Chapter no 86 – The Disappearance of Harold Bazin‌

All the Light We Cannot See

Marie-Laure follows the odor of Madame Manec’s soup through the Place aux Herbes and holds the warm pot outside the alcove behind the library while Madame raps on the door.

Madame says, “Where is Monsieur Bazin?”

“Must have moved on,” says the librarian, though the doubt in his voice is only partially disguised.

“Where could Harold Bazin move to?”

“I’m not sure, Madame Manec. Please. It is cold.”

The door closes. Madame Manec swears. Marie-Laure thinks of Harold Bazin’s stories: lugubrious monsters made of sea foam, mermaids with fishy private parts, the romance of English sieges. “He’ll be back,” says Madame Manec, as much to herself as to Marie-Laure. But the next morning Harold Bazin is not back. Or the next.

Only half the group attends the following meeting.

“Do they think he was helping us?” whispers Madame Hébrard. “Was he helping us?”

“I thought he was carrying messages.” “What sort of messages?”

“It is getting too dangerous.”

Madame Manec paces; Marie-Laure can almost feel the heat of her frustration from across the room. “Leave, then.” Her voice smolders. “All of you.”

“Don’t be rash,” says Madame Ruelle. “We’ll take a break, a week or two. Wait for things to settle.”

Harold Bazin with his copper mask and boyish avidity and his breath like crushed insects. Where, Marie-Laure wonders, do they take people? The “Gasthaus” her father was taken to? Where they write letters home about wonderful food and mythical trees? The baker’s wife claims they’re sent to camps in the mountains. The grocer’s wife says they’re sent to nylon factories in Russia. It seems as likely to Marie-Laure that the people just disappear. The soldiers throw a bag over whomever they

want to remove, run electricity through him, and then that person is gone, vanished. Expelled to some other world.

The city, thinks Marie-Laure, is slowly being remade into the model upstairs. Streets sucked empty one by one. Each time she steps outside, she becomes aware of all the windows above her. The quiet is fretful, unnatural. It’s what a mouse must feel, she thinks, as it steps from its hole into the open blades of a meadow, never knowing what shadow might come cruising above.

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