Lady's companions were employed because upper- and middle-class women spent most of their time at home.A lady's companion might be taken on by an unmarried woman living on her own, by a widow, or by an unmarried woman who was living with her father or another male relation but had lost her mother, and was too old to have a governess.Ladies-in-waiting were usually women from the most privileged backgrounds who took the position for the prestige of associating with royalty, or for the enhanced marriage prospects available to those who spent time at court, but lady's companions usually took up their occupation because they needed to earn a living.Like a governess, a lady's companion was not regarded as a servant, but neither was she really treated as an equal.She would not be expected to perform any domestic duties which her employer might not carry out herself, in other words little other than giving directions to servants, fancy sewing and pouring tea.
It was related to the position of lady-in-waiting, which by the 19th century was only applied to the female retainers of female members of the royal family.
I left a note in the Poste Restante (General Post Office - this was pre-cellphone days) and ended up meeting them later that month. But after a few days, I'd be on my own again, and that was good too.
We became friends, as people do when they keep tripping over one another across a continent. So you never know what shape your travel companionships will take...
(Employment as a governess, running a private girls' school and writing were virtually the only other such options; hence the formation of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women in 1859.) The companion's role was to spend her time with her employer, providing company and conversation, to help her to entertain guests and often to accompany her to social events.
In return she would be given a room in the family's part of the house, rather than the servants' quarters; all of her meals would be provided, and she would eat with her employer; and she would be paid a small salary, which would be called an "allowance" – never "wages".