“if folks hadn’t been so precious stingy, I might have had a public in a thrivin’ market…” (139)
I am more drawn to this page than simply this quote, but to say that this one line is interesting and revealing would be a gross understatement. Luke, in the room with both Phoebe and Robert, gives up a very important clue. A few things can be taken from this scene and the first is that Luke knows something worth a high price. Luke also feels that his price should have been higher. Another is that Phoebe is far more protective of this payoff than Luke. Robert then asks “What, indeed, is a hundred pounds to a man possessed of the power which you hold, or rather which your wife holds, over the person in question. Phoebe proceeds to look ghostly as Robert appears to have her at checkmate. What does he do? He goes to bed.
Why is that important? First is the trend that has developed which has defined Robert now as the barrister that always seems to have an upper hand and then just taps out. He does the very same thing when Lady Audley fainted after hearing Roberts evidence (123). While her fainting and having a “ghastly ashen grey” look is even more incriminating, the two instances show that Robert is intelligent enough to get these main figures to all but say they know something. If one looks at how methodical and knowledgeable Robert is about the data, he has collected there is very little reason to believe he cannot connect it. It then makes sense that Robert is waiting for one of these characters who knows the secret to give the firsthand admission. Either that or he is waiting for Lady Audley to reveal it herself as she seems to have become increasingly active around her interactions with Robert.