At last a long consultation was held, at the close of which Mr. and Mrs. Brewster were called into the council of physicians. “We have discovered,” said Dr. Lord, a man high up in the profession who was considered the final authority, “that the ball joint of your daughter’s hip has been fractured in such a way that it can never heal. There is one inevitable result of this condition, and that is tuberculosis of the bone. If not arrested this will in time communicate itself to the bones of the upper part of the body and terminate fatally. There is only one way to prevent this outcome and that is amputation of the limb before the disease gets a hold on the system.”
“You mean, cut her leg off?” asked Mrs. Brewster faintly.
“Yes,” said Dr. Lord shortly. He was a man of few words.
Sahwah was stunned when she heard the verdict of the surgeons. She knew little about disease and it seemed wildly impossible to her that this limb of hers which had been so strong and supple a month ago would become an agent of death if not amputated. She was in an agony of mind. Never to swim again! Never to run and jump and slide and skate and dance! Always to go about on crutches! Before the prospect of being crippled for life her active nature shrank in unutterable horror. Death seemed preferable to her. She buried her face in the pillow in such anguish that the watchers by the bedside could not stand by and see it. After a day of acute mental suffering her old-time courage began to rear its head and she made up her mind that if this terrible thing had to be done she might as well go through with it as bravely as possible. She resigned herself to her fate and urged her parents to give their consent to the operation. Poor Mrs. Brewster was nearly out of her mind with worry over the affair.
“When will you do it?” asked Sahwah, struggling to keep her voice steady.
“In about a week,” said Dr. Lord, “when you get a little stronger.”
Nyoda went home heartsick from the hospital that day. Sahwah had asked her to write to Dr. Hoffman, her old friend in camp, and tell him the news. With a shaking hand she wrote the letter. “Poor old Dr. Hoffman,” she said to herself, “how badly he will feel when he hears that Sahwah is hurt and he can do nothing to help her.”