Mad Martha Roby’s as bony and brown as any Romany I ever laid eyes on, though she’s riddled with the Pox. She and her lass Belle live rough in a cave, some place at the back of Fell Woods. Belle’s the young slattern Our Jim took a fancy to.
I know Martha can’t show her face in town – been banned ever since she caught the French Disease off some soldier a good few years back – so they scrape by from begging. Then Belle got hired by the swineherd at Roughlee Hall and filches the best scraps of meat from the pigs. But since she’s been sent to the castle alongside Jim, I wonder how Martha’s coping.
Ali’s got no time for either of them. She says Martha’s moonstruck – away with the fairies – as mad as the locals claim. And Belle’s a simple soul. Ali hates how free that wench is with her favors. She’ll lift her smock for aught that’s shiny or worth eating. But they don’t get Ali that cheap!
(Picture: Matthijs Maris)