Tuesday, December 8
They step into a narrow entry. Marie-Laure hears the gate clang shut, then the woman latching the door behind them. Two dead-bolts, one chain. They are lead to a room that smells of herbs and rising dough: a kitchen. Her father unbuttons her coat, helps her sit. "We are very grateful, I understand how late it is," he is saying, and the old woman- Madame Manec-is brisk, efficient, evidently overcoming her initial amazement; she brushes off their thank-yous; she scoots Marie-Laure's chair toward a tabletop. A match is struck; water fills a pot; an icebox clicks open and shut. There is a hum of gas and the tick-tick of heating metal. In another moment, a warm towel is on Marie-Laure's face. A jar of cool, sweet water in front of her. Each sip a blessing."