In which Our Heroine makes a few summary remarks.
I trust those readers not yet familiar with these chronicles will permit me the liberty of making my own introduction. My name is Margaret Preston Fitzroy, though I am more familiarly known as Peggy. Publicly, I am the daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth Fitzroy and a maid of honor to Her Royal Highness, Caroline, Princess of Wales. Privately (or at least, less publicly), I am a con?dential agent in the service of the Crown.
Until recently, I was also an orphan. I lived with my dour uncle, Sir Oliver Trowbridge Preston Pierpont, and my less dour, but far more nervous, Aunt Pierpont, née Delphine Amilee Carlton. Fortunately for me, this uninviting pair was provided with a daughter of about my own age, Olivia, who became my best friend, despite her penchant for keeping ?ocks of small, fat, excessively ?u?y dogs.
My residence with uncle, aunt, cousin, and dogs halted abruptly when I refused to honor the betrothal my uncle had contracted to a youth named Sebastian Sandford. I had intended to do my best by the arrangement until Mr. Sandford attempted to help himself to my virginity prior to our marriage, without my consent.
Presented with this information, my uncle displayed his sympathy for my plight by throwing me out into the street. This being an unpromising state of a?airs for any young lady, it caused me some consternation. Fortunately, however, the gentleman who would become my patron and tutor in all matters related to the craft of the con?dential agent and courtier had recently introduced himself. At that time he called himself Mr. Tinder?int. It was some time before I discovered that this overdressed, easily ?ustered, and apparently foolish “Mister’s” right name and title were Hugh Thurlow Flintcross Gainsford, Earl Tierney.
Under the auspices of Mr. Tinder?int and Certain Other Persons, I found myself impersonating a maid of honor to Her Royal Highness, Princess Caroline. I discovered a forged letter, which led to a series of Nefarious Plots with Foreign Implications designed to topple the House of Hanover from the throne of England and set up the pretender James Edward Stuart as king.
It was very much the fashion among our English aristocrats to become out of sorts with the individuals who wore the crown of England. Therefore, on a regular basis, sundry persons would organize their armies with the intention of changing out one monarch for another. This happened to Charles the First, and after him the Lord Protector, and, more recently, James the Second. James, being more prudent, or perhaps just faster, than Charles, managed to get away to France before he was deprived of his head as well as his crown.
Once James the Second ?ed, William and Mary Stuart, and then Anne Stuart, took the throne. Anne did not leave any living heirs, so the English nobility was faced with a weighty decision: to allow the stubbornly unrepentant—and Catholic—James to resume the throne, or to ?nd some entirely new (and Protestant) branch of the monarchy to ?ll his post. Opinions were expressed, plots were hatched, but all to no avail. It was decided that the ruling family of Hanover was close enough kin to the dying Queen Anne to ?ll the bill. So it was that the Elector of Hanover was o?ered the throne, which he accepted. In so doing, he became our current king, George.
As may be imagined, this turn of events left James Stuart (formerly James the Second) somewhat put out. He proceeded to express his displeasure through a series of (unsuccessful) invasions, which continued at regular intervals until he died. His son—the previously mentioned James Edward Stuart—proved himself a model of ?lial piety, and continued in the family tradition of attempting to seize the throne. As may be imagined, these e?orts spawned an ongoing series of plots and plans on the part of those Stuart partisans who had by now come to be known as Jacobites. These plots happened to involve the Sandford family—most particularly Sebastian Sandford’s father, Lord Lynn?eld, and his older brother, Julius.
The plots also, much to my surprise, involved my dour Uncle Pierpont.
Rebellion, it must be understood, is an expensive business. It requires careful, discreet men to handle its money. And as Uncle Pierpont owned a private bank, the Sandfords and others funneled a great deal of money through that bank and into the Jacobite cause. This, while lucrative for the House of Pierpont, was also treasonous. This treason was compounded by Uncle Pierpont’s acquiescing with the Sandfords’ insistence that I honor my engagement to Sebastian Sandford. It may be therefore understood that I experienced a great deal of satisfaction in exposing the Sandfords as Jacobite Plotters and Nefarious Persons. That satisfaction, however, arrived only after the Sandfords engaged in a spirited attempt to deprive me of my life.
Although I assure my readers my e?orts were considerable, my survival was much aided by the abrupt and unexpected return of my father, Jonathan Fitzroy. He had not been in his grave as I’d thought. He had instead been in France, which some might declare to be worse. When I was still a child, a royal command had sent him to ferret out the plans of the would-be Stuart king, James III. While my father spied upon James and his allies, my mother, Elizabeth, also unbeknownst to me, conducted similar investigations among London’s drawing rooms and royal court.
Those few who knew my parents’ profession considered it unnecessary to inform a small child her parents were spies. Therefore, I was left to conclude that my father had simply abandoned me. I was, of course, delighted to ?nd this was not the case. At the same time, adjustment to the ownership of a father of any sort—let alone such a dashing and unpredictable character as Jonathan Fitzroy—was proving to be more complex than I would have imagined.
For a time, I was able to soothe this agitation by happily looking forward to a future entirely devoid of Sandfords. The senior member of that clan did not survive his particular brush with Adventure. I con?dently assumed the family’s remaining branches would be quickly pruned by the blade of the King’s Justice. After all, the old lord had been a smuggler, traitor, kidnapper, murderer, and cad, and there could be no doubt that at least the elder son, Julius, partook of these delightful activities as well.
Julius, however, now held the title of Lord Lynn?eld, and the possession of a minor title is a great shield and bar to prosecution, even when it comes to treason.
It was also the case that much of the proof against the Sandfords had been destroyed.
When Julius Sandford was taken to the palace to be questioned, Uncle Pierpont decided he did not wish to be arrested, charged, and hanged, with his goods and chattels con?scated while his wife and daughter were reduced to irredeemable disgrace and poverty.
This was the true and ultimate reason behind the house ?re in St. James’s Square, which, not coincidentally, started in the book room, where my uncle kept the majority of his private papers. He also kept himself there while it all burned to ash.
So it had come to pass that while I