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|Little Lord Fauntleroy||Frances Hodgson Burnett|
|Page 3 of 15||
Mr. Hobbs seemed to grow hotter and hotter. He mopped his forehead and his bald spot and breathed hard. He began to see that something very remarkable had happened; but when he looked at the little boy sitting on the cracker-box, with the innocent, anxious expression in his childish eyes, and saw that he was not changed at all, but was simply as he had been the day before, just a handsome, cheerful, brave little fellow in a blue suit and red neck-ribbon, all this information about the nobility bewildered him. He was all the more bewildered because Cedric gave it with such ingenuous simplicity, and plainly without realizing himself how stupendous it was.
"Wha--what did you say your name was?" Mr. Hobbs inquired.
"It's Cedric Errol, Lord Fauntleroy," answered Cedric. "That was what Mr. Havisham called me. He said when I went into the room: `And so this is little Lord Fauntleroy!'"
"Well," said Mr. Hobbs, "I'll be--jiggered!"
This was an exclamation he always used when he was very much astonished or excited. He could think of nothing else to say just at that puzzling moment.
Cedric felt it to be quite a proper and suitable ejaculation. His respect and affection for Mr. Hobbs were so great that he admired and approved of all his remarks. He had not seen enough of society as yet to make him realize that sometimes Mr. Hobbs was not quite conventional. He knew, of course, that he was different from his mamma, but, then, his mamma was a lady, and he had an idea that ladies were always different from gentlemen.
He looked at Mr. Hobbs wistfully.
"England is a long way off, isn't it?" he asked.
"It's across the Atlantic Ocean," Mr. Hobbs answered.
"That's the worst of it," said Cedric. "Perhaps I shall not see you again for a long time. I don't like to think of that, Mr. Hobbs."
"The best of friends must part," said Mr. Hobbs.
"Well," said Cedric, "we have been friends for a great many years, haven't we?"
"Ever since you was born," Mr. Hobbs answered. "You was about six weeks old when you was first walked out on this street."
"Ah," remarked Cedric, with a sigh, "I never thought I should have to be an earl then!"
"You think," said Mr. Hobbs, "there's no getting out of it?"
"I'm afraid not," answered Cedric. "My mamma says that my papa would wish me to do it. But if I have to be an earl, there's one thing I can do: I can try to be a good one. I'm not going to be a tyrant. And if there is ever to be another war with America, I shall try to stop it."
His conversation with Mr. Hobbs was a long and serious one. Once having got over the first shock, Mr. Hobbs was not so rancorous as might have been expected; he endeavored to resign himself to the situation, and before the interview was at an end he had asked a great many questions. As Cedric could answer but few of them, he endeavored to answer them himself, and, being fairly launched on the subject of earls and marquises and lordly estates, explained many things in a way which would probably have astonished Mr. Havisham, could that gentleman have heard it.
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|Little Lord Fauntleroy
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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