Chapter 23 Summary
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...
(The entire section is 820 words.)