Chapter 23 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 820

Crawley and a policeman attend to the girl after she nearly fainted in the courtroom. Crawley takes her home as de Winter asked, since de Winter may be at the inquest for a long time. She is worried that if the coroner continues harping at de Winter, her husband will...

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Crawley and a policeman attend to the girl after she nearly fainted in the courtroom. Crawley takes her home as de Winter asked, since de Winter may be at the inquest for a long time. She is worried that if the coroner continues harping at de Winter, her husband will lose his temper and say things he does not mean.

Crawley is driving fast, something the careful man never does, and the girl tells him she does not trust Danvers and Favell and is afraid they might “make mischief.” Neither Crawley nor the girl is certain how much the other knows, so they do not have much to discuss on the drive to Manderley. As she goes to her room to lie down, the girl wonders how the estate manager will be able to help. All she can think about is de Winter having to go away and perhaps even be hanged. The girl wakes with a start at five o’clock when she hears thunder booming. Lightning splits the sky but there is still no rain. The men have not returned from the inquest.

Finally de Winter arrives looking old and tired. He tells her the results of the inquest; the coroner ruled that Rebecca committed suicide by drowning, though no motive was apparent. De Winter explains that if he had not seen his wife’s face as she was about to faint, he would have lost his temper during the hearing; however, seeing her there reminded him of what he had to do.

Crawley is making the awful arrangements to have Rebecca’s body buried. Still the heavy rain does not fall and the oppressive heat continues. Once everything is over, de Winter tells his wife, they will start their lives together again. As he leaves for the burial, the rain finally begins and is soon falling in torrents.

Firth tells the young girl that someone is here to see her husband. It is Favell and she agrees to see him. As always, Favell is smug and arrogant, accusing her of staging a faint to help her husband at the inquest. When the footman, Robert, brings the guest a drink, Favell teases him mercilessly about girls and then makes sly advances toward the young girl. The man’s speech is growing “slurred and thick” as he tells the girl he admires her for putting up with her moody husband.

Unsteady now, Favell says this has all been an awful shock to him, too, since he was “damn fond” of his cousin Rebecca. Now he is no longer smiling, and he asks what de Winter is going to do now that the “sham inquest” is over. The drunken Favell insists he is going to ensure that justice is done since they both know Rebecca’s death was not a suicide.

Just as Favell begins to get menacing, de Winter and Crawley appear. The intruder threatens to make trouble for de Winter and admits he and Rebecca were lovers. Until today, he had been foolish enough to believe, like everyone else, that Rebecca’s death had been an accident. Now he thinks something entirely different.

Favell reads the last note Rebecca ever wrote to him. Rebecca said she would be at the cottage that night (the night she died) and wanted to see him as soon as possible because she had something to tell him. It is not the sort of note a suicidal woman would write, Favell contends, and de Winter asks why he did not read the note at the inquest. Favell is interested in a settlement for his silence—three thousand pounds a year for the rest of his life not to bother de Winter again.

De Winter insists he will not be blackmailed and calls Colonel Julyan to come immediately to Manderley. Crawley and the girl are distraught, but Favell is amused, confident he will be able to get de Winter hanged. After de Winter introduces Favell to Julyan, he tells Favell to tell the colonel what he knows. Favell says that, as Rebecca’s cousin and prospective husband, he is not content with the results of the inquest.

Julyan is taken aback and asks de Winter if it is true; de Winter merely shrugs and says this is the first he has heard of it. Favell hands Rebecca’s note to Julyan, explaining it was written several hours before she died; he rambles on about Rebecca wanting to see him and asserting that drowning herself would be the “hysterical, impulsive freak of a neurotic girl,” something Rebecca obviously was not.

Julyan does not like Favell or his shouting rant. When he asks Favell what he thinks happened to Rebecca, Favell accuses de Winter of murdering her and not waiting even a year before marrying someone else. Then Favell begins to laugh insanely, like a foolish drunkard, as he twists Rebecca’s note between his fingers. 

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