Part 1, Chapter 14 Summary
Thomas Hudson goes back to work but feels unhappy about the boys’ being gone. He thinks this is the normal loneliness he feels each time their visit ends, so he concentrates on his painting. His world ends when one of the island boys brings a radio message from the local post office. He signs for it, and the boy says, “We’re sorry, Mr. Tom.” Thomas Hudson tips the boy a shilling, but he returns it and leaves.
Thomas Hudson reads the message. Then he puts it in his pocket and goes out to sit on the porch. He reads the message again. It says that David and Andrew, along with their mother, were killed in a car accident near Biarritz. Everything is being taken care of until Thomas Hudson’s arrival. The message is signed by the Paris branch of his New York bank.
Eddy joins him on the porch. He heard about it from Joseph, who heard about it from one of the boys at the radio shack where the message was received. Eddy is in shock, unable to understand how something like this could happen. He feels sure that David was not driving, as does Thomas Hudson, though he says it does not matter anymore. The driver may have been their mother or perhaps the chauffeur. Eddy wonders if it could have been Andrew, since he was conceited enough. Thomas Hudson replies that he is not conceited now.
Thomas Hudson makes plans to have a plane sent to the island so he can make the trip to New York. Eddy asks him what to do while he is away. Thomas Hudson tells him just to look after things. He will leave checks for each month; he plans to be gone for some time. If there are storms, Eddy should get some good help for the boat and the house. Eddy promises to take care of everything.
Neither man can think of anything rational to say. Eddy says that at least they still have Young Tom. “For the time being,” Thomas Hudson replies. He sees the future lying blank ahead of him. Eddy suggests that he stay in Paris for a while, then go to the house in Cuba and have Young Tom join him there to keep each other company. Thomas Hudson agrees to the plan, but in the incomprehensibility of it all, he does not have much interest in his life to come.