206 LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY.
that instant. Such a clamor of voices, and such a rattle of glasses and applause! They had begun to like him so much, those warmhearted people, that they forgot to feel any restraint before the ladies and gentlemen from the castle, who had come to see them. They made quite a decent uproar, and one or two motherly women looked tenderly at the little fellow where he stood, with his mother on one side and the Earl on the other, and grew quite moist about the eyes, and said to one another:
" God bless him, the pretty little dear!" Little Lord Fauntleroy was delighted. He stood and smiled, and made bows, and flushed rosy red with pleasure up to the roots of his bright hair.
" Is it because they like me, Dearest ? " he said to his mother. " Is it, Dearest ? I'mso glad ! "
And then the Earl put his hand on the child's shoulder and said to him:
" Fauntleroy, say to them that you thank them for their kindness."
Fauntleroy gave a glance up at him and then at his mother.
" Must I ? " he asked just a trifle shyly, and she smiled, and so did Miss Herbert, and they both nodded. And so he made a little step forward, and everybody looked at him — such a beautiful, innocent little fellow he was, too, with his brave, trustful face! — and he spoke as loudly as he could, his childish voice ringing out quite clear and strong.
"I 'm ever so much obliged to you!" he said, "and—I hope you '11 enjoy my birthday—because I 've enjoyed it so much — and — I 'm very glad I 'm going to be an earl; I did n't think at first I should like it, but now I do—and I love this place so, and I think it is beautiful—and—and—and when I am an earl, I am going to try to be as good as my grandfather."