena grumbled.

"It's my story," Samantha said, fixing Helena with a hard look. "Samantha lived in the castle with her parents, the king and queen. They were all very happy there. Samantha had all sorts of wonderful toys and her own pretty white pony to ride whenever she wanted."

"Then what happened?" Annie prompted.

"Well, one day a nasty man showed up at the castle. He called himself Mr. Pryde." Some of the younger girls whimpered at the mention of the name, despite they were too young to remember Pryde or his dogs. "That night Mr. Pryde snuck into Samantha's room and he took her away.

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