Rebecca Chapter 23

I was sitting in the little room again. The room like a waiting room at the station. The policeman was there, bending over me, giving me a glass of water, and someone’s hand was on my arm, Frank’s hand. I sat quite still, the floor, the walls, the figures of Frank and the policeman taking solid shape before me.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, “such a stupid thing to do. It was so hot in that room, so very hot.”

“It gets very airless in there,” said the policeman, “there’s been complaints about it often, but nothing’s ever done. We’ve had ladies fainting in there before.”

“Are you feeling better, Mrs. de Winter?” said Frank.

“Yes. Yes, much better. I shall be all right again. Don’t wait with me.”

“I’m going to take you back to Manderley.”


“Yes. Maxim has asked me to.”

“No. You ought to stay with him.”

“Maxim told me to take you back to Manderley.”

He put his arm through mine and helped me to get up. “Can you walk as far as the car or shall I bring it round?”

“I can walk. But I’d much rather stay. I want to wait for Maxim.”

“Maxim may be a long time.”

Why did he say that? What did he mean? Why didn’t he look at me? He took my arm and walked with me along the passage to the door, and so down the steps into the street. Maxim may be a long time…

We did not speak. We came to the little Morris car belonging to Frank. He opened the door, and helped me in. Then he got in himself and started up the engine. We drove away from the cobbled marketplace, through the empty town, and out onto the road to Kerrith.

“Why will they be a long time? What are they going to do?”

“They may have to go over the evidence again.” Frank looked straight in front of him along the hard white road.

“They’ve had all the evidence,” I said. “There’s nothing more anyone can say.”

“You never know,” said Frank, “the Coroner may put his questions in a different way. Tabb has altered the whole business. The Coroner will have to approach it now from another angle.”

“What angle? How do you mean?”

“You heard the evidence? You heard what Tabb said about the boat? They won’t believe in an accident anymore.”

“It’s absurd, Frank, it’s ridiculous. They should not listen to Tabb. How can he tell, after all these months, how holes came to be in a boat? What are they trying to prove?”

“I don’t know.”

“That Coroner will go on and on harping at Maxim, making him lose his temper, making him say things he doesn’t mean. He will ask question after question, Frank, and Maxim won’t stand it, I know he won’t stand it.”

Frank did not answer. He was driving very fast. For the first time since I had known him he was at a loss for the usual conventional phrase. That meant he was worried, very worried. And usually he was such a slow careful driver, stopping dead at every crossroads, peering to right and left, blowing his horn at every bend in the road.

“That man was there,” I said, “that man who came once to Manderley to see Mrs. Danvers.”

“You mean Favell?” asked Frank. “Yes, I saw him.”

“He was sitting there, with Mrs. Danvers.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Why was he there? What right had he to go to the inquest?”

“He was her cousin.”

“It’s not right that he and Mrs. Danvers should sit there, listening to that evidence. I don’t trust them, Frank.”


“They might do something; they might make mischief.”

Again Frank did not answer. I realized that his loyalty to Maxim was such that he would not let himself be drawn into a discussion, even with me. He did not know how much I knew. Nor could I tell for certainty how much he knew. We were allies, we traveled the same road, but we could not look at one another. We neither of us dared risk a confession. We were turning in now at the lodge gates, and down the long twisting narrow drive to the house. I noticed for the first time how the hydrangeas were coming into bloom, their blue heads thrusting themselves from the green foliage behind. For all their beauty there was something somber about them, funereal; they were like the wreaths, stiff and artificial, that you see beneath glass cases in a foreign churchyard. There they were, all the way along the drive, on either side of us, blue, monotonous, like spectators lined up in a street to watch us pass.

We came to the house at last and rounded the great sweep before the steps. “Will you be all right now?” said Frank. “You can lie down, can’t you?”

“Yes,” I said, “yes, perhaps.”

“I shall go back to Lanyon,” he said, “Maxim may want me.”

He did not say anything more. He got quickly back into the car again and drove away. Maxim might want him. Why did he say Maxim might want him? Perhaps the Coroner was going to question Frank as well. Ask him about that evening, over twelve months ago, when Maxim had dined with Frank. He would want to know the exact time that Maxim left his house. He would want to know if anybody saw Maxim when he returned to the house. Whether the servants knew that he was there. Whether anybody could prove that Maxim went straight up to bed and undressed. Mrs. Danvers might be questioned. They might ask Mrs. Danvers to give evidence. And Maxim beginning to lose his temper, beginning to go white…

I went into the hall. I went upstairs to my room, and lay down upon my bed, even as Frank had suggested. I put my hands over my eyes. I kept seeing that room and all the faces. The lined, painstaking, aggravating face of the Coroner, the gold pince-nez on his nose.

“I don’t conduct this inquiry for my own amusement.” His slow, careful mind, easily offended. What were they all saying now? What was happening? Suppose in a little while Frank came back to Manderley alone?

I did not know what happened. I did not know what people did. I remembered pictures of men in the papers, leaving places like that, and being taken away. Suppose Maxim was taken away? They would not let me go to him. They would not let me see him. I should have to stay here at Manderley day after day, night after night, waiting, as I was waiting now. People like Colonel Julyan being kind. People saying “You must not be alone. You must come to us.” The telephone, the newspapers, the telephone again. “No, Mrs. de Winter can’t see anyone. Mrs. de Winter has no story to give the County Chronicle.” And another day. And another day. Weeks that would be blurred and non-existent. Frank at last taking me to see Maxim. He would look thin, queer, like people in hospital…

Other women had been through this. Women I had read about in papers. They sent letters to the Home Secretary and it was not any good. The Home Secretary always said that justice must take its course. Friends sent petitions too, everybody signed them, but the Home Secretary could never do anything. And the ordinary people who read about it in the papers said why should the fellow get off, he murdered his wife, didn’t he? What about the poor, murdered wife? This sentimental business about abolishing the death penalty simply encourages crime. This fellow ought to have thought about that before he killed his wife. It’s too late now. He will have to hang for it, like any other murderer. And serve him right too. Let it be a warning to others.

I remember seeing a picture on the back of a paper once, of a little crowd collected outside a prison gate, and just after nine o’clock a policeman came and pinned a notice on the gate for the people to read. The notice said something about the sentence being carried out. “Sentence of death was carried out this morning at nine o’clock. The Governor, the Prison Doctor, and the Sheriff of the County were present.” Hanging was quick. Hanging did not hurt. It broke your neck at once. No, it did not. Someone said once it did not always work. Someone who had known the Governor of a prison. They put that bag over your head, and you stand on the little platform, and then the floor gives way beneath you. It takes exactly three minutes to go from the cell to the moment you are hanged. No, fifty seconds, someone said. No, that’s absurd. It could not be fifty seconds. There’s a little flight of steps down the side of the shed, down to the pit. The doctor goes down there to look. They die instantly. No, they don’t. The body moves for sometime, the neck is not always broken. Yes, but even so they don’t feel anything. Someone said they did. Someone who had a brother who was a prison doctor said it was not generally known, because it would be such a scandal, but they did not always die at once. Their eyes were open, they stay open for quite a long time.

God, don’t let me go on thinking about this. Let me think about something else. About other things. About Mrs. Van Hopper in America. She must be staying with her daughter now. They had that house on Long Island in the summer. I expect they played a lot of bridge. They went to the races. Mrs. Van Hopper was fond of the races. I wonder if she still wears that little yellow hat. It was too small for her. Much too small on that big face. Mrs. Van Hopper sitting about in the garden of that house on Long Island, with novels, and magazines, and papers on her lap. Mrs. Van Hopper putting up her lorgnette and calling to her daughter. “Look at this, Helen. They say Max de Winter murdered his first wife. I always did think there was something peculiar about him. I warned that fool of a girl she was making a mistake, but she wouldn’t listen to me. Well, she’s cooked her goose now all right. I suppose they’ll make her a big offer to go on the pictures.”

Something was touching my hand. It was Jasper. It was Jasper, thrusting his cold damp nose in my hands. He had followed me up from the hall. Why did dogs make one want to cry? There was something so quiet and hopeless about their sympathy. Jasper, knowing something was wrong, as dogs always do. Trunks being packed. Cars being brought to the door. Dogs standing with drooping tails, dejected eyes. Wandering back to their baskets in the hall when the sound of the car dies away…

I must have fallen asleep because I woke suddenly with a start, and heard that first crack of thunder in the air. I sat up. The clock said five. I got up and went to the window. There was not a breath of wind. The leaves hung listless on the trees, waiting. The sky was slatey gray. The jagged lightning split the sky. Another rumble in the distance. No rain fell. I went out into the corridor and listened. I could not hear anything. I went to the head of the stairs. There was no sign of anybody. The hall was dark because of the menace of thunder overhead. I went down and stood on the terrace. There was another burst of thunder. One spot of rain fell on my hand. One spot. No more. It was very dark. I could see the sea beyond the dip in the valley like a black lake. Another spot fell on my hands, and another crack of thunder came. One of the housemaids began shutting the windows in the rooms upstairs. Robert appeared and shut the windows of the drawing room behind me.

“The gentlemen are not back yet, are they, Robert?” I asked.

“No, Madam, not yet. I thought you were with them, Madam.”

“No. No, I’ve been back sometime.”

“Will you have tea, Madam?”

“No, no, I’ll wait.”

“It looks as though the weather is going to break at last, Madam.”


No rain fell. Nothing since those two drops on my hand. I went back and sat in the library. At half past five Robert came into the room.

“The car has just driven up to the door now, Madam,” he said.

“Which car?” I said.

“Mr. de Winter’s car, Madam,” he said.

“Is Mr. de Winter driving it himself?”

“Yes, Madam.”

I tried to get up but my legs were things of straw, they would not bear me. I stood leaning against the sofa. My throat was very dry. After a minute Maxim came into the room. He stood just inside the door.

He looked very tired, old. There were lines at the corner of his mouth I had never noticed before.

“It’s all over,” he said.

I waited. Still I could not speak or move towards him.

“Suicide,” he said, “without sufficient evidence to show the state of mind of the deceased. They were all at sea of course, they did not know what they were doing.”

I sat down on the sofa. “Suicide,” I said, “but the motive? Where was the motive?”

“God knows,” he said. “They did not seem to think a motive was necessary. Old Horridge, peering at me, wanting to know if Rebecca had any money troubles. Money troubles. God in heaven.”

He went and stood by the window, looking out at the green lawns. “It’s going to rain,” he said. “Thank God it’s going to rain at last.”

“What happened?” I said, “what did the Coroner say? Why have you been there all this time?”

“He went over and over the same ground again,” said Maxim. “Little details about the boat that no one cared about a damn. Were the sea-cocks hard to turn on? Where exactly was the first hole in relation to the second? What was ballast? What effect upon the stability of the boat would the shifting of the ballast have? Could a woman do this unaided? Did the cabin door shut firmly? What pressure of water was necessary to burst open the door? I thought I should go mad. I kept my temper though. Seeing you there, by the door, made me remember what I had to do. If you had not fainted like that, I should never have done it. It brought me up with a jerk. I knew exactly what I was going to say. I faced Horridge all the time. I never took my eyes off his thin, pernickety, little face and those gold-rimmed pince-nez. I shall remember that face of his to my dying day. I’m tired, darling; so tired I can’t see, or hear or feel anything.”

He sat down on the window seat. He leaned forward, his head in his hands. I went and sat beside him. In a few minutes Frith came in, followed by Robert carrying the table for tea. The solemn ritual went forward as it always did, day after day, the leaves of the table pulled out, the legs adjusted, the laying of the snowy cloth, the putting down of the silver teapot and the kettle with the little flame beneath. Scones, sandwiches, three different sorts of cake. Jasper sat close to the table, his tail thumping now and again upon the floor, his eyes fixed expectantly on me. It’s funny, I thought, how the routine of life goes on, whatever happens, we do the same things, go through the little performance of eating, sleeping, washing. No crisis can break through the crust of habit. I poured out Maxim’s tea, I took it to him on the window seat, gave him his scone, and buttered one for myself.

“Where’s Frank?” I asked.

“He had to go and see the vicar. I would have gone too but I wanted to come straight back to you. I kept thinking of you, waiting here, all by yourself, not knowing what was going to happen.”

“Why the vicar?” I said.

“Something has to happen this evening,” he said. “Something at the church.”

I stared at him blankly. Then I understood. They were going to bury Rebecca. They were going to bring Rebecca back from the mortuary.

“It’s fixed for six-thirty,” he said. “No one knows but Frank, and Colonel Julyan, and the vicar, and myself. There won’t be anyone hanging about. This was arranged yesterday. The verdict doesn’t make any difference.”

“What time must you go?”

“I’m meeting them there at the church at twenty-five past six.”

I did not say anything. I went on drinking my tea. Maxim put his sandwich down untasted. “It’s still very hot, isn’t it,” he said.

“It’s the storm,” I said. “It won’t break. Only little spots at a time. It’s there in the air. It won’t break.”

“It was thundering when I left Lanyon,” he said, “the sky was like ink over my head. Why in the name of God doesn’t it rain?”

The birds were hushed in the trees. It was still very dark.

“I wish you did not have to go out again,” I said.

He did not answer. He looked tired, so deathly tired.

“We’ll talk over things this evening when I get back,” he said presently. “We’ve got so much to do together, haven’t we? We’ve got to begin all over again. I’ve been the worst sort of husband for you.”

“No!” I said. “No!”

“We’ll start again, once this thing is behind us. We can do it, you and I. It’s not like being alone. The past can’t hurt us if we are together. You’ll have children too.” After a while he glanced at his watch. “It’s ten past six,” he said, “I shall have to be going. It won’t take long, not more than half an hour. We’ve got to go down to the crypt.”

I held his hand. “I’ll come with you. I shan’t mind. Let me come with you.”

“No,” he said. “No, I don’t want you to come.”

Then he went out of the room. I heard the sound of the car starting up in the drive. Presently the sound died away, and I knew he had gone.

Robert came to clear away the tea. It was like any other day. The routine was unchanged. I wondered if it would have been so had Maxim not come back from Lanyon. I wondered if Robert would have stood there, that wooden expression on his young sheep’s face, brushing the crumbs from the snow-white cloth, picking up the table, carrying it from the room.

It seemed very quiet in the library when he had gone. I began to think of them down at the church, going through that door and down the flight of stairs to the crypt. I had never been there. I had only seen the door. I wondered what a crypt was like, if there were coffins standing there. Maxim’s father and mother. I wondered what would happen to the coffin of that other woman who had been put there by mistake. I wondered who she was, poor unclaimed soul, washed up by the wind and tide. Now another coffin would stand there. Rebecca would lie there in the crypt as well. Was the vicar reading the burial service there, with Maxim, and Frank, and Colonel Julyan standing by his side? Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. It seemed to me that Rebecca had no reality anymore. She had crumbled away when they had found her on the cabin floor. It was not Rebecca who was lying in the crypt, it was dust. Only dust.

Just after seven the rain began to fall. Gently at first, a light pattering in the trees, and so thin I could not see it. Then louder and faster, a driving torrent falling slantways from the slate sky, like water from a sluice. I left the windows open wide. I stood in front of them and breathed the cold clean air. The rain splashed into my face and on my hands. I could not see beyond the lawns, the falling rain came thick and fast. I heard it sputtering in the gutter-pipes above the window, and splashing on the stones of the terrace. There was no more thunder. The rain smelt of moss and earth and of the black bark of trees.

I did not hear Frith come in at the door. I was standing by the window, watching the rain. I did not see him until he was beside me.

“Excuse me, Madam,” he said, “do you know if Mr. de Winter will be long?”

“No,” I said, “not very long.”

“There’s a gentleman to see him, Madam,” said Frith after a moment’s hesitation. “I’m not quite sure what I ought to say. He’s very insistent about seeing Mr. de Winter.”

“Who is it?” I said. “Is it anyone you know?”

Frith looked uncomfortable. “Yes, Madam,” he said, “it’s a gentleman who used to come here frequently at one time, when Mrs. de Winter was alive. A gentleman called Mr. Favell.”

I knelt on the window seat and shut the window. The rain was coming in on the cushions. Then I turned round and looked at Frith.

“I think perhaps I had better see Mr. Favell,” I said.

“Very good, Madam.”

I went and stood over on the rug beside the empty fireplace. It was just possible that I should be able to get rid of Favell before Maxim came back. I did not know what I was going to say to him, but I was not frightened.

In a few moments Frith returned and showed Favell into the library. He looked much the same as before but a little rougher if possible, a little more untidy. He was the sort of man who invariably went hatless, his hair was bleached from the sun of the last days and his skin was deeply tanned. His eyes were rather bloodshot. I wondered if he had been drinking.

“I’m afraid Maxim is not here,” I said. “I don’t know when he will be back. Wouldn’t it be better if you made an appointment to see him at the office in the morning?”

“Waiting doesn’t worry me,” said Favell, “and I don’t think I shall have to wait very long, you know. I had a look in the dining room as I came along, and I see Max’s place is laid for dinner all right.”

“Our plans have been changed,” I said. “It’s quite possible Maxim won’t be home at all this evening.”

“He’s run off, has he?” said Favell, with a half smile I did not like. “I wonder if you really mean it. Of course under the circumstances it’s the wisest thing he can do. Gossip is an unpleasant thing to some people. It’s more pleasant to avoid it, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” I said.

“Don’t you?” he said. “Oh, come, you don’t expect me to believe that, do you? Tell me, are you feeling better? Too bad fainting like that at the inquest this afternoon. I would have come and helped you out but I saw you had one knight-errant already. I bet Frank Crawley enjoyed himself. Did you let him drive you home? You wouldn’t let me drive you five yards when I offered to.”

“What do you want to see Maxim about?” I asked.

Favell leaned forward to the table and helped himself to a cigarette. “You don’t mind my smoking, I suppose?” he said, “it won’t make you sick, will it? One never knows with brides.”

He watched me over his lighter. “You’ve grown up a bit since I saw you last, haven’t you?” he said. “I wonder what you have been doing. Leading Frank Crawley up the garden-path?” He blew a cloud of smoke in the air. “I say, do you mind asking old Frith to get me a whiskey-and-soda?”

I did not say anything. I went and rang the bell. He sat down on the edge of the sofa, swinging his legs, that half-smile on his lips. Robert answered the bell. “A whiskey-and-soda for Mr. Favell,” I said.

“Well, Robert?” said Favell, “I haven’t seen you for a very long time. Still breaking the hearts of the girls in Kerrith?”

Robert flushed. He glanced at me, horribly embarrassed.

“All right, old chap, I won’t give you away. Run along and get me a double whiskey, and jump on it.”

Robert disappeared. Favell laughed, dropping ash all over the floor.

“I took Robert out once on his half-day,” he said. “Rebecca bet me a fiver I wouldn’t ask him. I won my fiver all right. Spent one of the funniest evenings of my life. Did I laugh? Oh, boy! Robert on the razzle takes a lot of beating, I tell you. I must say he’s got a good eye for a girl. He picked the prettiest of the bunch we saw that night.”

Robert came back again with the whiskey-and-soda on a tray. He still looked very red, very uncomfortable. Favell watched him with a smile as he poured out his drink, and then he began to laugh, leaning back on the arm of the sofa. He whistled the bar of a song, watching Robert all the while.

“That was the one, wasn’t it?” he said, “that was the tune? Do you still like ginger hair, Robert?”

Robert gave him a flat weak smile. He looked miserable. Favell laughed louder still. Robert turned and went out of the room.

“Poor kid,” said Favell. “I don’t suppose he’s been on the loose since. That old ass Frith keeps him on a leading string.”

He began drinking his whiskey-and-soda, glancing round the room, looking at me every now and again, and smiling.

“I don’t think I shall mind very much if Max doesn’t get back to dinner,” he said. “What say you?”

I did not answer. I stood by the fireplace my hands behind my back. “You wouldn’t waste that place at the dining room table, would you?” he said. He looked at me, smiling still, his head on one side.

“Mr. Favell,” I said, “I don’t want to be rude, but as a matter of fact I’m very tired. I’ve had a long and fairly exhausting day. If you can’t tell me what you want to see Maxim about it’s not much good your sitting here. You had far better do as I suggest, and go round to the estate office in the morning.”

He slid off the arm of the sofa and came towards me, his glass in his hand. “No, no,” he said. “No, no, don’t be a brute. I’ve had an exhausting day too. Don’t run away and leave me, I’m quite harmless, really I am. I suppose Max has been telling tales about me to you?”

I did not answer. “You think I’m the big, bad wolf, don’t you?” he said, “but I’m not, you know. I’m a perfectly ordinary, harmless bloke. And I think you are behaving splendidly over all this, perfectly splendidly. I take off my hat to you, I really do.” This last speech of his was very slurred and thick. I wished I had never told Frith I would see him.

“You come down here to Manderley,” he said, waving his arm vaguely, “you take on all this place, meet hundreds of people you’ve never seen before, you put up with old Max and his moods, you don’t give a fig for anyone, you just go your own way. I call it a damn good effort, and I don’t care who hears me say so. A damn good effort.” He swayed a little as he stood. He steadied himself, and put the empty glass down on the table. “This business has been a shock to me, you know,” he said. “A bloody awful shock. Rebecca was my cousin. I was damn fond of her.”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m very sorry for you.”

“We were brought up together,” he went on. “Always tremendous pals. Liked the same things, the same people. Laughed at the same jokes. I suppose I was fonder of Rebecca than anyone else in the world. And she was fond of me. All this has been a bloody shock.”

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, of course.”

“And what is Max going to do about it, that’s what I want to know? Does he think he can sit back quietly now that sham inquest is over? Tell me that?” He was not smiling anymore. He bent towards me.

“I’m going to see justice is done to Rebecca,” he said, his voice growing louder. “Suicide… God Almighty, that doddering old fool of a Coroner got the jury to say suicide. You and I know it wasn’t suicide, don’t we?” He leaned closer to me still. “Don’t we?” he said slowly.

The door opened and Maxim came into the room, with Frank just behind him. Maxim stood quite still, with the door open, staring at Favell. “What the hell are you doing here?” he said.

Favell turned round, his hands in his pockets. He waited a moment, and then he began to smile. “As a matter of fact, Max, old chap, I came to congratulate you on the inquest this afternoon.”

“Do you mind leaving the house?” said Max, “or do you want Crawley and me to chuck you out?”

“Steady a moment, steady a moment,” said Favell. He lit another cigarette, and sat down once more on the arm of the sofa.

“You don’t want Frith to hear what I’m going to say, do you?” he said. “Well, he will, if you don’t shut that door.”

Maxim did not move. I saw Frank close the door very quietly.

“Now, listen here, Max,” said Favell, “you’ve come very well out of this affair, haven’t you? Better than you ever expected. Oh, yes, I was in the court this afternoon, and I dare say you saw me. I was there from start to finish. I saw your wife faint, at a rather critical moment, and I don’t blame her. It was touch and go, then, wasn’t it, Max, what way the inquiry would go? And luckily for you it went the way it did. You hadn’t squared those thick-headed fellows who were acting jury, had you? It looked damn like it to me.”

Maxim made a move towards Favell, but Favell held up his hand.

“Wait a bit, can’t you?” he said. “I haven’t finished yet. You realize, don’t you, Max, old man, that I can make things damned unpleasant for you if I choose. Not only unpleasant, but shall I say dangerous?”

I sat down on the chair beside the fireplace. I held the arms of the chair very tight. Frank came over and stood behind the chair. Still Maxim did not move. He never took his eyes off Favell.

“Oh, yes?” he said, “in what way can you make things dangerous?”

“Look here, Max,” said Favell, “I suppose there are no secrets between you and your wife and from the look of things Crawley there just makes the happy trio. I can speak plainly then, and I will. You all know about Rebecca and me. We were lovers, weren’t we? I’ve never denied it, and I never will. Very well then. Up to the present I believed, like every other fool, that Rebecca was drowned sailing in the bay, and that her body was picked up at Edgecoombe weeks afterwards. It was a shock to me then, a bloody shock. But I said to myself, That’s the sort of death Rebecca would choose, she’d go out like she lived, fighting.” He paused, he sat there on the edge of the sofa, looking at all of us in turn. “Then I pick up the evening paper a few days ago and I read that Rebecca’s boat had been stumbled on by the local diver and that there was a body in the cabin. I couldn’t understand it. Who the hell would Rebecca have as a sailing companion? It didn’t make sense. I came down here, and put up at a pub just outside Kerrith. I got in touch with Mrs. Danvers. She told me then that the body in the cabin was Rebecca’s. Even so I thought like everyone else that the first body was a mistake and Rebecca had somehow got shut in the cabin when she went to fetch a coat. Well, I attended that inquest today, as you know. And everything went smoothly, didn’t it, until Tabb gave his evidence? But after that? Well, Max, old man, what have you got to say about those holes in the floorboards, and those sea-cocks turned full on?”

“Do you think,” said Maxim slowly, “that after those hours of talk this afternoon I am going into it again—with you? You heard the evidence, and you heard the verdict. It satisfied the Coroner, and it must satisfy you.”

“Suicide, eh?” said Favell. “Rebecca committing suicide. The sort of thing she would do, wasn’t it? Listen; you never knew I had this note, did you? I kept it, because it was the last thing she ever wrote to me. I’ll read it to you. I think it will interest you.”

He took a piece of paper out of his pocket. I recognized that thin, pointed, slanting hand.

I tried to ring you from the flat, but could get no answer [he read]. I’m going down to Manders right away. I shall be at the cottage this evening, and if you get this in time will you get the car and follow me. I’ll spend the night at the cottage, and leave the door open for you. I’ve got something to tell you and I want to see you as soon as possible. Rebecca.

He put the note back in his pocket. “That’s not the sort of note you write when you’re going to commit suicide, is it?” he said. “It was waiting for me at my flat when I got back about four in the morning. I had no idea Rebecca was to be in London that day or I should have got in touch with her. It happened, by a vile stroke of fortune, I was on a party that night. When I read the note at four in the morning I decided it was too late to go crashing down on a six-hour run to Manderley. I went to bed, determined to put a call through later in the day. I did. About twelve o’clock. And I heard Rebecca had been drowned!”

He sat there, staring at Maxim. None of us spoke.

“Supposing the Coroner this afternoon had read that note, it would have made it a little bit more tricky for you, wouldn’t it, Max, old man?” said Favell.

“Well,” said Maxim, “why didn’t you get up and give it to him?”

“Steady, old boy, steady. No need to get rattled. I don’t want to smash you, Max. God knows you’ve never been a friend to me, but I don’t bear malice about it. All married men with lovely wives are jealous, aren’t they? And some of ’em just can’t help playing Othello. They’re made that way. I don’t blame them. I’m sorry for them. I’m a bit of a Socialist in my way, you know, and I can’t think why fellows can’t share their women instead of killing them. What difference does it make? You can get your fun just the same. A lovely woman isn’t like a motor tire, she doesn’t wear out. The more you use her the better she goes. Now, Max, I’ve laid all my cards on the table. Why can’t we come to some agreement? I’m not a rich man. I’m too fond of gambling for that. But what gets me down is never having any capital to fall back upon. Now if I had a settlement of two or three thousand a year for life I could jog along comfortably. And I’d never trouble you again. I swear before God I would not.”

“I’ve asked you before to leave the house,” said Maxim. “I’m not going to ask you again. There’s the door behind me. You can open it yourself.”

“Half a minute, Maxim,” said Frank; “it’s not quite so easy as all that.” He turned to Favell. “I see what you’re driving at. It happens, very unfortunately, that you could, as you say, twist things round and make it difficult for Maxim. I don’t think he sees it as clearly as I do. What is the exact amount you propose Maxim should settle on you?”

I saw Maxim go very white, and a little pulse began to show on his forehead. “Don’t interfere with this, Frank,” he said, “this is my affair entirely. I’m not going to give way to blackmail.”

“I don’t suppose your wife wants to be pointed out as Mrs. de Winter, the widow of a murderer, of a fellow who was hanged,” said Favell. He laughed, and glanced towards me.

“You think you can frighten me, don’t you, Favell?” said Maxim. “Well, you are wrong. I’m not afraid of anything you can do. There is the telephone, in the next room. Shall I ring up Colonel Julyan and ask him to come over? He’s the magistrate. He’ll be interested in your story.”

Favell stared at him, and laughed.

“Good bluff,” he said, “but it won’t work. You wouldn’t dare ring up old Julyan. I’ve got enough evidence to hang you, Max, old man.”

Maxim walked slowly across the room and passed through to the little room beyond. I heard the click of the telephone.

“Stop him!” I said to Frank. “Stop him, for God’s sake.”

Frank glanced at my face, he went swiftly towards the door.

I heard Maxim’s voice, very cool, very calm. “I want Kerrith 17,” he said.

Favell was watching the door, his face curiously intense.

“Leave me alone,” I heard Maxim say to Frank. And then, two minutes afterwards. “Is that Colonel Julyan speaking? It’s de Winter here. Yes. Yes, I know. I wonder if you could possibly come over here at once. Yes, to Manderley. It’s rather urgent. I can’t explain why on the telephone, but you shall hear everything directly you come. I’m very sorry to have to drag you out. Yes. Thank you very much. Good-bye.”

He came back again into the room. “Julyan is coming right away,” he said. He crossed over and threw open the windows. It was still raining very hard. He stood there, with his back to us, breathing the cold air.

“Maxim,” said Frank quietly. “Maxim.”

He did not answer. Favell laughed, and helped himself to another cigarette. “If you want to hang yourself, old fellow, it’s all the same to me,” he said. He picked up a paper from the table and flung himself down on the sofa, crossed his legs, and began to turn over the pages. Frank hesitated, glancing from me to Maxim. Then he came beside me.

“Can’t you do something?” I whispered. “Go out and meet Colonel Julyan, prevent him from coming, say it was all a mistake?”

Maxim spoke from the window without turning round.

“Frank is not to leave this room,” he said. “I’m going to manage this thing alone. Colonel Julyan will be here in exactly ten minutes.”

We none of us said anything. Favell went on reading his paper. There was no sound but the steady falling rain. It fell without a break, steady, straight, and monotonous. I felt helpless, without strength. There was nothing I could do. Nothing that Frank could do. In a book or in a play I would have found a revolver, and we should have shot Favell, hidden his body in a cupboard. There was no revolver. There was no cupboard. We were ordinary people. These things did not happen. I could not go to Maxim now and beg him on my knees to give Favell the money. I had to sit there, with my hands in my lap, watching the rain, watching Maxim with his back turned to me, standing by the window.

It was raining too hard to hear the car. The sound of the rain covered all other sounds. We did not know Colonel Julyan had arrived until the door opened, and Frith showed him into the room.

Maxim swung round from the window. “Good evening,” he said. “We meet again. You’ve made very good time.”

“Yes,” said Colonel Julyan, “you said it was urgent, so I came at once. Luckily, my man had left the car handy. What an evening.”

He glanced at Favell uncertainly, and then came over and shook hands with me, nodding to Maxim. “A good thing the rain has come,” he said. “It’s been hanging about too long. I hope you’re feeling better.”

I murmured something, I don’t know what, and he stood there looking from one to the other of us, rubbing his hands.

“I think you realize,” Maxim said, “that I haven’t brought you out on an evening like this for a social half hour before dinner. This is Jack Favell, my late wife’s first cousin. I don’t know if you have ever met.”

Colonel Julyan nodded. “Your face seems familiar. I’ve probably met you here in the old days.”

“Quite,” said Maxim. “Go ahead, Favell.”

Favell got up from the sofa and chucked the paper back on the table. The ten minutes seemed to have sobered him. He walked quite steadily. He was not smiling any longer. I had the impression that he was not entirely pleased with the turn in the events, and he was ill-prepared for the encounter with Colonel Julyan. He began speaking in a loud, rather domineering voice. “Look here, Colonel Julyan,” he said, “there’s no sense in beating about the bush. The reason why I’m here is that I’m not satisfied with the verdict given at the inquest this afternoon.”

“Oh?” said Colonel Julyan, “isn’t that for de Winter to say, not you?”

“No, I don’t think it is,” said Favell. “I have a right to speak, not only as Rebecca’s cousin, but as her prospective husband, had she lived.”

Colonel Julyan looked rather taken aback. “Oh,” he said. “Oh, I see. That’s rather different. Is this true, de Winter?”

Maxim shrugged his shoulders. “It’s the first I’ve heard of it,” he said.

Colonel Julyan looked from one to the other doubtfully. “Look here, Favell,” he said, “what exactly is your trouble?”

Favell stared at him a moment. I could see he was planning something in his mind, and he was still not sober enough to carry it through. He put his hand slowly in his waistcoat pocket and brought out Rebecca’s note. “This note was written a few hours before Rebecca was supposed to have set out on that suicidal sail. Here it is. I want you to read it, and say whether you think a woman who wrote that note had made up her mind to kill herself.”

Colonel Julyan took a pair of spectacles from a case in his pocket and read the note. Then he handed it back to Favell. “No,” he said, “on the face of it, no. But I don’t know what the note refers to. Perhaps you do. Or perhaps de Winter does?”

Maxim did not say anything. Favell twisted the piece of paper in his fingers, considering Colonel Julyan all the while. “My cousin made a definite appointment in that note, didn’t she?” he said. “She deliberately asked me to drive down to Manderley that night because she had something to tell me. What it actually was I don’t suppose we shall ever know, but that’s beside the point. She made the appointment, and she was to spend the night in the cottage on purpose to see me alone. The mere fact of her going for a sail never surprised me. It was the sort of thing she did, for an hour or so, after a long day in London. But to plug holes in the cabin and deliberately drown herself, the hysterical impulsive freak of a neurotic girl—oh, no, Colonel Julyan, by Christ no!” The color had flooded into his face, and the last words were shouted. His manner was not helpful to him, and I could see by the thin line of Colonel Julyan’s mouth that he had not taken to Favell.

“My dear fellow,” he said, “it’s not the slightest use your losing your temper with me. I’m not the Coroner who conducted the inquiry this afternoon, nor am I a member of the jury who gave the verdict. I’m merely the magistrate of the district. Naturally I want to help you all I can, and de Winter, too. You say you refuse to believe your cousin committed suicide. On the other hand you heard, as we all did, the evidence of the boatbuilder. The sea-cocks were open, the holes were there. Very well. Suppose we get to the point. What do you suggest really happened?”

Favell turned his head and looked slowly towards Maxim. He was still twisting the note between his fingers. “Rebecca never opened those sea-cocks, nor split the holes in the planking. Rebecca never committed suicide. You’ve asked for my opinion, and by God you shall have it. Rebecca was murdered. And if you want to know who the murderer is, why there he stands, by the window there, with that Goddamned superior smile on his face. He couldn’t even wait could he, until the year was out, before marrying the first girl he set eyes on? There he is, there’s your murderer for you, Mr. Maximilian de Winter. Take a good long look at him. He’d look well hanging, wouldn’t he?”

And Favell began to laugh, the laugh of a drunkard, high-pitched, forced, and foolish, and all the while twisting Rebecca’s note between his fingers.