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Unformatted text preview: tly, “I was never sure if any of this would happen, so I never told you. About me. About
the man upstairs.” He walked from one end of the basement to the other, the lamplight magnifying his shadow.
It turned him into a giant on the wall, walking back and forth.
When he stopped pacing, his shadow loomed behind him, watching. Someone was always watching.
“You know my accordion?” he said, and there the story began.
He explained World War I and Erik Vandenburg, and then the visit to the fallen soldier’s wife. “The boy who
came into the room that day is the man upstairs. Verstehst? Understand?”
The book thief sat and listened to Hans Hubermann’s story. It lasted a good hour, until the moment of truth,
which involved a very obvious and necessary lecture.
“Liesel, you must listen.” Papa made her stand up and held her hand.
They faced the wall.
Dark shapes and the practice of words.
Firmly, he held her fingers.
“Remember the Führer’s birthday—when we walked home from the fire that night? Remember what you
The girl concurred. To the wall, she said, “That I would keep a secret.”
“That’s right.” Between the hand-holding shadows, the painted words were scattered about, perched on their
shoulders, resting on their heads, and hanging from their arms. “Liesel, if you tell anyone about the man up
there, we will all be in big trouble.” He walked the fine line of scaring her into oblivion and soothing her
enough to keep her calm. He fed her the sentences and watched with his metallic eyes. Desperation and
placidity. “At the very least, Mama and I will be taken away.” Hans was clearly worried that he was on the
verge of frightening her too much, but he calculated the risk, preferring to err on the side of too much fear rather
than not enough. The girl’s compliance had to be an absolute, immutable fact.
Toward the end, Hans Hubermann looked at Liesel Meminger and made certain she was focused.
He gave her a list of consequences.
“If you tell anyone about that man . . .”
It didn’t matter whom.
What mattered was that all we...
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2014 for the course ENG 99 taught by Professor Michal during the Winter '13 term at CSU Sacramento.
- Winter '13