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The Divers go to visit Mary North, an old friend from New Jersey; she has married a wealthy Hindu prince and become the Contessa di Minghetti. Both Nicole and Dick find her weird and amusing as she plays the role of a traditional Eastern wife and princess. At dinner, Dick tells Mary's husband all sorts of wild lies about Hollywood; he also drinks too much and swears. Nicole is appalled at his behavior; however, Mary and her new husband are formal and polite. Later, Dick and Nicole learn that the prince’s son from a previous marriage is very sick with an undiagnosed illness. In spite of this fact, the Divers' own son is made by one of the servants to bathe in the same water as the sick boy. Nicole and Dick are outraged and confront the erring servant, who tries to defend her actions.
The following day Mary's husband leaves suddenly. In his absence, Mary questions the Divers about their accusation that her sister-in-law, the prince’s sister, has endangered the Divers’ son. Both she and her husband are insulted by Dick’s accusations and refuse to accept any apologies. Instead, Mary wants to question the child, but Nicole objects. Dick, however, gives his permission, wanting to clear up the matter. When Lanier comes in, he says the bath water was dirty, but it is unclear whether the water had been changed or not. When Mary begins to chastise the child, Lanier becomes furious, striking out at his father for betraying his confidence. Since the situation is uncomfortable, the Divers decide to take an early departure. Before departing, Dicks tells Mary that she has gotten “damn dull.” On the train, Dick eases the tension by joking with the whole family. He wonders how many more times he will be able to reunite the Divers family.
Dick notices a yacht out in the water; the owner, Golding, has recently invited the Divers to go out on the boat with him, but they declined. Now suddenly Dick wants to go with Golding in an effort to recapture their old Divers habit of being social and spontaneous. They have been out of the social scene for so long that they are now judged to be unpopular "refusers." Nicole has no interest in rejoining society tonight, but Dick insists. When they enter the yacht, they interrupt a dinner party. Tommy Barban is present, still looking like an adventurer, handsome and very tan; he is involved in conversation with Lady Caroline Sibly-Biers, whom Tommy considers to be the wickedest woman in all of Europe. When he spies Nicole, he is so happy to see her that he ignores Lady Caroline.
Nicole looks at the partygoers and only sees neurotic, unhappy people. She thinks Lady Caroline looks absolutely tubercular. When Dick goes up to talk to her, Nicole overhears her husband criticize the British people, not noticing that Lady Caroline is obviously insulted. Golding, the host, finally has to “save” Lady Caroline from Dick. Nicole is mortified about Dick's behavior. When she later finds him alone on the deck, she says she wants to help him. Dick, however, accuses Nicole of ruining him. He then grabs her wrists, suggesting that they end it all together.
Although she is crying, Nicole, in a distressed state, seems almost willing to jump overboard with her husband, but Tommy Barban shows up. The three of them talk and make a joke about jumping ship. Tommy then takes Nicole off to dance with the others. On the dance floor, Tommy warns Nicole that she must stop Dick from drinking so much; she knows, however, that she has no control over her husband. When the party breaks up, Dick rudely and mockingly bows to Lady Caroline. Tommy grabs his arm and drags him off, saying he will drive them all home. Even though Dick resists, Tommy insists; he then asks if he stay the night at their place. When they get back to the villa, Dick falls asleep in a drunken stupor.