Little Lord Fauntleroy
On the following Sunday morning, Mr. Mordaunt had a large congregation. Indeed, he
could scarcely remember any Sunday on which the church had been so crowded. People
appeared upon the scene who seldom did him the honor of coming to hear his sermons.
There were even people from Hazelton, which was the next parish. There were hearty,
sunburned farmers, stout, comfortable, apple-cheeked wives in their best bonnets and
most gorgeous shawls, and half a dozen children or so to each family. The doctor's wife
was there, with her four daughters. Mrs. Kimsey and Mr. Kimsey, who kept the druggist's
shop, and made pills, and did up powders for everybody within ten miles, sat in their
pew; Mrs. Dibble in hers; Miss Smiff, the village dressmaker, and her friend Miss
Perkins, the milliner, sat in theirs; the doctor's young man was present, and the druggist's
apprentice; in fact, almost every family on the county side was represented, in one way or
In the course of the preceding week, many wonderful stories had been told of little Lord
Fauntleroy. Mrs. Dibble had been kept so busy attending to customers who came in to
buy a pennyworth of needles or a ha'porth of tape and to hear what she had to relate, that
the little shop bell over the door had nearly tinkled itself to death over the coming and
going. Mrs. Dibble knew exactly how his small lordship's rooms had been furnished for
him, what expensive toys had been bought, how there was a beautiful brown pony
awaiting him, and a small groom to attend it, and a little dog-cart, with silver-mounted
harness. And she could tell, too, what all the servants had said when they had caught
glimpses of the child on the night of his arrival; and how every female below stairs had
said it was a shame, so it was, to part the poor pretty dear from his mother; and had all
declared their hearts came into their mouths when he went alone into the library to see his
grandfather, for "there was no knowing how he'd be treated, and his lordship's temper
was enough to fluster them with old heads on their shoulders, let alone a child."
"But if you'll believe me, Mrs. Jennifer, mum," Mrs. Dibble had said, "fear that child
does not know--so Mr. Thomas hisself says; an' set an' smile he did, an' talked to his
lordship as if they'd been friends ever since his first hour. An' the Earl so took aback, Mr.
Thomas says, that he couldn't do nothing but listen and stare from under his eyebrows.
An' it's Mr. Thomas's opinion, Mrs. Bates, mum, that bad as he is, he was pleased in his
secret soul, an' proud, too; for a handsomer little fellow, or with better manners, though
so old-fashioned, Mr. Thomas says he'd never wish to see."
And then there had come the story of Higgins. The Reverend Mr. Mordaunt had told it at
his own dinner table, and the servants who had heard it had told it in the kitchen, and
from there it had spread like wildfire.
And on market-day, when Higgins had appeared in town, he had been questioned on
every side, and Newick had been questioned too, and in response had shown to two or
three people the note signed "Fauntleroy."
And so the farmers' wives had found plenty to talk of over their tea and their shopping,
and they had done the subject full justice and made the most of it. And on Sunday they
had either walked to church or had been driven in their gigs by their husbands, who were
perhaps a trifle curious themselves about the new little lord who was to be in time the
owner of the soil.