Chapter no 115 – The Third Stone‌

All the Light We Cannot See

He stands in a château outside Amiens, north of Paris. The big old house moans in the dark. The home belongs to a retired paleontologist and von Rumpel believes it is here that the chief of security at the museum in Paris fled during the chaos following the invasion of France three years ago. A peaceful place, insulated by fields, enwombed in hedges. He climbs a staircase to a library. A bookshelf has been peeled open; the strongbox is behind it. The Gestapo safecracker is good: wears a stethoscope, does not bother with a flashlight. In a few minutes, he has it open.

An old handgun, a box of certificates, a stack of tarnished silver coins. And inside a velvet box, a blue pear-cut diamond.

The red heart inside the stone shows itself one second, becomes completely inaccessible the next. Inside von Rumpel, hope braids with desperation; he is almost there. The odds are in his favor, aren’t they? But he knows before he sets it under the lamp. That same elation crashing out of him. The diamond is not real; it too is the work of Dupont.

He has found all three fakes. All his luck is spent. The doctor says the tumor is growing again. The prospects of the war are nosediving— Germany retreats across Russia, across the Ukraine, up the ankle of Italy. Before long, everyone in the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg—the men out there scouring the continent for hidden libraries, concealed prayer scrolls, closeted impressionist paintings—will be handed rifles and sent into the fire. Including von Rumpel.

So long as he keeps it, the keeper of the stone will live forever.

He cannot give up. And yet his hands grow so heavy. His head is a boulder.

One at the museum, one to the home of a museum supporter, one sent with a chief of security. What sort of man would they choose for a third courier? The Gestapo man watches him, his attention on the stone, his left hand on the door of the strongbox. Not for the first time, von Rumpel thinks of the extraordinary jewel safe at the museum. Like a puzzle box.

In all his travels, he has seen nothing else like it. Who could have conceived of it?

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