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105. The Troublesome Tooth

When Gandhiji was staying in London towards the close of 1906 pleading with British statesmen the cause of his countrymen in South Africa, he developed a toothache. He was busy with his South African Committee when his vegetarian friend Dr. Joshia Oldfield called on him. Coming out from the Committee Gandhiji asked the doctor if he could take out the tooth that was worrying him. What followed had better be told by the doctor himself:

"I examined his mouth and found a very painful jaw, and a tooth difficult to extract.

'Go to a dentist,' I said.

'I haven't time,' he replied, 'if you will take it out for me here and now, I'll be very grateful, for it disturbs my power of concentration.'

I went out, borrowed a pair of forceps and returned. He asked the Committee to excuse him a minute, came into his bedroom and, without a sigh or a murmur, or an indrawn breath, bore the extraction of as difficult a tooth as I have ever taken out. For myself I wouldn't have had it out without an anesthetic upon any consideration. He sat still for a few minutes, thanked me gently and earnestly, and went back to his Committee...."