This is shorter than usual, as I'm still recovering from my Food Coma.
Chapter 16 -- In which Mrs. Danvers isn't just scary, but downright evil.
Frank Crawley was invaluable at a moment like this. He took the cups from me and handed them to people, and when my answers seemed more than usually vague owing to my concentration on the silver tea-pot he quietly and unobtrusively put in his small wedge to the conversation, relieving me of responsibility.
Frank is quite protective of Mrs.deW2, isn't he? She recognizes that. She also feels on firm enough footing with him to tease him a bit, and even flirt with him -- there was a moment when she struck me as not-very-modest, actually, and it seemed to me that it may have struck him the same way. But then, just a bit later, he and Maxim decide that he (Frank) and Mrs. Danvers will make all of the arrangements for the ball, cutting Mrs.deW2 out of the process:
I was glad, of course, to be relieved of responsibility, but it rather added to my sense of humility to feel that I was not even capable of licking stamps. I thought of the writing-desk in the morning-room, the docketed pigeon-holes all marked in ink by that slanting pointed hand.
AUUUUUUUUUUGH. Those damn labels.
Maxim is the least romantic romantic lead ever. Less romantic than stupid Heathcliff, even.
I wished he would not always treat me as a child, rather spoilt, rather irresponsible, someone to be petted from time to time when the mood came upon him, but more often forgotten, more often patted on the shoulder and told to run away and play. I wished something would happen to make me look wiser, more mature. Was it always going to be like this? He away ahead of me, with his own moods that I did not share, his secret troubles that I did not know? Would we never be together, he a man and I a woman, standing shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, with no gulf between us? I did not want to be a child. I wanted to be his wife, his mother. I wanted to be old.
Again, mixed feelings on my part. I wished something would happen to make me look wiser, more mature. Lady, "something" isn't just going to happen. You have to actually take action. Not on the Maxim front -- I think I've finally reached the point where I see him as a Lost Cause -- but just for herself. She could still live there with Mr. Broodypants, but begin to create her own life. Get a train set, for Pete's sake. At the same time, though, I feel bad for her. She doesn't want to be the child, she wants Maxim to be the child. She wants him to need her. It's all just so depressing.
Ah, her sketching becomes a Plot Point. Oh, God, is Mrs. Danvers going to trick Mrs.deW2 into wearing something that Causes a Scene? I don't know if I'll be able to handle it. She's so horrible.
Quite the dinner conversation:
"If I told you I was thinking about Surrey and Middlesex I was thinking about Surrey and Middlesex. Men are simpler than you imagine, my sweet child. But what goes on in the twisted tortuous minds of women would baffle anyone. Did you know, you did not look a bit like yourself just now? You had quite a different expression on your face."
"I did? What sort of expression?"
"I don't know that I can explain. You looked older suddenly, deceitful. It was rather unpleasant."
So. Did Maxim marry our narrator because he saw her as honest and innocent? And are those qualities that Rebecca didn't have? I don't doubt that he's plenty tortured about Rebecca, but I'm starting to wonder if his reasons for being tortured about her are actually as obvious as they appear to be.
"A husband is not so very different from a father after all. There is a certain type of knowledge I prefer you not to have. It's better kept under lock and key. So that's that. And now eat up your peaches, and don't ask me any more questions, or I shall put you in the corner."
Yecch. I'll put him in the corner.
The day of the dance:
I felt very much the same as I did the morning I was married. The same stifled feeling that I had gone too far now to turn back.
The chapter has been rough, and I haven't even found out why Mrs. Danvers suggested that dress (though I certainly have my suspicions).
I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. The dress scene made me nauseous. It was all the more crushing because she'd been so happy getting ready, and I can't remember the last time she'd been happy. And did you notice how she went from happy to somewhat frenzied to almost delirious? The tension mounted up and up and up, way before she even came down the stairs.
Why? Why why why why why would she trust Mrs. Danvers? She knows -- KNOWS -- that Mrs. Danvers hates her.
Chapter 17 -- The Ball.
You know, I was impressed with her for refusing to go down to the party, but then I also gave her points when she finally did go down. I don't think I'd have been able to do it.
Chapter 18 -- In which we get a heaping helping of Danvers Crazy.
Mrs.deW2 comes to terms with her situation:
That was why I had come down last night in my blue dress and had not stayed hidden in my room. There was nothing brave or fine about it, it was a wretched tribute to convention. I had not come down for Maxim's sake, for Beatrice's, for the sake of Manderley. I had come down because I did not want the people at the ball to think I had quarrelled with Maxim. I didn't want them to go home and say, "Of course you know they don't get on. I hear he's not at all happy." I had come for my own sake, my own poor personal pride. As I sipped my cold tea I thought with a tired bitter feeling of despair that I should be content to live in one corner of Manderley and Maxim in the other as long as the outside world should never know.
Like I said, train set.
Frank's on his way over, but I have no idea what he's planning on telling Mrs.deW2, or if he's worried that Maxim might be planning to off himself.
I hadn't realized that Mrs. Danvers raised Rebecca. Her description of Rebecca made her sound extremely unattractive -- so selfish and self-absorbed. Up until she started trying to convince the narrator to commit suicide, I was actually feeling kind of bad for her. If the rockets hadn't gone off, distracting Mrs. Danvers and Mrs.deW2, what would have happened? Would she have jumped?