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Little Lord Fauntleroy

Chapter XII
A very few days after the dinner party at the Castle, almost everybody in England who
read the newspapers at all knew the romantic story of what had happened at Dorincourt.
It made a very interesting story when it was told with all the details. There was the little
American boy who had been brought to England to be Lord Fauntleroy, and who was
said to be so fine and handsome a little fellow, and to have already made people fond of
him; there was the old Earl, his grandfather, who was so proud of his heir; there was the
pretty young mother who had never been forgiven for marrying Captain Errol; and there
was the strange marriage of Bevis, the dead Lord Fauntleroy, and the strange wife, of
whom no one knew anything, suddenly appearing with her son, and saying that he was
the real Lord Fauntleroy and must have his rights. All these things were talked about and
written about, and caused a tremendous sensation. And then there came the rumor that the
Earl of Dorincourt was not satisfied with the turn affairs had taken, and would perhaps
contest the claim by law, and the matter might end with a wonderful trial.
There never had been such excitement before in the county in which Erleboro was
situated. On market-days, people stood in groups and talked and wondered what would
be done; the farmers' wives invited one another to tea that they might tell one another all
they had heard and all they thought and all they thought other people thought. They
related wonderful anecdotes about the Earl's rage and his determination not to
acknowledge the new Lord Fauntleroy, and his hatred of the woman who was the
claimant's mother. But, of course, it was Mrs. Dibble who could tell the most, and who
was more in demand than ever.
"An' a bad lookout it is," she said. "An' if you were to ask me, ma'am, I should say as it
was a judgment on him for the way he's treated that sweet young cre'tur' as he parted
from her child,--for he's got that fond of him an' that set on him an' that proud of him as
he's a'most drove mad by what's happened. An' what's more, this new one's no lady, as his
little lordship's ma is. She's a bold-faced, black-eyed thing, as Mr. Thomas says no
gentleman in livery 'u'd bemean hisself to be gave orders by; and let her come into the
house, he says, an' he goes out of it. An' the boy don't no more compare with the other
one than nothin' you could mention. An' mercy knows what's goin' to come of it all, an'
where it's to end, an' you might have knocked me down with a feather when Jane brought
the news."
In fact there was excitement everywhere at the Castle: in the library, where the Earl and
Mr. Havisham sat and talked; in the servants' hall, where Mr. Thomas and the butler and
the other men and women servants gossiped and exclaimed at all times of the day; and in
the stables, where Wilkins went about his work in a quite depressed state of mind, and
groomed the brown pony more beautifully than ever, and said mournfully to the
coachman that he "never taught a young gen'leman to ride as took to it more nat'ral, or
was a better-plucked one than he was. He was a one as it were some pleasure to ride
behind."
But in the midst of all the disturbance there was one person who was quite calm and
untroubled. That person was the little Lord Fauntleroy who was said not to be Lord
Fauntleroy at all. When first the state of affairs had been explained to him, he had felt
some little anxiousness and perplexity, it is true, but its foundation was not in baffled
ambition.
 
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