In June, Maxim travels to London to attend a public dinner. For two days, the narrator is on her own. As she watches Maxim drive away in his car, she senses that she’ll never see him again—perhaps he’ll have some horrible accident. Later in the day, she receives a telephone message from the dinner club in London: Maxim has arrived safely. This calms the narrator.
Although the narrator is sometimes angry with Maxim for being oblivious to her emotions, she’s still extremely attached to him. Not coincidentally, her behavior in this scene resembles that of a young child saying goodbye to her parents for a weekend.
The narrator proceeds with her day. Slowly, she realizes that she’s feeling excited for the first time since she arrived at Manderley: she has a childish desire to go exploring. With Jasper, she goes running through an area of the grounds called the Happy Valley, where there are beautiful flowers everywhere. As the narrator joyfully inspects the flowers and foliage, she realizes that, if Maxim were there, she’d be somber and meek.
This is an important step in the narrator’s coming-of-age—she’s beginning to guide her own way through the manor house, instead of allowing herself to be pushed and scheduled by Maxim or Mrs. Danvers. It’s also telling that the narrator is happier without Maxim around, even though she seems to base her entire happiness around him—when he’s actually present, she feels that she must perform in front of him, and live up to an impossible ideal.
The narrator walks through the Happy Valley until she approaches the sea. There is a harbor with a buoy floating nearby. She notices that “Je Reviens” (which means “I come back” in French) is written on the buoy. This reminds the narrator of Rebecca’s boat—a boat which did not come back on the day she drowned.
The name of the boat in the harbor is ironic: although Rebecca’s boat doesn’t come back, Rebecca herself “returns” to Manderley after her death, since her influence can be felt everywhere. The name also has a more menacing undertone to it—as if Rebecca herself is promising the narrator that she will “come back.”
Jasper begins to bark, and he runs toward the cottage nearby. As the narrator approaches the cottage, she notices Ben, who’s hiding behind a wall. Ben sheepishly emerges, and the narrator notices that Ben is holding a fishing line in his hand. The narrator sternly tells Ben not to take other people’s things, assuming that he’s keeping the line for himself. She cautions him that Maxim doesn’t like people going inside the cottage. Ben begins to cry, and insists that he doesn’t want to be sent to an asylum. The narrator, feeling guilty for being so harsh, assures Ben that he won’t be punished.
As the narrator becomes a little more comfortable with her life at Manderley, she begins to assume more of a role of authority, and to exercise her control over the people she has technically “outranked” this whole time. For now, however, she is still a very reluctant leader, and immediately expresses regret for bossing around Ben.
Ben tells the narrator, “you’re not like the other one.” He explains that “the other one” threatened to throw him in the asylum if he explored the cottage. The narrator slowly tells Ben that no one will throw him in an institution. The narrator walks away from the cottage, pitying Ben—surely he’s been living in fear for years, frightened that Rebecca would send him away.
Once again, Ben talks about Rebecca without ever mentioning her name. It’s suggested that Rebecca was cruel to Ben, threatening to send him away if he was disobedient. This is one of the first hints that Rebecca wasn’t as lovely a person as the other characters have made her out to be—a hint that the narrator doesn’t seem to catch.
As the narrator walks back to the house, she notices an unfamiliar car parked off the road. Suddenly, she notices that one of the windows of the west wing has been opened—there’s a man staring down at her. When the man notices the narrator staring back, a hand shuts the window immediately. The narrator recognizes this as Mrs. Danvers’s hand (the black sleeve is a dead giveaway).
In this rather eerie scene du Maurier builds the tone of suspense and menace. On another level, however, we also see the narrator acting like the owner of Manderley, rather than a guest. When she sees a strange man at the window, her first thought isn’t, “Someone I haven’t met yet,” but rather, “An intruder.”
When the narrator enters the house, she notices that a few things have been moved or rearranged: her knitting has been placed on a table, and someone has been sitting in her usual divan. She hears Mrs. Danvers’s voice saying, “If she has gone to the library you will be able to go through the hall without her seeing you.” Feeling a little mischievous, the narrator goes to the drawing room and stands near the door, in the hopes of catching the “intruder.” Sure enough, a man, noticing Jasper barking, walks into the drawing room, and is startled to see the narrator standing there.
The narrator proves that she has a good eye for details, and that she’s been at Manderley for long enough to know where small objects are kept. For the first time, she acquires evidence that Mrs. Danvers isn’t just a severe but obedient servant. She’s clearly scheming with the intruder to make sure that the intruder isn’t seen—clearly working against the narrator, but also possibly against Maxim himself.
The mysterious man apologizes to the narrator, and explains that he’s come to see “old Danny.” He pets Jasper, and explains that he’s known the dog for years and years. Without introducing himself, he asks the narrator about “old Max”—but nobody calls Maxim “Max,” the narrator thinks.
Eerily, the intruder turns out to be perfectly familiar with Manderley—more at home, seemingly, than the narrator is. The intruder (still anonymous) is also immediately associated with Rebecca, as both call Maxim by the same nickname.
Mrs. Danvers enters the room, and the narrator senses that Danvers despises her. The man asks Danvers to introduce him to the narrator—Danvers explains that the man is Mr. Favell, but she doesn’t explain who this is. Favell says that he should be going. He adds that he’s parked his car in a remote part of Manderley, so as not to “disturb” the narrator. The narrator sees through this lie immediately: Favell didn’t want to be seen while he was at Manderley. Before he leaves, he asks the narrator not to mention his visit to Maxim—he explains that Maxim isn’t “fond of me.” The narrator doesn’t say that she’ll keep his secret, but she also doesn’t say that she won’t.
Although Mr. Favell is the intruder in this situation, he doesn’t betray any signs of discomfort or sheepishness. This suggests that the narrator isn’t being as harsh with him as she could be—she’s just been too hard on Ben, and probably doesn’t want to make the same mistake again. Even if the narrator doesn’t assert her status as the mistress of Manderley, she does at least finally have some power and agency of her own—in the form of information that Favell and Danvers want to be kept secret.
After Favell is gone, the narrator wonders who he could be: he’s addressed Maxim as Max, something only Rebecca did, as far as the narrator can tell. It’s possible that Favell is some kind of thief or con-man, and Mrs. Danvers is his accomplice. As the narrator considers these possibilities, her heart begins to beat in a “queer excited way.”
Ironically, the frightening possibility that Mrs. Danvers is a traitor is exciting to the narrator. In part, this is because the narrator has been unsure about her relationship with Danvers for a long time now—it would be almost reassuring to know to a certainty that she’s a villain.