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The Devil and The Debutant

Prologue: The Tantrum

By E. J. StrangePublished 2 years ago 7 min read
"Christina Rossetti in a Tantrum" by her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti


They weren’t really understanding her. She hated being yelled at especially when she hadn’t meant to do anything wrong; especially since she had asked for help; especially since she had no idea how to fix it so that her mother would stop. She couldn’t articulate any of this and felt cowed by the senses her mother was stirring up. She felt muddled like maybe she was wrong, but deep down she knew this beratement was the truly wrong thing. She just couldn’t figure out how to say it, though, so the little girl screamed, “You’re stupid!!!! I hate you!!!!”

That had seemed right to the little girl as it came out. She felt validated then. She felt she had turned them into the monsters of her mind. It felt so good she needed to release more of the pent-up frustration and indignation she had boiling inside her. She balled her fists up and stomped her feet on the pavement. Inhuman noises clawed their way out of her throat as her face turned red with the efforts. It was feeling right for her, and courage was building in her chest.

She was stunned when a thwack met her shoulder and a finger was wagged in her face, “stop it!!! You are making a scene.” Her mother was dragging her from the open front yard into the house.

The girl dug in her heals; snot bubbling out of her nose as she began wailing, “you made me!”

“Jane, no one can make you do anything. You are doing this all on your own.” The fed up mother reasoned as she dragged her child back into the house.

“You don’t listen, and you’re mean!” the girl retorted as the door slammed closed.

There was no one to witness now and her mother threw herself into teaching her child a lesson. Jane skittered and tried to run from her irate mother but was caught around the waist. She flailed in an effort to escape. Her protests were met with another thwack; this time to her bottom. The cracks to her back side continued to come as her mother beat her point home, “you disrespectful child! You made me look like a fool in front of my friends and embarrassed me in front of the neighbors. I wasn’t going to spank you, but you want to act up this badly I will give you a reason to act up.”

It hadn’t escaped Jane that her mother’s words were contradictory to her previous statement, “no one can make you do anything huh?” but all she could manage to say between smacks was, “nooooo, stop.”

When her mother grew tired of beating her, she went back to berating her, “What have I told you about going out improperly dressed. How can I claim you as my daughter when you come out looking like a servant?”

Jane was choked with tears. That morning Jane had tried to dress like the young lady she was taught to be, but it was impossible with the corset and all those ribbons. She had asked the governess to help her, but the governess had been tied up with her brother, who had decided to play chimney sweep and had gotten stuck. She had then gone to cook, who had been busy preparing scones and finger sandwiches for afternoon tea. The only other woman who could have helped her was her mothers lady’s maid and that had meant going to her mother, which was what she had tried to avoid.

Her mother was in a tizzy trying to make everything perfect for high tea with the Baroness Sheffield of Butterwick. The woman was going to be an extremely honored guest; one that would give her considerably more paunch among her friends. Jane had waited till the last possible moment to enter the parlor. While she waited to be called in, she struggled to put on all her trappings all the while praying that her mother forgot about her. Her mother had not.

When Jane had been summoned to the parlor, her dress hung askew on her body and a rat's nest hung at the back of her head. The tangled mess had been adorned with knotted ribbons instead of bows. Her mother’s eyebrows had reached the top of her skull in shocked disgust and Jane knew instinctively to run. She had hid in the front bushes until her mother’s guests had all left.

By that time her governess was scouring the yard and house for her. Jane had reluctantly crawled out to accept the tongue lashing she knew she would be given. The governess had been mild compared to her mother who had stepped in to drive her point home. Jane tired to explain calmly at first to no avail, so the scene had ensued.

“Mary, can you please take this miscreant and beat her again. There will be no supper for you missy, and for heaven sakes Mary don’t let her come out of her room looking like that again or it will come out of your wages,” Jane’s mother huffed.

Mary turned to descend on Jane and Jane beelined for the door. “I hate you all, I am going to aunties!”

Her mother threw herself at the door blocking Jane from opening it, “You are not going out like that besides your aunt doesn’t want a bagger bond trapesing around her house.”

“Auntie Linda loves me!” Jane answered in outrage.

“Do you think she will love an ill dressed misbehaving little girl? She has only seen as an angel, because of me, so what is going to happen when she sees you like this?! She will turn you away for sure! And what then?”

Jane paused a moment in contemplation of that, “I am not bad, and auntie knows that.”

“Having a girl at best is a misfortune. When auntie Linda see’s that you are,” she drew out the are to emphasize her point, “deplorable to boot and punishes you for that where will you go then?” her mother reasoned.

Jane pursed her lips wanting to win the argument, but not understanding where her mother was going with this, “Then I will stay in the country with Uncle George, he said I am always welcome there! He can raise me as a boy”

“That is impossible, so what happens when Uncle George is fed up with you?” her mother arched an eyebrow at her.

“Then I will stay with my friend Tessa’s,” said Jane realizing she was running out of people to stay with.

“Did they invite you?”

“No, but Tessa is my friend.” Jane protested

“Jane, its not her home it is her parents, so what will happen when you have no place left to run?” her mother questioned.

Jane’s lip started to tremble again, “I will be so good to them that they will want to keep me.”

“Why don’t you start being good here before you don’t have roof over your head?” asked her mother in a softened tone.

“They are nicer to me! It's easy to be good for them.” Jane reasoned.

“Jane, you haven’t tried their patience yet! Trust me if you ever did, they would turn you away immediately, you are not their daughter they do not have to care for you. Dresses, and food and creature comforts are prices they are not willing to bestow on a guest.” Her mother sharpened her best tough love tone.

That stung Jane and sunk in deep. She hadn’t thought her comfort was so precariously balanced and she feared being homeless. She had seen the homeless orphaned children in town; dirty and boney. She saw the glint of jealousy in their eyes and did not envy them back.

Jane sucked in air. “Fine,” she squeaked and marched upstairs to accept her punishment. She liked the roof over her head, and she hated the thought of being cast out, alone in the world.


About the Creator

E. J. Strange

I am new to the writing community but hope to publish a novel one day. I am simple minded and sucker for romance.

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