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|Little Lord Fauntleroy||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
|Page 4 of 6||
"You say you are my eldest son's wife. If that is true, and if the proof you offer is too much for us, the law is on your side. In that case, your boy is Lord Fauntleroy. The matter will be sifted to the bottom, you may rest assured. If your claims are proved, you will be provided for. I want to see nothing of either you or the child so long as I live. The place will unfortunately have enough of you after my death. You are exactly the kind of person I should have expected my son Bevis to choose."
And then he turned his back upon her and stalked out of the room as he had stalked into it.
Not many days after that, a visitor was announced to Mrs. Errol, who was writing in her little morning room. The maid, who brought the message, looked rather excited; her eyes were quite round with amazement, in fact, and being young and inexperienced, she regarded her mistress with nervous sympathy.
"It's the Earl hisself, ma'am!" she said in tremulous awe.
When Mrs. Errol entered the drawing-room, a very tall, majestic-looking old man was standing on the tiger-skin rug. He had a handsome, grim old face, with an aquiline profile, a long white mustache, and an obstinate look.
"Mrs. Errol, I believe?" he said.
"Mrs. Errol," she answered.
"I am the Earl of Dorincourt," he said.
He paused a moment, almost unconsciously, to look into her uplifted eyes. They were so like the big, affectionate, childish eyes he had seen uplifted to his own so often every day during the last few months, that they gave him a quite curious sensation.
"The boy is very like you," he said abruptly.
"It has been often said so, my lord," she replied, "but I have been glad to think him like his father also."
As Lady Lorridaile had told him, her voice was very sweet, and her manner was very simple and dignified. She did not seem in the least troubled by his sudden coming.
"Yes," said the Earl. "he is like--my son--too." He put his hand up to his big white mustache and pulled it fiercely. "Do you know," he said, "why I have come here?"
"I have seen Mr. Havisham," Mrs. Errol began, "and he has told me of the claims which have been made----"
"I have come to tell you," said the Earl, "that they will be investigated and contested, if a contest can be made. I have come to tell you that the boy shall be defended with all the power of the law. His rights----"
The soft voice interrupted him.
"He must have nothing that is NOT his by right, even if the law can give it to him," she said.
"Unfortunately the law can not," said the Earl. "If it could, it should. This outrageous woman and her child----"
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|Little Lord Fauntleroy
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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