7. CHAPTER VII
He had not a minute more to lose. He pulled the axe quite out, swung
it with both arms, scarcely conscious of himself, and almost without
effort, almost mechanically, brought the blunt side down on her head.
He seemed not to use his own strength in this. But as soon as he had
once brought the axe down, his strength returned to him.
The old woman was as always bareheaded. Her thin, light hair, streaked
with grey, thickly smeared with grease, was plaited in a rat's tail
and fastened by a broken horn comb which stood out on the nape of her
neck. As she was so short, the blow fell on the very top of her skull.
She cried out, but very faintly, and suddenly sank all of a heap on
the floor, raising her hands to her head. In one hand she still held
"the pledge." Then he dealt her another and another blow with the
blunt side and on the same spot. The blood gushed as from an
overturned glass, the body fell back. He stepped back, let it fall,
and at once bent over her face; she was dead. Her eyes seemed to be
starting out of their sockets, the brow and the whole face were drawn
and contorted convulsively.