Series: Axis Powers Hetalia
Characters: Arthur (England), Alfred (USA), major historical figures (and the occasional unnamed citizens and mentions of other nations)
Pairing: Eventual Arthur/Alfred
Rating: PG-13 overall (for language, violence, and war)
Warning: This is a WWII fic and deals with a lot of historical detail, most specifically the Blitz and the US build-up to entering the war. So general warnings for that. Note also that the opinions of characters are not necessarily those of the author's.
Summary: Before the victory of the allies, before the United States of America joined the war, before Lend-Lease, before everything — there were just two nations, two men, who just refused to meet halfway until it was forced upon them.
Summary for this chapter: John Winant has brought Alfred to England, for whatever purposes Alfred can only assume. Alfred finds adjusting to this foreign, yet familiar, land to be less than relevant to himself.
Time stamp: March of 1941.
Notes: Hi! Anyone remember this?
01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15
He still didn’t know why he was there.
The train rattled along the grey countryside, a loud, squeaking machine. And as he stared out the window, watching the scenery roll by—pretending the squealing of the wheels against the track wasn’t distracting—he continued to wonder just that. This country was dark and dun, nothing that he would ever want to be near. Not when there was something much better he’d left behind, not when there was home so far away from where he was. He tried his hardest to have a stone-face, like he’d seen so many others of his kind hold before, when trying to hide how they felt. The scenery continued to roll by, and Alfred did his best not to pay it any mind while also keeping his mind from wandering. He periodically closed his eyes, only to snap them open again when he was faced with images he didn’t wish to see. He felt almost childish, caught doing something wrong and now forced to face the consequences of his actions. He crossed his arms, wanted to rest his face against the glass—resisted. He kept his back straight.
John Winant sat across from him in the compartment, hands in his lap. He was a quiet man, took a long while to say what was on his mind. But there was something charming about him, something that made him likeable. He was a lot different from how Joseph Kennedy had been, months ago. That time seemed so long ago—it was almost spring now. Alfred could still remember Kennedy: his fearful, dismissive words. Winant seemed to be a welcomed reprieve, and the March weather greeted him as such. With rain. How very like England.
Winant’s head was bowed, as if maybe he, too, was resisting the urge to fall asleep. Or perhaps he was in deep thought. Alfred could never be sure—it was hard to place him. They’d been traveling for a while now, to get to this point. But even so, Alfred felt lost. Alfred cleared his throat, not sure what else to do. Winant snapped his face up, looked bewildered by the sudden breaking of the silence. Their eyes locked for half a moment, and no words passed. Alfred looked away. Looking out at the scenery, out at the landscape, it was impossible to know that thousands of Britons had already died. The land seemed untouched, untroubled—it was so alarmingly like Alfred’s own lands that he felt unnerved for a moment. He didn’t have anywhere else to look, though. This place—
“… England,” Alfred murmured, before he could stop himself. The word felt foreign on his tongue, and he couldn’t summon up the courage to say his name.
Winant was looking at him, though, as if he knew what Alfred was thinking. “It’s… very beautiful, isn’t it? Have you visited before?”
There was a long pause in which Alfred debated lying. But Winant would know, instantly, that it was a lie—everyone would know it’s a lie. Anyone that knew Alfred’s history with—England would know it was a lie. Alfred didn’t move for a moment. Then, he shook his head, then paused, then nodded. He stayed silent. Then he nodded again. Abruptly, suddenly, the urge to speak pressed against his throat and he said, very quietly, “A long time ago… I hardly remember it now.”
Days of his youth, days after his revolution—
He didn’t think back on it that often. Let the past be the past. He didn’t want to linger. The images, if he allowed them, were suffocating in their clearness.
Winant was smiling that strange smile of his, the one that looked awkward in an overly endearing way. “You’ll have a chance now to reacquaint yourself with England, then.”
Alfred felt his shoulders tighten just a tad, and knew at once that Winant had noticed it. He didn’t say anything, and they lapsed into an uncomfortable silence. At least, it was uncomfortable for Alfred.
Alfred watched out of the corner of his eye as Winant straightened, licked his lips, calculated his words. “Alfred…” He paused, longer still. It was what made Winant such a thoughtful person, but such an excruciating speech-deliever—he took so long to collect his words, stumbled over them once he found them, and left conversations fall to a grinding halt. “You must understand, Alfred, how dire this situation is.”
There was another long silence, one in which Alfred did not want to relive Murrow’s broadcasts from months before, back in the autumn and winter. It was spring now. It’d been the coldest winter for Britain in years, and with the U-boats wrecking havoc on Britain’s food supplies while bombing the major cities—it was only a matter of time. Only a matter of time before—
Alfred derailed his thoughts. Quietly, he said, “I know it is.”
He didn’t look at Winant, didn’t want to see his expression. There was no reason that Alfred could see for why he was here. There was no reason that Winant, upon learning Alfred’s identity, would insist on him coming to England with him. There was absolutely no reason why the president would have made Alfred go. Made him go. He was not here by choice. He would never again return to England by choice. He should have been at home, with his people. He should be working, working to make his people happy and prosperous again. If he was supposed to represent his people and what they thought, how would they feel to know that their country was sitting in a train shooting across the countryside to go meet England’s king?
“They call your job the hardest one the president could have given you,” Alfred said, turning the focus away from himself and back towards the US ambassador. It was easier, this way, to talk about people who weren’t himself.
Winant was quiet for a long moment. It seemed the entire train ride would always be in long stretches of silence, and there was nothing Alfred hated more than the silence. But then, Winant spoke: “It is. I have to explain… to a country and its people that is being bombed daily that a country safely three-thousand miles away wants to help but will not fight.”
Alfred looked up sharply at him, opened his mouth to speak. The words lodged, heaved, and stuck. There was no sound that passed, and Alfred’s mind raced with all the lies he could say, all the excuses, everything. Everything. There was so much he wanted to say, so much that was churning in his gut to be spoken, to be heard. He thought better of it, though, and looked away, his eyes narrowing.
Winant, however, seemed to have not expected Alfred to speak. “That is a difficult thing to tell a person whose home as been destroyed by a bomb.”
A chill ran down Alfred’s spine. His stomach coiled. He remembered the broadcasts, the sound of shrapnel and falling bombs, of screams. Remembered the descriptions of the destroyed buildings, of the blackouts at night, to try to shroud a city in darkness. For protection. Fires. All the fires.
“But,” Winant said, and Alfred looked up again. “It’s worth it. It’s worth it… if England will survive.”
Alfred felt as if he should look away, but he could not. He resisted the urge to shudder, felt the goose bumps springing across his skin despite himself. So he just looked at Winant, petrified to the spot, his eyes wide, his shoulders tense. He swallowed a thick lump in his throat—wondered how England would look. How Arthur must look. If he could remember anything about him from the Great War, from the times long before then… he knew that he would not be happy to see him, not without more aid.
And then that left him, once again, wondering why he was even thinking about England. Why he even cared what that old man was doing, how he looked. It wasn’t his business. If his people wanted to help, good for them. He would not enter this war.
“I don’t see why it even matters,” Alfred said, feeling again very much like a small child being contrary for the sake of being contrary, “or why I’m even here.”
Winant smiled, a calm, almost sad smile. “Because of who you are, Alfred… America. I want you to see the world beyond your own borders. You’ve been in isolation for too long.”
Seeing the way the world is now, I don’t know if isolation is that bad, Alfred couldn’t help but think. Especially being in England. He had yet to see the full devastation of the Blitz, but he knew of the troubles. He knew of the possibility of a cross-channel invasion from Germany, knew of British soldiers’ lack of proper supplies, stretched thin and on the defensive, knew of the U-boats sinking as many merchant ships as possible and strangling the supply lines. It’s only a matter of time before—
“There are many times here for people when it is as if the sands of time will run out and it will all be over,” Winant said, as if reading Alfred’s mind. Alfred didn’t answer. He watched the landscape shift and change, fade and flux.
“You really have no misgivings about taking this job?” Alfred asked, after a long silence, filled with thoughts Alfred would rather avoid. This country was dark, was fierce, but he could feel the dwindling hope, could feel the small flame of something, something trying to keep going. He didn’t know whether or not it was possible to keep going.
Winant smiled. “None.”
When Winant and Alfred arrived at the station, King George VI was waiting there, with the rest of his entourage. It was unprecedented, to see the monarchy standing there on the train station. Alfred hesitated, just slightly—he never knew how to act around kings anymore. He’d worked so hard to break away from the monarchy so long ago, but he couldn’t help but feel a slight amount of awe when he saw them (though if asked, he would adamantly deny it). He inhaled sharply, felt as if his head was caught in a waking dream. He wanted to wake up now. He wanted to be home, not in a place that twisted in his heart like a strange warping of his home. He didn’t want to feel any familiarity of a place he’d left behind centuries ago.
But he followed Winant out of the train’s compartment, regardless, and stepped down onto the platform. He swallowed thickly. The king greeted Winant. Alfred stayed behind, lingering among the men. While he knew that, obviously, the king would be high-ranking enough to know who Alfred was, he didn’t feel comfortable having to confront the king. He felt almost a bit in awe, really, but really he never got on well with England’s monarchy, not anymore. It was probably better. And really, the king had no reason to be able to recognize Alfred for who he was—to him, he might as well be another face in the crowd. Regardless, he kept his head down.
“I am glad to welcome you here,” the king told Winant.
Alfred lifted his head, looking around for the other like him. England was not in the crowd, though, and really Alfred hadn’t expected him to be there. Despite himself, Alfred felt himself relax just a little, his shoulders slumping. Something drained out of him, and he felt empty, standing there on the platform, surrounding by people who weren’t his own. England probably looked awful, Alfred thought, with a small amount of pity and more smugness than was really necessary. His people were bombed, stretched-thin, and starving. England undoubtedly looked the same, reflecting his people’s gaunt faces. That was not something he wanted to see, and really, he didn’t want to see England at all. He just wanted to go home, but if his president sent him here and Winant insisted, he really didn’t have anything he could do about it.
The king and the ambassador were speaking together, but Alfred’s mind had drifted. His eyes lingered over the dwindling landscape that Alfred could see from the train platform, and the bile rose in his throat. He tried to ignore it. He clenched his eyes shut, felt the people thrumming and living around him—and they were not his.
Winant wanted him to break his isolation. But, he’d never felt so alone.
“It’s remarkable,” Winant said.
Alfred looked over at him, an unspoken question in his eyes. They were traveling, making their way to where they would be staying in London. The scenery was achingly familiar, and Alfred was happy for a distraction, to be able to fix his eyes on an unchanging, American face.
Winant shook his head. “That King George himself…”
“What do you mean?” Alfred asked, brow scrunching up.
The US ambassador stroked his chin for a moment and looked nervous, collecting his words as best he could. “Well,” he said, wetting his lips. “It usually takes months to get an audience with the king—and then you will go to him, he will not come to you. For him to be there in the train station… that breaking of protocol, merely for an ambassador, speaks volumes.”
“… That they really want our help?”
“Your help, yes,” Winant agreed with a small nod. “Britain’s only chance of survival is if we give more aid—or enter the war.”
An icy chill ran down Alfred’s spine again and he inhaled and exhaled once before saying, “I am neutral.”
“Of course, Alfred, I know.” Winant paused, and then sighed. “I know.”
“Do they really need us that badly?”
“Yes,” Winant said without hesitation. There was so much packed into that one word, and Alfred had to, once again, look away.
He cursed himself for feeling so weak in the face of just one human. But he could feel Winant’s disapproval of his neutrality, could feel him trying to rip him from his protections and his isolation. He was forcing him out into the world, and was doing so by dragging him to the one place he never wanted to be again. Being back in England was bittersweet—he hadn’t been there since he’d gone over with another US ambassador, John Adams. And before then, it’d been decades since he’d been to England, as a young boy colony, hanging onto Arthur’s—rather—England’s tailcoats as they weaved between the streets of London. He’d felt so much different during those times. As a boy, he’d been stir-crazy from such a long boat ride, felt overloaded from the new scenery. As a young nation, he’d faced the sneers and the frustrations of England’s people, knew they did not take the young upstart and its ambassador seriously. Now, he already felt tired of England. He could feel the fatigue, feel how it was already battle-torn and smoothed. So many of his people had written Britain off—dead in the water, just a small island nation—and he understood why that would be the case. Germany was a full-fledged fighting force, and how could England, despite its military glory, be able to withstand that without supplies and aid?
“I’m neutral,” Alfred said again, and Winant looked back over at him.
“I know,” Winant said. “You do not need to convince me.”
“But you’re trying to convince me otherwise,” Alfred said, “by bringing me here. You’re hoping that if I see it for my own eyes, I’ll be able to sway public opinion. But it doesn’t work that way—I don’t shape my people, my people shape me.”
Winant regarded him, for a long moment, as if staring straight into him. Alfred did not squirm, refused to do so. He was far too used to people looking at him like that, far too used to the scrutinizing. Winant had given him the same look when they’d met for the first time, truly met, as man to his country. Many people gave him such a look, but with Winant, the look was very calculating, very intense—and all the while, Winant said nothing, or was trying to find the words to say what he was thinking.
Then, slowly, the ambassador tilted his head and looked away, and Alfred wasn’t sure what it was that he wanted to say—or why he didn’t say it at all.
Alfred watched as reporters pressed up closer to Winant, asking their questions. Winant looked more than uncomfortable, but in the way he always looked slightly uncomfortable. The press was there, had been there for several minutes now. It felt like hours to Alfred. He just wanted to go and rest. He wanted to go home.
“I’m very glad to be here,” Winant said, smiling that half-awkward smile of his. “There is no place Id’ rather be at this time than in England.”
Alfred stood off to the side, listening to Winant’s words. He looked down at his feet, and stuffed his hands into his pockets. Winant had to be slightly off his kilter. He had such a bleeding heart for this country, for the people—and he was crazy enough to want to be here. True, the bombs hadn’t been coming as frequently. In fact, it’d been a while since they’d last fallen, apparently, and according to Winant, the people looked healthier than they had last year. Perhaps happier. Alfred found it hard to believe, and didn’t want to imagine—but it was so easy to do so. He’d listened to the radio broadcasts, he knew what the people here had been up against for months on end.
There was no other place he’d rather not be than England, frankly. It was rainy, gray, and unhappy. And he knew it was only a matter of time before he had to see England himself—and he didn’t want to. There was no one he would rather never see again. He could see England’s features perfectly in his mind, knew all his expressions—or, at least, expressions he’d once given him. Those were faces he would probably never see again—the smile, the love, the—
He really didn’t want to think about it.
He would probably have to see England, soon. He felt a surge of something—hatred?—swell in his gut, before he forced it back down. It had to be hatred. His people hated the British. But at the same time, many of them wanted to help them—while staying out of the war, at least. All aid short of war. The conflicting emotions, conflicting ideals that pulsed inside him left him feeling disoriented at times, if he thought about it for too long. To help or to hate.
When he looked up, though, looked past all the reporters to the British administrators and governmental workers, he saw him—
He should have known he was there, should have realized that it would be sooner rather than later that he would see his old caretaker again. He wasn’t looking at Alfred, but undoubtedly he had to know that Alfred was there. He stood tall, his back straight, dressed in his military uniform, staring off away from even Winant. His hands were clenched behind his back, he could tell by the stilt of his shoulders. But he looked awful. He had the same grim look he always wore, though much harsher now, the lines far more engraved in his older face than even Alfred remembered—had he always looked that old? His eyes seemed almost sunken, his cheekbones more pronounced—starving. Paled, thin, sickly. Seeing him didn’t send a jolt to his heart like the time they’d seen each other for the first time before fighting alongside one another in the Great War. Somehow back then it’d been more shocking, to see him after so much time. Though the time since seeing him now was shorter, he still felt that jolt, though not like the times before. England looked different—thinner, wearier. Just when he thought the old bastard couldn’t get any more battle-hardened, he went to prove him wrong.
Alfred realized dimly that he was openly staring, but England either hadn’t noticed or he had no interest in looking back at Alfred. It felt as if Alfred had crashed head-first into a dead end. He felt almost dizzy. Light-headed. What to do now, what to do?
What if looked over?
What if their eyes met for the first time in years?
Why did he even care?
He didn’t, he reminded himself. He looked away, turned his attention back towards Winant as Winant continued to answer questions to the reporters. They were smiling, and Alfred recognized that look of small, flickering hope. These people had hope—hope that the ambassador would somehow make things better. Alfred knew right away, despite Winant’s bumbling uncertainty, that he would be a hit in the newspapers the next day. These people were hanging on to the world by their eyelids, but they still were holding on.
Alfred glanced back up towards where England stood. He was adjusting the cuffs of his military jacket, and his left hand moved slowly, his wrist stiff. Understandably, he’d be injured. Alfred wondered how many scars he must have now—
He could remember, in his boyhood, seeing Arthur occasionally without his shirts, all his bells and whistles, see the jagged, old scars scraping across his body—stories that Arthur refused to tell Alfred. He’d shrug away into his clothing, hiding them from view, but Alfred remembered them—
How many new scars did England have now?
Alfred watched silently as a man standing beside England touched his shoulder, leaned in and whispered something in his ear. England’s eyes flickered, looking up at the sky. He was far away and Alfred could barely see him, couldn’t even think to hear him over the hum of reporters and Winant’s rumbling voice—but he could see those eyes. He remembered that green color, remembered seeing a world in those eyes he would never know and was only now beginning to understand.
But these eyes were darker, now, somehow, clearly haunted.
And those eyes, in turn, haunted Alfred.
“This is where we’ll be staying,” Winant said as the car parked. The sun was just starting to set, but even in darkness Alfred would have recognized Grosvenor Square. It brought back a flood of memories that Alfred quickly squashed down.
Alfred pulled himself from the car and hoisted up their trunks and suitcases with little effort. If Winant was impressed, he kept it to himself, and Alfred followed him towards the apartment building—a new addition. When he looked over his shoulder at the rest of the square, he could pick out the house Adams and his wife used to live in, during his time as ambassador, all those years ago. But the rest seemed foreign—Neo-Georgian apartment and office buildings, recently built. Though the bombs could have tricked him otherwise. There was a full-sized crater from impact in the center of the square, dusty and surrounded with service vehicles. And huts, wooden and taking the place of where there once had been lawns and a tennis court.
“This way,” Winant called and Alfred snapped back to attention, taking the stairs two steps at a time to catch up to the ambassador, leaving his memories behind.
“It’s good you’re so close to the embassy,” Alfred said, catching up to him. He walked alongside the ambassador, as best he could, at least, while carrying all their things.
It was strange, to return to this place. The world kept changing, and yet he felt completely the same—perhaps a little older. But in the grand scheme of things, he was still young. There was so much he wanted to say, so much he wanted the others to know, so much he wanted to understand himself. But there were just words, just whispers—
Looking at this place now, it was like looking at a reflection in the back of a spoon. If the moment could only be real for one moment—
Winant opened the door to Alfred’s apartment and showed him where to leave his things. They walked down to Winant’s place, and Alfred deposited the rest of his luggage, dusting his hands off once he was done, happy for the distraction.
“It’s already so different,” he said, looking out the window again at the dusty, destroyed center of the square. “This place, I mean.”
Winant made a small grunting noise, already snapping up the snaps on his trunk, searching through it for necessary papers and wrinkled clothing, stuffed in there ever since the ship had landed in port.
Alfred knew his ambassador was shy, didn’t speak well, so he took the grunt as an invitation to keep speaking. “When I was last here, it was with John Adams.”
Winant paused, looking up at him.
Alfred felt a bit self-conscious, looking away and rubbing the back of his neck. It was strange, talking about his memories with common humans—with the other nations, they understood, accepted it intrinsically, far better than he did, actually, considering their ages—and with his bosses, they seemed more schooled in his ways as a nation. But other people, they always stared at him in such wonderment.
He cleared his throat. “Everyone was really condescending to us. I mean, they were here in 1785… it was to be expected. I didn’t want to come, but somehow I was convinced to visit—and I never came back after it.”
He shifted, walked to the window and leaned against the windowpane, staring out at the darkening sky. There were no lights dotting the horizon—the black-out was coming, the preparations for a possible attack. It’d been a while since the Luftwaffe had returned, but London had no intentions of taking any chances.
Alfred was quiet for a long while, eyes hooded and lips pressed together in a thin line.
“I…” he began, and turned to glance at Winant over his shoulder, who had not moved since Alfred had begun to speak. Alfred turned away again, quickly, before his face could flush. “This place was really beautiful, then. Nothing like now. There were all these gardens and gravel paths. There was some kind of… statute thing of George. It was a nice place to live,” he said, then snorted, “provided you weren’t from the United States.”
Alfred folded his arms, tapped his fingers against his arms as his head lolled against the windowpane. He snorted, softly.
“The Adams’ neighbors treated us with total disdain. None of them expected me to survive as a nation, and for as long as I was alive the aristocrats were content ignoring my representation.”
He looked down.
“He hated me. England.”
He expected Winant to rise to England’s defense, but the ambassador said nothing. Still feeling self-conscious, Alfred felt the need to keep talking, to somehow fill the silence—justifications, excuses, remembrances he told himself he did not want to remember.
“And I hated—hate him.” He inhaled, and exhaled—felt the air slip through his lungs, felt as if he hadn’t breathed at all, forgot how to breathe. “Abigail—Adams’ wife—she said that the British were civil, but with disguised coldness… it covered malignant hearts.”
He stepped away from the window, turned away from the carnage in the square. Winant was facing him, back straight, expression thoughtful. He could see the cogs moving in his head, see Winant’s attempts to find the words.
Alfred gave him a small smile and a shrug of his shoulders. “It must kill them to need my help now, ya know? Must be killing England.”
“England needs us too much for the people here to be outwardly condescending.”
Alfred snorted. “Heh.” He stepped forward, helping pick Winant’s things up and moving towards the bedroom for him. “They’re groveling now.”
Winant didn’t follow him and waited to speak until Alfred turned to face him, expression benign. The ambassador regarded him with something like defiance, something akin to disappointment: “You’re proud of that?”
Alfred froze, eyes flying open wide.
Winant watched him.
Finally, the young nation had to look away, trudged away to practically throw his trunk into Winant’s bedroom.
Yes, yes I am. I don’t want anything to do with him anymore, he wanted to say, wanted to scream, The longer I have to stay here and see England and his people and his landscape the sicker I get. I don’t want to know him, I don’t want to help him—
I don’t want to—
England is gone.
Alfred stormed back to his room, threw up the lock, and sat in the darkness of London’s black-out for the rest of the night.
- John Winant was the US ambassador to Britain after Joseph Kennedy resigned. He is one of the most important figures in WWII history, and yet most Americans have no idea who he is, or have never heard of him. Winant had a very, very difficult job. In the six months leading up to his appointment as ambassador, the Luftwaffe had killed tens of thousands of British in attacks on London and other cities. Additionally, as Alfred mentions in the chapter itself, the British armed forces didn’t have good arms or ammunition or supplies, and were constantly on the defensive; German U-boats were sinking merchant ships in the Atlantic, leaving many British to starve or face starvation in one of the coldest winters ever recorded in England; all that and also the fact that a cross-channel invasion by Germany seemed ever looming and a very distinct possibility.
- During all this, most British officials and British people believed that the UK’s only hope for survival against such a foe was to get USAmerican help. The USAmericans had been giving aid up to that point, but the aid had been dismal at best, despite Roosevelt’s reassurance that the US would give “all aid short of war.” Many in Washington had written the UK off, as a small island nation that couldn’t possibly stand against such a fighting force as Germany, no matter how glorious the military past may have been. Faced with all these trials, Churchill, meanwhile, believed that Britain could survive provided that the reluctant US could be persuaded to enter the war.
- And despite that clusterfuck of “oh my god this is awful”-ness, Winant had no reservations in taking the job as US ambassador. His words to the press are his actual words, and Winant, after such a lackluster, defeatist ambassador like Kennedy, was a huge hit in the newspapers and among the people. The president was reportedly with questionable rationale for appointing Winant, mostly to get rid of a possible opponent, but Winant believed that the US needed to break its isolationist shell, was happy to take the job.
- During this time, yes, the US had gone back into isolationism after the Great War, which many USAmericans viewed as not worth their time. The only reason they entered that war, they believe, was because of the wiles of the British. Hence the anti-British attitude in most officials in Washington during this time.
- King George VI indeed met Winant at the train station, and it was a huge breach of protocol, as Winant explains in the chapter itself. It demonstrated just how serious the UK was in wanting US help, to the point where the king would leave the protocol behind to greet someone as small as an ambassador.
- The US embassy in London, Grosvenor Square, is also where John Adams stayed with his wife, as the first envoy to Britain after the revolutionary war. The Adams couple stayed there from 1785 to 1788, and their stay was not pleasant. They were greeted with resentment and dismissal by a country that’d so recently lost its American colonies. Alfred’s account of John and Abigail’s stay there, and Abigail’s attitude towards the British, are all true.