Poor Miss Finch HTML version
Second Result of the Robbery
THE history of my proceedings in Paris can be dismissed in a very few words. It is only
necessary to dwell in detail on one among the many particulars which connect themselves
in my memory with the rescue of good Papa.
The affair, this time, assumed the gravest possible aspect. The venerable victim had gone
the length of renewing his youth, in respect of his teeth, his hair, his complexion, and his
figure (this last involving the purchase of a pair of stays). I declare I hardly knew him
again, he was so outrageously and unnaturally young. The utmost stretch of my influence
was exerted over him in vain. He embraced me with the most touching fervour; he
expressed the noblest sentiments--but in the matter of his contemplated marriage, he was
immovable. Life was only tolerable to him on one condition. The beloved object, or
death--such was the programme of this volcanic old man.
To make the prospect more hopeless still, the beloved object proved, on this occasion, to
be a bold enough woman to play her trump card at starting.
I give the jade her due. She assumed a perfectly unassailable attitude: we had her full
permission to break off the match--if we could. "I refer you to your father. Pray
understand that I don't wish to marry him, if his daughters object to it. He has only to say,
'Release me.' From that moment he is free." There was no contending against such a
system of defence as this. We knew as well as she did that our fascinated parent would
not say the word. Our one chance was to spend money in investigating the antecedent
indiscretions of the lady's life, and to produce against her proof so indisputable that not
even an old man's infatuation could say, This is a lie.
We disbursed; we investigated; we secured our proof. It took a fortnight. At the end of
that time, we had the necessary materials in hand for opening the eyes of good Papa.
In the course of the inquiry I was brought into contact with many strange people--among
others, with a man who startled me, at our first interview, by presenting a personal
deformity, which, with all my experience of the world, I now saw oddly enough for the
The man's face, instead of exhibiting any of the usual shades of complexion, was
hideously distinguished by a superhuman--I had almost said a devilish--colouring of livid
blackish blue! He proved to be a most kind, intelligent, and serviceable person. But when
we first confronted each other, his horrible color so startled me, that I could not repress a
cry of alarm. He not only passed over my involuntary act of rudeness in the most
indulgent manner--he explained to me the cause which had produced his peculiarity of
complexion; so as to put me at my ease before we entered on the delicate private inquiry
which had brought us together.
"I beg your pardon," said this unfortunate man, "for not having warned you of my
disfigurement, before I entered the room. There are hundreds of people discolored as I
am, in the various parts of the civilized world; and I supposed that you had met, in the
course of your experience, with other examples of my case. The blue tinge in my
complexion is produced by the effect on the blood of Nitrate of Silver--taken internally. It
is the only medicine which relieves sufferers like me from an otherwise incurable
malady. We have no alternative but to accept the consequences for the sake of the cure."