“Stop,” he shouted, afraid lest the sufferer should sever a vein. “Since you believe it must be done, very well, I’ll do it.”
He then prepared for the operation. When it came to the actual cutting the doctor advised his patient to turn his head away, for people are generally upset at the sight of their own blood.
“Quite unnecessary,” said the other. “I must direct your hand so that you may know how far to cut.”
The stranger took the operation stoically and was helpful with his directions. His hand never even trembled, and when the round spot had been carved out he sighed a sigh of happy relief, as if a load had been taken off his shoulders.
“You don’t feel any pain now?” asked the surgeon.
“Not the least,” he said with a smile. “It is as if the pain had been cut off and the slight irritation caused by the cutting seems like a cool breeze after a hot spell. Just let the blood run. It soothes me.”
After the wound was bandaged, the stranger looked happy and contented. He was a changed man. He gratefully pressed the doctor’s hand with his own left hand.
“I am very grateful to you, indeed.”
The surgeon visited the patient at his hotel for several days after the operation and learned to respect the man, who occupied a high position in the county. He was learned and cultured, and was a member of one of the best families in the land.
After the wound was completely healed the stranger returned to his country home.
Three weeks later the patient again appeared at the surgeon s office. His hand was again in a sling and he complained of the same tormenting pain in the very spot where it hurt him before the operation.
His face looked like wax, and cold perspiration glistened on his brow. He sank into an armchair, and without saying a word held out his right hand for the doctor to look at.
“Good Lord, what has happened?”
“You didn’t cut it deep enough,” he groaned. “The pain returned; it is even worse than before. I am almost done for. I did not want to trouble you again, so I just bore it, but I can’t bear it any longer. You must operate again.”
The surgeon examined the spot. The place where he had operated was quite healed, and covered with fresh skin. Not one of the veins seemed disturbed, the pulse was normal. There was no fever, yet the man was trembling in every limb.