“I never experienced or heard anything like this before.”
There was nothing to be done but to repeat the operation. Everything passed off as it had the first time. The pain stopped, and though the patient experienced a great relief, this time he failed to smile, and when he thanked the doctor it was with a sad and depressed expression.
“You needn’t be surprised if I am back again in a month,” he said as he took leave.
“You mustn’t think of it.”
“It is as sure as there’s a God in heaven,” he said, with an air of finality. “Au revoir.”
The surgeon discussed the case with several of his colleagues, each of whom expressed a different opinion. Not one, however, could offer a satisfactory explanation.
A month passed and the patient did not appear. Another few weeks, and then, instead of the patient, came a letter from his place of residence. The surgeon opened it with pleasure, thinking that the pain had not returned. The letter ran as follows:
“Dear Doctor: I do not want to leave you in any doubt as to the origin of my trouble, and do not care to carry the secret of it into my grave, or perhaps elsewhere. I wish to acquaint you with the history of my terrible illness. It has returned three times now and I do not intend to go on struggling against it any longer. I am only able to write this letter by placing a burning coal on the spot as an antidote against the hellish flames that burn it within.
“Six months ago I was a very happy man. I was rich and contented;
I found pleasure in everything that appeals to a man of thirty-five. I married a year ago. It was a love match. A very beautiful, kindly and cultured young lady was my wife. She had been companion to a Countess not far from my estate. She loved me and her heart was full of gratitude. For six months the time passed happily, each day bringing greater happiness than the last.
She would walk miles along the highway to meet me when I had to go to the town and would not stay away even at the home of her former mistress, where she often visited, for more than a few hours. Her longing for me made the others of her party uncomfortable. She would never dance with another man, and would confess it as a great crime if she happened to dream of some one else in her sleep. She was a lovely and innocent child.