I stood in my bedchamber upon the point of leaving my home, in all likelihood never to return, and I found myself faced with a crisis of such magnificent proportions that it threw me into a turmoil the likes of which I had never known; I had nothing to wear! I gazed at my tiresome assortment of gowns, all utterly unfit for the task that lay before me, for how can any young woman of high birth and misfortune attempt to find her family when clothed in a plain stripe. Such a thing is surely an impossibility. It was above six and twenty minutes afore I recalled my sprigged muslin lined with satin a beauteous affair I had made up in the French style for a ball at the assembly rooms.
I hastily completed my toilette, and arranged my shawl in a manner that I felt would communicate the exact nature of my important quest. I deferred my departure only long enough to compose a note to the wretched Martha and Robert. I took my leave and made my way through the unfavourable neighbourhood that was Cheapside in my best ball gown.
I was well enough acquainted with the history of the tragic orphan to know, despite what my villainous “mama” said, that the parents of such unfortunate creatures scarcely fail to provide them with some hint through which they might trace their heritage and thereby reclaim there natural station among society. I was confident in the knowledge that in this instance the decisive clue was in my middle name. It had become as clear to me as the diamond I had taken from Martha, and which now hung around my neck that “ Tapestry” was a reference to those woven objects that hung on the walls of the better houses in the country. Thus I knew that my real mother wished that I would, upon seeing my family’s arras, recognise the handsome visage of an ancestor and be welcomed back into my paternal home, in a manner more commonly associated with greeting received by an eldest son upon returning from a particularly perilous journey to the East Indies.
The post coach being the method of travel preferred by young ladies in distress, despite one usually being forced to converse with the most tiresome churls, was not so great a distance as to be prohibited by the conventions of society of reaching it on foot. However once I had attained my destination I was nigh on overwhelmed by an unforeseen difficulty that threatened to throw my whole scheme into dissolution; I had no money! It was fortunate perhaps that I had been blessed, among my other gifts, with resourcefulness that would have been beneficial to an officer of the militia. I resorted to that womanly ploy of dance. The coach driver was an amiable fellow and being greatly pleased by my lightness of foot he showed no objection whatever, indeed he was all chivalrous generosity in agreeing to take me into the north of the country. The journey as I had feared was offensive to my sensibilities. I had indeed had the shocking misfortune of being seated beside a peasant with such a terrifying lack of teeth that I longed to throw him from the moving carriage in a violent rage. At the voyage’s close I was handed down by the driver in a village that with every hedgerow seemed to convey familial reunion. I progressed on foot to Amberdell hall, one of the finest houses in England, It was home to Lord Amberdell of __Shire and I had heard a good deal about the accomplishments of those residing there. I gained admittance to this house by applying to the housekeeper, her fee she happily waved when I graced with the smile that was the very essence of refined politeness. “Excuse me Madam, might I be so bold as to prevail upon you to show me the tapestries. I am making a study of such objects and have been told by the admiring rustics hereabouts that Amberdell Hall boasts some of the most spectacular in the country, and perhaps the world.” was my clever deception. She was gratified by the compliment, and I am confident she did not suspect my true motives.
I followed her through the magnificent house and was almost overwhelmed by that sense of belonging one feels when amongst the treasured possessions of a favourite aunt, which one knows they will one day inherit. We turned into the long gallery and it was with a disproportionate air of self importance that she halted and with a gesture, of surprising grace for a servant, said;
“This is the family’s grand tapestry…” But before the good woman could embark on what I am quite certain would have been an infuriatingly obsequious speech of prodigious length about the family’s historical importance and excessive generosity toward her, there was the sound of silver being thrown heartily to the floor in a parlour beyond. And with an enraged cry of “Foolish half-witted simpleton. Ill bred cretin!” she fled from the room to strike the poor churl; leaving me to gaze at the tapestry.
As I studied the visages I was overcome with such feelings of elated joy that I could have danced a jig, for upon that worthy woven picture was a woman who so closely resembled myself that it was above two minute before I was certain that I was not, in fact, looking into a glass. Upon realising that I had reached the end of my search afore it had quite begun I concluded the only proper course of action was to surrender myself to the hysteria of a nervous fit. I did so at once.
I upheld my resolution to the hysterics for upwards of ten minutes before composing myself and pinched my cheeks to aid their colour. I crossed the gallery and thrusting my right foot forwards, to ensure that my figure was shown to it’s best advantage, I bust into the morning room and stood before my family.