“Better, perhaps that I should be out of the house – better, perhaps, that I should never have entered it…Oh, pray, do not be alarmed, Lady Audley,” he said gravely. “You have no sentimental nonsense, no silly infatuation, borrowed from Balzac, or Dumas fils, to fear from me.” Excerpt, Braddon p. 142
In this passage, Robert Audley has begun to interrogate Lady Audley. Leading up to this, Lady Audley had been talking with Robert about how “unfortunate” she thought it was that Robert had to be kicked out of their house. The reason she gives for Robert Audley being forced to leave is that her husband, Michael Audley, was concerned with it being “dangerous” for a man to be smoking so much around his wife. She tells Robert than he is owed an apology, because of her husband’s “silly thinking.” To the reader, this is clearly a lie, as we have heart the real reason Robert was turned away, and that Lady Audley clearly felt that no apology was needed. And although Lady Audley lied to Robert, she did it with her usual, “peculiar childish vivacity, which seemed so natural to her.” In this excerpt, Robert Audley shows the small amount of knowledge he has that she has malevolent intentions. By saying that it might have been better if he had never come into the house, Robert begins to bring up the idea that there is something dangerous about being inside it. After he says this, Lady Audley looks “with an earnest, questioning gaze,” that Robert fully understands. Although she looks up at him seemingly in earnest, what Robert understands is that this is all for show. He tells her not to be alarmed, as she shouldn’t expect any “nonsense,” or “silly infatuation” from him. He tells her that he will not have to borrow womanly tactics from the writing of Dumas, and the “fils” in them. This is Robert telling Lady Audley that he will not be pretending to be ignorant, or that he will not the true meanings of his words with anything “borrowed.” This passage shows the reader that Lady Audley is constantly retaining her façade around everyone, but that Robert Audley is challenging it.