"Oh, for heavens sake, lad, can't you do anything properly?" bellowed the large, red faced man looming over ten year old Charlie Bingley. "I declare, your sister Caroline could probably shoot pheasant better than you do!" So saying, the man cuffed Charles soundly on the ear.
"Perhaps we should ask her to join us, Uncle Frank!" Charlie cried eagerly. The idea rather appealed to him. He imagined Caroline shooting the pheasants with deadly accuracy on the first shot. She would no doubt incur nothing but praise from gruff, boisterous Uncle Frank.
Francis Singleton snorted and growled, "Don't be ridiculous, boy. Not a female's place. Might give her ideas, hey?" Charlie wondered exactly what ideas they might give Caroline, who certainly had plenty of ideas, not to mention rather, er, strong opinions. Being a well bred young boy, he did not give voice this thought. He merely waited for his uncle to continue with his harangue.
"Ever since I took you and your sisters in, I've tried my best to make a man out of you. And what do all of my fine efforts come down to? Nothing!! Absolutely nothing! You're still the little weakling you were when I first laid eyes on you! While your sisters grow as strong and healthy as any of their mother's family, you continue to be as weak as your father was."
Normally a gentle, friendly, mild tempered boy, it took all of Charlie's will not to come back with a raging retort or, more embarrassingly, to break into tears. So he just stood with his fists clenched tightly to his sides, his face drawn and pale, his lips folded tightly. He knew that he should be grateful to his uncle Frank for taking him in after the horrible fire that ruined his family estate and killed both his parents, but at times like this it was difficult to remember. He tried so hard to please his taciturn, "manly" uncle, as well as he tried to please everyone else. But nothing ever satisfied Singleton, and some days it didn't even seem worth the effort to try.
Singleton went on, "Since I can't make a man of you, perhaps Eton will. Every male in our family has gone to Eton and it's always been the best years of our lives. If that won't make a man of you, why then nothing ever will."
Will Darcy felt his world come to an end as he watched the men lower his mother's casket into the ground. He held his back stiffly and folded his lips in, determined not to break down in public. Behind him stood his father, who though normally calm and stoic, was shaking with barely controlled sobs. His left hand completely covered his face and his right hand was gripping his son's shoulder, more for his own comfort than Will. The boy sensed this, and thirteen year old Darcy firmly resolved to be the pillar of support his father seemed to desperately need. Someone in the family had to be strong today, and who else was there? Certainly not little Georgiana, who couldn't understand exactly what was going on. . .
Before Will could complete the thought, Georgie wailed, "Don't put my mommy in the ground!" She screamed this two or three times until Aunt Catherine glared at the nursery maid, who had to practically drag the hysterical little girl away. Darcy tensed, ready to fight for his sister's right to remain at the gravesite, but was checked by the increasing firmness of his father's grip. Will subsided, but swore to have some sort of vengeance on his aunt (and maybe the nursery maid if he had time.) Maybe a toad in her bed will do the trick, he thought. I'll have to ask Wickham what he thinks. For a minute the thought caused him to cheer up, but then everything came rushing back to him. His beautiful, laughing, loving mother was dead and he would never be hugged by her or told how special he was or how very loved he was by her. Now it was only him and his father, who seemed utterly bowled over with despair, and his sister, who only had the foggiest notion of events. Suddenly Will felt suffocated, by his sense of responsibility towards his family, and was almost glad that he was going back to Eton in ten days, despite the fact that he detested the place and the prigs and bullies who went there. Anything would be better, than this all pervading grief and this sense that nothing would ever get better. Even Eton, the worst school in the entire world.