He bent over the Indian woman. She was quiet now and her eyes were closed. She looked very pale. She did not know what had become of the baby or anything.
“I’ll be back in the morning,” the doctor said, standing up, “The nurse should be here from St. Ignace by noon and she’ll bring everything we need.”
He was feeling exalted and talkative as football players are in the dressing room after a game.
“That’s one for the medical journal, George,” he said. “Doing a Caesarian with a jackknife and sewing it up with nine-foot, tapered gut leaders.”
Uncle George was standing against the wall, looking at his arm.
“Oh, you’re a great man, all right,” he said.
“Ought to have a look at the proud father. They’re usually the worst sufferers in these little affairs,” the doctor said. “I must say he took it all pretty quietly.”
He pulled back the blanket from the Indian’s head. His hand came away wet. He mounted on the edge of the lower bunk with the lamp in one hand and looked in. The Indian lay with his face toward the wall. His throat had been cut from ear to ear. The blood had flowed down into a pool where his body sagged the bunk. His head rested on his left arm. The open razor lay, edge up, in the blankets.
“Take Nick out of the shanty, George,” the doctor said.
There was no need of that. Nick, standing in the door of the kitchen, had a good view of the upper bunk when his father, the lamp in one hand, tipped the Indian’s head back.
It was just beginning to be daylight when they walked along the logging road back toward the lake.
“I’m terribly sorry I brought you along, Nickie,” said his father, all his postoperative exhilaration gone. “It was an awful mess to put you through.”
“Do ladies always have such a hard time having babies?” Nick asked.
“No, that was very, very exceptional.”
“Why did he kill himself, Daddy?”
“I don’t know, Nick. He couldn’t stand things, I guess.”
“Do many men kill themselves, Daddy?”
“Not very many, Nick.”
“Do many women?”
“Don’t they ever?”
“Oh, yes. They do sometimes.”
“Where did Uncle George go?”
“He’ll turn up all right.”
“Is dying hard, Daddy?”
“No, I think it’s pretty easy, Nick. It all depends.”
They were seated in the boat, Nick in the stern, his father rowing. The sun was coming up over the hills. A bass jumped, making a circle in the water. Nick trailed his hand in the water. It felt warm in the sharp chill of the morning.
In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die.
The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife
Dick Boulton came from the Indian camp to cut up logs for Nick’s father. He brought his son Eddy and another Indian named Billy Tabeshaw with him. They came in through the back gate out of the woods, Eddy carrying the long crosscut saw. It flopped over his shoulder and made a musical sound as he walked. Billy Tabeshaw carried two big cant hooks. Dick had three axes under his arm.
He turned and shut the gate. The others went on ahead of him down to the lake shore where the logs were buried in the sand.
The logs had been lost from the big log booms that were towed down the lake to the mill by the steamer Magic. They had drifted up onto the beach and if nothing were done about them sooner or later the crew of the Magic would come along the shore in a rowboat, spot the logs, drive an iron spike with a ring on it into the end of each one and then tow them out into the lake to make a new boom. But the lumbermen might never come for them because a few logs were not worth the price of a crew to gather them. If no one came for them they would be left to waterlog and rot on the beach.