Marie-Laure hears the intruder walking away from her. She wonders if he is going to leave. She feels very thirsty, and wonders if she should risk crawling out to get water. After some thought, she decides to risk it. She sneaks out of the wardrobe and walks slowly to the bathroom. She can smell the intruder in her house. She passes to the room next door, where Etienne has placed a bucket that collects rainwater. Grateful that there’s some water left in the bucket, Marie-Laure drinks it, remembering that drinking lots of water can trick the stomach into thinking that it’s full. After drinking, Marie-Laure quietly walks back to the wardrobe, confident that the intruder is still in the house, but a few floors downstairs. Before she closes the wardrobe again, she discovers her prized copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and takes it in with her.
Even in crisis, Marie-Laure knows how to take care of herself—somehow, an old lesson about tricking the brain into feeling full returns to her at the moment when she needs it most. Marie-Laure seems poised to begin reading from Jules Verne, just as she did years ago in Paris. In a sense, Marie-Laure is becoming more and more like one of her beloved whelks—she’s cutting herself off from the world, retreating into her “shell” (the radio room) to be safe and at peace. The irony is that Marie-Laure has no particular use for the diamond she’s carrying—she could probably be compelled to give it up without much of a fight. We recall her first question about the Sea of Flames, years ago: why don’t they just throw it back into the ocean where it belongs?