124 LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY.
He was both rising and falling rather uncomfortably and with many shakes and bounces. He was out of breath and his face grew red, but he held on with all his might, and sat as straight as he could. The Earl could see that from his window. When the riders came back within speaking distance, after they had been hidden by the trees a few minutes, Fauntleroy's hat was off, his cheeks were like poppies, and his lips were set, but he was still trotting manfully.
" Stop a minute ! " said his grandfather. " Where 's your hat?" Wilkins touched his. " It fell off, your lordship," he said, with evident enjoyment. " Would n't let me stop to pick it up, my lord."
" Not much afraid, is he ? " asked the Earl dryly.
" Him, your lordship ! " exclaimed Wilkins. " I should n't say as he knowed what it meant. I 've taught young gen'Iemen to ride afore, an' I never see one stick on more determinder."
" Tired ? " said the Earl to Fauntleroy. " Want to get off? "
" It jolts you more than you think it will," admitted his young lordship frankly. "And it tires you a little, too; but I don't want to get off. I want to learn how. As soon as I Ve got my breath I want to go back for the hat."
The cleverest person in the world, if he had undertaken to teach Fauntleroy how to please the old man who watched him, could not have taught him anything which would have succeeded better. As the pony trotted off again toward the avenue, a faint color crept up in the fierce old face, and the eyes, under the shaggy brows, gleamed with a pleasure such as his lordship had scarcely expected to know again. And he sat and watched quite eagerly until the sound of the horses' hoofs returned. When they did come, which was after some time, they came at a faster pace. Fauntleroy's hat was still off; Wilkins was carrying it for him; his cheeks were redder than before, and his hair was flying about his ears, but he came at quite a brisk canter.