We get a flashback to when Daniel was 13. He asks his tutor, Mr. Fraser, why the popes and cardinals in history always had so many nephews. Mr. Fraser tells him that they call their illegitimate sons their nephews.
Daniel's like, "Hang on…Sir Hugo calls me his nephew." Daniel starts looking for signs that he is actually Sir Hugo's illegitimate son.
Daniel realizes that he doesn't know anything about who his parents were. He just knows that Sir Hugo has been taking care of him for as long as he can remember.
Daniel checks out all of the family portraits and realizes that he doesn't look like any of them.
He starts feeling like Sir Hugo has been keeping some really important secrets from him and starts crying.
A month goes by. One day, Daniel is just hanging out singing a song. He has a terrific voice, fit for a Victorian boy band. Sir Hugo calls him over and asks if he wants to be a singer some day. Daniel gets really upset and runs to his room.
It turns out that the reason why Daniel is so upset is that he figures no son of a proper English gentleman would ever go on to be a singer – this makes him question whether or not Sir Hugo is his dad or if he's really his uncle or if he's someone else entirely, and he really wants Sir Hugo to be his dad.
Daniel wonders if anyone knows the secret of who his parents are – could Mr. Fraser know?
The whole singing incident turns out not to be a huge deal after all. One day, Sir Hugo calls Daniel in and tells him that he's going to send Daniel to Eton (a fancy prep school) and then Cambridge (a really prestigious university). The reason for this is that Sir Hugo wants him to "have the education of an English gentleman" (16.29).
At school, Daniel is pretty reserved – he doesn't want to have to talk to people about not knowing who his parents are.
During his first vacation, Daniel finds out that Sir Hugo has gotten married to a woman named Miss Raymond – now Lady Mallinger.
We learn that Sir Hugo is totally aware that everyone thinks that Daniel is his own son.
By the time Daniel went to college, Lady Mallinger had three daughters. We find out that if Sir Hugo doesn't have a son, then his nephew, Mallinger Grandcourt (that's right – the Grandcourt who goes after Gwendolen) will inherit everything. This is because at the time, women couldn't inherit their fathers' or husbands' property, so if there were no sons in a particular family, everything would go to the next male in line.
One day, when he is at home on vacation, Daniel asks Sir Hugo what he wants him to be when he grows up. Sir Hugo tells him that it's up to him, though he also suggests that Daniel consider going into law.
Daniel at this point is so curious about is true identity that he can't stand it.
Sir Hugo tells Daniel that he wants him to get a "passport in life," meaning that he wants him to have a lot of opportunities.
We learn that others don't consider Daniel to be all that ambitious, but that's not entirely true.
At Cambridge, Daniel decided that he was interested in math and tried for a scholarship because he wanted to have an achievement to show off to Sir Hugo. Still, he realized he wasn't really all that into math.
We learn that Daniel wants to study abroad; he's interested in learning about other ways of life. He doesn't want to lock himself into just one way of life.
We meet Daniel's friend Hans Meyrick, who is named after the painter Hans Holbein and also loves art. Hans is trying out for a classical scholarship. One day, Hans spends too much money on a piece of art and comes home in a third-class carriage to make up for the money he has spent. His eyes get super-inflamed from being exposed to wind and grit from the road. As a result, he can't study.
Daniel lends himself to Hans as an extra pair of eyes. Hans needs the scholarship because he has a widowed mom and three sisters back at home who don't have a whole lot of money. As a result, Daniel doesn't study, but he does get to see Hans succeed.
Hans writes to Sir Hugo to tell him that it was because of him that Daniel didn't get his own scholarship.
Daniel goes home to visit Sir Hugo and tells him that he wants to leave Cambridge and go study abroad. Sir Hugo gives him the OK.