Sunday, October 5, 2008

A workhouse tale

Jane was the prettiest girl in the workhouse. Taller than the other seven-year-olds, with clear blue eyes and dark curly hair, she was a bright little thing, full of mischief, who liked playing practical jokes on the other children.

She was punished, of course, in those early years of the 20th century, and sometimes cried herself to sleep, but in the morning, irrepressible, she was laughing again. Who was it who climbed the drainpipe in the playground, or tied Officer Sharp's shoelaces together as she sat darning socks?

If it wasn't Jane, it might as well have been, so she got the punishment. The master of the workhouse vowed to break the 'saucy little madam'.

When Jane owned up to making a sketch of him with a square head, small eyes and an exaggerated stomach, she was taken to the discipline room, a small cell with no windows and no furniture except for a stool. The master took down one of several canes and beat the little girl so severely that she could not sit down for several days.

Read the rest of the story at Mail Online.

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