The winds were torrential, and the rain was coming down in sheets. And yet, in the middle of it all, a young girl made her way across Dartmoor, on her way home from school. Her plaits blew across her face, hard ropes due to the rain, and her clothes were soaked through. Her face was a grimace as she made her way to the family farm in the middle of Dartmoor, her feet sinking through the thick mud. Finally, her home came into view and she broke into a run. As usual, her mother was waiting at the door for her with a thick blanket, and as soon as she reached the door, she was stripped of all her wet clothes and embraced in the warm blanket and sat in front of the kitchen fire.
"Martha, there's been some bad news," her twin brother, Henry said, sitting opposite her and handing her a mug of soup.
"What is it?" Martha asked, looking from Henry to William to Joey to George and then looking up at her mother who was wringing out the water from Martha's hair.
"Today, it was announced that we are at war with Germany," Joey said, taking his little sister's hand. Martha immediately jerked it away.
"You have to go don't you? You have to go and fight fro us. Don't go. We'll hide you. Please," Martha begged.
"Martha don't be so stupid. All your brothers'll fight if the war goes on as long as they expect it to. You'll have to help out a little more then, 'stead of going off to school ev'ryday. You'll be good and strong by the time we marry you off," her father said, coming in from the barn.
"Don't scare her, Albert!" her mother said, smacking her husband with the towel she was holding.
"Joey, please don't go," Martha said once again.
"I'm going to Tavistock tomorrow to sign up. I'll get you that dress you wanted at the same time," Joey said, still holding his baby sister's hand.
"Thank you," Martha said.
"Right, Martha, finish that soup up and I'll boil up some water for ev'ryone to 'ave a bath," her mother said.
* * *
"I'll give you a ride to school Martha, I'm going past Princetown anyway, so jump on the back of Tommy and you won't have to walk all the way there," Joey said, hitching himself up onto the back of Tommy and offering a hand down to his little sister.
"Thanks, Joe but you know I hate horses. I'll walk," Martha said, walking alongside Tommy and Joey, but keeping a reltively safe distance.
"If only you weren't, you woul'nt 'ave to walk so far ev'ryday," Joey said. "Now, I best get goin' if I'm to sign up. I'll see you later, sis," Joey said, and Tommy galloped off.
"See you later, Joey," Martha called after him, a smile appearing on her face when her brother turned and winked at her.
Henry appeared next to Martha and the two of them walked together to Prnicetown. Henry to see his sweetheart and Martha to attend school.
"Joey'll be ok when he goes, won't he?" Martha asked Henry.
"Course he will. It'll be the thought of his baby sister that'll keep 'im going," Henry said, a slight smile appearing on his face.
Martha smiled at her twin brother. Although they were the same age, she sometimes felt that Henry had lived far more than she had, because in all her fourteen years, all she had done was attend school. Henry had met a girl, gotten engaged, lost her due to a terrible epidemic, and worked on the farm.
"The war's going to destroy ev'rything," Martha said to Henry.
"Can't afford to think like that, Martha," Henry said.
"But it's true."