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Lady Audley’s Secret Volume 1: Chapters 16-19 Summary & Analysis
Chapter 16 Summary: Robert Audley Gets His Congé
It is after Christmas, and the season’s guests are leaving Audley Hall; all except Robert. Before leaving, a young man called Harry Towers expresses his affection for Alicia, but Alicia tells him that he cannot ask for more from her than respect and esteem. Harry is upset but believes he can get over anything just as long as Alicia does not care for Robert.
Robert deduces that Harry has proposed to Alicia, and Alicia says that she has not accepted—despite Harry having paid her much more attention than some other men.
Robert tells Alicia that he prefers to take life’s blessings quietly but, if Alicia can temper her boisterous manner, the person whose affection she seeks will make her an excellent husband. She thanks him, but says that he does not know to whom she refers. Robert suggests that he does know, and Alicia exclaims “Did you!” (111), before leavingthe room. Robert calls after her, lamenting that she has to bounce out of the room in such a fashion.
Harry Towers leaves the Court dejected. Sir Michael feels for him but believes that Alicia’s affections lie with her cousin.
With all the visitors gone, Lady Audley and Sir Michael discuss Robert. Lady Audley fears that Alicia resents the attention that he pays to his aunt and that it would be better for Robert to leave. Sir Michael assures her that he will be gone tonight, and suggests as much to Robert. Robert seems impassive, but then breaks down and exclaims that he would never wish to cause trouble.
Robert leaves that night, but, rather than heading to London, goes to the inn run by Luke and Phoebe Marks.
Chapter 17 Summary: At the Castle Inn
Robert finds the Castle Inn to be a far cry from the luxury of Audley Court but sufficient nonetheless. In the kitchen, Phoebe summons a village boy to deliver a message to Lady Audley. Once he has gone, Phoebe thinks to herself that if there is anything untoward about Robert’s visit then Lady Audley will know about it.
Phoebe then asks Robert how things are…