LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY. 127
" There ! " he panted, as they drew up, "I c-cantered. I did n't do it as well as the boy on Fifth Avenue, but I did it, and I staid on! "
He and Wilkins and the pony were close friends after that. Scarcely a day passed in which the country people did not see them out together, cantering gayly on the highroad or through the green lanes. The children in the cottages would run to the door to look at the proud little brown pony with the gallant little figure sitting so straight in the saddle, and the young lord would snatch off his cap and swing it at them, and shout, " Hullo ! Good-morning! " in a very unlordly manner, though with great heartiness. Sometimes he would stop and talk with the children, and once Wilkins came back to the castle with a story of how Fauntleroy had insisted on dismounting near the village school, so that a boy who was lame and tired might ride home on his pony.
" An' I 'm blessed," said Wilkins, in telling the story at the stables,—" I 'm blessed if he 'd hear of anything else! He would n't let me get down, because he said the boy might n't feel comfortable on a big horse. An' ses he, 'Wilkins,' ses he, 'that boy 's lame and I 'm not, and I want to talk to him, too.' And up the lad has to get, and my lord trudges alongside of him with his hands in his pockets, and his cap on the back of his head, a-whistling and talking as easy as you please ! And when we come to the cottage, an' the boy's mother come out all in a taking to see what's up, he whips off his cap an' ses he, ' I 've brought your son home, ma'am,' ses he, 1 because his leg hurt him, and I don't think that stick is enough for him to lean on ; and I 'm going to ask my grandfather to have a pair of crutches made for him.' An' I 'm blessed if the woman was n't struck all of a heap, as well she might be ! I thought I should 'a' hex-plodid, myself! "
When the Earl heard the story he was not angry, as Wilkins had been half afraid that he would be; on the contrary, he laughed