LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY. 95
with all his childish heart; his gay little laughs when he made a good throw, his enthusiasm over a " home run," his impartial delight over his own good luck and his opponent's, would have given a flavor to any game.
If, a week before, any one had told the Earl of Dorincourt that on that particular morning he would be forgetting his gout and his bad temper in a child's game, played with black and white wooden pegs, on a gayly painted board, with a curly-headed small boy for a companion, he would without doubt have made himself very unpleasant ; and yet he certainly had forgotten himself when the door opened and Thomas announced a visitor.
The visitor in question, who was an elderly gentleman in black, and no less a person than the clergyman of the parish, was so startled by the amazing scene which met his eye, that he almost fell back a pace, and ran some risk of colliding with Thomas.
There was, in fact, no part of his duty that the Reverend Mr. Mordaunt found so decidedly unpleasant as that part which compelled him to call upon his noble patron at the Castle. His noble -patron, indeed, usually made these visits as disagreeable as it lay in his lordly power to make them. He abhorred churches and charities, and flew into violent rages when any of his tenantry took the liberty of being poor and ill and needing assistance. When his gout was at its worst, he did not hesitate to announce that he would not be bored and irritated by being told stories of their miserable misfortunes ; when his gout troubled him less and he wras in a somewhat more humane frame of mind, he would perhaps give the rector some money, after having bullied him in the most painful manner, and berated the whole parish for its shiftlessness and imbecility. But, whatsoever his mood, he never failed to make as many sarcastic and embarrassing speeches as possible, and to cause the Reverend Mr. Mordaunt to wish it were proper and Christian-like to throw something