Cashel Byron's Profession
Moncrief House, Panley Common. Scholastic establishment for the sons of gentlemen,
Panley Common, viewed from the back windows of Moncrief House, is a tract of grass,
furze and rushes, stretching away to the western horizon.
One wet spring afternoon the sky was full of broken clouds, and the common was swept
by their shadows, between which patches of green and yellow gorse were bright in the
broken sunlight. The hills to the northward were obscured by a heavy shower, traces of
which were drying off the slates of the school, a square white building, formerly a
gentleman's country-house. In front of it was a well-kept lawn with a few clipped holly-
trees. At the rear, a quarter of an acre of land was enclosed for the use of the boys.
Strollers on the common could hear, at certain hours, a hubbub of voices and racing
footsteps from within the boundary wall. Sometimes, when the strollers were boys
themselves, they climbed to the coping, and saw on the other side a piece of common
trampled bare and brown, with a few square yards of concrete, so worn into hollows as
to be unfit for its original use as a ball-alley. Also a long shed, a pump, a door defaced
by innumerable incised inscriptions, the back of the house in much worse repair than
the front, and about fifty boys in tailless jackets and broad, turned-down collars. When
the fifty boys perceived a stranger on the wall they rushed to the spot with a wild halloo,
overwhelmed him with insult and defiance, and dislodged him by a volley of clods,
stones, lumps of bread, and such other projectiles as were at hand.
On this rainy spring afternoon a brougham stood at the door of Moncrief House. The
coachman, enveloped in a white india-rubber coat, was bestirring himself a little after
the recent shower. Within-doors, in the drawing-room, Dr. Moncrief was conversing with
a stately lady aged about thirty-five, elegantly dressed, of attractive manner, and only
falling short of absolute beauty in her complexion, which was deficient in freshness.
"No progress whatever, I am sorry to say," the doctor was remarking.
"That is very disappointing," said the lady, contracting her brows.
"It is natural that you should feel disappointed," replied the doctor. "I would myself
earnestly advise you to try the effect of placing him at some other--" The doctor
stopped. The lady's face had lit up with a wonderful smile, and she had raised her hand
with a bewitching gesture of protest.
"Oh, no, Dr. Moncrief," she said. "I am not disappointed with YOU; but I am all the more
angry with Cashel, because I know that if he makes no progress with you it must be his