This is a different version of Jane's childhood, if you see anything you recognize, it's probably a coincidence. Mwah haha!
JENNY Chapter 1
There are those fortunate people who can look back on their youth and see only the sunny hours—not I. I was orphaned at such an early age that I have no memory of my parents—the earliest memory I have is of sitting on someone's knee while he sang to me. I think that must have been my Uncle, but he died soon after. Then there was no one to care about me—I was lost in the midst of scolding, and confusion as to what should be expected of me.
Soon enough, I was made useful, first in the Nursery where I was required to fetch and carry whatever the Nursemaid might require. I remember that there was a baby, but he was a sickly whining little thing, and did not prosper long. A fever soon took him away to a place called Heaven which seemed to be oversupplied with Angels of all sorts. It was a while before I understood that Heaven and the Churchyard were not the same thing.
I was subject to persecution from the older children—I was told that they were my Cousins, and that I should be polite with them and do whatever they wished. It seemed to me then that a 'Cousin' must be a disagreeable thing to be—as none of them was a pleasant sort of person. John was a bully, he would pull my hair and hit me when no one was looking. Eliza was sly and conniving, all her mischief was of an unpleasant sort—I was often blamed for the things that she had done. Georgiana was too indolent to do much more than complain continuously of my shortcomings—things that she would say that hadn't been done to her satisfaction or ridiculous requirements.
Their mother, my Aunt Reed ,was a terrifying person with a loud voice and a great deal of criticism for my behavior. When she was particularly angry with me; out would come the switch for my correction. This kind of thing went on for years—I never made any objection to my treatment as I had no idea that there was any alternative to being beaten and scolded continuously as I was. It was true that my Cousins did not seem to suffer in this way; in my uninformed state, I supposed that they were considered hopeless cases, impossible of improvement.
As I grew older, I was made responsible for all sorts of household tasks—mostly to do with cleaning and mopping. Sometimes I was sent to work in the kitchen as a sort of scullery maid, chopping vegetables and washing enormous amounts of dirty china and glassware left from Family meals in which I took no part. The servants were kinder to me than my relatives and would usually correct me gently rather than scream invective and hit at me (the sorry fate some of the underservants who fell short of expectations).
Somehow, I am not sure, I had learned my letters and could read. I knew my numbers also and could reckon up simple sums. I had discovered the Library and would often slip in unobserved and purloin a book to satisfy my endless curiosity and craving for knowledge. I was particularly fond of books with illustrations, as those would help me picture more completely the stories I was reading. After a while, I found myself dissatisfied with some of the pictured interpretations and began to try drawing my own ideas; soon I started trying to write little tales to go with these images.
The difficulty came in finding paper and writing materials without being discovered. By now, however, I had found that the Attic held much in the way of discards that could be of use to me. The best discovery came one day when I found a long-forgotten storage space behind one of the chimneys.
It was perfect for my needs; now I had a place where I could hide from persecution—safe from discovery. I soon made it my own with some basic furnishings. I would go to hide there after the evening meal and often spent the night snug in my little sanctuary.
I had begun to fear John Reed in a new way. Several of the younger maids had complained of him and his lewd behavior. It was even whispered belowstairs that my cousin, now fifteen, had caused the dismissal of one unfortunate girl, who was found to be 'in the family way'. I was not certain as to what was meant by this, but supposed that he had done something nasty to her. I took great care at this time to avoid his company—any time I sensed that he was near—I would dive into whatever hiding place I could find, and would not come out until he was gone elsewhere.
This inevitably led to a realization on my Aunt's part that I was seldom to be found when wanted for some task. Her annoyance with me was only increased at this point in our mutual affairs. This was the place we had arrived at when I was almost twelve, and the event came which was to change everything in my life from then on.
Yes, the Reeds are pretty awful in this version - and John is definitely horrible beyond description. ENJOY!