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by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca Chapter 23 Summary

  • Mrs. de Winter is now waiting in a room outside the inquest. Frank comes out, and Mrs. de Winter apologizes for fainting. The policeman comforts her: it's too hot in there, he says, with not enough air. And hey, ladies sometimes faint. (We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.)
  • Frank says that Maxim wants him to take Mrs. de Winter home, but Mrs. de Winter wants to wait for Maxim. Since it might be a while before Maxim is free, she agrees to let him drive her.
  • Now it's time for our narrator and Frank to have a heart-to-heart (or at least a heart-to-ear).
  • Mrs. de Winter tells Frank that she's afraid Horridge will make Maxim "lose his temper" (23.24). She also doesn't think that Favell and Mrs. Danvers should be at the inquest. They might cause some sort of trouble. (More trouble than fainting when your husband is basically accused of murder?)
  • Frank is quiet. Mrs. de Winter sees that he is so loyal to Maxim that he won't talk about the truth with anybody, including Maxim's own wife.
  • After Frank drives her to the steps of Manderley, he leaves to go back to Maxim.
  • Downer that she is, Mrs. de Winter immediately starts thinking of worst-case scenarios. She rests on her bed.
  • So here's the worst case: Frank comes back from the inquest without Maxim. Maxim gets arrested. Sympathetic neighbors offer to stay with her. She tries to get him out of jail. She fails.
  • But wait, there's more! Everyone says that Maxim is an evil murderer and deserves to die. In the end, he gets the death penalty and is hanged. So yep, she definitely nailed the worst-case scenario.
  • Eventually, she falls asleep. When she wakes up, it's 5:00PM. There's no breeze, and through the window, she sees lightning flashing across the gray sky. (It was a dark and almost stormy night…)
  • She goes down to the terrace, and Robert informs her that Frank and Maxim aren't back yet. But shortly after, Maxim returns, looking exhausted and aged. He tells her that the case is closed. Horridge ruled Rebecca's death a suicide. Whew.
  • The couple has tea (they must always be super caffeinated), and Mrs. de Winter learns that Frank is making arrangements for a funeral for Rebecca. They have to bury her body in the de Winter crypt in an hour.
  • Maxim says, "Why in the name of God doesn't it rain?" (23.82).
  • The sky is dark, and everything is totally still.
  • Now Maxim gets cute. Tonight, he says, they can talk about all the things they can do now, about the fresh start they'll have. He says he's sorry for being a really crummy husband.
  • Guess how she responds. Just guess. Oh, the same way as always? Yep, you got it. She says, and we quote, "No! [..] No!" (23.87).
  • Maxim reiterates: they can be together now, without "the past" (23.88) giving them any more trouble. They can have kids and everything.
  • Just after 6:00PM, Maxim leaves for Rebecca's burial, saying it shouldn't take more than thirty minutes.
  • It starts to rain around 7:00PM, and Mrs. de Winter lets the drops fall on her face from the window. She's watching the rain when Frith comes in to tell her that Jack Favell is here demanding to see Maxim.
  • She tells Frith to send Favell to her instead. She hopes she can get him out of here before Maxim gets back from the crypt.
  • Favell arrives, and he looks a little rough. Mrs. de Winter wonders if he's had a few drinks.
  • Mrs. de Winter tells him that Maxim will probably be gone all night. Favell asks if Maxim's "run off" (24.109) to escape all the nasty "gossip" (23.109). Mrs. de Winter says she doesn't know what he's talking about, but he insists that she does. He saw her leave the inquest with Frank, and now he's insinuating (implying, hinting) that Mrs. de Winter and Frank are lovers. (!)
  • Now Favell asks Mrs. de Winter to order him a whisky and soda, so she calls Robert. When Robert arrives, Favell asks him if he still enjoys the girls over in Kerrith. Robert blushes and looks ashamed. Mrs. de Winter asks him to bring Favell's drink.
  • Favell explains: on a bet from Rebecca, Favell took Robert to Kerrith for a night of partying with some ladies. (Not a super exciting story, actually.)
  • After Favell has had some of his drink, Mrs. de Winter tells him she's tired and asks him to leave.
  • As goes in these parts, he won't take the hint. He's says he's tired too, but that he won't hurt her. Then he goes ahead and compliments her on the way she's come to Manderley and put up with Maxim. He tells her that he and his cousin Rebecca grew up together and cared for each other deeply.
  • And the kicker: Favell says that they both know Rebecca didn't commit suicide, and guess what? He's going to prove it.
  • Suddenly, Maxim and Frank enter. Maxim tells Favell to leave.
  • Favell puts up a fight: he tells Maxim he can make things "unpleasant" and "dangerous" (23.145) for him if he wants to. As Maxim knows, he and Rebecca were lovers. (Cousins and lovers? Eek.) He believed that Rebecca died in a sailing accident; that's the kind of way a woman like Rebecca would die, the kind of way she would want to die.
  • But now that he knows somebody made holes in her floor and opened the seacocks, he sees things in a different light.
  • Maxim tries to end the conversation. He's just been over all of this at the inquest and isn't going to go over it again with Favell. It's over.
  • Not so fast. Favell says he knows for sure that Rebecca would never kill herself, and he has proof that she didn't.
  • He produces a note from Rebecca that he says will prove that she didn't kill herself. He got the note the day of Rebecca's death. The note said she'd left London for Manderley and wanted Favell to meet her at the boathouse that night. She had something important to tell him.
  • Unfortunately, Favell was partying that night. He didn't read the note until 4:00AM. He planned to call her around noon, but when he woke up, he learned that she had drowned.
  • This isn't good news for Maxim.
  • Favell starts to get pretty manipulative: he asks Maxim how things might have turned out if he had exposed the note at the inquest.
  • Well, why didn't he then? Maxim wants to know.
  • Favell says he'll forget about the note if Maxim pays him off. Maxim tells Favell to go, but Frank stops him, asking him how much money he would want to let the matter rest.
  • Maxim doesn't like this one bit. He tells Favell that he won't be bullied, and he's not afraid. In fact, he'll call Colonel Julyan to come and sort things out.
  • Favell thinks Maxim is bluffing. (Do you?) Both Frank and Mrs. de Winter try to stop Maxim from going to the phone.
  • But Maxim stays strong and says he'll do this his way: he calls Colonel Julyan and asks him to come to Manderley.
  • While they wait for the colonel, Mrs. de Winters gets to thinking: if this were a book, they could shoot Favell and hide his body. Or she could somehow make Maxim give Favell the money.
  • Unfortunately, she can do nothing but wait. (Because this isn't a book, right? We like this literary commentary, as if the author doesn't have control over what happens!)
  • It's still raining hard when Colonel Julyan arrives.
  • They cut right to the chase: Favell tells the colonel that he isn't happy with the ruling on the cause of Rebecca's death.
  • Colonel Julyan says that, actually, only Maxim has standing to complain about the ruling. But Favell argues that he's Mrs. de Winter's first cousin and "her future husband" (23.186). Oh, by the way… gross. And illegal in most states.
  • This complicates things. Colonel Julyan asks Maxim if he'd heard anything about Favell and Rebecca being engaged. Maxim says he hadn't.
  • Favell pulls out the evidence. He shows the colonel Rebecca's note and asks if it sounds like it was written by a suicidal woman.
  • Colonel Julyan doesn't think so, but he can't really say without knowing the actual facts behind the note. He asks Maxim if he has any idea, but he claims ignorance.
  • Favell freaks out and starts yelling: there's no way Rebecca would kill herself.
  • Mrs. de Winter can tell by the look on Colonel Julyan's face that he doesn't like Favell. Seems like Favell doesn't have many friends around here.
  • Colonel Julyan tells Favell to calm down; yelling at him isn't going to do any good. The colonel can't change the verdict, but he can investigate. So he asks Favell what he thinks happened.
  • Wildly, Favell says that Rebecca didn't kill herself. She was murdered: "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?" (23.198). After pointing the finger, Favell begins to laugh drunkenly and crazily, Rebecca's letter in his hands.

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