Sons and Daughters: Synopsis
JANE AUSTEN’S ‘PRIDE AND PREJUDICE’ CONTINUES…
SONS AND DAUGHTERS, a sequel to Karen V. Wasylowski’s ‘DARCY AND FITZWILLIAM’ (which was itself a continuation of Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE), again follows the iconic Fitzwilliam Darcy and his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam. Now we see the two battling best friends as loving husbands and doting fathers, older and a bit wiser, making the sacrifices, the difficult (and frequently unpopular) decisions that men must make for the good of their families and we see their large brood of offspring – the ‘Fitzwilliam Mob’ – grow from childhood to adolescence then on into adulthood. Along the way, Darcy and Fitzwilliam are viewed by their children first as heroes, then as the enemy, but eventually as mortal human beings and the children’s adored champions once again.
Sons and Daughters: Excerpt
Have you come up with any reasonable story yet?” Hands in his pockets Fitzwilliam glared down at his sons.
Amanda shook her head in doubt. “Tell me again what sort of punishment this is meant to be.” The two little fellows sat side by side on the bottom step of the front staircase, scratching elbows and knees, looking anywhere but at their father.
“Well, since neither will tell me which one dropped the flour bag I am making them sit here until they come up with any plausible explanation.”
“I’m still a bit vague on this. How will that help you determine which one to punish?”
“They’ll have to decide together. If they‘re able to come up with one convincing tale I’ll accept it. But they cannot leave that step until they do agree on one.”
“And you are certain this is the position you wish to take?”
“I will never understand you.”
“It was me, Papa.” Mark winced when his brother’s sharp elbow dug into his side. “Well, it was.”
“No, Papa, it was me,” countered Matthew.
“See, not good enough. You still don’t agree. Now, give it another go.” The little faces leaned toward each other.
“I’ll share a secret with you both – if you tell me the truth the punishment will be less severe.”
“It was me,” whispered Matthew.
Mark nodded. “Yeah, it was him. But he’s very young.”
Fitzwilliam tried not to chuckle as he took a glum faced Matthew by the hand. The two walked silently into the library and when they reappeared a few moments later Matthew was rubbing his bottom, but evidently was not overly upset since he hopped up onto his chair and immediately began reaching for food.
“Before either of you eat, I want you to apologize to your cousins for that unprovoked attack at our front door.” With the wives fussing over baby Luke elsewhere, and the Fitzwilliam day maid hiding in a cupboard, the two fathers were the only functioning adults in the room.
“But it was though, Papa – provoked, I mean. First, to be clear on this, what exactly does provoke mean?” Precise to his core and always good natured Mark was duty bound to explain the twins’ abysmal behavior. However, he was also a detail man and, as usual, becoming bogged down with them.
“It means you are nasty boys and it means that you are wicked.” Kathy crowed, taunting with her little sing song voice, smiling cheerily at her older brothers because anytime they were in trouble was a cause for celebration. “It means you cannot have cake ever again and crows will peck out your eyes.”
Anne Marie cheered at that, she even clapped.
“Anne Marie Darcy, do not encourage your cousins.” Darcy reprimanded. “They seldom require it,” he muttered as he brought his daughter’s plate closer to her.
“Kathy, where do you learn such nonsense?” Fitzwilliam grasped her little cup of milk before it toppled from the table but failed to save her silverware.
“They’ll peck your eyes out, Beef!” shouted Matthew and Georgie, retaliating as always in unison. “And eat your brains – if they can find any! Yeah they will!” Matthew expanded on their previous comment and stuck out his tongue.
“Enough. All of you. Anyone who is shorter than I will henceforth cease to speak.” Darcy’s commanding voice sounded severe as he cut into edible pieces the small ham slice that had been sitting, untouched, before his daughter for nearly twenty minutes. “Eat something, Anne Marie – anything. I beg of you. At least one bite. How does your mother succeed with this and I do not?”
“Mama sings to me.”
“Yes, she sings to me also. How lucky we both are. Now eat at least the little bit that is on this fork. Please.” He turned to Mark. “And, ‘unprovoked’, my charming young hooligan, means that there was no just cause for the attack, neither upon your Aunt Lillibet nor upon your uncle – old what’s his name.”
Mark Fitzwilliam laughed heartily at what Darcy had just said, as if Darcy were the wittiest man alive.
Actually, hunger had overtaken his senses and he wanted done with all questions. He reached for his fork. Darcy’s arched eyebrow stopped him cold.
“No, Mark, you must answer the question first. Explain why you are tossing flour from the windows.”
“The salt is locked away.”
There was momentary silence.
“Darcy, you’re getting nowhere with this vague line of questioning. When it comes to my children you must attack with precision, leave nothing ambiguous. Watch carefully and learn. Matthew, what provocation – close your mouth, Mark – what purpose was there for your attack upon Uncle Wills and Auntie Lillibet?”
“It wasn’t meant for Uncle Wills. We love him and Auntie Lillibet.” Matthew reached for a jar of preserves but could not get them without unsettling the pitcher of milk; his father immediately righted the pitcher and brought the jar nearer. “Thank you, Papa. Put the strawberries on my scone?”
“Please…?” Prompted his father.
“I already said you could, Papa.”
“No, no, no, that is not what I meant, son. You should say…never mind. Now, these are not strawberries, Matthew. These are raspberries. Do you understand me, boy?” Fitzwilliam placed a large dollop of the raspberry preserves onto his son’s scone and then sliced the scone into several smaller pieces. He pushed the plate over to Mathew.
“Well, never mind then.”
“Whatever is keeping your mother so long?” Fitzwilliam mumbled as he stretched to look over his shoulder.