Once upon a time, there was a young maiden named Phoebe, blessed with beauty, grace, and intelligence – and enough guile to hide the last, when necessary.
She was the youngest flower of an ancient lineage, the only child of a love-match. She possessed a wide circle of friends who adored her, and openly envied her loveliness. She lived in ease in an ancient house in the country. Indeed, her whole life was a song – except that her parents were in thrall to The Grandmother.