Little Lord Fauntleroy HTML version
The truth was that Mrs. Errol had found a great many sad things in the course of her work
among the poor of the little village that appeared so picturesque when it was seen from
the moor-sides. Everything was not as picturesque, when seen near by, as it looked from
a distance. She had found idleness and poverty and ignorance where there should have
been comfort and industry. And she had discovered, after a while, that Erleboro was
considered to be the worst village in that part of the country. Mr. Mordaunt had told her a
great many of his difficulties and discouragements, and she had found out a great deal by
herself. The agents who had managed the property had always been chosen to please the
Earl, and had cared nothing for the degradation and wretchedness of the poor tenants.
Many things, therefore, had been neglected which should have been attended to, and
matters had gone from bad to worse.
As to Earl's Court, it was a disgrace, with its dilapidated houses and miserable, careless,
sickly people. When first Mrs. Errol went to the place, it made her shudder. Such ugliness
and slovenliness and want seemed worse in a country place than in a city. It seemed as if
there it might be helped. And as she looked at the squalid, uncared-for children growing
up in the midst of vice and brutal indifference, she thought of her own little boy spending
his days in the great, splendid castle, guarded and served like a young prince, having no
wish ungratified, and knowing nothing but luxury and ease and beauty. And a bold
thought came in her wise little mother-heart. Gradually she had begun to see, as had
others, that it had been her boy's good fortune to please the Earl very much, and that he
would scarcely be likely to be denied anything for which he expressed a desire.
"The Earl would give him anything," she said to Mr. Mordaunt. "He would indulge his
every whim. Why should not that indulgence be used for the good of others? It is for me
to see that this shall come to pass."
She knew she could trust the kind, childish heart; so she told the little fellow the story of
Earl's Court, feeling sure that he would speak of it to his grandfather, and hoping that
some good results would follow.
And strange as it appeared to every one, good results did follow.
The fact was that the strongest power to influence the Earl was his grandson's perfect
confidence in him--the fact that Cedric always believed that his grandfather was going to
do what was right and generous. He could not quite make up his mind to let him discover
that he had no inclination to be generous at all, and that he wanted his own way on all
occasions, whether it was right or wrong. It was such a novelty to be regarded with
admiration as a benefactor of the entire human race, and the soul of nobility, that he did
not enjoy the idea of looking into the affectionate brown eyes, and saying: "I am a
violent, selfish old rascal; I never did a generous thing in my life, and I don't care about
Earl's Court or the poor people"--or something which would amount to the same thing.
He actually had learned to be fond enough of that small boy with the mop of yellow love-
locks, to feel that he himself would prefer to be guilty of an amiable action now and then.
And so--though he laughed at himself--after some reflection, he sent for Newick, and had
quite a long interview with him on the subject of the Court, and it was decided that the
wretched hovels should be pulled down and new houses should be built.
"It is Lord Fauntleroy who insists on it," he said dryly; "he thinks it will improve the
property. You can tell the tenants that it's his idea." And he looked down at his small