Young Hearts (Chapter 4, page 2 of 4)

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Chapter 4

Prudence's face turned magenta. Samantha stood up to get between them. "Come on you two, this is serious."

"Tell him to get out of my seat," Prudence said.

"I got here first. It's not my fault you're too slow."

"Samantha, tell him to move."

Wendell grabbed the edges of the bench with both hands. "Let him sit there if he wants," Samantha said. Prudence grumbled something and then sat on the bench in the bow among their provisions. All three of them took up the oars and gradually the Primrose began to move away from the pier.

Samantha watched the children of Eternity fade away along the shore until they disappeared. They kept rowing for a few more minutes to get into open water. "Which way do we go?" Prudence asked from her seat in the back.

"I'm not sure," Samantha said. She looked all around them, but saw only blue-gray water stretching to the horizon. "Let's try going west."

"Why?" Wendell asked.

"Call it a hunch." They pointed the front of the boat in the opposite direction of the rising sun and started to row westward. The wind remained almost nonexistent, forcing them to keep rowing. Samantha tried to get Wendell and Prudence to stroke as one, but they seemed locked in some kind of competition to row harder than each other. Samantha finally called for them to stop and ordered Prudence to take a break.

"Why me?" she said.

"Because I said so. Wendell and I will take the first shift rowing, then you and I, and then both of you. If we aren't going to get any help from the wind then we'll need our strength to paddle all the way there."

"It's not fair," Prudence complained. She curled up in the stern, using a sack of food for a pillow. The sound of her snoring soon rumbled across the Primrose.

"Why did you bring her?" Wendell asked as they rowed. "She's not good for anything."

"Prudence wanted to come," Samantha said. "She's stronger than people give her credit for." The other, more selfish reason Samantha had allowed Prudence to come along was having a friend with her would make the journey bearable.

"She's stupid and ugly. Not like you," Wendell said, blushing with the last words.

"Prudence is a nice girl. She doesn't deserve to be tormented by everyone because she's a little heavier."

"A little heavier? She's a whale."

"You of all people should be able to understand what it's like to be picked on," Samantha said.

"I'm sorry," Wendell said.

"Give her a chance. I'm sure you two would like each other." They rowed on in silence until their shoulders ached from the effort. Samantha let go of her oars to rest for a minute. She closed her eyes, soaking in the noonday sun.

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