LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY. 113
silver-mounted harness. And she could tell, too, what all the servants had said when they had caught glimpses of the child on the night of his arrival; and how every female below stairs had said it was a shame, so it was, to part the poor pretty dear from his mother; and had all declared their hearts came into their mouths when he went alone into the library to see his grandfather, for "there was no knowing how he 'd be treated, and his lordship's temper was enough to fluster them with old heads on their shoulders, let alone a child."
" But if you '11 believe me, Mrs. Jennifer, mum," Mrs. Dibble had said, "fear that child does not know — so Mr. Thomas hisself says; an' • set an' smile he did, an' talked to his lordship as if they 'd been friends ever since his first hour. An' the Earl so took aback, Mr. Thomas says, that he could n't do nothing but listen and stare from under his eyebrows. An' it 's Mr. Thomas's opinion, Mrs. Bates, mum, that bad as he is, he was pleased in his secret soul, an' proud, too; for a handsomer little fellow, or with better manners, though so old-fashioned, Mr. Thomas says he 'd never wish to see."
And then there had come the story of Higgins. The Reverend Mr. Mordaunt had told it at his own dinner table, and the servants who had heard it had told it in the kitchen, and from there it had spread like wildfire.
And on market-day, when Higgins had appeared in town, he had been questioned on every side, and Newick had been questioned too, and in response had shown to two or three people the note signed " Fauntleroy."
And so the farmers' wives had found plenty to talk of over their
tea and their shopping, and they had done the subject full justice and
made the most of it. And on Sunday they had either walked to
church or had been driven in their gigs by their husbands, who