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- Cashel Byron's Profession - 49/49 -

learned monographs, as well as a work in which she denounced education as practised in the universities and public schools. Her children inherited her acuteness and refinement with their father's robustness and aversion to study. They were precocious and impudent, had no respect for Cashel, and showed any they had for their mother principally by running to her when they were in difficulties. She never punished nor scolded them; but she contrived to make their misdeeds recoil naturally upon them so inevitably that they soon acquired a lively moral sense which restrained them much more effectually than the usual methods of securing order in the nursery. Cashel treated them kindly for the purpose of conciliating them; and when Lydia spoke of them to him in private, he seldom said more than that the imps were too sharp for him, or that he was blest if he didn't believe that they were born older than their father. Lydia often thonght so too; but the care of this troublesome family had one advantage for her. It left her little time to think about herself, or about the fact that when the illusion of her love passed away Cashel fell in her estimation. But the children were a success; and she soon came to regard him as one of them. When she had leisure to consider the matter at all, which seldom occurred, it seemed to her that, on the whole, she had chosen wisely.

Alice Goff, when she heard of Lydia's projected marriage, saw that she must return to Wiltstoken, and forget her brief social splendor as soon as possible. She therefore thanked Miss Carew for her bounty, and begged to relinquish her post of companion. Lydia assented, but managed to delay this sacrifice to a sense of duty and necessity until a day early in winter, when Lucian gave way to a hankering after domestic joys that possessed him, and allowed his cousin to persuade him to offer his hand to Alice. She indignantly refused--not that she had any reason to complain of him, but because the prospect of returning to Wiltstoken made her feel ill used, and she could not help revenging her soreness upon the first person whom she could find a pretext for attacking. He, lukewarm before, now became eager, and she was induced to relent without much difficulty. Lucian was supposed to have made a brilliant match; and, as it proved, he made a fortunate one. She kept his house, entertained his guests, and took charge of his social connections so ably that in course of time her invitations came to be coveted by people who were desirous of moving in good society. She was even better looking as a matron than she had been as a girl; and her authority in matters of etiquette inspired nervous novices with all the terrors she had herself felt when she first visited Wiltstoken Castle. She invited her brother-in-law and his wife to dinner twice a year--at midsummer and Easter; but she never admitted that either Wallace Parker or Cashel Byron were gentlemen, although she invited the latter freely, notwithstanding the frankness with which he spoke to strangers after dinner of his former exploits, without deference to their professions or prejudices. Her respect for Lydia remained so great that she never complained to her of Cashel save on one occasion, when he had shown a bishop, whose house had been recently broken into and robbed, how to break a burglar's back in the act of grappling with him.

The Skenes returned to Australia and went their way there, as Mrs. Byron did in England, in the paths they had pursued for years before. Cashel spoke always of Mrs. Skene as "mother," and of Mrs. Byron as "mamma."

William Paradise, though admired by the fair sex for his strength, courage, and fame, was not, like Cashel and Skene, wise or fortunate enough to get a good wife. He drank so exceedingly that he had but few sober intervals after his escape from the law. He claimed the title of champion of England on Cashel's retirement from the ring, and challenged the world. The world responded in the persons of sundry young laboring men with a thirst for glory and a taste for fighting. Paradise fought and prevailed twice. Then he drank while in training, and was beaten. But by this time the ring had again fallen into the disrepute from which Cashel's unusual combination of pugilistic genius with honesty had temporarily raised it; and the law, again seizing Paradise as he was borne vanquished from the field, atoned for its former leniency by incarcerating him for six months. The abstinence thus enforced restored him to health and vigor; and he achieved another victory before he succeeded in drinking himself into his former state. This was his last triumph. With his natural ruffianism complicated by drunkenness, he went rapidly down the hill into the valley of humiliation. After becoming noted for his readiness to sell the victories he could no longer win, he only appeared in the ring to test the capabilities of untried youths, who beat him to their hearts' content. He became a potman, and was immediately discharged as an inebriate. He had sunk into beggary when, hearing in his misery that his former antagonist was contesting a parliamentary election, he applied to him for alms. Cashel at the time was in Dorsetshire; but Lydia relieved the destitute wretch, whose condition was now far worse than it had been at their last meeting. At his next application, which followed soon, he was confronted by Cashel, who bullied him fiercely, threatened to break every bone in his skin if he ever again dared to present himself before Lydia, flung him five shillings, and bade him be gone. For Cashel retained for Paradise that contemptuous and ruthless hatred in which a duly qualified professor holds a quack. Paradise bought a few pence-worth of food, which he could hardly eat, and spent the rest in brandy, which he drank as fast as his stomach would endure it. Shortly afterwards a few sporting papers reported his death, which they attributed to "consumption, brought on by the terrible injuries sustained by him in his celebrated fight with Cashel Byron."

Cashel Byron's Profession - 49/49

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