He remembered now how the tears on his cousin’s face had still been wet.

How long did it take for tears to dry? How close had he come to arriving in time? 

I search the book for a moment when he could have arrived in time, not to save her, but to recognize what she saw in him and felt for his mind, his music, to actually hear what she has to say, and I find this:

"My poor father. What will he feel when he comes home and sees what has happened to us all?"

He didn't answer and Zhuli reached her hand to him, to the notebook. 

She had reached out to him: the notebook was both device and veil, enabling the gesture and ensuring its invisibility. Instead of taking this hand, he proffers the box containing the other notebooks. She asks:

"Next time, we'll meet in another place, won't we, Sparrow?"

He says yes, and proceeds to read aloud a chapter to her as if reading from the Book of Records was the same as shutting and bolting the outside door. There is tenderness there, a moment shared, safety and some happiness, but nothing more, at least nothing that strikes me as a kind of arrival in time, a definite moment of rescue, salvation; at the end of this reading, she takes the notebook from his hand — there is a passing to and fro between them of a book where their destinies cross for a moment, only a moment, before striking out at opposite angles, farther and farther away.

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