Poor Miss Finch
Daylight View of the Man
WHEN I put out my candle that night, I made a mistake--I trusted entirely to myself to
wake in good time in the morning. I ought to have told Zillah to call me.
Hours passed before I could close my eyes. It was broken rest when it came, until the day
dawned. Then I fell asleep at last in good earnest. When I woke, and looked at my watch,
I was amazed to find that it was ten o'clock.
I jumped out of bed, and rang for the old nurse. Was Lucilla at home? No: she had gone
out for a little walk. By herself? Yes--by herself. In what direction? Up the valley,
I instantly arrived at my own conclusion.
She had got the start of me--thanks to my laziness in sleeping away the precious hours of
the morning in bed. The one thing to do, was to follow her as speedily as possible. In half
an hour more, I was out for a little walk by myself--and (what do you think?) my
direction also was up the valley, towards Browndown.
A pastoral solitude reigned round the lonely little house. I went on beyond it, into the
next winding of the valley. Not a human creature was to be seen. I returned to
Browndown to reconnoiter. Ascending the rising ground on which the house was built, I
approached it from the back. The windows were all open. I listened. (Do you suppose I
felt scruples in such an emergency as this? Oh, pooh! pooh! who but a fool would have
felt anything of the sort!) I listened with both my ears. Through a window at the side of
the house, I heard the sound of voices. Advancing noiselessly on the turf, I heard the
voice of Dubourg. He was answered by a woman. Aha, I had caught her. Lucilla herself!
"Wonderful!" I heard him say. "I believe you have eyes in the ends of your fingers. Take
this, now--and try if you can tell me what it is."
"A little vase," she answered--speaking, I give you my word of honor, as composedly as
if she had known him for years. "Wait! what metal is it? Silver? No. Gold. Did you really
make this yourself as well as the box?"
"Yes. It is an odd taste of mine--isn't it?--to be fond of chasing in gold and silver. Years
ago I met with a man in Italy, who taught me. It amused me, then--and it amuses me now.
When I was recovering from an illness last spring, I shaped that vase out of the plain
metal, and made the ornaments on it."
"Another mystery revealed!" she exclaimed. "Now I know what you wanted with those
gold and silver plates that came to you from London. Are you aware of what a character
you have got here? There are some of us who suspect you of coining false money!"
They both burst out laughing as gaily as a couple of children. I declare I wished myself
one of the party! But no. I had my duty to do as a respectable woman. My duty was to
steal a little nearer, and see if any familiarities were passing between these two merry
young people. One half of the open window was sheltered, on the outer side, by a
Venetian blind. I stood behind the blind, and peeped in. (Duty! oh, dear me, painful, but
necessary duty!) Dubourg was sitting with his back to the window. Lucilla faced me