Auto Da Fe‘How old are you?’
‘Nine and a bit.’
‘Which would you prefer, a piece of chocolate or a book?’
‘A book.’
‘Indeed? Splendid! So that’s your reason for standing here?’
‘Why didn’t you say so before?’
‘Father scolds me.’
‘Oh. And who is your father?’
‘Franz Metzger.’
‘Would you like to travel to a foreign country?’
‘Yes. To India. They have tigers there.’
‘And where else?’
‘To China. They’ve got a huge wall there.’
‘You’d like to scramble over it wouldn’t you?’
‘It’s much too thick and too high. Nobody can get over it. That’s why they built it.’
‘What a lot you know! You must have read a great deal already?’
‘Yes. I read all the time. Father takes my books away. I’d like to go to a Chinese school. They have forty thousand letters in their alphabet. You couldn’t get them all into one book.’
‘That’s only what you think.’