MAX BRAND
[FREDERICK FAUST]

DR. KILDARE'S HARDEST CASE

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First published in Cosmopolitan, Mar 1942
Collected in Dr. Kildare's Search, Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, 1943
This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2019
Version Date: 2019-09-09
Produced by Paul Moulder, Colin Choat and Roy Glashan

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Cover Image

Cosmopolitan, March 1942, with "Dr. Kildare's Hardest Case"



Cover Image

"Dr. Kildare's Search" Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, 1943 with "Dr. Kildare's Hardest Case"


TABLE OF CONTENTS



CHAPTER 1

REAR ADMIRAL Lindley Parker Sessions, commandant of the Yard, stood with his hand on his hips and looked up. There is a saying that even the Devil would make a sailor if he could only learn to look up. However, the Rear Admiral was not staring at the leech of a sail; he was watching the ironworkers as they ran up a new portion of the ways. Welders did most of the construction in the Yard, but for lack of them at this point, Lieutenant Commander Henry Jervis, who supplied the engineering brains for the Rear Admiral, was using a riveting gang.

It was characteristic of Jervis that instead of remaining in an office with blueprints he was out in the Yard in the weather. There was a special brand of weather to-day. The wind blew enough to slant the rain into long, dim pencillings, thickening to sleet in the air and freezing on the ground. Through the dark of the day the steel shone faintly, slippery with ice, more dangerous to the workers than Japanese bombs or German bullets. Even the Devil, of whom the Rear Admiral was thinking, would not have kept men at work on such a day; but Commander Jervis was in many respects more formidable.

In his brain there were printed in red letters such words as "Scheduled for completion," and "Due for delivery," always with a date. The only alteration in those dates, so long as Jervis was in charge of the Yard, was to move them forward, not back. He was always clipping a few strokes from par, as it were, and since the chief credit must go to the officer in command, the reputation of the Rear Admiral in Washington was sweeter than bird song. In his heart of hearts he despised his high repute as a builder; he yearned upward and outward toward the winds and the battle-grey seas of the Pacific and the Atlantic; so that his admiration of Jervis, the brilliant engineer, was slightly poisoned by regret.

He presently was aware of another spectator who stared upward toward the riveting gang and Jervis. It was a burly sergeant of marines.

"You look more like a sailor than a marine," said the Admiral. "Why is that?"

The sergeant remembered to salute. "Because I've had my nose broke a couple of times, sir," he said, "and my jaw once."

Upon the thickness of the man's neck and the iron of his jaw the Admiral looked with pleasure, which suddenly was disturbed by the realization that certain implications were underlying the last words of the sergeant. The Admiral mustered his quarterdeck scowl. "What's your name?" he asked.

"Sergeant Weyman, sir," said the marine.

"Why are you loitering around here?"

"To get the commander's eye, sir."

"And then what?"

"To tell him to get out of the wet."

"You'll tell him, eh? I've told him the same thing twenty times, but he won't do it."

"He'll mind what I tell him," said the sergeant. "He knows I been working in a hospital—years I been there, sir."

The Admiral considered afresh that face made for battle but now filled with almost feminine concern.

"Jervis is overworked," said the Admiral.

"He's as thin as a rail and as white as a bone," agreed Sergeant Weyman, "but there's no sense in him to—"

The riveting gun broke out in a roar above them. Commander Jervis had taken the dolly-bar from the backer-up and was demonstrating how it should be used. Now he stepped back, handed the bar to the ironworker, and moved aside.

"Watch yourself—watch!" yelled Sergeant Weyman.

The Admiral saw Henry Jervis, twenty feet above him, topple outward like a bowling pin which has been jostled off balance but is reluctant to fall. The lieutenant commander made a swimming motion with one hand, a grabbing gesture with the other. The riveter reached for him but pulled back his hand as though he saw clearly that Jervis was gone. Then the hesitant body made up its mind and plunged down.

Admiral Sessions had one great pang of sorrow for his young friend, followed by a swift sense of being released once more toward the high seas, like a bird into its natural element. Then he saw that Weyman, yelling loudly, had run into the path of the fall and actually was trying to receive Jervis in his outstretched arms. Both of them fell. Weyman bounced up again as from springs; Jervis lay on his back with a stroke of blood across his face.

Phrases formed in the mind of the Admiral as he hurried to the spot; "in line of duty"..."inspiring leader"..."all who serve are fighting on a battlefield..."

He was kneeling by Jervis, now.

"Keep your hands off of him," directed the sergeant harshly. He pressed his ear above Jervis's heart and presently smiled a little.

"He's going to live, sergeant, eh?" asked the Admiral humbly.

"You're damn right," said Sergeant Weyman.

A siren screeched in their ears; then they were shifting Jervis on to the stretcher with Weyman taking charge. The sergeant took his place behind the wheel of the ambulance.

"Come out of that!" protested the driver.

"Orders from the Admiral," answered Weyman, and slid the ambulance through the gates.

"Wait a minute! Wait a minute!" said the man beside him. "That ain't the way to the Naval Hospital."

"Admiral's orders!" declared Weyman through his teeth, and took the ambulance straight to the Blair General Hospital, leaving twenty traffic laws broken behind him, and the rules of the Yard knocked into a cocked hat.

That was how Henry Jervis was brought to Dr. Gillespie's office, a blanket thrown over him with the red edging which means in hospital parlance "Life or Death," and gives precedence over all routine cases. There had been no pause to enter the case duly; there had been no delay in the emergency ward. "Admiral Sessions, he wants to get this case to Doc Kildare, and damn double-quick," said Sergeant Weyman.

His own unforgettable mug, so well remembered in Blair Hospital, cut through half the red tape; the name of an admiral did the rest. And so, on four rubber wheels that whispered with haste, Weyman hurried the injured man through Gillespie's crowded waiting room. He paused there for one upward glance of relief at the brass plate which announced "Dr. Leonard Gillespie, Office Hours, 12 A.M. to 12 A.M." Then they were in the office of the great diagnostician.

"They have their own doctors in the Navy, and plenty of good ones," said Gillespie. "How does this fellow come here, Weyman?"

"Orders of Admiral Sessions,' sir," said Weyman. "Here's the finest man in the Yard, and the Admiral thought that if Dr. Kildare could spare a look at him..."

Gillespie, with a thrust of his wheelchair, paused beside the unconscious Jervis, and laid a prescient hand on his wrist. "Get Kildare," he said.

So they got Kildare.

It meant beating on a laboratory door—because the loud- speaker which was supposed to communicate with all parts of the hospital had been cut off with malice aforethought, by Gillespie's orders. Dr. Kildare came at last, with a half- finished chart still in his hand, scowling as he pulled the door open—a strong wedge of a young man, pale from overwork and marked by something more than labour. The orderly started to give the message, but Weyman grabbed Kildare by both shoulders.

"Hey, doc!" was all he could say. "Hey, doc, it's great seeing you."

"Who let you in here, marine?" asked Kildare, with apparent disdain.

"I got a guy upstairs. He's had a fall. He's the greatest guy in the world—bar one. He's a commander. He's Navy. And he's the stuff. Don't leave the dumb guys do him in! Give him a chance for me, will you doc?"


CHAPTER 2

A Navy doctor with two of the best men on the staff of the hospital studied the X-ray plates. Gillespie, having glanced at the pictures, now sat by Jervis's bed, his white hair blown to a storm by a few impatient gestures of his hand.

Opposite him, Kildare leaned over the patient, registering height, weight, age, then cutting down to details of the face: the resolution printed in the forehead, and the pain, the weariness, that sagged around the mouth. To Kildare, Jervis had the look of one of those ageless men whose years are counted not from birth but by what they have learned, expressed and endured. He reached out and almost touched a faint yellow-blue stain on Jervis' temple; with a side glance, he consulted the old lion, Gillespie.

"What's it going to be?" asked Gillespie. "You have the bulldog look on you again. Going to hitch yourself to another lost cause?"

As Admiral Sessions appeared in the doorway, Jervis stirred and groaned. Fuller consciousness coming over him, the groan instantly ended. The effort caused him to take a deep breath and set his jaw.

"How are you, Commander?" asked the Navy doctor. "Things will look up for you presently. You'll be rallying around in no time."

"Certainly," said Jervis faintly, and his jaw took on harder set. "Tell Ackerman to take the new assignment of—"

"Steady!" said Kildare. "It's all right. Everything's going on. One fellow can't be the whole of this man's Navy. Just let it drift. Take it easy. Don't hold on too hard. Let everything slip."

The Commander gradually relaxed. A slight smile touched his lips, and with a look of dim gratitude, he slid back into unconsciousness. The now unguarded will permitted a groan to pass his lips. With every outgoing breath, the faint groan was repeated. It seemed to Kildare that with this rousing to consciousness he had seen a hint of the full dimensions of the man—patient, resolved, big with purpose; now all this passed under shadow, like a mountain lost in sudden clouds.

Clarington, of the hospital staff, as good a man as you could find in a thousand, said, "We've all seen the plates. I think it's an operation. What do you say, Weller?"

The Navy doctor nodded, but he looked at Gillespie. "I have a superior officer, here," he said, with beautiful and honest modesty.

Gillespie glanced at Kildare. "Speak up, Jimmy," he said.

Kildare did not answer.

"Fallen in love with trouble again," explained Gillespie. "Kildare! Operation?"

"Certainly not," said Kildare. "You'd only cut the life out of the fellow."

"We ought to thank God for the young doctors," Clarington said. "They're always so sure."

"What's the matter with him?" persisted Gillespie. Kildare did not take his eyes from the patient as he answered, "You first, sir."

"He's sick. He fell because he was sick," said Gillespie.

"What kind of sickness?" snapped Kildare.

"One of the ten thousand kinds I've never handled," said Gillespie. "What do you say?"

"He doesn't want to live," answered Kildare, still peering at Jervis. "And if he doesn't fight, he'll die."

"Doesn't want to live?" repeated Weller. "There's no better record than he has behind him. The Yard will run without him or any other man; but the Admiral thinks Jervis one of the main links in the chain."

Admiral Sessions, for the first time introduced, received a salute from Gillespie. Kildare was oblivious of everything except the injured man. With a finger on Jervis' throat, he was judging the pressure that drove the blood through the great artery.

The Admiral's genial face, bland and red as that of a country squire, was filled with agreement. "I couldn't do without him—and he knows it," he said.

"If Dr. Gillespie will permit us to express our reasons for the operation—" began Clarington.

"Here's a lot of men against you, Jimmy," said Gillespie. "Operation?"

"Nonsense," said Kildare, without emphasis. He stood up. "The gimp was out of this man before he fell," explained Kildare, more to himself than to the others.

"By disease of some sort?" said Gillespie.

"Yes. Of the heart," said Kildare.

"You mean you heard something through the stethoscope?" asked Clarington.

"No, I'm seeing something," said Kildare.

"He's finding a psychological angle," said Gillespie.

"Rot!" exploded Clarington.

"I would defer to Dr. Gillespie," said Weller, with a slight bow.

"Then postpone operating," said Gillespie.

They went into the adjoining room, for the hospital had assigned the officer a suite. There they found Sergeant Weyman standing at stiff attention before a lieutenant of marines. Weller, plucking Clarington by the sleeve, lingered behind with him and asked, "This chap Kildare is a little young?"

"Too damned young!" growled Clarington. "Half the staff of this hospital hates the ground he walks on. Damn assured. Won't take advice. Always reaching for the sky."

"But you keep him on?"

"Gillespie's pet. You heard the old man defer to him?" The lieutenant of marines was saying, "You falsified the orders of a superior officer!"

"Yes, sir!" said Weyman.

"You knew that injured men in the Yard go to the Dispensary or straight to the Naval Hospital?"

"Well, sir," said Weyman, "when I seen the Commander drop, I didn't know nothing except I used to work here in Blair; and all I knew was the two best doctors God ever made was here. So I come here."

"We'll teach you to think inside regulations, Weyman," said the lieutenant. "You will report to—"

"Weyman," broke in Kildare, rousing from his trance, "you know something about this fellow, this Jervis?" The sergeant actually ventured to turn his head from the officer who was questioning him, which turned the lieutenant crimson.

"I want to talk to you," said Kildare.

"Lieutenant," said the Admiral softly.

The lieutenant jerked himself to double attention. "Yes, sir?" he said.

"Outside the service, things are a little different. Just a moment." He turned to the doctor. "What's your name?"

"Kildare, sir."

"I'm putting my money on you; I don't know why. Lieutenant, will you have the sergeant assigned to special duty here?"


CHAPTER 3

IN that saloon across the street which had seen the hatching of Kildare's swift and strange career, Weyman sat in the back room with a glass of beer. Kildare walked the floor. The bartender, pausing in the doorway, said with the insolent delight of old friendship, "What a mug! Sergeant? I laugh, you burn."

After this half-whispered salutation, he withdrew, laughing in a silent convulsion.

"I seen through the door, doc," said Weyman. "He done something when he waked up and looked at you. He kind of smiled at you; and all at once I knew the ship had turned for the home port, and you had hold of the towline."

"His home port is in pretty dark waters," said Kildare. "Joe, d'you love him?"

"Yeah. Next to one other guy," said Weyman. He swallowed half his beer to choke back his emotion.

"He wants to die." said Kildare.

"Are you crazy?" shouted Weyman.

"He doesn't want it enough to do anything about it," said Kildare, "but he wants it the way you want sleep after forty- eight hours. He's ready to stretch out and let it come. But just now, unless he's ready to stand up and fight, he's going to die."

"You dunno what you're saying, doc," complained Weyman. "You dunno what kind of a guy, what a straight shooter, what a swell—I mean, don't say it to me, doc, will you?"

Kildare continued his pacing, and Weyman watched him. "Has he been sick recently?" asked Kildare.

"No, doc. I've heard him say that he never had a sick day in his life, hardly," answered Weyman.

"Ah, that's good," murmured Kildare, a slight gleam in his eye.

Weyman had seen it before, and it sent small shudderings of cold through his spinal column. He had seen in Kildare, through the years, every kindness, every patient understanding, and human devotion, but under or above the human there was this other soul that lived on the trail like a cat for the kill. The comparison made no sense. Weyman felt, for the purpose of Kildare was always to save and to cure; it was merely that the deepest hunger of all that possessed the doctor was to discover the truth; like an ascetic detective, he consumed himself night and day with a passion to solve the enigmas of disease. Drinking beer in the saloon across the street or speaking kindly at a bedside—that was the Kildare best loved and known by Weyman, but this other creature of strange faculty he shrank from a little.

"Mother? Father? Family? Wife?" asked Kildare.

"No," said Weyman.

"Somebody he's very fond of," said Kildare. "Somebody has died?"

"No," said Weyman, startled.

Kildare was impatient. He walked on, scowling. "How well d'you know him?"

"Sometimes when he went uptown or just around, he let me drive him. He'd lay back and say something, now and then; sometimes he just slept. It done him good. So I sure knew him, all right."

"He wasn't so relaxed as this—not all the time," said Kildare.

"No, he was kind of up and on his toes before the work got to him."

"The work didn't get to him," said Kildare.

"Yeah, but it did," answered Weyman. "Everybody in the Yard knows how he works day and night and—"

"Nonsense!" said Kildare. "That was an effect, not a cause. Weyman, remember whether the change came on him suddenly? Was he fresh one week and sunk the next?"

Weyman shook his head. "It come on him slow, doc," he insisted.

"Well," said Kildare, "there's a final chance... He used to see a girl quite often. What about that?"

"He didn't though," answered Weyman. "Besides, he's not the kind of a dummy that'd break down about a gal."

"There was a girl, Joe," said Kildare. "Don't sit there like a lump of mud. Use your brain. There was a girl. Tell me about her."

"But there wasn't. I hardly remember, except a blonde came to the Yard and he showed her over the place. And a couple of times I took flowers for him to a place on Fifth Avenue."

"Who was she?"

"Something funny, like Sylvia. Yeah, Sylvia Harned, it was."

"Was she the one who came to the Yard?"

"I never seen her."


CHAPTER 4

WITHOUT further encouragement Kildare went to the address of Benjamin Harned on Fifth Avenue. It was a huge stack of double deck apartments with a very superior doorman. He did not approve of the soot stains ingrained in Kildare's hat; he noted with disgust the necktie askew; he still was looking at these details when he sent up Kildare's name.

"Mr. Harned don't seem to remember you; he'd like to know your business," said the fellow with satisfaction, after inquiry had been made.

"It's not a social call," said Kildare. "I'm from the Navy Yard."

A moment later he was behind soundless doors inside the elevator, which rose swiftly and paused at one of the top stories. Kildare was shown into a library where all the walls were filled with books bound in eighteenth-century calf. Mr. Benjamin Harned, relaxed for the evening in a red dinner-jacket, got up from his chair.

"Yes, Mr. Kildare? Navy Yard?" he said. "Of course at a time like this..." He left his apology for seeing Kildare incomplete and continued to look down his nose.

"You have a daughter named Sylvia?" asked Kildare. "She's the one I must see."

"But—the Navy Yard," murmured Harned.

"Yes," said Kildare.

"Sylvia is about to go out," said her father. "And besides—"

"Perhaps she'll change her mind about that," answered Kildare.

"But—Navy Yard?" asked poor Harned, vainly trying to hitch patriotism and Sylvia together.

Something white and gold moved through the next room beyond the open door. The white was Sylvia's evening cloak, and the gold was her hair. She turned as her father called.

"Sorry, Pops," she said. "We're late already."

Shadowy beside her was a big man in tails.

"Hold on," said Harned, passing Kildare adroitly through the door. "This man wants to see you—from the Navy Yard. Good- bye, Mr. Kildare."

Kildare found himself in a drawing room of baronial magnitude.

Sylvia Harned was talking like a turtle dove. She was full of sweetly falling inflections, with smiles and eye-shinings to match. "How do you do?" she was saying to Kildare. "So sorry we can't stop. Delighted another time."

"But this is Navy Yard business, Silly," said the big man.

"I wish you wouldn't use that nickname, darling," said Sylvia.

"I'm John Bender, Mr. Kildare," said her escort, shaking hands.

"I'd love to hear all about the Navy Yard," said Sylvia, "when there's time, but when there's theatre and dinner—" She was drifting slowly toward the door, taking Bender in tow.

"I'm afraid you'll have to miss them," said Kildare.

Bender frowned. "What's that?"

"Come along, John," said Sylvia. "I'm so afraid there's been a little drinking."

"Perhaps we can talk in the elevator, going down," said Bender, moving on Kildare and prepared for action.

"I'm a doctor from the Blair Hospital," said Kildare. "We'll start trying to make some sense here, if you don't mind."

Big John Bender, standing over the young doctor, found himself oddly without anything to do. "Well," he said, "let's have it."

"Of course, if he's a doctor," said Sylvia, with her sweet poison, "everything must be as he says—and our evening simply goes out of the window."

Kildare turned his shoulder to her and faced Bender. "We have a man down there," he said, "whose work means a few extra thousand tons of shipping a month for Uncle Sam. He's had a fall. He's in bad shape. We think we can save him if he'll help us by fighting. But he doesn't want to fight."

"Why not?" asked Bender, looking uneasily from Kildare to the girl.

"The heart's been cut out of him," said Kildare. "We want to put it back in. We want to make him think there's something to live for."

"How does Miss Harned come into this?" asked Bender.

"She's the one who did the damage," said Kildare.

"What is it, Sylvia?" asked Bender.

"Something for the newspapers, it seems," she answered, "but I'm sure I haven't the least idea."

"May I talk to you alone?" asked Kildare.

"Mr. Bender and I are so almost married that we're nearly the same as one—or wouldn't you say so, John?" She smiled up at Bender.

"You know who I mean, of course," suggested Kildare.

"I haven't the slightest idea," she answered, with eyebrows and shoulders and pretty hands all lifted to Bender.

The whole soul of the big fellow jumped in response.

"Well, it was two or three months ago, so I suppose you've forgotten him," said Kildare.

"John!" exclaimed the girl, apparently outraged.

"I think we've had enough of this," said Bender.

"You're supposed to help me, not make damned nonsense," answered Kildare. "You weren't seeing a man from the Navy Yard?" he asked the girl.

"Navy Yard? Navy Yard?" she murmured. "Let me see. It seems to me I do remember someone.

"You remember you were going to marry him, don't you?"

"Great Scott, Sylvia!" said Bender, under his breath.

"But it wasn't anything, John," she said sadly. "It really wasn't. Only, if I smiled at him, he thought I meant everything. And I can't help smiling, can I?"

She invited commiseration for the fate of one condemned never to smile.

"All right," said Kildare. "It wasn't your fault. But he's in the hospital dying by inches now, because he won't fight. Will you try to put the fight back in him?"

"I don't understand it at all, but of course I'll do anything I can, won't I, John?" she said.

"You will, of course," said Bender, but he was sweating a bit over the idea.

"Then if you want to change your clothes, will you hurry?" asked Kildare. "You'll be there for a long time, I believe."

"How long?" asked Bender sharply.

"Days, perhaps," said Kildare.

"So—that's that," she said.

She gave Bender a special look and left the room. Kildare sat down in a chair and was instantly asleep. A slight tension in his throat, a faint echo in his ears told him, as he roused, that he had been either snoring or groaning. Bender was tapping his shoulder, and Sylvia Harned stood by the door, pulling on gloves. Behind her, a servant held a fur coat.

"We might as well go along," she said. "But it all frightens me, John. I'm really so afraid."

The chauffeur who waited with Bender's car drove the three of them to the hospital.

"You'll tell me what you want me to do, doctor, won't you?" she asked. "Should I make a stage entrance, exclaiming over him, or what? Actually, I hardly know him at all. I was just so sorry for the poor, lonely man."

She sat back, not looking at Kildare but at her cigarette.

"You just pretend," said Kildare. "You pretend that you cared once about somebody, and that he's the man in that bed. Then you'll be able to breathe life into him."

"Frightfully mysterious," she said, and laughed a little. Her laughter tingled with musical overtones. It was like the rest of her, composed of complete self-consciousness. Kildare studied her with a patient eye; but once he found Bender's glance resting on him with an anxious question, as though a first doubt about the excellence of his lady had entered his mind.

It hardly mattered, however. Beauty like this could disdain all questions and all searchings of the soul. Between the tip of her nose and the curve of her throat, there was bracketed enough loveliness to take the breath of a million men.

"I'm going to try so hard," said Sylvia.

They got to the hospital and said good-bye to Bender. He stood beside the car, bending above the girl and assuring her that he would be close to the telephone in his house if she needed him at any time; after that she drifted up the steps beside Kildare.

"Never forgive him for not breaking my back and throwing me out?" he asked.

"Why, doctor," she said, with that perfect smile, carved and frozen, "of course John realized you were simply being patriotic—not rude. John has such deep insight."

She lay, Kildare saw, quite outside his ken, yet she was the tool with which he had to work his miracle on Jervis. He could at least say that the steel of this lancet was hard enough, if only he could bring it to the right edge.


CHAPTER 5

IN the living-room of the suite, a middle-aged nurse came to them, bringing the chart. Kildare glanced over it.

"Now, you tell me, nurse," he said. He dropped into a chair—without requesting Sylvia to sit down—and threw his head against the cushion, his eyes closed.

"I could not venture an opinion; I'm only a nurse, doctor," she said.

"Don't be sour. Be good," said Kildare. "You're Withers, aren't you?"

"Yes, doctor."

"You did the job on the Whipple girl," said Kildare.

"There were several on the case," answered the nurse.

"Don't argue," said Kildare. "You did the job."

The nurse was silent. Colour had jumped into her cheeks.

"The night the girl broke down, you were there. You remembered what she said. It was a great piece of work. Now, do a great piece of work on this case. Jervis is a man. He's a hell of a man." Kildare opened his eyes and rubbed them. Then he stood up. "You helping? Playing the game? Trying for touchdowns?"

An unaccustomed smile made wrinkles, then disappeared from the nurse's cheeks. "Yes, doctor," she said.

"I can't do without you. Understand?"

"Yes, doctor," she said. "I understand."

"You're pretty well fagged, but you're on twenty-four-hour duty to the finish."

"To the finish?" She took a breath and steadied herself. "Yes, doctor."

"We'll have one of the other nurses on hand to spell you for thirty minutes now and then. But this job will be finished in three days."

"Are you sure, doctor?"

"I've got to be sure, or I might be wrong. Too wrong. Can you stick it out?"

"Yes, doctor."

"Now, tell me what you think."

"That he won't last the three days."

"He's got to, probably," said Kildare. "Look, Withers, it's between you and me. Understand?"

"Yes—I understand," she repeated, speaking the words slowly, registering them in her mind. Then she went back into the other room. Kildare followed her, beckoning to Sylvia Harned. They stood by the bed. The dim light smudged Jervis' face into the shadow that lay on the pillow. It was only a profile; only a stone-hard relief. Kildare took his pulse. Then he looked at the girl. There was no change in her. She wore the prop smile, like an actress, as he took her back into the next room.

"You don't give a rap about him, but you're going to do the job," said Kildare. "You'll do it, because you're an actress. Sit down. I want to talk."

She sat down.

"See how you're doing your stuff now," said Kildare, intent on her. "It couldn't be better. Beautiful frosting. I'm only a doctor. Doctors aren't human. Otherwise, I'd be catching a chill that would last the rest of my life...Now, when he wakes up, what are you going to do?"

"Speak to him pleasantly, I suppose."

"No. You're just going to sit there and think."

"About what?"

"About the day when you're off the stage."

"I'm not on the stage, doctor," she said, a little warmed by anger.

"You are. Aristocrat. Old regime. A serving class beneath you. Better death than bad manners. You have other r?les, of course. But I won't want any of them. While he lives, you'll be something else."

His nearness and her contempt made her forget her smile; her lip curled with disgust. "After all, this is war," she said. "You must tell me what to be, doctor."

"I'll tell you," said Kildare, and sat on his heels in front of her chair. She saw that his clothes had no shape. Even his shirt seemed made not to fit, and his necktie was farther askew than ever. One of his shoes had cracked across the toes and been sewed up by a cheap repair shop. A newsboy, a gardener, a groom might have looked like this. He was not even clean-shaven.

Before he could start on his lesson, the door opened and an elderly man appeared. From the embarrassingly intimate position in which she found herself, Sylvia would have arisen, but Kildare was too close to permit free movement.

"How is he, Kildare?" asked the man at the door.

"Bad," said Kildare. He hardly looked around. This, embarrassing position, half froglike, half that of a man emptying his heart in courtship, did not seem to bother him. "He's bad, sir. Will you give me another nurse to spell Withers and keep her on twenty-four-hour duty? Thank you, Dr. Carew."

The name rang a bell in Sylvia Harned's memory; there was a Dr. Carew who was the head of a great hospital—this one, it appeared.

"Certainly," said Carew.

"And take me off everything but this?"

"Gillespie said it would be that way," nodded Carew, and withdrew.

"Gillespie" was another name that struck home. Science did not interest her in the slightest, but she could remember stories about the great diagnostician, himself dying of a mortal disease but giving himself to his work to the last moment. Yet here was Kildare, this graceless, untidy man who turned heedlessly from great names and centred his attention once more on her.

"You're to be as though there were no Fifth Avenue, no names and fortunes. That's all gone. You're not anything but a woman who's going to marry one day, have children, lie awake on account of them, and grow old like every other woman. You sit in the chair, now, by Jervis' bed. You never cared much for him but he was something different. It was fun to see the Yard with him. He was something in uniform. A bit silly. Always thinking of other things. He sent the wrong flowers..."

"He sent the wrong flowers?" she exclaimed.

"The wrong flowers," persisted Kildare, and went on.

She began to see the young doctor's face in detail. It wasn't a handsome face. There was too much jaw. The eyes could shrink in under the brows as though he were taking aim at a target he wanted to strike—now—with all his force.

He was saying: "You remember? The sickroom's your stage now. Jervis is your audience. What you say doesn't matter so much. What you look is the trick. That's what a man wants. The look of his woman. You are his woman. Is that horrible? Commander Jervis' woman who is going to stand up at the altar with him and take his name, forgetting her old one; who is going to have his children. You think yourself into that state! Nothing matters except that he's to get well and go on shipbuilding for the country, and home building for you. You understand?"

"I hear you, Dr. Kildare," she said.

He kept driving at her. He took her hand to hold her attention. And suddenly she was listening, entranced, listening as she had never listened to another voice in her life as he said, "It's as though you'd been in his arms, and you were sick of everything in the world except him. In his arms, I mean; not as though you were at a dance, but giving yourself to him and saying: 'God give him happiness; God make me a happiness to him.'"

She heard the words as though they were out of a loud-speaker that filled all her mind. But what kept her entranced was the tremor of his hand which held hers and sent vibrations, electric and swift, into her heart and into her brain.

"Yes," she found herself saying, "I'll try to remember."

He stood up, exhausted from his effort. "You can do it. You can act it. You have the brains," he said.

No heart, he meant, of course. She had no heart, but she had the brains, and he would use those brains to accomplish his purpose. She had known important men tempered by the fine, impersonal chill of resolution. She had known business giants and the rest; but it seemed to her that she never had seen the like of this grimy nobody who was all purpose; who revealed of himself nothing but the passion of a conviction.

She stood up.

"What are you wearing under that coat?" he asked.

"A blouse and skirt."

"Let me see it."

She took off the coat.

It was a white blouse embroidered in blue. The sleeves touched the elbows and poured a misty fullness over them; there was more fullness delicately pleated over the breast.

"That's good," he said. "How much did you pay for that pendant?"

She touched the gleaming ruby. "I don't remember what Father paid for it. Ten thousand. Something like that."

"Take it off," said Kildare. "A girl for a lieutenant commander couldn't afford that sort of stuff."

She took it off. "I don't like to leave it around," she said.

"I'll keep it," said Kildare, and dropped it into his coat pocket. "Can you do something to your hair? I mean, roughen it a little on top—that way. Now, could you bring it up a little higher on the nape of your neck? So you won't hide this nice place here, where the curves are. Now, come in here."

He seated her beside the bed.

"Wait a minute," he said.

He disappeared and returned with some pink and golden roses. He had an extra spray of fern with them.

"I swiped these down the hall," he said. "Put them on. A man likes to see flowers on his woman. They belong to her as she belongs to him...That's right. No, a little higher. Now you've got it... You won't have to talk much. He'll lie there and look. That's all."

"But he'll wonder. It was a horrible parting he and I had—and then I never answered his calls or his letters."

"Don't argue with him. Say you always knew it would have to be this way, but you fought against it. That's old stuff. But you always knew. Understand?"

"Yes," said the girl.

"You're good!" murmured Kildare. "Look at her, Withers. She's right in the part now. Your eyes are half a size bigger, and softer. You're not chilly."

"No, thank you, Dr. Kildare."

He dropped on his heels again and admired her. "I hoped from the first, but I wasn't sure. How could I guess that you'd be a great actress? But now you're going to take him through!"


CHAPTER 6

KILDARE, face down on a couch in his office, wakened with a haunting sense of something important that must be done at once. When he started up, he found Gillespie in the wheelchair beside him.

"What are you doing up at this hour?" demanded Kildare. "You've been promising you wouldn't stir till—"

"Would you go and tell my doctor on me, Jimmy?" asked Gillespie, grinning.

Kildare studied afresh the face he knew best in the world, with the thunders in the brows always present and the gleam in the eyes, and the pain of incredibly long torment somehow colouring everything; over all was the pure white snow of the years.

"There's good news for me," interpreted Kildare. "You wouldn't grin if it were about you."

"You turned out to be right, they say, about Jervis. That's all," said Gillespie. "He's raised up in bed and is practically asking for steak and potatoes."

Kildare started for the door.

"But while you're there, just listen to the heart, Jimmy," said the old man.

"Yes, sir; thank you," said Kildare, and he went up to the sick room.

In the upper hall, he passed big John Bender, walking head down, grim in thought. Kildare had to touch his arm to stop him.

"Ah, yes," said Bender. "Good morning, doctor. Very fine work. I congratulate you."

Kildare shrugged away the compliments. "I've made trouble for you?" he asked.

"It's all in the day's wash," said Bender.

"This is all a new idea," said Kildare. "She's a girl who hasn't done anything. Now she's excited because she's accomplished something. She adds the good of the job to the man who benefited from it. That's the way they are, Mr. Bender."

Bender laid a massive hand on Kildare's shoulder. "She's not like the rest," he said. "I know what you mean, but this one is as deep as a well."

He went on with his long, even stride, like a man carrying a heavy burden. So Kildare reached Jervis' rooms a little depressed beneath that first high hope.

In the sitting room, Weyman rose up to crow. His eyes were blackened by the lack of sleep, but he looked as though he had just eaten the cream off the bottle.

"Who was the guy that had the idea? Who brought him here? Who oughta get all the credit?" asked Weyman.

Sylvia Harned came in from the sick room at the murmur of voices. "See him, doctor; please see him!" she said.

The night had passed over her without leaving a sign of fatigue. Her eyes were as clear as blue sky; and looking into them, Kildare remembered what Bender had said about this girl. He went in to see Jervis. The nurse introduced them.

"But I remember you," said Jervis, holding out his hand. "I remember your voice when I was passing out. It was something I held on to, like a rope. I swung by it." He smiled. "I'm better to-day, doctor, as you see. I'll be back on the job—when?" he asked. "You'll make it quick, I'm sure."

"I hope so," said Kildare, and put his stethoscope over Jervis' heart.

It was amazingly better, Kildare would have finished with a casual examination except for Gillespie's warning words which made him listen on. By degrees, he found another thing. Heart sound is not mere hammerstroke and noise of rushing blood. It speaks to the wise ear of many, many things. Irregularities, weaknesses, are like uncertain steps of men about to fall, or like shadows thrown by objects still unseen. To Kildare, as he listened, there came a dim foreboding, as though he were hearing an unexpected footfall echoing far away. He stood up.

"Good news, isn't it?" said Jervis. He smiled like a child. "I thought I was a lost one, yesterday; but they couldn't kill me to-day—not with depth bombs!"

Kildare took Withers into the next room and whispered, "What d'you think?"

"I wouldn't put a penny on him," said the nurse grimly. "He thinks he's got to heaven, poor fool, but I don't think he'll bring back much of its gold."

"That's partly good medicine you're talking," said Kildare, "and partly something else. What's the other something?"

"I wouldn't be telling my guess," she answered.

She left them. Weyman, who had been talking softly to the girl, now went out.

"It's a beautiful job," Kildare told her. "And you feel good about it, don't you?"

"Oh, yes, I do," she answered.

"But you're thinking of something."

"Something a long, long distance ahead, perhaps," she said.

"You're not so frightfully happy?"

"But you think I've done well?"

"Well? Why you've poured life back into him!" She smiled. "That makes me happy."

"It might even be," said Kildare, "that this will all straighten out the way a book would have it, and you and Jervis—"

"Oh, no!" she broke in. "Oh, no! That's not possible."

"Isn't it?" asked Kildare, gently. "Then I don't want it to be that way. This has been so hard for you—"

"Oh, but it wasn't!"

"I mean, at first, when—"

"It was just that I was in a horribly ugly temper, and I'm not really the way I acted then, please!"

"Of course you're not; I know now what you can do."

"Because I'm an actress? Are you going to say that?"

"No, not that, either," said Kildare thoughtfully. "I mean that most people have a limit on what they can lift and what they can do. They're tied to one shape and place and possibility. And I thought you were that way. But the others—the ones in the tens of thousands—they make themselves over into what's wanted. I mean, they incandesce. They shine in the dark and show us the way, And that's how you are now."

"I wish you wouldn't!"

"I'm not very good with words," said Kildare, "but I think I know what's changed you. You've had a man's life in your hands and you've given it back to him, you see."

Sylvia looked at him. If he had been unkempt the night before, he might well have stood for a garbage collector, now. But she was reading, page by page, in a book she never had opened before.

"It isn't that," she said.

"But it is," said Kildare. "If you'd look now, all at once, in a mirror—but mirrors wouldn't show you what I'm seeing. It's all no good, the talking."

"I think it is," she said.

He could only smile at her; but there was no trace of smiling in her eyes.

"It's an odd thing," said Kildare, "but even while we've been standing here in the same room it's as though I've been travelling thousands of miles nearer, till we're quite close. Does that make sense?"

"Such a lot of sense—such a lot," she whispered.

"So that we're old friends."

"Yes, old—" said Sylvia.

"The other thing I want to say," continued Kildare, "is that Jervis isn't out of the woods. Not by a long way, I'm afraid. So you'll keep on bearing down?"

"Yes," she said, darkening as though she were suddenly tired. "Of course."


CHAPTER 7

KILDARE went back to add a patch on his ragged hours of sleep. Before he dropped to the couch again he interrupted the line of patients who already were trooping one by one from the waiting room into Gillespie's office. The old man was in his best form, snarling, growling, roaring—and then all at once as gentle as rain.

"I listened to the heart," murmured Kildare. "And I don't know, sir. Something is wrong. Can you tell me what it is?"

"If I knew what it was, I'd be doing something about it!" bellowed Gillespie. "Get out and stop talking like a fool."

Kildare got out and dropped again on his couch; two hours later he was heading back for the sick-room on the run. Lieutenant Commander Jervis had suffered a relapse that had left him only semi-conscious. But as he lay there, breathing with distinct labour, he managed a smile for Kildare.

"They can't count me out," he murmured. "They can knock me down, but they can't count me out."

Gillespie was in the sitting room. He was saying to Sylvia, "Too much stimulus may have taken it out of him. Just keep a little distance."

"Yes, Dr. Kildare," said Sylvia.

"Damn Dr. Kildare!" said Gillespie. "It's his boss who's talking to you now."

"So it appears," said Sylvia.

"Confound it," said Gillespie, "I mean there's such a thing as being too kind."

Sylvia said nothing. She had created the cold and the distance of interstellar space between Gillespie and herself.

"Damn it," said Gillespie, "you do the talking, Kildare, if you know Esperanto."

"I'm sorry," said Kildare, apologizing for the old man.

"Oh, but it's all right," answered Sylvia, smiling up at him.

"It's just that even good news, when he's spent like this might be a strain. But you can be just where he'll see you?"

"Of course I can be," said Sylvia.

"And that will give him the strength to keep on fighting."

"Will it? I'm so glad."

"God bless you! You're terrible sweet," said Kildare.

"No, no!"

"And good!" added Kildare.

He left the room, but Gillespie's baleful eye first dwelt on the girl and then followed his assistant.

"Baby talk—bah!" said Gillespie, as he was being pushed from the room by that most patient of chair-men, the Negro Conover.

"Yes, sir," said Conover.

Even back in his office, Gillespie's anger continued. "Damned young puppies who talk too much—they raise all the hell in this world," said Gillespie. "I'm talking to you, Kildare, and you damned well know it!"

"All right," said Kildare, "but Jervis is—"

"Talk, talk, talk, and too much said," continued Gillespie. "There's words and ways of saying them that are worse than picklocks. Housebreakers and damned sneak thieves that get away with things and throw them away; throw away what's more than gold. Throw it in the street to the dogs. Steal the hearts of women and throw them away!"

The telephone rang. It was a call from the Yard, from Weller. Young Lieutenant Crosby, like Jervis, had fallen from some structural steel in the Yard. He had been taken to the Naval Hospital but remained in deep coma.

Kildare had the first dim shadow of hope. He said "No ice on the steel to-day, I suppose; no wind, either. Just a careless step. Was that why he fell?"

"That's it," agreed Weller. "As though he'd gone dizzy, the men tell me."

"Crosby was in Jervis' department, I suppose."

"He was. Shared the same office with him, in fact."

Lieutenant Crosby lay as the dead, and the count of his breathing, the ghostly sound of his heart—more echo than sound—showed that death was very close to him indeed.

There was a double fracture of the right arm and collarbone, a number of bruises along the right side, but no serious signs of internal injuries. If some disease of mind or of body had made Crosby dizzy and brought about his fall, there was no manifestation of it. The blood was clean. There was no temperature. There was only the curiously weakened pulse, as of a man exhausted by sickness or prolonged effort.

Men who grow dizzy; men who fall; men who cannot rally from the shock—these were the specimen. Kildare wanted to find.

"It's something loose in the Yard," said Kildare. "We've got to find more cases. Fellows without fever, without a touch of it. Dizzy, and they fall."

"What does Gillespie say now?" asked Weller anxiously.

"He doesn't know. We can't find any germs in the blood. A non- filtrable virus? But the electron microscope shows nothing, either. It's as though they were haunted; not sick, but haunted by the ghost of a disease," said Kildare. "We must hunt the Yard. We've got to find them."

"We'll find them," said Weller firmly. "We'll get to every man on the job and find out those who have been hit by that dizziness."

"That's it," said Kildare. "We've got to ask ten thousand questions and find more of 'em."

"You can have the run of everything," said Weller. "The Admiral is half out of his mind for lack of Jervis, between you and me."

So Kildare walked for thirty-six hours, following "the run of things," asking ceaseless questions, with Weyman beside him to enforce the answers.

At night, he worked only part of the time in the Yard; most of the hours he spent in saloons where sailors and workmen were drinking beer. He went up one side of a bar and down the other, asking questions quietly, getting rough answers. Dizziness, yes, lots of it—hangover dizziness.

He looked at twenty thousand bits of man power, geared to a cause that ringed the world. He found them big units, thick in the chest and a flash quicker in the eye than any other breed of man on earth. He found them hearty, casual, careless, cheerful, free living, free fighting, and the Navy part of them scrubbed as clean as Monday's wash.

His knees went corky with that prolonged stalking. His stomach hurt as though it had been punched. Poor Weyman, who tried to follow, sagged, broke and gave out.

An hour later he would be on the trail with Kildare once more, but he began to look more like the hunted than the hunter.

Eight hours afoot is as much as most men want; ten is hard; twelve is the devil; eighteen kills off even Indians, and twenty- four is past the end of the trail. Kildare went thirty-six hours and only returned once to the hospital, toward the end, to borrow from science what nature had not put in the heart or the muscles of a man to endure.

He took a thirty-minute massage, and slept under the vigorous hands of the masseur; then a whipping shower, black coffee. Finally he went up to see Jervis.

John Bender was coming out of the room with a preoccupied air.

"How are things?" asked Kildare.

"I'm afraid you have a sick patient in there," Bender said. "Speaking of sick men, you look done in yourself."

"I meant something else," said Kildare. "You'll let a doctor speak straight from the shoulder, won't you?"

"Go ahead," said Bender.

"You and Sylvia—is all that better, now?"

"Better?" said Bender, looking closer at Kildare. "It's finished. Two minutes ago it was given the final touch. We've become simply good old friends. You know?" He made a good try at a smile.

"Be patient about it, will you?" pleaded Kildare.

"Patience won't do any good. When Sylvia makes up her mind, it's never changed. You know that, don't you?"

"Not in a case like this," said Kildare. "Girls are impressionable. They like dramatic business: life and death. That sort of thing. So Sylvia pours herself into this."

"So I see," agreed Bender in an odd voice.

"And besides, she had been fond of poor Jervis before; so I dare say—"

"Jervis?" said Bender. "Jervis? What does Jervis have to do with changing her? She passed him by once, and when she passes a man she never turns back to him."

"But if it's not Jervis," said Kildare, "what could have happened to her?"

"Perhaps things are too close for you to see clearly. Perhaps you even need a doctor, Kildare."

With that, John Bender went on down the hall and Kildare stared helplessly after him before he went in to see his patient. The Commander was flickering in and out of coma like a bird through sun and shadow, and every time his glance fell on Sylvia Harned, he smiled. That long watch, indeed, had hardly touched her. They say a girl can dance farther than a man can walk, and some obscure happiness, like the sustaining rhythm of music, supported Sylvia. She came with quick concern to Kildare as he stood unsteadily beside the bed. As he took Jervis' pulse he looked like a man who had been seven days drunk.

"It's all coming out right," he said.

"I'm coming home—coming home. She's got hold of the towline," said Jervis faintly.

"What chance is there? Shall we win, Jimmy?" asked Sylvia, following Kildare into the next room.

She read the signs of exhaustion in the doctor's face, but she spoke only about Jervis.

"He's got about one chance in twenty, now. He'll have a chance in a hundred by morning—and he'll die to-morrow," said Kildare.

She shook her head. "It won't happen. But you're not going back without a rest?"

"I'm going back," said Kildare, and looked at her for a moment.

She made no protest. It was curious to see the woman come up in her eyes and part her lips, but she swallowed the words of concern. She merely said, "I'll keep bearing down. Every minute."

"Good girl," said Kildare, and went back to his trek.


CHAPTER 8

THAT night the faces were beginning to blur before his eyes. He went into a better-class bar for a brandy, and while he was lifting the glass to his lips, he saw in the mirror his haggard face; but beside his own image was what he wanted. It was a small reflection. It showed a young air-force sergeant rising from a table where he had been drinking with a group of friends, and suddenly reeling, almost falling.

He was drunk, perhaps. But that stagger and near-fall was what Kildare wanted to see. He got quickly to the sergeant, who had a hand to his head and was smiling foolishly.

"Feel as though I'd been bumped on the head," said the sergeant. He spoke clearly. This was not alcohol.

"Have you been dizzy like this before?" asked Kildare.

"Says who?" muttered the sergeant. He had dry, pale lips, and his face was flushed around the temples.

"Is that what you want?" asked Weyman.

"I think so," answered Kildare. He turned again to the sergeant. "If I may speak to you for a moment?"

"Out, burn," said the sergeant.

"Sorry, doc," sighed Weyman, and hit over Kildare's shoulder with that fist to which nature had given brass knuckles.

There was not a big commotion. A sergeant of marines carries a big deal of conviction in all places resorted to by men of the sea. There was a growling murmur but no laying on of hands as the young fellow regained his wits. He got up ready for more, in the best spirit of America; but Weyman imprisoned his arms.

"You're going to talk," said Kildare, "but you're going to take a ride first. Get him into a cab. Weyman."

It was not easy to get the fellow into a cab, but they managed it. Afterwards Weyman sat on him. His struggles grew feebler, rapidly. His skin burned to the touch. Kildare's fingers found a racing pulse. Now he lay back with a gasp and a rattle in his breathing.

Kildare asked questions. "There are going to be all the drinks you can hold," said Kildare, "but you're going to tell me first if you ever knew Lieutenant Commander Jervis."

"Jervis be damned, and you after him, when I get my hands to myself," said the young sergeant.

"All right," said Kildare. "But there's not much to you now, partner. Your knees have been corky all evening, your head spins, your eyes aren't so clear."

"It was the rotten hooch in that joint of Shaughnessy's," said the sergeant.

"No, it's because you're sick," said Kildare. "Tell me one thing more. Did you ever know Lieutenant Crosby?"

"Sure. He made the flight with us."

"What flight?" asked Kildare.

"Why, the one to Russia," answered the sergeant.

In the hospital they got the sergeant, suddenly afflicted with dizziness again, into a bed, while Kildare sat in front of Gillespie and waited. There were books heaped around them, but Gillespie would not look at them. He had his hands knotted behind his head. His eyes were shut tightly. So he turned the million leaves of the books of his memory, now that a chapter title had been given him.

"It sounds like damned nonsense," said Gillespie. "Dizzy men? Indigestion, a lot of things make men dizzy. You've got two men without a fever who were dizzy and fell. You've got another with a fever. Are you trying to tell me that they're suffering from the same cause?"

"I think so," nodded Kildare. "All three of them have the same look."

"What look?"

"I don't know. It's pinched into their eyes, somehow. I can't describe it."

"Give me the story again," said Gillespie.

Kildare patiently told the story of how Lieutenant Crosby had been flown to Iceland and then across the top bridge of the world into Russia in order to give the men of the White North some of Commander Jervis' new welding ideas. Then he had returned—he and the crew of the plane that flew him—and gone straight back to Jervis' office to resume his work. And he had brought with him the trophy given him in the North—a white polar-bear skin. Had the pestilence come out of it?

"Two in fever, one out of it; Russia, and the same look in all three—but one burning up and the other subnormal—Kildare, Kildare, don't you see?" Gillespie suddenly shouted. "What else is there that burns you to-day and chills you to-morrow, not hour-spells but days at a time? Relapsing fever! Get this fellow's blood under the microscope and look for spirochetes!"

Minutes later Kildare was staring down at them—the ugly little corkscrew-shaped shadows which the microscope showed him. It was relapsing fever, and neoarsphenamine would rout it. He went after blood specimens from Jervis and the lieutenant. Now that he knew what to look for, vestiges of the same shadows appeared.

Minutes later, the injection was fighting for and saving the life of Jervis.

They shot information to the Naval Hospital; they fixed the air sergeant; and by the time the wind was trying to blot out the December morning's light with roars and volleyings of storm, danger had passed away from all three. They slept, and the wind did not bother them.

The Rear Admiral insisted on sitting down with Kildare. "This has been one of the good things," he said. "Good for the Yard, I mean. Another month without Jervis and I'd have been on the pension-list—or back at sea. Now I suppose I'll dry-rot in the Yard. But Washington has to know about what you've done, Kildare. The Navy isn't simply part of the armed forces, young man. The Navy is a club, and it has the memory of an elephant for the good and the bad that come to its members; therefore—" The Admiral stopped, for he saw that Kildare was sound asleep.

That sleep did not endure long, and Kildare went groggily down to Gillespie's office. He was very much surprised, when he entered, to discover Sylvia Harned with the great man. She sat in a chair with her hands knitted together like a frightened girl, and she had been crying. She stood up when Kildare entered, and looked at him in a strange way. If his brain had been clearer, he told himself, he would have known what that strangeness meant; but his brain was not clear.

"Have you been crying, Silly?" he said. "I know. Tired out. I could almost cry, too. But you'll come back for a few days to help Jervis get well?"

"May I come?" said Sylvia humbly.

"You may not!" shouted Gillespie. "He'll be able to walk on his own feet. You've done enough. I only hope you haven't done too much for your own good."

"I'd like to suggest, sir," said Kildare, worried, "that if she could continue for a few days—"

"Damn your suggestions," said Gillespie. "There's been enough harm done to one person by your schemes to last one hospital quite a time. You go to bed." Kildare smiled at the girl and went on uncertain feet into his office.

"Is that the end of it?" she asked.

"I told you what the end would be. That insolent, driving youngster has neither eyes nor ears nor heart for anyone but his work."

"But the girl... the nurse he is to marry?" Gillespie was silent for a moment. Then he said, "She's almost an exception. Even she becomes forgotten at times, but Lamont has patience, much patience." He went on more gently, "If you sat and waited for Kildare, you'd be forever."

Sylvia stood up blindly. "I can't have him," she said softly, "but I can make use of what he's taught me. Somewhere, sometime, there will be one man. I'll know him; Jimmy's shown him to me."


THE END