His heart is already sore for his victim, but he is feeling his power over her for the first time, and it has gone to his head. Silly woman! He had never known how easy it was to frighten her.
“That comes of making light of the Torah!” he shouts, and breaks off. After all, she might come to her senses at any moment, and take up (he broom! He springs back to the table, closes the Gemoreh, and hurries out of the room.
“I am going to the house-of-study,” he calls out over his shoulder in 11 milder tone, and shuts the door after him.
The loud voice and the noise of the closing door have waked the sick child. The heavy-lidded eyes open, the waxen face puckers, and there is a peevish wail. But she, beside herself, stands rooted to the spot, and does not hear.
“Ha!” comes hoarsely at last out of her narrow chest. “So that’s it, is it? Neither this world nor the other. Hanging, he says, stoning, burning, beheading, strangling, hanging by the tongue, boiling lead poured into the inside, he says—for making light of the Torah—Hanging, ha, ha, ha!” (in desperation). “Yes, I’ll hang, but here, here! And soon! What is there to wait for?”
The child begins to cry louder; still she does not hear.
“A rope! a rope!” she screams, and stares wildly into every corner.
“Where is there a rope? I wish he mayn’t find a bone of me left! Let me be rid of one Gehenna at any rate! Let him try it, let him be a mother for once, see how he likes it! I’ve had enough of it! Let it be an atonement! An end, an end! A rope, a rope!”
Her last exclamation is like a cry for help from out of a conflagration.
She remembers that they have a rope somewhere. Yes, under the stove—the stove was to have been tied round against the winter. The rope must be there still.
She runs and finds the rope, the treasure, looks up at the ceiling—the hook that held the lamp—she need only climb onto the table.
But she sees from the table that the startled child, weak as it is, has sat up in the cradle, and is reaching over the side—it is trying to get out—
“Mame, M-mame,” it sobs feebly.
A fresh paroxysm of anger seizes her.
She flings away the rope, jumps off the table, runs to the child, and forces its head back into the pillow, exclaiming:
“Bother the child! It won’t even let me hang myself! I can’t even hang myself in peace! It wants to suck. What is the good? You will suck nothing but poison, poison, out of me, I tell you!”
“There, then, greedy!” she cries in the same breath, and stuffs her dried-up breast into his mouth.
“There, then, suck away—bite!”