If they called out for help, nobody, including neighbors who live on the lake's edge, heard them.
The only sons of Ann Fuller, 27, were pulled from the 37-degree water by Medford Township police divers shortly after 7 p.m. Monday. Rescue workers were unable to revive either boy.
Evesham Township Sgt. John Wainwright said the boys were submerged for at least an hour, but some neighbors speculated they were submerged for at least five hours.
The boys, nicknamed "Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer" by one parent, were popular in their neighborhood. Yesterday in the snowy Burlington County hamlet by the lake, parents clutched their children and spoke of fate.
"People are saying if, if, if," Fadule said. "If only school hadn't been canceled on account of the snow. If only it was today when the ice was thicker instead of yesterday. But it doesn't mean anything because kids are kids."
Cindy Shaffer, whose two young sons are also named Stephen and Christopher, said the drownings sent shivers through her spine.
"All day long, friends and relatives were calling me to ask if the boys who died were mine," she said. "It was such a coincidence, it was scary."
Shaffer's own children are forbidden to approach the lake without an adult, she said.
"It's the same with all the young children in this neighborhood," she said. "They know they're not allowed to play down there."
Older boys sometimes have played ice hockey on the lake when the ice was at least six inches thick. But it hasn't been thick enough for the last two winters.
Monday night, as ambulance crews worked near the lake, Shaffer watched from an upstairs window and hugged a son in each arm. "Now you know why mommy says you can't play by the lake," she told her children.
Steven Fuller was in kindergarten at Helen L. Beeler School in Marlton. His big brother was a third-grader there.
"They stuck together like peas in a pod," said John Goodman, who is engaged to the boy's mother. "The boys were inseparable."
The boys' mother, a teachers' aide at the Archway School for the handicapped, declined to discuss the incident.
Together, the fair-haired boys fished on the pond in the summer and rode their bikes around the neighborhood every day. They watched nature shows on television and were fascinated by firefighters and fire engines.
Steven followed his big brother everywhere, said his aunt and godmother, Marilyn Fuller.
"He was a little macho man," she added.
Christopher was learning how to operate computers at Goodman's store.
"The guy was incredible on the computers," Goodman said. "He could do programs easier than a lot of adults I know."
Christopher's most recent interest was his radio, which he received as a combination Christmas-birthday present. His birthday was Dec. 13.
The brothers were known in the isolated townhouse development as typical young boys - rambunctious and playful. On Monday, they instigated several snowball fights before going to the lake.
Winter's first substantial snowfall kept them home from school, and the boys excitedly built a 6-foot snowman on Fadule's back porch with Fadule's children. They used rocks for eyes and sticks for arms.
"Steven ran to his house and asked his mom for a carrot," Fadule said. ''He didn't tell her why he needed it. Then he stuck it into the snowman's face for a nose."
A red baseball cap was too small to fit on the snowman's head, so they put it in the snowman's hand.
"When I woke up and saw the snowman this morning, I nearly cried," she said.
Neighbors were collecting donations last night for the family. Donations can be mailed to the Archway School, 197 Jackson Rd., Atco, N.J., 08004, in memory of Christopher and Steven Fuller.