LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY. 85
" Come here," he said. Fauntleroy went to him.
" I never was away from my own house before," said the boy, with a troubled look in his brown eyes. " It makes a person feel a strange feeling when he has to stay all night in another person's castle instead of in his own house. But Dearest is not very far away from me. She told me to remember that — and — and I 'm seven — and I can look at the picture she gave me."
He put his hand in his pocket, and brought out a small violet velvet-covered case.
"This is it," he said. "You see, you press this spring and it opens, and she is in there !"
He had come close to the Earl's chair, and, as he drew forth the little case, he leaned against the arm of it, and against the old man's arm, too, as confidingly as if children had always leaned there.
" There she is," he said, as the case opened; and he looked up with a smile.
The Earl knitted his brows; he did not wish to see the picture, but he looked at it in spite of himself; and there looked up at him from it such a pretty young face — a face so like the child's at his side — that it quite startled him.
" I suppose you think you are very fond of her," he said.
" Yes," answered Lord Fauntleroy, in a gentle tone, and with simple directness; "I do think so, and I think it 's true. You see, Mr. Hobbs was my friend, and Dick and Bridget and Mary and Michael, they were my friends, too; but Dearest — well, she is my close friend, and we always tell each other everything. My father left her to me to take care of, and when I am a man I am going to work and earn money for her."
" What do you think of doing?" inquired his grandfather.