Little Lord Fauntleroy
Ben took his boy and went back to his cattle ranch in California, and he returned under
very comfortable circumstances. Just before his going, Mr. Havisham had an interview
with him in which the lawyer told him that the Earl of Dorincourt wished to do something
for the boy who might have turned out to be Lord Fauntleroy, and so he had decided that
it would be a good plan to invest in a cattle ranch of his own, and put Ben in charge of it
on terms which would make it pay him very well, and which would lay a foundation for
his son's future. And so when Ben went away, he went as the prospective master of a
ranch which would be almost as good as his own, and might easily become his own in
time, as indeed it did in the course of a few years; and Tom, the boy, grew up on it into a
fine young man and was devotedly fond of his father; and they were so successful and
happy that Ben used to say that Tom made up to him for all the troubles he had ever had.
But Dick and Mr. Hobbs--who had actually come over with the others to see that things
were properly looked after--did not return for some time. It had been decided at the outset
that the Earl would provide for Dick, and would see that he received a solid education;
and Mr. Hobbs had decided that as he himself had left a reliable substitute in charge of
his store, he could afford to wait to see the festivities which were to celebrate Lord
Fauntleroy's eighth birthday. All the tenantry were invited, and there were to be feasting
and dancing and games in the park, and bonfires and fire-works in the evening.
"Just like the Fourth of July!" said Lord Fauntleroy. "It seems a pity my birthday wasn't
on the Fourth, doesn't it? For then we could keep them both together."
It must be confessed that at first the Earl and Mr. Hobbs were not as intimate as it might
have been hoped they would become, in the interests of the British aristocracy. The fact
was that the Earl had known very few grocery-men, and Mr. Hobbs had not had many
very close acquaintances who were earls; and so in their rare interviews conversation did
not flourish. It must also be owned that Mr. Hobbs had been rather overwhelmed by the
splendors Fauntleroy felt it his duty to show him.
The entrance gate and the stone lions and the avenue impressed Mr. Hobbs somewhat at
the beginning, and when he saw the Castle, and the flower-gardens, and the hot-houses,
and the terraces, and the peacocks, and the dungeon, and the armor, and the great
staircase, and the stables, and the liveried servants, he really was quite bewildered. But it
was the picture gallery which seemed to be the finishing stroke.
"Somethin' in the manner of a museum?" he said to Fauntleroy, when he was led into the
great, beautiful room.
"N--no--!" said Fauntleroy, rather doubtfully. "I don't THINK it's a museum. My
grandfather says these are my ancestors."
"Your aunt's sisters!" ejaculated Mr. Hobbs. "ALL of 'em? Your great-uncle, he MUST
have had a family! Did he raise 'em all?"
And he sank into a seat and looked around him with quite an agitated countenance, until
with the greatest difficulty Lord Fauntleroy managed to explain that the walls were not
lined entirely with the portraits of the progeny of his great-uncle.