Young Hearts (Chapter 6, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 6

They drew closer to the shore, paddling as hard as they could. Samantha's shoulders burned from the effort, but she didn't care. She would have jumped from the boat and swam ashore if it would get her there faster.

In front of her, Prudence's hair was plastered to her face by sweat and Wendell's cheeks glowed red, but still they kept going. Each time the oars smacked against the surface of the water, Samantha imagined they said, "Almost there." Almost there, to a world she could not remember.

The boat struck bottom with about twenty feet left. Samantha jumped over the side and ordered Wendell to throw the mooring line to her. She tried to tug the boat ashore, but it was too heavy. Without being asked, Prudence threw herself over the side to help Samantha pull the rope while Wendell got out to push the boat from behind. Together they dragged the Primrose onto a narrow band of dirt.

Once the boat was safely beached, the three children sank down onto the sand. "We made it," Prudence said between gasps.

"Where are we?" Wendell asked.

"I'm not sure," Samantha said. "We'll have to find out."

She looked up at the walls of rock overlooking the beach. In her hands she still held the mooring line for the Primrose. "You two stay here. I'll climb up and drop the rope to you so you can follow," Samantha said.

"Samantha, no, it's too dangerous," Prudence said. "We can find another way."

Samantha gestured at the walls around them. "There isn't a choice."

"We can go farther along the shore," Wendell said. "We might find a better place to land."

"We might get blown back out to sea too," Samantha said. She untied the mooring line from the Primrose and then started towards the rocks to find a place to climb. Before she could start her ascent, Wendell called for her to wait.

He pressed a hammer into her hands. "If you get stuck, you can use this to carve some handholds."

"Thank you," she said. She tucked the hammer into the waistband of her trousers and then kissed Wendell on the forehead. He wobbled for a moment as if he would faint, but then took a few steps back. Prudence hugged Samantha, tears in her eyes. "Don't cry. I'm not going far."

"I know. I just don't want to lose you," she said. "We can't do this by ourselves."

"You got this far, didn't you?"

"I guess so."

"Stop worrying. Everything will be all right, you'll see." Samantha tied one end of the rope around her waist and then started up the rocks. The first handholds were easy to find and in no time she had covered a quarter of the distance. She looked down to find Prudence knelt in prayer and Wendell watching her with fascination. She waved and then kept going.

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