LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY. 145
would tell each other, and so it came about that almost every one talked of, or knew some story of, little Lord Fauntleroy; and gradually almost every one knew that the "wicked Earl " had found something he cared for at last—something which had touched and even warmed his hard, bitter old heart.
But no one knew quite how much it had been warmed, and how day by day the old man found himself caring more and more for the child, who was the only creature that had ever trusted him. He found himself looking forward to the time when Cedric would be a young man, strong and beautiful, with life all before him, but having still that kind heart and the power to make friends everywhere ; and the Earl wondered what the lad would do, and how he would use his gifts. Often as he watched the little fellow lying upon the hearth, conning some big book, the light shining on the bright young head, his old eyes would gleam and his cheek would flush.
" The boy can do anything," he would say to himself, " anything !"
He never spoke to any one else of his feeling for Cedric ; when he spoke of him to others it was always with the same grim smile. But Fauntleroy soon knew that his grandfather loved him and always liked him to be near—near to his chair if they were in the library, opposite to him at table, or by his side when he rode or drove or took his evening walk on the broad terrace.
" Do you remember," Cedric said once, looking up from his book as he lay on the rug, " do you remember what I said to you that first night about our being good companions ? I don't think any people could be better companions than we are, do you?"
" We are pretty good companions, I should say," replied his lordship. " Come here."
Fauntleroy scrambled up and went to him. 10