Rebecca Chapter 21

Maxim went into the little room and shut the door. Robert came in a few minutes afterwards to clear away the tea. I stood up, my back turned to him so that he should not see my face. I wondered when they would begin to know, on the estate, in the servants’ hall, in Kerrith itself. I wondered how long it took for news to trickle through.

I could hear the murmur of Maxim’s voice in the little room beyond. I had a sick expectant feeling at the pit of my stomach. The sound of the telephone ringing seemed to have woken every nerve in my body. I had sat there on the floor beside Maxim in a sort of dream, his hand in mine, my face against his shoulder. I had listened to his story, and part of me went with him like a shadow in his tracks. I too had killed Rebecca, I too had sunk the boat there in the bay. I had listened beside him to the wind and water. I had waited for Mrs. Danvers’ knocking on the door. All this I had suffered with him, all this and more beside. But the rest of me sat there on the carpet, unmoved and detached, thinking and caring for one thing only, repeating a phrase over and over again, “He did not love Rebecca, he did not love Rebecca.” Now, at the ringing of the telephone, these two selves merged and became one again. I was the self that I had always been, I was not changed. But something new had come upon me that had not been before. My heart, for all its anxiety and doubt, was light and free. I knew then that I was no longer afraid of Rebecca. I did not hate her anymore. Now that I knew her to have been evil and vicious and rotten I did not hate her anymore. She could not hurt me. I could go to the morning room and sit down at her desk and touch her pen and look at her writing on the pigeonholes, and I should not mind. I could go to her room in the west wing, stand by the window even as I had done this morning, and I should not be afraid. Rebecca’s power had dissolved into the air, like the mist had done. She would never haunt me again. She would never stand behind me on the stairs, sit beside me in the dining room, lean down from the gallery and watch me standing in the hall. Maxim had never loved her. I did not hate her anymore. Her body had come back, her boat had been found with its queer prophetic name, Je Reviens, but I was free of her forever.

I was free now to be with Maxim, to touch him, and hold him, and love him. I would never be a child again. It would not be I, I, I any longer; it would be we, it would be us. We would be together. We would face this trouble together, he and I. Captain Searle, and the diver, and Frank, and Mrs. Danvers, and Beatrice, and the men and women of Kerrith reading their newspapers, could not break us now. Our happiness had not come too late. I was not young anymore. I was not shy. I was not afraid. I would fight for Maxim. I would lie and perjure and swear, I would blaspheme and pray. Rebecca had not won. Rebecca had lost.

Robert had taken away the tea and Maxim came back into the room.

“It was Colonel Julyan,” he said; “he’s just been talking to Searle. He’s coming out with us to the boat tomorrow. Searle has told him.”

“Why Colonel Julyan, why?” I said.

“He’s the magistrate for Kerrith. He has to be present.”

“What did he say?”

“He asked me if I had any idea whose body it could be.”

“What did you say?”

“I said I did not know. I said we believed Rebecca to be alone. I said I did not know of any friend.”

“Did he say anything after that?”


“What did he say?”

“He asked me if I thought it possible that I made a mistake when I went up to Edgecoombe?”

“He said that? He said that already?”


“And you?”

“I said it might be possible. I did not know.”

“He’ll be with you then tomorrow when you look at the boat? He, and Captain Searle, and a doctor.”

“Inspector Welch too.”

“Inspector Welch?”


“Why? Why Inspector Welch?”

“It’s the custom, when a body has been found.”

I did not say anything. We stared at one another. I felt the little pain come again at the pit of my stomach.

“They may not be able to raise the boat,” I said.

“No.” he said.

“They couldn’t do anything then about the body, could they?” I said.

“I don’t know,” he said.

He glanced out of the window. The sky was white and overcast as it had been when I came away from the cliffs. There was no wind though. It was still and quiet.

“I thought it might blow from the southwest about an hour ago but the wind has died away again,” he said.

“Yes,” I said.

“It will be a flat calm tomorrow for the diver,” he said.

The telephone began ringing again from the little room. There was something sickening about the shrill urgent summons of the bell. Maxim and I looked at one another. Then he went into the room to answer it, shutting the door behind him as he had done before. The queer nagging pain had not left me yet. It returned again in greater force with the ringing of the bell. The feel of it took me back across the years to my childhood. This was the pain I had known when I was very small and the maroons had sounded in the streets of London, and I had sat, shivering, not understanding, under a little cupboard beneath the stairs. It was the same feeling, the same pain.

Maxim came back into the library. “It’s begun,” he said slowly.

“What do you mean? What’s happened?” I said, grown suddenly cold.

“It was a reporter,” he said, “the fellow from the County Chronicle. Was it true, he said, that the boat belonging to the late Mrs. de Winter had been found.”

“What did you say?”

“I said yes, a boat had been found, but that was all we know. It might not be her boat at all.”

“Was that all he said?”

“No. He asked if I could confirm the rumor that a body had been found in the cabin.”


“Yes. Someone must have been talking. Not Searle, I know that. The diver, one of his friends. You can’t stop these people. The whole story will be all over Kerrith by breakfast time tomorrow.”

“What did you say, about the body?”

“I said I did not know. I had no statement to make. And I should be obliged if he did not ring me up again.”

“You will irritate them. You will have them against you.”

“I can’t help that. I don’t make statements to newspapers. I won’t have those fellows ringing up and asking questions.”

“We might want them on our side,” I said.

“If it comes to fighting, I’ll fight alone,” he said. “I don’t want a newspaper behind me.”

“The reporter will ring up someone else,” I said. “He will get onto Colonel Julyan or Captain Searle.”

“He won’t get much change out of them,” said Maxim.

“If only we could do something,” I said, “all these hours ahead of us, and we sit here, idle, waiting for tomorrow morning.”

“There’s nothing we can do,” said Maxim.

We went on sitting in the library. Maxim picked up a book but I know he did not read. Now and again I saw him lift his head and listen, as though he heard the telephone again. But it did not ring again. No one disturbed us. We dressed for dinner as usual. It seemed incredible to me that this time last night I had been putting on my white dress, sitting before the mirror at my dressing table, arranging the curled wig. It was like an old forgotten nightmare, something remembered months afterwards with doubt and disbelief. We had dinner. Frith served us, returned from his afternoon. His face was solemn, expressionless. I wondered if he had been in Kerrith, if he had heard anything.

After dinner we went back again to the library. We did not talk much. I sat on the floor at Maxim’s feet, my head against his knees. He ran his fingers through my hair. Different from his old abstracted way. It was not like stroking Jasper anymore. I felt his finger tips on the scalp of my head. Sometimes he kissed me. Sometimes he said things to me. There were no shadows between us anymore, and when we were silent it was because the silence came to us of our own asking. I wondered how it was I could be so happy when our little world about us was so black. It was a strange sort of happiness. Not what I had dreamed about or expected. It was not the sort of happiness I had imagined in the lonely hours. There was nothing feverish or urgent about this. It was a quiet, still happiness. The library windows were open wide, and when we did not talk or touch one another we looked out at the dark dull sky.

It must have rained in the night, for when I woke the next morning, just after seven, and got up, and looked out of the window, I saw the roses in the garden below were folded and drooping, and the grass banks leading to the woods were wet and silver. There was a little smell in the air of mist and damp, the smell that comes with the first fall of the leaf. I wondered if autumn would come upon us two months before her time. Maxim had not woken me when he got up at five. He must have crept from his bed and gone through the bathroom to his dressing-room without a sound. He would be down there now, in the bay, with Colonel Julyan, and Captain Searle, and the men from the lighter. The lighter would be there, the crane and the chain, and Rebecca’s boat coming to the surface. I thought about it calmly, coolly, without feeling. I pictured them all down there in the bay, and the little dark hull of the boat rising slowly to the surface, sodden, dripping, the grass-green seaweed and shells clinging to her sides. When they lifted her onto the lighter the water would stream from her sides, back into the sea again. The wood of the little boat would look soft and gray, pulpy in places. She would smell of mud and rust, and that dark weed that grows deep beneath the sea beside rocks that are never uncovered. Perhaps the name-board still hung upon her stern. Je Reviens. The lettering green and faded. The nails rusted through. And Rebecca herself was there, lying on the cabin floor.

I got up and had my bath and dressed, and went down to breakfast at nine o’clock as usual. There were a lot of letters on my plate. Letters from people thanking us for the dance. I skimmed through them, I did not read them all. Frith wanted to know whether to keep the breakfast hot for Maxim. I told him I did not know when he would be back. He had to go out very early, I said. Frith did not say anything. He looked very solemn, very grave. I wondered again if he knew.

After breakfast I took my letters along to the morning room. The room smelt fusty, the windows had not been opened. I flung them wide, letting in the cool fresh air. The flowers on the mantelpiece were drooping, many of them dead. The petals lay on the floor. I rang the bell, and Maud, the under-housemaid, came into the room.

“This room has not been touched this morning,” I said, “even the windows were shut. And the flowers are dead. Will you please take them away?”

She looked nervous and apologetic. “I’m very sorry, Madam,” she said. She went to the mantelpiece and took the vases.

“Don’t let it happen again,” I said.

“No, Madam,” she said. She went out of the room, taking the flowers with her. I had not thought it would be so easy to be severe. I wondered why it had seemed hard for me before. The menu for the day lay on the writing desk. Cold salmon and mayonnaise, cutlets in aspic, galantine of chicken, soufflé. I recognized them all from the buffet-supper of the night of the ball. We were evidently still living on the remains. This must be the cold lunch that was put out in the dining room yesterday and I had not eaten. The staff were taking things easily, it seemed. I put a pencil through the list and rang for Robert. “Tell Mrs. Danvers to order something hot,” I said. “If there’s still a lot of cold stuff to finish we don’t want it in the dining room.”

“Very good, Madam,” he said.

I followed him out of the room and went to the little flower room for my scissors. Then I went into the rose garden and cut some young buds. The chill had worn away from the air. It was going to be as hot and airless as yesterday had been. I wondered if they were still down in the bay or whether they had gone back to the creek in Kerrith harbor. Presently I should hear. Presently Maxim would come back and tell me. Whatever happened I must be calm and quiet. Whatever happened I must not be afraid. I cut my roses and took them back into the morning room. The carpet had been dusted, and the fallen petals removed. I began to arrange the flowers in the vases that Robert had filled with water. When I had nearly finished there was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” I said.

It was Mrs. Danvers. She had the menu list in her hand. She looked pale and tired. There were great rings round her eyes.

“Good morning, Mrs. Danvers,” I said.

“I don’t understand,” she began, “why you sent the menu out and the message by Robert. Why did you do it?”

I looked across at her, a rose in my hand.

“Those cutlets and that salmon were sent in yesterday,” I said. “I saw them on the side-board. I should prefer something hot today. If they won’t eat the cold in the kitchen you had better throw the stuff away. So much waste goes on in this house anyway that a little more won’t make any difference.”

She stared at me. She did not say anything. I put the rose in the vase with the others.

“Don’t tell me you can’t think of anything to give us, Mrs. Danvers,” I said. “You must have menus for all occasions in your room.”

“I’m not used to having messages sent to me by Robert,” she said. “If Mrs. de Winter wanted anything changed she would ring me personally on the house telephone.”

“I’m afraid it does not concern me very much what Mrs. de Winter used to do,” I said. “I am Mrs. de Winter now, you know. And if I choose to send a message by Robert I shall do so.”

Just then Robert came into the room. “The County Chronicle on the telephone, Madam,” he said.

“Tell the County Chronicle I’m not at home,” I said.

“Yes, Madam,” he said. He went out of the room.

“Well, Mrs. Danvers, is there anything else?” I said.

She went on staring at me. Still she did not say anything. “If you have nothing else to say you had better go and tell the cook about the hot lunch,” I said. “I’m rather busy.”

“Why did the County Chronicle want to speak to you?” she said.

“I haven’t the slightest idea, Mrs. Danvers,” I said.

“Is it true,” she said slowly, “the story Frith brought back with him from Kerrith last night, that Mrs. de Winter’s boat has been found?”

“Is there such a story?” I said. “I’m afraid I don’t know anything about it.”

“Captain Searle, the Kerrith harbormaster, called here yesterday, didn’t he?” she said. “Robert told me, Robert showed him in. Frith says the story in Kerrith is that the diver who went down about the ship there in the bay found Mrs. de Winter’s boat.”

“Perhaps so,” I said. “You had better wait until Mr. de Winter himself comes in and ask him about it.”

“Why was Mr. de Winter up so early?” she asked.

“That was Mr. de Winter’s business,” I said.

She went on staring at me. “Frith said the story goes that there was a body in the cabin of the little boat,” she said. “Why should there be a body there? Mrs. de Winter always sailed alone.”

“It’s no use asking me, Mrs. Danvers,” I said. “I don’t know any more than you do.”

“Don’t you?” she said slowly. She kept on looking at me. I turned away, I put the vase back on the table by the window.

“I will give the orders about the lunch,” she said. She waited a moment. I did not say anything. Then she went out of the room. She can’t frighten me anymore, I thought. She has lost her power with Rebecca. Whatever she said or did now it could not matter to me or hurt me. I knew she was my enemy and I did not mind. But if she should learn the truth about the body in the boat and become Maxim’s enemy too—what then? I sat down in the chair. I put the scissors on the table. I did not feel like doing any more roses. I kept wondering what Maxim was doing. I wondered why the reporter from the County Chronicle had rung us up again. The old sick feeling came back inside me. I went and leaned out of the window. It was very hot. There was thunder in the air. The gardeners began to mow the grass again. I could see one of the men with his machine walk backwards and forwards on the top of the bank. I could not go on sitting in the morning room. I left my scissors and my roses and went out onto the terrace. I began to walk up and down. Jasper padded after me, wondering why I did not take him for a walk. I went on walking up and down the terrace. About half past eleven Frith came out to me from the hall.

“Mr. de Winter on the telephone, Madam,” he said.

I went through the library to the little room beyond. My hands were shaking as I lifted the receiver.

“Is that you?” he said. “It’s Maxim. I’m speaking from the office. I’m with Frank.”

“Yes?” I said.

There was a pause. “I shall be bringing Frank and Colonel Julyan back to lunch at one o’clock,” he said.

“Yes,” I said.

I waited. I waited for him to go on. “They were able to raise the boat,” he said. “I’ve just got back from the creek.”

“Yes,” I said.

“Searle was there, and Colonel Julyan, and Frank, and the others,” he said. I wondered if Frank was standing beside him at the telephone, and if that was the reason he was so cool, so distant.

“All right then,” he said; “expect us about one o’clock.”

I put back the receiver. He had not told me anything. I still did not know what had happened. I went back again to the terrace, telling Frith first that we should be four to lunch instead of two.

An hour dragged past, slow, interminable. I went upstairs and changed into a thinner frock. I came down again. I went and sat in the drawing room and waited. At five minutes to one I heard the sound of a car in the drive, and then voices in the hall. I patted my hair in front of the looking glass. My face was very white. I pinched some color into my cheeks and stood up waiting for them to come into the room. Maxim came in, and Frank, and Colonel Julyan. I remembered seeing Colonel Julyan at the ball dressed as Cromwell. He looked shrunken now, different. A smaller man altogether.

“How do you do?” he said. He spoke quietly, gravely, like a doctor.

“Ask Frith to bring the sherry,” said Maxim. “I’m going to wash.”

“I’ll have a wash too,” said Frank. Before I rang the bell Frith appeared with the sherry. Colonel Julyan did not have any. I took some to give me something to hold. Colonel Julyan came and stood beside me by the window.

“This is a most distressing thing, Mrs. de Winter,” he said gently. “I do feel for you and your husband most acutely.”

“Thank you,” I said. I began to sip my sherry. Then I put the glass back again on the table. I was afraid he would notice that my hand was shaking.

“What makes it so difficult was the fact of your husband identifying that first body, over a year ago,” he said.

“I don’t quite understand,” I said.

“You did not hear, then, what we found this morning?” he said.

“I knew there was a body. The diver found a body,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. And then, half glancing over his shoulder towards the hall, “I’m afraid it was her, without a doubt,” he said, lowering his voice. “I can’t go into details with you, but the evidence was sufficient for your husband and Doctor Phillips to identify.”

He stopped suddenly, and moved away from me. Maxim and Frank had come back into the room.

“Lunch is ready; shall we go in?” said Maxim.

I led the way into the hall, my heart like a stone, heavy, numb. Colonel Julyan sat on my right, Frank on my left. I did not look at Maxim. Frith and Robert began to hand the first course. We all talked about the weather. “I see in The Times they had it well over eighty in London yesterday,” said Colonel Julyan.

“Really?” I said.

“Yes. Must be frightful for the poor devils who can’t get away.”

“Yes, frightful,” I said.

“Paris can be hotter than London,” said Frank. “I remember staying a weekend in Paris in the middle of August, and it was quite impossible to sleep. There was not a breath of air in the whole city. The temperature was over ninety.”

“Of course the French always sleep with their windows shut, don’t they?” said Colonel Julyan.

“I don’t know,” said Frank. “I was staying in a hotel. The people were mostly Americans.”

“You know France of course, Mrs. de Winter?” said Colonel Julyan.

“Not so very well,” I said.

“Oh, I had the idea you had lived many years out there.”

“No,” I said.

“She was staying in Monte Carlo when I met her,” said Maxim. “You don’t call that France, do you?”

“No, I suppose not,” said Colonel Julyan; “it must be very cosmopolitan. The coast is pretty though, isn’t it?”

“Very pretty,” I said.

“Not so rugged as this, eh? Still, I know which I’d rather have. Give me England every time, when it comes to settling down. You know where you are over here.”

“I dare say the French feel that about France,” said Maxim.

“Oh, no doubt,” said Colonel Julyan.

We went on eating a while in silence. Frith stood behind my chair. We were all thinking of one thing, but because of Frith we had to keep up our little performance. I suppose Frith was thinking about it too, and I thought how much easier it would be if we cast aside convention and let him join in with us, if he had anything to say. Robert came with the drinks. Our plates were changed. The second course was handed. Mrs. Danvers had not forgotten my wish for hot food. I took something out of a casserole covered in mushroom sauce.

“I think everyone enjoyed your wonderful party the other night,” said Colonel Julyan.

“I’m so glad,” I said.

“Does an immense amount of good locally, that sort of thing,” he said.

“Yes, I suppose it does,” I said.

“It’s a universal instinct of the human species, isn’t it, that desire to dress up in some sort of disguise?” said Frank.

“I must be very inhuman, then,” said Maxim.

“It’s natural, I suppose,” said Colonel Julyan, “for all of us to wish to look different. We are all children in some ways.”

I wondered how much pleasure it had given him to disguise himself as Cromwell. I had not seen much of him at the ball. He had spent most of the evening in the morning room, playing bridge.

“You don’t play golf, do you, Mrs. de Winter?” said Colonel Julyan.

“No, I’m afraid I don’t,” I said.

“You ought to take it up,” he said. “My eldest girl is very keen, and she can’t find young people to play with her. I gave her a small car for her birthday, and she drives herself over to the north coast nearly every day. It gives her something to do.”

“How nice,” I said.

“She ought to have been the boy,” he said. “My lad is different altogether. No earthly use at games. Always writing poetry. I suppose he’ll grow out of it.”

“Oh, rather,” said Frank. “I used to write poetry myself when I was his age. Awful nonsense too. I never write any now.”

“Good heavens, I should hope not,” said Maxim.

“I don’t know where my boy gets it from,” said Colonel Julyan; “certainly not from his mother or from me.”

There was another long silence. Colonel Julyan had a second dip into the casserole. “Mrs. Lacy looked very well the other night,” he said.

“Yes,” I said.

“Her dress came adrift as usual,” said Maxim.

“Those Eastern garments must be the devil to manage,” said Colonel Julyan, “and yet they say, you know, they are far more comfortable and far cooler than anything you ladies wear in England.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yes, so they say. It seems all that loose drapery throws off the hot rays of the sun.”

“How curious,” said Frank; “you’d think it would have just the opposite effect.”

“No, apparently not,” said Colonel Julyan.

“Do you know the East, sir?” said Frank.

“I know the Far East,” said Colonel Julyan. “I was in China for five years. Then Singapore.”

“Isn’t that where they make the curry?” I said.

“Yes, they gave us very good curry in Singapore,” he said.

“I’m fond of curry,” said Frank.

“Ah, it’s not curry at all in England, it’s hash,” said Colonel Julyan.

The plates were cleared away. A soufflé was handed, and a bowl of fruit salad. “I suppose you are coming to the end of your raspberries,” said Colonel Julyan. “It’s been a wonderful summer for them, hasn’t it? We’ve put down pots and pots of jam.”

“I never think raspberry jam is a great success,” said Frank; “there are always so many pips.”

“You must come and try some of ours,” said Colonel Julyan. “I don’t think we have a great lot of pips.”

“We’re going to have a mass of apples this year at Manderley,” said Frank. “I was saying to Maxim a few days ago we ought to have a record season. We shall be able to send a lot up to London.”

“Do you really find it pays?” said Colonel Julyan; “by the time you’ve paid your men for the extra labor, and then the packing, and carting, do you make any sort of profit worthwhile?”

“Oh, Lord, yes,” said Frank.

“How interesting. I must tell my wife,” said Colonel Julyan.

The soufflé and the fruit salad did not take long to finish. Robert appeared with cheese and biscuits, and a few minutes later Frith came with the coffee and cigarettes. Then they both went out of the room and shut the door. We drank our coffee in silence. I gazed steadily at my plate.

“I was saying to your wife before luncheon, de Winter,” began Colonel Julyan, resuming his first quiet confidential tone, “that the awkward part of this whole distressing business is the fact that you identified that original body.”

“Yes, quite,” said Maxim.

“I think the mistake was very natural under the circumstances,” said Frank quickly. “The authorities wrote to Maxim, asking him to go up to Edgecoombe, presupposing before he arrived there that the body was hers. And Maxim was not well at the time. I wanted to go with him, but he insisted on going alone. He was not in a fit state to undertake anything of the sort.”

“That’s nonsense,” said Maxim. “I was perfectly well.”

“Well, it’s no use going into all that now,” said Colonel Julyan. “You made that first identification, and now the only thing to do is to admit the error. There seems to be no doubt about it this time.”

“No,” said Maxim.

“I wish you could be spared the formality and the publicity of an inquest,” said Colonel Julyan, “but I’m afraid that’s quite impossible.”

“Naturally,” said Maxim.

“I don’t think it need take very long,” said Colonel Julyan. “It’s just a case of you re-affirming identification, and then getting Tabb, who you say converted the boat when your wife brought her from France, just to give his piece of evidence that the boat was seaworthy and in good order when he last had her in his yard. It’s just red tape, you know. But it has to be done. No, what bothers me is the wretched publicity of the affair. So sad and unpleasant for you and your wife.”

“That’s quite all right,” said Maxim. “We understand.”

“So unfortunate that wretched ship going ashore there,” said Colonel Julyan, “but for that the whole matter would have rested in peace.”

“Yes,” said Maxim.

“The only consolation is that now we know poor Mrs. de Winter’s death must have been swift and sudden, not the dreadful slow lingering affair we all believed it to be. There can have been no question of trying to swim.”

“None,” said Maxim.

“She must have gone down for something, and then the door jammed, and a squall caught the boat without anyone at the helm,” said Colonel Julyan. “A dreadful thing.”

“Yes,” said Maxim.

“That seems to be the solution, don’t you think, Crawley?” said Colonel Julyan, turning to Frank.

“Oh, yes, undoubtedly,” said Frank.

I glanced up, and I saw Frank looking at Maxim. He looked away again immediately but not before I had seen and understood the expression in his eyes. Frank knew. And Maxim did not know that he knew. I went on stirring my coffee. My hand was hot, damp.

“I suppose sooner or later we all make a mistake in judgment,” said Colonel Julyan, “and then we are for it. Mrs. de Winter must have known how the wind comes down like a funnel in that bay, and that it was not safe to leave the helm of a small boat like that. She must have sailed alone over that spot scores of times. And then the moment came, she took a chance—and the chance killed her. It’s a lesson to all of us.”

“Accidents happen so easily,” said Frank, “even to the most experienced people. Think of the number killed out hunting every season.”

“Oh, I know. But then it’s the horse falling generally that lets you down. If Mrs. de Winter had not left the helm of her boat the accident would never have happened. An extraordinary thing to do. I must have watched her many times in the handicap race on Saturdays from Kerrith, and I never saw her make an elementary mistake. It’s the sort of thing a novice would do. In that particular place too, just by the ridge.”

“It was very squally that night,” said Frank; “something may have happened to the gear. Something may have jammed. And then she slipped down for a knife.”

“Of course. Of course. Well, we shall never know. And I don’t suppose we should be any the better for it if we did. As I said before, I wish I could stop this inquest but I can’t. I’m trying to arrange it for Tuesday morning, and it will be as short as possible. Just a formal matter. But I’m afraid we shan’t be able to keep the reporters out of it.”

There was another silence. I judged the time had come to push back my chair.

“Shall we go into the garden?” I said.

We all stood up, and then I led the way to the terrace. Colonel Julyan patted Jasper.

“He’s grown into a nice-looking dog,” he said.

“Yes,” I said.

“They make nice pets,” he said.

“Yes,” I said.

We stood about for a minute. Then he glanced at his watch. “Thank you for your most excellent lunch,” he said. “I have rather a busy afternoon in front of me, and I hope you will excuse me dashing away.”

“Of course,” I said.

“I’m so very sorry this should have happened. You have all my sympathy. I consider it’s almost harder for you than for your husband. However, once the inquest is over you must both forget all about it.”

“Yes,” I said, “yes, we must try to.”

“My car is here in the drive. I wonder whether Crawley would like a lift. Crawley? I can drop you at your office if it’s any use.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Frank.

He came and took my hand. “I shall be seeing you again,” he said.

“Yes,” I said.

I did not look at him. I was afraid he would understand my eyes. I did not want him to know that I knew. Maxim walked with them to the car. When they had gone he came back to me on the terrace. He took my arm. We stood looking down at the green lawns towards the sea and the beacon on the headland.

“It’s going to be all right,” he said. “I’m quite calm, quite confident. You saw how Julyan was at lunch, and Frank. There won’t be any difficulty at the inquest. It’s going to be all right.”

I did not say anything. I held his arm tightly.

“There was never any question of the body being someone unknown,” he said. “What we saw was enough for Doctor Phillips even to make the identification alone without me. It was straightforward, simple. There was no trace of what I’d done. The bullet had not touched the bone.”

A butterfly sped past us on the terrace, silly and inconsequent.

“You heard what they said,” he went on; “they think she was trapped there, in the cabin. The jury will believe that at the inquest too. Phillips will tell them so.” He paused. Still I did not speak.

“I only mind for you,” he said. “I don’t regret anything else. If it had to come all over again I should not do anything different. I’m glad I killed Rebecca. I shall never have any remorse for that, never, never. But you. I can’t forget what it has done to you. I was looking at you, thinking of nothing else all through lunch. It’s gone forever, that funny, young, lost look that I loved. It won’t come back again. I killed that too, when I told you about Rebecca… It’s gone, in twenty-four hours. You are so much older…”