MAX BRAND
[FREDERICK FAUST]

THE PEOPLE vs. DR. KILDARE
(DR. KILDARE'S TRIAL)

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RGL e-Book Cover


Ex Libris

First published in Cosmopolitan, May 1941

First book edition:
Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, 1942, as Dr. Kildare's Trial

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2019
Version Date: 2019-09-02
Produced by Paul Moulder, Colin Choat and Roy Glashan

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Cover Image

Cosmopolitan, May 1941, with "The People vs. Dr. Kildare"



Cover Image

"Dr. Kildare's Trial" ("The People vs. Dr. Kildare")
Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, 1941


TABLE OF CONTENTS


CHAPTER ONE

A GREAT hospital must find hands for everything. The Blair General Hospital always had. Whether victims came pouring in from an explosion in a laundry or from a fire in the factory, the Blair General managed in some way to take care of the extra burden. But on this day when Mrs. Elijah Green was about to have a baby, no one could be found to send to her.

The check-over of available doctors in a hospital can be made quickly. In the delivery room the obstetricians were busy; they could not be spared. Every resident and every interne was engaged. Seven members of the surgical staff were operating.

The secretary's office passed the case of Willa Ann Green to the head of the hospital; an emergency had been reached, and emergencies were the special occupation of Doctor Carew, who had organised the hospital and who loved and knew his creation from the sun decks to the boiler room.

"It's a coloured woman—a Mrs. Elijah Green," said the secretary.

Carew's office wires began to hum, probing quickly into every part of the great institution; but the place was like a ship in a storm, with all hands called on deck. For the powerful machines of the X-ray department there was a long line-up of appointments waiting—people who could not be put off from the regular course of their treatment. Two doctors in the fluoroscope room were observing a suspected malignancy, outlined in barium. In the laboratories, two pathologists were at work, but could not be interrupted, for one was examining spinal fluid of a suspected case of meningitis, and another was typing the pneumonia case of a patient at the last gasp. Even in the accident room, where a spare pair of hands usually was available, every man was employed. The steam tank of a laundry had burst, and the victims had been crowded into Blair Hospital.

The resources of Carew and his hospital seemed completely exhausted when he said to his secretary, "Have we tried every available doctor in the place?"

"Every one except Doctor Gillespie," she reported.

"Not Gillespie, of course," said Carew. "But we might borrow his right hand. See if we can steal young Kildare."

The strange line-up that flowed by night and day into the offices of Doctor Leonard Gillespie was present now. As a rule, the cases which came to the clinic of the great diagnostician had been referred to him by other doctors as to a court of last resort, but always there was a sprinkling of patients with minor ailments, for the famous old man would exclude no one. In the front office young Doctor Kildare took most of these, passing dubious or peculiar cases on to his superior. Mary Lamont was the nurse who carried the case histories with Kildare's diagnoses and notes to the internist.

Such a history Gillespie was unfolding now, while the patient before him talked rapidly. He was a tall, fragile man, almost sixty, and he was saying, "There's a sense of impending disaster. When my back is turned, something materialises in the corner of the room; behind the door something is waiting; the wind seems to be whistling words into my ear, if I could only understand them. My temper keeps snapping. I can't sleep. I feel as though hell itself were rising up around me and about to take shape." While he talked, Gillespie was reading Kildare's note. It said: "He was bitten about a year ago by a dog. The wound was slight, and in the foot. I'm afraid it's a case of rabies—God help him!"

Gillespie noted again the apprehension, the unnameable terror in the eyes of the patient. He said gently, "You'd better stay with us for a day or two of observation. You need rest and sedatives. Try to put your mind at ease, my friend."

He sat with bowed head when the patient had gone. That fearful apprehension would increase. A horrible paralysis would reach the throat. Nothing could save this man from a frightful death. He had come too late.

"They trust time to cure them," Gillespie said sadly to Mary Lamont. "They trust time instead of doctors, and so death catches up with them and there's nothing we can do."

A moment later she brought in a mother and small boy of three. "I can't do anything about him," the mother was saying. "I can't shame him. I've put everything on his hands but he will suck his thumb. I know it means colic. It will ruin his teeth; it will deform the shape of his mouth. It will spoil the joints of his fingers."

Gillespie read Kildare's note:—

"This idiot is hysterical. You'd better scare her. You might even roar."

"Take the little boy out," said Gillespie.

"But I've brought him for you to see," the mother complained. "I've got to find out what's wrong with him. I've got to know what to do about his nerves! Please look at him, Dr. Gillespie."

"I see you, and that's enough for me," said the terrible old man with a scowl. "Mary, take the boy out." When the child had gone, he added, "Thumbsucking won't spoil his teeth or the shape of his mouth till the permanent set is erupted at six or so. Thumb-sucking is a dirty habit, but it won't give him colic...What do you do with your time? Bridge?"

"I do belong to a small club," she said.

"I knew you were a contract player," said Gillespie. "They all have a sleepless look and fidgets in their fingers. They've got the worn-out look that comes from wasted time...Do you know what causes thumb-sucking?"

"No, doctor," she whispered, shocked by the thunder in his voice.

"Boredom causes it!" he bellowed. "That child is bored. Every three-year-old is bored and cranky. Do you know why?"

"No, doctor," the woman repeated faintly.

"Because he's trying to do things and doesn't know how. He's trying to learn words. He's trying to learn how to run and climb and use his feet and hands. He's working harder than a college student. And unless he has help, companionship, somebody to make it all a game, he's frustrated. You leave him alone while you play your damned contract. Give up that infernal game! Your boy can't read to himself, so he sucks his thumb. Why don't you read aloud to him? Stop being a silly girl and try to be a mother. That's all I have to say to you."

As she fled from the room, he reached for the ringing telephone.

"Was I too hard on her, Mary?" he asked.

"Just a little hard, sir," said the nurse.

"Pretty little devil, wasn't she?" asked Gillespie. "With the pretty ones, you never hit a lick amiss unless you miss altogether. These beauties live on their face value, damn them. I'm going to tell Kildare to keep a strong hand over you, too."

"I'm sorry, doctor," she said.

"Don't smile. It's no smiling matter. You have a pair of eyes that won't stay still. They break every law of God and man."

He roared into the telephone. "Well? Well? What do you want?...Doctor Carew's office?...Take Kildare away when he's up to his neck down here?...Carew runs this damned hospital like a broken-down truck...Very well—very well. Why didn't you say there was a baby in it, in the first place? Send down the case history."

He turned from the phone. "Get an obstetrical kit, Lamont," he commanded, "and tell Kildare to step in here." Kildare came in, yawning and rubbing his eyes. "Don't do that!" roared Gillespie. "When are you going to learn to stand at attention and be on your toes? Look at you, blear-eyed and done in because you've lost a few nights of sleep. When I was your age, I only closed my eyes once a week...Jimmy, I know you're tired so I've arranged a little break in the day for you. There's an outside obstetrical case. I'm sending you to take charge."

"Thanks," said Kildare, "but if there's a spare minute I want to get down to the laboratory. Jackson is staining some frozen sections that may—"

"Argument!" growled Gillespie. "All I get from you these days is argument! When you were just an interne, Kildare, I had some hope that by pounding and prayer I might turn you into a doctor some day. But now you're a resident physician and it's gone to your head. You're getting too damned much money and too damned many ideas of your own. And wipe that grin off your face, too."

"Yes, sir," said Kildare.

"Go out and enjoy a breath of air, Jimmy," said Gillespie, yawning in his turn, "and bring a fine little pickaninny into the world, for a change. It's the only kind of doctoring that's worth a damn. All day long you and I are handling hopeless cases. We're breathing mortal dust and death. If I had my life to live over again, I'd do nothing but obstetrics. There'd be ten thousand youngsters with Gillespie as a front name!"

That was why James Kildare and Nurse Mary Lamont stepped into a hospital car at twenty minutes to four that afternoon.

"You drive," said Kildare.

"Why, Jimmy?" she asked.

"So I can watch you."

"You'll go to sleep," she said.

She slipped the car into the traffic, driving with confidence.

"Don't forget there's been a rain and the streets are still slippery," he reminded her.

"Nothing can happen to us," said the girl.

He made himself comfortable and looked at her dreamily. "All right. Nothing can happen to us," he agreed.

"We're bound straight for happiness and it's only thirty days away, and not even the devil himself would want to stop us."

"Not if he could see you. Where'd you get that sassy hat?"

"It's the same old hat. I just had the feather dyed. I'm glad you haven't any eyes, Jimmy. It'd cost so much more to keep you happy."

Kildare whistled. A light delivery truck had dipped past them so close that Mary had to jam down the brakes. The truck was an empty, with a red-headed young driver behind the wheel, taking his ease at fifty miles at hour through Manhattan's traffic. A youngster of ten on the seat beside him was laughing up at him in pure trust and delight.

Mary looked at Kildare and whistled.

A red light pooled the traffic at the next corner.

"Does Doctor Gillespie hate me?" she asked, as she stopped the car. "Because I'm going to take you partly away from him, I mean."

"But I'm not going to be taken away," answered Kildare.

"You mean you're not going to give up much time to marriage?"

"Be nice, Mary. There's all this sunshine. We don't want to spoil it. Doctor Gillespie thinks you're wonderful."

"Did he ever say so?"

"No."

"Well, then?"

"If he didn't think you were wonderful, he'd cut your throat."

"He may—later on. If your mind wanders a bit, I mean, and he feels that marriage has slowed up his work of pouring all he knows into your mind."

"But marriage won't hinder that," said Kildare, as the lights turned green and traffic began to flow once more. "Nothing can be allowed to hinder that."

"Because naturally it's your duty as a doctor."

"Naturally," agreed Kildare.

"And nothing can be allowed to interfere with that?"

"Of course not," said Kildare. He roused a bit from his calm acceptance of these remarks. "Are you sticking pins in me?" he asked.

Before she could answer, brakes and tyres screamed midway in the block ahead of them, and then came the crunch and ring of heavy metal bodies beaten into one another. A hundred automobile horns groaned; a hundred other brakes and tyres yelled as the traffic opened on either side and Mary Lamont brought her car to a stop. Just before her the empty truck lay on its side; on its back, with wheels still spinning, was an open convertible—something in the fifteen-hundred-dollar class, thought Kildare as he reached for his kit.

When he had got out on to the pavement a crowd was running along the sidewalks. New York is too big to feel human pity for its little tragedies. An accident is news, whether it is in the paper or eye-witnessed. Part of the crowd gathered around the girl who had been thrown out of the convertible. She lay flat on her back. As consciousness returned she began to scream. Another portion of the mob swept toward the red-headed boy who had driven the truck. Blood ran over his shoulder from a wound in the back of his head. Heedless of this, he was on his knees beside the small boy, who lay still. The child was so frail that his body seemed to have been driven into the pavement. But he was not dead. Even as Kildare came up on the run, he saw the blood streaming across the boy's face. And the dead don't bleed. His legs and arms were oddly disposed, but his eyes were wide open.

The redhead was saying, "Are you hurt bad, Tommy? Are you all right?"

"Sure I'll be all right," said the small boy. "I'm fine, Bill. It's funny. It's like being sort of asleep, partly."

Kildare, shouldering the crowd aside, leaned over Tommy. A big, red-faced policeman was striding through the mob. "Give us room, officer," said Kildare. "I'm a doctor."

"Is he going to be all right?" the redhead asked Kildare. "There was a wet spot, and we took a skid. Oh, my God, what's Mom going to say?"

The blood on Tommy's face came from a scalp wound that looked shallow and unimportant. The odd twisting of the limbs was what interested Kildare as he put his hand over the boy's heart, to feel the pulsations.

"Straighten your legs, Tommy," he said.

"I been trying to," said the boy, "but they won't work."

Kildare drew the legs straight. He placed the lifeless arms at Tommy's side and rallying himself, he smiled into the boy's eyes. "We'll have you all right," he said. "Where does the pain begin?"

"Keep back!" the policeman was shouting, pushing the crowd away with his night stick.

Kildare's swift fingers opened the obstetrical kit. He filled a syringe quickly and gave an injection. "This will ease the pain, Tommy," he said. "Lie quietly here. Don't try to stir. Don't make a single try."

"Sure, doc," said Tommy.

Kildare stood up, with Bill screeching at him, incredulous. "You ain't gonna go away and leave him bleed to death, are you?"

"Keep your hands off your brother," said Kildare, and ran toward the screaming woman.

Other groans and screams came from automobile horns up and down the street, because traffic was completely jammed. A police siren cut through the other noises.

Kildare elbowed through the crowd, snapping, "Give way, please. I'm a doctor."

A tangle of phrases came to him from the staring mob.

"It was a wet spot in the street..."

"There oughta be a law..."

"My God, look at her bleed!"

"I wish Harry were here to see this."

He got through the human mass as it wavered under the impact of two policemen who charged at it from the sidewalk. Other officers appeared by magic to control the traffic. Mary Lamont, on her knees, was putting a tourniquet on the right leg of the screeching woman. There was an ugly compound fracture between the knee and the ankle, and plenty of blood. Kildare took the bandaging out of Mary Lamont's hands.

"Get to a telephone," he commanded. "Let the hospital know what's happened and tell them to get a doctor out on that delivery case as fast as possible. Then take your car and rush to that address."

"But you've broken the obstetrical kit open," she said. "And I haven't any—"

"You have your hands. Get on your way!" he snapped. He tied the tourniquet. "Stop that yelling," he ordered, taking the woman's wrist and trying to get the pulse.

Through the horror and the pain that twisted her face appeared a glint of angry bewilderment. She began to scream louder than ever. Kildare slapped her sharply across the face. The yelling stopped.


CHAPTER TWO

NOW that the convulsive distortion had disappeared, he could see her clearly for the first time. The crowd around him was very angry.

"Did you see that brute?" demanded a woman's voice.

"I'd like to give him some of the same," growled a man.

And then the voice of authority came from a policeman, exclaiming, "Go easy there, doctor! We can't have no rough stuff here."

"Shut up and keep that crowd back," said Kildare.

The policeman growled, but he made no retort. Kildare was getting the pulse at last. It was a crazy riot, a hundred and fifty or sixty, thready and fading out; as bad a pulse as he'd ever touched. And the woman's face, a pretty Latin type, was grey and shone with fine sweat. She touched the cheek he had slapped and looked up at him in dim outrage and bewilderment.

A zipper closed her dress in front. Kildare flicked it down. The slip beneath it he ripped open with a jerk of his hand and commenced to sound the abdomen.

"I won't be undressed here in the street, Officer!" whimpered the girl. "Won't you do something? I'd rather die than—"

"It's a damned outrage. It's got to be stopped!" demanded a loud voice from the crowd.

"Go easy, doctor!" called a policeman. "The woman has a right to decent treatment."

Kildare looked up at a grim young patrolman as big as Atlas. "Keep out of this, and get that crowd back. You hear? Knock them down with your club if you have to. I want room here, and I'm going to have it."

He had found what he feared. The abdomen was filled by an internal haemorrhage. Severe shocks can rupture the spleen. He bared the woman's left side and found a red bruise. The colour was out of her face now. Even the lips were a pale grey.

"I must operate," said Kildare. "Here and now." He was rising to his feet as the woman broke into faint protest.

"I won't have it!" she breathed. "I won't be stripped and shamed in the street. I won't die like a dog in the gutter."

"It's your life!" said Kildare.

"I'd rather die!" she cried.

Near by, Bill was calling loudly, "Will somebody help me get him up off the street?" He had Tommy by the shoulders.

Kildare got to them with a jump. He took Bill by the nape of the neck and sent him sprawling.

"Doctor or no doctor," said the sergeant of police, who was now in control, "you're being pretty hard-boiled, young man. Don't lay your hands on anybody around here again."

Kildare's eyes already had returned to the fainting girl. He said "Don't let that boy touch his brother again. Don't let so much as a finger touch him!"

"You want him to bleed to death?" asked the sergeant, in a fury.

"Damn the bleeding!" said Kildare. "Do what I tell you or you'll have a dead boy on your hands." He was back on the run, undoing sterile sheets, commanding, "Clear this street, officers. Get that crowd back."

"You're out of your head," said the big youth in uniform. "The woman's refused the operation. I know the law. You can't touch her after she's refused the operation. Madame, d'you still refuse to let him operate?"

But the girl was unable to answer.

"The law's against you," repeated the policeman unhappily.

"Hang the law!" said Kildare. "This is life or death. Take that girl by the shoulders and help me get her on this sheet."

He was slopping alcohol over his hands, pulling on rubber gloves, laying out instruments swiftly. She might be dead before the first incision. Her colour was that of death already, it seemed to him. There was chloroform, but he did not use it. He could trust that she would not be rallied suddenly out of this coma, even by the most exquisite pain.

"Get down on your knees," he was saying to the policeman. "That will keep most of the mob from seeing."

The first incision made a thin line of red, beaded here and there with crimson. The scalpel cut again.

The policeman began to groan on every indrawn breath. He commenced to whisper fragments of prayers.

"Ah," murmured Kildare, a moment later, "I'm right!"

"Damn you and all your kind," said the suffering officer. "My God, I think it's fun for you!"

The ruptured spleen was a gory mass. Kildare clamped off the pedicle in three places. Between the first clamp and the second he cut the pedicle; below the second and the third he tied the pedicle. But as he finished this work something else began to trouble him. That touch of his—sensitive as the fingers of the blind—had found a suggestion of permanent evil.

He paused half a second. Then, his teeth set, he touched the adjoining end of the pancreas. Perhaps his decision had already been recorded in his subconscious mind. Now he submitted to it and fell instantly to work. It seemed to him that a very storm of denunciation blew in his ears. It came from all he had read in his medical books. It swelled with the voices of his professors. He worked as one under fire, but this siege affected not at all the swift precision of his hands.

It was over. The small mass he had removed was wrapped up and deposited in his bag. Then he closed the wound, working fast. But all the while he told himself that it was impossible to avoid infection. The sterile sheets were merely a gesture, when the windy air was packed full of uncounted armies of death.

A siren screamed through the nightmare, and an ambulance from Blair Hospital pulled up at the kerb as Kildare painted the wound with iodine and covered the body with the sheets. There was no use trying to get the pulse; he already knew the woman's condition of shock. He gave her an injection that might help to rally her a little, but a blood transfusion was what she needed.

He got to Tommy as Phil Davis, one of the hospital internes, came up with a stretcher and his ambulance driver.

"Inch the boy on to the sheet first and then on to the stretcher," said Kildare. "I'll take the shoulders and you manage the legs. Easy, easy with this one, Davis. It's a spinal fracture."


AT midnight Kildare was still at the side of the girl's bed in the Blair General Hospital, listening carefully to her heart. He took the instrument from his ears and drew the bedclothes back in place. His absent-minded glance found Mary Lamont at the foot of the bed.

"Can you do anything for the leg now?" she was asking.

He shook his head. "She's on the edge of the falling-off place," he said. "Just a touch would be enough to send her over. We can't touch that leg without an anaesthetic; and a general anaesthetic would kill her."

"Poor girl!" said Mary.

"Have you found out about her yet?"

"Yes. Here's the police report. She's Estelle Courcy. She makes a living dancing and modelling."

"Dancing and modelling?" repeated Kildare, groaning aloud.

Mary Lamont nodded. "She's not a celebrity. But she had such pretty legs, Jimmy."

"Did she?"

"Jimmy, don't you see anything unless it's of pathological interest?"

"Go to bed. You're sleepy."

"But if that leg sets the way it is—"

"There'll have to be another operation."

"Poor girl!" Mary said again.

"Do you think she'd rather be dead with a straight leg than alive with a crooked one?" asked Kildare. "No girl is as crazy as that."

"Oh, Jimmy, how little you know about us." Mary Lamont leaned over and looked closely at the girl's face. "She's dreadfully gone, dreadfully spent!"

She laid a light finger across the wrist of the patient to take the pulse. There was instantly a moan and an impatient turning of the head.

"What have I done, Jimmy?" Mary breathed, alarmed.

"It's all right," answered Kildare, without troubling to lower his voice. "She'll sleep again." He himself took the girl's wrist in a firm grasp to study the pulse; but she merely sighed and was obviously deeply asleep again.

"What do you do to them?" asked Mary Lamont. "It's hypnosis; it's not just plain doctoring."

He settled down in his chair. "I'm going to sleep a bit," he said. "You go to bed."

"No. I'll stay and watch while you sleep."

"Don't do that," Kildare said. "If she stirs a hand, I'll wake up. Good night."

Mary leaned above the chair looking down at his tired face. "Good night," she whispered, and went softly from the room.

As she reached the hall a student nurse hurrying by paused for a moment. "There's a poor man downstairs who's been driving us crazy with calls to find out about Estelle Courcy. What sort is she?"

"She's a dancer."

"One of those things?"

"I don't think so."

"Dancing legs, and all that."

"And all that," nodded Mary. "Once upon a time."

"Ah, poor thing!" said the student nurse. She added "The man downstairs has an awfully nice voice."

Mary Lamont went down to the waiting room to see him. His clothes were a neat cross section of Broadway, which sees every folly except its own. He wore a tan suit, the colour of a good Florida sunburn, and his face was the same shade. His coat was fitted to make his broad shoulders appear broader and his narrow hips more slender. His necktie was golden-tan, flecked with green.

"You've been inquiring about Estelle Courcy?" Mary asked.

He rose on springs from his chair. His clothes might be all Broadway, but his spirit was something else. His whole body was trembling but he kept his voice steady.

"The old girl—how does she seem?" he asked.

"Are you her dancing partner?" asked Mary Lamont, and her eyes, without rudeness, considered him from head to foot after a frank fashion which only very pretty girls ever master.

His fingers worked at his necktie. It was not vanity. He was making breathing easier. Mary liked him in spite of his clothes.

"Not her dancing partner," he said. "I'm only Ed Willis." He laughed. His hand indicated that his place in the amusement world was 'way down there.

Mary smiled into his eyes. "She has a good chance," she said.

"Chance?" Ed Willis said. His voice, which had been so deep, broke. "Chance!" he whispered.

"I think she's going to live," Mary said.

His hands went out to her. "You mean that? You really think so?" he begged.

"She will live!" said Mary Lamont.

"You wouldn't just say that?" he pleaded.

His hands had that way of flashing out and appealing on their own account. Mary Lamont obeyed her generous heart and took those hands in hers. They were shuddering with a quick vibration.

"She has the finest doctor there is!" said Mary.

"Has she? Has she got one of the tops?" he gasped.

"He's Doctor Kildare. He never gives up."

"Doesn't he? God bless him! You tell him that I—my God, you tell him that!"

"Yes, I'll tell him," she said.

He stood with his head bowed.

"I'll run along," he said, his voice muffled.

"If you want to call about her, I'm Nurse Lamont," said Mary.

"Thanks," said Ed Willis, and he hurried out.

Mary Lamont went back to the sickroom. Kildare lay in his chair, asleep. "Jimmy!" she whispered.

He did not stir. But Estelle Courcy moved in her sleep. And Kildare, instantly fully aroused, sat up and looked at the sick girl. He put his gentle hand on her wrist and took the pulse. Then relaxing, he was about to sleep again when he saw Mary Lamont.

She leaned over and whispered, "Eve been talking to her man. He loves her, Jimmy, terribly—terribly."

Kildare looked up at her. She kissed him.

"Terribly, Jimmy," she said, and slipped from the room.

For a moment, he looked at the problem before him. Then, faintly smiling, he closed his eyes and slept.

It was three before Estelle Courcy roused out of her coma. Kildare, instantly on his feet, saw her turn in the bed. He studied the pulse and found it stronger. It was still very faint, but the rhythm was better; the beat had a trifle more power.

She sighed, murmured something and was gone again.

Kildare called a nurse. "Sit here and watch," he directed. "If she grows restless, don't touch her, but send for me. I'll be in Ward Seventeen."

He went first, however, to a laboratory. There he made a thin section of that small red mass which he had brought to the hospital after the operation on Estelle Courcy. He put the section on a stained slide, and the slide under a microscope. This he studied with a scowl. Then he destroyed all he had brought with him and, still thoughtfully, hurried out.

He went to Ward 17, where Tommy Long lay with his broken back encased in a long cast. There were a dozen beds in the ward, but only a few of them were filled. In the one next to Tommy, a gaunt figure sat up with a bandage zigzagged across his face. It was Bill Long, his red hair pushed stiff and high above the bandage. He looked at Kildare with hatred.

"How is the boy?" Kildare asked the nurse. "He's very nervous, doctor. We can't get him to sleep."

"Pain?"

"A good deal, I'm afraid."

"Can't you give him something?"

"Doctor Gresham feels that no more sedatives should be given to him for a while, he reacts very strongly; he fights against a sedative, doctor." Kildare leaned over the bed. In the white face, great eyes were open. The boy smiled.

"Hi, doc," he said.

"Hi, Tommy," said Kildare. "How are things?"

"Pretty good. I wish't I was home."

"Hey, Tommy," whispered Bill from the next bed. "This is the guy that done it. This is the doc that left you lay—"

"You done all you could for me, doc," said Tommy trustingly. "But maybe you were a little tough on Bill."

"You had to be handled like tissue paper, Tommy, or something might have broken."

"Something did break," said Tommy.

"No, we've prevented that."

"You're a good guy, doc, and you wanta make me happy," said Tommy. "But I know. I'm gonna lay all my life in a bed. I'll never be able to chuck a football around again."

"Let us do the worrying about that, Tommy."

"Doc, will you bend over close?" Kildare put his ear close to the boy's lips. He heard a faint whisper: "Don't tell nobody. Don't tell Bill. But leave me pass out, doc, will you? Like I read about—couldn't you give me something? It'd just be between you and me, and nobody'd ever know."

"Maybe we'll think about that too, if you get bad enough," said Kildare.

"Oh, but I'm terrible bad, doc. Something's busted in me."

"I'll take care of you, Tommy. I'll see that you don't spend your life in bed."

"Do you mean...?"

"I mean everything you want to hear."

He stood up beside the bed again.

"I wish't I could shake hands with you," murmured Tommy.

Kildare picked up a lifeless hand and gripped it hard. "Thanks," said Tommy.

"I'm going to send a friend of mine down to you," said Kildare. "You can talk to her."

"I don't hardly want to talk to nobody," whispered Tommy. "Except you, doc."

"It will be the same as talking to me, Tommy. Don't tell anybody, but just between you and me, she's the girl I want to marry."

"Gee!" said Tommy. "That would be pretty nice. But if I don't get better quick—"

"I'll take care of you if you don't get better," said Kildare.

Tommy closed his eyes and sighed in profound relief.

The nurse was saying to Kildare a moment later: "Doctor Gresham doesn't approve of letting Tommy talk. I'm sorry."

"I think Gresham may change his mind," said Kildare.

He found Gresham in the hall.

"Ah, Kildare, how is he?" asked the neurosurgeon.

"He's a bit upset, I think," said Kildare.

"He'll do all right," said Gresham. "He needs quiet. That's the chief thing. No talk. Just peace and quiet."

"He seems very nervous, sir. In fact, he's bent on dying."

"Nonsense! We'll soon have that out of his head."

"I'm afraid not, doctor. It's a fixed idea."

"You've been doing some mind reading, have you?" asked Gresham.

"I'm sorry, sir. In his condition, I in afraid he won't live twenty-four hours."

"That's damned nonsense!" said Gresham. "When I last saw him...What the devil do you propose to do?"

"I want to keep him amused. Actually, I'd like to have talked him to sleep. He needs companionship and reassurance."

"That's rot, Kildare. My dear young man, I know you've built up a striking reputation in this hospital. But I'm not talking about the No-man's land of diagnosis. I'm talking about pathological facts. I can handle this case, my young friend."

"I'm sorry I've made any suggestions," said Kildare. "I have to admit that his condition seemed so serious that I promised him he would not be condemned to a life in bed. We would help him out of his pain, rather."

"You mean a mercy killing? What the devil are you talking about, Kildare? Are you drunk?"

"I felt that anything was preferable to letting the nerve tension continue," said Kildare. "Of course he doesn't realise that we'd never do it."

There was a moment during which he could hear Gresham breathing hard, suppressing words.

"Has Gillespie seen the boy?" asked Gresham coldly.

"No, sir. Not yet."

"You've been carrying on like this entirely on your own?"

"It seemed an emergency. I'm sorry, sir."

"Damn your sorrow!" cried Gresham violently. And he slammed past Kildare into the room.

Kildare, wincing, hurried to Gillespie's office, but the great man was not there. And a strange sense of loneliness and fear came over Kildare, not for the first time.


CHAPTER THREE

THAT night it was very late before the patients gathered in the Gillespie-Kildare waiting-room stopped filing in to see the old doctor. When they stopped coming, Gillespie was angry. He pushed a bell three times, and his body servant, Conover, hurried in.

"What's the matter with them out there?" demanded Gillespie. "Where's Cavendish? Where are the patients?"

"You've used up the last one, sir," said the Negro. "Miss Cavendish is tidying up before she says good night."

"No patients left, you mean?"

"Three or four went home because it was so late, sir."

"Too late for 'em to be sick, eh? They're sick or well by the clock?"

"Here's a wet towel, if you'll let me wash your face and hands, sir."

"I'll do it myself."

He towelled face and hands vigorously. Conover began to lay blankets on the couch.

"What's that for?" demanded Gillespie.

"You'll be laying down here in a minute, doctor."

"No, I'll sit here and take a nap."

"I'm sorry, sir. I guess you'd best lay down here," Conover knelt and began to undo the doctor's shoelaces.

"What are you doing there?" snapped Gillespie. "Get away from me."

"Just you be easy, sir," said Conover. "I have my orders."

"You have your orders? Who gives you orders around here besides me?"

"Doctor Kildare, sir."

"Has that young whippersnapper been talking behind my back again?"

"Him and me has our little conferences, sir. That's all."

"I might take a cat nap. Get me some coffee." Gillespie, still growling, put his arm across Conover's shoulders. The Negro half carried him to the couch and stretched him on it. He covered the old man carefully, disappeared from the room and returned with a glass of milk.

"What's this damned stuff? I asked for coffee!" exclaimed Gillespie.

"Yes, sir," said Conover, "but I got it all fixed with Doctor Kildare what you're to take."

"You mean there's to be no coffee?"

"Yes sir, a small coffee after your milk." Gillespie drank half the milk and put the glass aside. "You can go home now, Conover," he directed. "I don't need you any more tonight, my boy." He closed his eyes.

"Yes, sir. Good night, sir," said Conover, and went softly from the room.

He left the door slightly ajar, however, and stretched out on the waiting-room floor with his coat rolled up for a pillow.

He lay for some time between sleep and waking. Perhaps he had been twisting and turning an hour or two before a deep groaning commenced in the doctor's office. Conover was in the room at once. Gillespie, in his sleep, was clutching his body with both hands and groaning with every breath. That torment which he suppressed in his working hours was mastering him in his sleep, and still his exhaustion was so great that he did not waken.

Conover hastily filled a syringe with a sedative, but when he returned with it, he could not make up his mind to rouse the doctor. Sleep, however troubled, was the only great healer. So the Negro sat down with his hands pressed over his ears to shut out the sound of the doctor's groans.

A moment later the old man said sharply: "You're sweating like a man in a Turkish bath. What the devil's the matter with you?"

Conover recovered himself. "It's a mite warm in here."

"I thought I told you to go home?" said Gillespie. "And what's that syringe for?"

"It must of just been standing there on the table."

"That's an infernal lie!" said Gillespie. "You're starting to be a doctor, are you?"

"No, sir," said Conover, "but I was a mite scared, sir."

"Get me up off this couch."

"I don't know what Doctor Kildare would say to that, sir."

"Hang Doctor Kildare! Do as I tell you." Conover, as though he dared not protest any longer, obediently helped the old man back to the wheel-chair and laced his shoes on his feet once more.

"Conover," said Gillespie, "was I making noises in my sleep?"

"Noises? No, sir, not that I heard."

"You're a liar, and a damned poor liar," said Gillespie. "But I'm much better than you think, my boy. We're going to make a round of the hospital and see what we can see."

It was a pleasure to Conover to make one of these rounds up and down the elevators, and along the corridors where the flowers were placed outside the doors of the patients so that the antiseptic smell of the air was replaced by a green and outdoor fragrance. But above all he was amused by the strange gallery of faces on which Gillespie chose to look.

From the baby ward to the emergency room, no doors in the Blair General Hospital could remain closed to Gillespie. No patient could be in the hospital for a week without having that crippled Jove in a wheel-chair look in. No doctor's orders could secure a privacy into which this benevolent monster would not break. But the nurses with critical cases on their hands blessed his coming. They followed his wheel-chair in clusters, begging him to take a look at this patient or that, and after his departure many a swift note went down: "Doctor Jones: After seeing our patient, Doctor Gillespie suggests that the treatment might be varied in the following way..."

Fully a dozen such changes had been suggested by Gillespie this night before he came to Estelle Courcy's room. She was sleeping heavily under the influence of a sedative.

"What's that traction for?" Gillespie asked the nurse.

"A compound fracture of the lower leg, sir," she said.

"Let me see."

She turned back the covers of the bed gingerly, and Gillespie stared at the leg. It was a Thomas Splint that kept it straight—a pad on the thigh taking the thrust of the narrow steel tubing that ran down to the foot, to which the traction pull was attached. Gillespie lifted the dressing.

When he had replaced it, he turned a black face to the nurse and jerked a thumb toward the hall. Conover pushed him into the corridor, and the nurse followed them.

"What's your name?" demanded Gillespie.

"Cromer, doctor."

"Nurse Cromer, how long have you been a graduate nurse?"

"Three years, doctor."

"If you're a nurse for thirty years, you'll never see a worse damned criminal job than the one that's been done on that leg in there. Who's the damned so-called doctor taking care of this case?"

"So far, she's been under the care of Doctor Kildare," said the nurse, and then caught her breath and waited for the explosion. For the entire hospital knew that Gillespie was more than a father to the young internist.

"No!" cried Gillespie, shocked. "It's not Kildare. He couldn't do a thing like that even if he were drunk."

"I'm sorry, doctor," said Nurse Cromer. "No one else has touched the patient."

"Then he had reasons, and his reasons were good," said Gillespie, but he spoke weakly. He added, "Conover, get me back to my office."


THEY got back to the office in time to meet Doctor Gresham, the neurosurgeon, coming out of the room with fire in his eyes. Kildare stood in the background, very calm, with his jaw thrust out a bit.

Gresham shook an angry forefinger at Gillespie. "Can't you teach your assistants the ordinary ethics of our profession, Gillespie?" he demanded.

Gillespie smiled. "So Kildare doesn't know the ordinary ethics, eh?" he asked with deceptive gentleness.

"He's been taking a post-operative case of mine into his own hands," said Gresham loudly. "Because a young lad is despondent about a condition that will soon right itself, Kildare actually tells the boy that if he doesn't get well there might be an overdose of sedative that would put him to sleep forever. Can you imagine that, Gillespie?"

"Imagine? Why, doctor, I can imagine almost anything," said Gillespie. "What were your reasons for talking like that, Kildare?"

"I found the boy in a severe state of shock," said Kildare. "It seemed right to say anything that would relieve his mind."

"It may seem strange to you, young man," said Gresham, "but I prefer to make my own decisions in such matters. Doctor Carew will have to hear about this, Kildare. It's not the first time you've knocked things awry in this hospital with your damned headlong methods."

"I'm sorry, doctor," said Kildare. "This case I brought in off the street from the scene of the accident, and I couldn't help feeling a certain amount of responsibility."

"Damn the responsibility!" exclaimed Gresham. "It's your habit. It's your practice. Wherever you find what you consider an emergency, you assume complete authority."

"Maybe that's true, Gresham," said Gillespie. "But perhaps what we ought to find out here is whether there was an emergency or not. How did you find your patient just now?"

"Much improved. Actually having a natural, restful sleep," said Gresham.

"And how was he before Kildare talked to him?"

"Apparently a little nervous," said Gresham.

"But the point I wish to make—"

"Kildare," interrupted Gillespie, "how did you find that boy?"

"In a complete state of shock," said Kildare. "The edema that followed the operation kept him in a state of paralysis. He was certain he would have to spend the rest of his life in bed."

"And you promised him either a cure or a quick death!" roared Gresham.

"Which sent the boy into a sound sleep, didn't it?" asked Gillespie. "Kildare, go into the inner office."

As Kildare disappeared, Gresham was saying, "Whatever he accomplished, he must be taught his place."

"I see what you mean, Gresham," said Gillespie. "You'd have our young doctors do nothing except what's assigned to them. Let them work in their own block, and the devil fly away with those who die around the corner! I've heard of a man like you before. He was a fellow in a book. He was the one who said, 'Am I my brother's keeper?'"

"Come, come, Gillespie!" said the surgeon, his anger melting quickly. "You know we can't have youngsters like Kildare interfering out of hand."

"Youngsters?" echoed Gillespie. "I tell you, every man is as old as his knowledge, and no older. If Kildare said the boy was on the verge of dying, he was right. Kildare is no Solomon, but he's as good a doctor as you or I, Gresham. No man can be better than right."

"You're angry, Gillespie," said the surgeon unhappily.

"Not angry. More sad than angry. But let me know when you go to see Carew. I want to be present."

Gillespie waved his hand in farewell and jerked his wheel- chair around to enter the office. He went across it and bumped open the door of the inner room.

"Gresham thinks better of you now," said Gillespie, "but I have a word or two to say to you. What about the Courcy woman, up there with a compound fracture? What the devil do you mean by not operating on that leg? What do you mean by not cleaning it up?"

"There was a ruptured spleen. It had to come out. There was an operation in the street."

"In the street? What sort of exhibitionism is this, young Doctor Kildare?"

"I thought she was dying," said Kildare. "I thought she might die before I could get her to a hospital."

"You thought—but were you right?"

"I don't know."

"You mean she might have lived until you got her to the hospital? And in the hospital, the leg could have been treated properly before she was opened up?"

"That might have been a chance," said Kildare.

"Might have been? Do you know what that means?

"Yes, sir. But I'm not a prophet. I'm only a doctor. I can't swear just how long she would have lived." Gillespie stared at him. "Have you told anyone about this might have been?"

"No one has asked, sir."

"Then keep your mouth shut about it. There could be a fine scandal in this, Jimmy. Listen to me. You're a plague and a nuisance to me; you'll be a danger to the whole hospital one of these days."

"I'm sorry, sir."

"Confound you and your sorrow! Kildare, if I'd been there, do you think I'd have agreed with you about the necessity for that operation in the street?"

"I rather believe you would, sir."

"You rather believe? Can't you be sure?"

"No, sir."

"Jimmy, this is a devilish bad business. In your own heart, what chance do you think she would have had of living till she got to the hospital? I'm not asking you as a doctor, but as a man—what's your guess?"

"Why, she might have had one chance in I don't know how many."

Gillespie closed his eyes and groaned with relief. He said presently, "If anyone should ask you, make it not your guess but your medical opinion that she had no chance at all of living till you could get her to the hospital."

Kildare considered and shrugged his shoulders. "And that leg of hers will require another operation later?"

"Yes, sir. No doubt of that."

"A sweet business—a sweet business!" said Gillespie. "But to make this short and to the point—it was a matter of life and death in your eyes, wasn't it?"

"It was," said Kildare.

"In that case, your opinion is as good as mine, or any man's. Why couldn't you have come out with it in the first place?"

"Because it's only an opinion, not a fact. And opinions aren't important."

"Who told you that? Who ever said that to you?"

"A well-known diagnostician, sir."

"Are you referring to me, you rat?"

Kildare said, "Do you think I'm going to be terribly in the soup about this?" He put his hand on the old man's shoulder and looked steadily into his eyes. "No. There'll be no trouble. The girl will realise that if it hadn't been for you she might have a straight leg, but she'd have nothing but a grave to enjoy it in. But, Jimmy, there may be hell to pay—unless you talk straight out."

"Yes, sir."

"Is there anything that might keep you from telling that girl exactly what you found in her?" Kildare was silent.

"Well? Well?" demanded Gillespie.

"There was nothing that I can talk about," Kildare answered.

"Hold on!" shouted Gillespie. "Do you mean there is anything you can't talk about to me as you would to your own conscience?"

"In almost every case, of course not, sir, said Kildare.

"Do you mean that there are possible exceptions where you might rule me out?"

"A very few, sir," said Kildare.

Gillespie could only stare for a moment. "Jimmy," he said, at last, "I'm hearing this, but I don't believe it. On what do you base your stand?"

"The only people in a hospital worth the slightest consideration are the patients, not the doctors.

"That's the most na?ve drivel I ever heard. Where did you get that? Come now, what's your authority for that? Young men have no right to speak without authority. Who are you quoting now?"

"Dr. Leonard Gillespie, sir," said Kildare.


KILDARE went directly to the ward where Tommy was lying. The nurse shook her head when she saw him.

"Dr. Gresham was terribly angry, doctor," she said. "I tried to tell him what a good effect you'd had on Tommy, but he didn't want to listen. Do you think it's wise to come back here again?"

"Never mind. How's Tommy?"

"He's in a terribly critical condition, I think, doctor."

Kildare leaned over the bed again. Bill's suspicious eyes watched him. But for a moment Tommy was unaware. His face was white, his eyes fixed on some immense vision of unhappiness.

When at last he realised that Kildare was with him, he tried to smile, but had no success.

"When you went to sleep, you had bad dreams, Tommy?" Kildare asked.

"Terrible bad, doc."

"Half an hour from now you're going to be laughing."

"A while back you were only kidding me, doc, weren't you?"

"No, I wasn't kidding you. Wait. Things are going to happen."

Jimmy went to a telephone and rang Mary Lamont in the nurse's home. Day was just beginning to glimmer beyond the window. A sleepy voice answered him.

"How well can you entertain this morning?" Kildare asked.

"Jimmy, I'm dead and in my grave," said Mary.

"You've got to rise and shine. Tommy Long needs a lot of the lighter touch."

"Oh, Jimmy, I've hardly closed my eyes! And I'm not like you. I'm a ruined girl without sleep."

"Make yourself all bright and fresh," said Kildare. "You're going to smile for about twenty-four hours straight. You're going to tell Tommy that I told you everything was going to be all right. You're going to read to him, talk to him, sing."

"Yes, Jimmy. But I can't sing, you know."

"You can sing fine—for Tommy and me. You sing just the way we like. You're not going to have any sleep in your eyes or any yawns in your voice. Remember?"

"All right, if I have to."

"Expecting you in Tommy's ward in fifteen minutes. I'll arrange to have you put on special duty for a while." He hung up.

It was not twenty-four hours that the girl would have to be on duty. It was more likely to be seventy-two. But somehow or other he had to make Tommy Long stop wishing for death. It was so close to him already that the slightest invitation might bring the end, and to hold that spider-thin thread of file intact Kildare needed Mary Lamont's delicate touch.

As a matter of fact, for over three days she did not leave the boy's room for more than half an hour, and during all that time she never stopped smiling. When she was not reading aloud, she was singing softly or playing solitaire on a board suspended comfortably for Tommy's eyes, the cards catching under small clips. It was that hard solitaire, the cards ranging seven across and five down, and you built down on alternate colours. They only won the solitaire game twice during the three days.

In spite of Mary's work, at times the white terror came rushing back upon Tommy. He never would say what was in his mind, but she could see it pouring shadows into his eyes, and then she redoubled her efforts until he was won out of a spell.

Kildare, dropping in frequently, helped as much as he could. Sometimes he could spare as much as half an hour, and that was long enough for her to go into an empty room and fall into unconsciousness on the bed for twenty minutes, then briskly shower and change and go back to her charge.

Doctor Gresham did not interfere. At first he was annoyed, but his recent clash with Gillespie had left him rather chastened, and after all, Kildare was not making the slightest suggestion as to the care of the case. It was merely that he had donated the services of the nurse who assisted him in his office. It was toward the close of the second day that Gresham called on Kildare in his office and found Gillespie with him.

"Well? Well?" snapped Gillespie looking up from his examination of some slides.

Gresham was crimson with embarrassment. "I've come to say that I was wrong and Kildare was right. I was a fool, and I apologise."

Kildare had jumped up when the older doctor entered. He now said hastily, "Don't apologise, please. I should have telephoned before I did anything."

Gillespie was touched. He said, "Give me your hand, Gresham. This is very handsome. This is unusual. Most of us never are wrong, you know. Only a real man can afford to be. I honour you for this, Gresham, by God."

The neurosurgeon said, "I thought the boy was a tough little street urchin. He's not. He's made finer than a Swiss wrist- watch. He's all nerves. And that nurse is keeping him together. It's a magnificent job she's doing. I've taken occasion to speak to Doctor Carew about her. Tommy and I owe you a great deal for her. I think we owe you his life, Doctor Kildare."

When Gresham went out, Gillespie rubbed his hands and chuckled.

"That fellow would rather have faced a firing squad than come in here. A conscience is a tough thing to have, Jimmy. It can wreck a fellow, spoil a life, give bad dreams for twenty years because of a single slip. You're one of these conscientious fools yourself, Jimmy. But I'm above it. Conscience be damned! My sins slide off my back as though I were a duck."

Mary Lamont's vigil had extended well over the third day before the reward came. She was singing for Tommy, and suddenly he began to keep time to the music. She was too numb with fatigue to realise what that waving of his hand meant, until she heard him gasp with happy amazement. However numb the rest of his body remained, the use of his hands had returned.


CHAPTER FOUR

KILDARE heard the good news. And five minutes later the blow which Gillespie had feared fell heavily upon him. For when he reached Estelle Courcy's room, he found Nurse Cromer at the door the moment he started to open it. She whispered to him to stay out, but Miss Courcy saw him from the bed and stretched out an accusing finger at him—a fine theatrical gesture.

"Don't shrink away, Doctor Kildare!" she called.

Ed Willis was with her. He stood up, frightened. "Don't act that way, please, Estelle," he begged.

But the girl ignored him. "Come in here and try to face me if you can," she cried. "Oh, God, give me patience! How do you dare to call yourself a doctor?"

Kildare went slowly toward the bed and stood beside it as Estelle Courcy screamed, "I know the very words he used! He said, 'It's a criminal job that's been done on that leg!'"

"No, Estelle, please!" murmured Willis.

"Who said that?" asked Kildare.

"The only real doctor in this vile, stupid hospital. Doctor Gillespie himself said it. And you—you've ruined my poor leg! It'll never be straight; it's shortened, and I'm a frightful, hobbling cripple. I'll never be able to dance again—and oh, God forgive you, because I never will!" She spoke with such passion that the words did not seem trite.

"It was a question of your life or your leg," said Kildare.

"That's a lie, a dreadful lie! I know what Doctor Gillespie said. How do you dare to stand up against him? How do you dare to call yourself a doctor?"

"And as for the leg," continued Kildare, "another operation will make it as straight as it ever was."

"Do you mean to say that my leg couldn't possibly have been fixed properly?" she cried.

"No. Perhaps it could have been."

"Oh, Doctor Kildare!" warned Nurse Cromer, for she saw what a deadly admission that was.

As for Estelle Courcy, she was by no means a fool. She stopped yelling and was coldly sober. "It could have been—you admit it yourself!" she said. "I think you and your lovely hospital may hear from me some day, young man."

She insisted on being taken to another hospital at once.

Kildare got out of the room, and the nurse followed him into the hall.

"I don't know how I could have done it, Doctor Kildare," she said, leaning against the door, sick. "I was telling what you and Mary Lamont had done for Tommy Long. I was telling how much everyone respects you in this hospital, and how even great doctors like Gillespie, can be wrong sometimes. And that was how I happened to tell her what Gillespie had said. Oh, it's going to be frightful. She doesn't know that you've saved her life. She doesn't care. But how are you going to forgive me?"

"It is queer how things get said, isn't it?" said Kildare, smiling. "But don't you worry about this. We'll straighten it out. There'll be no trouble at all. These people who sound off so loudly never have much of a bite."

Inside the room, Ed Willis was saying, "Take it easy, Estelle. Go slow, darling. I know he's doing all he can. I know he fought for you and—"

"Ah!" she exclaimed. "Will you do something for me?"

"Of course, I'll do anything."

"Then never mention Doctor Kildare's name to me again!" the girl cried passionately.

Kildare had spoken with confidence, but he knew he was talking through his hat. As soon as he could get to his office he wrote a note to the head of the hospital:

DEAR DR. CAREW:

Estelle Courcy, recently picked up in a street accident and operated on for a ruptured spleen, is going to sue me and the hospital because the compound fracture of her leg, suffered in the same accident, was not given the proper treatment. In my estimation, the chief question was saving her life, not the compound fracture. It is, however, true:

1. That she might have lived had she been taken to the hospital and the fracture been properly cared for before the operation.

2. That Doctor Gillespie's critical comment about the care the fracture received was repeated to her.

3. That she is now determined to make as much trouble as possible.

Yours very truly,
JAMES KILDARE

After that he waited, saying nothing to Gillespie.

Doctor Carew was out. It was not until the next morning that Kildare was called to the administration office. There Carew with a solemn face pushed a letter across the desk.

"G. H. Clinton is after us. Read it," said Carew.

MY DEAR DOCTOR CAREW:

Ordinarily you would be apprised of an approaching lawsuit through the usual legal channels, but since we know each other well, it seems more friendly to give you this way my reasons for taking up this matter in person.

One of the younger partners of my firm has brought in the case of Estelle Courcy, injured in a street accident and permanently marred in body and spirit owing, we feel, to incompetent treatment received in your hospital.

It is not a comment upon you, Carew, or upon your hospital, I dare say. In any large institution, I presume there must be incompetents, and of this number I believe we must reckon the young Doctor Kildare who will be a co-defendant with the hospital in this suit.

An outstanding evil, I feel, is that crimes committed by doctors, through ignorance of their profession, go every day unpunished. I have reason to feel that my dear wife was done to death by the brutal folly of an incompetent surgeon.

After her passing, it became my firm conviction that I should do my best to strike at the gross abuses which exist in the medical profession. This present instance is particularly offensive, and I feel it right to let you know that I shall do my uttermost to secure a conviction, however much I regret that it should be at the expense of an esteemed friend and respected professional man like yourself.

With kind personal regards,
Sincerely yours,
GEOFFREY H. CLINTON

"Pretty, isn't it?" said Carew.

"I think I've heard of Geoffrey Clinton," said Kildare.

"Have you?" asked Carew. "That isn't an overwhelming surprise. Some people consider Clinton the ranking lawyer of this little city of ours."

"And he's to be against us," sighed Kildare. "With all his might," agreed Carew. "He'll go after us for two or three hundred thousand dollars—and he'll get it. Before he's through with us, he'll make our hospital seem like a house of cards. He'll huff and he'll puff and he'll blow our house down, Kildare."

"I don't see why the hospital should have any trouble," answered Kildare. "I'm the guilty man if anything has been done that's wrong."

"Wrong? Nobody's talking about right or wrong. This is law, Kildare. And you can't take the guilt on yourself. It's the whole hospital Clinton's after. He knows you're merely a representative of the Blair General Hospital, and he wants to make this a celebrated case. He's going to put headlines on the front page of every newspaper in town before he's through." Carew got out a handkerchief and mopped his face.

"The public won't support him," said Kildare. "Everybody will realise that it's mere persecution, not justice."

"The public likes any row. The newspapers will print, and the public will buy."

"Without the slightest justification?" asked Kildare.

"The name of Clinton alone is justification. There is, however, another justification. Every man and woman in New York believes that medical history is rotten with cases of malpractice."

"Malpractice?" murmured Kildare. "Any doctor can be wrong once in a while, but that's not malpractice."

"What about the cheats, the frauds, the fakers who manage to get an M.D. and then impose on the public?" asked Carew.

"I didn't think about that," said Kildare sadly.

"But the rest of the world is going to think about it when Clinton gets going. Doctors are men of mystery. When they cure people they've merely done their jobs, but the patients don't understand what's happened. When the patient dies, the doctor is partly murderer. That's the normal human reaction. We can't escape from it. Cure a baby of a cough, and the mother adores you. If the child dies, you're a callous butcher who could have saved its life."

"I never thought of it that way," said Kildare.

"You wouldn't," answered Carew. "You think of nothing but laboratory work, disease trying to hide its mysterious face, research, reports, medical journals, and Gillespie pouring out his wisdom like a river. But every man on the street, Kildare, has an aunt who certainly would have lived if that butcher in Buffalo had not been so eager to use the knife; and he knows that his brother would still be up and about if the damned doctor had only given him more care. Some famous actress still would be with us, but the doctors murdered her. Some statesman still would be making speeches, but the doctors murdered him. Why do people think this? Because a whisper starts in the dark. It can't be any other way. If your bank fails, the banker is a villain. If your doctor fails, he's a murderer."

Kildare was silent.

Carew mopped his pale face again. "Here's Clinton," he continued. "He's an honest man. He really believes that with proper care his wife would still be alive. He's wrong. I knew the case and the physician in charge. But no one can talk to Clinton. So we come to you, Kildare. Like Clinton, you're an honest man.

"In the whole history of the hospital, no interne or resident physician has done so many good things for us. I say that freely. After years of searching, Gillespie found in you the man who is to be his intellectual heir. I hope he's right. I believe he's right. He says you're a sharp sword, and I know that you've struck some important blows. But like every edged tool, at times you've been a little dangerous to us. You've been so damned honest. You've stood by your solitary opinion with every brain in the hospital against you. In the end, you've always made your opinion good, but I owe a lot of this grey hair to you. Now, my point is this: Are you going to throw yourself wholeheartedly into the defence of the hospital, or are you going to quibble and split hairs?"

"I'm going to do everything I can," said Kildare.

Carew stared at him, then stood up and held out his hand. Kildare gripped it hard.

"If you'll co-operate with all your might," Carew said, "we may have a chance even against Clinton. Albert Channing is almost as great a name in law, and Channing feels that he has a personal obligation to this hospital. As a matter of fact, there's no obligation at all. We simply pulled his son through a tough case of pneumonia. But some men are so great-hearted that they have an overplus of personal gratitude long after the bill is paid.

"I'm going to turn you over to Channing and let him prepare our case—mind you, it's a case that may almost wreck the hospital. We can't afford to pay a huge judgment; above and beyond that, we haven't the moral resources to endure such a blow to our reputation. You see, we are in your hands!"


Albert Channing may have had the great heart to which Carew referred, but he had a small body to encase it. He was an inch more than five feet, and he was thin and stooped. Most men grow soft and gross as the years pass; but Channing was as bloodless and looked almost as hard as rawhide that has dried in the sun.


CHAPTER FIVE

KILDARE, summoned TO his office, found him in a little corner room, two of whose windows had been blocked by built-in bookcases. The other window, which was not large, permitted the light to slant across the surface of a desk piled with papers.

Instead of rising to greet his guest, Albert Channing merely put one hand on the arm of his chair and hunched up his shoulders. "Let's see, you're Kildare. This is the Blair General Hospital case, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir," said Kildare.

"Don't say sir," corrected Channing. "That's out of date."

Kildare said nothing, and this silence did not disturb Channing. He spread out a small sheet of paper.

"I have here your memo to Doctor Carew," he went on. "These are dangerous words you've put down here. 'She might have lived had she been taken to the hospital and the fracture been properly cared for.' I don't like that at all. We'll have to alter that before we can make any progress."

Kildare still was silent.

"You understand," said Channing, "that this is a preliminary case. The State of New York charges you with malpractice and with a violation of the penal code. If it can succeed in its case against you, it will pass on to a suit against the hospital to recover damages. Everything, therefore, depends upon you and your testimony. In this case, we shall have against us Geoffrey Clinton, a hard man to beat. And he's in earnest. He's had himself deputised to represent the District Attorney's office, and he's going to fight hard. You understand?"

"If I lose this case, the hospital suffers, and therefore I must be careful to give the right testimony," said Kildare. "Is that it?"

"Yes. The hospital will suffer. And what about your own career?"

"That probably goes smash, of course."

"You're calm about this," said Channing, scowling. "Maybe you're tired of doctoring and you'd be glad to take up something else."

"No," said Kildare.

"If," said Channing, "we can convince the court and the jury that your intention was of the best and that you operated on that girl in the street because you were convinced it was a matter of life or death, probably the court will instruct the jury to deal leniently with you. After all, a doctor can't always be right. And I gather that you made rather a fool of yourself in this instance?"

"Perhaps."

"What do you mean by perhaps."

"I still feel that Miss Courcy would not have lived until she reached the hospital."

"Ah, that's all I want from you. You can swear to that?"

"No," said Kildare, "I can't swear to that."

"Why not, young man?"

"What part of her condition was due to shock and what to internal bleeding, I couldn't say. I made a guess. I can't be sure that my guess was right."

"Say that again. This is very serious."

"If the condition I observed in her was largely due to shock, then it might have been wise to delay the important operation and take care of the compound fracture first. If her condition was more largely due to the internal haemorrhage, she required the instant operation."

"We'll say it was the internal bleeding, won't we?" asked Channing.

"I believe it was. I can't be sure."

"Not even after you had opened her up and saw the internal condition?"

"I'm afraid I still couldn't be sure."

Channing sprung up from his desk. "Young man, are you trying to waste my time?" he exclaimed.

"I'm sorry," said Kildare. "I'll do my best to remember the exact details about everything, but I'm not going to lie."

Channing glowered bitterly at his client. "Do you know or do you not know that the general world is pitifully ignorant about medicine—particularly about surgery?"

"I do know that," said Kildare.

"Nearly all of us have to pass under the knife sooner or later, but how many of us have ever witnessed an operation?"

"Unfortunately, very few."

"Very well. Now, when you opened that girl and got to the seat of the trouble, you found a mess, didn't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good! We make progress now. I'll tell you what my scheme of defence consists in: First, a description of the symptoms which inclined you to operate on the spot. And second, a description of every stroke of the hand you made during the operation which you performed.

"We'll avoid the question as to whether or not her condition, as the knife revealed it, showed that she should or should not have been taken to the hospital. We won't touch on that. But by the time you have described the cutting of the arteries and the clamping off of blood vessels, and how and where the spleen was bleeding, and the other things you honestly did, down to the last stitch, I'll have the judge and the jury ready to stand up and applaud you and throw Mr. Clinton and his damned case right out of the court. You understand me?"

"Yes, I understand."

"Very well," sighed Channing, relieved. "We're going to come out of this all right, after all. When I put you on the stand, I'm going to have you detail every gesture you made in performing the operation. You're willing, of course, to do that? No expression of any opinion there: nothing to compromise your infernal honesty. Agreed?"

It was not hot in the office, but Kildare had to take out a handkerchief and wipe his face. Then he said, "It's professionally impossible for me to describe all the details of that operation."

Channing, already smiling and content, only gradually realised the import of these words. Thunderstruck, he gazed at Kildare. He murmured, "It's as though the other side had bought you, young man!"

"I'm sorry," said Kildare. "The operation—I cannot describe it in detail. It did not stop with the spleen!"

"Did not stop with—great God, young man, do you mean to say you let your knife wander ad lib once you were at work? Will you kindly explain yourself?"

"I'm sorry, I can't explain," said Kildare. Channing jumped up again and shouted, "Then will you get out of my office and stay out—and be damned!"

Ten minutes later Doctor Carew was telephoning to Gillespie: "It's what I half-feared. Kildare isn't going to give the only testimony that could clear him. And if his case is lost, ours will be lost afterward. Gillespie, what can we do with this young fool? Have you any control over him at all?"

"Only medically speaking."

"But this is a question of medicine."

"I wasn't on the spot. The only judge must be Kildare himself."

"Gillespie, do you realise what this may mean to the hospital?"

"I realise what it might mean to Kildare—and to me—and to the hospital."

"Then do something about it, man. The boy must be shown that he's not asked to lie, but merely to put his best foot forward. What can we do to manage him?"

"We can pray, I suppose," said Gillespie.

"But he loves and respects you, Gillespie. You can force him if you make an issue of it."

"If he were a fellow who could be kicked around, I wouldn't want him as my assistant."

Carew groaned. "This is a ruinous business, Gillespie."

"I know it. I'll do what I can."

Gillespie rang off and called for Mary Lamont. She sat as still as a stone while he explained the problem. "In the course of that operation, Kildare found something that he won't talk about. A professional secret between him and this infernal patient who's trying to ruin him now! Mary, is there any reason why he should have a special interest in that damned girl?"

"I don't think so," she said. "Except that I saw the man who wants to marry her, and I told Jimmy that the poor fellow loved her desperately."

"Why did you do that, Mary? Why in hell did you do that?"

"Because I thought she could not live. I wanted Jimmy to give her every chance he could."

"He would have done that anyway. He never does anything except his best. You've made the idiot emotional. You've turned this case into a great test for him! Mary, what are we going to do with him?"

"Don't you see?" said the girl. "If he thinks it's a matter of professional honour nothing will budge him!"

"Then he's wrecked, and the hospital takes a black eye—and I've lost him. No use trying to carry on with a black sheep in my office."

She broke out. "Can't someone tell Estelle Courcy that she owes her wretched life to Jimmy?"

"At the present moment she's in the hands of a lawyer who's urging her to fight. She'll never let up, Mary."

"After all, why can't Jimmy be sensible? Why does he have to act like a martyr?"

"Because he's not practical, like you or me," said Gillespie. "We have what's called common sense, He'll never have that as long as he lives.

"So he'll always be a torment to himself and to the people who love him?"

"That's more or less true. If you want a peaceful, easy life, fall out of love with Kildare and marry some other man."

She drew a quick breath. "Sometimes I almost think I will. Why is he this way?"

"For the same reason that he's a darned good diagnostician," said Gillespie. "It's his whole interest to see the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth every time he puts his eyes on a patient. With each one of 'em he tries to give the exact picture. He has to estimate the nerves, the courage, the patience, the mental resources of the patient as well as the actual illness. He has to add up a long list of items before he can come near a perfect picture. D'you see?

"Some doctors make scientific calculations, like machines, and forget the human part. Other fellows are rough and tough and go along with a swagger, like me. But Kildare is different. He'd lie faster than a clock can tick if he thought it would help a patient. But outside of that, he reveres medical truth and honour the way a priest reveres God Almighty at the altar."

"Something has to be done," Mary said through her teeth.

"My dear girl," said Gillespie, "something always can be done. Only fools throw up their hands in despair. In this case, you'll have to be the doctor, and you'll have to operate."

"But how?" she asked.

"By letting him see exactly what all this may mean. A doctor convicted of malpractice might as well fold his tents and depart. He'll never be heard of again, you can be sure. Not as a doctor. And in the first place, it means that he can't marry you."

She closed her eyes and folded her hands into a hard knot in her lap. "I'll do what I can, but there's no use trying to fight against his sense of right and wrong," she said. Her eyes grew fierce. She looked straight ahead as though at some invisible battle. "I'll do what I can!" she repeated, in a sterner voice.

And it was almost at this moment that Kildare, hurrying into the hospital, was stopped by a middle-aged man with the bright eye and the long jaw of a bull terrier.

"Doctor Kildare?" he asked. "Sorry. I've got to arrest you in the name of the law. Will you come with me?"

"To jail?" asked Kildare.

"That's the idea. But you get bailed out, and all that."

"I'll just leave word inside," said Kildare.

"Why don't you leave word with the lady inside the information window there? That'll save your time and my time, and we'll get everything over that much faster."

Fifty invisible hands tugged at Kildare as he thought of all the cases he was observing. But he shrugged and stepped to the information window.

"Just let Doctor Carew know that I've gone to jail, will you?" he asked. "And perhaps you'd better tell Dr. Gillespie also."

"Shall I tell them when you'll be back? An hour or so, doctor?" asked the woman behind the glass.

Kildare was struck by the question. "Why, I don't know," he said. "As a matter of fact, I suppose it might be years." He turned from the window.

"You mean it might be serious? Did you make a bad slip, brother?" asked the detective.

"I'm afraid I did," said Kildare.

"Hold on!" said the detective. "We'll cross that off the record. Everything you say from now on can be used against you."

Doctor Carew, on the telephone, was furious.

"Do you know what the fool has done, Gillespie?" he shouted. "He's left the hospital without giving me a chance to arrange for bail. The result is that he'll be behind the bars before I can lift a hand."

"I wouldn't hurry too much," said Gillespie. "You wouldn't what?"

"Being behind the bars can have a good effect."

"What are you talking about?"

"Some people like the shadow of a tree, but the shadow of the bars makes a lot of us do our best thinking. Let Kildare relax for a few hours."

"The newspapers will be right after this like hungry dogs. 'Jailed for malpractice' is a lot worse than 'arrested for malpractice,' Gillespie."

"I want Kildare to do some thinking. Will you act as I say?"

"Can we bring the young fool to reason?" asked Carew.

"He's drunk with rectitude. Let the law try to bring him to his senses," said Gillespie.

It was twilight when he had an evening paper spread out before him on his desk, with Mary Lamont reading it over his shoulder. As Carew had foreseen, Clinton's connection with the case had drawn the attention of all the newspapers. They sensed that here was something more than the accusation levelled against an obscure young resident physician. So they started the story on the front page. Of course Estelle Courcy's pretty face was used.

She had made a statement. "My career, my life, my art are ruined," she said. She went into details about the accident. "I was screaming with pain. He struck me across the face!"

The reporter made a great deal of this.

"I can't imagine how Jimmy came to do it!" lamented Mary Lamont.

"I can imagine Kildare doing anything," answered Gillespie. "The stupid girl was letting herself go. She was screaming, and every scream was taking part of her strength. He stopped that. He made her so angry that a lot of adrenalin was poured into her blood stream. In fact, it was a very good idea. The only thing that surprises me is that I've never done it myself. God knows I've wanted to often enough. Now, my dear girl, I want you to go down to the jail to see Jimmy. Tell him that we're trying to get bail for him. He'll be out by the morning, we hope."

"But the hospital has the bail arranged now," said the girl. "Is it fair to Jimmy to act this way?"

"Do we want to be fair, or do we want to save Jimmy's hide?" he demanded.

"It seems a little dishonest."

"He's honest enough to make up for a little lying on our part. A lie is like a surgeon's scalpel, Lamont. It ought to be used as seldom as possible, but sometimes nothing else will cut deep enough. That's a truth that our Kildare never will let himself realise. You go down there and be as despairing as possible."

"He doesn't like gloom," she answered.

"I don't want him to like you; I want him to love you," said Gillespie. "How are you about crying?"

"I never cry—hardly," she said.

"This is going to be an exception, then. Here. Rub some of this stuff on your eyes just before you go into the jail. It'll keep you sniffling and blowing your nose the whole time you're there."

"I won't make myself a horrible thing to look at."

"Young woman, will you or will you not do exactly what I tell you to do?"

"Yes, doctor," she said.

"As for making yourself a caricature, that doesn't matter. Kildare hardly knows whether you're blonde or brunette. All he sees is that he loves you. And now you're to wring his heart. Will you?"

"Yes, doctor."

"Then run along and stop wasting my time." The way had been paved for her by Channing. When she reached the jail, it was easy to get to Kildare. The jailer who escorted her to his cell was so accustomed to human misery that he looked with indifference at her red-rimmed, tear-filled eyes. "First time in jail for this young doctor?" he asked. "First time? Oh, yes, of course," she said. "Everybody comes here sooner or later," said the jailer, chuckling. "It's like Paris. You gotta see jail before you die."


CHAPTER SIX

HE unlocked the door of a darkened cell. Only the corridor lights illumined it, and the shadows of the bars streaked across the cot on which Kildare was lying.

"A cool fellow, for his first trip," said the jailer. "He's having a snooze...You got ten minutes," he added.

The door clanked behind her. She heard the jailer wander down the corridor.

"Jimmy!" she called.

He did not stir. A dreadful fear leaped up in her, but it was answered by a soft long-drawn snore.

She called again. He sat up, stretching, yawning. When he saw her, he got to his feet.

"Hi, Mary," he said. "Wait till I get the light on." He switched it on, still yawning and trying to smile. His hair was on end; his necktie awry. "What's up?" he asked.

Mary Lamont buried her face in her hands. She had intended to sob, but at the last moment she realised that this part of her act might not go over so well. Therefore she seemed to be weeping silently.

"Steady, Mary," he said. "What's happened to you?"

"We'll never be married now," said Mary, in his arms. "And you've ruined the hospital, too. Oh, Jimmy, how can you do it just because of silly pride?"

"Pride? It isn't pride," he said.

"What is it, then?" She had her arms around him, and she was moaning the words against his shoulder. She felt his head lift and his body straighten.

"You understand, Mary," he said. "What they want me to do is to tell the whole course of the operation. And I can't do it."

"Why can't you, darling?"

"There is a doctor's honour, Mary."

"And there's our whole life together, too!"

"I know."

"You'll never be able to be a doctor again. Everything will be wiped out. Poor Doctor Gillespie is so upset he can't even talk. And the hospital will be ruined too. All because you won't speak."

"I know. It seems rotten," said Kildare.

"You won't let that frightful, cheating woman do this to us, darling?"

"Is she a cheat?"

"Everyone knows what she is."

"I don't think so," said Kildare. "She's hard, but she's honest enough."

Mary saw that she had taken a wrong turn. "All that's asked of you is the truth, Jimmy. Why can't you stand up in court and tell that?"

"Because it might wreck her life, Mary."

"Oh, Jimmy, it's breaking my heart!"

"Do you think it's easy for me?" asked Kildare. "But a doctor takes an oath, and he has to keep it. If I talked freely on the stand it would be betraying her."

"Never mind her. Think of yourself—think of me!" Mary sobbed.

"I try to," said Kildare. "I'm sick about it. You know that, Mary."

"Jimmy, Jimmy, for once in your life you have to give just a little. It's our whole chance for happiness. Tell me you will!"

"You don't understand, Mary. This involves a patient that's been in my care."

"But all the doctors agree that you're making a martyr of yourself for nothing."

"Gillespie doesn't say that."

"But he does—he does!" Mary felt Kildare's body tremble. She pressed that moment of advantage, saying, "It seems to you a little wrong, but it doesn't seem wrong to them. Doctor Carew—"

"He doesn't matter," said Kildare.

"And Doctor Gillespie—they're both furious at the thought that you'd throw yourself and the hospital away for nothing."

"Gillespie—does he say that?"

"He does. Jimmy, he knows what's right."

"Yes," agreed Kildare. "He ought to know. He always has."

"Then you'll do what they want you to do?"

"I can't," said Kildare.

"But don't you see that you'd be doing no wrong here?"

"Gillespie thinks I'm being a fool?"

"In just those words."

"I've got to think," said Kildare. "Let me be here alone now, Mary. I've got to try to think my way straight through this. Gillespie—it's hard for me to believe that he really says that." The guard unlocked the door for Mary. She looked back at Kildare, with the black of the bars painted like stripes across his face as he pressed close to them. She caught his hands and kissed him, with the steel cold against both her cheeks.

"I know you'll think it through straight and right," she said.

Kildare said nothing, and she left at once.


At the hospital she found Conover on watch with Molly Cavendish, the head nurse, and the line of patients as usual flowing ceaselessly through Gillespie's office.

"How was it?" asked Molly Cavendish.

"I don't know," said Mary.

"It looks to me as though that boy were a professional fool," said the head nurse. "He can't stand up long without falling down. Go in there and see Gillespie. He wants you at once."

The old doctor pulled off his glasses when he saw the girl. "Come up here and let me have a look at you," he said. "Tell me how it was."

"I hope it's going to be all right," she said. "You're scared," said Gillespie. "How much did you lie?"

"I said you swore he'd be a fool if he didn't try to save himself."

"You said that?"

"Yes, it was that that moved him."

"Well, he would be a fool at that," said Gillespie. "I never liked martyrs. Can't the idiot see that we want him to be a doctor, not a saint?"

"I tried to tell him. He said he wanted to think. I'll go back and urge him again in the morning."

"Don't urge him. Not a lick more," said Gillespie firmly. "A mule like that has to make up his own mind, and he won't be changed by talking. Nag him, and he'll go the other way. Honour—his damned honour—that's the silver bullet that will strike him dead, poor devil. Poor Mary! Poor Gillespie!"

It seemed to Mary Lamont that there was one more blow she could strike. She pondered it in her room at the nurses' home. Then she rang Estelle Courcy's hotel and gave her name.

"Have you got something to tell me?" asked Miss Courcy. "Of course you can see me. Come right up." It was a quiet hotel with an expensive look. Estelle Courcy, in a pleasant corner room, lay on a chaise-longue with a light covering drawn across her knees.

"Oh, I remember. You're the beautiful nurse," said Estelle. "Sit down and tell me what's on your mind."

"It's terribly late. I'm sorry," said Mary Lamont. "You're good to see me."

"Not if you know something about this Kildare," said Estelle. "Now that I come to think of it, you were there when he slapped my face. Doesn't it burn you, my dear, to think of it?"

"He did it because you were screaming, and every scream was pumping blood out of you."

"I'd like to pump it out of him," said Estelle. "When you come right down to it, isn't it hell what a girl can't do? I mean, wouldn't you like to lay on hands now and then."

"I'm a nurse, you see," said Mary Lamont, smiling.

"That's right. You might as well wear a strait jacket."

There was something about Estelle Courcy that Mary liked very much. "You're doing well, aren't you?" she asked.

"I suppose so," said Estelle. "I'll do a lot better when I've highjacked some of that hospital cash, though. But look what they've done to my leg!" She uncovered it. Mary Lamont looked with a professional eye.

"My lawyer says it's Exhibit A," continued Estelle, "and its side-kicker is Exhibit B. Maybe even a dumb jury will see that I've lost something. What?"

"Legs like those are worth something," said Mary.

"I suppose so," answered Estelle. "They've cost enough work, I know. You don't know what it's meant to keep down the size of those calves. Lean and limber is what they want these days. You gotta be streamlined, what I mean. The hell of dancing is that it puts muscles on you. I used to do some gymnastic work too, till I found out it was putting shoulders and biceps like Jack Dempsey's on me. This Kildare is going to find out what a leg is worth."

"Another operation can straighten out everything, you know," said Mary Lamont.

"Sure it can, may be," admitted Estelle. "But why should I think that far ahead? My lawyer says I don't have to. Think of the nerve of this Kildare smacking me across the face, though! That's what eats me. But honey, what dope can you hand me about him? Being in the same hospital, you ought to know something hot."

"I came up here to beg for him," said Mary Lamont.

"You what?"

"I was going to be a cry baby, and all that, but I see it's no use."

Estelle Courcy sat bolt upright. "You mean you're for Kildare?"

"Yes," said Mary Lamont.

"Then what in hell d'you mean—"

"I'm sorry." Mary stood up.

"Wait a minute," said Estelle. "You mean, you and him are that way?"

"Yes."

Estelle slid back on the chaise-longue. "Can't you get something better than that?" she gasped.

"There's nothing better than Jimmy," said Mary Lamont. "If you go through the whole hospital, they'll tell you everywhere—there's nothing better than Jimmy Kildare."

"Gimme a chance to breathe again," said Estelle. "And what d'you think he did to me?"

"He saved your life," said Mary Lamont.

"You are cockeyed about that guy, aren't you?" remarked Estelle. "But you—look at you—a million dollars on the hoof, and you knock yourself down to that guy at twenty-five a week. I mean, it's so damned uneconomical, honey."

"I was silly to come up here," said Mary Lamont. "But I was desperate."

"It's silly to be desperate," agreed Estelle. "I mean, it's terribly young, don't you think? What were you so desperate about?"

"It means his whole career."

"Let him get another. Not so many of the doctors are in the big money, at that. The way he acts, he ought to do pretty good in the prize ring. He's got a good right, I'll tell the world."

"He's only a doctor. It's life and breath to him."

Estelle stared at Mary Lamont. "Go on and talk," she said. "It does me good to listen to you. It makes me feel young again. It's a terrific bug you picked up, isn't it?"

"I suppose so."

"I mean, night and day, and all that."

"Yes. Night and day."

"And all for him," sighed Estelle, shaking her head. "But you're one of these good girls, aren't you?"

"No. Not particularly!"

"No, I don't think you are. But you met this bird, and he was like an injection. He changed you. He got the hormones all rattled, or whatever they say."

"That's right," agreed Mary Lamont.

"You're sort of sweet, you know," said Estelle. "But right now you could cut my heart out, couldn't you?"

"I'd better go before I try," said Mary Lamont.

"What did you think I'd do anyway, when you came up here?" Estelle asked.

"I don't suppose I was thinking," Mary replied. "I had an idiotic idea that it would be woman to woman, and all that nonsense. I'd show you a broken heart, and you'd throw a hundred thousand dollars out of the window, just like that."

"You know something, honey," said Estelle. "I wish, kind of, that I were rich enough to afford it."

She added, her voice changing suddenly, "I want to tell you something. I've got as bad a bug as you. It eats me day and night, too. He's only a ham actor. He'll never get to first base."

"I've met Ed Willis," said Mary.

"Ah, that's right. He's sort of a cluck, you know."

"He's a fine fellow," said Mary.

"You don't think that!"

"I do. I talked with him. He was almost as badly hurt as you, just thinking about you and worrying."

"Well, honestly," said Estelle, "what'll Ed ever do for himself on Broadway? Nothing! But when I get this hospital dough I can give him a start in something, and once he gets started he'll go to town. You understand?" She spoke almost wistfully.

"I understand," said Mary.

"You don't get all of it, though," said Estelle. "I've never done anything in my life except for Estelle. Now I'm going to lay it all on the line for Ed. I'm going to give him his big break, and right from there he goes to town. I'm going to do it. I wish it was blood. I'd give him that, too."

To talk with her would have been like arguing with a sleepwalker. Mary surrendered.

When she reached the street she found a steady rain falling. There is nothing so hopeless as a rain in a great city, for there is no soil to welcome the gift from the sky, no life to welcome it deep underground. It ran brown in the gutters. It was the very colour of her thoughts, and she walked on block after block, trying to think, but unable to see anything clearly except her last image of Kildare, with the bars of the cell striping his face.


Some people are news sources. When they speak, they talk headlines. The lawyer Clinton was such a man. Reporters were always hunting him out. That was why the case of the State versus Doctor James Kildare was famous before it was brought into court.

Clinton let the reporters know what he hoped to accomplish, and the reporters ate it up. There was such a wave of excitement that it was decided quickly that this would be a case in which courtroom admission would be by ticket only. For the general public there would be no room.

It was to be a case great in medical annals. It was to be a critical point that might decide how far the common citizen could check and comment upon the procedure of doctors.

The newspapers, responding at once, looked through their photograph files. They got out pictures that had been taken on the day of the accident, enlarged and brightened them. They took new shots of the Blair General Hospital; of Doctor Carew, the head of the institution, for it was known that if the criminal case went well for the prosecution there would be a civil suit for the recovery of damages from the hospital. Kildare could hardly put his nose outside the hospital without hearing the click of a camera shutter.

Reporters combed the hospital from cellar to roof for gossip and formed a sort of fifth column that penetrated everywhere, hunting for evil words about Kildare. For good news is not really news at all unless it has to do with a war. The finest man in the world lives seventy years and is never newsworthy until the day of his death; but any scoundrel can make the front page a dozen times. Newspapers want convictions, just as prize-fight audiences want knockouts.

Those preliminary articles in the newspapers had their effect even in the offices of Gillespie and Kildare. A tall man, middle- aged, with the characteristic grey look of a cardiac patient, had come to Kildare one morning, but before the examination could begin he had asked:

"Are you by any chance the Doctor Kildare who is in the newspapers?"

"I am," said Kildare.

"In that case," said the patient, "I regret that I must go to another hospital. I am sorry for this discourtesy, but desperate men cannot afford to take chances, Doctor Kildare."


CHAPTER SEVEN

KILDARE went to Gillespie and said, "I'm no longer useful. They're beginning to suspect me of being a charlatan and a fake. We've just lost a client on account of the newspapers—and what I am."

"He wouldn't have you?" asked Gillespie, crimson with anger.

"Naturally he wouldn't," said Kildare.

"The man's a fool!" roared Gillespie.

"No. He's merely being careful of his life," said Kildare.

"Will this teach you to fight and hit back when you get into the courtroom?" demanded Gillespie.

"I'll fight as hard as I can," said Kildare, "as long as I don't have to hit below the belt."

"It's not hitting below the belt, boy," said Gillespie. "You're confused. That's all, Jimmy. When they say to you 'Doctor Kildare, kindly describe your operation in detail,' what are you going to answer?"

"I can't remember."

"Can't remember!" shouted Gillespie.

Kildare was silent, and Gillespie, controlling his anger, managed to say in an even voice: "There was a ruptured spleen, Jimmy?"

"Yes," said Kildare.

"And there was something else?"

Kildare shrugged. "I can't remember," he said.

Gillespie's endurance nearly broke down. "Let me tell you something," he said. "I'm going to enter that court and tell the jury what you found in spite of you!"

Kildare started. He looked at Gillespie in alarm.

The old man showed his teeth. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?" he said. "If it were no damned responsibility of yours, you'd like to have somebody else stand up there before the world and say what really was wrong with Estelle Cursed Courcy, or whatever her name is! As long as you didn't have it on your delicate conscience, you'd like to have the thing done and your chance saved for you, wouldn't you?"

"I can't say, sir," said Kildare, greatly moved.

"You don't think I know, eh?"

"I doubt it, doctor."

"Then let me tell you, you young whippersnapper, that it's a damned hard thing for you bright boys to fool an old devil like me. I've had inquiries made. What d'you think of that? What would you think if I told you how young Doctor Kildare came back from that operation in the street and sneaked into the laboratory with a package?"

"There was nobody there," said Kildare, "and you couldn't—" He saw that he had admitted something and clamped his teeth together.

"You didn't see anybody there," said Gillespie, hot on a trail, "but you haven't the best eyes in the world. No, sir, all you see clearly is the next mud puddle where you're going to put down your foot. But the actual fact is that in that laboratory you unwrapped your miserable package, and what you took out of it was red—it was diseased human tissue, Kildare!

"And then you made a section of the stuff and you slipped it under a microscope, and under the microscope you saw that you were right. It was, in fact—do you want me to say it? Jimmy, tell me I've been too smart for you. Come right out with it, my boy. The name of what you saw ought to come from you, not from me!"

Kildare, breathing hard, still said nothing.

"Do you think I'm bluffing?" thundered Gillespie.

"Yes, sir," said Kildare.

"I'm not!" roared Gillespie. "I'm going to bellow it out in the courtroom and the world will know, and what the devil will her happiness and her future and her marriage and all that amount to? Nothing! Nothing, I say! And I'm glad of it. An infernal little vixen, a damned little she-fox with her teeth fixed in your throat and you letting her throttle you because of your damned sense of honour. What sense of honour has she? None, Jimmy, none! So I'm going to come out with it in court unless you get back to your senses in the meantime.

"If you do wake up and make sense once more, you'll slip around to see Miss Estelle Cutthroat Courcy, and you'll say to her, 'Madam, I have been trying to keep some disagreeable information from you. But if you drag me into a court I'll have to let the world know that you are suffering from a frightful disease! A disease which will prevent your marriage; a disease which will do this and that to your future. I'll do this unless you quash the case against me at once!' Tell me, Jimmy, will you do that? Will you use brains and do what I tell you?"

"I can't do it," said Kildare.

"Then I announce the miserable thing in the court! That's all. That's final. Let it be that way. I'll be pleased to do it. It might rest on your conscience, but you can load my conscience like a ship, and still it won't sink...Do you doubt me? Do you think I won't go through with it?"

"You'd never go through with it," said Kildare.

"Won't I? You'll see! I'll cut her reputation like a throat."

"You don't know, sir," said Kildare, watching him intently. "You simply don't know."

At this Gillespie slumped down in the chair. He looked hopelessly at Kildare.

"It was a pretty good act I put on, anyway, wasn't it?" he said at last.

"It almost convinced me," said Kildare.

"I should have gone on the stage," said Gillespie. "That's the place for a man of talent. Nothing to do there except use the lines of other men. I could have done that and grown rich, and famous, too. I could have had ten thousand a week and Hollywood eating out of my hand. Instead of that, I had to choose a profession in which there's no pleasure, no reward, no fame, and at the end of a man's life he puts his trust in a snivelling worthless boy and has that trust thrown away. Why? For the sake of a little hellion of a dancing girl!" He dropped his head.

Kildare came over behind the chair and leaned on the back of it, sick at heart.

"I don't mean that last," said Gillespie. "But now, get out of my sight."

So Kildare left, opening and closing the door softly.

Later, Channing called on Gillespie, and Mary Lamont was brought into the room.

She found Gillespie in a sweat of excitement and Channing grim and hard as an iron mask.

"The point is, Mary," said Gillespie, "that Channing feels this may be a tough case to win, no matter what testimony Kildare gives. But if he doesn't strike out hard for himself, there's not a ghost of a chance that we'll come through on top. Now, is there any further pressure you can put on him?"

"Not an ounce," she said.

"Why not?" snapped Channing. "The boy's supposed to love you, isn't he?"

"I'm not the only thing he loves," said Mary. "What else?" asked Channing.

"Medicine, man, medicine!" growled Gillespie. "The whole art and science of it."

"Medicine is textbooks, drugs and knives," said Channing. "I'm talking about love—man for woman; man for God—something like that."

"My friend," said Gillespie, scowling at the lawyer, "a man who loves a science is like a man who loves a tree—he knows it has been a seedling; he knows where its roots have spread; he sees the top of the tree growing, and he wants it to touch the sky and shelter all mankind under its branches. Does that mean anything to you?"

"It sounds like stuff and nonsense," said Channing. "I begin to wish I'd never taken this damned case. It's going to be simply an opportunity for Clinton to give me a damned good licking with the whole world looking on." He turned on the girl. "What have you been doing to Kildare?"

"I've been trying to show him how much it all means to me." She enumerated, smiling, "I've left off every bit of make-up, so that I'd look pale. When he rings me up, I tell him that I'm exhausted, that I haven't slept, that I can't see anyone. Not even him."

"Does that mean anything to him? What about losing your temper and giving him a good dressing-down?"

She looked at Gillespie, shuddered and made a gesture of surrender.

Gillespie interpreted. "You don't throw stones at a bull terrier. You can use them to frighten off any other dog, but if you start a fight with a bull terrier, he loves it. I tell you, Channing, this fellow Kildare, with his whole world trying to break his grip, gets a throat-hold and locks his jaws on it."

"A stubborn fool," said Channing.

"Everybody that's very good or very bad is stubborn," said Gillespie.

Channing stood up. "Very well," he said. "Tomorrow is the day. I'm going into this fight with one eye blind and the other damned tired. But I'll do what I can."

But Channing had his own way of putting on pressure. When he sat beside Kildare in the courtroom the next day at the defence table, he scanned the crowd with his keen eyes and said, "Do you notice anything about this crowd?"

"They're staring at me," said Kildare, "and it's hard to look back at them."

"Because they want your blood," said Channing. "It's no show unless they see your throat cut in the end. Remember it, Kildare. They're in here to hunt you down, all of them."

Kildare took heed of the crowd again. The hostile, hungry curiosity of the majority became as a mist in his mind, for he could see friends scattered here and there. There was Mike Ryan, letting his saloon business go hang in order to give moral support to a friend. There was Mary Lamont, her eyes never moving from him, smiling the instant his glance touched her. Beside her sat little Tommy Long, rigid in his chair on account of the big cast that supported his body. On the other side of Tommy was his brother, Bill, who watched Kildare with hatred. It was strange indeed to see love and hate so close together.

Doctor Gresham sat not far away. It was a shock of pleasure to think that the important neurosurgeon should abandon his work to sit in a courtroom in order to give his support. And several of the younger doctors made friendly oases in that desert of hostility. Kildare could feel the animosity of the crowd. It was like the cruel curiosity of schoolboys when a new lad comes to the school; it was something peculiarly savage and impersonal.

But if he wanted to see the strength of the prosecution, he had the District Attorney's table. Here sat Clinton with two assistants, with records and papers under their hands; and beside Clinton's tall, commanding figure, calm, strong in confidence, was Estelle Courcy, dressed for her part in gauzy black.

They had arranged a reclining chair covered with deep cushions, and she was lying there with her eyes closed, her head turned in touching, childish trust toward her attorney, so that he seemed less a deputy from the District Attorney's office than a father defending the rights of his daughter. Just behind Miss Courcy's chair was a nurse in professional white. She had a case of medicines in her lap. From time to time she moved unobtrusively to take Miss Courcy's pulse. In a critical moment, she would produce a bottle of smelling salts and wave it under the nose of the dancer.

"Who is the judge?" asked Kildare.

"Old Sawtelle," said Channing. "Of course Clinton would make sure that the case came before a damned old pirate like Sawtelle."

"Is he a bad judge?" asked Kildare.

Channing looked sharply at his client. There was often a na?ve openness about Kildare's remarks that shocked Channing. It was as though the doctor were a newcomer in this world of many devices—mostly crooked.

"You can't call him a bad judge. He knows the law," said Channing. "But he can't help charging the jury in a way that makes them bring in convictions."

A moment later the judge entered in his long dark robe, and the people in the court were bidden to rise. But even before the command, everyone was getting up. It interested Kildare to see how Clinton gently helped Miss Courcy from her chair. The nurse was useful at this moment, also. Miss Courcy seemed to be making a great effort. It made her pant.

Kildare could not help smiling. To his keen eyes, it was apparent that the whole thing had been rehearsed. Clinton was not throwing away a single trick, no matter how dishonest might be the fall of the cards.

The judge lingered by the dais while the clerk continued the pronouncement which declared the court in session. Sawtelle was a broad block of a man with a thick neck and a featureless, heavy face. But there was a quick intelligence in his eyes.


CHAPTER EIGHT

IT came over Kildare suddenly, as he regarded the judge, that he needed above all the support of the strongest friend he possessed in the world. But naturally, Gillespie could not be expected to give up his work for the sake of appearing in a courtroom. He must keep the line flowing steadily through his office, night and day. Like this man of the court, he was a judge, and he was pronouncing opinions that meant life or death.

The selection of the jury began at once. Neither lawyer seemed to care particularly who was taken from the panel to sit in the jury box; but it was interesting that no fewer than ten of those called admitted that they had read so much in the newspapers about the case that they already were prejudiced against the defendant. One elderly woman even went so far as to say: "It's too bad it's not a case where they could put a doctor behind the bars for murder. That's what a lot of them do to get their money—murder!"

The judge stopped her at that. She went out with a bristling indignation, a righteous indignation, and the understanding looks and smiles of the crowd followed her. She had spoken the general mind of the whole assemblage, it was plain.

In forty minutes that jury was impanelled.

"Now," murmured Channing, as Clinton rose to open the case for the prosecution, "we're going to have a look into the great man's mind." And folding his arms tightly together, Channing slumped in his chair and fixed his bright eyes on the face of the prosecuting attorney.

With the bill of indictment in his hand, Clinton opened the trial. "In this case," said he, speaking quietly, "we accuse the defendant, young Doctor Kildare, of malpractice. We could wish that he were an older man. The example then would be more convincing. The advantage of his youth lies in the fact that after disciplining he may be able to change his ways.

"We are interested here not so much in Doctor Kildare as in the whole subject of malpractice. There is no doubt that it exists. Ignorant, fraudulent or careless doctors are the curse of their profession and a menace to the public. But it is impossible, or almost impossible to convict of malpractice in a court of law. A strange delicacy prevents a doctor from testifying. And without professional testimony, how can we convict medical criminals? Their science necessarily remains a mystery to the uninitiated, and the uninitiate include all men and women who are not actual graduates of medical schools. This mystery we respect. We respect it blindly. Even when the knowledge is in our hands, we still will not permit ourselves to judge. We will not believe even what our eyes have seen and our ears have heard because we feel that we are too ignorant to interpret.

"In the present case we deal with a most extraordinary mass of evidence, because the acts were performed, strange to say, in the street. There were a thousand witnesses, but because what they saw and heard had a medical implication—because there was a doctor, however young, in charge—one thousand pairs of eyes and ears become blind and deaf.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we feel that this is a peculiarly monstrous instance of medical error, but it was hard for us to find witnesses who were willing even to state the most simple facts in the case: the crash of an automobile against a truck; the screaming of brakes in the traffic jam that followed, the sight of bodies thrown on the street; the appearance of the young doctor; the shrieking of a terrified woman in dreadful agony, as she lay in the street with the bones of a compound fracture protruding through the flesh and skin of her leg; the blow across the face with which the doctor silenced her—"

Here Clinton paused and seemed to swallow his anger.

A murmur of indignation ran through the courtroom. As it died down, Clinton seemed to force himself to resume his narrative. And Kildare, glancing at the jury box, read his condemnation already in the horrified eyes of the jurors.

Clinton was saying, "We hope to prove to you that the brutal haste of the young doctor worked an irreparable damage to Miss Courcy. We shall demonstrate to you not in words, but by ocular witness, that the ordinary course of her life and activity is destroyed. We shall not linger too much in pointing out the frightful hazard that was undergone by the victim when, stripped almost naked under the public eye, her body was slashed open on the street, in air literally crowded with germs. For the fact that she survived the danger of a fatal infection she may thank God, not the precautions of Doctor Kildare."

During this description, Miss Courcy was impelled by shame to cover her face with both hands and to shudder with outraged modesty.

Clinton went on. "When we have presented to you the details of the testimony, we shall attempt to go further and show the obvious motives which influenced this young doctor into a course so criminal and so dangerous. It will not have escaped the notice of people as intelligent as the ladies and gentlemen of this jury that the Press is not entirely oblivious of the procedure in this case. That the Press should not be oblivious was, I believe we can prove, the purpose of Doctor Kildare. He had his desire accomplished from the first. From obscurity, he sprang into prominence by means of performing an operation in the street.

"You have not heard of such an operation before. Neither have I. I trust that none of us shall hear of such a thing again. Before we are through with him, the publicity which Doctor Kildare so much desired may become a valued instrument in placing before the public and the honest members of the medical profession the dangers of unchecked authority placed in the hands of unwise or unscrupulous practitioners."

Clinton's speech, although brief, was none the less forceful. The jury, as though they took the final opinion they would arrive at for granted, gave Kildare only a glance of curious inspection, such as one might give a beast in a cage. Then they prepared to pay attention to the development of proof by the prosecutor.

He responded by playing his biggest ace at once. He called Estelle Courcy to the witness stand. She was first assisted to her feet by the nurse and Clinton. Helped by them, she went slowly across the room toward the chair and the moment she moved, it was apparent that she was dreadfully crippled in the right leg. Her limping was painful. The jury leaned forward to consider her gait and everything else about her that they could see.

The design of the dress was by no means as modest as its colour. God had been particularly gracious in the forming of Estelle Courcy, and the dress designer had made certain that few of his gifts to her should go unnoticed. If her right leg was crippled it was more than apparent that there was nothing wrong with her left leg. The jury observed this with a fixed regard.

When the interesting group reached the witness stand, Estelle looked with helpless dismay at the elevation to which she must climb, and raised her eyes to Clinton. His response was too quick to be entirely unplanned.

He said, "Pardon me, my dear." He gathered her in his arms with a fatherly tenderness and lifted her to the witness chair. When she was seated, it was necessary for the nurse to rearrange her skirt.

Estelle, in the meantime, embarrassed, bent her head and blushed. And a little whisper went through the courtroom. It was composed in part of the noise made by reporters' pencils, and in part it was the indrawn breath of compassion.

Channing remarked to Kildare, "Do you see that? Clinton is barring no holds. He means to play this game to win."

The pause which Clinton allowed for his client to compose herself after this great voyage across the courtroom also permitted the crowd to look its fill. Presently he asked her to state in her own words what had happened on the day of the accident.

She answered, "I was driving downtown, south on Eighth Avenue, when I saw a light truck coming north, quite fast. I tried to give it more room. But it seemed to jump at me—"

"Address the Court, Miss Courcy, please. Pardon her, Your Honour."

The judge nodded. He smiled encouragingly at the witness. Estelle continued her story. She was sure there must have been a wet spot on the street; it was such a nice poor boy who had been driving the truck.

At this most impermissible injection of opinion, her lawyer checked her. He said, "Now, Miss Courcy, we want your story, but not your opinions, if you don't mind. This court is not interested in the fact that you bear no grudge against Bill Long. It wants to hear only what you saw and heard, not what you thought and felt."

This injunction caused the judge to nod in approval. In fact, the whole courtroom was approving Estelle. Quite outside the proper course of the testimony, it had been developed by Clinton that the complainant was so merciful and just that she was registering no complaint whatever against the unfortunate young man who had injured her in the accident. Since she was so without malice, how gross must have been the misconduct of the doctor whom she did accuse!

"There was a terrible crash," Estelle went on, "and it seemed to me that everything was topsyturvy—as though a hand were throwing me."

She barely whispered this but everyone in the silent courtroom could hear perfectly.

"Damn her," murmured Channing. "She's a good witness!"

"There was a dreadful pain in my side, too," said Estelle. "And I saw that I was lying right in the street. I tried to sit up, and then I saw what had happened to my leg, and it was all—"

"Never mind, Miss Courcy. You need not describe it," said Clinton.

She was so overcome that she had to use the smelling salts. For this delay she apologised with childish simplicity saying, "I'm so sorry!" Channing swore again.

"When I thought that perhaps I never would be able to dance again—" she began.

"Only what you saw and heard; not your thought, please," said Clinton.

The judge obviously approved of this lawyer who confined his witness so narrowly to the proper course.

"What I chiefly heard—I'm afraid I was screaming," said Estelle. "I couldn't seem to control it. Then a girl in a nurse's white uniform was there, leaning over me and twisting something around my leg to keep the blood from running away so fast. But Doctor Kildare came and told the nurse to go away."

"Can you remember his words?" asked Clinton.

"I'm afraid I can remember all Doctor Kildare's words," she sighed. "His voice was very sharp. He told the nurse to get to a telephone, let the hospital know what had happened and tell them to get another doctor out to the delivery case. She was to rush to the address as fast as she could. She said he had broken open the obstetrical kit and she hadn't anything, and he told her harshly that she had her hands and to go and use them. So she ran away, and I was left there in his hands."

At this awful memory, Estelle Courcy closed her eyes and used the smelling salts again.

She resumed. "I couldn't help screaming, and it seemed to bother Doctor Kildare. He said, 'Stop that yelling!' I tried to stop, but I couldn't, and—"

She stopped abruptly.

"Continue, please," said Clinton.

"I can't!" whispered Estelle Courcy.

"We must have all the facts, please," urged Clinton.

"No one will believe it," she said. And lifting a hand to her cheek, she said, with a stunned look, as though the horror of that moment overcame her freshly: "He struck me—in the face!"

The whole courtroom growled.

Clinton, as though this testimony was too much even for him to endure, took a pace or two and turned back to his witness. He said sharply, "Well, Miss Courcy. Try to continue, please."

"Then Doctor Kildare began to tear off my clothes."

"Repeat that, please," said the judge, leaning forward.

"He started tearing off my clothes. I asked him not to undress me in the street. There was a young policeman there, and I asked him please to interfere and he asked the doctor to give me more decent treatment. Doctor Kildare said, 'Keep out of this! And get that crowd back! You hear? Knock them down with your club if you have to. I want room here and I'm going to have it!'"

However overcome Estelle might be, she was able to give her voice a harsh, cold ring of authority when she imitated Doctor Kildare.

"He began to tap me with his fingers," continued Estelle. "Then he said, 'I must operate here and now!' And I saw from a dreadful look in his face that he was enjoying all this."

For the first time Channing rose to protest. The judge sustained him.

Clinton directed his witness, "Just tell us what you saw and heard and did."

"I said I wouldn't have it. I wouldn't be stripped and shamed in the street. I wouldn't die like a dog in the gutter."

"And the doctor?" asked Clinton.

"He said, 'It's your life!' and I said, 'I'd rather die!' Then he ran away from me. When he came back, everything was getting dark in front of my eyes. I heard a policeman saying, 'You're out of your head. She's refused the operation. I know the law. You can't touch her after she's refused the operation. Ma'am, do you still refuse to let him operate?' I tried terribly to speak, but the darkness was coming over me and I don't think I was able to say anything, but I heard Doctor Kildare saying, 'Hang the law!' I don't remember anything more."

Mr. Clinton was overcome once more. He had to breathe deeply before he was able to go on. Then he said, "Well, will you continue, Miss Courcy?"

She was leaning back in her chair, with her eyes closed. It was impossible for the poor girl to utter another word, it seemed, until the nurse gave her a restorative. After that, she lifted her pretty head again.

Channing broke out in his harsh voice, "If the Court please, hasn't there been enough of this acting?"

The judge roared at Channing, "The Court will decide what is acting and what is testimony!"

Channing sat down slowly; and Clinton flashed at him a single bright glance of triumph.

"Can you continue now, Miss Courcy?" asked Clinton.

"Then I was in the hospital," said Miss Courcy, apparently nerving herself to finish the recountal of this grim experience as quickly as possible. "I was terribly ill. I saw that they had put a weight on my right leg. There were blood transfusions, and I was always dizzy. I didn't know much of anything. And then one evening my nurse was talking to me about the hospital and about Doctor Gillespie and she happened to repeat what he had said to her when he first saw my leg. He said. 'If you were a nurse for thirty years, you'd never see a worse damned criminal job than has been done on this leg. Who's the so-called doctor who's taking care of this case?'" When this point had been reached, Kildare took a deep breath. He was aware of Clinton turning to Channing and saying, "Your witness, if you please!" And Kildare wished ardently that Channing would permit the girl to leave the witness chair without cross-examination, for every word she uttered had been a damnation of him.

Channing, however, had no such purpose. The withered, time- hardened little man advanced to take up the questioning. He made a sort of bow to Miss Courcy and then said, "Miss Courcy?"

"Yes?" said Miss Courcy, shrinking from his harsh voice.

Kildare gritted his teeth. It seemed that Channing was inspired to ruin the case. Every rough touch on that tender skin would be resented by the whole courtroom.

"Is that your baptismal name?" asked Channing. She hesitated.

"Are you ashamed of your real name?" snapped Channing.

Clinton jumped up with a protest. The judge sustained him. But a curious chill had entered the air of the courtroom. Some of the sweetness and light had been banished by tough Channing.

"When you're through blushing," said Channing, "let's hear your real name."

He turned half away from her, wearily.

"I'm not ashamed," said Estelle in a surprisingly loud voice. "My name was Stella Carney."

"Why did you change it?" snapped Channing. "When I went on the stage."

"Ah, you're on the stage, are you?"

"A little."

"How little?"

"Just now and then."

"What sort of plays?"

"Musical plays."

"What did you do? Song and dance, or just dance?"

"I sang a little and danced a good deal. I'll never be able to dance again!" said Estelle.

"When the world loses an artist, it's a pity," said the pitiless Channing. "Where did you use your art? In the chorus?"

Estelle Courcy found in this simple question something so outrageous that she was silent, sitting bolt upright on her chair, looking quite capable of jumping in Channing's face.

She gasped out venomously, "The chorus! Is that a disgrace?"

"No disgrace at all," said Channing. "The chorus seems to be a place where a great many of our prettiest girls aspire to be placed—for a while. Have you confined yourself to your dancing, or have you any other means of support?"

People were sitting back in their seats, shrugging. The jury looked a little shamefaced. And Clinton smiled a smile of white- faced endurance and silent rage. The whole setting of his little comedy had been snatched away from him. He would have to proceed along other lines when his turn came.

"I do some modelling," said Estelle.

"What sort of modelling?" asked Channing.

Clinton rose to protest. The Court overruled him.

"I've modelled a good many things," said Estelle.

"Any stockings?" asked Channing.

She hated him with her eyes. "Yes," she said.

"Any bathing suits?"

"Yes."

"One-piece?"

"Yes," she said through her teeth.

Someone in the courtroom laughed, too loudly. The judge brought the room to order sharply and glared about him.

"Now, Stella Carney," said Channing, "tell us again how badly you felt at the idea of having some of your clothes removed in the street by the doctor."

She was silent.

"Never mind," said Channing. "You've answered the question already—in one way or another. But let's go a little further. We need to know more about you. Out of modelling and dancing, I suppose you've made a good income and that you have quite a bit of money in the bank?"

"I'm under heavy expenses," said Estelle sullenly.

"Heavy expenses?" asked Channing. "Why should you be under heavy expenses? Supporting your social position?"

"I have people to take care of," said Estelle.

"Ah, what sort of people?" asked Channing.

"My mother and my little brother," said Estelle. "They haven't a dollar except what I send them."

It was a blow so unexpected that Channing excused her from the stand on the spot. Clinton and the nurse helped her back to her reclining chair, but they were a shade less tender in their treatment of her. Kildare, catching her eye, winked. And she flashed an involuntary grin back at him—a message which only he could see.


CHAPTER NINE

THEN a big, red-faced policeman was giving his testimony. He was another good witness for Clinton. The accident, he said, had occurred at four-thirteen in the afternoon, when he was on his beat. He had run out at once to see what was wrong and to keep the crowd back. He had found Doctor Kildare looking at the boy, Tommy Long.

Here Channing protested. The judge overruled him. The care given Tommy Long by the doctor, since it was part of the same accident in which the girl was injured, might cast light upon the nature of Kildare's procedure, the judge decided. The testimony was relevant.

Officer Maloney continued, reading from his small notebook; "The boy Tommy, there"—he pointed to Tommy Long, seated between his tall brother and Mary Lamont—"was laying still, flat on his back, and there was a mean-looking cut on his forehead and the blood was running down his face and he looked near gone. His legs and arms were twisted up.

"The doctor told him to straighten his legs and arms, and he said he'd been trying to. So the doctor straightened them for him, and he looked at Tommy's eyes. Then he opened a bag and gave Tommy an injection and told him to lie still and not to move at all. Then he left."

"After stopping the bleeding of the head wound and bandaging it, I presume?" asked Clinton.

"He did not," said the officer. "The brother yelled at the doctor, 'You ain't going off and leave him bleed to death, are you?' And the doctor said, 'Keep your hands off him. Don't touch him.'"

Here there was a flash of light through the room as the rear door suddenly opened wide. Loud voices resounded. There was a protest, and with infinite relief Kildare saw Gillespie's familiar figure being wheeled into the room by Conover.

The judge said, "Why couldn't you be on time, sir, in this courtroom?"

"Because there was a foolish woman in the hospital," said Gillespie, "and she chose just this hour to try to die on my hands. Sick people have no manners, Your Honour."

The judge relaxed, the courtroom chuckled, and Channing took over the cross-examination of the witness.

"The time was four-thirteen?" asked Channing. "Not a minute earlier or later?"

"Not a minute," said Maloney.

"How do you know?" questioned Channing. "My watch don't gain or lose a minute a month."

"Were you looking at it when the accident took place?"

"I was directing the traffic," said Maloney. "How would I be looking at my watch?"

"Then how did you know the time?"

"I must have looked at it later."

"Is that what you do when there's an accident which covers the street with injured people? Do you first look at your watch?"

"I do not! I go to them!"

"So you went to these unfortunate people?"

"I did that."

"But how, then, did you know the time so exactly?"

"I must have seen it on a clock on a building."

"I've been on that corner," said Channing. "There's no clock in sight."

There was silence from Maloney.

"Think, man," said Channing. "It's important. Think hard. But I see that you're already thinking so hard you're in a sweat, Officer Maloney. But try to remember where you saw that time. Accurately registered in your mind it was, too. Not four-ten or four-fifteen, as most of us remember time, but exactly four- thirteen. Can you remember now where you saw it?"

"I cannot," said Maloney, grown sullen.

"Can I help you by guessing?" asked Channing. "Can I suggest that it's possible there may be a convenient room not far from the corner where an electric clock hangs on the wall, and one would look right up at it if one were taking a drink?"

Maloney, sweating with dread, saw the handwriting on the wall before him. "I remember feeling a little faint and dizzy. I may have needed a glass of water," he said.

"I don't blame you, Maloney," said Channing, and excused him at once.

The policeman's testimony about the boy and the bleeding head and Kildare's cruelty in leaving the poor victim would be washed out of the minds of the jury by the same drink that had washed Maloney's throat when he heard the crash in the street and saw the face of the electric clock.

Kildare began to realise that Channing's harsh tactics were by no means blind. Already the lawyer had undermined a large part of the case which Clinton had presented so skilfully. He merely had gone one unlucky step too far with Estelle. It was true that in that courtroom she no longer was the frightened little clinging vine she had at first appeared. Instead, she was something much better.

She was a hard-working girl who earned money in the only way she could and used it to support a helpless family. The jury's sympathy for her would now be on a more solid basis.

Only one person from the crowd had been called as a witness by Clinton. She was on the stand now, a formidable person, dry, lean, worn as an old eagle, but with an eye as sharp and with a beak as threatening. She spoke slowly, with decision. It was plain that she had spoken many times before this in the presence of a crowd.

She said, "I have seen a brutal kennelman strike a whining dog. I saw Doctor Kildare strike this young woman in a similar manner."

She spoke so that every person in the courtroom could hear, but she kept her eyes fixed upon Kildare, scorning and condemning him to his face.

Of the splint that he put on Estelle Courcy's leg, she said, "No sensible mother would tie up a bleeding finger as carelessly as this doctor slapped a splint on that broken leg. There was no attempt to straighten it carefully. It was given a jerk and no more."

Concerning Kildare's manner she said, "It was like that of a man in a hurry to get somewhere, and hating the interruption." She referred to the "brutality of a schoolyard bully."

Channing was on his feet objecting after almost everything she said, and though the judge sustained the objections repeatedly, there was no way to prevent this terrible old woman from delivering her shots like blasts from a cannon's mouth. Clinton kept her on the stand as long as he could before turning her over to Channing.

Channing said, "Mrs. Wilmerding, have you ever seen firemen at a fire?"

"I have," she answered.

"Have you ever watched them when the lives of people were endangered by the flames?"

"I have," she answered.

"Were their manners polite?" asked Channing.

She was silent, seeing where the questions were tending.

Clinton objected violently and was upheld. Channing defending himself, remarked that "people in haste and in earnest are rarely polite."

There were more and more objections from Clinton. They remained polite, but they were growing angry. It was a fight every moment. They were roused to their utmost and the crowd enjoyed every minute of it.

There was no doubt that Mrs. Cyril Wilmerding had done Kildare a good deal of damage. The young policeman whom Estelle Courcy had mentioned was on the stand now. He had been chosen by Clinton to dwell upon the callous indifference with which Kildare had half stripped his victim in the street.

"But Miss Courcy was in great pain," said Clinton. "Does it seem probable that she would pay much attention to modesty?"

"She cried out. She tried to defend herself," said the young man slowly. He blushed with anger as he added, "I think she would rather have died."

"Did you protest against this unusual proceeding?" asked Clinton.

"I heard her say that she refused an operation. I then warned the doctor that he had no legal right to operate if the operation was refused by the patient." He examined his notebook, making sure that he had been accurate in what he said.

"What response did the doctor make?" asked Clinton.

"He looked up at me as though he wanted to jump at my throat. Then he shut me up and told me to keep the crowd back."

"You are an officer of the law. You could have prevented the continuance of the operation, could you not?"

"I know something about the law and my duty," the policemen replied, "but I'm not a doctor. I saw an injured woman and a man who said he knew what he was doing. I was afraid to interfere because he might be saving her life."

"You observed the manner of the operation. Will you describe what you saw?"

"After he had tapped her over the abdomen, I thought he was about to commence his operation, but instead he jumped up and ran off into the crowd."

"What did he do in the crowd?"

"I heard him shouting to someone. I don't know what it was about. He returned on the run. He commenced to operate at once."

"Can you tell the Court and the jury what he did?"

The witness frowned. "He opened her—the way you'd carve open a watermelon. He just seemed to slash at her!"

Clinton offered this witness to Channing, but Channing would have none of him.

"That big fellow hates you, Kildare," he said, "and if I didn't know something about you and your work, I'd be inclined to swear that what he says is the truth. One or two more bits like that evidence and you're as good as in the penitentiary. I don't dare question him."

Even so, it seemed to Kildare that something should have been done. The overwhelming impression which the officer had made on the jury showed in the manner in which they looked at one another and then at Kildare, their eyes narrowing as though they saw in him the most inhuman of brutes.

Billy Long, the driver of the truck, was next on the stand. He was a little frightened, but in the midst of his fear he flashed a reassuring smile at his brother Tommy. Tommy, gripping Mary Lamont's hand, watched Bill with wide eyes. Speaking to this lad who was the cause of the accident, Clinton adopted a grave tone, as though this were a moment whose solemnity had been agreed upon between him and the witness.

Bill described the accident quickly, in short phrases. He seemed to accept responsibility—or to be quite willing to accept it.

Clinton stepped the testimony forward, through the objections of Channing, to the moment when Kildare had left Estelle Courcy.

Bill said, "I was kneeling beside Tommy, trying to do something about him."

"Did he seem to be suffering?"

"He was white. He had to keep his teeth hard shut."

"Why did he have to keep his teeth hard shut?"

"To keep from hollering," said Bill. "He's terribly game."

The interest of the jury in the boy who was "terribly game" grew intense. He was a good-looking lad, and his staring, white face brought them closer to the moment of the accident than anything that had happened so far during the trial.

"What was his condition?" asked Clinton. Channing leaped to his feet with a violent protest. The judge said, "Will the District Attorney advise us what purpose this particular testimony serves in the case before the Court?"

"Something should be done to indicate why Doctor Kildare suddenly left Miss Courcy when, as I'm sure he will tell you, he felt sure that she was on the point of dying," explained Clinton.

"You may continue," said the judge.

Channing made a gesture of helplessness and sank into his chair again. He murmured to Kildare, "This is going to hurt you, doctor."

"What was your brother's condition?" asked Clinton, glancing triumphantly at Channing.

"There was a big cut over his forehead—you can see where the red of the scar is, now," said Bill pointing.

"Confine yourself to your testimony," Clinton told him.

But the point had been made. The jury was staring with pity at the red mark of that recent wound on the boy's pale face.

"The blood kept pouring out of the cut. I tried to stop it with my hands, but the doctor had told me not to touch Tommy. Then I thought that it would be good to get him off the street. I was just touching his shoulders. I was just asking him how he felt and could I move him."

Emotion and anger stopped Bill for a moment. Clinton waited patiently.

Bill went on, "All at once this Doctor Kildare ran at me. He grabbed me by the neck and threw me down on the street so's my head knocked on the pavement and the blood from a cut on my head spilled down over my face."

He paused again, and his hands gripped into fists. Tommy began to sob silently. Mary Lamont put her arm about the boy to comfort him.

"Did the doctor say anything to you?" asked Clinton, watching the savage faces of the jury.

"He yelled at me not to touch Tommy. Then he ran away again," said Bill.

"Your witness," said Clinton, turning to the defence lawyer.

The last three witnesses had been hard on Kildare, but Bill's testimony was a sharper blow than any of the others. He had completed the picture of the doctor as a savage beast. Even hard- boiled reporters were regarding him with a curious disgust.

Kildare, being what he was, chose this moment to turn his head and scan the courtroom curiously.

Face by face he read them. Mass emotion was something with which he was not familiar. It interested him to see this exhibition of a single feeling reflected from so many eyes. He reached for his notebook and began to jot down notes.

Channing said, in a cutting whisper: "If you don't give a damn about what's happening, at least try to pretend that you do."

Kildare, abashed, put away his notebook.

Now Channing said to the witness, "For coming here and testifying, just what did the District Attorney promise you, Bill?"

"I would have said the same things, anyway," answered Bill.

Clinton was up, protesting; but the judge let the questioning continue.

"Perhaps you would have said the same things anyway," agreed Channing, "but what was promised you?"

Bill, realising that he had made a damaging admission, replied, "I didn't say that anything was promised me."

"What?" exclaimed Channing, as though shocked. "Do you mean to say it's only by accident that you're here instead of in jail for reckless driving?"

Bill's white, frightened face convicted him without a spoken word.

"The District Attorney made a little bargain with you, Bill, didn't he?" asked Channing.

"He didn't ask me to tell no lies," said Bill.

"Very well," said Channing, and with a laugh dismissed him.

Again he had trimmed the sharp nails of a witness, this time by a hint of collusion operating against Kildare.

Channing opened his defence by Calling Doctor Carew.

"You are acquainted with the defendant, doctor?" he asked.

"I am," said Carew. "I have known him for the year of his interneship and for part of a year as resident physician.

"You are the head of the Blair General Hospital, Doctor Carew. It means that you have many young doctors working under you. Have you had a chance to pay particular attention to Doctor Kildare's work?"

"His work forced itself upon my attention and the attention of every other doctor connected with the hospital," said Carew, in his dry voice.

"In what manner, if you please?" asked Channing.

"By the brilliancy of his record."

"Brilliancy of his record?" repeated Channing, as though surprised. He turned toward the jury box and added, "In what manner was that brilliancy demonstrated?"

"By his passion for knowledge, by his dogged persistence, and particularly by a special gift for diagnosis."

"You do not feel that Doctor Kildare has been a handicap to your hospital, then?"

"No interne in the history of the place has done so much for the Blair General Hospital," declared Carew. "He has made many important friends for us."

Kildare, listening to this praise, flushed and looked down nervously at his hands. But to Channing such testimony was like cream to a cat.

"Has Doctor Kildare ever proved derelict in his duty?" asked Channing.

"Never," said Carew. "He is known for his devotion to duty and for the passionate energy which he pours into his work."

"Occasionally, in the hospital, you meet with men of his character?"

"Very occasionally," said Carew, "but in our entire history it is generally admitted by the staff physicians that we have had no one comparable with Kildare."

"In the course of a doctor's work, it often is necessary for a man, however young, to show courage and honesty. Would you say that Doctor Kildare is short in these qualities?"

"Doctor Kildare has been brave and honest almost to a fault," said Carew.

Channing paused. The jury began to look at Kildare with new eyes. Then Channing said, "I think that is enough. I shall not ask you to give specific instances of Doctor's Kildare's skill."

"I could give them by the dozen," said Carew. "Thank you, doctor, I shall not trouble you." Channing turned to Clinton. "Your witness."

"You hold a position of importance in the medical world, Doctor Carew," said Clinton. "Above all, you are important to the Blair General Hospital and therefore its interests are yours, to a large degree."

"They are," said Carew crisply.

"Naturally, Doctor Carew, you would shield the hospital from injury."

"Naturally."

"You are therefore aware, doctor, that if this case of malpractice is decided against the defendant, the hospital will immediately be sued for damages? And undoubtedly for a large sum?"

A violent objection from Channing was not sustained by the judge.

"I am aware that if the case goes against Doctor Kildare, the hospital may be open to a suit," admitted Carew.

"Very well," said Clinton, smiling. "Now, let us consider the nature of Doctor Kildare's reputation in the hospital. When a member of the staff or an interne is suspected of some crime against medical practice or of an infraction of the hospital rules, it is your habit to bring the accused man into your office, is it not?"

"It is," said Carew, growing unhappy.

"In your whole experience at the head of this hospital, has any other interne been on the carpet before you as often as this one?"

Carew managed to say, "I cannot remember the statistics."

"Can you not? Upon how many occasions have you threatened this young doctor with expulsion from the hospital?"

"I cannot remember," said Carew.

"You do remember, however, that you have at least once threatened him with dismissal?"

"I do remember," agreed Carew, hating the words he had to speak.

"Was there not a time when you and the whole body of mature opinion in the hospital condemned him and wished to expel him?"

"On that particular occasion—" began Carew.

"Answer yes or no," said Clinton coldly.

"Yes," said Carew.

"You may explain that answer to the Court," prompted Channing.

"It was decided that Kildare was wrong in a case of great importance," said Carew. "Pressure was brought to bear upon him, but he stuck to his guns—and he proved that he was right."

"Did you once say that no one in the history of the hospital had given you such great anxiety?" asked Clinton, without giving the jury time to digest Carew's statement.

"That may be true," said Carew. "A stubborn adherence to his own line of thought is characteristic of Doctor Kildare, but in an important matter he has yet to be wrong."

Clinton hastily excused Carew from the witness stand. It was plain that his earlier testimony had counted heavily in favour of Kildare; but the cross-examination had undone much of the effect.

Gresham went into the witness chair. The opening questions established his character as an experienced neurosurgeon at the Blair General Hospital.

"What has been your past knowledge of Doctor Kildare?" asked Channing.

"I had heard of him as a talented young physician," said Gresham. "But ordinarily I don't pay much attention to the youngsters in my profession. Recently, however, I had actual knowledge of Doctor Kildare's quality."

"Will you tell us about it?"

"I operated upon the boy, Thomas Long," said Gresham. "He came to the hospital with a fractured vertebra, with pressure symptoms. He was paralysed from the base of the neck down. I operated to remove the posterior portion of the vertebra, and I also removed a spicule of bone which was lodged in the spinal cord. Afterwards the patient was placed in a cast."

"Was there anything remarkable concerning the manner in which this patient came to you doctor?" asked Channing.

"It was remarkable that he came to me at all, or that I was able to do anything for him," said Gresham. "The seventh cervical vertebra was fractured. Only the greatest delicacy in picking him up and bringing him to the hospital kept him from being paralysed for life."

"If he had been picked up by the shoulders, for instance, what do you think would have happened?"

"Unquestionably the boy never would have moved hand or foot again as long as he lived."

Channing turned to Clinton with a smile of satisfaction. He had made a powerful point in the very teeth of evidence from the police and Bill.

Clinton, taking the witness over, said, "Doctor Gresham, did you not, shortly after the admission of the boy to the hospital, state that Doctor Kildare's interference was a nuisance, and did you not request him never to meddle with one of your cases again?" Channing rose with angry objections and he was sustained, but the question and Gresham's evident uneasiness had already told a story to the jury. It was unfair, but it was a telling stroke for the prosecution.

Red-faced Mike Ryan was on the stand, now, grinning at Kildare.

"Do you know the defendant?" asked Channing. "Like me own flesh and blood," said Ryan. "Your place of business is near the hospital?"

"You could hit it with a stone."

"You and your friends and their families have frequently employed Doctor Kildare."

"There's a lot of us," said Mike Ryan, "that wouldn't have no one else but the doc. If he walks down the block, there's always someone stopping him to consult him about a pain in the back or a sore head, or a baby that can't keep its food down." This speech sent a rustle of appreciation through the courtroom.

"He's worked up a good practice among you and your people?" asked Channing.

"He's good," said Mike Ryan, "but he can't make money out of us. For the doc wouldn't charge a friend a penny, and where I live we're all his friends." {Kildare Text}

The courtroom chuckled. Kildare blessed Mike in his heart. It was the most telling evidence on his side so far. Channing, satisfied, turned Ryan over to Clinton.

"Where did you first meet Doctor Kildare?" asked Clinton.

"In my place of business."

"What is your business?"

"I'm a bartender," said Mike.

The jury grinned.

"And Doctor Kildare often dropped in?"

"When he was off duty. Yes."

"Was he always in civilian clothes or usually in hospital whites?"

"Usually in the hospital whites."

"Then how could you tell whether he was on or off duty?"

Mike, seeing how he had been trapped, scowled grimly and made no retort. Clinton dismissed him from the stand with his testimony smudged. In another moment Mary Lamont was being sworn in.

Channing kept Mary Lamont's testimony to one point: Estelle Courcy's appearance at the time of the accident.

Mary said in her quiet voice, "I've had to see a good many people die. I thought Miss Courcy was dying under my eyes."

That was an excellent point for Kildare, of course. Then Clinton took her in hand.

He said, "What were the symptoms?"

"She was very pale, a leaden grey," said Mary Lamont, "and she was perspiring a good deal. She had a rapid, shallow respiration."

"Have you ever seen any cases of shock?" snapped Clinton.

"Yes."

"Did they look as Miss Courcy looked at that moment?"

"Somewhat—perhaps."

"Could you then be sure that her appearance was due to actual internal injuries received rather than to the shock of the accident?"

"Shock," Mary stated, "would be dependent on injury of some sort."

"Are you engaged to be married to Doctor Kildare?" asked Clinton.

"I am," said the girl.

This admission caused a stir through the courtroom; it also erased all the weight of her testimony. Even the judge shrugged his shoulders a little, as though he wondered why Channing had brought such a witness into court.

On the heels of this, Kildare himself was called to the stand. He felt the jury judging him as he crossed the floor. They sat back, as it were, and folded their arms while they considered him, and their consideration was far from favourable. It came to him that all men have in themselves the capacity to be criminal, prosecutor, defending counsel, juror, and judge, and that human truth can be discovered only by the will of the majority. That was why the judge was not entrusted with the decision, but twelve men and women utterly unversed in all laws except those of common living, and that untarnished sense of right and wrong which belongs to every man. Considering what humanity is, it seemed absurd that twelve human beings ever could agree about anything, and yet he knew, as he faced the twelve in the jury box, that at the moment their judgment was unanimous. No matter how Channing had shaken them here and there, they saw in Kildare a guilty man. He felt their verdict like the sound of the jail door closing on him again. And the vision of his life as a doctor disappeared like dead leaves whipped from a tree, leaving it naked as winter.


CHAPTER TEN

HE rallied himself. He had had to steady his nerves many times before this. At many a bedside, where the difference between hope and despair would be the difference between life and death, he had been able to smile and seem calmly assured. Now it was his own case, and his behaviour might mean the life or the death of his career.

He dismissed from his mind the faces of his friends—Mary Lamont, Gillespie nodding encouragement, and little Tommy sitting on the edge of his chair. They did not matter now. What counted was the impression he made upon the unfriendliness of that courtroom.

He made himself look calmly around. Then he repeated the formula. The last part of it came back again through his mind like an echo. "The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." He had heard other people say those words, but there was little taste in the sound of them until he came to speak them with his own tongue. At once they became a formidable command, a part of his conscience, like the oath of Hippocrates.

Then Channing was at work on him. This was the witness, his manner told the Court, who would beat Clinton for him. He put his questions tensely. He got Kildare quickly through the first stages of the accident, and to the condition of Tommy Long.

"He lay in a crumpled position. Blood flowed over his face from a gash on the forehead."

"Was that significant to you?"

"It was. From the manner in which he lay, I was afraid he was dead. But of course the dead do not bleed."

"How did you proceed?"

"I asked him to straighten his legs. He could not. I suspected an injury to the spinal column. When I scratched him on the breast with a fingernail there was no reaction until I touched him almost at the base of the throat. He was paralysed nearly to that point."

"How did you proceed and for what reason?"

"There was nothing to do for him until an ambulance came. All that was necessary was to see that he was not moved. I intended to sew up the cut on his forehead, but it seemed best to look first at the other victim of the accident."

"In what condition did you find her?" asked Channing.

"I thought she was dying," said Kildare. "She had the look. She had the quick, gasping breath, very shallow. Her pulse was racing, thready."

"Explain 'thready' please."

"Fading out, growing thin, as the fluttering contractions of the heart drive a very small stream of blood through the arteries. The rate was a hundred and fifty or sixty. I suspected internal haemorrhage. In addition, she was screaming loudly."

Estelle Courcy, listening intently, straightened in her chair.

"Did this have any special meaning to you?" asked Channing.

Kildare heard his own calm voice answering: "Every effort to scream meant a contraction of the muscles which would probably increase the rate of bleeding. To supply a counter-irritant and to occupy her mind, I slapped her face hard."

He heard a slight gasp throughout the courtroom at his last words.

"Is that a common procedure, Doctor Kildare?" asked Channing.

"No," he answered. "But sometimes it is useful. I've slapped a baby and brought it out of approaching convulsions. In the case of Miss Courcy, I thought it would be better to have her angry than to have her frightened."

An expression of relief passed over Channing's face. The tension of the jury, Kildare was aware, had relaxed a little. He knew that he had passed one of the great hurdles in this trial.

"You continued your examination in what manner?" asked Channing.

"I found an abrasion on the side. I tapped it, and it was clear that the abdomen was filling. I suspected a ruptured spleen as the cause of the bleeding. I told Miss Courcy that I intended to operate at once. She protested that she did not wish to die like a dog in the gutter. The policeman also intervened."

"And what did you do? How did you answer these protests?"

"I told the policeman to be still. It was not necessary to answer Miss Courcy. She was fainting and, I felt, about to die. I asked the policeman—or ordered him—to keep the crowd back. I could not be interrupted at that moment."

"Do you not know the law, Doctor Kildare—that you must not operate without the permission of your patient?"

"I know the law. This was an emergency. The patient was suffering from shock. At the moment I did not consider her sane and competent, but hysterical."

Again he could feel the relaxation, all over the courtroom.

Channing took a deep breath of relief before he continued. "You did, however, permit yourself to be interrupted?"

"Only because I saw Tommy's brother catching him by the shoulders. It would probably mean incurable paralysis for life if the boy were moved except with great care. I ran to jerk Bill Long away from his brother. I believe Bill fell on the street."

"With blood flying over his face?" asked Channing "He already had a shallow cut across the scalp," said Kildare. "By the manner of its bleeding, I suspected it was only a deep scratch. My only purpose was to keep Bill away from the boy."

"Would you have used even stronger measures if you had thought them necessary? Would you, let us say, have knocked him down with your fist?"

Kildare opened his eyes. "Oh, naturally," he said.

The judge grinned and Kildare knew another milepost had been passed.

"What did you do next?" asked Channing.

"I hurried back to Miss Courcy. She was still protesting, but losing consciousness. Luckily, I had an obstetrical kit with sterilised sheets. They would minimise the unsanitary conditions a little. I put Miss Courcy on the sheets with the help of a policeman."

"The officer who testified in court today?"

Kildare passed a hand over his forehead and tried to remember. "I'm afraid I could identify no one except the three people who were injured in the accident," he said.

This simple remark seemed to tell heavily in his favour. Even the judge seemed to be impressed.

"Continue," said Channing, with a rising note of triumph in his voice.

"There was a bad compound fracture of the leg," said Kildare. "Naturally, it meant nothing to me compared with the internal bleeding. I put it in the quickest splint I could devise at the moment."

"You gave a lick and a promise?" asked Channing.

"Yes."

"You felt that you were racing against time?" insisted Channing.

There were objections from Clinton, but the effect had been produced, and again it was telling heavily. Kind eyes began to look upon Kildare from all sides.

Estelle Courcy, sensing the change in atmosphere, was flushed with anger.

"At that moment," said Channing, "how long did you feel Miss Courcy might live?"

"Two minutes—three minutes, perhaps," said Kildare, and there was a deep, quick murmur of response from a hundred throats.

The reporters began to lose interest, for unless the case resulted in a conviction, it would get only a paragraph on an inside page. A conviction would mean a front-page spread with pictures.

"Proceed, please," said Channing. "When you operated, did you or did you not find that the spleen was ruptured?"

"I found it ruptured, and I put three clamps on the pedicle which attaches the organ and through which the blood flows into it. I cut between the first and second clamps and tied below the second and third. I then closed the wound as rapidly as possible. The ambulance had arrived, and it was necessary to see that the boy with the fractured spine was properly handled when he was removed to the hospital."

"One more thing, Doctor Kildare. Is the spleen an organ necessary to the preservation of health?"

"So far as medicine knows, it is of no value." Aside from Clinton and Estelle Courcy, there was not a hostile face in the courtroom now.

"When Miss Courcy was brought to the hospital, what attention was given to her leg? Were you satisfied with its condition?"

"It was placed in a splint, and traction was applied. No, I was not satisfied with its condition."

"Why did you not do something to remedy it, then?" demanded Channing, almost harshly.

"Because," said Kildare, "it was impossible to operate on the leg without giving her a general anaesthetic, and that would have been fatal in her condition."

"She was greatly weakened?"

"She required repeated blood transfusions. For more than a day I scarcely left her room."

"You mean that you remained in her room watching every breath she drew?"

"It was necessary," said Kildare, frowning at the sentimentality behind the lawyer's suggestion.

Channing turned to Clinton with a smile, to let him take the witness. But there seemed, at that moment, no doubt as to the final result. Kildare felt in the very marrow of his bones that he was a free man.

Clinton, taking over the examination, was as casual as Channing had been tense. He said, "We come to the conclusion that, however it happened, Miss Courcy is left with a permanently injured leg which destroys her entire mode of livelihood. Doctor Kildare, you or someone else told us that the leg can be patched up, made fairly good again, instead of a horrible distortion."

Kildare said, "It is an operative case."

"You mean that an operation can assure her of a leg as straight and well modelled as it was before?" Kildare was thoughtful. At last he said, "The first operation might not be successful. There might have to be two or three."

"What would the procedure be?" asked Clinton. "I suppose bone would be taken from the other shin and grafted into the damaged leg bones."

"In other words," said Clinton, looking at the jury, "it's a little operation in which bone is taken from one leg and used on the other?"

"Yes," said Kildare.

"And you say there might be two or three of these operations?"

"It is possible," said Kildare.

He dared not look at Channing or Gillespie or Mary Lamont. But the bell in his brain was ringing out: "The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!"

"And each operation would place Miss Courcy under an anaesthetic, give her the shock of the operation, and perhaps keep her in the hospital for weeks or months?" Clinton persisted.

"That is true," said Kildare.

"And her nerves, her spirit, are not supposed to fail under a strain of this nature?"

Channing objected and was upheld, but again Clinton had scored his point. "If it had been at all safe to take Miss Courcy to the hospital and operate on the leg at once, I dare say everything would be well with her now, Doctor Kildare?"

"I am sure it would," said Kildare.

"But the delay caused the bones to set wrong?"

"I believe that is the trouble."

"If there had been in your estimation a little more time the operation on the leg and the operation on the ruptured spleen could both have been performed?"

"Yes," said Kildare.

Clinton said, in a confidential tone, "Doctor Kildare, when you were in the midst of the operation and discovered the exact condition of the spleen, would you say under oath that there might not have been time to take Miss Courcy to the hospital and perform both operations?"

Channing came in with an objection, but he was overruled. This and Kildare's hesitancy focused attention on a critical point.

Clinton said, "I'll repeat the question in a different way, later on. Let's approach this from another angle. You felt that Miss Courcy was dying—that she had only two or three minutes to live?"

"That was what I felt," said Kildare.

"Rapid, shallow breathing, a bad colour and a pulse of—what did you say?"

"A hundred and fifty or sixty."

"But accurately, which was it—a hundred and fifty or a hundred and sixty?"

"I can't say."

"You can't say?" asked Clinton, showing surprise. "You mean at this critical moment you didn't take an accurate count of the pulse?"

"There was no time for it," said Kildare. "The general rate was what counted and the character of the pulse, not how fast it was beating."

But he felt that he had lost ground suddenly. Clinton walked up and down a few steps, shaking his head as though he could not recover from his astonishment. "On this quick—shall I call it surmise?—you proceeded to a major operation in the street, Doctor Kildare?"

"Yes," said Kildare.

"Such things as listening to the heart with a stethoscope or taking the blood pressure—you did none of these things?"

"No," said Kildare.

"You may explain that answer," instructed Channing.

"I don't need to," said Kildare. "It's the truth."

"You can explain," said Channing, "that her condition was apparent without the use of instruments which—"

Clinton said, interrupting, "Perhaps my learned colleague does not realise that he has finished examining this witness!"

Channing did not protest. He sat down slowly. Kildare's whole body began to grow cold.

"But let's return to another matter," said Clinton. "When you actually were in the midst of the operation, were you certain that it would have been impossible to take time to carry Miss Courcy to the hospital to perform the operation?"

Kildare was silent, yet he knew that every instant of silence was counting against him. It was a question for which they had prepared him—Gillespie, Carew, and above all, Channing. Mary Lamont had pleaded with him about it.

Clinton snapped his fingers. "Let's get down to details," he said. "In describing an operative case, I dare say few laymen will be impressed by anything except life and blood in danger of being spent. However, although we are men off the street, I shall ask this doctor to describe to us exactly what condition he found in Miss Courcy and how he treated it from the first incision to the last stitch. Doctor Kildare, will you kindly comply?"

Kildare dared not look left or right. He could feel the eyes of Gillespie and Mary Lamont fixed upon him. His whole future looked him in the face.

He put back his head. Over yonder was Estelle Courcy, who had winked at him with the sympathy of a good fighter—in there to win the bout if possible. At least, he thought, she was a human being. Human beings who don't know medical details at least have human rights.

He found himself saying, "I'm afraid I don't remember the details."

He dared not look at anyone except his questioner. He saw Clinton stare at him, first with incredulity, then with amusement. A cold triumph followed, and Kildare knew that he was ruined.

Stillness extended through the courtroom. In it, he felt the despairing eyes of Gillespie and Mary Lamont.

But what he chiefly was aware of was a change in Clinton—a dazzled look as of one who has found gold but will not believe it. He stared at Kildare. There was something like awe in his eyes.

"My friend," he said, "every move of every classic operation must be known to every competent surgeon. I ask you again. Do you choose to remember the details of this operation?"

Kildare heard himself answering, "I do not choose to remember."

He knew that in that brief answer he had destroyed himself. He had destroyed Mary Lamont's hopes, and Gillespie's.

Clinton said gently, "I believe that is all."


CHAPTER ELEVEN

KILDARE left the witness chair and went back to his place at the defence table.

"You've done it," murmured Channing, rising. He added to the judge, "We have one more witness to present. Doctor Gillespie, will you take the stand?"

Gillespie said, "I can't climb that high. I can swear just as loud from this wheel-chair."

"May we have the permission of the Court?" asked Channing.

"He may be placed in front of the witness stand," ruled the Court.

Conover wheeled Gillespie's chair to that position and retired.

"You have been practising medicine for some time, Doctor Gillespie?" asked Channing.

"About half a century," said Gillespie.

"In the course of those years," said Channing, "you perhaps have learned how to estimate the soundness of other physicians?"

"I can make a guess, now and then."

"In the case of Doctor Kildare, you have had an opportunity to make a careful estimate?"

"For over a year I've worked with him day and night."

"You consider him a careless and unsound doctor?"

"I do not," said Gillespie.

"In such a matter as a ruptured spleen, is it possible that a patient might bleed to death in a few minutes?"

"More than possible."

"Do you feel that Doctor Kildare could have made a wrong decision, knowing as you do—"

Clinton objected. The judge sustained him. Gillespie's opinions were not important, except as they pertained to Kildare's character.

Wearily, Channing turned the witness over to Clinton, as if he felt that it was useless to strike further blows for a man who chooses to cut his own throat.

"I shall ask you only one question, doctor," said Clinton. "When you saw the condition of Miss Courcy's fractured leg, after she had arrived at the hospital, what was your expressed opinion about the care she had received?"

"I said it was a damned bad job," said Gillespie.

"That is all," said Clinton, and he turned away.

There was a stir among the twelve in the jury box, as if they were ready to leave even though they still had to listen to the final pleas.

"You may leave the witness stand, doctor," said the judge.

"Got not the slightest idea in the world of budging from here," said Gillespie.

"Sir?" said the judge, lifting his brows.

"I'm not budging," said Gillespie, "until I have a chance to talk like a doctor, not like a damned croaking toad."

"Bailiff, please!" cried the judge, indicating that Gillespie should be removed from the centre of the courtroom.

"Don't try to run me out of this court," said Gillespie. "Your Honour, I'm an old man and you're an old man, and you know confounded well I can't recite a piece when teachers like those two frauds ask me questions. I want to talk my own way."

"There is a law in the land that deals with witnesses, Doctor Gillespie," said the judge.

"If you were stretched out on an operating table, there'd be a law in the land that would put your life in my hands," said Gillespie. "Damn the law of the land! Kildare may have had legal justice here today, but he hasn't had medical or human justice, not by a long way!"

"What do you expect me to do, Doctor Gillespie?" asked the judge growing red with anger.

"I've spent fifty years in a hospital listening to people—mostly fools—talk about themselves. Now, maybe I'm an old fool, but I want a chance to do some talking myself. You don't really know anything about this case yet. You don't know a damned thing, and I want to tell you in my own words."

Clinton said, "If I may make a suggestion to the Court?"

"Well?" said the judge.

Channing slumped wearily in his chair, seemed to pay no attention to anything that was happening.

"The testimony has been completed," said Clinton, "and this witness has been examined and cross-examined."

"Maybe," said the judge. "But this is my room, and I do as I please in it to get at the facts. Keep to facts, Doctor Gillespie, and talk as long as you please—unless you put me to sleep."

"I won't let you sleep," said Gillespie. "I'm going to begin by telling you that the fifty years I spent practising medicine were not spent asleep. I'm a damned good doctor, Your Honour. I had gifts to begin with, and I've spent fifty years improving what God gave me."

There was general laughter. The judge rapped, not too sternly, for order. He nodded to Gillespie to continue.

"Just keep yourself within bounds," said the judge. "After all, we have a limited time. I don't doubt that you're a competent physician."

"Physician be hanged!" cried Gillespie. "I'm a diagnostician. That means I've had to train myself to have an X-ray eye. To see people and to see through them. For instance," continued Gillespie, pointing, "that fat man in the second row of the jury box is a stubborn fellow—a damned stubborn fellow."

"Come, come, doctor!" said the judge.

The fat man stared, his colour rapidly heightening.

"You are, brother," insisted Gillespie. "You're confoundedly stubborn. You're so stubborn that when your doctor wanted to operate on you for exophthalmic goitre, you wouldn't have the knife. He argued. You held out, and that's why you have popeyes today. You made him wait too long!"

"We can't permit these personalities," said the judge, tapping his desk with his gavel to stop the laughter. "If you have anything to say concerning this case—"

"Nonsense!" said Gillespie. "Ask the man if that's why he has popeyes."

"It is," said the juror, and he stared at Gillespie, agape.

"I just want to show you what a diagnostician has to be and do," said Gillespie. "I won't be modest. There's that woman in the front row with the dreamy look and the sweet smile. She's a little deaf, Your Honour, but she wears a hearing aid behind her ear, so she hears very well. Don't you, madam?"

There was more laughter.

"I didn't know it could be seen," she said.

"It can't be seen," said Gillespie, "except by people who know what to look for. And thank the good God you're not fool enough to refuse the gifts science makes to help you. It was scarlet fever, wasn't it?"

"Yes," she agreed.

The courtroom began to hang upon Gillespie's words.

"Our other stout friend in the back row, just now popping some candy into his mouth—he should watch his diet a little more. Not because of the fat, but because of the overdose of insulin he has to take. Is that right, friend?"

The fat man in the back row laughed, and the judge laughed, too.

"And as for you, Your Honour," said Gillespie, "you should go in for golf a little less. Arthritis doesn't like too much exercise, and rubbing won't take the soreness out of that finger joint. Try swimming. Swimming will give you enough of a workout."

The judge was astonished. "Do you know my doctor?" he asked.

"I haven't the faintest idea who he is," said Gillespie, "but you ought to see him more often."

"I shall," said the judge, and then he drew up straighter in his chair. "Continue, doctor, if you please. I believe you are a diagnostician—or the devil!"

"The point I want to make," said Gillespie, "is that a man can't learn to be a diagnostician. He has to be born one. He has to have the eye for it; and then he has to work day and night for twenty years. After that, he may be a diagnostician. I want to tell you that after you've worked for forty or fifty years, you've picked up a lot of tricks of the trade. And you have a portrait gallery of a million faces, a million bodies labelled with diseases. A million faces have looked at me and I've looked at them and I've learned something from every one."

"A million, doctor?" asked the judge.

"Fifty people or a hundred people nearly every day of my life for fifty years. Not a million. Make it two million. And after nearly half a century, I found myself looking around for someone into whose hands I could pour what I'd learned. Men want children so that they can pass on their names and their money. I wanted not a child, but a brain to which I could give what I had gained. But it wasn't easy to find the right man. I searched for ten years. At last I found him. I found a stubborn fellow. No manners. The first time he saw me he told me what was wrong with me! He had the eye. He saw through the flesh like an X- ray. I found that he could work night and day, and that what he learned, he held on to like a bulldog. We began to work together. And he has never failed me from that day to this. Now, I ask you if you're trying to take him away from me. He's sitting there. He's young Doctor Kildare!"

The shock of the name, at the end of those words, made everything else in the trial a little dim.

"Maybe I can wring your heart a bit about him," continued Gillespie. "That fellow Clinton was making out through Carew that Kildare has been a trouble-maker in the hospital. Of course he made trouble. Honesty is worse than a splinter under your fingernail, sometimes. But every time Kildare held out against general opinion, he was right. Not always legally right. He's taken care of a gunshot wound without reporting it to the police, for instance. And what the whole hospital called insanity, he called hysteria, and he gained and held the confidence of a young girl until he'd proved his point.

"He's been legally wrong, but he's never been wrong from the viewpoint of sound medicine or God Almighty. And what he is, I've helped to make. Your Honour, you look as though you have children and grandchildren, but Kildare is my only gift to the world after my death. And now I want to tell you about the case in hand."

Reporters were making notes in desperate haste. No such witness had ever sat in a court of law before. History—and news—was in the making.

"We'll start at the point where Kildare inches Tommy Long on to a sheet, out there in the street, out there where Mr. Clinton implies that my boy was trying to get notoriety, so that he could make a living. Why, confound it, he's turned down a job of a thousand a month and postponed his marriage so that he could carry on as my assistant—at a hundred a month! But to go on to Tommy. There the boy lay, and if he'd been moved wrongly, do you know what would have happened? The least tug by inexpert hands would have made that youngster a cripple for life. But Kildare was so rough and tough that nobody dared to move that boy, and the result is that Tommy is sitting there as gay as you please. Aren't you, Tommy?"

"Yes, sir," said Tommy's thin childish voice.

The courtroom laughed.

"I don't need to point out to the Court that this is extremely irregular," said Clinton.

"This is an irregular scene because here's an irregular witness and I'm an irregular judge," said His Honour. "Please continue, doctor."

"Let's step forward to the hospital," said Gillespie, "and have a look at this hard-hearted, casual young doctor, who doesn't give a rap for anything except newspaper publicity. He's sitting all night beside Estelle Courcy, taking her pulse, listening to her heart, getting her blood pressure, ordering transfusions. And when he gets away from her for a moment, it's to go down to Tommy, who lies in bed thinking he's crippled for life. And he lies to Tommy and starts him hoping once more. For the loss of faith and hope can kill us, my friends. It can kill us as surely as knives and guns.

"Since he can't spend all his time with the boy, this brutal young Kildare does the next best thing. He goes to the girl who's going to marry him. He goes to Mary Lamont, yonder, the gal Clinton didn't like because she was prejudiced in favour of Kildare. She was so prejudiced in favour of this young brute, you people on the jury, that at his request she spent more than three days and nights with Tommy, keeping up his courage, amusing him, singing to him, talking to him, telling him stories until her brain reeled, and finally—what happened, Tommy?"

"I could move it. I could move my hand!" shrilled Tommy. He held up his hand and moved it.

The whole courtroom took a deep breath. Clinton stared in despair at the ceiling. Channing had come to life. He looked at Gillespie as a lost sinner might look at a blessed saint.

"Now we come to the time when I saw Estelle Courcy and looked at the splint on her leg, and without knowing anything else about the case, I said that the doctor who had taken care of that leg was a scoundrel. I didn't know she'd been operated on for a ruptured spleen. But I spoke hasty words, like the old fool that I am, and those words have been fired at my boy in this courtroom. They were repeated to Miss Courcy, and she flung out of the hospital in a rage.

"When that happened, we knew there might be trouble ahead. I talked to Kildare. So did Carew. And we made the horrible discovery that he was not going to qualify the truth when he talked about this case. We didn't want him to lie. We merely wanted to have him put his best foot forward. We tried to shake him.

"A time came when the best brains in the hospital were conniving and contriving. If we lost his case with Miss Courcy, there would be a great suit against the hospital. Hang the money it would cost, but the reputation of the hospital would be shaken to the roots. Do you see? We pointed that out to him—and that it would be the end of all the great work he and I had been doing; and that it would break the heart of the girl he loved; and that Kildare himself would go to jail, with never another chance in the world of carrying on the work he wanted to do. And all he had to say, when questioned, was that Estelle Courcy would have had no chance for her life unless an instant operation was performed on her.

"The infernal truth was that he would not make that positive statement. Kildare knew then that the case was apt to go to the devil, and himself and the hospital along with it. Why wouldn't he be human? Because he'd been taught to be a diagnostician, and when that diagnostician's eye fell on that girl during the operation, he knew there was a chance that she could have been moved safely. Mark you, I'm not telling you yet what chance.

"No other doctor would have operated in the street. Any other doctor would have preferred to see the patient die in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Ever read that in the papers? 'The patient died on the way to the hospital?' Well, you'll read it again, too. But Kildare isn't like other doctors. He isn't simply against disease and death—he's at war with it. He hates the filthy sight and sound of it. He fights it with a sword.

"So, as Kildare knelt there in the street, he took Estelle Courcy's pulse. It was fast and fluttering. Mr. Clinton is surprised that he didn't pause to get the accurate beat. But Mr. Clinton, there was no regular beat, any more than there's a regular beat when rain rattles on the window, with winter outside. So he felt the fluttering of that pulse, and he knew what sort of winter was outside for the girl—a cold winter, my friend: cold death itself.

"She was dying, I tell you, and if any other man had been there, she would in fact have been as good as dead. But Kildare fights. He doesn't know what it is to be scared into defeat. He went to her in the open street, with the germs in billions in the air around him. She had a badly broken leg. But what did the germs, what did a broken leg mean to Kildare compared with death?

"They say he slashed her open like a watermelon. And I see the picture of a master surgeon with his hands flying, clamping off bleeding blood vessels, cutting swiftly down to the root of the trouble.

"It's a forbidden operation. The girl has legally forbidden it. The policeman has reinforced the point of law. It is true. Kildare had no legal right except to let her die. He preferred to be legally wrong and medically right, God bless him! For to him, from that unconscious body, a message was coming. An alarm was ringing in his brain, and every stroke was growing fainter and fainter. The sick heart of that girl was not finding the blood which is life to pump out through the arteries. In the veins it was congealing. She was sagging. And then those quick hands of his were at the seat of the trouble. And he found—what?"

Gillespie paused. He glared at the jury and then at the judge. And the courtroom watched and listened breathlessly. The reporters forgot their notes.

"He found," thundered Gillespie, "that there had been a chance to get her back to the hospital and perform the double operation. Yes, yes, there had been a chance—there had been one chance in ten, one chance in fifteen, one chance in twenty, that she would not have died on the way. And a doubt comes into his mind—the most honest mind in the world; so honest that love, friendship, a career, could not make him speak the mere shadow of a lie. A doubt enters the mind of this brave fellow, and he asks himself if he has done the right thing; he wonders—just a little. But put him in the same place again, in spite of all he's endured here, and you would find him once more acting as he acted this time—according to his best judgment.

"It is true that the girl's leg is deformed. She needs another operation. We're sorry about that. We'll perform the operation without cost to her, but we're sorry that she has pain to endure and inconvenience, whereas she might be a tidy corpse in a grave that already would be fairly green, considering this rainy weather we've been having.

"Perhaps, by some miracle, everything might have been saved. If there had been divine insight, perhaps that tenth, that twentieth chance might have been taken, and safely. But there is only one perfect Healer. Doctor Kildare gave Estelle Courcy her life; but he left her with a blemish. And now, it seems, you are about to make him pay."

Gillespie, having finished, stared about the courtroom, but there was no chance for either judge or lawyers to speak, for Estelle Courcy, jumping out of her chair with amazing agility, stretched out her hands to the court, saying, "No! No! No!"

Even Clinton saw the handwriting on the wall. There was no use persisting after his client had made that demonstration, and particularly after she hurried to the defence table—without the least need of support—and begged Kildare to forgive her.

The judge almost shattered his desk before he could restore order and hear Clinton's voice requesting that the case be dismissed.

It was dismissed, and Clinton walked beside Gillespie's chair as the old man was wheeled out of the courtyard, with Mary Lamont and Tommy on one side of him, and Kildare on the other.

"You performed a fine operation today, sir," said Clinton.

"I? I?" repeated Gillespie. "What the devil are you talking about?"

"An operation on my brain," said Clinton. "You've removed an old grievance."

"Why, my boy," said Gillespie, "there's a lot of truth in what you feel. There are doctors in the world who are scoundrels and fakers. But among the decent fellows, there are not actually many who arefools. They have to know too much before they get permission to practise."

"But I begin to see another thing," said Clinton. "If I'd won today, the decision of the Court might have come up like a ghost before every doctor who found himself, like Kildare, in a pinch, an emergency. He might decide not to take a chance that would imperil his whole future. And, after all, the law reads that a man must not be penalised if he has worked to the best of his judgment."

"I know only one thing," said Gillespie, "and that is that you're a tough fellow. When the law catches up with me and my rascalities, I'm going to send for you." Doctor Gillespie was ladled into the car with Kildare and Mary Lamont.

He said, "Stop holding hands."

"Yes, sir," said Mary Lamont.

"Now, you jackass," said Gillespie, "what did you find wrong with Estelle Courcy?"

Kildare looked over his shoulder.

"What was it, Jimmy?" asked Mary, pulling at his sleeve.

Still Kildare did not speak.

"To be true to the infernal oath of Hippocrates," said Gillespie, "I can understand. To go out of your stupid way in order to serve some poor devil in pain—I can understand that, also. But when the entire hospital, poor Carew, and me—damn you, Jimmy, you preferred to break my confounded heart and kick my teeth down my throat, rather than chuck overboard the health and wealth of a hard-fisted, hard-headed, hard-hearted little vixen who'll never get into heaven except in a thunder storm. Admit that that's the truth about her."

"It won't be true any longer," mused Kildare.

"Hang the future," said Gillespie. "How could you tell what she would be in the future. Admitting she became human before the trial was over, what made you think she was worth a rap in the beginning, when she was pointing the gun at all our heads?"

Kildare became thoughtful.

"Answer me!" roared Gillespie.

"I found a man who loved her a great deal," said Kildare.

"You found what?" shouted Gillespie.

"You know how it is, sir?" asked Kildare. "Most men in love are like homesick calves. They go mooning around."

"What the devil has that to do with her?" demanded Gillespie.

"That fellow was different," said Kildare. He shook his head, remembering. "I don't think he's a very important man, but he loved Estelle Courcy in a very rare way."

"The damnedest stuff and nonsense I ever heard in my life," said Gillespie.

"No, sir, if you had seen him for one minute, you would have felt the same way about him. There aren't many things a man will die for. Patriotism with brass bands. Men will die for that. But this fellow didn't need a brass band or any glory. He needed Estelle just as much as he needed air for breathing."

"So for the sake of this nameless, unimportant, worthless stranger—" began Gillespie.

His anger ran him out of breath.

"He's not a stranger to me any more," said Kildare. "He's something worth remembering. The thought of him is going to stop me and make me take more pains."

"Over the unknowns, Jimmy?" asked Gillespie, suddenly grown gentle.

"Yes, sir," said Kildare.

"But just tell me, young man," said Gillespie, "what there was in that operation that you couldn't talk about. What was there that made you shut your silly mouth and lock your jaws, while the hospital, and that old fool of a Gillespie, and Mary Lamont, and everything else went to the devil?"

"Well, sir, before I'd finished working on the ruptured spleen, I found a mass in the pancreas—"

"Wait a minute, Jimmy."

"Yes, sir, a sarcoma, I suspected it to be."

"Cancer? At her age?" cried Gillespie.

"Yes, sir. I suspected it to be sarcoma. Of course cancer isn't normally present in such a young woman, but I was afraid that it was present in the pancreas. It was rather a bad moment. I only had a few seconds to make up my mind about it."

"Great thundering Moses!" said Gillespie.

"There were no signs that it was spreading," said Kildare. "The lymph glands were normal to the touch. There was no hardening. Like a cyst, that sarcoma seemed to be walled away from the rest of the body. Of course some day before long it would flare up and there'd be a quick end to her. Should I close the incision and let nature take its course? Would I have the nerve to keep my mouth shut afterwards and let her go ahead with her marriage?"

"A perfectly horrible position!" cried Gillespie. "So I decided that I'd go ahead and take it out, and I did. I was glad. It was very securely walled off. I felt in my bones, as I cut it out, that it wouldn't recur, that it hadn't spread. I felt that all the roots were coming away and that from that moment forward she'd be as sound as any other woman. So I was pretty happy about it."

"Yes, yes! God knows—yes!" said Gillespie. "But my dear boy, weren't you tempted afterwards to tell her one word of the truth and shut her mouth when she was hounding us all down?"

"You know how people are about such things," said Kildare. "If there were a whisper about cancer, she couldn't have married her man without feeling that there was a gun at her head. I kept seeing the look he'd have when he heard. There would have been a marriage just the same, I suppose, but every day of it would have been hell. Probably she wouldn't have dared to have a child. Somehow I kept thinking about that. That was what helped me to be silent. But it was very hard, sir."

"Confound you, it should have been impossible!"

"You made it very hard, sir," agreed Kildare, with a sigh. "You and Mary, and the whole hospital, in fact."

"Do you realise," thundered Gillespie, "that except for the lucky turn in the courtroom today, you would have been a wrecked man, your marriage impossible, your career ended, alone in the world to the end of time?"

Kildare passed a hand over his face. "I thought of those things. I seemed to breathe them instead of air."

"Ah, God bless you, Jimmy!" said Gillespie.

Kildare raised Mary's hand to his lips.

"Are you trying to be seventeenth century, or what?" asked Gillespie.

"No, sir," said Mary Lamont.

She began to laugh, looking at Kildare.

"Well, here's the hospital," said Gillespie. "Let me out here, and you two go on." He was helped from the cab.

Rain was bringing on a false twilight as Kildare drove away from the hospital with Mary Lamont.

She said at last, "It was terribly close!"

"Terribly," said Kildare gravely.

"Has it taught you something?"

"About the need of a few white lies now and then?"

"Yes."

"Do you want me to learn that sort of thing?" Mary had to think. After a while she smiled. "No," she said. "After all, I suppose you're meant for war, so there'll always be fighting."


THE END