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Poor Miss Finch

Good Papa again!
THE promise I had given did not expose me to the annoyance of being kept long on the
watch against accidents. If we could pass safely over the next five days, we might feel
pretty sure of the future. On the last day of the old year, Lucilla was bound by the terms
of the will to go to London, and live her allotted three months under the roof of her aunt.
In the brief interval that elapsed before her departure, she twice approached the
dangerous subject.
On the first occasion, she asked me if I knew what medicine Oscar was taking. I pleaded
ignorance, and passed at once to other matters. On the second occasion, she advanced
still further on the way to discovery of the truth. She now inquired if I had heard how the
physic worked the cure. Having been already informed that the fits proceeded from a
certain disordered condition of the brain, she was anxious to know whether the medical
treatment was likely to affect the patient's head. This question (which I was of course
unable to answer) she put to both the doctors. Already warned by Oscar, they quieted her
by declaring that the process of cure acted by general means, and did not attack the head.
From that moment, her curiosity was satisfied. Her mind had other objects of interest to
dwell on, before she left Dimchurch. She touched on the perilous topic no more.
It was arranged that I was to accompany Lucilla to London. Oscar was to follow us, when
the state of his health permitted him to take the journey. As betrothed husband of Lucilla,
he had his right of entry, during her residence in her aunt's house. As for me, I was
admitted at Lucilla's intercession. She declined to be separated from me for three months.
Miss Batchford wrote, most politely, to offer me a hospitable welcome during the day.
She had no second spare-room at her disposal--so we settled that I was to sleep at a
lodging-house in the neighborhood. In this same house, Oscar was also to be
accommodated, when the doctors sanctioned his removal to London. It was now thought
likely--if all went well--that the marriage might be celebrated at the end of the three
months, from Miss Batchford's residence in town.
Three days before the date of Lucilla's departure, these plans--so far as I was concerned
in them--were all over-thrown.
A letter from Paris reached me, with more bad news. My absence had produced the
worst possible effect on good Papa.
The moment my influence had been removed, he had become perfectly unmanageable.
My sisters assured me that the abominable woman from whom I had rescued him, would
most certainly end in marrying him after all, unless I reappeared immediately on the
scene. What was to be done? Nothing was to be done, but to fly into a rage--to grind my
teeth, and throw down all my things, in the solitude of my own room--and then to go
back to Paris.
Lucilla behaved charmingly. When she saw how angry and how distressed I was, she
suppressed all exhibition of disappointment on her side, with the truest and kindest
consideration for my feelings. "Write to me often," said the charming creature, "and come
back to me as soon as you can." Her father took her to London. Two days before they
 
 
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