Chapter one in my Becoming Jane story. Reviews= happiness!
She sat in that small room which she had with the rest of the servants' at the LeFroy residence. Thinking of what this summer at the Austen's would bring.
Although only sixteen, she saw so much more in people than they gave her credit for. The only two people she could think that gave her credit for anything were Miss Jane Austen and Mr. George Austen. They happened to be the only two friends she had.
A maid to Miss Lucy LeFroy, she had absolutely no happiness in the life she led at the Manor. Had it not been for the untimely friendship of Miss Austen, she was sure she would have hanged herself out of hatred for life and sheer need to feel something besides the hatred she received from Miss LeFroy.
For how this friendship began is a stranger tale than any I know. And for me to be able to make sure you understand the story I am trying to tell, you must understand how they met.
SIX AND A HALF YEARS EARLIER
"Ow! Laura, you poked me with another needle! Just stop! Obviously you have no clue what you're doing!" Miss Lucy said, slapping Laura across the face.
Tears began to flow down her red cheek and she turned away from her cruel mistress. "Face me, you worthless excuse for a maid!" Miss Lucy again raised her hand and slapped her along the other side of her face.
Laura stood, facing the cruelty that she had known since that fateful night her mother died. "I will not be struck like that ever again!" She cried, running from the Manor and jumping onto the one thing that was truly hers. Her most trusted friend, a horse. A horse name Gregory.
Taking off at lightning speed, she fled the LeFroy Manor, trying to find some sort of sanctuary. She was fast as wind, and gaining speed… then, unbeknownst to her or her horse, a log fell from one of the oak trees ahead, and Laura was moving too fast to stop. Gregory skidded to a stop, sending Laura flying over his head, and into the mud, rolling down a hill.
Laura was crying now, trying to stand. Every time she did, however, a shooting pain was sent through her leg and into her ankle. She screamed with pain, collapsing to the ground.
"Hello there?" a women's cried in the distance.
Laura tried to pull herself up to see where the voice was coming from. "Here, ma'am! Please, my horse, he is still up on the hill!"
The women ran to her, a young man following. "Goodness, what has happened?" she said.
Laura pulled herself up on one of the trees. "A tree branch fell and startled me horse, ma'am. I fell down the hill, landed quite strangely on me left ankle. I pray, please make sure my horse, Gregory, is alright."
The young women nodded, and said something with her hands to the young man. The man nodded and moved over to Laura. Not saying a word, he slipped his right arm gently under hers, and his left arm under her legs, lifting her from the ground gently.
This startled the young girl at first. After all she was only ten, and men usually never paid much mind to her. He carried her on up the hill, and placed her on the back of her horse with as much gentility as a mother holding her new born child.
Taking her on to their own house, she noticed that the young man never did speak, if only with his hands.
"Ma'am… Why does your suitor not speak?" she finally had the courage to ask the lady that was being so kind to her.
She smiled. "Please, all you need call me is Jane. And George does not speak because he cannot hear us." She explained to me in a most kind and loving voice.
Laura looked at him and smiled. George smiled back and said something with his hands. Laura turned to Miss Jane with a most confused look. "What has he said, Miss Jane?" Laura asked, still trying to be polite as possible.
The lady asked him something with her hands and he replied. "George has asked you your name. Tell me and I may show you how to speak the way he speaks." She said, smiling upon the girl.
"Laura." She replied.
Miss Jane nodded and showed her a few very simple movements with her hands, which she then copied to George.
The man smiled and nodded, applauding her silently. This made Laura laugh. The first tiem she had laughed in years.
Looking upon her face in the dingy mirror, she sighed. Soon she would be married off to someone she knew not, and loved not.
"Oh, miss, don't you go losing your faith. You still got all of us, now don't you?" one of the older maids, Ruth, said.
Laura smiled. "Yes, Ruthie. But still, I cannot but hope that someday I will be able to stay where I am happier than even speaking with you, who have almost been my mother. With Miss Jane and Mr. George, that is where I truly wish to be…" her voice trailed off and she stared off into the forest, waiting for that perfect hour when she would be reunited with her truest friends.
"LAURA! COME DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!" Miss Lucy called from the bottom of the stairs, to lazy to bring herself up and to consumed with herself to even want to.
Laura sighed and tied her apron around her waist. Moving toward the door, she smiled toward Ruth. "Thank you." She said and walked down the stairs.
Curtsying as she stood in front of her mistress, she smiled as she was supposed to. "How might I serve you this afternoon, miss?"
Lucy looked her over and snorted. "I was merely reminding you to be ready to leave for the Austen's within the hour. That will be all, Laura." She said in her usual smug way.
Laura curtsied and turned back up the stairs. After she was sure that Miss Lucy was out of sight, she skipped four stairs and ran up the rest, humming to herself a tune of utter happiness and delight.
"Ruth, I leave within the hour! Would you help me pack? Please?" I said to my long time friend at the LeFroy Manor.
Ruth smiled the biggest smile Laura had ever known besides that of George when she was to learn a new word in what she called "His Language."
As they were packing, it so happened that Laura was to look out her window and squealed, finishing her packing quickly and carried her small trunk swiftly down the stairs, running out the door to the carriage that awaited.
"Miss Jane! Mr. George…" She said before she realized that the carriage was not the one Miss Jane and Mr. George would take to retrieve her.
A young man Laura had never seen before stepped out of the carriage. "Hello there, you must be Laura. I'm afraid that Jane and George are unable to retrieve you so they sent me instead. My name is Henry. I am Jane's elder brother. Come." Mr. Henry said, outstretching his hand to her and taking what little belongings she had.
Afterwards, he climbed into the carriage and held out his hand to help her in. Laura cringed back from him, not knowing what to do or say. George was the only one who was ever this kind to her, along with Miss Jane.
Henry smiled at her sheer naivety. "I won't bite. That I promise. I want only to bring you to our home, George eagerly awaits you." She smiled and took his hand eagerly, making him laugh. "You have a fancy to him don't you?"
A slight blush rose in Laura's cheeks and she turned her head downward. "If only slightly, then sir, I believe you are correct. I just don't know what I am to do about it…" Laura said, her face still turned away from him.
Two of his fingers gingerly took her chin and turned it back to face her. "I think it is sweet. You do know his condition? What a silly question, you must know… Understand this now though, George may never be able to marry." He smiled and stroked her cheeks with those same two fingers.
Over the hours of mindless talking lead to a blossoming, and truly unexpected, friendship between Henry and Laura. He refused to be called sir or Mr. Henry or even Mr. Austen. "Just Henry." He told her.
As they came closer to the house, Laura became more and more excited. "Oh, Henry. It feels like eternity since I've set my sore eyes on this place. One day I might stay forever, if your mother needs me."
Henry laughed as the carriage came to a stop in front of the house and he jumped out to greet his family.
"Jane!" he cried, pulling his sister into a loving embrace, the moving to Cassandra and doing the same.
Laura remained in the carriage, until Henry went back in and pulled her out. "Come on out then, love. I think you know my family well enough to know they won't bite!"
As he pulled me out, Miss Jane and George both smiled in delight. "Oh, Laura!" Miss Jane exclaimed, pulling the young girl into her embrace.
"Hello Miss Jane. I've missed you." Laura replied, hugging her back.
Chapter one. I know its long, but I was in the mood to write.