LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY. 167
heap o' him, I did,— an' we was friends, too — we was sort o' chums from the fust, that little young un an' me. I grabbed his ball from under a stage fur him, an' he never forgot it; an' he 'd come down here, he would, with his mother or his nuss and he 'd holler: • Hello, Dick!' at me, as friendly as if he was six feet high, when he war n't knee high to a grasshopper, and was dressed in gal's clo'es. He was a gay little chap, and when you was down on your luck, it did you good to talk to him."
"That 's so," said Mr. Hobbs. "It was a pity to make a earl out of him. He would have shone in the grocery business — or dry goods either ; he would have shone ! " And he shook his head with deeper regret than ever.
It proved that they had so much to say to each other that it was not possible to say it all at one time, and so it was agreed that the next night Dick should make a visit to the store and keep Mr. Hobbs company. The plan pleased Dick well enough. He had been a street waif nearly all his life, but he had never been a bad boy, and he had always had a private yearning for a more respectable kind of existence. Since he had been in business for himself, he had made enough money to enable him to sleep under a roof instead of out in the streets, and he had begun to hope he might reach even a higher plane, in time. So, to be invited to call on a stout, respectable man who owned a corner store, and even had a horse and wagon, seemed to him quite an event.
"Do you know anything about earls and castles?" Mr. Hobbs inquired. " I 'd like to know more of the particklars."
" There 's a story about some on 'em in the Penny Story Gazette" said Dick. "It 's called the 'Crime of a Coronet; or, The Revenge of the Countess May.' It 's a boss thing, too. Some of us boys 're takin' it to read."
" Bring it up when you come," said Mr. Hobbs, "an' I '11 pay for it. Bring all you can find that have any earls in 'em. If there are