Page images
PDF
EPUB

know how fiercely his lordship had hated the poor disagreeable he was, and how unpleasant he really young creature who had been this son's wife, and how could make himself when he tried. he had hated the thought of her child and never ** Ah!” he said, in his harsh voice, but giving meant to see the boy - until his two sons died and his hand rather graciously. “Good morning, left him without an heir? And then, who did not Mordaunt. I've found a new employment, you see.” know that he had looked forward without any He put his other hand on Cedric's shoulder, affection or pleasure to his grandson's coming, and perhaps deep down in his heart there was a stir of that he had made up his mind that he should find gratified pride that it was such an heir he had to the boy a vulgar, awkward, pert American lad, present; there was a spark of something like more likely to disgrace his noble name than to pleasure in his eyes as he moved the boy slightly honor it?

forward. The proud, angry old man thought he had kept “This is the new Lord Fauntleroy,” he said. all his thoughts secret. He did not suppose any one “ Fauntleroy, this is Mr. Mordaunt, the rector of had dared to guess at, even less talk over what he felt, the parish.” and dreaded; but his servants watched him, and Fauntleroy looked up at the gentleman in the read his face and his ill-humors and fits of gloom, clerical garments, and gave him his hand. and discussed them in the servants' hall. And “I am very glad to make your acquaintance, while he thought himself quite secure from the sir,” he said, remembering the words he had heard common herd, Thomas was telling Jane and the Mr. Hobbs use on one or two occasions when he cook, and the butler, and the housemaids and the had been greeting a new customer with ceremony. other footmen that it was his opinion that “the Cedric felt quite sure that one ought to be more hold man was wuss than usual a-thinkin' hover than usually polite to a minister. the Capting's boy, an hanticipatin' as he wont be Mr. Mordaunt held the small hand in his a no credit to the fambly. An' serve him right,” moment as he looked down at the child's face, added Thomas; “ hits 'is hown fault. Wot can smiling involuntarily. He liked the little fellow he iggspect from a child brought up in pore circum- from that instant-as in fact people always did stances in that there low Hamerica ?

like him. And it was not the boy's beauty and And as the Reverend Mr. Mordaunt walked under grace which most appealed to him; it was the the great trees, he remembered that this question simple, natural kindliness in the little lad which able little boy had arrived at the Castle only the made any words he uttered, however quaint and evening before, and that there were nine chances unexpected, sound pleasant and sincere. As the to one that his lordship's worst fears were realized, rector looked at Cedric, he forgot to think of the and twenty-two chances to one that if the poor little Earl at all. Nothing in the world is so strong as fellow had disappointed him, the Earl was even now a kind heart, and somehow this kind little heart, in a tearing rage, and ready to vent all his rancor though it was only the heart of a child, seemed on the first person who called — which it appeared to clear all the atmosphere of the big gloomy room probable would be his reverend self.

and make it brighter. Judge then of his amazement when, as Thomas “I am delighted to make your acquaintance, opened the library door, his ears were greeted by a Lord Fauntleroy,” said the rector. ** You made a delighted ring of childish laughter.

long journey to come to us. A great many people “ That 's two out,” almost shouted an excited, will be glad tɔ know you made it safely." clear little voice. “You see it's two out!”

“ It was a long way,” answered Fauntleroy, And there was the Earl's chair, and the gout- “ but Dearest, my mother, was with me and I stool, and his foot on it; and by him a small table was n't lonely. Of course you are never lonely if and a game on it; and quite close to him, actually your mother is with you; and the ship was leaning against his arm and his ungouty knee, was beautiful,” a little boy with face glowing, and eyes dancing “ Take a chair, Mordaunt," said the Earl. Mr. with excitement. “It's two out!” the little stran. Mordaunt sat down. He glanced from Fauntleroy ger cried. “You had n't any luck that time, had to the Earl. you ? ” —And then they both recognized at once * Your lordship is greatly to be congratulated," that some one had come in.

he said warmly. The Earl glanced around, knitting his shaggy But the Earl plainly had no intention of showeyebrows as he had a trick of doing, and when he ing his feelings on the subject. saw who it was, Mr. Mordaunt was still more sur- He is like his sather,” he said rather gruffly. prised to see that he looked even less disagreeable “ Let us hope he 'll conduct himself more creditthan usual instead of more so. In fact, he looked ably.” And then he added! “Well, what is it this almost as if he had forgotten for the moment how morning, Mordaunt? Who is in trouble now?"

This was not as bad as Mr. Mordaunt had ex

" He is

very

fond of his wife and children, and if pected, but he hesitated a second before he began. the farm is taken from him they may literally

“ It is Higgins," he said ; “ Higgins of Edge starve. He can not give them the nourishing things Farm. He has been very unfortunate. He was they need. Two of the children were left very low ill himself last autumn, and his children had scarlet after the fever, and the doctor orders for them fever. I can't say that he is a very good manager, wine and luxuries that Higgins can not afford.” but he has had ill-luck, and of course he

At this Fauntleroy moved a is behindhand in many ways. He is in

step nearer. trouble about his rent now. Newick tells

" That was the

way with him if he does n't pay it, he must leave

Michael,” he said. the place; and of course that would

The Earl slightly started. be a very serious matter. His

“I forgot you !” he said. wife is ill, and he came to

“ I forgot we had a phime yesterday to beg

lanthropist in the ine to see you

room. Who was about it,

Michael?" And

the gleam

[graphic]

of queer

and ask you for time. He thinks if you would give him time he could catch up again.”

“They all think that,” said the Earl, looking rather black.

Fauntleroy made a movement forward. He had been standing between his grandfather and the visitor, listening with all his might. He had begun to be interested in Higgins at once. He wondered how many children there were, and if the scarlet fever had hurt them very much. His eyes were wide open and were LORD FAUNTLEROY WRITES AN ORDER. (SEE NEXT PAGE.) fixed upon Mr. Mordaunt with intent interest as that gentleman went on with the conversation. amusement came back into the old man's deep-set

“ Higgins is a well-meaning man,” said the eyes. rector, making an effort to strengthen his plea. “ He was Bridget's husband, who had the

“He is a bad enough tenant,” replied his lord- fever," answered Fauntleroy ; " and he could n't ship. “ And he is always behindhand, Newick pay the rent or buy wine and things. And you tells me."

gave me that money to help him.” “ He is in great trouble now," said the rector. The Earl drew his brows together into a curious

66

frown, which somehow was scarcely grim at all. inquired Fauntleroy. • Shall I bring you the He glanced across at Mr. Mordaunt.

pen and ink? I can take the game off this table.”' " I don't know what sort of a landed proprietor It plainly had not for an instant occurred to him he will make,” he said. “I told Havisham the boy that Newick would be allowed to do his worst. was to have what he wanted — anything he wanted The Earl paused a moment, still looking at - and what he wanted, it seems, was money to

him. “Can you write?” he asked. give to beggars."

“ Yes," answered Cedric, “but not very well." “Oh! but they were n't beggars,” said Faunt- “Move the things from the table," commanded leroy eagerly. “Michael was a splendid bricklayer! my lord, “and bring the pen and ink, and a sheet They all worked."

of paper from my desk.” *Oh!” said the Earl, “ they were not beggars. Mr. Mordaunt's interest began to increase. FauntThey were splendid bricklayers, and bootblacks, leroy did as he was told very deftly. In a few and apple-women."

moments, the sheet of paper, the big inkstand, He bent his gaze on the boy for a few seconds in and the pen were ready. silence. The fact was that a new thought was “There!” he said gayly, “now you can write it." coming to him, and though, perhaps, it was not “You are to write it," said the Earl. prompted by the noblest emotions, it was not a “I!” exclaimed Fauntleroy, and a flush overbad thought. “Come here,” he said, at last. spread his forehead. “ Will it do if I write it? I.

Fauntleroy went and stood as near to him as don't always spell quite right when I have n't a possible without encroaching on the gouty foot. dictionary, and nobody tells me.”

“What would you do in this case ?” his lordship “It will do," answered the Earl. “Higgins will asked.

not complain of the spelling. I'm not the philanIt must be confessed that Mr. Mordaunt ex- thropist; you are. Dip your pen in the ink." perienced for the moment a curious sensation. Fauntleroy took up the pen and dipped it in the Being a man of great thoughtfulness, and having ink bottle, then he arranged himself in position, spent so many years on the estate of Dorincourt, leaning on the table. knowing the tenantry, rich and poor, the people “Now," he inquired, “what must I say? ” of the village, honest and industrious, dishonest “You may say, 'Higgins is not to be interand lazy, he realized very strongly what power for fered with, for the present,' and sign it, “Fauntlegood or evil would be given in the future to this one roy,'" said the Earl. small boy standing there, his brown eyes wide open, Fauntleroy dipped his pen in the ink again, and his hands deep in his pockets; and the thought resting his arm, began to write. It was rather a came to him also that a great deal of power might, slow and serious process, but he gave his whole perhaps, through the caprice of a proud, self-indul- soul to it. After a while, however, the manuscript gent old man be given to him now, and that if his was complete, and he handed it to his grandfather young nature were not a simple and generous one, with a smile slightly tinged with anxiety. it might be the worst thing that could happen, not “Do you think it will do ?” he asked. only for others, but for himself.

The Earl looked at it, and the corners of his “And what would you do in such a case ?” de- mouth twitched a little. manded the Earl.

Yes,” he answered; “Higgins will find it Fauntleroy drew a little nearer, and laid one entirely satisfactory." And he handed it to Mr. hand on his knee, with the most confiding air of Mordaunt. good comradeship.

What Mr. Mordaunt found written was this :“If I were very rich,” he said, “and not only

“Dear mr. Newik if you pleas mr. higins is not to be inturfeared just a little boy, I should let him stay, and give with for the present and oblige him the things for his children; but then, I am

• Yours rispecferly

“ FAUNTLEROY." only a boy.” Then, after a second's pause, in “Mr. Hobbs always signed his letters that way," which his face brightened visibly, “ You can do said Fauntleroy ; " and I thought I'd better say anything, can't you?" he said.

‘please.' Is that exactly the right way to spell “Humph!” said my lord, staring at him. ‘interfered'?“That's your opinion, is it?" And he was not “ It 's not exactly the way it is spelled in the displeased, either.

dictionary," answered the Earl. “I mean you can give any one anything," said “I was afraid of that,” said Fauntleroy. “I Fauntleroy. “Who's Newick ?”

ought to have asked. You see, that's the way with “He is my agent,” answered the Earl, “and words of more than one syllable ; you have to some of my tenants are not over-fond of him." look in the dictionary. It's always safest. I'll

“Are you going to write him a letter now?” write it over again."

see it ?

And write it over again he did, making quite an What did it like to eat best? How old was it ? imposing copy, and taking precautions in the mat- How early in the morning might he get up and ter of spelling by consulting the Earl himself.

“ Spelling is a curious thing," he said. “It's so “ Dearest will be so glad !” he kept saying. often different from what you expect it to be. I “She will be so much obliged to you for being so used to think 'please' was spelled p-l-e-e-s, but it kind to me! She knows I always liked ponies so is n't, you know; and you 'd think 'dear' was much, but we never thought I should have one. spelled d-e-r-e, if you did n't inquire. Sometimes There was a little boy on Fifth Avenue who had it almost discourages you.”

one, and he used to ride out every morning and we When Mr. Mordaunt went away, he took the used to take a walk past his house to see him." letter with him, and he took something else with He leaned back against the cushions and rehim also— namely, a pleasanter feeling and a more garded the Earl with rapt interest for a few minutes hopeful one than he had ever carried home with and in entire silence. him down that avenue on any previous visit he had “I think you must be the best person in the made at Dorincourt Castle.

world,” he burst forth at last. “You are always When he was gone, Fauntleroy, who had ac- doing good, are n't you ? - and thinking about companied him to the door, went back to his other people. Dearest says that is the best kind grandfather.

of goodness; not to think about yourself, but to “May I go to Dearest now?” he asked. “I think think about other people. That is just the way she will be waiting for me.”

you are, is n't it?" The Earl was silent a moment.

His lordship was so dumfounded to find him“ There is something in the stable for you to see self presented in such agreeable colors, that he first,” he said. “Ring the bell.”

did not know exactly what to say. He felt that he “If you please,” said Fauntleroy, with his quick needed time for reflection. To see each of his little flush. “I'm very much obliged; but I think ugly, selfish motives changed into a good and genI'd better see it to-morrow. She will be expecting erous one by the simplicity of a child was a sinme all the time.”

gular experience. “Very well," answered the Earl. “We will Fauntleroy went on, still regarding him with order the carriage.” Then he added dryly, “It's admiring eyes — those great, clear, innocent eyes! a pony.”

“You make so many people happy,” he said. Fauntleroy drew a long breath.

" There's Michael and Bridget and their ten chil“A pony!” he exclaimed. “Whose pony is it?" dren, and the apple-woman, and Dick, and Mr. “ Yours," replied the Earl.

Hobbs, and Mr. Higgins and Mrs. Higgins and “Mine?" cried the little fellow. “Mine — like their children, and Mr. Mordaunt,- because of the things upstairs? ”

course he was glad, -and Dearest and me, about “Yes," said his grandfather. “Would you like the pony and all the other things. Do you know, to see it? Shall I order it to be brought around?” I've counted it up on my fingers and in my mind,

Fauntleroy's cheeks grew redder and redder. and its twenty-seven people you ’ve been kind to.

“I never thought I should have a pony!” he That 's a good many—twenty-seven!” said. “I never thought that ! How glad Dearest “And I was the person who was kind to them will be. You give me everything, don't you ?” was I?” said the Earl.

“Do you wish to see it?” inquired the Earl. “Why, yes, you know,” answered Fauntleroy.

Fauntleroy drew a long breath. “I want to see “ You made them all happy. Do you know," with it,” he said. “I want to see it so much I can some delicate hesitation, “ that people are somehardly wait. But I 'm afraid there is n't time.” times mistaken about earls when they don't know

“You must go and see your mother this after them. Mr. Hobbs was. I am going to write to him, noon?” asked the Earl. “You think you can't and tell him about it. put it off?

“What was Mr, Hobbs's opinion of earls ?” “Why,” said Fauntleroy, “she has been think- asked his lordship. ing about me all the morning, and I have been “Well, you see, the difficulty was,” replied his thinking about her!”

young companion, “ that he did n't know any, “Oh!” said the Earl. "You have, have you ? and he'd only read about them in books. He Ring the bell.”

thought - you must n’t mind it—that they were As they drove down the avenue, under the arch- gory tyrants; and he said he would n't have them ing trees, he was rather silent. But Fauntleroy hanging around his store. But if he 'd known you, was not. He talked about the pony. What color I'm sure he would have felt quite different. I shall was it? How big was it? What was its name? tell him about you."

you.”

66

“What shall you tell him ? "

And it was not exactly pleasant to reflect upon, “I shall tell him," said Fauntleroy, glowing with even for a cynical, worldly old man, who had been enthusiasm, that you are the kindest man I ever sufficient unto himself for seventy years and who heard of. And you are always thinking of other had never deigned to care what opinion the world people, and making them happy and-and I hope held of him so long as it did not interfere with his when I grow up, I shall be just like

comfort or entertainment. And the fact was, indeed, “Just like me!” repeated his lordship, looking that he had never before condescended to reflect at the little kindling face. And a dull red crept upon it at all, and he only did so now because a up under his withered skin, and he suddenly child had believed him better than he was, and by turned his eyes away and looked out of the car- wishing to follow in his illustrious footsteps and riage window at the great beech-trees, with the sun imitate his example, had suggested to him the shining on their glossy, red-brown leaves.

curious question whether he was exactly the person Just like you,” said Fauntleroy,” adding mod- to take as a model. estly, “if I can. Perhaps I'm not good enough, Fauntleroy thought the Earl's foot must be but I'm going to try.”

hurting him, his brows knitted themselves toThe carriage rolled on down the stately avenue gether so, as he looked ut at the park; and under the beautiful, broad-branched trees, through thinking this, the considerate little fellow tried not the spaces of green shade and lanes of golden to disturb him, and enjoyed the trees and the serns sunlight. Fauntleroy saw again the lovely places and the deer in silence. But at last, the carriage, where the ferns grew high and the bluebells having passed the gates and bowled through the swayed in the breeze; he saw the deer, standing green lanes for a short distance, stopped. They or lying in the deep grass, turn their large, had reached Court Lodge; and Fauntleroy was startled eyes as the carriage passed, and caught out upon the ground almost before the big footglimpses of the brown rabbits as they scurried man had time to open the carriage door. away. He heard the whir of the partridges The Earl wakened from his reverie with a start. and the calls and songs of the birds, and it all • What !” he said. “ Are we here?” seemed even more beautiful to him than before. · Yes," said Fauntleroy. “Let me give you All his heart was filled with pleasure and happi- your stick. Just lean on me when you get out." ness in the beauty that was on every side. But the “ I am not going to get out," replied his lordold Earl saw and heard very different things, though ship brusquely. he was apparently looking out too. He saw a long “Not -- not to see Dearest?" exclaimed Fauntlife, in which there had been neither generous leroy with astonished face. deeds nor kind thoughts; he saw years in which a ««• Dearest' will excuse me," said the Earl dryly. man who had been young and strong and rich and

" Go to her and tell her that not even a new pony powerful had used his youth and strength and would keep you away.” wealth and power only to please himself and kill “ She will be disappointed," said Fauntleroy. time as the days and years succeeded each other; “ She will want to see you very much.” he saw this man, when the time had been killed * I am afraid not," was the answer. " The and old age had come, solitary and without real carriage will call for you as we come back.- Tell friends in the midst of all his splendid wealth ; he Jeffries to drive on, Thomas." saw people who disliked or feared him, and people Thomas closed the carriage door; and, after a who would flatter and cringe to him, but no one puzzled look, Fauntleroy ran up the drive. The who really cared whether he lived or died, unless Earl had the opportunity —as Mr. Havisham once they had something to gain or lose by it. He had — of seeing a pair of handsome, strong little looked out on the broad acres which belonged to legs flash over the ground with astonishing rapidhim, and he knew what Fauntleroy did not — how ity. Evidently their owner had no intention of far they extended, what wealth they represented, losing any time. The carriage rolled slowly away, and how many people had homes on their soil. but his lordship did not at once lean back; he still And he knew, too,-another thing Fauntleroy did looked out. Through a space in the trees he could not — that in all those homes, humble or well-to-do, see the house door; it was wide open. The little there was probably not one person, however much figure dashed up the steps; another figure — a he envied the wealth and stately name and power, little figure, too, slender and young, in its black and however willing he would have been to possess gown - ran to meet it. It seemed as if they flew them, who would for an instant have thought together, as Fauntleroy leaped into his mother's of calling the noble owner “ good," or wishing, as arms, hanging about her neck and covering her this simple-souled little boy had, to be like him. sweet young face with kisses.

(To be continued.)

« PreviousContinue »