One day in December Rudy and Liesel (who is carrying The Whistler) take a back way to avoid Franz Deutscher, and instead they run into Viktor Chemmel and his gang on a bridge. Viktor takes The Whistler from Liesel, and he pretends he is in the Olympics and throws the book into the river. Rudy and Liesel run off in pursuit of the book, and Rudy jumps in when he sees it. He grabs the book and feels that at last he has achieved a victory, so he lingers in the freezing water. He asks Liesel for a kiss, but Death thinks he is also afraid of her kiss because he loves her so much. Death says he will die without ever getting his kiss.
Rudy finally gets his victory in rescuing the book – a sort of giving and stealing all in one moment – and can't help savoring it. Death again brings up and emphasizes the tragedy of Rudy's story, and his doomed, frustrated love for Liesel. It is clear that Rudy is one of Zusak's favorite characters. This unique physical copy of the book is much more important to Liesel than its contents, so Viktor Chemmel's act seems that much more cruel.