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Home: The Toast

“You thought I loved Rebecca? You thought I killed her, loving her? I hated her, I tell you. Our marriage was a farce from the very first. She was vicious, damnable, rotten through and through. We never loved each other, never had one moment of happiness together. Rebecca was incapable of love, of tenderness, of decency. On a certain warm day in summer Rebecca’s thirst exceeded the bounds of propriety. When she asked a third time for permission to quench it at the common fountain Miss Dearborn nodded ‘yes,’ but lifted her eyebrows unpleasantly as Rebecca neared the desk. As she replaced the dipper Seesaw promptly raised his hand, and Miss Dearborn indicated a weary affirmative.

‘What is the matter with you, Rebecca?’ she asked.

‘I had salt mackerel for breakfast,’ answered Rebecca.”


“‘You may go to your seat, Rebecca,’ said Miss Dearborn at the end of the first song. ‘Samuel, stay where you are till the close of school. And let me tell you, scholars, that I asked Rebecca to stand by the pail only to break up this habit of incessant drinking, which is nothing but empty-mindedness and desire to walk to and fro over the floor. Every time Rebecca has asked for a drink to-day the whole school has gone to the pail one after another. She is really thirsty, and I dare say I ought to have punished you for following her example, not her for setting it.’ Time will mellow it, make it a moment for laughter. But now it was not funny, now I did not laugh. It was not the future, it was the present. It was too vivid and too real.”


“I could fight with the living but I could not fight the dead. If there was some woman in London that Maxim loved, someone he wrote to, visited, dined with, slept with, I could fight her. We would stand on common ground. I should not be afraid. Anger and jealousy were things that could be conquered. One day the woman would grow old or tired or different, and Maxim would not love her anymore. But Rebecca would never grow old. Rebecca would always be the same. And she and I could not fight. She was too strong for me. She continually forgot and started up the front stairs because it was the shortest route to her bedroom; she left the dipper on the kitchen shelf instead of hanging it up over the pail; she sat in the chair the cat liked best; she was willing to go on errands, but often forgot what she was sent for; she left the screen doors ajar, so that flies came in; her tongue was ever in motion; she sang or whistled when she was picking up chips; she was always messing with flowers, putting them in vases, pinning them on her dress, and sticking them in her hat.”


“There was no jam there as a matter of fact, but the guilty Minnie’s handkerchief went to her crimson face in a flash. What degradation lay in being young.”


“‘If you think you could move up some stones and just take off the top rows, I could step out over,’ suggested Charlotte Corday. ‘Then leave the stones, and you two can step down into the prison to-morrow and be the two little princes in the Tower, and I can murder you.’

‘What princes? What tower?’ asked Alice and Emma Jane in one breath. ‘Tell us about them.’

‘Not now, it’s my supper time.’ (Rebecca was a somewhat firm disciplinarian.)

‘It would be elergant being murdered by you,’ said Emma Jane loyally, ‘though you are awful real when you murder; or we could have Elijah and Elisha for the princes.’

There was never an accident. Rebecca was not drowned at all. I killed her. I shot Rebecca in the cottage in the cove. I carried her body to the cabin, and took the boat out that night and sunk it there, where they found it today. It’s Rebecca who’s lying dead there on the cabin floor. Will you look into my eyes and tell me that you love me now?”


“Emotions of various sorts were all struggling together in the old man’s face, and the two or three bystanders were astounded when they saw the handsome, stately girl fling herself on Mr. Cobb’s dusty shoulder crying like a child. ‘Oh, uncle Jerry!’ she sobbed; ‘dear uncle Jerry! It’s all so long ago, and so much has happened, and we’ve grown so old, and so much is going to happen that I’m fairly frightened.”‘

Packing up. The nagging worry of departure. When shutting drawers and flinging wide an hotel wardrobe, or the impersonal shelves of a furnished villa, I am aware of sadness, of a sense of loss. Here, I say, we have lived, we have been happy. This has been ours, however brief the time. Though two nights only have been spent beneath a roof, yet we leave something of ourselves behind. Nothing material, not a hair-pin on a dressing-table, not an empty bottle of Aspirin tablets, not a handkerchief beneath a pillow, but something indefinable, a moment of our lives, a thought, a mood. This house sheltered us, we spoke, we loved within those walls. That was yesterday. Today we pass on, we see it no more, and we are different, changed in some infinitesimal way. We can never be quite the same again.”


“The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea. God bless Aunt Miranda! God bless the brick house that was on fire! God bless the brick house that is to be!”

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