The immediate pain of this long cutting which laid open my neck for some inches through the side muscles was less after the point of the blade went through and ceased to push forward. Deeper down I did not feel so much, until finally a gentle searching movement produced a jar strangely large, something which grated, and nearly sent all the world black again. I knew then that the knife was on the base of the arrow head; then I could feel it move softly and gently along the side of the arrow head—I could almost see it creep along in this delicate part of the work.
Then, all at once, I felt one hand removed from my neck. Orme, half rising from his stooping posture, but with the fingers of his left hand still at the wound, said: “Belknap, let go one of his hands. Just put your hand on this knife-blade, and feel that artery throb! Isn’t it curious?”
I heard some muttered answer, but the grasp at my wrists did not relax. “Oh, it’s all right now,” calmly went on Orme, again stooping. “I thought you might be interested. It’s all over now but pulling out the head.”
I felt again a shiver run through the limbs of the girl. Perhaps she turned away her head, I do not know. I felt Orme’s fingers spreading widely the sides of the wound along the neck, and the boring of the big headed bullet molds as they went down after a grip, their impact softened by the finger extended along the blade knife.
The throbbing artery whose location this man knew so well was protected. Gently feeling down, the tips of the mold got their grip at last, and an instant later I felt release from a certain stiff pressure which I had experienced in my neck. Relief came, then a dizziness and much pain. A hand patted me twice on the back of the neck.
“All right, my man,” said Orme. “All over; and jolly well done, too, if I do say it myself!”
Belknap put his arm about me and helped me to sit up. I saw Orme holding out the stained arrow head, long and thin, in his fingers.
“Would you like it?” he said.
“Yes,” said I, grinning. And I confess I have it now somewhere about my house. I doubt if few souvenirs exist to remind one of a scene exactly similar.
The girl now kept cloths wrung from the hot water on my neck. I thanked them all as best I could. “I say, you men,” remarked Mandy McGovern, coming up with a cob-stoppered flask in her hand, half filled with a pale yellow-white fluid, “ain’t it about time for some of that thar anarthestic I heerd you all talking about a while ago?”
“I shouldn’t wonder,” said Orme. “The stitching hurts about as much as anything. Auberry, can’t you find me a bit of sinew somewhere, and perhaps a needle of some sort?”
THE QUALITY OF MERCY