“Yes, a special Providence, my dear Dr. Sperry”—nor did the real cause of the doctor’s welcome set her mind at rest.
“This way, doctor,” continued Thayor, dragging Sperry with him. “Blakeman will bring your bag. One of our men is badly hurt; I was on my way to him when I heard you driving up. He’s only a few rods away—hurry!”
The little man lay on his back on the floor of the lower shanty where the men had carried him. The chain cinching down a heavy sapling binding a load of shingles had snapped, and the wiry little Frenchman—Gaston Le Boeuf—who was standing on top of the load, had been shot into the air and landed in a ditch with his right forearm splintered in two. The pain was intense, both bones of the forearm—the ulnar and radius—being shattered transversely, the ulnar poking through the flesh in an ugly blue wound.
When Thayor and the doctor reached him, the Clown was holding the broken arm taut—he had to keep up a steady pull, for with the slightest release the knotty sinews and muscles would cause the broken forearm to fly back at right angles. Although this had happened a dozen times while they were bringing him in, the wiry little man did not utter a groan. He lay there white, in a cold sweat, the corners of his black eyes crinkling over his bad luck. He had known what pain was before. Once on Bog River his skinning knife had slipped while he was dressing out a deer, and the keen blade had gone through his knotty calf, severing the nerve; yet he had walked nearly a dozen miles back to Morrison’s.
As Sperry entered, the circle of lumber jacks about the wounded man widened, then closed again about him, watching the doctor who soon had the broken arm in an improvised splint.
The man from the city rarely gets very close to a backwoods people unless he possesses sincerity, democracy, and an inborn love of the woods—three virtues without which a man may remain always a stranger in the wilderness.
The New York doctor possessed none of these qualities; moreover, he was pitifully unadaptable outside of the artificial world in which he posed. So much so that at first sight of the trapper and the Clown—two men whom Thayor had pointed out to him as being his most reliable assistants next to Holcomb—his only thought had been how Sam Thayor could have such eccentric boors on the place. He noticed, too, with irritation and astonishment, that none of the men raised their hats until Alice and Margaret arrived on the scene; then not a man among them remained covered.
What he did not notice, however, was the way the men around him were, to use the Clown’s expression, “sizin’ him up,” as they did all city men and this before he had been ten minutes among them, with the result that the trapper had concluded that he looked like a man who was afraid of spoiling his clothes; that Holcomb and the Clown thought him sadly lacking in Sam Thayor’s frank simplicity; while the others stood about waiting for some word or gesture on which to hang their opinions.