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?
their hair, gathering their belongings. She also noticed how few had children with them. They know what to do, she thought. She knew a little herself, from studying her father’s book and from listening to Jenefer and Sarah. Mint leaves were good: a bunch pushed well up. Or fern, which might be readier to hand on moorland. Not that she’d done anything about it at all, yet. Some part of her didn’t want to; wanted everything to be unspoiled, perfect, like Adam and Eve. She’d felt a heaviness in
them to a place called Sherborne, where they remained almost a week, and where the alarms subsided and no one knew what was happening or why they were waiting there. The gentry and officers stayed in a great house, the army in cottages, barns and farms all around. Alice was separated from the Welsh girls. “I’ve got us a billet at a farm,” Robin told her. He was smiling, and she soon saw why. They had a tiny room to themselves – the first time they had been truly alone together since they left
her aunt, Alice wondered? If he was, Mary Newcombe did not see it. She appeared quite disarmed. “That one has better manners than his sergeant,” she said as they went indoors. She told the sergeant about the badly wounded soldier. “If your surgeon is in the village, the man must be taken down there.” While they were discussing this, Alice slipped outside. There was always work to do on the farm – and many places to be busy yet away from her aunt’s eye. The barn was a good place to hide, and
closed door, their voices rising and falling, and occasional bursts of laughter. “They’ll be talking horses, if I know my man,” said Hannah. “Horses and horse management, and equipment.” Alice thought the blacksmith’s conversation would tire her patient, and was perversely annoyed, when she went in to check on him before retiring to bed, to find him cheerful and invigorated. The next day, when she brought him one of her herbal drinks, she asked him about his own part in the fighting, and he
door. To her relief the woman came at once and took the baby from her. “My own little one is wakeful,” she whispered. “I wasn’t asleep. Go back. I’ll bring her to you.” But when Elen returned she would not settle. She cried and fretted, and Alice walked up and down with her, shushing and murmuring. Elen’s eyelids drooped, but as soon as Alice laid her down she began crying again. Jeremiah woke and sat up. “Is she sick?” “No.” Alice sank down wearily on the bed. “I think she is missing