Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.
The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.
I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.
Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too cold for him square in my face. The plate struck the wall and was shattered into a thousand fragments.
“You’ll pay me for it, you thief!” he bellowed.
For a long time he grumbled. Towards eleven o’clock he gradually fell asleep. While he slept I took a book out of my pocket, a translation of an old d’Arlincourt romance which I Jiad found lying about, and began to read it in his room, at a small distance from his bed. I was to wake him at midnight to give him his medicine; but, whether it was due to fatigue or to the influence of the book, I too, before reaching the second page, fell asleep.
Apparently in a delirium
The cries of the colonel awoke me with a start; in an instant I was up. Apparently in a delirium, he kept shrieking the same cries; finally he seized his water-bottle and threw it at my face. I could not get out of the way in time; the bottle hit me in the left cheek, and the pain was so acute that I almost lost consciousness. With a leap I rushed upon the invalid; I tightened my hands around his neck; he struggled several moments; I strangled him.
When I beheld that he no longer breathed, I stepped back in terror. I cried out; but nobody heard me. Then, approaching the bed once more, I shook him, to bring him back to life. It was too late; the aneurism had burst, and the colonel was dead. I went into the adjoining room, and for two hours I did not dare to return. It is impossible for me to express all that I felt during that time. It was intense stupefaction, a kind of vague and vacant delirium.