This is the Tale of Francesca Tapestry Nonsense; Tragically Orphaned, Naturally Gifted.
I am almost entirely certain that every young woman, following a quarrel with her parents, might come to believe that she is perhaps not their natural offspring. For how in all good reason could such disputation occur among those bound by blood?
Such was the case with me. However my belief that I was not the heir my parental name was one I had long held, and not as is the case with so many others the result of heated passions, but due to instinct and the laws of reason. There seemed to be no perceivable link betwixt us, thus I had, since I was a girl of eight acknowledged it to be the truth.
As I grew older I found that I was gifted with all the finer accomplishments without ever receiving formal tuition in either. I had only to sit at a piano forte and I could play it, I could stand before an easel and I knew how to paint. I could dine with an Italian or a Frenchman and be able to converse as easily as if it were in my native tongue. Dancing, sewing, Latin, in short all that was required to render a young woman accomplished and well thought of I had mastered at a young age. Including the immensely difficult double skill of composing poetry whilst reclining decorously under a poplar tree. I felt that these intuitive, refined qualities must make clear the inevitable truth that I am in fact a young lady of noble birth. There can undoubtedly be no scandal surrounding my arrival in the world, as if that were the case I should indubitably not have been blessed with such charm and abundant hair. As it is, however, I find myself eternally seeking the answer to this question; why was I abandoned? How could my mother part with an infant as perfectly calculated to delight as me?
It had occurred to me that my mother had perhaps married an impoverished duke. Although she naturally would have had a handsome settlement upon the occasion of her marriage (she was undeniably wealthy and as beautiful and accomplished as myself) my father, who must also have been a fearless military hero, was killed in battle she would not have had sufficient money to raise me in the style to which I had become accustomed. Therefore she would have forsaken me in the hope that, perhaps, these relations or strangers could provide me with such a life. The sole problem with this particular notion was that the couple to whom I had been entrusted were little more than peasants, lowly churls. They were trades-people. A milliner and a butcher, and although they were never cruel they were consistent in their denial of one thing; the truth.
They had, in fact, conspired to conceal my likely high rank since they had taken me in through their repeated refusal to concede that a gross injustice had evidently taken place when I became their ward. Indeed their declining to discuss my arrival upon their humble doorstep extended to a denial that so tragic an event had ever taken place, for they insist upon me calling them Mamma and Pappa to entirely conceal my falling prey to the misfortunes of being orphaned.
And yet as far as I could see there was irrefutable evidence that I was descended from the countries finer families; my name being Francesca Tapestry Nonsense. Francesca is a good name, it speaks of a large country residence and a house in the nicer parts of London. However it is the Tapestry part which I feel speaks more strongly of worthy connections. I have enquired over and over as to the origin of such a name which has, in all probability a most splendid history. But my “mother” has a rather wicked answer to my inquisitiveness. Tapestry, she says, is the result of the rector misspelling my name as he registered me at the font. An insult that I find causes me the most acute suffering, and greatly diminishes my respect of the clergy. What my intended name was my “mother” can no longer recall.
It was as a matter of fact, after such a conversation, two days prior to the sixteenth anniversary of my birth that I found I could tolerate no more of this heinous deceit. I had been happily engaged in practicing sitting in an attitude that displayed both grace and superior intelligence when my mother, who I shall refer to by her proper name; Mrs Martha Nonsense (what a name, I find it repugnant indeed to consider myself related to someone called Martha). Martha entered the parlour and bid me to cease what I was doing in order to assist her with the plucking of a hen. I feel I need hardly describe my feelings of agitated anguish at such a request.
“Nay, for I am engaged in a task of the utmost importance.” Was my petulant reply. “For how can you expect me to marry a man of any consequence if you do not allow me to practice being idle in an elegant manner?” I continued.
Martha stood silent before me with a look upon her unhappy visage that expressed that she was in humour to be trifled with. She did not need to speak for I knew well enough what her raised brow was attempting to communicate; if I did not obey my “mamma” I would be sent into service. The threat of a life of servitude was one Martha had long employed when endeavouring to correct what she believed to be rebellion, but was in fact, merely a natural delicacy which was quite out of place among trades-people. I felt a strong desire to strike my impertinent Mamma across the face, however I knew that such an action was not suited to a woman of standing. Thus I resorted instead to the weaponry of the eloquently spoken words.
“Martha, this is not to be born. That you force me to reside here with you is one thing, but you cannot expect me to embrace the rustic trivialities of such a life!” Was my malicious outburst. “Especially as you continue to insist, despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary, that I am your own flesh and blood!” I concluded with passionate feelings of vexation. I am forced to admit that Martha was a worthy opponent, for she met my words with her own excellently constructed sentence.
“Francesca, I shall not tell you again, you are our own child! I find your incessant desire to believe yourself the victim of some wicked scheme utterly unfathomable.” Said she in a manner so devoid of feeling that her words acted to reinforce my conviction that we could not be mother and daughter.
“You, Madam, are unfathomable!” I cried as I fled from the room in a fashion perfectly calculated to convey both my disappointment and anger.
When I reached my bedchamber I suddenly longed to indulge in that weakness so commonly associated with elegant females; a fainting fit. Although it would unquestionably have soothed my discomposed sensibilities, it was not, I fear, a practical solution. I took three turns about before settling upon a course of action that I was confident would at once satisfy both my curiosity and also sever my unfortunate association with Martha and her husband Robert; a man who so closely resembled an inebriated highwayman that I often expected him to draw a sword and shout “your money or your life!” when I entered the parlour for breakfast. I would leave my home (if a home it could be called for it was, after all, in Cheapside) and depart this very instant on a quest to find my true and noble family.