Rebecca Chapter 27

We went and stood by the car. No one said anything for a few minutes. Colonel Julyan handed round his cigarette case. Favell looked gray, rather shaken. I noticed his hands were trembling as he held the match. The man with the barrel organ ceased playing for a moment and hobbled towards us, his cap in his hand. Maxim gave him two shillings. Then he went back to the barrel organ and started another tune. The church clock struck six o’clock. Favell began to speak. His voice was diffident, careless, but his face was still gray. He did not look at any of us, he kept glancing down at his cigarette and turning it over in his fingers. “This cancer business,” he said; “does anybody know if it’s contagious?”

No one answered him. Colonel Julyan shrugged his shoulders.

“I never had the remotest idea,” said Favell jerkily. “She kept it a secret from everyone, even Danny. What a Goddamned appalling thing, eh? Not the sort of thing one would ever connect with Rebecca. Do you fellows feel like a drink? I’m all out over this, and I don’t mind admitting it. Cancer! Oh, my God!”

He leaned up against the side of the car and shaded his eyes with his hands. “Tell that bloody fellow with the barrel organ to clear out,” he said. “I can’t stand that Goddamned row.”

“Wouldn’t it be simpler if we went ourselves?” said Maxim. “Can you manage your own car, or do you want Julyan to drive it for you?”

“Give me a minute,” muttered Favell. “I’ll be all right. You don’t understand. This thing has been a damned unholy shock to me.”

“Pull yourself together, man, for heaven’s sake,” said Colonel Julyan. “If you want a drink go back to the house and ask Baker. He knows how to treat for shock, I dare say. Don’t make an exhibition of yourself in the street.”

“Oh, you’re all right, you’re fine,” said Favell, standing straight and looking at Colonel Julyan and Maxim. “You’ve got nothing to worry about anymore. Max is on a good wicket now, isn’t he? You’ve got your motive, and Baker will supply it in black and white free of cost, whenever you send the word. You can dine at Manderley once a week on the strength of it and feel proud of yourself. No doubt Max will ask you to be godfather to his first child.”

“Shall we get into the car and go?” said Colonel Julyan to Maxim. “We can make our plans going along.”

Maxim held open the door of the car, and Colonel Julyan climbed in. I sat down in my seat in the front. Favell still leaned against the car and did not move. “I should advise you to get straight back to your flat and go to bed,” said Colonel Julyan shortly, “and drive slowly, or you will find yourself in jail for manslaughter. I may as well warn you now, as I shall not be seeing you again, that as a magistrate I have certain powers that will prove effective if you ever turn up in Kerrith or the district. Blackmail is not much of a profession, Mr. Favell. And we know how to deal with it in our part of the world, strange though it may seem to you.”

Favell was watching Maxim. He had lost the gray color now, and the old unpleasant smile was forming on his lips. “Yes, it’s been a stroke of luck for you, Max, hasn’t it?” he said slowly; “you think you’ve won, don’t you? The law can get you yet, and so can I, in a different way…”

Maxim switched on the engine. “Have you anything else you want to say?” he said; “because if you have you had better say it now.”

“No,” said Favell. “No, I won’t keep you. You can go.” He stepped back onto the pavement, the smile still on his lips. The car slid forward. As we turned the corner I looked back and saw him standing there, watching us, and he waved his hand and he was laughing.

We drove on for a while in silence. Then Colonel Julyan spoke. “He can’t do anything,” he said. “That smile and that wave were part of his bluff. They’re all alike, those fellows. He hasn’t a thread of a case to bring now. Baker’s evidence would squash it.”

Maxim did not answer. I glanced sideways at his face but it told me nothing. “I always felt the solution would lie in Baker,” said Colonel Julyan; “the furtive business of that appointment, and the way she never even told Mrs. Danvers. She had her suspicions, you see. She knew something was wrong. A dreadful thing, of course. Very dreadful. Enough to send a young and lovely woman right off her head.”

We drove on along the straight main road. Telegraph poles, motor coaches, open sports cars, little semi-detached villas with new gardens, they flashed past making patterns in my mind I should always remember.

“I suppose you never had any idea of this, de Winter?” said Colonel Julyan.

“No,” said Maxim. “No.”

“Of course some people have a morbid dread of it,” said Colonel Julyan. “Women especially. That must have been the case with your wife. She had courage for every other thing but that. She could not face pain. Well, she was spared that at any rate.”

“Yes,” said Maxim.

“I don’t think it would do any harm if I quietly let it be known down in Kerrith and in the county that a London doctor has supplied us with a motive,” said Colonel Julyan. “Just in case there should be any gossip. You never can tell, you know. People are odd, sometimes. If they knew about Mrs. de Winter it might make it a lot easier for you.”

“Yes,” said Maxim, “yes, I understand.”

“It’s curious and very irritating,” said Colonel Julyan slowly, “how long stories spread in country districts. I never know why they should, but unfortunately they do. Not that I anticipate any trouble over this, but it’s as well to be prepared. People are inclined to say the wildest things if they are given half a chance.”

“Yes,” said Maxim.

“You and Crawley of course can squash any nonsense in Manderley or the estate, and I can deal with it effectively in Kerrith. I shall say a word to my girl too. She sees a lot of the younger people, who very often are the worst offenders in story-telling. I don’t suppose the newspapers will worry you anymore, that’s one good thing. You’ll find they will drop the whole affair in a day or two.”

“Yes,” said Maxim.

We drove on through the northern suburbs and came once more to Finchley and Hampstead.

“Half past six,” said Colonel Julyan; “what do you propose doing? I’ve got a sister living in St. John’s Wood, and feel inclined to take her unawares and ask for dinner, and then catch the last train from Paddington. I know she doesn’t go away for another week. I’m sure she would be delighted to see you both as well.”

Maxim hesitated, and glanced at me. “It’s very kind of you,” he said, “but I think we had better be independent. I must ring up Frank, and one thing and another. I dare say we shall have a quiet meal somewhere and start off again afterwards, spending the night at a pub on the way, I rather think that’s what we shall do.”

“Of course,” said Colonel Julyan, “I quite understand. Could you throw me out at my sister’s? It’s one of those turnings off the Avenue Road.”

When we came to the house Maxim drew up a little way ahead of the gate. “It’s impossible to thank you,” he said, “for all you’ve done today. You know what I feel about it without my telling you.”

“My dear fellow,” said Colonel Julyan, “I’ve been only too glad. If only we’d known what Baker knew of course there would have been none of this at all. However, never mind about that now. You must put the whole thing behind you as a very unpleasant and unfortunate episode. I’m pretty sure you won’t have anymore trouble from Favell. If you do, I count on you to tell me at once. I shall know how to deal with him.” He climbed out of the car, collecting his coat and his map. “I should feel inclined,” he said, not looking directly at us, “to get away for a bit. Take a short holiday. Go abroad, perhaps.”

We did not say anything. Colonel Julyan was fumbling with his map. “Switzerland is very nice this time of year,” he said. “I remember we went once for the girl’s holidays, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The walks are delightful.” He hesitated, cleared his throat. “It is just faintly possible certain little difficulties might arise,” he said, “not from Favell, but from one or two people in the district. One never knows quite what Tabb has been saying, and repeating, and so on. Absurd of course. But you know the old saying? Out of sight, out of mind. If people aren’t there to be talked about the talk dies. It’s the way of the world.”

He stood for a moment, counting his belongings. “I’ve got everything, I think. Map, glasses, stick, coat. Everything complete. Well, good-bye, both of you. Don’t get over-tired. It’s been a long day.”

He turned in at the gate and went up the steps. I saw a woman come to the window and smile and wave her hand. We drove away down the road and turned the corner. I leaned back in my seat and closed my eyes. Now that we were alone again and the strain was over, the sensation was one of almost unbearable relief. It was like the bursting of an abscess. Maxim did not speak. I felt his hand cover mine. We drove on through the traffic and I saw none of it. I heard the rumble of the buses, the hooting of taxis, that inevitable, tireless London roar, but I was not part of it. I rested in some other place that was cool and quiet and still. Nothing could touch us anymore. We had come through our crisis.

When Maxim stopped the car I opened my eyes and sat up. We were opposite one of those numerous little restaurants in a narrow street in Soho. I looked about me, dazed and stupid.

“You’re tired,” said Maxim briefly. “Empty and tired and fit for nothing. You’ll be better when you’ve had something to eat. So shall I. We’ll go in here and order dinner right away. I can telephone to Frank too.”

We got out of the car. There was no one in the restaurant but the maître d’hôtel and a waiter and a girl behind a desk. It was dark and cool. We went to a table right in the corner. Maxim began ordering the food. “Favell was right about wanting a drink,” he said. “I want one too and so do you. You’re going to have some brandy.”

The maître d’hotel was fat and smiling. He produced long thin rolls in paper envelopes. They were very hard, very crisp. I began to eat one ravenously. My brandy and soda was soft, warming, curiously comforting.

“When we’ve had dinner we’ll drive slowly, very quietly,” said Maxim. “It will be cool, too, in the evening. We’ll find somewhere on the road we can put up for the night. Then we can get along to Manderley in the morning.”

“Yes,” I said.

“You didn’t want to dine with Julyan’s sister and go down by the late train?”


Maxim finished his drink. His eyes looked large and they were ringed with the shadows. They seemed very dark against the pallor of his face.

“How much of the truth,” he said, “do you think Julyan guessed?”

I watched him over the rim of my glass. I did not say anything.

“He knew,” said Maxim slowly, “of course he knew.”

“If he did,” I said, “he will never say anything. Never, never.”

“No,” said Maxim. “No.”

He ordered another drink from the maître d’hôtel. We sat silent and peaceful in our dark corner.

“I believe,” said Maxim, “that Rebecca lied to me on purpose. The last supreme bluff. She wanted me to kill her. She foresaw the whole thing. That’s why she laughed. That’s why she stood there laughing when she died.”

I did not say anything. I went on drinking my brandy and soda. It was all over. It was all settled. It did not matter anymore. There was no need for Maxim to look white and troubled.

“It was her last practical joke,” said Maxim, “the best of them all. And I’m not sure if she hasn’t won, even now.”

“What do you mean? How can she have won?” I said.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know.” He swallowed his second drink. Then he got up from the table. “I’m going to ring up Frank,” he said.

I sat there in my corner, and presently the waiter brought me my fish. It was lobster. Very hot and good. I had another brandy and soda, too. It was pleasant and comfortable sitting there and nothing mattered very much. I smiled at the waiter. I asked for some more bread in French for no reason. It was quiet and happy and friendly in the restaurant. Maxim and I were together. Everything was over. Everything was settled. Rebecca was dead. Rebecca could not hurt us. She had played her last joke as Maxim had said. She could do no more to us now. In ten minutes Maxim came back again.

“Well,” I said, my own voice sounding far away, “how was Frank?”

“Frank was all right,” said Maxim. “He was at the office, been waiting there for me to telephone him ever since four o’clock. I told him what had happened. He sounded glad, relieved.”

“Yes,” I said.

“Something rather odd though,” said Maxim slowly, a line between his brows. “He thinks Mrs. Danvers has cleared out. She’s gone, disappeared. She said nothing to anyone, but apparently she’d been packing up all day, stripping her room of things, and the fellow from the station came for her boxes at about four o’clock. Frith telephoned down to Frank about it, and Frank told Frith to ask Mrs. Danvers to come down to him at the office. He waited, and she never came. About ten minutes before I rang up, Frith telephoned to Frank again and said there had been a long-distance call for Mrs. Danvers which he had switched through to her room, and she had answered. This must have been about ten past six. At a quarter to seven he knocked on the door and found her room empty. Her bedroom too. They looked for her and could not find her. They think she’s gone. She must have gone straight out of the house and through the woods. She never passed the lodge-gates.”

“Isn’t it a good thing?” I said. “It saves us a lot of trouble. We should have had to send her away, anyway. I believe she guessed, too. There was an expression on her face last night. I kept thinking of it, coming up in the car.”

“I don’t like it,” said Maxim. “I don’t like it.”

“She can’t do anything,” I argued. “If she’s gone, so much the better. It was Favell who telephoned of course. He must have told her about Baker. He would tell her what Colonel Julyan said. Colonel Julyan said if there was any attempt at blackmail we were to tell him. They won’t dare do it. They can’t. It’s too dangerous.”

“I’m not thinking of blackmail,” said Maxim.

“What else can they do?” I said. “We’ve got to do what Colonel Julyan said. We’ve got to forget it. We must not think about it anymore. It’s all over, darling, it’s finished. We ought to go down on our knees and thank God that it’s finished.”

Maxim did not answer. He was staring in front of him at nothing.

“Your lobster will be cold,” I said; “eat it, darling. It will do you good, you want something inside you. You’re tired.” I was using the words he had used to me. I felt better and stronger. It was I now who was taking care of him. He was tired, pale. I had got over my weakness and fatigue and now he was the one to suffer from reaction. It was just because he was empty, because he was tired. There was nothing to worry about at all. Mrs. Danvers had gone. We should praise God for that, too. Everything had been made so easy for us, so very easy. “Eat up your fish,” I said.

It was going to be very different in the future. I was not going to be nervous and shy with the servants anymore. With Mrs. Danvers gone I should learn bit by bit to control the house. I would go and interview the cook in the kitchen. They would like me, respect me. Soon it would be as though Mrs. Danvers had never had command. I would learn more about the estate, too. I should ask Frank to explain things to me. I was sure Frank liked me. I liked him, too. I would go into things, and learn how they were managed. What they did at the farm. How the work in the grounds was planned. I might take to gardening myself, and in time have one or two things altered. That little square lawn outside the morning room with the statue of the satyr. I did not like it. We would give the satyr away. There were heaps of things that I could do, little by little. People would come and stay and I should not mind. There would be the interest of seeing to their rooms, having flowers and books put, arranging the food. We would have children. Surely we would have children.

“Have you finished?” said Maxim suddenly. “I don’t think I want any more. Only coffee. Black, very strong, please, and the bill,” he added to the maître d’hôtel.

I wondered why we must go so soon. It was comfortable in the restaurant, and there was nothing to take us away. I liked sitting there, with my head against the sofa back, planning the future idly in a hazy pleasant way. I could have gone on sitting there for a long while.

I followed Maxim out of the restaurant, stumbling a little, and yawning. “Listen,” he said, when we were on the pavement, “do you think you could sleep in the car if I wrapped you up with the rug, and tucked you down in the back? There’s the cushion there, and my coat as well.”

“I thought we were going to put up somewhere for the night?” I said blankly. “One of those hotels one passes on the road.”

“I know,” he said, “but I have this feeling I must get down tonight. Can’t you possibly sleep in the back of the car?”

“Yes,” I said doubtfully. “Yes, I suppose so.”

“If we start now, it’s a quarter to eight, we ought to be there by half past two,” he said. “There won’t be much traffic on the road.”

“You’ll be so tired,” I said. “So terribly tired.”

“No,” he shook his head. “I shall be all right. I want to get home. Something’s wrong. I know it is. I want to get home.”

His face was anxious, strange. He pulled open the door and began arranging the rugs and the cushion at the back of the car.

“What can be wrong?” I said. “It seems so odd to worry now, when everything’s over. I can’t understand you.”

He did not answer. I climbed into the back of the car and lay down with my legs tucked under me. He covered me with the rug. It was very comfortable. Much better than I imagined. I settled the pillow under my head.

“Are you all right?” he said; “are you sure you don’t mind?”

“No,” I said, smiling. “I’m all right. I shall sleep. I don’t want to stay anywhere on the road. It’s much better to do this and get home. We’ll be at Manderley long before sunrise.”

He got in in front and switched on the engine. I shut my eyes. The car drew away and I felt the slight jolting of the springs under my body. I pressed my face against the cushion. The motion of the car was rhythmic, steady, and the pulse of my mind beat with it. A hundred images came to me when I closed my eyes, things seen, things known, and things forgotten. They were jumbled together in a senseless pattern. The quill of Mrs. Van Hopper’s hat, the hard straight-backed chairs in Frank’s dining room, the wide window in the west wing at Manderley, the salmon-colored frock of the smiling lady at the fancy dress ball, a peasant-girl in a road near Monte Carlo.

Sometimes I saw Jasper chasing butterflies across the lawns; sometimes I saw Doctor Baker’s Scotch terrier scratching his ear beside a deck chair. There was the postman who had pointed out the house to us today, and there was Clarice’s mother wiping a chair for me in the back parlor. Ben smiled at me, holding winkles in his hands, and the bishop’s wife asked me if I would stay to tea. I could feel the cold comfort of my sheets in my own bed, and the gritty shingle in the cove. I could smell the bracken in the woods, the wet moss, and the dead azalea petals. I fell into a strange broken sleep, waking now and again to the reality of my narrow cramped position and the sight of Maxim’s back in front of me. The dusk had turned to darkness. There were the lights of passing cars upon the road. There were villages with drawn curtains and little lights behind them. And I would move, and turn upon my back, and sleep again.

I saw the staircase at Manderley, and Mrs. Danvers standing at the top in her black dress, waiting for me to go to her. As I climbed the stairs she backed under the archway and disappeared. I looked for her and I could not find her. Then her face looked at me through a hollow door and I cried out and she had gone again.

“What’s the time?” I called. “What’s the time?”

Maxim turned round to me, his face pale and ghostly in the darkness of the car. “It’s half past eleven,” he said. “We’re over halfway already. Try and sleep again.”

“I’m thirsty,” I said.

He stopped at the next town. The man at the garage said his wife had not gone to bed and she would make us some tea. We got out of the car and stood inside the garage. I stamped up and down to bring the blood back to my hands and feet. Maxim smoked a cigarette. It was cold. A bitter wind blew in through the open garage door, and rattled the corrugated roof. I shivered, and buttoned up my coat.

“Yes, it’s nippy tonight,” said the garage man, as he wound the petrol pump. “The weather seemed to break this afternoon. It’s the last of the heat waves for this summer. We shall be thinking of fires soon.”

“It was hot in London,” I said.

“Was it?” he said. “Well, they always have the extremes up there, don’t they? We get the first of the bad weather down here. It will blow hard on the coast before morning.”

His wife brought us the tea. It tasted of bitter wood, but it was hot. I drank it greedily, thankfully. Already Maxim was glancing at his watch.

“We ought to be going,” he said. “It’s ten minutes to twelve.” I left the shelter of the garage reluctantly. The cold wind blew in my face. The stars raced across the sky. There were threads of cloud too. “Yes,” said the garage man, “summer’s over for this year.”

We climbed back into the car. I settled myself once more under the rug. The car went on. I shut my eyes. There was the man with the wooden leg winding his barrel organ, and the tune of “Roses in Picardy” hummed in my head against the jolting of the car. Frith and Robert carried the tea into the library. The woman at the lodge nodded to me abruptly, and called her child into the house. I saw the model boats in the cottage in the cove, and the feathery dust. I saw the cobwebs stretching from the little masts. I heard the rain upon the roof and the sound of the sea. I wanted to get to the Happy Valley and it was not there. There were woods about me, there was no Happy Valley. Only the dark trees and the young bracken. The owls hooted. The moon was shining in the windows of Manderley. There were nettles in the garden, ten foot, twenty foot high.

“Maxim!” I cried. “Maxim!”

“Yes,” he said. “It’s all right, I’m here.”

“I had a dream,” I said. “A dream.”

“What was it?” he said.

“I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Back again into the moving unquiet depths. I was writing letters in the morning room. I was sending out invitations. I wrote them all myself with a thick black pen. But when I looked down to see what I had written it was not my small square handwriting at all, it was long, and slanting, with curious pointed strokes. I pushed the cards away from the blotter and hid them. I got up and went to the looking glass. A face stared back at me that was not my own. It was very pale, very lovely, framed in a cloud of dark hair. The eyes narrowed and smiled. The lips parted. The face in the glass stared back at me and laughed. And I saw then that she was sitting on a chair before the dressing table in her bedroom, and Maxim was brushing her hair. He held her hair in his hands, and as he brushed it he wound it slowly into a thick rope. It twisted like a snake, and he took hold of it with both hands and smiled at Rebecca and put it round his neck.

“No,” I screamed. “No, no. We must go to Switzerland. Colonel Julyan said we must go to Switzerland.”

I felt Maxim’s hand upon my face. “What is it?” he said. “What’s the matter?”

I sat up and pushed my hair away from my face.

“I can’t sleep,” I said. “It’s no use.”

“You’ve been sleeping,” he said. “You’ve slept for two hours. It’s quarter past two. We’re four miles the other side of Lanyon.”

It was even colder than before. I shuddered in the darkness of the car.

“I’ll come beside you,” I said. “We shall be back by three.”

I climbed over and sat beside him, staring in front of me through the windscreen. I put my hand on his knee. My teeth were chattering.

“You’re cold,” he said.

“Yes,” I said.

The hills rose in front of us, and dipped, and rose again. It was quite dark. The stars had gone.

“What time did you say it was?” I asked.

“Twenty past two,” he said.

“It’s funny,” I said. “It looks almost as though the dawn was breaking over there, beyond those hills. It can’t be though, it’s too early.”

“It’s the wrong direction,” he said, “you’re looking west.”

“I know,” I said. “It’s funny, isn’t it?”

He did not answer and I went on watching the sky. It seemed to get lighter even as I stared. Like the first red streak of sunrise. Little by little it spread across the sky.

“It’s in winter you see the northern lights, isn’t it?” I said. “Not in summer?”

“That’s not the northern lights,” he said. “That’s Manderley.”

I glanced at him and saw his face. I saw his eyes.

“Maxim,” I said. “Maxim, what is it?”

He drove faster, much faster. We topped the hill before us and saw Lanyon lying in a hollow at our feet. There to the left of us was the silver streak of the river, widening to the estuary at Kerrith six miles away. The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.