The cookies. They’d been there for weeks. That meant that if the mayor himself used the library, he must have seen them… Or—and as soon as Liesel felt this thought, it filled her with a strange optimism—perhaps it wasn’t the mayor’s library at all; it was hers, Ilsa Hermann’s. She didn’t know why it was so important, but she enjoyed the fact that the roomful of books belonged to the woman.
As Michael told his mother, it was three very long days later that I finally came for the soldier who had left his feet behind in Stalingrad. I showed up very much invited at the temporary hospital and flinched at the smell. A man with a bandaged hand was telling the mute, shock-faced soldier that he would survive. “You’ll soon be going home,” he assured him. Yes, home I thought. For good.
Brunnenweg was telling a joke about a French waitress when the left front wheel was punctured and the driver lost control. The vehicle rolled many times and the men swore as they tumbled with the air, the light, the trash, and the tobacco…. When it stopped, they were all crowded onto the right-hand wall of the truck…. Questions of health were passed around until one of the men, Eddie Alma, started shouting, “Get this bastard off me!” He said it three times, fast. He was staring into Reinhold Zucker’s blinkless eyes.
Rudy simply continued walking and spoke through the cold air in front of him. Close to Tommy Müller’s apartment block, he said, “You know something Liesel, I was thinking. You’re not a thief at all.… That woman lets you in. She even leaves you cookies, for Christ’s sake. I don’t call that stealing. Stealing is what the army does. Taking your father, and mine… All those rich Nazis up there, on Grande Strasse, Gelb Strasse, Heide Strasse… How does it feel, anyway?... It feels good, doesn’t it? To steal something back.”
Rosa moved into action. She waddled swiftly through the gate and stood in the open doorway. “Holtzapfel!” There was nothing but sirens and Rosa. “Holtzapfel, get out here, you miserable old swine!” Tact had never been Rosa Hubermann’s strong point. “If you don’t come out, we’re all going to die here on the street!” She turned and viewed the helpless figures on the footpath. A siren had just finished wailing. “What now?”