June 14th 1940
The tears that ran down her rosy cheeks were the most real kind she could form. All the other kids were crying, so why shouldn't she? Liking to be centre of attention, Courtney bawled louder than all the other kids, watching out the window to someone who wasn't even there.
By the time the train had left the station and she was now watching rolling hills instead of crowds of mourning parents, Courtney had given up the act. She wasn't saddened by the fact she was being forced out of London against her will, in fact she was glad. No more nights crammed into the air raid shelter, having to share a bed with her three cousins-who had all wet it on more than one occasion. Babies, Courtney would call them as she'd grab at the dry side of the shared quilt. It was only a thin piece of material, which left them all shivering, but it was the best they had. The loud sirens made it hard to sleep, too.
The other kids in the train compartment could definitely give Courtney's cousins a run for their money, or so Courtney thought. It had been two hours now and they were all still sniveling away. Courtney continued to read her tattered copy of The Tale Of Peter Rabbit, not a tear drop in sight. She didn't know where her cry-baby cousins were, but she was just glad they weren't in her compartment. So Courtney got lost in her book.
It was hours later, when Courtney had discovered she had read through what had apparently been dinner time (where all the snot-nosed children in her compartment ate their stale cheese sandwiches) and was now being told by an older man with a funny moustache that the next stop they would be getting off. Several of the children started crying again.
Courtney promptly put her book into her knapsack and put her sights back out the window. She hoped she'd be staying in another city, maybe not one as large as London (because looking where being a big city got her home), but one big enough so she could still get lost everyday for the duration of her stay. Instead she was met with fields. Green fields scattered with small white animals she knew to be sheep. Courtney had never seen a real sheep up close before, and they were quite ugly if she said so herself. The train was slowing down and the station master called out 'Last stop in Swansea'.
Courtney's face scrunched up as the train came to a complete halt. Swansea? There was no way she was going to be stuck in Swansea for the next however long she would be away from London. For one it was a major city and faced as much bombing as London did, if not more since it was a main supplier for oil and had plenty of boat ports. Courtney had done her evacuation research as soon as she found out there was even a chance she was leaving.
There must have been some mistake, she was sure. She collected her knapsack and headed out of the compartment. She saw the man with the funny moustache and immediately marched up to him, demanding to know what was going on.
"Of course you won't be staying in Swansea, miss," the strange man told her through a strained smile. "You'll be staying up the Gowerton way." Gowerton? Where the hell was Gowerton? Before Courtney could even begin to question him further, he was beckoning all the children from her compartment and the next- the only ones left on the train- towards the platform outside.
Courtney did a quick headcount, but she didn't recognise anyone around her. All these kids didn't look like the type that would be allowed near the school gates of her grammar school, let alone actually inside. There were more girls than boys, but most of the girls were much younger than Courtney. They looked like they had all been crying in the compartment next to hers, and though the boys were trying to put on brave faces with this chins held high, Courtney noticed the puffiness of their eyes.
She was last to leave the train and was moved towards the back of the line by the man with the funny moustache. A plump woman was standing at the front and once Courtney got into place, she began marching all twelve of them away. It was a short walk towards the church, but some of the kids started screaming about wanting their mummy's, which made all the more unbearable for Courtney. The woman up front tried to shush them and, before letting them inside the church, cleaned them up. Courtney was spotless and was led inside right away.
The hall wasn't as big as it looked from outside, but that may have also had something to do with the small group of adults that were standing on the left side of the altar while Courtney joined the line of kids on the right side. She could feel the burning eyes of each adult as they inspected her. Courtney knew she would be one of the last to leave because the boys would go first- they'd make perfect farm hands. And then the younger girls would go because they were just too cute to ignore. Courtney was at that older age where she wasn't exactly cute anymore, but she wasn't exactly mature enough to be classed above the other girls. Being eight sucked sometimes.
It was half hour later when Courtney's number was called. She had lost interest in looking at the adults in front of her and was instead off daydreaming about Peter Rabbit in her head when she heard her name being snapped. The plump woman shot her a warning glance and Courtney dashed to her side. The woman she had been talking to was smiling down at Courtney with a look the young girl couldn't quite place. Her hair was a mousey blonde, cut short so that it didn't even brush her shoulders. Her red coat was faded and her brown trousers didn't look like they would match any outfit. Courtney couldn't say she looked too good herself, wearing her school blazer (the best jacket she could find) over a pale grey dress and black tights, but she was sure she still looked better than the woman with mud crusted wellies.
"Courtney, this is Mrs. Evans. You're going to be staying with her and her family in Gowerton." Courtney didn't respond, just bowed her head as the mousey blonde-Mrs. Evans-led her outside. She kept a hand on Courtney's back, an almost-smile on her face. Courtney kept glancing up at her, but she then tripped a few times over the cobblestones.
Mrs. Evans rushed the two of them along when they rounded the corner. A large metal contraption sat at the end of the road with someone ringing a bell, calling for the last passengers. Courtney knew it to be a bus, but it looked so different from the buses in London that it took a moment for her feet to begin to move again.
The bus wasn't nearly as crowded as she had expected. Mrs. Evans explained it was an off-peak time of the day where the adults were in work and the children were in school so there wouldn't be many people around to take the bus.
The journey was faster than anything Courtney had experienced on a bus. In London there were more automobiles on the roads. In Swansea there were very few that she could see. By the time Mrs. Evans had finished exclaiming how excited she was to have a little girl around the house, they were already off the vehicle.
As the bus moved along in the distance, Mrs. Evans led Courtney down a muddy lane. She was muttering something about having to get Courtney a proper pair of shoes, but Courtney was too busy watching her footing to hear much of it. Her black boots were slipping under her feet, and were definitely more brown than black now. Mrs. Evans grabbed for her hand, hauling Courtney along the track for a mile or so before a large house came into view. Behind it were plenty of fields and a few more houses in the distance. A large barn with peeling paint stood to the left and a large creature with a pink snout and a wide, chewing mouth stood to her right. Courtney screamed and jumped away, landing directly in the mud pile.
Mrs. Evans laughed. "Oh, don't mind her," she chided, helping Courtney to her feet. "That's just Lacey, one of our milking cows. You ever seen a cow before?" Courtney shook her head, a distraught shadow crossing her face as she refused to take a step closer to the beast as Mrs. Evans patted its head.
"Well, come on," the older woman continued walking towards the house. "We better get you cleaned up before the boys come home." Courtney's heart dropped to her stomach as she followed. Mrs. Evans pushed open the wooden gate at the end of the lane and turned to Courtney, a motherly smile on her face, "Welcome to Catref Farm."
After the end of her first day on Catref Farm, Courtney had decided on three things she hated the most in her miserable, young life.
1) Cold bath water.
The first thing Mrs. Evans made her to when she got in was take a bath to wash away all the mud from her face and hands, and just to 'freshen up' after her long trip. Courtney had never taken a cold bath before and had the shock of her life when she jumped into the metal tub without a second thought.
2) Farm work.
After the bath, Mrs. Evans found some old clothing of her youngest sons that consisted of a green t-shirt and faded denim dungarees. The wellies she found we still a bit big, but Courtney stuffed an extra sock in each so they wouldn't slop on her feet. Right after that, Mrs. Evans began giving Courtney a tour of the farm and showed her how to milk cows. As Courtney was too scared to go near any of the cows, Mrs. Evans gave her a broom and told her to sweep up the hay in the horse stables instead. Luckily for Courtney, the horses were out grazing.
3) Duncan Evans.
After the three hours of torturous farm work, the boys came home. There were three of them. Davy, Dale and Duncan. Davy was the eldest at sixteen, and Courtney quickly learnt that all he cared about was being drafted into the army early, which Mrs. Evans yelled at him for. Dale was quiet and shy and spent all the time before and after dinner in his bedroom. Duncan was a handful. He was around Courtney's age and the first thing he did when Courtney introduced herself was pull on one of her pigtails. She slapped his hand away and he laughed. And all through dinner all he did was tease and make fun of her for everything from her English accent to the fact she was wearing his old clothes.
Mrs. Evans explained, after dinner, that Duncan was a bit sore at the moment because she was giving Courtney his room and he was having to share with Dale. Courtney didn't see it as an excuse for him to be so rude to her.
Later that night, after she had voluntarily stayed to help clear away the dishes, Courtney climbed the stairs and entered the bedroom that she now knew was rightfully Duncan's. However, she felt no remorse in taking it anymore.
It was cold in the room and when she looked up she found the window was open and a small figure was sat on the flat kitchen roof outside. Moving closer, she found it to be the person she wanted to see the least.
"Aren't you cold?"
"Why are you out here?"
"None of your business."
Courtney rolled her eyes and had stuck one leg out of the window before Duncan yelled at her, "What are you doing?" He jumped to his feet, backing away from her. "You can't come out here, this is my place!"
"Well, it's my place now too," she pointed out. Duncan pulled a face and sat back down. "And I'm here to give you a chance."
"A chance to what?"
"To apologise for being mean to me." Duncan raised his eyebrow at Courtney as if he didn't understand a word that came out of her mouth. He turned his head away and mumbled something that didn't sound English to her. "What was that?"
"I'm not apologising!" He claimed abruptly.
Courtney scowled, huffed and got to her feet. "Why did I even think you had the decency to be nice, you-you-you ogre!" She stormed back inside before she could see the competitive smirk on Duncan's face.
A/N: Sooooo...new story?
I KNOW I KNOW I GOT A LOT OF STORIES GOING ON RIGHT NOW.
I prefer when I have a lot of stories, though, gives me choice of what to write.
I actually wrote this for mini Duncney Day on tumblr which was yesterday (March 27th), and today someone of us on a forum I'm on decided to post a whole bunch of good stories since we all agree that stories on this site are going downhill fast (no offence to anyone, there are still some decent writers out there!)
Anyways! Here is the story behind this fic: two years ago I had the idea to write a WWII evacuation fic. I was struggling for a plot and such, until yesterday it just sort of hit me on what I wanted to do...so, here we go! I've read a lot of WWII fics set in Germany and such, so I wanted to write one in Britain. This is set in Swansea and it's surrounding areas as it's my home city! I'll be able to do it better justice than if I'd set in Cornwall!
And as I just admitted, and as Maddi so lovingly pointed out, I'm a 'city slicker'. BUT! I have been to several farms in my life and have worked on one. Just like Courtney I was woken up every morning at sunrise by cows. I worked in the stables and my job was literally letting the horses out to graze in the morning, sweep up the hay and lay it down fresh. I don't know a lot of in detail work about farms, but I know enough to get by.
Catref Farm means Home Farm in Welsh.
Thanks for reading, please review (: