Tears welled in his eyes as his failing concentration felt respite at last. His breast filled with inexpressible relief with the knowledge of yet another young life saved; A three hours long emergency operation fraught with unimaginable risks had been successful.
He silently gave thanks that his surgical skills were again exonerated despite the excruciating cramp around his fingers and stiffness in his joints;
He reflected momentarily on the ineluctable fact that he was Master Surgeon still; after all these very long thirty years of exemplary service and adherence to duty.
He had initially greeted the move to this provincial town after his inaugural sojourn in the imperial capital-having attended the Kaiser Franz Josef himself on several occasions- as something of a demerit.
And yet, shuffling wearily down the marathon corridor, his gaunt shadow cast almost majestically by the billowing, flickering gaslight made it seem inexplicably brighter still.
Eyes wearied by concentration, he barely recognised the faces of those nurses and his fellow surgeons who congratulated him with undue but welcome muted applause as he proceeded with rising spirits to the waiting room area.
He had saved a very precious young life; one that had he not stilled his recurring and unpredictable hand tremors with a small dose of laudanum beforehand, might so easily have attained an altogether less favourable outcome.
That knowledge aired only in his internal silent monologue that accompanied his footsteps like a silent drumroll of a conscience long since unacquainted with mere frivolous compassion.
Approaching the large waiting room area out into the fading late afternoon light was a great doctor who had fretted and performed near surgical miracles and was about to impart and share welcome news with the anxious parents who had now so many long hours ago rushed their child to this hospital and into the care of this master surgeon.
Face to face with the anxious ,waiting Mother, he of the wizened countenance and pedantic professional demeanour and she a complexion masked with tiredness and etched with a maternal hope beyond hope, something he had witnessed hundreds and hundreds of times for so many years.
She broached the question in a still, small voice that he scarcely heard though he knew what they were.
“Is He..? ”
“He is fine, there are no complications”
“When we brought him in, I thought he might die”
“No worries dear Lady, I’m sure your son will enjoy a long and happy life”
Tears of inestimable gratitude welled momentarily in her kindly eyes,
“Thank you Herr Doktor”
“Good day…Frau Hitler,”