Marie-Laure’s father has completed his model of Saint-Malo. The model will serve as a way for Marie-Laure to study the city—eventually she’ll be able to move about freely through the streets. Meanwhile Marie-Laure’s father (Daniel) has been going through a crisis lately. He obsesses over the diamond he’s been carrying from Paris, and wonders if it’s real. If so, he suspects that the stone could be cursed, as the legend says—meaning that he’s putting his daughter in danger.
We finally get another view inside Daniel’s head. For most of the novel so far, Daniel has been a distant character—he loves his daughter, but we’ve only once seen things from his perspective. Now, we see that Daniel has the same doubts and fears about the Sea of Flames that Marie-Laure does. From the outside, it seems like a silly legend, but when one’s life has been upturned so thoroughly as Daniel’s, it almost seems like something supernatural is at work.
Marie-Laure’s father reveals that he has received a telegraph instructing him to return to Paris as soon as possible. One evening, he helps Marie-Laure bathe on the third floor of Etienne’s house. As he washes his beloved daughter’s hair, he feels a pang of guilt: he’ll be leaving without her. Marie-Laure asks, “You’re leaving, aren’t you?” Daniel reluctantly replies that he is, and insists that he’ll only be gone for about ten days. Marie-Laure is visibly saddened, but she makes Daniel promise that he’ll be gone for no more than ten days.
Doerr parallels Daniel’s departure with Werner’s in the other storyline. Daniel assures Marie-Laure that he’ll be back soon enough, but we can sense that he won’t be returning in ten days, just as Werner won’t retain his innocence and objectivity at the National Institute. In this painful passages, Daniel makes a promise that he simply can’t keep—a promise supposed to comfort his daughter, but which winds up haunting her for the rest of her life.