Tom writes a letter to Herbert in which he describes finding Dickie’s “will,” which was “given” to him some time ago in Rome. He apologizes for not having remembered having the envelope sooner “because it would have proven much earlier that Dickie intended to take his own life.” Privately, Tom thnks to himself that his gambit with the letter is “asking for trouble” and “might start a new investigation,” but he goes forward with the plan because he is just in the “mood.” He feels that “the very chanciness of trying for all of Dickie’s money is irresistible.” He is planning to sail for Greece in just three days, believing that it will “look better” to seem “unconcerned as to whether he got the money or not.”
Once careful to cover his tracks when he took risks, Tom has now settled into a flirtatious dance with “chanciness.” Having dulled himself to the experience of living a life of luxury and freedom, Tom now longs to create mazes from which he must escape, thrills which will provide him with the opportunity to feel something.
Tom visits the countess Titi, who tells him that the afternoon papers are saying that Dickie’s suitcases and paintings have been found “right here in the American Express in Venice.” The police have already begun to search the items for fingerprints. Tom reacts erratically to the news—he rambles on to Titi, telling her that the discovery of the suitcases in no way proves that Dickie is alive. He worries that the knot on Dickie’s sunken body will come undone, and he racks his brain for anything in the suitcases that might offer the authorities his fingerprints. To calm himself, he tries to think of Greece, but he knows that with “the threat of the fingerprints hanging over his head” he’ll never be able to enjoy himself. Tom begins to sob, and Titi attempts to comfort him to no avail.
The news of the discovery of Dickie’s suitcases sends Tom into a spiral—he fears that he has been caught at last, and that a guillotine or ticking time bomb hangs over him, ready to bring the collapse of all he has worked to secure. Even the consolation of a trip, an escape, cannot soothe him now—his “sick, passionate pursuer,” he feels, is just about to finally catch up to him after all this time.