Alice in Love and War
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1644 – Alice Newcombe, trapped and unhappy on her uncle's farm, finds her life transformed when royalist soldiers are billeted there during the Civil War. Suddenly her days are filled with excitement – and love for one young soldier, Robin. When the regiment moves on, Alice persuades Robin to take her with him, and she joins the other army women on the baggage train. The road ahead is long and hard – will there be happiness at its end?
wondered if the letter had contained bad news; perhaps that was the reason for his changed manner towards her. But if he would not tell her, how could she comfort him? He did stay with her that night, as he had promised; and they made love, despite his painful shoulder. But she still felt shut out from his heart and his concerns. It was later that night, as she lay listening to the guns, that she remembered, in Salisbury – about ten days ago, was it? – feeling that her courses were about to
they staggered in the mud. “Get behind the wheel and push!” said the carter. Alice obeyed, but her weight was nothing. They all – carters and women – pushed and felt no response. Two men from the wagon in front ran to help. Behind stretched a long line of stalled carts and wagons, waiting. Shouts of advice reached them, followed by men with ropes. They had come down from the Ridgeway that morning onto a flooded plain crossed by swollen streams. The heavy ammunition wagons pulled by oxen had
that musketeers were often first in the firing line. Robin would be part of this assault, when it began. She pushed the image away. Let his wife and that trader’s daughter fear for him, she thought; I won’t. There was quiet now around the walls, but it was a purposeful lull, full of planning and activity. As the smoke started to clear they could see movements of men around the battery and all across the field. Rhian went to investigate, and reported back that the defenders were filling in the
bushes, well clear of the baggage train. From there she crept from one hiding place to another until she drew close to the nearest houses. It was then, as she looked at the row of cottages and wondered which one to approach, that the full weight of her promise to her dead friend struck home. Elen had been soothed by the jogging movement of the walk into a fretful sleep. But she was only a month old. If she were to survive she would need a woman’s milk for a year. She was hungry now, and Alice
surly wench’s milk turned her into a monster?” “Don’t tease me!” “Why not? I always tease my sisters.” “I’m not your sister.” “No,” he said. “You are not.” He rose quickly, and began gathering up his possessions. “No water for washing.” He looked around, disgruntled. “I washed Elen’s bottom with beer.” He started to laugh. “You did what?” “Well, there was nothing else to hand! It was only small beer…” That made him laugh more. “A waste of good beer!” he said, and ducked his head under