As Esther is packing fabric into her bag to sell, Hayrire arrives at her door with a letter from Shekure. Esther orders Hayrire to go home and comments that Shekure is “out of her mind” with love. Esther goes to Hasan’s house, where Hasan's father informs her that Hasan has been up all night waiting for news from her. Esther gives Hasan Shekure’s note, in which she tells Black that he must finish the manuscript before he can hope to marry her. Hasan asks about the book, and Esther responds: “Our Sultan is funding the whole project they say.” Hasan mentions other rumors about the book, including that glancing at one of its pages will cause blindness. Later, when Esther delivers the letter to Black, he is almost hysterical with happiness. He gives Esther a letter to give to Shekure, and she is so curious to hear what it says that she practically runs back to Hasan.
Once again, it is difficult to tell whether Esther is ultimately a help or hindrance to Shekure. She professes loyalty to Shekure, but then sneakily shows the letters exchanged between Shekure and Black to Hasan. Running back and forth between different people’s houses, Esther is a kind of physical manifestation of rumors and gossip. Her lack of real loyalty highlights the fact that gossip itself is not loyal to anyone, but is instead rather dangerous and unpredictable. At the same time, Esther also serves a vital role in the world of the novel, and the characters are all utterly dependent on her.
In the letter, Black assures Shekure that he will complete the book, but that he is suffering a block due to the fact that he hasn’t seen Shekure’s face. He suggests that they meet at the house of the Hanged Jew, where no one will find them. Esther comments that Black is “genuinely in love with Shekure,” and Hasan responds that this proves she’s on Black’s side. Hasan begins writing his own letter, and Esther explains that the Hanged Jew was killed during a mass murder of Jews sparked by the rumor that a Greek youth had been killed in the Jewish quarter so his blood could be used to make unleavened bread. Esther looks into Hasan’s eyes and feels that love has aged him; she notes that rejection in love can make people accept evil and quickly become cruel. Esther stops for a meal with another of her “maidens” before delivering the letters to Shekure.
This passage portrays Esther in a more sympathetic light, as it reminds the reader that she is a member of a marginalized and persecuted minority in Istanbul, doomed to live on the edges of society. The story of the Hanged Jew reveals the dark side to gossip—the rumor that Jews kill young gentiles in order to use their blood to make bread was a common anti-Semitic falsehood used to justify the persecution of Jews at many different points across history. Hasan expresses no sympathy for Esther as she tells the story, which reinforces the idea that people are only nice to Esther in order to take advantage of her assistance.