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Cashel Byron's Profession

Chapter 5
Miss Carew remorselessly carried out her intention of going to London, where she took
a house in Regent's Park, to the disappointment of Alice, who had hoped to live in
Mayfair, or at least in South Kensington. But Lydia set great store by the high northerly
ground and open air of the park; and Alice found almost perfect happiness in driving
through London in a fine carriage and fine clothes. She liked that better than concerts of
classical music, which she did not particularly relish, or even than the opera, to which
they went often. The theatres pleased her more, though the amusements there were
tamer than she had expected. Society was delightful to her because it was real London
society. She acquired a mania for dancing; went out every night, and seemed to herself
far more distinguished and attractive than she had ever been in Wiltstoken, where she
had nevertheless held a sufficiently favorable opinion of her own manners and person.
Lydia did not share all these dissipations. She easily procured invitations and
chaperones for Alice, who wondered why so intelligent a woman would take the trouble
to sit out a stupid concert, and then go home, just as the real pleasure of the evening
was beginning.
One Saturday morning, at breakfast, Lydia said,
"Your late hours begin to interfere with the freshness of your complexion, Alice. I am
getting a little fatigued, myself, with literary work. I will go to the Crystal Palace to-day,
and wander about the gardens for a while; there is to be a concert in the afternoon for
the benefit of Madame Szczymplica, whose playing you do not admire. Will you come
with me?"
"Of course," said Alice, resolutely dutiful.
"Of choice; not of course," said Lydia. "Are you engaged for to-morrow evening?"
"Sunday? Oh, no. Besides, I consider all my engagements subject to your
There was a pause, long enough for this assurance to fall perfectly flat. Alice bit her lip.
Then Lydia said, "Do you know Mrs. Hoskyn?"
"Mrs. Hoskyn who gives Sunday evenings? Shall we go there?" said Alice, eagerly.
"People often ask me whether I have been at one of them. But I don't know her--though
I have seen her. Is she nice?"
"She is a young woman who has read a great deal of art criticism, and been deeply
impressed by it. She has made her house famous by bringing there all the clever people
she meets, and making them so comfortable that they take care to come again. But she