Ida is on the pier. She’s put back a few beers and is feeling good. The sea rolls in and out. It’s like bath water to her. It sets her singing. Phil Corkery joins her. He’s miserable and cold. He points out that Rose and Pinkie are nearby. Ida knows; she sees it as a stroke of good luck. Phil wishes that Ida would just let the matter drop. Ida muses about how they’ve been unlucky with witnesses—including Rose, Spicer, Prewitt, and Cubitt. The latter took a train out of town that morning. Ida isn’t worried. She has money, thanks to Black Boy, and she’s sure that right will triumph in the end.
To many of the characters, including Spicer and Cubitt, the sea’s power is a reminder of their own powerlessness. For Ida, on the other hand, it is background music. She is so confident in her own power, she hardly recognizes the strength of anything else. Her Black Boy winnings are only enough to set her up temporarily, but she isn’t thinking of anything beyond the immediate future anyway.
Phil wonders how he ever had the courage to send Ida those postcards. She’s too much woman for him. He says quietly that he really thinks this whole situation is now clearly one for the police. Ida disagrees. Now is when Pinkie and Rose are sure to crack and do something stupid. She tells him Hale’s murder is the business of anyone who knows right from wrong. Phil counters that she’s only in it for the fun. She never really cared about Hale, Phil says. Ida doesn’t see the problem in that. Phil also suggests, shyly, that the two of them have committed a sin by sleeping together out of wedlock. Ida dismisses that idea out of hand, saying it’s just human nature to want to couple and it’s fine.
Ida wanted to investigate Hale’s death not just because she wanted justice, but because she thought it would breathe some life into her mundane existence, and it has most certainly done that. Her methods, while unorthodox, are justified in her mind because they will lead to criminals being brought to justice. Phil is the quiet voice of reason, but Ida is incapable of hearing him.
Ida is still determined to save Rose, and, while Phil goes to buy her another Guinness, she considers all the people she’s saved over the years. The sea pounds at the pier uprights like a boxer’s fist against a punch ball. It’s a sign of bad weather to come.
Ida is sitting and drinking idly and congratulating herself on saving Rose, but Rose’s life is still very much in danger. This is yet another example of Ida’s tendency toward cockiness.