فصل 24

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فصل 24

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Chapter twenty four

The Return to Manderley

We went and stood by the car. No one said anything for a few minutes. Favell’s face was grey. His hand shook as he lit a cigarette.

‘She kept it a secret from everyone, even Danny. It’s been a dreadful shock to me,’ Favell said. ‘You’re all right, of course, Max. You’ve been lucky, haven’t you? You and your young wife can go back to Manderley now. You think you’ve won, but don’t be too sure, I haven’t finished with you yet.’

‘Shall we get into the car and go?’ Colonel Julyan asked Maxim. Favell smiled unpleasantly. As we drove away, he was still standing there, watching us.

‘Favell can’t do anything,’ Colonel Julyan told us. ‘I’ll soon deal with him if he comes near Manderley again. I don’t think the papers will bother you any more. There may be some talk, but I’ll make sure that people hear about Dr Baker.’

‘Thank you very much,’ Maxim said.

‘What a dreadful thing illness is,’ Colonel Julyan went on. ‘I suppose she could not face the pain. She was such a lovely young woman, too.’ Neither of us answered him.

Colonel Julyan’s sister lived in London and he asked Maxim to take him to her house.

‘We must thank you for all your help,’ Maxim said as the magistrate got out of the car.

‘I’ve been glad to help. You must forget it all now. Why don’t you have a holiday, go abroad perhaps. Goodbye, both of you. It’s been a long day.’

As Maxim started up the car, I leant back in my seat and closed my eyes. We drove on through the traffic and I felt full of peace. Nothing could hurt us any more.

We had dinner in a restaurant and Maxim phoned Frank.

‘Do you think Colonel Julyan knows the truth about Rebecca’s death?’ I asked Maxim as we were drinking our coffee.

‘Of course he knows,’ Maxim said. ‘But he will never say anything. I believe that Rebecca lied to me on purpose. She wanted me to kill her. That’s why she laughed. She was laughing when she died.’

I did not say anything. It was all over. There was no need for Maxim to look so white and troubled.

‘I’m not sure that Rebecca hasn’t won, even now,’ Maxim went on. ‘Frank told me something rather strange on the phone. Mrs Danvers has left Manderley. There was a long-distance call for her at six. By a quarter to seven, she had gone.’

‘Isn’t that a good thing?’ I said. ‘Favell phoned her, of course. But they can’t do anything to us.’

I was glad that Mrs Danvers had gone. Manderley could be ours. We would have people to stay. And soon, very soon Maxim and I would have children.

‘Have you finished your coffee?’ Maxim said to me suddenly. ‘I feel that we must get back to Manderley as soon as possible. Something’s wrong, I know it is.’

‘But you’ll be so tired,’ I said.

‘No, I shall be all right. We can be at Manderley by two o’clock.’

We went out to the car and Maxim covered me with a rug. It was dark now and I fell asleep almost at once. I started to dream. I saw the staircase at Manderley and Mrs Danvers standing there in her long, black dress. Then, in my dream, I was alone in the woods near Manderley. I wanted to get to the Happy Valley, but I could not find it. The dark trees were all round me. Then I was standing on the terrace. Moonlight shone on the windows. The gardens had gone and the dark woods came up to the walls of the house.

I woke up suddenly.

‘You’ve slept for two hours,’ Maxim told me. ‘It’s quarter past two. We shall be home by three.’

The early morning was very cold. The sky was dark now and there were no stars.

‘What time did you say it was?’ I said suddenly.

‘It’s twenty past two,’ Maxim replied.

‘That’s strange,’ I said. ‘The dawn seems to be coming up over there, behind those hills. But it can’t be, it’s too early.’

‘It’s the wrong direction, too,’ Maxim said ‘you’re looking west.’

I went on watching the sky. It was still getting lighter. A blood-red light was spreading across the sky. Maxim began to drive faster, much faster.

‘That’s not the dawn,’ he said, ‘that’s Manderley.’

We reached the top of the hill. The road to Manderley lay before us. There was no moon and the sky above our heads was black. But the sky in front of us was full of dreadful light. And the light was red, red like blood. The wind blew towards us from the sea. The wind smelt of smoke and it was grey with ashes. They were the ashes of Manderley.

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