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CHAPTER ONE,C ARRIE had often dreamed about coming. back In her dreams she was twelve years,old again short scratched legs in red socks and. scuffed brown sandals walking along the narrow, dirt path at the side of the railway line to where it. plunged down off the high ridge through the,Druid s Grove The yew trees in the Grove. were dark green and so old that they had grown,twisted and lumpy like arthritic fingers And in.
Carrie s dream the fingers reached out for her,plucking at her hair and her skirt as she ran She. was always running by the end of this dream,running away from the house uphill towards the. railway line, 1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 1 18 02 14 11 46 AM. Nina Bawden,But when she did come back with her own. children the railway line had been closed The,sleepers had been taken up and the flat stony top.
of the ridge was so overgrown with blackberries, and wild rose and hazelnut bushes that it was like. pushing through a forgotten forest in a fairy tale. The tangled wood round Sleeping Beauty s castle, Pulling off the sticky brambles that clung to their. jeans Carrie s children said No one s been here,for hundreds of years. Not hundreds thousands,A hundred thousand years A million billion. Only about thirty Carrie said She spoke as,if this was no time at all I was here with Uncle.
Nick thirty years ago During the war when,England was at war with Germany The. Government sent the children out of the cities so,they shouldn t be bombed We weren t told where. we were going Just told to turn up at our schools,with a packed lunch and a change of clothes. then we went to the station with our teachers,There were whole train loads of children sent. away like that,Without their mummies the little ones said.
Without their dads, 1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 2 18 02 14 11 46 AM. Carrie s War,Oh quite alone Carrie said I was eleven. when we first came here And Uncle Nick was,going on ten. Uncle Nick was old He had been old for years,and grown so fat in the stomach that he puffed. when he stooped The thought of him being ten,years old made the children want to giggle but.
they bit the giggles back Their mother was,looking so strange eyes half closed and dreaming. They looked at her pale dreaming face and said,Carrie said Nick and I used to walk from the. town along the side of the railway It was quite, safe not like an electrified line and there weren t. many trains anyway Only two or three a day,and they came dead slow round the bend in case. there were sheep on the track When there were,the engine driver would stop the train and get.
out of his cab and shoo them off and sometimes,he d wait so that everyone could get down from. the carriages and stretch their legs and pick,blackberries before they set off again Nick and I. never saw that but people said it often happened,They were specially good blackberries here easy. to reach and not dusty like at the side of a road,When they were ripe Nick and I used to pick. 1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 3 18 02 14 11 46 AM. Nina Bawden,some to eat on the way Not many we were.
always in too much of a hurry to see Johnny,Gotobed and Hepzibah Green. Yes just like that Carrie said Go to bed,She smiled A remembering smile half happy. half sad Waiting for her to go on the children,looked at each other Carrie was good at stories. but sometimes she stopped in the middle and had,to be prodded. People don t have names like that the oldest,boy said to encourage her Not real life ordinary.
Oh Johnny Gotobed and Hepzibah were real,all right Carrie said But they weren t ordinary. Any more than Albert was Albert Sandwich Our,friend who lived with them. Lived where There were no houses in sight,the wooded mountain rose on one side of the old. railway track and fell steeply away on the other,No sound of people either no cars no aeroplanes. not even a tractor Only a pigeon or two in the,trees and sheep baa ing below in the valley.
Druid s Bottom Carrie said She looked slyly,at the children and laughed when they laughed. It was really called The House In The Valley, 1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 4 18 02 14 11 46 AM. Carrie s War,Where The Yew Trees Grow but that s a bit of a. mouthful even in Welsh So everyone called it,Druid s Bottom because it was at the bottom of. No one knows about Druids really the oldest,boy said importantly All that mistletoe and.
human sacrifice stuff That s just legend,There s always a reason for legends Carrie. said It was certainly a Sacred Grove of some,sort Some old religion Bad or good I don t. know But it had a queer feeling you ll see for,yourselves when we get there There s a spring. that was supposed to have healing powers and,the remains of what might have been an Iron Age. temple At least Albert said so,D ah The oldest boy made a wild.
gagging sound as if a fish bone had caught in his,throat Then turned bright red and mumbled. How much farther,What he had nearly said was Dad would have. been interested in the temple His father had been,an archaeologist and he was dead He had died. in the spring It was August now and the first,time they had gone on holiday without him They. had been driving through Wales to the sea and,Carrie had turned off the main road into a narrow.
1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 5 18 02 14 11 46 AM. Nina Bawden,valley and said this was where she and Uncle. Nick had lived for a while in the war would they,like to stop the night and see They hadn t wanted. to very much the little mining town was desolate,and ugly and the only hotel smelled of stale beer. and greasy chips but Carrie had looked so,different suddenly so happy and ironed out and. eager that none of them had said so,Now watching her the oldest boy wished that.
he had Her smooth happy look was gone and,she was screwing up her eyes and her mouth so. that her whole face seemed crumpled Like an old,handkerchief he thought Perhaps it was only. that the hot climb had tired her but it seemed,more than that As if she were all at once. uncertain about something,Her voice was quite steady though She said. Not much farther I don t think Of course it,looks a bit different places often do when you.
come back to them but I think I remember,soon as you turned the bend and saw the tunnel. yes there it is The first yew,Between them and the black tunnel mouth. was a cleft in the mountain A deep gully dropping,away from the ridge No more ash and hazelnut. trees with sunlight dancing and dappling between, 1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 6 18 02 14 11 46 AM. Carrie s War,them only the old gnarled yews growing thickly.
together A dark green silent place where no,birds were singing. They stood on the ridge looking down The,littlest ones pressed close to Carrie She glanced. at their faces and said lightly A bit scarey,Nothing to be scared of just a few old trees. though Uncle Nick used to be scared sometimes,on the way down Oh he was such a baby He. was even scared of the Skull when Hepzibah,showed him And there was nothing to be scared.
of in that Shall I tell you about it It was the,skull of an African servant who had been brought. to England at the time of the Slave Trade And it,was supposed to scream if it was taken out of the. The oldest boy resented her tone which was,that of a grown up amusing the children He said. I know that sort of story Screaming Skulls and,all that All rubbish really. Carrie looked at him Albert Sandwich said it,was rubbish He said the skull probably came.
from the Iron Age settlement He said the British,Museum would know He wanted to take it and. ask them when the war was over He was,interested in that sort of thing. 1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 7 18 02 14 11 46 AM. Nina Bawden,She paused Dad would have been interested. too wouldn t he Albert and Dad were very much,alike in some ways. Although she was smiling there was something,tight in her voice as if she were holding her.
breath Perhaps she was she seemed to let it out,in a long gusty sigh and walked away from the. children down the track to a place where a flat,rock jutted out from the side of the bank She. stepped on to it and a little breeze caught her hair. and lifted it behind her She called out There s,the house Come and see. They followed her and looked where she pointed,through a gap in the yews Druid s Bottom was. a long way below them a doll s house with tall, chimneys tucked in a fold of the valley as if in the.
crook of an elbow,There s a path Carrie s daughter said A bit. slippy and slimy but we could go down if you like,Carrie shook her head There s no point No. one lives there No one could live there now,They looked again It s a ruin the oldest boy. Yes Carrie said She sounded flat and dull As,if she had known this all along but had hoped. something different, 1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 8 18 02 14 11 46 AM.
Carrie s War,We could go down all the same,Though it ud be a long way back up. Lazy Fat lazy tyke,Fat an lazy yourself with brass knobs on. Come on let s go down then it s not far,No Carrie snapped Her own sharpness. seemed to surprise her Hand flying to mouth she,gave a queer trembly laugh and looked at her. children They stared back and saw the colour,come and go in her face She took a pair of dark.
glasses out of her pocket and put them on Eyes,safely hidden she said I m sorry I can t I really. can t Really,That odd laugh again Almost like crying Oh. I m so sorry Dragging you all this way in this,heat So silly really But I wanted to show you. and to see for myself just once more We were so,happy here Nick and I I thought I hoped that. was all I d remember,The children were silent They didn t know.
what she was talking about but they could feel,she was frightened Their mother was frightened. and this frightened them,She saw it She drew a deep breath and smiled. at them shakily I m so sorry darlings It s all,right I m all right now. 1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 9 18 02 14 11 46 AM. Nina Bawden,Far from all right the oldest boy thought He. took her hand and said Let s go back now Let s,go back and have tea.
He drove the others on ahead with a look,Following them Carrie stumbled as if blind. behind her dark glasses but he held her hand,tightly It felt cold to his fingers He said Won t. take us long to get back Quicker going downhill,And a nice cup of tea ll make you feel better I. suppose they will give us tea at that pub Though, it s not much of a place is it Neither the pub nor. Derelict he had thought when they drove,through the main street All those boarded up.
shops and only old people about dreaming on,doorsteps or creeping along in the sun Like a. place that was waiting to die,Pit s closed Carrie said They opened it up. during the war but the seams were too deep Not,economical I suppose once we didn t need the. coal so badly they closed the mine down then the,railway I should have known really. She spoke as if she should have known more,about more than the dying town She sighed and.
he felt her hand shiver She said Places change,more than people perhaps You don t change. 1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 10 18 02 14 11 46 AM. Carrie s War,you know growing older I thought I had changed. that I d feel differently now After all what,happened wasn t my fault couldn t have been it. just didn t make sense That s what I ve been,telling myself all these years but sense doesn t. come into it can t change how you feel I did a,dreadful thing the worst thing of my life when I.
was twelve and a half years old or I feel that I,did and nothing can change it. Couldn t change what He longed to know,what she meant what dreadful thing she had. done it sounded more interesting to his mind,than Druids or Screaming Skulls but didn t dare. ask her She had been speaking it seemed more, to herself than to him she might feel he shouldn t. have listened She would tell him in her own time,Or she wouldn t.
She was looking too tired to talk anyway Tired,to death and so white He thought I wish Dad. was here And then that if he could walk with his,eyes shut all the way back to the town it might. magick him back Crazy of course if he had,caught any of the others doing such a crazy thing. he would have laughed himself sick But they,were a long way ahead now and his mother. would never guess what he was up to She might, 1ST 9780141354903 CarriesWar indd 11 18 02 14 11 46 AM.
Nina Bawden,not think she had changed but she was too old. for that He would just walk on holding her hand, and letting her lead him turning his head a bit so. she wouldn t see his closed eyes and keeping,the sun on his left cheek as an additional guide. The tricky part would come when they had to,leave the straight track and turn down through a. gate and a field but magic never worked if the,thing you had to do was too easy And if he.
managed to do it without her noticing when they,got to the pub his father would be waiting there. Waiting for them and smiling,What on earth are you doing Grinning like an. Carrie s War Oh quite alone Carrie said I was eleven when we fi rst came here And Uncle Nick was going on ten Uncle Nick was old He had been old for years and grown so fat in the stomach that he puffed when he stooped The thought of him being ten years old made the children want to giggle but they bit the giggles back

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