Gillian Blanchard's birthday is on November 18th, and to celebrate the occasion, she arranges to have dinner with Rick Braithwaite at a fancy restaurant in Chelsea. The two of them have great fun traveling by bus to a movie first, and then on the the restaurant. The host seats the couple, "with a questioning glance" at Rick; he is obviously non-plussed to see that Rick, a black man, is dating a white woman. The service is "exceptionally slow," particularly at their table, and when the waiter finally comes, he is discourteous and purposefully clumsy. Gillian reacts angrily, and asks Rick to take her home.
When the taxi he has hired arrives at Gillian's house, Rick is not sure if he is to go in with her, as she is obviously still furious. She curtly invites him in, however, and when he gives her the birthday gift he has brought, Gillian explodes in fury. Gillian is appalled at the treatment they received, and asks why Rick did not fight back. Rick responds that "it wouldn't help," at which point Gillian becomes hysterical.
Gillian had been aware of the fact of racial discrimination, but had never experienced it herself. When she finally calms down, Rick thinks that their relationship cannot help but end here, but Gillian wants to talk about what has happened. Rick explains to her about his experiences as a black man in England after the second world war, telling her,
"At first it was terrible, but gradually I'm learning what it means to live with dignity inside my black skin."
The couple decide to continue their relationship, even though they will be subject to discrimination and abuse. Gillian admits that she is "not brave, really," but says that she is willing to try because of her love for Rick (Chapter 18).