If Winnie decides to drink the vial of spring water--or any drop of water from the magical spring in the woods--then it will give her eternal life, but it will also stop her from growing any older. When Winnie receives the bottle from Jesse, she's only eleven years old, and he's seventeen. She admires him, even loves him. But she knows that she's too young for him. However, if she waits until she grows to be seventeen, then drinks the water, she'll essentially freeze herself into the same age as Jesse will always be. Then they can get married and live together forever, always appearing to stay the same age.
So although Winnie could really choose to drink the vial of water at any time, even immediately, she and Jesse have an understanding that if she does drink it, she'll wait until she's seventeen.
Here's the (one-sided) conversation that she and...
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