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Nik Marcel (2Language Books)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Little Lord Fauntleroy Vol.3 (English)

Little Lord Fauntleroy
Le Petit Lord
(English & French)
English partly translated anew from French.
Copyright © 2013 Nik Marcel
All rights reserved.
2Language Books
(A Bilingual Dual-Language Project)

Little Lord Fauntleroy Vol.3

Chapter I

The truth was that Mrs Errol had made a great many sad discoveries in the course of her visits to the village, which seemed so picturesque when seen from the top of the hill. Things were not as picturesque when seen up close — as compared to from a distance.
She had found idleness, poverty, and ignorance where there should have been comfort and industry, and she had been forced to recognise that Dorincourt was the most miserable village in this part of the country.
Mr Mordaunt had told her about all the difficulties he encountered, and of his discouragements.
She had herself discovered a great many difficulties that she wanted to address.
The agents who had managed the properties had always been chosen to please the count, and had never concerned themselves with the physical and moral degradation that the unfortunate tenants — with such an owner — had sunken to.
Things were thus going from bad to worse, and had reached a point where they could no longer be remedied without employing radical measures.
Dead End, principally, with its houses almost in ruins and its neglected, oblivious, and sickly inhabitants, presented the most lamentable spectacle.
When Mrs Errol went there for the first time, she could not help but shudder.
On seeing the ragged children — virtually abandoned by parents addicted to vice and torpor — she compared them, (in her mind,) to her own little boy: raised with such care, and now living in a magnificent castle; watched over and served like a young prince; unable to form a desire that could not be satisfied; and knowing nothing other than luxury, joy, and happiness. Hence, a thought was born in her generous heart.
Several times, she had reflected on how it had been very lucky for Cedric that he was such a pleasure to his grandfather. She thought to herself now that it could also result in good outcomes for others.
“It seems the count cannot refuse him anything,” she said to Mr Mordaunt, in formulating her plan; “he gives him everything he asks for.
Why should not this goodwill be employed for the benefit of the poor people? It is up to me to ensure that this shall come to pass.”
She knew that she could trust Cedric’s tender heart.
She told him about everything she had seen at Dead End, feeling sure that he would speak to his grandfather — in the hope that the count would consent to his request to ameliorate the lives of the destitute that were under his rule.
Strange as it might seem to everyone, things did indeed turn out as she had formulated them in her head; and, once again, Cedric’s influence over the count manifested in a good result.
The subtle cause of this influence was always the confidence the child had in his grandfather, who saw him as a just, humane, and generous man.
The count could not bring himself to allow his grandson to suspect that he had no inclination towards generosity, and that he could not care less about what was right or wrong when his interests were at stake.
It was such a novelty for him to be regarded by a child with affection and admiration — to be considered as a benefactor of humanity; as the epitome of nobility — that he found not the least satisfaction in saying to himself, “I am nothing but a miserable, wicked, and egoistic old man, who has never had a generous idea in my life, and who does not care for the people of Dead End, nor for their peers, down on their luck.”
He began to think that even without the joy he found in pleasing his grandson, it would not be a bad thing, from time to time, to do a good deed.
Accordingly, and while laughing inwardly at himself, he sent for Newick; and, after a long meeting with him, gave him instructions for the hovels of Dead End to be levelled, and new houses to be built.
“It is lord Fauntleroy who insists on it,” he said dryly; “he thinks that these remedies will improve the property. You can tell the tenants that it is his idea.”
He glanced at His Little Lordship, who was lying on the hearth-rug playing with Dougal, and who, at his age and with his constitution, was incapable of calculating how beneficial the ameliorations he demanded could be to him.
The great dog was the child’s constant companion, and followed him about everywhere, stalking solemnly after him when Cedric walked, and trotting majestically beside the horse or carriage when he went out.
Of course, everyone in the countryside and those in the neighbouring little village could be heard talking about the proposed changes.
At first, many of the country folk would not believe it; but when a small army of workers arrived in Dorincourt and commenced demolishing the miserable and squalid shacks of Dead End, they began to realise that it was true, and they also determined that it was the generous intervention of the little lord that must have brought about this unexpected result.
If Cedric had known how they spoke about him in the cottages — what blessings were delivered in his name, and what prophecies were made for the day when he would become a man — he would have been astonished; but he never suspected any of it.
He lived his simple, happy, and naïve child’s life: entertaining himself in the park; chasing after the rabbits; lying on the grass in the shade of the huge trees, or stretching out on the rug in the library, with a book; discussing what he read with the count, or retelling the stories to his mother; writing long letters to Dick and Mr Hobbs, who responded each in their own way; going on outings, sometimes in the carriage, and sometimes by horse, in company with the count or Wilkins.
When he rode through the market place, or when he encountered a farmer, he noticed that caps would always rise and the faces would always take on a joyous expression, but he thought that this was because his grandfather was with him.
“They are so fond of you,” he once said, looking up at the count with his sweet face, which was illuminated by a bright smile.
“Have you noticed how glad they are to see you? I hope that some day they will love me too. It must be nice that everybody loves you.”
He felt quite content to be the grandson of such a loved and admired man.
When they began to build the cottages, the count and his grandson would often be steered towards Dead End, to see what they were working on.
Cedric was following proceedings with the keenest interest.
He would dismount from his pony and go and make acquaintances with the workers, asking them questions about their craft, and comparing what they did with what he had seen done in America.
He would then provide an account of the conversations to his grandfather, while they were returning to the castle.
“I always like to know how things are done,” he said to the count, “because you never know what you will become later on.”
When he had departed, the workers used to laugh amongst themselves about his observations and his talks, but their smiles had nothing of mockery in them.
They liked him: they liked to see him turn up; to listen to him talk; and to see him stand around them, with his hands in his pockets, his cap around backwards, following everything they did with the utmost interest.
“You don’t see a boy like that very much,” they would say; “and he is self-assured, yet not arrogant towards the poor of the world. He has nothing of the old lineage in him.”
Returning home, they would speak to their wives about the little lord. In this way, Cedric was a topic of many a conversation, and everyone had a story to tell about him.
In the end, everyone realised the ‘wicked count’, as he was called, had finally found someone who was of interest to him, and that his heart — old, tough, and insensitive as it was — had finally been touched, and had gained a little warmth.
However, no one was to know just how much of a change had been produced, and how, day by day, the old man’s interest in the child kept growing — this child being the only creature who had ever trusted him.
He yearned for the time when Cedric would be a strong and handsome young man, with all his life ahead of him, having retained his kind heart, and the power to make friends with all who those who approached him.
Often, as he considered the little fellow — lying on the rug and reading some big book, with the light falling on his blonde head — a faint light would shine in his eyes, and a slight flush would form on his cheeks.
“The boy can do anything he wants,” he would say.
He never opened up to anyone about his feelings for Cedric.
When he spoke about him, it was always with his same sarcastic smile. Still, he loved to have Cedric with him: beside his chair in the library; across from him at the dinner table; by his side when he went out on the horse or in the carriage; and even accompanying him when he made his evening walk on the terrace.
“Do you remember,” Cedric said to him one day, looking up from his book, “what I said to you the night we first met… that we would be good companions? I don’t think any two people could be better companions than we are.”
“We are pretty good companions, I should say,” replied the count. “Come here.”
Cedric, who was stretched out on the rug, (it being his favourite position,) rose to his feet, and went and stood beside his grandfather.
“Is there anything you have need of,” inquired the count; “anything that you are lacking; that you would like to have?”
The little fellow’s brown eyes fixed themselves on those of his grandfather’s, with a look full of anxiety and longing.
“Only one thing,” he answered.
“What is that?” demanded the old lord.
Fauntleroy was silent for a moment.
“What is it?” repeated the count.
“It is ‘dearest’,” he said.
The old count grimaced slightly. “You see her almost every day,” he said. “Is that not enough?”
“I used to see her all the time,” said the little lord.
“She used to kiss me every night when I went to bed, and in the morning she kissed me again; we could tell each other whatever we wanted, without having to wait.”
The old eyes of the count and those of the young heir met, and they remained silent for a few moments.
Then the Earl knitted his thick grey eyebrows. “Do you never forget about your mother?” he said.
“Never;” answered the child; “never! And she never forgets about me either. I would not forget about you if I did not live with you any more. On the contrary, I would think about you even more if I was separated from you.”
“Upon my word,” cried the count, after looking at him a moment longer, “I believe you would!”
The pain of jealousy, which the count experienced every time the child spoke of his mother, was getting stronger every day — in truth, it increased in line with the growing affection the old man had for the child.
However, there soon came to pass events that made him forget — for a time at least — the bad feelings he had always upheld against his daughter-in-law; and they happened in a strange way indeed.

Chapter II

One evening, shortly before the work at Dead End was completed, there was a great dinner party at Dorincourt.

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