“Is that where it hurts?”
“Do you feel the pressure when I place my finger on it?”
The man could not answer, but the tears that came into his eyes told the story.
“It’s extraordinary. I can see nothing.”
“Neither do I, but the pain is still there and I would rather die than go on this way.”
The surgeon examined it all over again, with a microscope, took the man’s temperature, and finally shook his head.
“The skin is perfectly healthy. The arteries are normal; not the slightest inflammation or swelling. It is as normal as any hand can be.” “I think it is a bit redder on the spot.”
The stranger made a circle on the back of his hand about the size of a farthing: “Here.”
The doctor looked at the man. He began to think that he had to deal with a lunatic.
“You will have to stay in town and I shall try to help you within the next few days,” he said.
“I cannot wait a minute. Do not think, doctor, that I am insane, or under any delusion. This invisible wound hurts me terribly and I want you to cut out just that round part as far as the bone.”
“I am not going to do it, sir.”
“Because there is nothing the matter with your hand. It is as healthy as my own.”
“You seem to think I am a madman, or that I am deceiving you,” said the patient as he drew out of his wallet a thousand-florin banknote and placed it on the table. “You see I am in earnest. The matter is important enough for me to pay a thousand for it. Please perform the operation.”
“If you offered me all the money in the world I would not touch a healthy limb with the operating knife.”
“Because it would not be according to professional ethics. All the world would call you an idiot and would accuse me of taking advantage of your weakness, or declare that I could not diagnose a wound that did not exist.”
“Very well, sir. Then I shall ask you another favor. I shall undertake the operation myself, though my left hand is rather clumsy at such things. All I will ask of you, is to take care of the wound after I operate on it.”
The surgeon saw with astonishment that the man was quite serious, and watched him take off his coat and turn up his shirt sleeve. The man even took out his pocket knife, for want of any other instrument. Before the doctor could intervene, the stranger had made a deep incision in his hand.