Mr. Peacock comes by the house after lunch the next day. Mrs. Feehan quickly makes herself presentable and greets him. Mr. Peacock gives Mrs. Feehan a parcel and sits down in what used to be Mr. Feehan’s seat. Mr. Peacock is dressed nicely and wearing cologne. Charlie sits with the adults but doesn’t talk, and the conversation between them is awkward without Mr. Feehan, who had been the connection between the two of them and who was generally a gregarious host. Charlie feels his father’s absence and wants him back.
In Charlie’s eyes, Mr. Peacock is trying and failing to replace Mr. Feehan. He takes Mr. Feehan’s seat and tries to endear himself to Mrs. Feehan by giving her a gift, but he lacks Mr. Feehan’s charm and his love for Mrs. Feehan and Charlie. Rather than filling an empty paternal role for Charlie, Mr. Peacock’s awkwardness only makes Charlie feel Mr. Feehan’s absence more.
Nostrils knocks on the door, interrupting the awkward visit. Charlie welcomes him and introduces him to the adults, and then the two boys go to the kitchen for a cup of tea. Nostrils sees Harriet and points out that the duck is male. After tea, they leave to play football. For the first time, Charlie shares his feelings about his father’s death with someone besides Mrs. Feehan. He can still not bring himself to use the word “dead,” which seems too final. He appreciates that Nostrils doesn’t push the matter––he just listens.
The friendship between Nostrils and Charlie develops as Nostrils sees Charlie’s home life and Charlie allows himself to be vulnerable. The support of his friend allows Charlie to move forward in his grieving process, but he still struggles to accept that his father is truly gone.
Charlie and Nostrils play football in the park, pretending to be famous athletes. Nostrils is a far better player than Charlie, but Charlie still enjoys himself. Nostrils kicks the ball a far distance, and when Charlie chases it, he finds Jimmy Barlow and his friends. Barlow steals Charlie’s football. He shouts at his friends to grab Charlie, but Charlie is prepared and runs away. He shouts at Nostrils to run, but instead of using his head start, Nostrils waits for Charlie, and they run off together. When they finally get away, Nostrils remarks that they will probably see Barlow again.
Play with his friend briefly allows Charlie to be a child again. He also learns more about Nostrils, discovering that while Charlie may be a faster runner, Nostrils is a superior athlete. Neither boy resents the other’s skill, however, and they have fun together. Nostrils proves his dedication to their friendship when he waits for Charlie to start running from Barlow.