2. Chapter the First
“My mother always told the tale of my birth as though it were
a sort of tragedy.”
I felt no fear, the day Mam and Papa began to show the signs of the plague. Nor did I feel any remorse when I heard that they had both perished. How can one feel any sort of guilt, any sort of grief, toward the very people that ignored you since the very hour of your birth, simply because you were born a girl and not a boy?
My mother always told the tale of my birth as though it were a sort of tragedy, and, I suppose, to some extent, it was. All signs had pointed to my being a boy. Mam had consulted astronomers, asking the stars, praying to the heavens that she would produce a heir to the Solstice Park estate. Papa had sat in the chapel for days on end, fasted, hoped for a boy. They thought their prayers had been answered.
Neither of them gave a thought to the fairer gender.
It was only when a baby girl was squalling in a nursemaid's arms did they pause to think of what they were to do. Mam was not ready to go through the pain of childbirth once again, and it had been hard enough to get the disappointment - me - that they already had. Papa had already given up.
And with nothing left to do, and the only heir to their title a sickly, female child, they named me. They called me Lady Grey Victoria Howe, naming me after the color of the sky the day I came into the world, after the pale complexion my mother had when I first was brought into her sight, after the baby son they were supposed to have. They slipped the Victoria in to the middle. For if they were not to have a little boy, then they would name their little girl as a male.