“Monsieur Bassin, I tell you you’re killing me.”
“Just a second more.”
“Monsieur Bassin, you’re driving nails into my head, it’s a shame.”
“I’ve almost finished.”
“Monsieur Bassin, I can’t stand any more.”
“It’s all over now,” said the surgeon, laying down his instruments.
Gautreau’s head was swathed with cotton wool and he left the ward.
“The old chap means well,” he said, laughing, “but fancy knocking like that ... with a hammer! It’s not that it hurts so much; the pain was no great matter. But it kills one, that sort of thing, and I’m not going to stand that.”
There is only one man in the world who can hold Hourticq’s leg, and that is Monet.
Hourticq, who is a Southerner, cries despairingly: “Oh, cette jammbe, cette jammbe!” And his anxious eyes look eagerly round for some one: not his doctor, but his orderly, Monet. Whatever happens, the doctor will always do those things which doctors do. Monet is the only person who can take the heel and then the foot in both hands, raise the leg gently, and hold it in the air as long as it is necessary.
There are people, it seems, who think this notion ridiculous. They are all jealous persons who envy Monet’s position and would like to show that they too know how to hold Hourticq’s leg properly. But it is not my business to show favour to the ambitious. As soon as Hourticq is brought in, I call Monet. If Monet is engaged, well, I wait. He comes, lays hold of the leg, and Hourticq ceases to lament. It is sometimes a long business, very long; big drops of sweat come out on Monet’s forehead. But I know that he would not give up his place for anything in the world.
When Mazy arrived at the hospital, Hourticq, who is no egoist, said to him at once in a low tone:
“Yours is a leg too, isn’t it? You must try to get Monet to hold it for you.”
If Bouchard were not so bored, he would not be very wretched, for he is very courageous, and he has a good temper. But he is terribly bored, in his gentle, uncomplaining fashion. He is too ill to talk or play games. He cannot sleep; he can only contemplate the wall, and his own thoughts which creep slowly along it, like caterpillars.
In the morning, I bring a catheter with me, and when Bouchard’s wounds are dressed, I apply it, for unfortunately, he can no longer perform certain functions independently.
Bouchard has crossed his hands behind the nape of his neck, and watches the process with a certain interest. I ask:
“Did I hurt you? Is it very unpleasant?”
Bouchard gives a melancholy smile and shakes his head:
“Oh, no, not at all! In fact it rather amuses me. It makes a few minutes pass. The day is so long. ...”