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Unformatted text preview: r the path, there were eight steps up to the main entrance of the house, and the great door was like a
monster. Liesel frowned at the brass knocker.
“What are you waiting for?” Rudy called out.
Liesel turned and faced the street. Was there any way, any way at all, for her to evade this? Was there another
story, or let’s face it, another lie, that she’d overlooked?
“We don’t have all day.” Rudy’s distant voice again. “What the hell are you waiting for?”
“Will you shut your trap, Steiner?” It was a shout delivered as a whisper.
“I said shut up, you stupid Saukerl. . . .”
With that, she faced the door again, lifted back the brass knuckle, and tapped it three times, slowly. Feet
approached from the other side.
At first, she didn’t look at the woman but focused on the washing bag in her hand. She examined the drawstring
as she passed it over. Money was handed out to her and then, nothing. The mayor’s wife, who never spoke,
simply stood in her bathrobe, her soft fluffy hair tied back into a short tail. A draft made itself known.
Something like the imagined breath of a corpse. Still there were no words, and when Liesel found the courage
to face her, the woman wore an expression not of reproach, but utter distance. For a moment, she looked over
Liesel’s shoulder at the boy, then nodded and stepped back, closing the door.
For quite a while, Liesel remained, facing the blanket of upright wood.
“Hey, Saumensch!” No response. “Liesel!”
She took the first few steps backward, calculating.
Perhaps the woman hadn’t seen her steal the book after all. It had been getting dark. Perhaps it was one of those
times when a person appears to be looking directly at you when, in fact, they’re contentedly watching
something else or simply daydreaming. Whatever the answer, Liesel didn’t attempt any further analysis. She’d
gotten away with it and that was enough. She turned and handled the remainder of the steps normally, taking the l...
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- Winter '13