The journey had been long and tedious. Mama had bundled her into the cart with the few belongings she had packed. They stopped at various villages and towns along the way as they headed north. Sometimes they would find an inn to stay at or kindly people would take them into their home for a small fee. Other times they slept in the cart with the stars over their heads and blankets covering them as they huddled together.
Mama’s brother was driving the cart and he took care to stop as often as he thought could be managed to give them welcome rest breaks. Ele looked out of the cart often and fancied that she could see the seasons change before her eyes. It had definitely grown colder the further north they travelled and Ele was finding it increasingly more difficult to decipher the strange accents people had in these odd towns they visited.
She was no longer a child but she still missed her gang of friends from the village. She mourned for the childhood that had drifted by so quickly and she mourned for the village where she had grown up so happily. She rested her head on her mama’s shoulder and snuggled up when her Mama put an arm around her. Mama softly kissed the top of her head and stroked her hair.
“Don’t be sad my little one.”
This made Ele giggle. It had been many years since she had been shorter than her mama yet she still called her ‘little one’.
“Mama, you know I’m not a little one any longer.”
“Yes”, said Mama, “You may be taller than me now but you’ll always be my little one, Ele. Never forget that.”
She nodded her head on Mama’s shoulder and sighed. Somehow she didn’t think she would be coming back to the fields of Nempnett Thrubwell any time soon.
They stopped off somewhere near Manchester (so Mama's brother said). Mama took Ele by the hand and led her towards the market. The sights and sounds of this place were that of any other market place in the county yet they seemed alien and wrong to Ele. Mama pointed out dresses to her and told her she would need smart, new clothes for ‘when she arrived’...whatever that meant. She picked out a new shawl for her as well, which Ele was grateful for. She was not used to the chill here and she suspected that it would be colder again when they got to wherever they were going. Mama pulled out a small, drawstring purse and paid for the goods while instructing her brother to fetch them later on.
They returned to the inn they would be staying at to eat their evening meal. The broth was good and hearty fare yet Ele ate slowly and solemnly as if this was to be her last meal.