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Unformatted text preview: it was imperative that they act as if nothing at all had happened.
Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.
That was the business of hiding a Jew.
As days turned into weeks, there was now, if nothing else, a beleaguered acceptance of what had transpired—all
the result of war, a promise keeper, and one piano accordion. Also, in the space of just over half a year, the
Hubermanns had lost a son and gained a replacement of epically dangerous proportions. What shocked Liesel most was the change in her mama. Whether it was the calculated way in which she divided
the food, or the considerable muzzling of her notorious mouth, or even the gentler expression on her cardboard
face, one thing was becoming clear.
AN ATTRIBUTE OF ROSA HUBERMANN
She was a good woman for a crisis.
Even when the arthritic Helena Schmidt canceled the washing and ironing service, a month after Max’s debut
on Himmel Street, she simply sat at the table and brought the bowl toward her. “Good soup tonight.”
The soup was terrible.
Every morning when Liesel left for school, or on the days she ventured out to play soccer or complete what was
left of the washing round, Rosa would speak quietly to the girl. “And remember, Liesel . . .” She would point to
her mouth and that was all. When Liesel nodded, she would say, “Good girl, Saumensch. Now get going.”
True to Papa’s words, and even Mama’s now, she was a good girl. She kept her mouth shut everywhere she
went. The secret was buried deep.
She town-walked with Rudy as she always did, listening to his jabbering. Sometimes they compared notes from
their Hitler Youth divisions, Rudy mentioning for the first time a sadistic young leader named Franz Deutscher.
If Rudy wasn’t talking about Deutscher’s intense ways, he was playing his usual broken record, providing
renditions and re-creations of the last goal he scored in the Himmel Street soccer stadium.
“I know,” Liesel would assure him. “I was there...
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- Winter '13