After The Surgery

Dr. Soames rinsed his bloody hands in the basin provided for the purpose, then wiped them dry on his smock.

The patient lay back, pale and gasping, his clay-like face mottled and streaked with broken blood vessels. Despite the leather gag, he had done a good deal of screaming as his leg was amputated.

Soames’s assistant unbuckled the heavy straps with which the patient had been seized to the operating table.

“He’ll do well enough,” said Dr. Soames, using the Latin that allowed for medical candor while reassuring the patient he was in the care of the learned.

“What was the time, Doctor?” asked the assistant.

“Not above ten minutes from the first incision to the sutures,” said Soames with some complacency. “We can never be swift enough, but that is not too bad. He may even live, providing the sepsis or gangrene doesn’t carry him off. I’ll leave you to the bandaging.”

What Pegman Saw: Pittsburgh