The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

No one knew the origin of this hostility theyd

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Unformatted text preview: those dirt holes every night.” “Yes, Mama.” “Is that all you’ve got to say?” Mama’s eyes were like pale blue cutouts, pasted to her face. They’d walk on. With Liesel carrying the sack. At home, it was washed in a boiler next to the stove, hung up by the fireplace in the living room, and then ironed in the kitchen. The kitchen was where the action was. “Did you hear that?” Mama asked her nearly every night. The iron was in her fist, heated from the stove. Light was dull all through the house, and Liesel, sitting at the kitchen table, would be staring at the gaps of fire in front of her. “What?” she’d reply. “What is it?” “That was that Holtzapfel.” Mama was already out of her seat. “That Saumensch just spat on our door again.” It was a tradition for Frau Holtzapfel, one of their neighbors, to spit on the Hubermanns’ door every time she walked past. The front door was only meters from the gate, and let’s just say that Frau Holtzapfel had the distance—and the accuracy. The spitting was due to the fact that she and Rosa Hubermann were engaged in some kind of decade-long verbal war. No one knew the origin of this hostility. They’d probably forgotten it themselves. Frau Holtzapfel was a wiry woman and quite obviously spiteful. She’d never married but had two sons, a few years older than the Hubermann offspring. Both were in the army and both will make cameo appearances by the time we’re finished here, I assure you. In the spiteful stakes, I should also say that Frau Holtzapfel was thorough with her spitting, too. She never neglected to spuck on the door of number thirty-three and say, “Schweine!” each time she walked past. One thing I’ve noticed about the Germans: They seem very fond of pigs. A SMALL QUESTION AND ITS ANSWER And who do you think was made to clean the spit off the door each night? Yes—you got it. When a woman with an iron fist tells you to get out there and clean spit off the door, you do it. Especially when the iron’s hot. It was all just part of the routine, really. Each nigh...
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