Ida wakes up in a Brighton boarding house, the reminders of the previous drunken night at Sherry’s with Phil Corkery all around her. The room isn’t as nice in the morning light as she thought the night before, but it’s homey and she likes that. There are roses on the wallpaper. She knows she’ll have to save her money. She doesn’t want to ask Phil for any. She decides to go see Jim Tate, the only bookie she knows, to talk about putting some down on Black Boy.
Ida’s search for information about Hale’s death looks a lot like a vacation. That’s not to say Ida doesn’t take the hunt for Hale’s killers seriously. She is quite capable of mixing business with pleasure, which is why she decides to bet on Black Boy to bankroll her investigation, rather than looking for more stable work.
Tate greets Ida expansively but gets her last name wrong, calling her “Mrs. Turner.” She tells him she’d like to put twenty pounds on Black Boy and that she heard his odds were twenty to one. Tate tells her they’ve shortened a bit. He’ll give her twelve to one. The phone rings and Tate’s demeanor changes. He is talking to Colleoni. He promises to do something for him, then hangs up the phone and writes out a ticket for Ida, only he writes “Black Dog” instead of “Black Boy.” He is obviously distracted and Ida leaves, wondering what happened to make him so anxious.
This is the same Tate that neglected to pay his subscription to Pinkie. His nervousness following the phone call with Colleoni suggests that something is going to happen at upcoming horse race, perhaps the very thing the police inspector was most dreading. It also seems that Tate, like so many shady characters in Brighton, is in Colleoni’s employ.
Ida goes to a nearby bar and orders a port. She asks the barman who Mr. Colleoni is. The barman is incredulous. Everyone knows Mr. Colleoni. He was involved in Kite’s death. Ida has another port and asks who Kite is. The barman tells her that Kite got stabbed in a railway station. The people who did it only meant to cut him, but the razor slipped, he says. Ida looks at the clock. She is meeting Phil Corkery at one, so she has time for another port and some more gossip. The barman tells her that Colleoni wants a monopoly and he’ll probably get one because the other mob in town is being run by a kid of 17.
Tate’s phone call gives Ida some precious information. Now, thanks to her time in the bookie’s office and this conversation with the barman, Ida has more leads to follow. She also has a date to make. Like Pinkie, Ida is concerned with the passing hours. She only has so much time in which to finish her investigation. If she takes too long, her leads will dry up and she’ll run out of money. She, too, is working against the clock.
The barman tells Ida to look out the window—the kid (Pinkie) is walking by right now. She goes and stares out but doesn’t see anyone out of the ordinary. It’s another beautiful day in Brighton with its assortment of girls in swimming suits, men selling newspapers, and tourists. Ida and the barman talk some about Hale’s death. The barman said the news didn’t make many waves in town, since Hale was a basically a stranger. Ida finds such a concept alien. Nothing is strange to her. She identifies with everyone and everything. What she can’t understand, though, is a man like Pinkie, and she feels nothing for what she doesn’t understand. She finishes her third port, saying to no one in particular that it’s a good life.
Ida does not seem to understand the concept of a stranger; everyone she meets is a potential friend. Ida’s love of humanity has its limits, however. She cannot pretend to understand someone like Pinkie who, born into poverty and entrenched in a life of crime, kills without remorse. Pinkie and people like him offend Ida’s humanitarian sensibilities.
Ida walks to Snow’s and gets a table for her and Phil Corkery. She asks around for the waitress who got the Kolley Kibber card and changes her table to Rose’s section. Ida asks Rose what it was like winning the ten shillings. Rose tells her it was thrilling. She and Ida chat some more. Rose says that she likes working at Snow’s. She finds the tablecloths and daffodils elegant and she’s grateful that the restaurant puts her and two other girls up in an apartment where they have two mirrors to share. Ida asks how old she is and Rose admits she’s only sixteen. She pretended to be seventeen to get the job.
Ida’s luck holds. She manages to get the usually reticent Rose to open up to her. Rose, unused to luxury of any kind, relishes what little Snow’s has to offer her: two mirrors in her bedroom and vases of daffodils on every café table. Pale, timid, and plain, it seems Rose is more of a wallflower than a rose.
Ida begins to ask Rose what she noticed about the Kolley Kibber man, suggesting that, having won those prized 10 shillings, she will probably never forget him. Rose’s attention is drawn to the window. She lets it slip that he wasn’t so little. Then she clams up. When Ida asks Rose what the man looked like, Rose says she doesn’t know. She can never remember a face. Ida speculates that that must have been why Rose didn’t challenge the Kolley Kibber man to win the grand prize.
Rose is lying when she tells Ida she doesn’t have a good memory for faces. In reality, she remembers Spicer’s face perfectly. Rose, while sweet and timid, is not without discernment. She senses that Ida is trying to trap her and refuses to be drawn in.
Phil Corkery arrives, looking worn out by the passions he’d never have the opportunity to express. He orders two large bottles of Guinness for him and Ida. Ida grabs Rose by the arm, asking if the Kolley Kibber man had much to eat. Rose says she served him a Bass and a sausage roll and that that was the extent of her interaction with him because Snow’s was busy that day. Then she flees. Ida tells a skeptical Phil that she can tell by what Rose said that it wasn’t Hale who left the card at the restaurant.
Ida expresses every feeling she’s ever had. Phil Corkery, on the other hand, is a shell of a man, aged by repressed desires. Ida’s sense that it wasn’t Hale who left the card in Snow’s seems, at this point, to be based mostly on a hunch. When Molly Pink asked Ida if she was a detective, Ida laughed the idea off, but she is blessed with the right instincts for the job.
Phil doesn’t understand why Ida is getting so involved in a case that really should mean nothing to her. She says she’s all about fair play, an eye for an eye. Then she asks Phil if he will stick by her. Taking a swig of beer, he tells her he will do anything for her. Ida replies that there’s only one thing to do and that’s go to the police.
Ida assumes that the police will want to hear what she has to say about the Hale case because, as a firm believer in right and wrong, she thinks she and the authorities are on the same side.
Ida arrives at the station, exuding confidence and goodwill. Phil follows close behind. Ida asks a sergeant if she might see the inspector. She would like to report a suicide. The sergeant tells Ida that the inspector is busy and she’ll have to wait. Ida, more than a little tipsy, says she and Phil have nothing to do until the pubs open again at six. Soon, though, Ida and Phil are called into the inspector’s office. Ida wastes no time in telling him she’s here about Charles Hale. She knows that the report in the newspaper was flawed because it could not have been Hale who dropped the card at Snow’s that day. The waitress told Ida the man who dropped the card ordered a Bass and Hale hated Bass.
Ida’s trip to the police station parallels Pinkie’s meeting with Colleoni in the Cosmopolitan. Pinkie was completely confident in his ability to meet Colleoni half way; Ida, too, is sure of herself and her findings. She is also convinced that the police will take her seriously and treat her accusations with respect and care, but, given that her only evidence is Hale’s taste in beer, that respect proves elusive.
The inspector tells Ida that the concerns she has can be easily explained away. Hale most likely sent another man to Snow’s to leave the card and then that man swore the waitress to secrecy. Ida still isn’t satisfied. She asks to see the coroner report and the inspector hands it to her. She’s impressed by the detail it goes into. She learns the Hale has a third nipple and suffers from gas. She keeps reading, seeing that he also had a number of bruises on his arms. She asks the inspector to explain those and he says it was probably a matter of getting jostled in the Whitsun holiday crowds. Ida is contemptuous of such an idea, and, when the inspector dismisses all of her theories as empty fancies, she tells him she doesn’t need the police anyway. She’ll solve this herself, with some help from her friends.
The police are obviously uninterested in reopening Hale’s case. The bruises on his arms do suggest a struggle of some kind, but the cops do not want to consider any ideas that might prompt them to open a murder investigation and, in so doing, make their jobs more difficult. They’re condescending to Ida, mocking her not just because she’s been drinking and is armed with rather weak evidence, but because she is a woman. Ida, though, is not easily deterred. She is as determined as the police are lazy.
Ida’s friends are everywhere in Brighton. They’re the husbands following their wives obediently into the fishmongers and then sneaking away to the peep show. They know they can count on Ida to give them a good time and that she won’t tell their wives about it afterward. They’re the middle class who likes to get lit sometimes and sing a few songs and indulge in a few harmless superstitions. They’re Ida and Ida is them.
Ida belongs to the very class that Hale once looked down on and that, based on this passage, Greene considers inferior as well. However, he writes that, while Ida’s friends might not necessarily be the best and the brightest, they are numerous, and that will help Ida in her search.
Ida and Phil are talking about money and doctors. Ida says she hopes to make money on a horse and that she doesn’t trust doctors. Phil suggests they go for a walk along the pier and Ida agrees, but then she refuses to go through the turnstile when they get there, focusing instead on the same ladies’ lavatory where she washed herself the last time she saw Hale. Nearby and unbeknownst to Ida is Spicer, waiting for an enemy to show up. Ida tells Phil her horse has to win. She won’t be able to go on with her investigation otherwise.
Ida is becoming obsessed with the mystery of Hale’s death. Phil hopes to convince her to take in a little harmless fun, but wherever she goes and whatever she does, Ida is reminded of Hale and their short but very sweet encounter. In many ways, her investigation is like a horse race: the odds are long and much depends on luck.