LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY. 29
But Cedric relieved him by suddenly beginning the conversation himself.
" Do you know," he said, " I don't know what an earl is? "
" Don't you ? " said Mr. Havisham.
" No," replied Ceddie. "And I think when a boy is going to be one, he ought to know. Don't you ? "
" Well—yes," answered Mr. Havisham.
"Would you mind," said Ceddie respectfully—"would you mind 'splaining it to me ? " (Sometimes when he used his long words he did not pronounce them quite correctly.) " What made him an earl ? "
" A king or queen, in the first place," said Mr. Havisham. " Generally, he is made an earl because he has done some service to his sovereign, or some great deed."
" Oh ! " said Cedric ; " that 's like the President."
" Is it?" said Mr. Havisham. " Is that why your presidents are elected ? "
" Yes," answered Ceddie cheerfully. " When a man is very good and knows a great deal, he is elected president. They have torchlight processions and bands, and everybody makes speeches. I used to think I might perhaps be a president, but I never thought of being an earl. I did n't know about earls," he said, rather hastily, lest Mr. Havisham might feel it impolite in him not to have wished to be one,—" if I 'd known about them, I dare say I should have thought I should like to be one."
" It is rather different from being a president," said Mr. Havisham.
"Is it?" asked Cedric. "How? Are there no torch-light processions ? "
Mr. Havisham crossed his own legs and put the tips of his fingers carefully together. He thought perhaps the time had come to explain matters rather more clearly.