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Unformatted text preview: ately, that night signaled a severe downslide in Max’s health. The early signs were innocent enough,
and typical. Constant coldness. Swimming hands. Increased visions of boxing with the Führer. It was only
when he couldn’t warm up after his push-ups and sit-ups that it truly began to worry him. As close to the fire as
he sat, he could not raise himself to any degree of approximate health. Day by day, his weight began to stumble
off him. His exercise regimen faltered and fell apart, with his cheek against the surly basement floor.
All through January, he managed to hold himself together, but by early February, Max was in worrisome shape.
He would struggle to wake up next to the fire, sleeping well into the morning instead, his mouth distorted and
his cheekbones starting to swell. When asked, he said he was fine.
In mid-February, a few days before Liesel was thirteen, he came to the fireplace on the verge of collapse. He
nearly fell into the fire.
“Hans,” he whispered, and his face seemed to cramp. His legs gave way and his head hit the accordion case.
At once, a wooden spoon fell into some soup and Rosa Hubermann was at his side. She held Max’s head and
barked across the room at Liesel, “Don’t just stand there, get the extra blankets. Take them to your bed. And
you!” Papa was next. “Help me pick him up and carry him to Liesel’s room. Schnell!”
Papa’s face was stretched with concern. His gray eyes clanged and he picked him up on his own. Max was light
as a child. “Can’t we put him here, in our bed?” Rosa had already considered that. “No. We have to keep these curtains open in the day or else it looks
“Good point.” Hans carried him out.
Blankets in hand, Liesel watched.
Limp feet and hanging hair in the hallway. One shoe had fallen off him.
Mama marched in behind them, in her waddlesome way.
Once Max was in the bed, blankets were heaped on top and fastened around his body.
Liesel couldn’t bring herself to say anything else.
“What?” The bun of Rosa Hubermann’s h...
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- Winter '13