Wilson sat on the balcony of the Bedford Hotel with his bald pink knees thrust against the ironwork. it was Sunday and the Cathedral bell clanged for matins. On the other side of Bond Street, in the windows of the High School, sat the young negresses in dark-blue gym smocks engaged on the interminable task of trying to wave their wirespring hair. Wilson stroked his very young moustache and dreamed, waiting for his gin-and-bitters.
Sitting there, facing Bond Street, he had his face turned to the sea. His pallor showed how recently he had emerged from it into the port: so did his lack of interest in the schoolgirls opposite. He was like the lagging finger of the barometer, still pointing to Fair long after its companion has moved to Stormy. Below him the black clerks moved churchward, but their wives in brilliant afternoon dresses of blue and cerise aroused no interest in Wilson. He was alone on the balcony except for one bearded Indian in a turban who had already tried to tell his fortune: this was not the hour or the day for white men—they would be at the beach five miles away, but Wilson had no car. He felt intolerably lonely. On either side of the school the tin roofs sloped towards the sea, and the corrugated iron above his head clanged and cluttered as a vulture alighted.
Part I, One, The Heart of the Matter