The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
despite the chaos that followed, Bruno found that he was still holding Shmuel’s hand in his own and nothing in the world would have persuaded him to let it go.
The Last Chapter
Nothing more was ever heard of Bruno after that.
Several days later, after the soldiers had searched every part of the house and gone into all the local towns and villages with pictures of the little boy, one of them discovered the pile of clothes and the pair of boots that Bruno had left near the fence. He left them there, undisturbed, and went to fetch the Commandant, who examined the area and looked to his left and looked to his right just as Bruno had done, but for the life of him he could not understand what had happened to his son. It was as if he had just vanished off the face of the earth and left his clothes behind him.
Mother did not return to Berlin quite as quickly as she had hoped. She stayed at Out-With for several months waiting for news of Bruno until one day, quite suddenly, she thought he might have made his way home alone, so she immediately returned to their old house, half expecting to see him sitting on the doorstep waiting for her.
He wasn’t there, of course.
Gretel returned to Berlin with Mother and spent a lot of time alone in her room crying, not because she had thrown her dolls away and not because she had left all her maps behind at Out-With, but because she missed Bruno so much.
Father stayed at Out-With for another year after that and became very disliked by the other soldiers, whom he ordered around mercilessly. He went to sleep every night thinking about Bruno and he woke up every morning thinking about him too. One day he formed a theory about what might have occurred and he went back to the place in the fence where the pile of clothes had been found a year before.
There was nothing particularly special about this place, or different, but then he did a little exploration of his own and discovered that the base of the fence here was not properly attached to the ground as it was everywhere else and that, when lifted, it left a gap large enough for a very small person (such as a little boy) to crawl underneath. He looked into the distance then and followed it through logically, step by step by step, and when he did he found that his legs seemed to stop working right – as if they couldn’t hold his body up any longer – and he ended up sitting on the ground in almost exactly the same position as Bruno had every afternoon for a year, although he didn’t cross his legs beneath him.
A few months after that some other soldiers came to Out-With and Father was ordered to go with them, and he went without complaint and he was happy to do so because he didn’t really mind what they did to him any more.
And that’s the end of the story about Bruno and his family. Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again.
Not in this day and age.
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