"Joy!" Jeremy's call penetrated through her thoughts. Joy looked up. "It's all old and unstable, but I found a paddle boat that we can use."
Joy nodded. "That's great. Well, what are you waiting for? Show me!"
Jeremy led her upriver for about a mile, and right there, tied to a tree trunk, was a frail rowboat. It looked as if the rope was going to unravel and snap from how mossy, wet, and weak it was. The boat, which had paddles on either side with metal rings holding them, was calmly teetering in the water as if it had done that for the past century.
As Joy spotted the little boat, her face creased into an uncertain expression. "Jeremy, are you sure?"
"I know we can't really trust it, but it's the best thing I've found so far. Would you rather swim?" Jeremy pointed out.
"I guess not." Joy agreed.
Jeremy slowly walked to the boat and pulled it ashore. He nodded to Joy, who cautiously stepped in the boat. Jeremy found a thorny stick and was about to cut the rope, when it snapped from Joy's weight! The boat, being tugged by the sudden vicious current, rapidly bounced and floated away from Jeremy.
Panic choked Joy, but she swallowed it down her throat. "Jeremy!" she screamed. She began to get numb. What if they were separated forever?
"Joy! I'm coming!" Jeremy shouted after her, and ran along the bank. "Try paddling to the shore!"
Joy gripped her hands on the paddles and cranked them with all of her strength, but to no use. They were jammed.
"I can't!" she called back.
Jeremy whipped his head around as he ran, searching for something long to stop the boat and drag it back to shore. He finally spotted a sturdy branch that was ten feet long. He grabbed the branch and looked back to the river. Dread enveloped his heart.
Joy and the boat were nowhere to be seen.
It wasn't long after Joy lost sight of her brother when she fainted. She was just too tired and too shocked. When she awoke, however, she was in a nice, comfortable bed.
'Was this all just a dream?' Joy thought. Though when she rubbed her eyes and looked around, it was definitely not home. She was in a little wooden room with log walls, polished wooden planks, and a wooden ceiling.
Joy pulled down the smooth blanket and discovered that she was in a tattered cloth robe. Finding this stranger and stranger, she shivered and quickly sat up from the bed. She tiptoed to the door and just as she placed her hand on the knob, the door creaked open. Joy, startled, recoiled and fell, landing on her bottom.
Joy shook her head in confusion and slowly gazed upward. A girl about the same age as Joy, eleven, stared down at her.
The girl had long hair, similar to Joy's, but it was black with brownish streaks and she had bangs to the side. Her eyes were sapphire blue and emerald green mixed, making it seem as if her eyes were made out of deep blue and green gems. Her skin was snow white and flawless.
Baffled, Joy began creasing her eyebrows with confusion. She shook her head and groaned as she stood up, her lower back sore from the fall.
"Here, I'll help," the girl murmured, holding out her hand. Joy nodded and grasped her new acquaintance's hand and she pulled Joy up with surprising strength.
"Thanks," Joy muttered.
"My pleasure," the girl gave a nice smile and nodded.
"So . . . who are you? My name is Joy." Joy studied the girl even more. She was wearing a silk shirt and leather chaps, a simple outfit for such a beautiful girl.
"Oh . . . just call me Ebony. Ebony Frost."