When Peter came down to breakfast the next morning he noticed the servants were extra busy cleaning and polishing . Grandmother looked up from her breakfast when he came in.
" Good morning,did you sleep well." she asked .
Peter looked surprised Grandmother hardly ever asked him if he slept well,her mind was usually elsewhere.
"Yes." he said going to the sideboard to get his breakfast,when he sat back down. Grandmother set her fork down.
" I have a surprise for you." she said." Well two actually" she picked up a envelope that had been lying next to her plate.
" A letter from your family." she said handing it to him,he took it eagerly.
" Now for your second surprise,your father will be here this afternoon." Grandmother said waiting for his reaction.
" My father?" Peter looked at her .
"Yes." Grandmother said waiting for his reaction.
Peter sure wasn't sure what to say ;after all his father was a virtual stranger to him,should he be excited? Nervous? Should he even care? though part of him was curious as to what he was like.
Peter couldn't get the letters out of his head,no matter how much he tried,he had taken them from the secret room . He had to know what really happened between his parents and he had a feeling Grandmother would not tell him,so the only other people to ask would be the older servants such as Henry who was the gardner.
"Henry" Peter said twenty minutes later,he had tracked down the gardner in one of the flower gardens .There were six flower gardens all together and several other smaller gardens.
Henry ,a pleasant faced elderly man looked up as Peter approached him.
" Ah,good morning,laddie,come to help me do a bit o gardenin'then" he asked in brogue Welsh accent.
Peter dropped to his knees next to the gardner," You've been working here long haven't you?" he asked .
"Near forty years now,why?" Henry asked .
" Did you know my parents." Peter asked.
Henry gazed at him and nodded," I certainly did,you look like your father when he was that age,but you have your mother's disposition. No two people could have been more in love."
Peter sat back on his heels, " I found some letters my father wrote my mother,but she never got them. Victoria told me they fell out of love,but according to the letters I found,he still loved what really happened?"
Henry stood up and sat on the bench, " It's a sad story really and don't go telling your grandparents I told you. They forbade the servants to speak of it" he added warningly.
" I won't," Peter promised.
" Right,then. Well as you probably already know your mother was one of the maids in fact she was your age when she came to work for your grandparents,your father was two years older. Of course since your mother was only a maid,their love was something of a taboo,but they managed to see each other on the sly. That is until two years and five months later when Elizabeth found out she was pregnant. Of course James was already at university ."
" Who found out she was pregnant?" Peter interrupted.
Henry held up his hand," I'm getting to that part. Anyway,your mother found out she was pregnant and somehow the word got around it was passed from servant to servant until it finally reached your Grandparents' ears,your grandmother was upset,but she decided to keep Elizabeth or she would have if your grandfather would have permitted it,but he refused to have such a "shameless hussy" in the house near his son. He threw her out and concocted a story to tell James when he came home for the holiday . He also wrote Elizabeth a letter ,I can imagine what it said."
" But it wasn't true,and he knew it wasn't true that's why my father wrote all those letters,but how come he never delivered them?" Peter asked half talking to himself. He looked at his watch and stood up.
Victoria was waiting for him when he got back to the house," Where have you been,never mind,your grandmother wants you to put something decent on ,your father is here,he and your grandmother are in the parlour."
Peter stepped into the parlour ,Grandmother was on the flowered sofa,in the chintz armchair sat a man with fine chiseled features clear blue eyes and blond hair,he stood up and came forward .
" You must be my son ." he said holding out his hand. Peter stared at his hand for a minute then shook it.
They both sat down and James spoke up," Mother tells me you're fifteen ,I'm sorry I missed your birthday and the other birthdays." he sat back ," Do you like your adopted family ? Are they good to you?"
" Of course they are,they never treated me like anything,but their own son even though they knew I wasn't." Peter said loyally.
" I'm glad,I'd hate it if my son were being raised by cruel people. It took me fifteen years to track you down." James said sitting back.
" Why,did you ?" Peter asked.
" I was curious about the child Elizabeth gave birth to. I recently tracked her down three years ago and she told me that she had given you up for adoption. It took me quite awhile to find you luckily I had special PI's on the job." James said " Elizabeth also remembered the neighborhood she left you at., so they took it from there."
" What about my mother? Where is she?" Peter asked.
"She lives in Cambridge " James said,he stood up," Perhaps we can take a walk and you can tell me a little more about yourself."
They took a walk in the gardens, " Are you happy here?" James asked.
Peter pressed his lips together,then said slowly," Everyone's nice,but it's not home. I miss my family ."
James nodded and looked thoughtful ," I wanted to teach you about the family business,but there are more important things than work,I suppose. I did want custody of you,but I don't want to take you away from the life you already know."
" I don't have to stay here,not that this place is awful."Peter added hastily not wanting to sound ungrateful.
" You will still inherit all of this ." James said sweeping his hand over the vast estate.
Unfortunately Grandfather (who finally came to the dining room for dinner) had other ideas. Grandfather was dignified looking even in a wheelchair .
" You want him to inherit all of this when we die." he said jabbing a fork in Peter's direction. " Ha! foolish waste on the likes of him." he took a bite of meat.
" He's a smart boy,Father ,I'm sure he'd be able to handle the responsibility of managing the estate when he comes of age." James said.
" What of the business,I suppose you'll be handing that over too" Grandfather growled ." He shouldn't inherit anything. I told you that Elizabeth was nothing but trouble. This was her idea wasn't it."
Grandmother spoke up," He's not living with Elizabeth . He was adopted by another couple they have four children."
That was the wrong thing to say." Ah,so the truth comes out,I suppose they want money and instead of working they intend to freeload off hardworking people."
Peter bristled," My parents are not lazy and none of us even knew I came from a wealthy family. They had nothing to do with my being here ,and they most certainly don't want money ."
Grandfather waved his fork in the air," See that he's ungrateful."
" I'm not ungrateful,I just think there's more to life than money,if it causes this much trouble,I don't want any of it." Peter said.
Grandfather wheeled himself out of the room in a fury.
" I'm sorry." Peter said, James pushed his chair back," I'll try to calm him down" he said and left the room.
Grandmother leaned across the table and patted his hand," It's not your fault. I love George,but he's a skinflint when it comes to money. You remind me so much of your mother ,she was like the daughter I never had."
" I want to go home." Peter mumbled,but Gradnmother heard him.
" This isn't easy for you,is it,far away from your family,thrust into a new situation." she asked sympathetically." I think your father would agree with me,maybe it's better if you did go back to a family that loves you,not that we don't love you." she said standing up,she came around and dropped a kiss on his forehead. " Tomorrow,I'll have Geoffrey take you back."
A/N: Last chapter is next.