My Cousin Rachel

by

Daphne du Maurier

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Ambrose Ashley Character Analysis

Ambrose Ashley is Philip’s maternal cousin and father figure. Twenty years Philip’s senior, Ambrose has raised Philip as a son since the deaths of Philip’s parents. Because he suffers from rheumatism, Ambrose spends his winters abroad. It is on one such excursion that Ambrose meets, falls for, and marries Rachel Ashley in Italy. Ambrose dies shortly after his marriage, in mysterious circumstances: he may have been suffering from a genetic brain tumor (as his own father did), or Rachel may have poisoned him. The reader only sees Ambrose once; all other details about Ambrose are revealed through Philip’s memories, or Rachel’s. Though du Maurier shows Ambrose as being a caring “parent” to Philip, she also emphasizes his hatred of women. This makes it difficult for the reader to fully sympathize with Ambrose, thus complicating the issue of whether the reader ultimately believes Ambrose’s written claims that Rachel is evil.

Ambrose Ashley Quotes in My Cousin Rachel

The My Cousin Rachel quotes below are all either spoken by Ambrose Ashley or refer to Ambrose Ashley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Sourcebooks edition of My Cousin Rachel published in 2009.
Chapter 12 Quotes

“Ambrose was wrong in what he said of women,” I shouted. “At half-past eight in the morning they look very well indeed.”

“Ambrose was not referring to half-past eight,” she called back to me; “he was referring to half-past six, and he did not mean downstairs.”

Related Characters: Philip Ashley (speaker), Rachel Ashley (speaker), Ambrose Ashley
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

Then she kissed me. Not as she had done before. And as I stood there, holding her, I thought to myself, “It was not yearning for home, nor sickness of the blood, nor fever of the brain—but for this, that Ambrose died.”

Related Characters: Philip Ashley (speaker), Rachel Ashley, Ambrose Ashley
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

And I could see them sitting on the terrace of the villa, with this strange shadow between them, built out of nothing but their own doubts and fears, and it seemed to me that the seeds of this same shadow went back beyond all reckoning and could never more be traced.

Related Characters: Philip Ashley (speaker), Rachel Ashley, Ambrose Ashley
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

I went to my room, and catching sight of my reflection in the mirror paused, and stared. Surely it was Ambrose who stood there, with the sweat upon his forehead, the face drained of all colour? Then I moved and was myself again; with stooping shoulders, limbs that were clumsy and too long, hesitant, untutored, the Philip who had indulged in school-boy folly.

Related Characters: Philip Ashley (speaker), Ambrose Ashley
Page Number: 315
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

Then, tears coming to her eyes, she looked at me and said, “A woman can’t suffer twice. I have had all this before.” And lifting her fingers to her throat she added, “Even the hands around my neck. That too. Now will you understand?”

I looked over her head, straight at the portrait above the mantelpiece, and the young face of Ambrose staring at me was my own. She had defeated both of us.

Related Characters: Philip Ashley (speaker), Rachel Ashley (speaker), Ambrose Ashley
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 358
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

I had held it many times, in love, before. Felt the small size of it, turned the rings upon the fingers, seen the blue veins upon the back, touched the small close-filed nails. Now, as it rested in my hand, I saw it, for the first time, put to another purpose. I saw it take the laburnum pods, in deft fashion, and empty out the seeds […] I remembered once I had told her that her hands were beautiful, and she had answered, with a laugh, that I was the first to tell her so. “They have their uses,” she said. “Ambrose used to say, when I was gardening, that they were workmen’s hands.”

Related Characters: Philip Ashley (speaker), Rachel Ashley (speaker), Ambrose Ashley
Related Symbols: Rachel’s Hands
Page Number: 371
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire My Cousin Rachel LitChart as a printable PDF.
My Cousin Rachel PDF

Ambrose Ashley Character Timeline in My Cousin Rachel

The timeline below shows where the character Ambrose Ashley appears in My Cousin Rachel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...years old and seeing a dead man named Tom Jenkyn at Four Turnings; Philip’s cousin Ambrose (who was twenty-seven at the time) explained to him that Jenkyn had been hung for... (full context)
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...question of whether Rachel was “innocent or guilty” haunts him every day. Philip muses about Ambrose’s death in “that damned villa,” and about how similar to Ambrose he has become, almost... (full context)
Chapter 2
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The chapter opens with Philip remembering his last night with Ambrose, before Ambrose “set out on his final journey.” Philip says that, in the moment, he... (full context)
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Philip describes his childhood in Ambrose’s home. Since he was orphaned at eighteen months of age, Philip grew up with Ambrose.... (full context)
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Ambrose began wintering abroad after Philip finished his schooling. While away, Ambrose enjoyed collecting foreign plants... (full context)
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Ambrose leaves for Italy, and Philip spends time at home visiting with his godfather, Nick Kendall,... (full context)
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In another letter, Ambrose continues to praise Rachel, saying: “She is extremely intelligent but, thank the Lord, knows when... (full context)
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After not hearing from Ambrose for several months, Philip receives an Easter letter from him. In it, Ambrose announces that... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Philip feels guilty about how unhappy Ambrose’s marriage has rendered him and tries to hide his disappointment. Meanwhile, his neighbors, including the... (full context)
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...jealous of Rachel, but when his godfather, Nick Kendall, mentions that an heir produced by Ambrose and Rachel would significantly alter Philip’s life, Philip admits that he is, in fact, experiencing... (full context)
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...“middle-aged and forceful” to “simpering and younger than Louise.” Soon, Philip receives a letter from Ambrose, which states that he and Rachel will spend the remainder of the summer in Italy... (full context)
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Time jumps forward to the winter, and Philip begins to receive anxious, nostalgic letters from Ambrose, filled with “a kind of loneliness that struck me as strange in a man but... (full context)
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Philip does not hear from Ambrose throughout the spring, and he begins to grow worried. In July, Philip finally receives a... (full context)
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...driving away from the estate, a servant rides up with a letter. It is from Ambrose, and it reads: “For God’s sake come to me quickly. She has done for me... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Philip arrives in Florence, Italy, on August 15. He is anxious to reach Ambrose, and finds himself disgusted by the scenery, as though his “anxiety turned to loathing of... (full context)
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...Signor Ashley, the woman fetches her husband (Giuseppe), who speaks English. Giuseppe tells Philip that Ambrose died suddenly three weeks ago. Upon Ambrose’s death, Rachel “shut up the villa […and] went... (full context)
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The news of Ambrose’s death makes Philip feel numb. Giuseppe takes Philip through the villa, followed by Giuseppe’s wife... (full context)
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Giuseppe asks if Philip would like to see the room where Ambrose died; Philip agrees. The room is “plain and bare like a monk’s cell,” with a... (full context)
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...gives Giuseppe some money and thanks him. When Philip asks what has been done with Ambrose’s belongings, Giuseppe’s wife (with her husband as translator) explains that Rachel took all of Ambrose’s... (full context)
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As Philip leaves the villa, Giuseppe’s wife runs into their home and returns with Ambrose’s hat, the one thing Rachel left behind. Philip silently turns it over in his hands,... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...daze, he finds himself wandering into a cathedral. As he stands in the church with Ambrose’s hat in his hands, Philip “realise[s] suddenly and sharply the full measure of [his] loss.”... (full context)
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...The two men discuss Rachel’s departure, and Philip makes the “bold move” of showing Rainaldi Ambrose’s last two letters, in which he expressed clear distress. Rainaldi insists that Ambrose’s doctors believed... (full context)
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Rainaldi offers to contact Ambrose’s doctors on Philip’s behalf, but Philip declines. Rainaldi then produces Ambrose’s death certificate, saying that... (full context)
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Philip continues to press Rainaldi for details about Ambrose’s letters, which he claims are proof that Ambrose was “surrounded by people he [could not]... (full context)
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Philip demands more answers from Rainaldi: why didn’t Rachel contact him, Philip asks, when Ambrose fell ill? Rainaldi replies that “a woman of feeling does not easily give way.” “[Women’s]... (full context)
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Rainaldi offers to make arrangements for Philip to visit Ambrose’s grave, but after a brief conversation, Philip realizes he does not want to see the... (full context)
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...stands there reflecting. He decides he believes “in the truth of those two letters” from Ambrose, rather than in Rainaldi’s version of events. He then makes a vow to seek revenge... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...The servants and tenants are all in mourning, as Nick Kendall has informed them of Ambrose’s death. Philip feels relieved to be home; on his return journey, he felt haunted by... (full context)
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The following day, Nick Kendall pays a visit to Philip in order to read him Ambrose’s will. Rainaldi was correct in stating that Kendall has been appointed Philip’s new legal guardian.... (full context)
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...of Rachel’s departure from the villa, saying she “[went] off, like a thief, taking all Ambrose’s possessions with her.” Kendall chides Philip for being ungenerous, reminding him that Ambrose’s will does... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Nick Kendall shows Philip the letter from Rachel. In it, she provides an account of Ambrose’s death and also inquires as to what she should do with her late husband’s possessions;... (full context)
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...“untidy, dusty, [and] smelling like a kennel.” Offended, Philip insists that if the house suited Ambrose, it should suit his widow just fine. When Louise asks if Philip really intends to... (full context)
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...as he and the servants have learned that no provision was made for Rachel in Ambrose’s will. “It’s not usual, you see,” Seecombe says, adding, “We, the servants, were not forgotten.”... (full context)
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...that Rachel has arrived. Rachel has brought few possessions of her own, and all of Ambrose’s old things have been placed in Philip’s room. Rachel has decided to dine alone in... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...about how “strange” it is to be in the Ashley home; she says she and Ambrose often discussed “the journey home.” Philip soon finds himself thinking: “If anyone was at fault... (full context)
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Rachel insists that Ambrose “always intended [Philip] to have his room,” and that he would be very glad of... (full context)
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Before Philip leaves, Rachel gives him Ambrose’s old walking stick. She then pushes him from her room. Befuddled, Philip stands outside her... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...Philip that she brought to Plymouth “all the plants and shrubs that we had collected, Ambrose and I, during the past two years,” and that she and Tamlyn have been discussing... (full context)
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...knows the names of all the Bartons (tenants’ farms associated with the estate). Rachel says, “[Ambrose’s] home was his passion, therefore I made it mine.” (full context)
Chapter 10
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...so he explains that his worry began when he received the two disturbing letters from Ambrose. He offers to show them to Rachel, but she says she will look at them... (full context)
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...Rachel does not leave, so Philip instead returns to the hearth and throws both of Ambrose’s letters in the fire. (full context)
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...on talking, and Philip explains how jealous he was of Rachel when he first heard Ambrose had married her. Rachel claims that Philip and Ambrose suffer from the same problem: the... (full context)
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Philip is confused. He asks whether Rachel means that Ambrose “put [her] on a sort of pedestal.” “No,” Rachel says. “I would have welcomed a... (full context)
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Philip assures Rachel that Ambrose could have just as easily fallen ill at home in Cornwall. The two then bond... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...suggests that she ride with Nick Kendall, while Philip rides with Louise. (It was always Ambrose’s custom to dine after church with the Kendalls, and the family of Mr. Pascoe, the... (full context)
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As dinner draws to a close, Nick Kendall asks whether Philip reminds Rachel of Ambrose, and she replies, “So much so […] that I have wondered […] if there is... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...out for a walk about the grounds. He begins to worry about the fact that Ambrose’s will makes no financial provision for Rachel, and he decides to visit Nick Kendall to... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...that she has written to Nick Kendall to accept the allowance. Philip finds himself resenting Ambrose for not providing for Rachel; he “hate[s] the fact” that she has had to experience... (full context)
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...already stayed longer at the Ashley estate than she had planned. Philip insists that “if Ambrose had not been such a lunatic this would have been [Rachel’s] home,” which further upsets... (full context)
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Philip convinces Rachel to stay by asking her to tend the gardens, as Ambrose would have wanted. Rachel bids Philip come closer, and she kisses him, then pushes him... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...the fair weather breaks, and—at Seecombe’s suggestion—Philip decides to spend one rainy morning going through Ambrose’s old things. Rachel joins him, and they begin by sorting through Ambrose’s clothes, which Rachel... (full context)
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Philip and Rachel move on to sorting through Ambrose’s books, chatting as they do so. Rachel is particularly pleased to find a book about... (full context)
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...Philip insists it’s “nothing” and throws the letter in the fire. However, Rachel has seen Ambrose’s handwriting, and asks what the paper was. Philip tells her it was “just some note... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...ruminating on the letter he found. By the even, easily legible handwriting, Philip concludes that Ambrose must have written the letter before he became ill. Later, in the library, Philip is... (full context)
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...asks Philip to accept the coverings as a gift, and Philip reluctantly accepts. Having read Ambrose’s letter, Philip now feels “haunted by some doubt that what [Rachel] wanted to do for... (full context)
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Again, Rachel asks what was in the letter that Philip found, and he admits that Ambrose expressed in it his anxiety “about expenditure.” Rachel seems relieved, and explains that her “extravagance”... (full context)
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Rachel abruptly stops talking, and says that she wants Philip “to remember [Ambrose] as [he] knew him.” “The last months were mine,” she says, “and I want no... (full context)
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...with me once again. But this time I was jealous, not of Rachel, but of Ambrose.” (full context)
Chapter 16
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Philip decides to revive Ambrose’s tradition of giving a Christmas Eve dinner for the tenants on the estate. Philip arranges... (full context)
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...remembers that Rachel will not wear colored stones because she is still in mourning for Ambrose. All seems solved when Philip sees a pearl collar he remembers from his childhood. The... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...and “loose living.” Kendall even suggests that the only reason Rachel did not “run through [Ambrose’s] entire fortune” was because Ambrose died so soon after the pair were married. (full context)
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...wear them because you knew that had I been married here, and not in Florence, Ambrose would have given them to me on our wedding day.” She then goes upstairs to... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Philip uses the home improvements as an excuse to suspend the regular Sunday dinner that Ambrose traditionally held for the Pascoes and Kendalls. Philip and Rachel take to spending their evenings... (full context)
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...who is sick in bed. This tenant is one of those to whom Philip donated Ambrose’s old clothes at Christmastime. The tenant, having just donned the coat for the first time,... (full context)
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...the grounds, up to a path that overlooks the estate. There, a granite stone that Ambrose often jokingly referred to as his tombstone stands. Ambrose inscribed the stone with a record... (full context)
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...the house, my loyalty was with her.” Here near the granite stone, however, Philip feels Ambrose’s “power [is] strongest.” He decides to open the letter, and finds it is dated three... (full context)
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Ambrose is particularly disturbed by recent inquiries Rainaldi has been making about Ambrose’s will. Ambrose reveals... (full context)
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Ambrose concludes the letter by describing the symptoms of his headaches, which are many, and which... (full context)
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Philip refolds Ambrose’s letter, places it in his pocketbook, and buries the book in a hole under the... (full context)
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...can think is that this is the first time Rachel has shown sorrow “not for Ambrose,” but for him. (full context)
Chapter 19
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...dies around midnight. In Rachel’s bedroom, Rachel and Philip reminisce about Philip’s tenth birthday, when Ambrose gifted him with Don. Philip talks of his twenty-fifth birthday, which is coming in three... (full context)
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...is unfazed by this news because of the “plan” he has in mind. Without mentioning Ambrose’s letter, Philip asks Rachel what she would do had Ambrose left a will of the... (full context)
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...will, and while he does so, he questions Rachel about it. When he asks why Ambrose never signed this version of the will, Rachel replies: “I think when he realised that... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...Kendall, carrying the document he has received from his attorney and the will drafted by Ambrose. Philip announces to Kendall that he wants him to witness his signature on the new... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...is dismayed, and his dejection increases when he realizes for the first time that with “Ambrose but nine months dead […] the world would think it wrong for us to marry... (full context)
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While walking home, Philip and Rachel pass the granite stone—Ambrose’s “tombstone.” Rachel insists on stopping to see it, and Philip is suddenly overcome by the... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...from the moment she met her, and thinks that “no one could ever understand, save Ambrose, who was dead.” Louise asks what Philip’s future holds, and he says he will continue... (full context)
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...collar around her neck. She points to the river, and Philip looks down to see Ambrose’s dead body floating past. (full context)
Chapter 25
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...at the parlor in the Rose and Crown. Alarmed, Philip takes a small boat of Ambrose’s out into the harbor and spies on the entrance to the inn. Before long, he... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...how.” He finds himself wondering whether Rachel poisoned her first husband, Sangalletti, as well as Ambrose. With Ambrose’s letter now destroyed, Philip is “the only one to know he spoke the... (full context)
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...perplexed; something must be missing, he thinks. He continues searching and finds a drawing of Ambrose, done, he thinks, by “some Italian friend, or artist.” Ambrose has written a dedication to... (full context)
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...amongst the stones. She opens her eyes when he takes her hands, and calls him Ambrose. Philip holds Rachel’s hands as she dies. The novel ends with the same line with... (full context)