“She wore a black ribbon round her neck, with a locket or a cross, or a miniature, perhaps, attached to it; but whatever the trinket was, she always kept it hidden under her dress” (Braddon 14).
Even though Lucy always wears this ribbon around her neck, she does not disclose what hangs from the ribbon. It is only revealed to be a ring wrapped in paper when Phoebe looks around in Lucy’s things. The secrecy of the ribbon connects to the previously established patterns of secrecy, which were especially detailed on page 9. The narrator describes this grassy area as the perfect place for a hidden meeting, whether between lovers or conspirators. However, this area is only 20 paces from the house, putting this ‘private’ spot in a delicate balance of secrets and public knowledge.
I think that the black ribbon reflects on this contrast between secrets and yet the proximity to being revealed. Even though the ring hides behind the neckline of Lucy’s dresses, one small slip up and the secret would be out as it is so close to being prominently displayed on Lucy’s chest. I believe that this ribbon is a physical representation of Lucy’s past that she is clearly trying to be kept out of the spotlight. But, since the ring at the end of the ribbon is on the verge of being seen, I believe that this means that there is a threat of Lucy’s secret being revealed. While Lucy may believe that her secret that manifests itself in the ring at the end of the ribbon will never be revealed, there is a looming danger that could expose Lucy’s lies. Since Phoebe was able to discover the ring kept on the ribbon, I believe that this acts as foreshadowing, meaning that the tightly woven secret that Lucy is hiding will soon start to unravel.