Chapter 22 Summary
The news of Rebecca’s body being discovered headlines the local paper, and the staff at Manderley is distressed and shocked. The young girl knows she cannot ignore the news. Frith tells her the staff is willing to help however, they can, but Danvers has taken the news badly; the housekeeper went to her room right after lunch and has not been down since. Danvers seems quite ill.
After Frith leaves, the girl reads the awful newspaper story. It is true enough to be factual, yet it is “sprinkled with little inaccuracies” which give readers the titillation they so desire. All the papers make mention of the story, as both de Winter and Manderley are important to the region. As de Winter reads each account, he gets paler and curses them, but all his wife thinks about is how much worse the reaction would be if everyone knew the truth.
Crawley has had all calls to Manderley sent through to his office where he can deal with them and de Winter is not bothered. Crawley looks tired as he explains that he is telling their friends that the de Winters wish to be alone during this difficult time. All de Winter must worry about is the inquest and the coroner, a “sticky sort of chap” who likes to delve into irrelevant details to prove how thorough he is. Crawley just reminds his friend not to antagonize the man so everything will run smoothly and life can return to normal.
The more the girl thinks about it, the more convinced she is that Crawley has known the truth about Rebecca’s death from the beginning and has always tried to protect de Winter—though de Winter does not seem to realize this. All they can do now is wait. Danvers does not appear, and Clarice tells her mistress that the housekeeper does her work but stays to herself and speaks to no one.
It is still oppressively hot and the air is full of pent-up thunder. After a hurried lunch, the de Winters drive to the inquest and Crawley follows them. When they arrive, the girl decides she will not attend the proceedings; she waits in the car instead. After the men leave and she sits in the car for a while, she gets out of the car and walks for a bit. Soon she is inexorably drawn to the building where the inquest is being held. She is allowed in only because she is Mrs. de Winter. Since her husband has already testified, she does not mind hearing the rest of the evidence being given.
The inquest is nearly over, and she is startled to see Danvers and Favell sitting in the back of the room. The boat-builder is testifying and stubbornly insists that the boat he built for Rebecca would not have capsized easily, even unattended, in the slight wind blowing on the night she died. He goes on to explain that his reputation had been sullied by the apparent unseaworthiness of the boat, so when the craft was recovered he took the opportunity to examine the boat to...
(The entire section is 791 words.)