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Unformatted text preview: air was wound tight enough to frighten from behind. It seemed to
tighten further when she repeated the question. “What, Liesel?”
She stepped closer, afraid of the answer. “Is he alive?”
The bun nodded.
Rosa turned then and said something with great assurance. “Now listen to me, Liesel. I didn’t take this man into
my house to watch him die. Understand?”
In the hall, Papa hugged her.
She desperately needed it.
Later on, she heard Hans and Rosa speaking in the night. Rosa made her sleep in their room, and she lay next to
their bed, on the floor, on the mattress they’d dragged up from the basement. (There was concern as to whether
it was infected, but they came to the conclusion that such thoughts were unfounded. This was no virus Max was
suffering from, so they carried it up and replaced the sheet.)
Imagining the girl to be asleep, Mama voiced her opinion.
“That damn snowman,” she whispered. “I bet it started with the snowman—fooling around with ice and snow in
the cold down there.”
Papa was more philosophical. “Rosa, it started with Adolf.” He lifted himself. “We should check on him.”
In the course of the night, Max was visited seven times. MAX VANDENBURG’S VISITOR
Hans Hubermann: 2
Rosa Hubermann: 2
Liesel Meminger: 3
In the morning, Liesel brought him his sketchbook from the basement and placed it on the bedside table. She
felt awful for having looked at it the previous year, and this time, she kept it firmly closed, out of respect.
When Papa came in, she did not turn to face him but talked across Max Vandenburg, at the wall. “Why did I
have to bring all that snow down?” she asked. “It started all of this, didn’t it, Papa?” She clenched her hands, as
if to pray. “Why did I have to build that snowman?”
Papa, to his enduring credit, was adamant. “Liesel,” he said, “you had to.”
For hours, she sat with him as he shivered and slept.
“Don’t die,” she whispered. “Please, Max, just don’t die.”
He was t...
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- Winter '13