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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