Lady Audley / Lucy Graham / Helen Maldon Talboys Quotes in Lady Audley’s Secret
“You know that nobody asks you to marry Sir Michael unless you wish. Of course it would be a magnificent match; he has a splendid income, and is one of the most generous of men. Your position would be very high, and you would be enabled to do a great deal of good; but, as I said before, you must be entirely guided by your own feelings.”
Lucy was better loved and more admired than the baronet’s daughter [Alicia]. That very childness had a charm which few could resist. The innocence and candour of an infant beamed in Lady Audley’s fair face, and shone out of her large and liquid blue eyes. The rosy lips, the delicate nose, the profusion of fair ringlets, all contributed to preserve to her beauty the character of extreme youth and freshness.
“Do you know, Phoebe, I have heard some people say you and I are alike?”
“I have heard them say so too, my lady…but they must be very stupid to say it, for your ladyship is a beauty, and I’m a poor plain creature.”
“Not at all, Phoebe…you are like me…it is only colour that you want. My hair is pale yellow shot with gold, yours is drab…Why, with a bottle of hair dye, such as we see advertised in the papers, and a pot of rouge, you’d be as good-looking as I any day, Phoebe.”
No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have painted, hair by hair, those feathery masses of ringlets with every glimmer of gold, and every shadow of pale brown. No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have so exaggerated every attribute of that delicate face as to give a lurid lightness to the blonde complexion and a stranger, sinister light to the deep blue eyes. No one but a pre-Raphaelite could have given to that pretty pouting mouth the hard and almost wicked look it had in the portrait.
“Lady Audley,” answered the young man gravely. “I have never practiced as a barrister…I have shrunk from those responsibilities and duties, as I have from all the fatigues of this troublesome life: but we are sometimes forced in the very position we have most avoided, and I have found myself lately compelled to think of these things. Lady Audley, did you ever study the theory of circumstantial evidence?”
“I hate women…They’re bold, brazen, abominable creatures, invented for the annoyance and destruction of their superiors. Look at this business of poor George’s! It’s all woman’s work from one end to the other. He marries a woman, and his father casts him off, penniless and professionless. He hears of the woman’s death and he breaks his heart…He goes to a woman’s house and he is never seen alive again.”
Lucy Audley looked up from her occupation amongst the fragile china cups, and watched Robert rather anxiously, as he walked softly to his uncle’s room, and back again to the boudoir. She looked very pretty and innocent, seated behind the graceful group of delicate opal china and glittering silver. Surely a pretty woman never looks prettier than when making tea. The most feminine and most domestic of all occupations imparts a magic harmony to her every movement, a witchery to her every glance.
“I am weary of my life here, and wish, if I can, to find a new one. I go out into the world, dissevered from every link which binds me to the hateful past, to seek another home and another fortune. Forgive me if I have been fretful, capricious, changeable. You should forgive me, for you know why I have been so. You know the secret which is the key to my life.”
“A conspiracy concocted by an artful woman, who had speculated upon the chances of her husband’s death, and had secured a splendid position at the risk of committing a crime…but a foolish woman, who looked at life as a game of chance, in which the best player was likely to hold the winning cards, forgetting that there is a Providence about the pitiful speculators, and that wicked secrets are never permitted to remain long hidden.”
“Mr. Audley may be as you say, merely eccentric; but he has talked to me this evening in a manner that has filled me with absolute terror, and I believe that he is going mad. I shall speak very seriously to Sir Michael this very night…I shall only put him on his guard, my dear Alicia.”
“But he’ll never believe you,” said Miss Audley, “He will laugh at such an idea.”
“No, Alicia; he will believe anything that I tell him.”
Perhaps in that retrospective reverie she recalled the early time in which she had first looked in the glass and discovered that she was beautiful: that fatal early time in which she had first begun to look upon her loveliness as a right divine…Did she remember the day in which that fairy dower of beauty had first taught her to be selfish and cruel?
“I killed him because I AM MAD! because my intellect is a little way upon the wrong side of that narrow boundary-line between sanity and insanity; because when George Talboys goaded me, as you have goaded me; and reproached me, and threatened me; my mind, never properly balanced, utterly lost its balance; and I was mad!”
“The place was indeed select. I had not been there a month before I discovered that even the prettiest girl might wait a long time for a rich husband. I wish to hurry over this part of my life: I dare say I was very despicable. You and your nephew, Sir Michael, have been rich all your lives, and can well afford to despise me; but I knew how far poverty can affect a life, and I looked forward with a sick terror to a life so affected.”
“Because there is no evidence of madness in anything that she has done. She ran away from her home, because her home was not a pleasant one, and she left it in the hope of finding a better. There is no madness in that. She committed the crime of bigamy, because by that crime she obtained fortune and position. There is no madness there. When she found herself in a desperate position, she did not grow desperate. She employed intelligent means, and she carried out a conspiracy which required coolness and deliberation in its execution. There is no madness in that.”