This condition of lonely self-torment lasted a long while, and increased his exasperation.
And then, one day, he noticed that his healthy foot was growing stiff and the ankle swelling. When the head-surgeon came on his daily rounds, the patient confided his fear to him. The doctor examined the emaciated limb, unobserved lanced the abscess, perceived that the probe reached to the bone, rubbed his hands together and looked into the peasant’s face with a sad, doubtful look.
Better off than in your cottage
“This is a bad job, my good fellow. It may mean the other foot; was that what you were thinking of? And you are a bad subject. But we will do it for you here; you will be better off than in your cottage, we will give you plenty to eat.” And he passed on, accompanied by his assistant. At the door he turned back, bent over the sick man, and furtively, so that no one should see, passed his hand kindly over his head.
The peasant’s mind tjecame a blank; it was as if some one had unawares dealt him a blow in the dark with a club. He closed his eyes and lay still for a long time . . . until an unknown feeling of calm came, over him.
There is an enchanted, hidden spot in the human soul, fastened with seven locks, which no one and nothing but that picklock, bitter adversity, can open.
Through the lips of the self-blinded (Edipus, Sophocles makes mention of this secret place. Within it are hidden marvelous joy, sweet necessity, the highest wisdom.
As the poor fellow lay silently on his bed, the special conception that arose in his mind was that of Christ walking on the waves of the raging sea, quelling the storm.
Henceforward through long nights and wretched days he was looking at everything from an immeasurable distance, from a safe place, where all was calm and wholly well, whence everything seemed small, slightly ludicrous and foolish, and yet lovable.
“And may the Lord Jesus .. . may He give His peace to all people,” he whispered to himself. “Never mind, this will do as well for me!”