Orphaned at 12, Rebecca became the ward of her brutal uncle, Squire Exbridge, who is married to her father's sister. She runs away as soon as she turns 21, although she has no control over her fortune until she turns 25 or marries. She becomes a companion to her cousin Lady Adelaide Parr. Her grandmother was Russian, and Rebecca is at least passably fluent in French and Russian, although she cannot read and write the latter. She undertakes to assist the Graylins and Lord John Granville in acquiring some basics of the language before they are posted to St. Petersburg, and eventually agrees to accompany them. Volkov refers to her as Rebecca Ivanovna, her father's name being Ian, Lord John refers to her as Beckie.