The narrator notices that Maxim seems tired after hosting his sister. To relax, he, the narrator, and Jasper the dog go for a walk in the woods, to an area of Manderley called the Happy Valley. As they walk, the narrator can’t help but think about Beatrice. Beatrice and Maxim seem barely to know one another—the narrator can’t wrap her head around why Maxim was so irritated with Beatrice that afternoon.
The narrator gets a surprising hint that Maxim isn’t any more comfortable around his guests than the narrator is. This is an important moment, because it shows that the narrator’s peers aren’t always as confident and self-assured as she’d believed.
As Maxim and the narrator walk around the grounds, Jasper bounds away from them, and the narrator goes chasing after him. She then comes upon a middle-aged man, who’s clearly mentally challenged. The man is digging a ditch. The narrator greets him and asks him for a piece of string—something to use as a leash for the dog. The man doesn’t respond. The narrator walks ahead to a small cottage, but doesn’t find any string inside. She notices that the cottage is filthy—clearly nobody has been inside in years. When she emerges, the man says, “She don’t go in there now,” and adds that “she” is “gone in the sea.”
We’re meant to automatically assume that the “she” the mentally challenged man refers to is Rebecca. It’s telling that we can make this leap so easily: Rebecca’s presence dominates life at Manderley to the point where even a single reference to a vague “she” must mean Rebecca.
The narrator and Jasper walk back to Maxim. Maxim tells the narrator that the man is named Ben. Maxim also noticed that the narrator entered the cottage. Feeling uncomfortable, the narrator bursts out that she’ll “never go near the bloody place” again. Maxim is surprised by the narrator’s sudden outburst. He says that they should never have come back to Manderley. Together, they walk back to the house. The narrator begins to weep.
Here again, we see the narrator and Maxim interacting with each other through allusions and implications instead of saying exactly what’s on their minds. Evidently, the narrator believes that Maxim wants her to keep away from Rebecca’s old rooms—although Maxim himself hasn’t said this, Mrs. Danvers at least has implied as much. The tragedy of this scene (which will get more obvious as the book goes on) is that much of the narrator’s anxiety about displeasing her husband is in her own head.
The next day, the narrator begins to fall into the rhythm of life at Manderley. She has tea with Maxim in the afternoon. The weather is cold and grey. The narrator notices that Manderley is very close to the sea, though it’s hard to see or hear the sea from the house itself.
After the intense outburst of emotion of the previous section, the narrator feels a bit of relief and begins to make more progress in fitting in at Manderley. The sea, like Rebecca’s presence at Manderley, is something ubiquitous and all-encompassing, but also hidden and just out of reach.