Young Hearts (Chapter 4, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 4

The boat Wendell had dubbed the Primrose floated in the water, its patchwork sail fluttering in the breeze. Samantha thought the boat looked small and fragile against the vast expanse of the ocean. They didn't have a choice, though. If they didn't attempt to find supplies across the sea they would be forced to live off the Fountain of Youth's water for months or years. She didn't relish the thought of remaining fourteen for the rest of her life. Molly would suffer an even worse fate, being trapped in the body of a five-year-old. The Primrose was their only hope.

Samantha walked along the rows of children, saying her farewells. Most of the girls had tears in their eyes while the boys wore grim expressions, trying to remain stoic. Even Helena had to wipe tears from her eyes; they all knew what was at stake. Samantha knelt down to look Molly in the eyes. The little girl's face had turned red from crying. "Don't worry, we aren't going to be gone for long," Samantha told her.

"I know," Molly mumbled.

"I'll bring you back something. How would you like that?" The little girl nodded, but then tugged on Samantha's sleeve after she turned around.

"Promise you won't forget me," Molly said.

"I could never forget you." Samantha kissed Molly on the cheek. "You take good care of your mama while I'm gone."

Samantha stood up to embrace Rebecca, who had begun to cry as much as Molly. "Be careful," Rebecca said. "If you fall into the water, don't forget to kick your legs and paddle in nice, easy motions. Not like you used to do."

"I'll remember." She kissed Rebecca on the cheek too. "We'll be back soon and then you, Molly, and I can go swimming in the stream." They embraced again and then Samantha turned to wave at the other children. Prudence and Wendell came to stand on either side of her, having said their goodbyes. Together they climbed the ramp up to the Primrose and made ready to sail.

David untied the mooring line from the pier, tossing it into the boat. Samantha took a seat along a bench in the bow and took up a set of oars. Wendell leapt onto the bench across from her before Prudence could sit down. "I was going to sit there!" Prudence said. Wendell pretended not to hear her.

When she nudged his shoulders, Wendell looked up at Prudence and stuck out his tongue. Prudence's fists clenched and unclenched; she stood there, quivering with anger. "You should sit in the back anyway to make sure we don't tip over."

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