"I was in receipt in these days of disturbing letters from home, where things were not going well"

This is a possible clue as to how the narrator ended up in her current situation. According to an 1848 article by Lady Eastlake published in the Quarterly Review, errant behaviour on the part of fathers was a dominant reason for young women becoming governesses. She writes:

We need the imprudencies, extravagancies, mistakes, or crimes of a certain number of fathers, to sow that seed from which we reap the harvest of governesses. There is no other class of labourers for hire who are thus systematically supplied by the misfortunes of our fellow-creatures.

The Drunkard's Progress, c.1846
Public DomainThe Drunkard's Progress, c.1846 - Credit: Nathaniel Currier