Crime And Punishment Page-78

Crime And Punishment

“The silver cigarette case; I spoke of it last time, you know.” She held out her hand. “But how pale you are, to be sure... and your hands are trembling too? Have you been bathing, or what?” “Fever,” he answered abruptly. “You can’t help getting pale... if you’ve nothing to eat,” he added, with difficulty articulating the words. His strength was failing him again. But his answer sounded like the truth; the old woman took the pledge. “What is it?” she asked once more, scanning Raskolnikov intently, and weighing the pledge in her hand. “A thing... cigarette case.... Silver.... Look at it.” “It does not seem somehow like silver.... How he has wrapped it up!” Trying to untie the string and turning to the window, to the light (all her windows were shut, in spite of the stifling heat), she left him altogether for some seconds and stood with her back to him. He unbuttoned his coat and freed the axe from the noose, but did not yet take it out altogether, simply holding it in his right hand under the coat. His hands were fearfully weak, he felt them every moment growing more numb and more wooden. He was afraid he would let the axe slip and fall.... A sudden giddiness came over him. “But what has he tied it up like this for?” the old woman cried with vexation and moved towards him. 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.