As teenagers, Daniel and Tomás are increasingly worried about being drafted. Fermín, who hates the government, decides they must think of a ruse to keep the boys out of the army. But his plans are put on hold when Bernarda visits the shop one day to buy a book for her niece. Fermín is instantly smitten and bombards her with hyperbolic compliments, taking her around the bookstore. He eventually persuades her to accompany him to tea.
The threat of military service hovers over all the novel’s young male characters, and will be another connection between Daniel’s life and Carax’s. By herding thoughtful young men into the brutally masculine world of war, the highly conservative Spanish regime attempts to transform them by force into something less individual.
Daniel closes the bookstore once they’re gone, but he soon hears noises in the shop. When he goes to investigate, the intruder is gone but has left behind a half-burned photograph of a young couple smiling at each other. A shop window behind the couple says “Sons of Antonio Fortuny.” Daniel immediately remembers that Carax’s father’s surname was Fortuny, and that he ran a hat shop. Daniel knows that the man in the picture is Julian Carax, “unable to see the flames that were closing in around him.”
The shop window shows that like Daniel, Carax was the son of a Barcelona shopkeeper. It’s clearly not a coincidence that the picture arrived in the shop. Rather than wondering who left it there, though, Daniel immediately focuses on Carax’s feelings, identifying himself with the young man. Just as the young Daniel felt guided to his novel by “destiny” rather than chance, he feels a connection with the author that transcends worldly problems.