In the morning, Tom overhears Marge beginning to tell Herbert about the rings over the phone. When she hangs up, she tells Tom that Herbert now agrees that “it looks as if Dickie meant to kill himself.” Tom showers and dresses, and then the telephone rings. Marge answers it—she tells Tom that the American detective has arrived, and is on his way from the airport.
Tom has skillfully engineered the appearance of Dickie’s suicide, even if he has convinced everyone of that fact in a roundabout way. A master of deception, Tom now faces investigation at the hands of the American authorities, a threat that seems to him more serious than dealing with the Italian police.
Marge and Tom go over to Herbert’s hotel, where he and the American detective, McCarron, are waiting for them. Marge hands the rings over, and McCarron asks Tom when Dickie gave them to him. Tom replies, “a few days after the murder of Freddie Miles.” Tom insists that, because Dickie lent him “certain things” in the past, he didn’t think much of the rings. Marge, however, “can’t imagine Dickie without his rings,” and she tells the detective that this is the reason she thinks “he was either intending to kill himself or change his identity.”
The loss Tom feels at surrendering the rings is palpable—he’d held onto them as totems after coveting them for so long, and he had imbued them with a kind of magic in his ritual assessment of Dickie’s possessions. To Herbert and Marge, the rings hold a similarly strong power, and seem to encapsulate Dickie’s soul.
McCarron goes over the facts of Dickie’s “disappearance” again, including the forgeries and the intricacies of Tom, Marge, and Dickie’s friendship. McCarron then asks Tom to accompany him downstairs. Tom panics on the way to elevator, wondering if “this is the way they did it.” He envisions himself being handed over to the Italian police, and he wills himself to not begin sweating. Downstairs, McCarron and Tom sit in the coffee bar, and McCarron asks Tom to describe “the San Remo boat in detail.” He also asks Tom to describe Dickie’s personality, to elaborate on Dickie’s relationship with Marge, and whether or not he believes Dickie killed Freddie Miles. McCarron tells Tom that he plans to return to Rome today, and the two return to Herbert’s room, where McCarron tells Marge he’d like to speak with her alone as well.
Tom’s imagination runs away with him, as it is wont to do. He obsessively creates scenarios in his head, believing them to be true, and often with the goal of making them appear real. This vision, however, is a fearful and dreadful one, and yet Tom does not consider how he will escape. Rather, he complies completely with McCarron’s questioning. McCarron luckily seems to view Tom as an innocent asset, someone who is as distraught over Dickie’s disappearance and as devoted to finding the truth of it as Marge, Herbert, Emily—and the rest of the world.
Herbert and Tom say their goodbyes, and Tom returns home, where he spends the afternoon waiting on a telephone call from McCarron, but it never comes. Tom decides that he won’t worry about any “trouble” from Marge, reassuring himself that she will “arrange everything in her dull imagination” to accept the idea of Dickie’s suicide.
Tom continues to feel a sense of superiority as he dodges responsibility and accusation, thinking Marge “dull” and feeling secure in his belief that she will never discover the horrible reality of Dickie’s death.