LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY.
This was not as bad as Mr. Mordaunt had expected, but he hesitated a second before he began.
" It is Higgins," he said; " Higgins of Edge Farm. He has been very unfortunate. He was ill himself last autumn, and his children had scarlet fever. I can't say that he is a very good manager, but he has had ill-luck, and of course he is behindhand in many ways. He is in trouble about his rent now. Newick tells him if he does n't pay it, he must leave the place; and of course that would be a very serious matter. His wife is ill, and he came to me yesterday to beg me to see about it, and ask you for time. He thinks if you would give him time he could catch up again."
" They all think that," said the Earl, looking rather black. Fauntleroy made a movement forward. He had been standing between his grandfather and the visitor, listening with all his might. He had begun to be interested in Higgins at once. He wondered how many children there were, and if the scarlet fever had hurt them very much. His eyes were wide open and were fixed upon Mr. Mordaunt with intent interest as that gentleman went on with the conversation.
" Wiggins is a well-meaning man," said the rector, making an effort to strengthen his plea.
" He is a bad enough tenant," replied his lordship. " And he is always behindhand, Newick tells me."
11 He is in great trouble now," said the rector.
" He is very fond of his wife and children, and if the farm is taken from him they may literally starve. He can not give them the nourishing things they need. Two of the children were left very low after the fever, and the doctor orders for them wine and luxuries that Higgins can not afford."
At this Fauntleroy moved a step nearer.
" That was the way with Michael," he said.