Poor Miss Finch HTML version
He sees Lucilla
THE first impression which poor Miss Finch produced on Nugent Dubourg, was
precisely the same as the first impression which she had produced on me.
"Good Heavens!" he cried. "The Dresden Madonna! The Virgin of San Sisto!"
Lucilla had already heard from me of her extraordinary resemblance to the chief figure in
Raphael's renowned picture. Nugent's blunt outburst of recognition passed unnoticed by
her. She stopped short, in the middle of the room--startled, the instant he spoke, by the
extraordinary similarity of his tone and accent to the tone and accent of his brother's
"Oscar," she asked nervously, "are you behind me? or in front of me?" Oscar laughed,
and answered "Here!"--speaking behind her. She turned her head towards the place in
front of her, from which Nugent had spoken. "Your voice is wonderfully like Oscar's,"
she said, addressing him timidly. "Is your face exactly like his face, too? May I judge for
myself of the likeness between you? I can only do it in one way--by my touch."
Oscar advanced, and placed a chair for his brother by Lucilla's side.
"She has eyes in the tips of her fingers," he said. "Sit down, Nugent, and let her pass her
hand over your face."
Nugent obeyed him in silence. Now that the first impression of surprise had passed away,
I observed that a marked change was beginning to assert itself in his manner.
Little by little, an unnatural constraint got possession of him. His fluent tongue found
nothing to talk about. His easy movements altered in the strangest way, until they almost
became the movements of a slow awkward man. He was more like his brother than ever,
as he sat down in the chair to submit himself to Lucilla's investigation. She had produced,
at first sight--as well as I could judge--some impression on him for which he had not been
prepared; causing some mental disturbance in him which he was for the moment quite
unable to control. His eyes looked up at her, spell-bound; his color came and went; his
breath quickened audibly when her fingers touched his face.
"What's the matter?" said Oscar, looking at him in surprise.
"Nothing is the matter," he answered, in the low absent tone of a man whose mind was
secretly pursuing its own train of thought.
Oscar said no more. Once, twice, three times, Lucilla's hand passed slowly over Nugent's
face. He submitted to it, silently, gravely, immovably--a perfect contrast to the talkative,
lively young man of half an hour since. Lucilla employed a much longer time in
examining him than she had occupied in examining me.
While the investigation was proceeding, I had leisure to think again over what had passed
between Nugent and me on the subject of Lucilla's blindness, before she entered the
room. My mind had by this time recovered its balance. I was able to ask myself what this
young fellow's daring idea was really worth. Was it within the range of possibility that a
sense so delicate as the sense of sight, lost for one-and-twenty years, could be restored by