The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
six,’ said one particular monster over and over again in a singsong voice, dancing around him and poking him in the ribs.
‘I’m not six, I’m nine,’ he protested, trying to get away.
‘Then why are you so small?’ asked the monster. ‘All the other nine-year-olds are bigger than you.’
This was true, and a particular sore point for Bruno. It was a source of constant disappointment to him that he wasn’t as tall as any of the other boys in his class. In fact he only came up to their shoulders. Whenever he walked along the streets with Karl, Daniel and Martin, people sometimes mistook him for the younger brother of one of them when in fact he was the second oldest.
‘So you must be only six,’ insisted the monster, and Bruno would run away and do his stretching exercises and hope that he would wake up one morning and have grown an extra foot or two.
So one good thing about not being in Berlin any more was the fact that none of them would be around to torture him. Perhaps if he was forced to stay at the new house for a while, even as long as a month, he would have grown by the time they returned home and then they wouldn’t be able to be mean to him any more. It was something to keep in mind anyway if he wanted to do what Mother had suggested and make the best of a bad situation.
He ran into Gretel’s room without knocking and discovered her placing her civilization of dolls on various shelves around the room.
‘What are you doing in here?’ she shouted, spinning round. ‘Don’t you know you don’t enter a lady’s room without knocking?’
‘You didn’t bring all your dolls with you, surely?’ asked Bruno, who had developed a habit of ignoring most of his sister’s questions and asking a few of his own in their place.
‘Of course I did,’ she replied. ‘You don’t think I’d have left them at home? Why, it could be weeks before we’re back there again.’
‘Weeks?’ said Bruno, sounding disappointed but secretly pleased because he’d resigned himself to the idea of spending a month there. ‘Do you really think so?’
‘Well, I asked Father and he said we would be here for the foreseeable future.’
‘What is the foreseeable future exactly?’ asked Bruno, sitting down on the side of her bed.
‘It means weeks from now,’ said Gretel with an intelligent nod of her head. ‘Perhaps as long as three.’
‘That’s all right then,’ said Bruno. ‘As long as it’s just for the foreseeable future and not for a month. I hate it here.’
Gretel looked at her little brother and found herself agreeing with him for once. ‘I know what you mean,’ she said. ‘It’s not very nice, is it?’
‘It’s horrible,’ said Bruno.
‘Well, yes,’ said Gretel, acknowledging that. ‘It’s horrible right now. But once the house is smartened up a bit it probably won’t seem so bad. I heard Father say that whoever lived here at Out-With before us lost their job very quickly and didn’t have time to make the place nice for us.’
‘Out-With?’ asked Bruno. ‘What’s an Out-With?’
‘It’s not an Out-With, Bruno,’ said Gretel with a sigh. ‘It’s just Out-With.’
‘Well, what’s Out-With then?’ he repeated. ‘Out with what?’
‘That’s the name of the house,’ explained Gretel. ‘Out-With.’
Bruno considered this. He hadn’t seen any sign on the outside to say that was what it was called, nor had he seen any writing on the front door. His own house back in Berlin didn’t even have a name; it was just called number four.
‘But what does it mean?’ he asked in exasperation. ‘Out with what?’
‘Out with the people who lived here before us, I expect,’ said Gretel. ‘It must have to do with the fact that he didn’t do a very good job and someone said out with him and let’s get a man in who can do it right.’
‘You mean Father.’
‘Of course,’ said Gretel, who always spoke of Father as if he could never do any wrong and never got angry and always came in to kiss her goodnight before she went to sleep which, if Bruno was to be really fair and not just sad about moving houses, he would have admitted Father did for him too.
‘So we’re here at Out-With because someone said out with the people before us?’
‘Exactly, Bruno,’ said Gretel. ‘Now get off my bedspread. You’re messing it up.’
Bruno jumped off the bed and landed with a thud on the carpet. He didn’t like the sound it made. It was very hollow and he immediately
Weitere Kostenlose Bücher