Pinkie and Cubitt are on their way home from the inquest called to look into Spicer’s death. As with Hale, the inquest found no signs of foul play. Pinkie should be elated, but he’s paranoid and angry instead. A band of blind musicians marches up the pier, and Pinkie walks in front of their leader, blocking him. The band comes to a halt for a moment. Then Pinkie lets them go by. He’s not sure why he did such a thing. He didn’t know they were blind. It’s as if he has no control over his own behavior.
Pinkie should be thrilled that, for a second time, he was able to murder with impunity, but there is a hidden part of Pinkie that wishes he would get caught. He’s tired of killing and scheming and knows he’ll most likely have to keep doing both to stay out of prison or not get killed himself, whether by Colleoni or one of his own men.
Dallow asks Pinkie what’s on his mind and Pinkie admits that he’s starting to think the murder of Hale, a dirty little journalist who got mixed up with Colleoni and got Kite killed, might have been a mistake. It no longer seems worth the trouble. Dallow reassures him that everything’s fine, but Pinkie isn’t comforted. He feels like he’s taking on all the risk. He stops and looks out at the sea and then turns, surveying Brighton, the territory he inherited from Kite. Dallow suggests Pinkie join him and Cubitt at the Queen of Hearts for some fun. An old man picks his way along the shore. Pinkie watches him for a while. Then he agrees to go out, but he says he won’t drink. He never does.
This is the first time that Pinkie admits to another person that Hale’s murder might have been a mistake. What seemed a matter of necessity at the time now strikes him as the catalyst for all the trouble that has come after, including Pinkie’s wooing of Rose, which has made him feel bitter and boxed in. The old man picking along the shore represents to Pinkie the futility of human striving.
The Queen of Hearts is in a converted Tudor barn. Spicer’s girlfriend, Sylvie, is drinking alone at the bar. Cubitt suggests they go over to her and offer her their condolences. Pinkie has never met her before. In the dance hall nearby a band is playing a sentimental song and Pinkie finds himself feeling something for Sylvie: admiration, maybe, and curiosity. She tells him that Spicer always spoke well of him, but that Spicer was pretty sure Pinkie was a virgin. Pinkie tells her Spicer didn’t know much. Dallow suggests to Cubitt they leave to give Sylvie and Pinkie their privacy.
Music continues to work on Pinkie like a potion. As the song plays, he grows gradually more human, taking an interest in Sylvie, who, after all, is now bereft, thanks to Pinkie. Spicer was right when he speculated that Pinkie was a virgin, but Pinkie has far too much pride to admit that in front of the sexy Sylvie.
Sylvie says Dallow always knows when she likes a man. Pinkie eyes her with lust. Here is a woman who has been wanted by others. He remembers stories of her infidelities. He takes a drink for the first time and gropes her breast, thinking that she is not at all like Rose. He tells her he’s going to be married soon. Then he suggests they dance, but dancing isn’t good enough. He wants to take her to the cars. She refuses at first, since Spicer only died the day before. But soon she’s leading him to someone else’s Lancia. She gets in the backseat and pulls her skirt up, but Pinkie, overcome with visions of Colleoni in full retreat and Pinkie suddenly made conqueror of the world, is nauseated by the idea of making love and he tells her he’ll run and get Cubitt for her.
Pinkie has never known true sexual desire before, and it takes him by surprise. His desire for Sylvie is based mostly on the fact that other men have wanted her in the past. No man that he knows of ever wanted Rose. Sex is therefore a competition to him, a gladiatorial contest. That is why, when he finally gets up the courage to try to seduce Sylvie, he is unable to follow through. He doesn’t really want Sylvie. He wants power. That is what excites him.
There’s a pool in front of the road house and Pinkie stops in front of it, watching two swimmers doing laps side by side, completely at ease. He thinks he would rather hang than marry. He sees his reflection quiver as they swim through it and then he feels his feet slip on the wet tiles.
The swimmers represent people who are comfortable in their own skin, the very opposite of Pinkie, who lurches from murder to sex to shame with no awareness of who he really is.