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Little Lord Fauntleroy Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter IV

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"Lord Fauntleroy and his mother are at Court Lodge," replied Mr. Havisham. "They bore the voyage very well and are in excellent health."

The Earl made a half-impatient sound and moved his hand restlessly.

"Glad to hear it," he said brusquely. "So far, so good. Make yourself comfortable. Have a glass of wine and settle down. What else?"

"His lordship remains with his mother to-night. To-morrow I will bring him to the Castle."

The Earl's elbow was resting on the arm of his chair; he put his hand up and shielded his eyes with it.

"Well," he said; "go on. You know I told you not to write to me about the matter, and I know nothing whatever about it. What kind of a lad is he? I don't care about the mother; what sort of a lad is he?"

Mr. Havisham drank a little of the glass of port he had poured out for himself, and sat holding it in his hand.

"It is rather difficult to judge of the character of a child of seven," he said cautiously.

The Earl's prejudices were very intense. He looked up quickly and uttered a rough word.

"A fool, is he?" he exclaimed. "Or a clumsy cub? His American blood tells, does it?"

"I do not think it has injured him, my lord," replied the lawyer in his dry, deliberate fashion. "I don't know much about children, but I thought him rather a fine lad."

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His manner of speech was always deliberate and unenthusiastic, but he made it a trifle more so than usual. He had a shrewd fancy that it would be better that the Earl should judge for himself, and be quite unprepared for his first interview with his grandson.

"Healthy and well-grown?" asked my lord.

"Apparently very healthy, and quite well-grown," replied the lawyer.

"Straight-limbed and well enough to look at?" demanded the Earl.

A very slight smile touched Mr. Havisham's thin lips. There rose up before his mind's eye the picture he had left at Court Lodge,--the beautiful, graceful child's body lying upon the tiger-skin in careless comfort--the bright, tumbled hair spread on the rug--the bright, rosy boy's face.

"Rather a handsome boy, I think, my lord, as boys go," he said, "though I am scarcely a judge, perhaps. But you will find him somewhat different from most English children, I dare say."

"I haven't a doubt of that," snarled the Earl, a twinge of gout seizing him. "A lot of impudent little beggars, those American children; I've heard that often enough."

"It is not exactly impudence in his case," said Mr. Havisham. "I can scarcely describe what the difference is. He has lived more with older people than with children, and the difference seems to be a mixture of maturity and childishness."

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Little Lord Fauntleroy
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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