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|Little Lord Fauntleroy||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
|Page 2 of 15||
"Hello!" said Mr. Hobbs. "Mornin'!"
"Good-morning," said Cedric.
He did not climb up on the high stool as usual, but sat down on a cracker-box and clasped his knee, and was so silent for a few moments that Mr. Hobbs finally looked up inquiringly over the top of his newspaper.
"Hello!" he said again.
Cedric gathered all his strength of mind together.
"Mr. Hobbs," he said, "do you remember what we were talking about yesterday morning?"
"Well," replied Mr. Hobbs,--"seems to me it was England."
"Yes," said Cedric; "but just when Mary came for me, you know?"
Mr. Hobbs rubbed the back of his head.
"We WAS mentioning Queen Victoria and the aristocracy."
"Yes," said Cedric, rather hesitatingly, "and--and earls; don't you know?"
"Why, yes," returned Mr. Hobbs; "we DID touch 'em up a little; that's so!"
Cedric flushed up to the curly bang on his forehead. Nothing so embarrassing as this had ever happened to him in his life. He was a little afraid that it might be a trifle embarrassing to Mr. Hobbs, too.
"You said," he proceeded, "that you wouldn't have them sitting 'round on your cracker-barrels."
"So I did!" returned Mr. Hobbs, stoutly. "And I meant it. Let 'em try it--that's all!"
"Mr. Hobbs," said Cedric, "one is sitting on this box now!"
Mr. Hobbs almost jumped out of his chair.
"What!" he exclaimed.
"Yes," Cedric announced, with due modesty; "I am one--or I am going to be. I won't deceive you."
Mr. Hobbs looked agitated. He rose up suddenly and went to look at the thermometer.
"The mercury's got into your head!" he exclaimed, turning back to examine his young friend's countenance. "It IS a hot day! How do you feel? Got any pain? When did you begin to feel that way?"
He put his big hand on the little boy's hair. This was more embarrassing than ever.
"Thank you," said Ceddie; "I'm all right. There is nothing the matter with my head. I'm sorry to say it's true, Mr. Hobbs. That was what Mary came to take me home for. Mr. Havisham was telling my mamma, and he is a lawyer."
Mr. Hobbs sank into his chair and mopped his forehead with his handkerchief.
"ONE of us has got a sunstroke!" he exclaimed.
"No," returned Cedric, "we haven't. We shall have to make the best of it, Mr. Hobbs. Mr. Havisham came all the way from England to tell us about it. My grandpapa sent him."
Mr. Hobbs stared wildly at the innocent, serious little face before him.
"Who is your grandfather?" he asked.
Cedric put his hand in his pocket and carefully drew out a piece of paper, on which something was written in his own round, irregular hand.
"I couldn't easily remember it, so I wrote it down on this," he said. And he read aloud slowly: "`John Arthur Molyneux Errol, Earl of Dorincourt.' That is his name, and he lives in a castle--in two or three castles, I think. And my papa, who died, was his youngest son; and I shouldn't have been a lord or an earl if my papa hadn't died; and my papa wouldn't have been an earl if his two brothers hadn't died. But they all died, and there is no one but me,--no boy,--and so I have to be one; and my grandpapa has sent for me to come to England."
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|Little Lord Fauntleroy
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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