Denis is in the window seat pretending to read while Henry plays dance music on the pianola. Gombauld and Anne dance, along with Mr. Scogan and Mary. Jenny is writing. Priscilla and Mr. Barbecue-Smith sit by the fire talking of “higher” things. Denis feels wild inside, the urge to dance, jealousy of Gombauld, but does nothing but continue to pretend reading. Henry plays a waltz and Mary approaches Dennis to talk to him, but he blows her off. Denis is unable to sleep that night. He gets up, writes a poem, throws it in the garbage, and then fall asleep.
Mr. Barbecue-Smith is gone and no one seems to be able to comment on his departure. Henry relays more of the history of Crome and how it’s founder, Sir Ferdinando, took the structure, which was originally a monastery, and turned it into a house, his main concern being with the positioning of bathrooms. They talk of architecture and the classes, of eccentric aristocrats and how they are justified.
Mary decides to give up on Denis and move on to Gombauld. She goes to see him in the granary, which he has turned into a painting room. He is working many hours each day trying to find something new. No one usually interrupts him while he is working and he is taken aback by Mary’s appearance. She uses the pretext that a letter came for him that looks like it might be important. He says it is unimportant and sticks it in his pocket. She asks to see his painting and is shocked that it is a realistic work rather than a “cubist masterpiece.” After a few minutes he ushers her out.
Henry brings his freshly finished book, “History of Crome,” to dinner. It took him nearly 30 years to finish. They discuss it over dinner and then retire to the drawing room, where he gives a reading. He tells the story of Sir Hercules, a dwarf who populated the house with a staff full of dwarves, and married a woman who was a dwarf. She gives birth to a normal sized son, who they named Fernando, after the builder of the home. Fernando returns to the house as an adult and he and his friends humiliate all the dwarves. Both Sir Hercules and his wife commit suicide.
After luncheon coffee in the library. Discussion falls to the door in the wall that is made to look like a bookshelf. They talk about the titles of the fake books and what they imply – satire on the books of the day.
Mr. Scogan talks of the genial and frank customs of every century up until the 19th, when sex became scientific and sterilized. Mary defends sex as a “serious matter.” Ivor Lombard, a charming, good looking young man, arrives.
The men are by themselves away from the women, seated around a table circulating a bottle of port. Mr. Scogan says that he is imagining which of the first six Caesars each man resembles. He is says that he is all of them except Claudius, who was too stupid. He goes into detail about his Caesar theory.
Ivor playing music, Mary enraptured. He is independent, multi-talented, and good at everything. Henry and Mr. Scogan stay inside while the rest of the party moves outdoors. Ivor has his arm around Anne, angering Denis. They decide to head down to the pool. Jenny holds back but everyone else follows Ivor down the hill into darkness. Only Denis moves cautiously. Ivor makes a pass at Mary and they kiss. Anne falls down the hill and is hurt. Denis tends to her, putting his arm around her. He kisses her and she says no, that it’ll ruin their friendship. He helps her inside and leaves her with the maid before going down to the drawing room. Mary and Ivor return an hour later. Ivor plays the piano. Mary visits Anne.
Ivor and Mary go to Roman Catholic service. At Crome Mr. Bodiham preaches on the problem of a War Memorial, something which no one has been able to agree on. He wants something dedicated to God, while Henry has been pushing for a library. While walking home Henry laments the lack of diversions for youth in the town.
Henry is reading his “History of Crome,” decides to read out loud about his grandfather, George Wimbush, and “the events that led up to his marriage with the eldest daughter of the last Sir Ferdinando.” He picks up with the death of Sir Hercules. Ferdinando marries the Rector’s daughter and reforms. Later on, he goes back to drinking in order to celebrate Nelson’s victory over Napoleon. During the celebration he falls from the carriage and dies. George blackmails the woman he loves, Georgianna, into marriage. The party breaks up. It is a stuffy night and Ivor and Mary decide to sleep on the East and West towers, respectfully. During the night he makes his way over to her tower. They chase a peacock and get a feather, then watch the sunrise together. He sneaks back to his tower before anyone knows.