Poor Miss Finch HTML version
Madame Pratolungo Presents Herself
You are here invited to read the story of an Event which occurred in an out-of-the-way
corner of England, some years since.
The persons principally concerned in the Event are:--a blind girl; two (twin) brothers; a
skilled surgeon; and a curious foreign woman. I am the curious foreign woman. And I
take it on myself--for reasons which will presently appear--to tell the story.
So far we understand each other. Good. I may make myself known to you as briefly as I
I am Madame Pratolungo--widow of that celebrated South American patriot, Doctor
Pratolungo. I am French by birth. Before I married the Doctor, I went through many
vicissitudes in my own country. They ended in leaving me (at an age which is of no
consequence to anybody) with some experience of the world; with a cultivated musical
talent on the pianoforte; and with a comfortable little fortune unexpectedly bequeathed to
me by a relative of my dear dead mother (which fortune I shared with good Papa and
with my younger sisters). To these qualifications I added another, the most precious of
all, when I married the Doctor; namely--a strong infusion of ultra-liberal principles. Vive
Some people do one thing, and some do another, in the way of celebrating the event of
their marriage. Having become man and wife, Doctor Pratolungo and I took ship to
Central America--and devoted our honey-moon, in those disturbed districts, to the sacred
duty of destroying tyrants.
Ah! the vital air of my noble husband was the air of revolutions. From his youth upwards
he had followed the glorious profession of Patriot. Wherever the people of the Southern
New World rose and declared their independence--and, in my time, that fervent
population did nothing else--there was the Doctor self-devoted on the altar of his adopted
country. He had been fifteen times exiled, and condemned to death in his absence, when I
met with him in Paris--the picture of heroic poverty, with a brown complexion and one
lame leg. Who could avoid falling in love with such a man? I was proud when he
proposed to devote me on the altar of his adopted country, as well as himself--me, and
my money. For, alas! everything is expensive in this world; including the destruction of
tyrants and the saving of Freedom. All my money went in helping the sacred cause of the
people. Dictators and filibusters flourished in spite of us. Before we had been a year
married, the Doctor had to fly (for the sixteenth time) to escape being tried for his life.
My husband condemned to death in his absence; and I with my pockets empty. This is
how the Republic rewarded us. And yet, I love the Republic. Ah, you monarchy-people,
sitting fat and contented under tyrants, respect that!
This time, we took refuge in England. The affairs of Central America went on without us.
I thought of giving lessons in music. But my glorious husband could not spare me away
from him. I suppose we should have starved, and made a sad little paragraph in the
English newspapers--if the end had not come in another way. My poor Pratolungo was in
truth worn out. He sank under his sixteenth exile. I was left a widow--with nothing but
the inheritance of my husband's noble sentiments to console me.