how things began. There was a second book, a third. Then
he said there weren’t any more books for me, because the
ones he had would be too difficult. So he took me to the
library. There was a little library on the site, a few shelves.
He poked about and in the end he picked out something for
me. When I’d finished it he went back with me and chose
something else. Let me tell you, out of respect for him I
eventually started to read of my own free will. And like him,
before I went to sleep I had to read at least a few pages.
It’s strange you didn’t know him. Everyone on the site knew
him, he was well liked. He was always impartial and fair.
Well-disposed towards everyone. He’d stop and talk with
each person. Even if he was in a hurry he’d at least ask you
about this or that. And he always remembered when
something had been bothering you the last time you spoke
to him. He’d lend you a few zloties if you needed it. If a cat
or a dog wandered onto the site, he’d feed them. And the
best proof of what a good welder he was is that he worked
on the highest places. When a building was going up he’d
always be at the very top. He was never secured. Never held
on to anything. He didn’t even turn off his torch as he
moved from one joint to another. He walked across the
girders like an acrobat. And you have to know that the
higher up the work, the better a welder you have to be.
Sometimes he’d look down from way up there and see me
crossing the yard, and he’d call to me to come up to him for
a moment because there was something he wanted to tell