Rebecca Chapter 26

When I awoke the next morning, just after six o’clock, and got up and went to the window there was a foggy dew upon the grass like frost, and the trees were shrouded in a white mist. There was a chill in the air and a little, fresh wind, and the cold, quiet smell of autumn.

As I knelt by the window looking down onto the rose garden where the flowers themselves drooped upon their stalks, the petals brown and dragging after last night’s rain, the happenings of the day before seemed remote and unreal. Here at Manderley a new day was starting, the things of the garden were not concerned with our troubles. A blackbird ran across the rose garden to the lawns in swift, short rushes, stopping now and again to stab at the earth with his yellow beak. A thrush, too, went about his business, and two stout little wagtails, following one another, and a little cluster of twittering sparrows. A gull poised himself high in the air, silent and alone, and then spread his wings wide and swooped beyond the lawns to the woods and the Happy Valley. These things continued, our worries and anxieties had no power to alter them. Soon the gardeners would be astir, brushing the first leaves from the lawns and the paths, raking the gravel in the drive. Pails would clank in the courtyard behind the house, the hose would be turned on the car, the little scullery maid would begin to chatter through the open door to the men in the yard. There would be the crisp, hot smell of bacon. The housemaids would open up the house, throw wide the windows, draw back the curtains.

The dogs would crawl from their baskets, yawn and stretch themselves, wander out onto the terrace and blink at the first struggles of the pale sun coming through the mist. Robert would lay the table for breakfast, bring in those piping scones, the clutch of eggs, the glass dishes of honey, jam, and marmalade, the bowl of peaches, the cluster of purple grapes with the bloom upon them still, hot from the greenhouses.

Maids sweeping in the morning room, the drawing room, the fresh clean air pouring into the long open windows. Smoke curling from the chimneys, and little by little the autumn mist fading away and the trees and the banks and the woods taking shape, the glimmer of the sea showing with the sun upon it below the valley, the beacon standing tall and straight upon the headland.

The peace of Manderley. The quietude and the grace. Whoever lived within its walls, whatever trouble there was and strife, however much uneasiness and pain, no matter what tears were shed, what sorrows borne, the peace of Manderley could not be broken or the loveliness destroyed. The flowers that died would bloom again another year, the same birds build their nests, the same trees blossom. The old quiet moss smell would linger in the air, and bees would come, and crickets, and herons build their nests in the deep dark woods. The butterflies would dance their merry jig across the lawns, and spiders spin foggy webs, and small startled rabbits who had no business to come trespassing poke their faces through the crowded shrubs. There would be lilac and honeysuckle still, and the white magnolia buds unfolding slow and tight beneath the dining room window. No one would ever hurt Manderley. It would lie always in a hollow like an enchanted thing, guarded by the woods, safe, secure, while the sea broke and ran and came again in the little shingle bays below.

Maxim slept on and I did not wake him. The day ahead of us would be a weary thing and long. Highroads, and telegraph poles, and the monotony of passing traffic, the slow crawl into London. We did not know what we should find at the end of our journey. The future was unknown. Somewhere to the north of London lived a man called Baker who had never heard of us, but he held our future in the hollow of his hand. Soon he too would be waking, stretching, yawning, going about the business of his day. I got up, and went into the bathroom, and began to run my bath. These actions held for me the same significance as Robert and his clearing of the library had the night before. I had done these things before mechanically, but now I was aware as I dropped my sponge into the water, as I spread my towel on the chair from the hot rail, as I lay back and let the water run over my body. Every moment was a precious thing, having in it the essence of finality. When I went back to the bedroom and began to dress I heard a soft footstep come and pause outside the door, and the key turn quietly in the lock. There was silence a moment, and then the footsteps went away. It was Mrs. Danvers.

She had not forgotten. I had heard the same sound the night before after we had come up from the library. She had not knocked upon the door, she had not made herself known; there was just the sound of footsteps and the turning of the key in the lock. It brought me to reality and the facing of the immediate future.

I finished dressing, and went and turned on Maxim’s bath. Presently Clarice came with our tea. I woke Maxim. He stared at me at first like a puzzled child, and then he held out his arms. We drank our tea. He got up and went to his bath and I began putting things methodically in my suitcase. It might be that we should have to stay in London.

I packed the brushes Maxim had given me, a nightdress, my dressing gown and slippers, and another dress too and a pair of shoes. My dressing-case looked unfamiliar as I dragged it from the back of a wardrobe. It seemed so long since I had used it, and yet it was only four months ago. It still had the Customs mark upon it they had chalked at Calais. In one of the pockets was a concert ticket from the casino in Monte Carlo. I crumpled it and threw it into the wastepaper basket. It might have belonged to another age, another world. My bedroom began to take on the appearance of all rooms when the owner goes away. The dressing table was bare without my brushes. There was tissue paper lying on the floor, and an old label. The beds where we had slept had a terrible emptiness about them. The towels lay crumpled on the bathroom floor. The wardrobe doors gaped open. I put on my hat so that I should not have to come up again, and I took my bag and my gloves and my suitcase. I glanced round the room to see if there was anything I had forgotten. The mist was breaking, the sun was forcing its way through and throwing patterns on the carpet. When I was halfway down the passage I had a curious, inexplicable feeling that I must go back and look in my room again. I went without reason, and stood a moment looking at the gaping wardrobe and the empty bed, and the tray of tea upon the table. I stared at them, impressing them forever on my mind, wondering why they had the power to touch me, to sadden me, as though they were children that did not want me to go away.

Then I turned and went downstairs to breakfast. It was cold in the dining room, the sun not yet on the windows, and I was grateful for the scalding bitter coffee and heartening bacon. Maxim and I ate in silence. Now and again he glanced at the clock. I heard Robert put the suitcases in the hall with the rug, and presently there was the sound of the car being brought to the door.

I went out and stood on the terrace. The rain had cleared the air, and the grass smelt fresh and sweet. When the sun was higher it would be a lovely day. I thought how we might have wandered in the valley before lunch, and then sat out afterwards under the chestnut tree with books and papers. I closed my eyes a minute and felt the warmth of the sun on my face and on my hands.

I heard Maxim calling to me from the house. I went back, and Frith helped me into my coat. I heard the sound of another car. It was Frank.

“Colonel Julyan is waiting at the lodge gates,” he said. “He did not think it worthwile to drive up to the house.”

“No,” said Maxim.

“I’ll stand by in the office all day and wait for you to telephone,” said Frank. “After you’ve seen Baker you may find you want me, up in London.”

“Yes,” said Maxim. “Yes, perhaps.”

“It’s just nine now,” said Frank. “You’re up to time. It’s going to be fine too. You should have a good run.”


“I hope you won’t get over-tired, Mrs. de Winter,” he said to me. “It’s going to be a long day for you.”

“I shall be all right,” I said. I looked at Jasper who was standing by my feet with ears drooping and sad reproachful eyes.

“Take Jasper back with you to the office,” I said. “He looks so miserable.”

“Yes,” he said. “Yes, I will.”

“We’d better be off,” said Maxim. “Old Julyan will be getting impatient. All right, Frank.”

I climbed in the car beside Maxim. Frank slammed the door.

“You will telephone, won’t you?” he said.

“Yes, of course,” said Maxim.

I looked back at the house. Frith was standing at the top of the steps, and Robert just behind. My eyes filled with tears for no reason. I turned away and groped with my bag on the floor of the car so that nobody should see. Then Maxim started up the car and we swept round and into the drive and the house was hidden.

We stopped at the lodge-gates and picked up Colonel Julyan. He got in at the back. He looked doubtful when he saw me.

“It’s going to be a long day,” he said. “I don’t think you should have attempted it. I would have taken care of your husband you know.”

“I wanted to come,” I said.

He did not say any more about it. He settled himself in the corner. “It’s fine, that’s one thing,” he said.

“Yes,” said Maxim.

“That fellow Favell said he would pick us up at the crossroads. If he’s not there don’t attempt to wait, we’d do much better without him. I hope the damned fellow has overslept himself.”

When we came to the crossroads though I saw the long green body of his car, and my heart sank. I had thought he might not be on time. Favell was sitting at the wheel, hatless, a cigarette in his mouth. He grinned when he saw us, and waved us on. I settled down in my seat for the journey ahead, one hand on Maxim’s knee. The hours passed, and the miles were covered. I watched the road ahead in a kind of stupor. Colonel Julyan slept at the back from time to time. I turned occasionally and saw his head loll against the cushions, and his mouth open. The green car kept close beside us. Sometimes it shot ahead, sometimes it dropped behind. But we never lost it. At one we stopped for lunch at one of those inevitable old-fashioned hotels in the main street of a county town. Colonel Julyan waded through the whole set lunch, starting with soup and fish, and going on to roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Maxim and I had cold ham and coffee.

I half expected Favell to wander into the dining room and join us, but when we came out to the car again I saw his car had been drawn up outside a café on the opposite side of the road. He must have seen us from the window, for three minutes after we had started he was on our tail again.

We came to the suburbs of London about three o’clock. It was then that I began to feel tired, the noise and the traffic blocks started a humming in my head. It was warm in London too. The streets had that worn dusty look of August, and the leaves hung listless on dull trees. Our storm must have been local, there had been no rain here.

People were walking about in cotton frocks and the men were hatless. There was a smell of wastepaper, and orange peel, and feet, and burned dried grass. Buses lumbered slowly, and taxis crawled. I felt as though my coat and skirt were sticking to me, and my stockings pricked my skin.

Colonel Julyan sat up and looked out through his window. “They’ve had no rain here,” he said.

“No,” said Maxim.

“Looks as though the place needed it, too.”


“We haven’t succeeded in shaking Favell off. He’s still on our tail.”


Shopping centers on the outskirts seemed congested. Tired women with crying babies in prams stared into windows, hawkers shouted, small boys hung onto the backs of lorries. There were too many people, too much noise. The very air was irritable and exhausted and spent.

The drive through London seemed endless, and by the time we had drawn clear again and were out beyond Hampstead there was a sound in my head like the beating of a drum, and my eyes were burning.

I wondered how tired Maxim was. He was pale, and there were shadows under his eyes, but he did not say anything. Colonel Julyan kept yawning at the back. He opened his mouth very wide and yawned aloud, sighing heavily afterwards. He would do this every few minutes. I felt a senseless stupid irritation come over me, and I did not know how to prevent myself from turning round and screaming to him to stop.

Once we had passed Hampstead he drew out a large-scale map from his coat pocket and began directing Maxim to Barnet. The way was clear and there were signposts to tell us, but he kept pointing out every turn and twist in the road, and if there was any hesitation on Maxim’s part Colonel Julyan would turn down the window and call for information from a passerby.

When we came to Barnet itself he made Maxim stop every few minutes. “Can you tell us where a house called Roselands is? It belongs to a Doctor Baker, who’s retired, and come to live there lately,” and the passerby would stand frowning a moment, obviously at sea, ignorance written plain upon his face.

“Doctor Baker? I don’t know a Doctor Baker. There used to be a house called Rose Cottage near the church, but a Mrs. Wilson lives there.”

“No, it’s Roselands we want, Doctor Baker’s house,” said Colonel Julyan, and then we would go on and stop again in front of a nurse and a pram. “Can you tell us where Roselands is?”

“I’m sorry. I’m afraid I’ve only just come to live here.”

“You don’t know a Doctor Baker?”

“Doctor Davidson. I know Doctor Davidson.”

“No, it’s Doctor Baker we want.”

I glanced up at Maxim. He was looking very tired. His mouth was set hard. Behind us crawled Favell, his green car covered in dust.

It was a postman who pointed out the house in the end. A square house, ivy covered, with no name on the gate, which we had already passed twice. Mechanically I reached for my bag and dabbed my face with the end of the powder puff. Maxim drew up outside at the side of the road. He did not take the car into the short drive. We sat silently for a few minutes.

“Well, here we are,” said Colonel Julyan, “and it’s exactly twelve minutes past five. We shall catch them in the middle of their tea. Better wait for a bit.”

Maxim lit a cigarette, and then stretched out his hand to me. He did not speak. I heard Colonel Julyan crinkling his map.

“We could have come right across without touching London,” he said, “saved us forty minutes I dare say. We made good time the first two hundred miles. It was from Chiswick on we took the time.”

An errand-boy passed us whistling on his bicycle. A motor-coach stopped at the corner and two women got out. Somewhere a church clock chimed the quarter. I could see Favell leaning back in his car behind us and smoking a cigarette. I seemed to have no feeling in me at all. I just sat and watched the little things that did not matter. The two women from the bus walk along the road. The errand-boy disappears round the corner. A sparrow hops about in the middle of the road pecking at dirt.

“This fellow Baker can’t be much of a gardener,” said Colonel Julyan. “Look at those shrubs tumbling over his wall. They ought to have been pruned right back.” He folded up the map and put it back in his pocket. “Funny sort of place to choose to retire in,” he said. “Close to the main road and overlooked by other houses. Shouldn’t care about it myself. I dare say it was quite pretty once before they started building. No doubt there’s a good golf course somewhere handy.”

He was silent for a while, then he opened the door and stood out in the road. “Well, de Winter,” he said, “what do you think about it?”

“I’m ready,” said Maxim.

We got out of the car. Favell strolled up to meet us.

“What were you all waiting for, cold feet?” he said.

Nobody answered him. We walked up the drive to the front door, a strange incongruous little party. I caught sight of a tennis lawn beyond the house, and I heard the thud of balls. A boy’s voice shouted “Forty-fifteen, not thirty all. Don’t you remember hitting it out, you silly ass?”

“They must have finished tea,” said Colonel Julyan.

He hesitated a moment, glancing at Maxim. Then he rang the bell.

It tinkled somewhere in the back premises. There was a long pause. A very young maid opened the door to us. She looked startled at the sight of so many of us.

“Doctor Baker?” said Colonel Julyan.

“Yes, sir, will you come in?”

She opened the door on the left of the hall as we went in. It would be the drawing room, not used much in the summer. There was a portrait of a very plain dark woman on the wall. I wondered if it was Mrs. Baker. The chintz covers on the chairs and on the sofa were new and shiny. On the mantelpiece were photographs of two schoolboys with round, smiling faces. There was a very large wireless in the corner of the room by the window. Cords trailed from it, and bits of aerial. Favell examined the portrait on the wall. Colonel Julyan went and stood by the empty fireplace. Maxim and I looked out of the window. I could see a deck chair under a tree, and the back of a woman’s head. The tennis court must be round the corner. I could hear the boys shouting to each other. A very old Scotch terrier was scratching himself in the middle of the path. We waited there for about five minutes. It was as though I was living the life of some other person and had come to this house to call for a subscription to a charity. It was unlike anything I had ever known. I had no feeling, no pain.

Then the door opened and a man came into the room. He was medium height, rather long in the face, with a keen chin. His hair was sandy, turning gray. He wore flannels, and a dark blue blazer.

“Forgive me for keeping you waiting,” he said, looking a little surprised, as the maid had done, to see so many of us. “I had to run up and wash. I was playing tennis when the bell rang. Won’t you sit down?” He turned to me. I sat down in the nearest chair and waited.

“You must think this a very unorthodox invasion, Doctor Baker,” said Colonel Julyan, “and I apologize very humbly for disturbing you like this. My name is Julyan. This is Mr. de Winter, Mrs. de Winter, and Mr. Favell. You may have seen Mr. de Winter’s name in the papers recently.”

“Oh,” said Doctor Baker, “yes, yes, I suppose I have. Some inquest or other, wasn’t it? My wife was reading all about it.”

“The jury brought in a verdict of suicide,” said Favell coming forward, “which I say is absolutely out of the question. Mrs. de Winter was my cousin, I knew her intimately. She would never have done such a thing, and what’s more she had no motive. What we want to know is what the devil she came to see you about the very day she died?”

“You had better leave this to Julyan and myself,” said Maxim quietly. “Doctor Baker has not the faintest idea what you are driving at.”

He turned to the doctor who was standing between them with a line between his brows, and his first polite smile frozen on his lips. “My late wife’s cousin is not satisfied with the verdict,” said Maxim, “and we’ve driven up to see you today because we found your name, and the telephone number of your old consulting-rooms, in my wife’s engagement diary. She seems to have made an appointment with you, and kept it, at two o’clock on the last day she ever spent in London. Could you possibly verify this for us?”

Doctor Baker was listening with great interest, but when Maxim had finished he shook his head. “I’m most awfully sorry,” he said, “but I think you’ve made a mistake. I should have remembered the name de Winter. I’ve never attended a Mrs. de Winter in my life.”

Colonel Julyan brought out his note case and gave him the page he had torn from the engagement diary. “Here it is, written down,” he said, “Baker, two o’clock. And a big cross beside it, to show that the appointment was kept. And here is the telephone address. Museum 0488.”

Doctor Baker stared at the piece of paper. “That’s very odd, very odd indeed. Yes, the number is quite correct as you say.”

“Could she have come to see you and given a false name?” said Colonel Julyan.

“Why, yes, that’s possible. She may have done that. It’s rather unusual of course. I’ve never encouraged that sort of thing. It doesn’t do us any good in the profession if people think they can treat us like that.”

“Would you have any record of the visit in your files?” said Colonel Julyan. “I know it’s not etiquette to ask, but the circumstances are very unusual. We do feel her appointment with you must have some bearing on the case and her subsequent—suicide.”

“Murder,” said Favell.

Doctor Baker raised his eyebrows, and looked inquiringly at Maxim. “I’d no idea there was any question of that,” he said quietly. “Of course I understand, and I’ll do anything in my power to help you. If you will excuse me a few minutes I will go and look up my files. There should be a record of every appointment booked throughout the year, and a description of the case. Please help yourself to cigarettes. It’s too early to offer you sherry, I suppose?”

Colonel Julyan and Maxim shook their heads. I thought Favell was going to say something but Doctor Baker had left the room before he had a chance.

“Seems a decent sort of fellow,” said Colonel Julyan.

“Why didn’t he offer us whiskey and soda?” said Favell. “Keeps it locked up, I suppose. I didn’t think much of him. I don’t believe he’s going to help us now.”

Maxim did not say anything. I could hear the sound of the tennis balls from the court. The Scotch terrier was barking. A woman’s voice shouted to him to be quiet. The summer holidays. Baker playing with his boys. We had interrupted their routine. A high-pitched, gold clock in a glass case ticked very fast on the mantelpiece. There was a postcard of the Lake of Geneva leaning against it. The Bakers had friends in Switzerland.

Doctor Baker came back into the room with a large book and a file-case in his hands. He carried them over to the table. “I’ve brought the collection for last year,” he said. “I haven’t been through them yet since we moved. I only gave up practice six months ago you know.” He opened the book and began turning the pages. I watched him fascinated. He would find it of course. It was only a question of moments now, of seconds. “The seventh, eighth, tenth,” he murmured, “nothing here. The twelfth did you say? At two o’clock? Ah!”

We none of us moved. We all watched his face.

“I saw a Mrs. Danvers on the twelfth at two o’clock,” he said.

“Danny? What on earth…” began Favell, but Maxim cut him short.

“She gave a wrong name, of course,” he said. “That was obvious from the first. Do you remember the visit now, Doctor Baker?”

But Doctor Baker was already searching his files. I saw his fingers delve into the pocket marked with D. He found it almost at once. He glanced down rapidly at his handwriting. “Yes,” he said slowly. “Yes, Mrs. Danvers. I remember now.”

“Tall, slim, dark, very handsome?” said Colonel Julyan quietly.

“Yes,” said Doctor Baker. “Yes.”

He read through the files, and then replaced them in the case. “Of course,” he said, glancing at Maxim, “this is unprofessional you know? We treat patients as though they were in the confessional. But your wife is dead, and I quite understand the circumstances are exceptional. You want to know if I can suggest any motive why your wife should have taken her life? I think I can. The woman who called herself Mrs. Danvers was very seriously ill.”

He paused. He looked at every one of us in turn.

“I remember her perfectly well,” he said, and he turned back to the files again. “She came to me for the first time a week previously to the date you mentioned. She complained of certain symptoms, and I took some X-rays of her. The second visit was to find out the result of those X-rays. The photographs are not here, but I have the details written down. I remember her standing in my consulting-room and holding out her hand for the photographs. ‘I want to know the truth,’ she said; ‘I don’t want soft words and a bedside manner. If I’m for it, you can tell me right away.’ ” He paused, he glanced down at the files once again.

I waited, waited. Why couldn’t he get done with it and finish and let us go? Why must we sit there, waiting, our eyes upon his face.

“Well,” he said, “she asked for the truth, and I let her have it. Some patients are better for it. Shirking the point does them no good. This Mrs. Danvers, or Mrs. de Winter rather, was not the type to accept a lie. You must have known that. She stood it very well. She did not flinch. She said she had suspected it for sometime. Then she paid my fee and went out. I never saw her again.”

He shut up the box with a snap, and closed the book. “The pain was slight as yet, but the growth was deep-rooted,” he said, “and in three or four months’ time she would have been under morphia. An operation would have been no earthly use at all. I told her that. The thing had got too firm a hold. There is nothing anyone can do in a case like that, except give morphia, and wait.”

No one said a word. The little clock ticked on the mantelpiece, and the boys played tennis in the garden. An airplane hummed overhead.

“Outwardly of course she was a perfectly healthy woman,” he said—“rather too thin, I remember, rather pale; but then that’s the fashion nowadays, pity though it is. It’s nothing to go upon with a patient. No, the pain would increase week by week, and as I told you, in four or five months’ time she would have had to be kept under morphia. The X-rays showed a certain malformation of the uterus, I remember, which meant she could never have had a child; but that was quite apart, it had nothing to do with the disease.”

I remember hearing Colonel Julyan speak, saying something about Doctor Baker being very kind to have taken so much trouble. “You have told us all we want to know,” he said, “and if we could possibly have a copy of the memoranda in your file it might be very useful.”

“Of course,” said Doctor Baker. “Of course.”

Everyone was standing up. I got up from my chair too, I shook hands with Doctor Baker. We all shook hands with him. We followed him out into the hall. A woman looked out of the room on the other side of the hall and darted back when she saw us. Someone was running a bath upstairs, the water ran loudly. The Scotch terrier came in from the garden and began sniffing at my heels.

“Shall I send the report to you or to Mr. de Winter?” said Doctor Baker.

“We may not need it at all,” said Colonel Julyan. “I rather think it won’t be necessary. Either de Winter or I will write. Here is my card.”

“I’m so glad to have been of use,” said Doctor Baker; “it never entered my head for a moment that Mrs. de Winter and Mrs. Danvers could be the same person.”

“No, naturally,” said Colonel Julyan.

“You’ll be returning to London, I suppose?”

“Yes. Yes, I imagine so.”

“Your best way then is to turn sharp left by that pillar-box, and then right by the church. After that it’s a straight road.”

“Thank you. Thank you very much.”

We came out onto the drive and went towards the cars. Doctor Baker pulled the Scotch terrier inside the house. I heard the door shut. A man with one leg and a barrel organ began playing “Roses in Picardy,” at the end of the road.