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Unformatted text preview: n and women; they were Jews—would find Liesel’s
face among the crowd. They would meet her with their defeat, and the book thief could do nothing but watch
them back in a long, incurable moment before they were gone again. She could only hope they could read the
depth of sorrow in her face, to recognize that it was true, and not fleeting.
I have one of you in my basement! she wanted to say. We built a snowman together! I gave him thirteen
presents when he was sick!
Liesel said nothing at all.
What good would it be?
She understood that she was utterly worthless to these people. They could not be saved, and in a few minutes,
she would see what would happen to those who might try to help them.
In a small gap in the procession, there was a man, older than the others.
He wore a beard and torn clothes.
His eyes were the color of agony, and weightless as he was, he was too heavy for his legs to carry.
Several times, he fell.
The side of his face was flattened against the road.
On each occasion, a soldier stood above him. “Steh’ auf,” he called down. “Stand up.”
The man rose to his knees and fought his way up. He walked on.
Every time he caught up sufficiently to the back of the line, he would soon lose momentum and stumble again
to the ground. There were more behind him—a good truck’s worth—and they threatened to overtake and
trample him. The ache in his arms was unbearable to watch as they shook, trying to lift his body. They gave way one more
time before he stood and took another group of steps.
He was dead.
The man was dead.
Just give him five more minutes and he would surely fall into the German gutter and die. They would all let
him, and they would all watch.
Then, one human.
It happened so quickly.
The hand that held firmly on to Liesel’s let it drop to her side as the man came struggling by. She felt her palm
slap her hip.
Papa reached into his paint cart and pulled something out. He made his way through the people, onto the road.
The Jew stood before him, expecting another handful of derision, but he watche...
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- Winter '13