Cashel Byron's Profession HTML version
Next evening, Lydia and Alice reached Mrs. Hoskyn's house in Campden Hill Road a
few minutes before ten o'clock. They found Lord Worthington in the front garden,
smoking and chatting with Mr. Hoskyn. He threw away his cigar and returned to the
house with the two ladies, who observed that he was somewhat flushed with wine. They
went into a parlor to take off their wraps, leaving him at the foot of the stairs. Presently
they heard some one come down and address him excitedly thus,
"Worthington. Worthington. He has begun making a speech before the whole room. He
got up the moment old Abendgasse sat down. Why the deuce did you give him that
glass of champagne?"
"Sh-sh-sh! You don't say so! Come with me; and let us try to get him away quietly."
"Did you hear that?" said Alice. "Something must have happened."
"I hope so," said Lydia. "Ordinarily, the fault in these receptions is that nothing happens.
Do not announce us, if you please," she added to the servant, as they ascended the
stairs. "Since we have come late, let us spare the feelings of Herr Abendgasse by going
in as quietly as possible."
They had no difficulty in entering unnoticed, for Mrs. Hoskyn considered obscurity
beautiful; and her rooms were but dimly lighted by two curious lanterns of pink glass,
within which were vaporous flames. In the middle of the larger apartment was a small
table covered with garnet-colored plush, with a reading-desk upon it, and two candles in
silver candlesticks, the light of which, being brighter than the lanterns, cast strong
double shadows from a group of standing figures about the table. The surrounding
space was crowded with chairs, occupied chiefly by ladies. Behind them, along the wall,
stood a row of men, among whom was Lucian Webber. All were staring at Cashel
Byron, who was making a speech to some bearded and spectacled gentlemen at the
table. Lydia, who had never before seen him either in evening dress or quite at his
ease, was astonished at his bearing. His eyes were sparkling, his confidence overbore
the company, and his rough voice created the silence it broke. He was in high good-
humor, and marked his periods by the swing of his extended left arm, while he held his
right hand close to his body and occasionally pointed his remarks by slyly wagging his
"--executive power," he was saying as Lydia entered. "That's a very good expression,
gentlemen, and one that I can tell you a lot about. We have been told that if we want to
civilize our neighbors we must do it mainly by the example of our own lives, by each
becoming a living illustration of the highest culture we know. But what I ask is, how is
anybody to know that you're an illustration of culture. You can't go about like a sandwich
man with a label on your back to tell all the fine notions you have in your head; and you