In the first part of the story, we learn about the setting, the situation, and the attitudes of the two women. Their superficial friendship seems friendly enough on the surface, but each of them thinks to herself how she pities the other's past life.
In Part Two, Alida tells Grace she's jealous of the latter woman's daughter, Barbara, because Alida's own daughter, Jenny, is so quiet and shy. This comment begins the walk down memory lane that sets off the hateful exchange between the two women, and we learn the whole story behind their relationship, including the surprise admission of Grace. Alida's cruelty to Grace backfires on her, just as it did years before when Alida tried to keep Grace and Alida's husband apart before they were married.