The Figure Eight: From ‘The Talking Oak’ to ‘The Lady of Shalott’” This essay focuses on the two novels Metta Fuller Victor wrote under the pseudonym of Seeley Regester with a view to uncovering the deeper layers of meaning that lie under a mere whodunit. One character stands out in each of these works as guiding the reader towards new ways of apprehending the world. One is a seamstress, the other one a governess; both are employed by the family of the victim and become obvious suspects for the young narrators but both are eventually cleared of all suspicion and even contribute to unmasking the actual culprits. The resisting figure of the seamstress/governess raises a number of questions about the place of women in the visual economy of both novels. As the true heroine the working class figure foregrounds a new visual paradigm inspired by Victor’s reading of Tennyson’s poetry. Victor’s use of doubling, together with the way in which she destabilizes traditional frames of reference, lead the reader to suspect another layer of meaning beneath the obvious romantic plot and/or detective dimension: these novels should be read as a reflection on women’s condition in the society of the time. (keywords: detective fiction, poetry, working-class heroines, new visual paradigm, intertextual reading, New York, 1867/69)