She was born with a crippled and paralyzed right arm, and a disease commonly called in those days, “Scrofula”, which is a form of tuberculosis which affects the neck. In her case, it also made her neck and cheeks malformed, and not at all pleasant to look at. At times, she suffered from swelling and open, pussy sores. No one knew for sure who her parents were. Laurent Cousin may have been her father, but that was never determined for sure. She might also have been left at the doorstep as a baby, perhaps because of her deformities, or she may have been the child of Laurent’s first wife, who died of the plague when Germaine was an infant.
Whatever the case, he never cared for her. He remarried, and his new wife hated Germaine, possibly because the father didn’t care for her, or because she, his new wife, was just a very hateful person. She treated Germaine horribly. She was kept away from her brothers and sisters, or step-family, whatever they were. She was allowed to sleep under a stairway in the barn, and never allowed to live in the house. She lived in rags, and never had a pair of shoes. She ate the stale bread and water which was left for her at the front door of the house every day. She was required to spin an enormous amount of wool, which was an almost impossible task, considering her infirmities. But the Lord helped her.