Cloud Atlas: Chapter Summary (Chapter 10: Letters from Zedelghem)
10th, X, 1931: Arys is sick with syphilis, and cannot work on music with Robert. Robert begins working on his own music.
One morning, Robert takes a drive with Morty Dhondt. They go to a village called Zonnebeke, where Robert’s brother, Adrian, is possibly buried. Adrian died in the war. He can’t find the grave and leaves flowers on a random soldier’s plot. On their way back, a pheasant hits their windshield. Robert puts it out of its misery with a rock. At the next village, they come to, Morty takes his car to a shop. Robert talks to an M.D. about human nature and war. The M.D. predicts that humans will wipe themselves out before the century is up.
21st, X, 1931: Arys recovered from his sickness, and will be able to work again soon. Robert is becoming obsessed with his new sextet.
Next day: Arys tries to copy Robert’s work and claim it isn’t plagiarism. They get into an argument, and Robert walks out.
Some days later: Jocasta begs Robert to stay. Eva gets home from Switzerland, and Robert goes to dinner with her at her boarding house. One of the daughters of the house sets her sights on marrying Robert. After dinner, the party goes on a walk. They visit the old clock tower. Eva admits she has fallen in love with a foreigner, and Robert is shocked because he thought she hated him.
24th, X, 1931: Robert reprimands Sixsmith for not writing him back. He rants about being stuck in Belgium.
29th, X, 1931: Robert dreams of Eva, thinks he has fallen for her.
6th, XI, 1931: Arys asks Robert to write a composition for him without a coauthor script. Robert refuses, and Arys threatens to ruin his reputation in the music world. He knows about Robert sleeping with Jocasta, in fact, he sent her to seduce him. Arys sends Robert out of the music room.
Before dawn, Robert packs his bags. He sneaks into Arys room and steals his pistol before going to Eva’s empty room and leaving her a note asking her to meet him at the clock tower. He gets out of the house and is stopped by Mrs. Dhondt, who gives him a ride into Bruges. Robert desperately wants to say goodbye to Eva and checks into a hotel in town.
Before he left, he found the other half of Adam Ewing’s Journal underneath his bed, and plans on reading it.
Near the endth, XI, 1931: Robert is working non-stop on his Cloud Atlas Sextet. He vows it is going to be his masterpiece, and he will never write anything better.
Eva never met him at the clock tower, and he waits for her every day. He becomes obsessed with trying to get in touch with her and follows her around town.
25th, XI, 1931: An unfortunate incident has happened, and Robert ends up with a nasty cold and a bunch of scrapes and bruises. He ran into Eva but doesn’t reveal anything about the incident.
The hotel manager comes in and demands proof that he can pay the bill. Robert tells him that he will go to the bank tomorrow.
Next day: Robert tells what happened when he went to see Eva. He couldn’t catch her at the clock tower or at school, so he goes directly to the boarding house. There is a party, and he crashes it, screaming her name. Eva appears with her fiancé, a swede, and Robert realized he assumed wrong at the clock tower. She was never in love with him. Robert is thrown out into the cold.
Six or seven days later: Robert apologizes for not sending the letter, it was buried under clutter. Robert was visited by a man named Verplancke, who reveals that Eva’s fiance’s father is a powerful banker. He wants Robert out of the hotel and gives him 7 days to complete his sextet.
Quarter past four in the morning 12th, XII, 1931: Robert saw Sixsmith looking for him at the clock tower in Bruges, and is touched by his friend’s concern. He tells Sixsmith that he is his only love in this life, and didn’t talk to him because he didn’t want Sixsmith to blame himself for what is going to happen.
The Cloud Atlas Sextet is completed, and it is a masterpiece. Robert can now kill himself knowing he gave something to the world. He doesn’t see a point in going on living when he knows he will never produce anything better. He knows that he is going to be reincarnated and believes that the world endlessly cycles over and over. He tells Sixsmith goodbye.