Marie-Laure is standing in the grotto, answering the man’s questions. He has asked her about what Daniel was doing during his six months in Saint-Malo. As the man talks to her, Marie-Laure slowly reaches her hand into her bag, breaks open the bread, and slips the scroll into her hand. Then, very slowly, she reaches her hand to her mouth and, praying the man can’t see what she’s doing, slips the paper into her mouth and swallows it.
It’s not entirely clear how Marie-Laure manages to swallow the paper without attracting any attention from von Rumpel—maybe she’s especially surreptitious, or pretends to be taking a bite of bread, or maybe von Rumpel happens to be looking around the grotto as he’s talking to Marie-Laure. Because we’re limited to Marie-Laure’s perspective, we can’t be sure. Ironically enough, however, von Rumpel probably isn’t concerned with the French Resistance at this point, and perhaps doesn’t ask Marie-Laure about the paper simply because he doesn’t care about anything but the diamond anymore.
The man tells Marie-Laure that he’s been searching for “treasures” for many years. He wants to know what Daniel left behind for Marie-Laure. Marie-Laure immediately answers, “Nothing.” Surprised by Marie-Laure’s boldness, the man falls quiet. He decides that he believes her. Marie-Laure says, “You keep your word and go away.”
Marie-Laure once again shows surprising reserves of courage and toughness in this section, living up to her nickname, the Whelk. In another example of dramatic irony, Marie-Laure had no idea her father might have the diamond until von Rumpel asks her about it—von Rumpel had assumed she was keeping it secret, but in fact he only ends up revealing it to her.