Cashel Byron's Profession
Next day Alice accepted Miss Carew's invitation. Lydia, who seemed to regard all
conclusions as foregone when she had once signified her approval of them, took the
acceptance as a matter of course. Alice thereupon thought fit to remind her that there
were other persons to be considered. So she said, "I should not have hesitated
yesterday but for my mother. It seems so heartless to leave her."
"You have a sister at home, have you not?"
"Yes. But she is not very strong, and my mother requires a great deal of attention." Alice
paused, and added in a lower voice, "She has never recovered from the shock of my
"Your father is then not long dead?" said Lydia in her usual tone.
"Only two years," said Alice, coldly. "I hardly know how to tell my mother that I am going
to desert her."
"Go and tell her today, Alice. You need not be afraid of hurting her. Grief of two years'
standing is only a bad habit."
Alice started, outraged. Her mother's grief was sacred to her; and yet it was by her
experience of her mother that she recognized the truth of Lydia's remark, and felt that it
was unanswerable. She frowned; but the frown was lost: Miss Carew was not looking at
her. Then she rose and went to the door, where she stopped to say,
"You do not know our family circumstances. I will go now and try to prevail on my
mother to let me stay with you."
"Please come back in good time for dinner," said Lydia, unmoved. "I will introduce you
to my cousin Lucian Webber. I have just received a telegram from him. He is coming
down with Lord Worthington. I do not know whether Lord Worthington will come to
dinner or not. He has an invalid friend at the Warren, and Lucian does not make it clear
whether he is coming to visit him or me. However, it is of no consequence; Lord
Worthington is only a young sportsman. Lucian is a clever man, and will be an eminent
one some day. He is secretary to a Cabinet Minister, and is very busy; but we shall
probably see him often while the Whitsuntide holidays last. Excuse my keeping you
waiting at the door to hear that long history. Adieu!" She waved her hand; Alice
suddenly felt that it was possible to be very fond of Miss Carew.
She spent an unhappy afternoon with her mother. Mrs. Goff had had the good-fortune to
marry a man of whom she was afraid, and who made himself very disagreeable
whenever his house or his children were neglected in the least particular. Making a