It rains for almost a week, and Mrs. de Winter watches the threatening gray sea from the windows.
The sound of the ocean is awful and actually kind of sad. She begins to understand why some people don't like it.
She's so glad they live in the east wing. It's quiet there, and she can look at the rose garden. When she's away from the sound of the ocean, it's easier not to think about the cove, Ben, and the terrible boathouse/cabin.
She doesn't want to think about those things, but at the same time she's curious about what it all means and why it bothers her.
She dwells on "the white, lost look in Maxim's eyes" (11.3) and on the way he said it was a mistake to come back to Manderley. She blames herself for "open[ing] up a road into the past" (13.3).
There seems to be a wall between them now. Mrs. de Winter is becoming paranoid, worried that any mention of the ocean will trigger another dark mood from Maxim.
She tries not to listen when Frank and Maxim talk. Instead, she hums to drown out the sound. This new worry makes her "shyness and gaucherie […] worse" (11.4).
("Gauche" is a fun word to use on family, friends and teachers. It means socially awkward.)
When the neighboring people come to visit Mrs. de Winter, she can barely speak to them. She is afraid they'll say something to remind Maxim of the past and that they'll talk about how "dull" (11.12) she is.
When she goes to visit someone else and is asked to stay longer, she always makes some excuse not to. (Don't pretend you've never done that...) She wishes she were brave enough to accept some of the invitations.
One day, she visits the wife of a Bishop in a nearby town, and the woman talks about some famous costume ball they used to put on at Manderley when Rebecca was alive.
The bishop's wife hopes the tradition will continue, and Mrs. de Winter says she'll talk to Maxim about the possibility. Hey, there's nothing wrong with playing dress-up.
Mrs. de Winter begins asking questions about Rebecca. The bishop's wife wasn't close to her, but she agrees that Rebecca was beautiful, skilled at sports, and knew how to throw a fabulous party. The three most important things in life, right?
Actually, the bishop's wife isn't the first woman to ask her about the costume ball.
She doesn't want to see any of these people, all these visitors who talk bad about her behind her back, comparing her to the fabulous Rebecca. Maybe she'll tell Maxim how she feels.
After the visit to the Bishop's wife, as the chauffeur is driving Mrs. de Winter through the gates at Manderley, she sees Frank Crawley walking up ahead. She asks the chauffeur to let her out, and she walks with Frank. Mrs. de Winter asks him about the costume ball the bishop's wife mentioned.
He says it was a pretty major event, drawing people from all around, including London.
Something about the way Frank is talking makes Mrs. de Winter wonder if he'd fallen in love Rebecca.
She asks Frank if he'll talk to Maxim about carrying out the tradition of the costume ball this year; she'd rather not ask him herself.
Now Mrs. de Winter brings up the cabin/boathouse and the man on the beach. (She's really forward with the questions today!)
Franks says the man, Ben, is very nice, and would never hurt anybody.
Mrs. de Winter learns that her suspicions are correct: Rebecca converted the boathouse to an apartment. Everything in the cabin is hers.
It seems Rebecca used it frequently for gatherings and "[m]idnight picnics" (11.79).
Mrs. de Winter asks if there used to be a boat at the boathouse/cabin. Yes there was; Rebecca was an excellent and fearless sailor.
But sadly, her boat turned over in a storm, and she drowned. Her body was found two months later about forty miles away. Maxim identified the body.
The narrator feels ill at her own curiosity.
She can feel that her questions have put up a wall between her and Frank. She considers him a friend, somebody in her corner, and she doesn't want to lose that.
So, she confesses her fear to him – that everybody compares her, unfavorably, to Rebecca.
Frank begs her not to believe such things. He finds it "refreshing and charming" (11.117) that she's not all sophisticated socially perfect.
Crying, Mrs. de Winter says she doesn't have "confidence, grace, beauty, intelligence, [or] wit" (11.118) and is basically worthless as a woman. Pity party alert!
Frank assures her she has more important attributes, like "kindness, sincerity […] [and] modesty" (11.120).
Suddenly, she realizes that Frank is really upset. She decides that Rebecca must have been kind and sincere, too, but she doesn't quite know what modesty even means. Mrs. de Winter tells Frank she doesn't think of herself as kind, sincere, or modest.
He tells her that it would upset Maxim if he heard these things, and that it's better he doesn't know.
Mrs. de Winter asks him not to tell Maxim, and he says he won't. He warns her that it would hurt Maxim if he knew she was worrying about his past.
After all, Maxim is finally healthy again. Mrs. de Winter needs to help take Manderley out of the past, not back into it.
She realizes he's right, and she thanks Frank for listening and giving her advice.
Before they go in for tea, Mrs. de Winter has one more question for Frank, and she begs him to tell her the truth. She wants to know if Rebecca was beautiful.
Frank responds: "Yes, […] I suppose she was the most beautiful creature I ever saw in my life" (11.141).