Etienne walks from his house to the bakery, where he sees Madame Ruelle. Ruelle is amazed to see Etienne outside of his house. Etienne asks Ruelle where Marie-Laure is, and Ruelle is surprised that Marie-Laure hasn’t come home yet.
The other people in the town—people who haven’t seen Etienne in years—are shocked, and immediately recognize the scope of his love for Marie-Laure through the fact that he’s willing to leave his house for her sake.
Etienne stares at his watch—41 minutes have passed since Marie-Laure left the house. He wonders if she’s near the beach, but then remembers that the tides are too high that day. Suddenly, he realizes where she must be—the grotto where he played with his brother, Henri, years ago. Etienne runs to the grotto, where he finds Marie-Laure, sitting on the ground, pieces of bread in her lap. Marie-Laure says, “You came, you came…”
In this touching scene, we see—as if for the first time—how much Etienne has come to love Marie-Laura. He is a true father-figure for her now, and she is like the child he never had. This is a touching “reunion scene,” in contrast to the many tragic or unsatisfying reunions Doerr usually presents us with.