In
a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his
domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the
ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet
into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper
and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning
it to the spot.

Leiba
broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank
softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of
this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope
of saving himself.

“Yes!
Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He
stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood
aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes!
Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged
crisis

Suddenly
a strange change took place in him, a complete revulsion of feeling; he ceased
to tremble, his despair disappeared, and his face, so discomposed by the
prolonged crisis, assumed an air of strange serenity. He straightened himself
with the decision of a strong and healthy man who makes for an easy goal.

The
line between the two upper punctures of the panel was finished. Leiba went up,
curious to see the working of the tool. His confidence became more pronounced.
He nodded his head as though to say: “I still have time.”

The
saw cut the last fiber near the hole towards which it was working, and began to
saw between the lower holes.

Experience
burglar

“There
are still three,” thought Leiba, and with the caution of the most experienced
burglar he softly entered the inn. He searched under the bar, picked up
something, and. went out again as he entered, hiding the object he had in his
hand as though he feared somehow the walls might betray him, and went back on
tiptoe to the door.

Something
terrible had happened; the work outside had ceased— there was nothing to be
heard.

“What
is the matter? Has he gone? What has happened?” flashed through the mind of the
man inside. He bit his lower lip at such a thought, full of bitter
disappointment.

“Ha,
ha!” It was an imaginary deception; the work began again, and he followed it
with the keenest interest, his heart beating fast. His decisioft was taken, he
was tormented by an incredible desire to see the thing finished.

“Quicker!”
he thought, with impatience. “Quicker!”

Again
the sound of bells ringing on the hill.

“Hurry
up, old fellow, the daylight will catch us!” said a voice outside, as though
impelled by the will of the man within.

The
work was pushed on rapidly. Only a few more movements and all the punctures in
the panel would be united.

At
last!

Gently
the drill carried out the four-sided piece of wood. A large and supple hand was
thrust in; but before it reached the bars it sought two screams were heard,
while, with great force, Leiba enclosed it with the free end of the noose,
which was round a block fixed to the cellar.

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