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Little Lord Fauntleroy Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter IV

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They were, indeed, speaking in a rather low tone. Mrs. Errol looked a little pale and agitated.

"He need not go to-night?" she said. "He will stay with me to-night?"

"Yes," answered Mr. Havisham in the same low tone; "it will not be necessary for him to go to-night. I myself will go to the Castle as soon as we have dined, and inform the Earl of our arrival."

Mrs. Errol glanced down at Cedric. He was lying in a graceful, careless attitude upon the black-and-yellow skin; the fire shone on his handsome, flushed little face, and on the tumbled, curly hair spread out on the rug; the big cat was purring in drowsy content,--she liked the caressing touch of the kind little hand on her fur.

Mrs. Errol smiled faintly.

"His lordship does not know all that he is taking from me," she said rather sadly. Then she looked at the lawyer. "Will you tell him, if you please," she said, "that I should rather not have the money?"

"The money!" Mr. Havisham exclaimed. "You can not mean the income he proposed to settle upon you!"

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"Yes," she answered, quite simply; "I think I should rather not have it. I am obliged to accept the house, and I thank him for it, because it makes it possible for me to be near my child; but I have a little money of my own,--enough to live simply upon,--and I should rather not take the other. As he dislikes me so much, I should feel a little as if I were selling Cedric to him. I am giving him up only because I love him enough to forget myself for his good, and because his father would wish it to be so."

Mr. Havisham rubbed his chin.

"This is very strange," he said. "He will be very angry. He won't understand it."

"I think he will understand it after he thinks it over," she said. "I do not really need the money, and why should I accept luxuries from the man who hates me so much that he takes my little boy from me--his son's child?"

Mr. Havisham looked reflective for a few moments.

"I will deliver your message," he said afterward.

And then the dinner was brought in and they sat down together, the big cat taking a seat on a chair near Cedric's and purring majestically throughout the meal.

When, later in the evening, Mr. Havisham presented himself at the Castle, he was taken at once to the Earl. He found him sitting by the fire in a luxurious easy-chair, his foot on a gout-stool. He looked at the lawyer sharply from under his shaggy eyebrows, but Mr. Havisham could see that, in spite of his pretense at calmness, he was nervous and secretly excited.

"Well," he said; "well, Havisham, come back, have you? What's the news?"

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Little Lord Fauntleroy
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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