In the present day, the narrator is glad that first love can't happen twice and that we don't stay twenty-one forever. Amen, sister! She continues her memories:
When Mrs. Van Hopper asks the narrator what she's been up to, she says she's been taking tennis lessons. She feels a little guilty for lying, but she obviously can't tell Mrs. Van Hopper about Mr. de Winter.
Every morning she runs downstairs to find him waiting for her in his car. They basically have a standing date, and she wishes those driving days would never end.
One day she tells Mr. de Winter that she wishes someone would invent a machine to preserve memory in a bottle, like perfume. He asks which memories she wants to save. She says she wants to save this one. Aw.
We think it's sweet, but Mr. de W laughs at her; it kind of reminds her of the way Mrs. Van Hopper would laugh if she knew she was out with Mr. de Winter.
The narrator finally bites the bullet: she asks Mr. de Winter why he's been spending time with her and why he won't tell her anything about himself.
He asks her what she knows about him already. She says she only knows that he's a widow, and that he lives at Manderley. As she says the words, she realizes he'll soon be gone, and she will be back to her old life as Mrs. Van Hopper's companion.
She's wrapped up in her thoughts and doesn't realize that Mr. de Winter has pulled over and stopped the car. He begins to talk to her seriously.
He tells her he doesn't want to remember anything about the past and that he's come to Monte Carlo to try to forget. She has helped him do this; she has made the past invisible for him.
Now he's annoyed that she thinks he's just being nice, or hanging out with her out of pity. If she doesn't believe that he really likes her, she should just get out of the car. First fight, everyone.
She's on the verge of tears, and she asks him to take her home. Soon the tears spill, and she cries silently. How depressing.
And to top it off, now she has to go have lunch with Mrs. Van Hopper in their room. Then she'll have to mix drinks and entertain Mrs. Van Hopper's friends.
Mr. de Winter begins apologizing… sort of. He tells her to forget about this morning. From now on, he wants her to call him "Maxim" like his family does. (Finally, a first name!) He kisses her head.
She's bright and happy again; the relationship is not over. In fact, it's being taken to the next level. Well, that turned around quickly!
After Mrs. VH and our narrator are finished playing the card game bezique (we guess they didn't have TV back then), Mrs. Van Hopper asks if Maxim is still at the hotel Côte d' Azur.
The narrator says she thinks he still is. She's afraid somebody has told Mrs. Van Hopper that she's been hanging out with Maxim instead of taking tennis lessons.
But no, Mrs. Van Hopper is just gossiping: she thinks Maxim is hot, but hard to get to know. She's also sure that he's on the verge of inviting her to Manderley. Don't hold your breath, Mrs. VH.
Now, she starts talking about Maxim's late wife, Rebecca. Apparently, she was gorgeous and gave the most fabulous parties ever at Manderley.
As the narrator deals with Mrs. Van Hopper's guests, she thinks of Maxim's wife and how Manderley must remind him of her.
She also thinks about the book under her pillow that used to belong to Rebecca and how it was a gift from Rebecca to Maxim, who she called Max.
Maxim is the name he uses with relatives and people like the narrator. But Max is more intimate. She thinks of all the notes Rebecca must have written to him.
The narrator is happy he told her to call him Maxim, but she seems to be wishing for something more. (Say, to call him Max?)