فصل 23

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فصل 23

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Chapter twenty three

Dr Baker

I woke up early the following morning at about six o’clock. I got up and went to the window. The trees were covered in mist.

There was a sharp coolness in the air. Autumn had arrived.

This was the start of a new day at Manderley. Soon the servants would be starting work. Whatever happened to us, life at Manderley would go on. The peace of Manderley could not be broken. Its beauty could not be destroyed. The flowers would come every year, the birds would sing. Manderley would always be here, safe and secure, within sound of the sea.

Maxim slept on and I did not wake him. The day ahead would be long and tiring. London was many miles away. We did not know what we should find at the end of the journey.

Somewhere in London lived a man called Baker. He had never heard of us. But our future was in his hands.

I had a bath, dressed and then woke Maxim. He got up and went into the bathroom. I began to pack a few things. We might have to stay overnight in London. I looked at my small case. It seemed so long since I had used it. But it was only four months. I could not believe it.

We had breakfast together and I went out on to the terrace. The air was fresh and clear now. It was going to be a perfect day. At nine o’clock exactly, Frank brought up Colonel Julyan in his car.

We were going in Maxim’s car. I sat beside Maxim and Colonel Julyan got into the back.

‘You will telephone, won’t you?’ Frank said as he stood on the steps.

‘Yes, of course,’ Maxim said. As we drove away, I looked back at the house. It had never looked more beautiful. For some reason, my eyes filled with tears. Then we were round the bend of the drive and I could see the house no longer.

When we came to the crossroads, Favell was already waiting. He waved when he saw us and started up his car. I settled down for the long journey to London. The hours passed and the miles went by, Favell’s car always behind us.

We had lunch somewhere and reached London at about three o’clock. It was then that I began to feel tired. It was warm and the streets were busy. The drive through the centre of London seemed very long. Maxim looked pale and tired, but he did not say anything. Favell’s car was always behind us.

We reached Baker’s house at about five o’clock. Maxim stopped the car and we got out. Favell came up to meet us. We all walked slowly up the path to the front door. Colonel Julyan rang the bell.

A woman opened the door.

‘Is Dr Baker at home?’ said Colonel Julyan. ‘He is expecting us. I sent a telegram.’

‘Yes, of course,’ said the woman. ‘My husband is in the garden. I’ll tell him you are here.’

She took us into a cool room at the back of the house. She went out and in a few minutes a tall man came into the room.

‘I’m Dr Baker. I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Please sit down,’ he said.

‘We are sorry to trouble you, Dr Baker,’ Colonel Julyan said. ‘My name is Julyan. This is Mr de Winter, Mrs de Winter and Mr Favell. We have come about the death of the late Mrs de Winter. You may have read the report in the papers.’

‘The verdict was suicide,’ Favell said. ‘I knew Mrs de Winter very well. She did not kill herself. She had no reason to. We want to know why she came to see you on the day she died.’

Dr Baker looked surprised. ‘I think you’ve made a mistake,’ he said. ‘No one called de Winter has ever come to me.’

‘But we found your old telephone number in Mrs de Winter’s diary.’ Dr Baker looked at the page from the diary that Colonel Julyan was holding out to him.

‘That certainly was my number,’ he said.

‘Perhaps Mrs de Winter gave you a different name,’ Colonel Julyan suggested.

‘It’s possible,’ said Dr Baker slowly.

‘If you have any record of a visit on that day, could we see it?’ Colonel Julyan asked. ‘This is an important matter.’

‘Murder,’ Favell said.

‘Of course,’ said the doctor. ‘I had no idea there was any question of that. I’ll go and get my book.’

While Dr Baker was out of the room, we said nothing. No one looked at anyone else. Favell whistled quietly under his breath.

Dr Baker came back into the room with a large book. He opened the book and turned the pages. We all stood watching his face.

‘I saw a Mrs Danvers on the 12th at two o’clock,’ Dr Baker said at last.

‘Danny? Why did…?’ Favell began. Maxim broke in.

‘Rebecca gave the wrong name, of course,’ he said. ‘Do you remember the visit now, Doctor?’ But Dr Baker was already searching his files. He picked out a card and read it.

‘Yes,’ he said slowly, ‘I remember now.’

‘Was she tall and dark, a beautiful woman?’ Colonel Julyan asked.

‘Yes,’ said Dr Baker. He put back the card and looked at Maxim. The doctor spoke slowly.

‘The woman who called herself Mrs Danvers was very ill indeed. She had come to me the week before. I took some X-rays. She had come back to hear the result. I remember her words exactly. “I want to know the truth,” she said. “If I’m really ill, I want to know.” So I told her.’

Dr Baker stopped and looked down at the files.

‘There was nothing to be done,’ he went on. ‘An operation would have been useless. I told her that. In six months, she would have been dead.’

No one said a word and the doctor went on, ‘Mrs de Winter looked a healthy woman. She had very little pain at that time. But the pain would have come. The X-rays showed that she could never have had a child. But that was nothing to do with her illness.’

Everyone was standing up. We shook hands with Dr Baker and he walked with us to the front door.

‘Shall I send you my report?’ Dr Baker asked.

‘We may not need it,’ said Colonel Julyan. ‘We’ll write to you if we do. Thank you very much.’

‘I am glad to have been of some use,’ said Dr Baker. ‘Goodbye.’ And he shut the door.

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