The old man tied off the last stitch and snipped the excess thread. He smeared a muddy paste over the surgery site to protect the arm from infection and covered his young patient with rough wool blanket. His hands worked by rote to clean and store his instruments and compounds; he hadn’t done anything like that surgery in a long time.
The old man’s chair beckoned. He eased himself down into the old seat, and found his mind troubled. He had broken his vow. And what for? A boy he knew nothing about. And now, would it be like before?