“You’ll have to pay the three hundred, you know, whether I amputate your arm or not. It would be wasting money not to have the operation. It only takes five minutes.”
“Well, you can prescribe some ointment, just to be earning your fee,” said the old man, as calmly as if he were bargaining over a pair of boots.
It was no use. Disgusted and disappointed, the Doctor left the man and went out for a walk to think matters over and discuss the problem with some of the village wiseacres. He found little good advice, however, and it was equally in vain to bring the notary and the Justice of the Peace to the patient’s bedside. The young woman was always there to offset any wicked plan on the part of the Doctor, and she never missed an opportunity for putting in a word or two to strengthen the obduracy of her husband. The Doctor gave her a wicked glance now and again, and even shouted at her:
“You hold your tongue when men are in conference!” he said.
“The hen is somebody on the cock’s dunghill,” she retorted, swinging her body.
John Gal hastened to prevent a quarrel.
“Don’t get too noisy, Kriska. You’d better get a bottle of wine for the visitors.”
“From which barrel?” she asked.
“From the two-hecto barrel. But for my funeral-feast you’d better tap the three-hecto barrel: it’s getting sour.”
He was quite resigned to the idea of death. The visitors drank and left him to make his peace with God.
In the courtyard Doctor Birli met the hired man, a young, powerful- looking fellow, a man-of-all-work.
“Get the carriage ready, I shall be off in half-an-hour,” he said to the man. “And tell Mrs. Gal I shall not stay for supper.”
Outside the gate he stopped, undecided as to what to do next. Through the crack of the gate-door he saw the man go up to Mrs. Gal, and could not help seeing the coquettish look she gave him and the self-important bearing of the young fellow as he approached her. It was evident that they were playing with fire and that there was some understanding between them. All he had to do now was to get a little further information on the subject. There must be an old witch in the village who knows all about the love-affairs of the villagers, and who deals in love potions. The notary would surely know. He did.