From the Author
A large, stern man hovered over Fitzwilliam Darcy's sobbing mother. Her cries awoke the boy of eight from his night time slumber in the small Scottish cottage where he and his mother shared a room. The only light was a lantern in the man's hand. Outside the open window, the world remained quiet except for the sound of horses snorting and stamping impatiently. A coachman attempted to calm them.
"But do not take him away from me! Do not take my boy!"
Fitzwilliam attempted to hide behind his mother who now sat on his bed.
"You have taken mine!" the man roared. "Have you no words of regret on the passing of your firstborn? My son! My heir! He needed his mother -- but no, you were here."
Lady Anne Darcy remained mute and continued her sobs. Her son peered curiously at the angry man. Mother had another child? He had a brother?
"Do not fret," the man glared and had no sympathy for the tears he saw. "I kept your affair a secret, and he has my name. He will be accepted."
"But he will not be loved!" Lady Anne sobbed anew, and she hugged Fitzwilliam.
"You should have thought of that before you played the harlot."
"If you would allow me to come with you," she pleaded.
"Absolutely not. You will remain here for your "health." Now, pass the boy over."
The man looked at the Fitzwilliam. He looked strange, unfamiliar and in clothing that showed no signs of wear. Mother had always said one day his father would come for him one day, but looking at this man, Fitzwilliam did not want to go.
"No, anything but that please," Mother cried.
Large hands tried to snatch Fitzwilliam's arm, and she threw herself in front of the child. He darted to the other side of the room.
"Anne," George said in a warning tone. "The law is on my side."
He sounded angry, and Fitzwilliam flinched at the voice, but his mother did not cower. Either Mother was very brave, or perhaps there was no reason to fear violence from the man.
"Allow me to say goodbye," Mother pleaded.
At last, the towering man relented.
"Fitzwilliam, my darling son," Mother choked out and embraced him.
He wrapped his hands tightly around her waist and pressed his head to her chest. "Mama, please do not send me away. Do not make me go with that man." Tears streaked down his face, and he trembled in fear. Other than Cook and the maid, he had seldom known other people. He was even too shy to greet the minister they saw every Sunday.
"He is your father," Mama said.
The man snorted, and Fitzwilliam lifted his head.
Mother turned her head to face Father. "What else is there to tell him, George?"
"Disguise of every sort is my abhorrence," he said through gritted teeth. "Am I not lying enough as it is?"
"Please," Mother asked as her chin trembled and tears fell down her cheeks. "Please."
"Blast it. You always knew how to get your way," Father whispered. "I will tell him when he is old enough."
Fitzwilliam felt relief in his mother's frame, and she exhaled the breath she had been holding.
Turning back to her son, she ran comforting hands over his hair and face. "Now, you will go with your Papa and learn everything you can about running a big estate. So many people will look up to you and will count on you. Do you think you can do that?"
Fitzwilliam shook his head.
"Our son was never afraid of anything," Father said sadly. "Did you ever wonder?"
Pain and anguish flooded Mother's eyes, and she squeezed them shut. Upon opening, determination filled them.
"You can do this! I know you can! Do you remember the name of the estate?"
"Yes! See how smart you are already?"
Fitzwilliam did not care about praise at this moment. Why did he have to leave Mother behind? "When will I see you again?"
"Do not worry about that," she answered with a quavering voice. "I must remain here and get healthy."
Mother often said they lived here because of her health. She never seemed ill to him, only sad. However, he would never wish to hurt her. "Must I go?"
"Yes, it is your duty to be the heir of Pemberley." She pulled him into a crushing hug. "Now, never forget how I love you. No one will ever love you as your mother."
"Boy, it is time," Father called.
After another minute, Mother released him and gave him a kiss on each cheek. He reluctantly walked to his father's side.
"I am pleased to meet you, Father," he said.
George Darcy harrumphed and left the sparse room. Fitzwilliam cast a parting look at his mother, who tried to smile and waved goodbye. Then, he trailed down the stairs and maintained silence until they were in the carriage. As they pulled away from the cottage which been his only home, Fitzwilliam cried.