The next morning, Charlie goes to practice racing with Mr. Redmond. Mr. Redmond sets Charlie in a sprinting contest against his rabbiting dog. He sets the dog after seven rabbits, and Charlie chases after the dog until he is exhausted. Later, Charlie meets with Nostrils for another two-person liquor run. Nostrils excitedly tells Charlie that he is going to play a new position his football game tomorrow. Nostrils has become a local celebrity for his athletic prowess, though he has “never been big on compliments” and doesn’t understand why people are so interested in him. He asks how Charlie’s boxing is going, and Charlie explains that he has given up boxing for foot racing. They pass the timber yard and see that its owner is selling it.
Charlie and Nostrils both have ambitions of improving their lives, but while Charlie dreams of power and respect, Nostrils just wants to play football. He is uncomfortable with the status he gains from playing on the local team, and he is too humble to let the attention inflate his ego, unlike Charlie, who has let his employment with Squizzy go to his head. Now Charlie is following Nostrils’s footsteps, working to improve his running so he can win a footrace and achieve his ambitions without hurting other people in the process.
The boys arrive at Darlington Parade to find several cars and bicycles outside Squizzy’s house. A bouncer lets the boys inside, where Squizzy is explaining to a group of a men a plan to shoot up a house. When he sees Charlie, Squizzy calls him in with a viciousness that frightens Charlie. He has discovered that Charlie paid Mr. Cornwall’s loan, and when Charlie tries to explain, Squizzy leaps at him with a gun. He snaps that his business can’t afford to give money away. He demands to know if Nostrils had a part in the incident, but Charlie assures him that the whole ordeal was his fault. Squizzy calms down and gives Charlie the details for the liquor run. He warns him that if Charlie fails this job, he’ll be fired.
Charlie learns more about the violence planned for Squizzy’s war on his rival gangsters, which has been slowly building in the background throughout the story. That violence carries through Charlie’s subsequent interaction with Squizzy, as Squizzy’s charming facade drops away to reveal a desperate and dangerous criminal. This passage also reveals that Squizzy’s affection for Charlie has been ingenuine, as he brusquely threatens to fire Charlie if the liquor run does not go according to plan.
The exchange with Squizzy frightens Charlie, and Nostrils tries to persuade him to stop working for Squizzy. Charlie knows Nostrils is right, but he needs to provide for his family somehow. He tells Nostrils that he doesn’t have a father like Nostrils, so he has to earn an income. Charlie leaves Nostrils, but Nostrils runs after him, smiling, and says that Charlie is too scrawny to carry the liquor alone.
In the wake of Squizzy’s violence, Charlie can no longer maintain his glamorized view of crime. Neither can he leave his life of crime, however, since his family relies on his income. Charlie’s dilemma displays how organized crime can lure in desperate young people and make them dependent on criminal activity. Nostrils is not trapped with Squizzy like Charlie is, but he stays by Charlie’s side for the liquor run because he is a loyal friend.
Charlie and Nostrils pick up some liquor from Henry Stokes’s establishment, and an employee advises them to take back streets to avoid notice. Carrying liquor is a dangerous job because the weight slows down runners if they need to escape law enforcement or someone looking to steal their goods. Charlie thanks the man for his advice, and he and Nostrils make their way to Fitzroy.
Charlie’s romantic view of crime continues to erode as he and Nostrils undertake a dangerous liquor run. Charlie taunted a corrupt constable when he knew Squizzy would protect him, but now that protection—and all the power Charlie has enjoyed because of it—is gone. Squizzy is willfully sending the boys into enemy territory, and they must handle the dangers of that on their own.