The New Patient in Bed Eleven

Dr. MacArthur flapped the yellow telegram helplessly and wondered how to
face them. Through some pull or other they had made the mail plane from
New York and would be in his office in fifteen minutes.

Two men and a woman. Three detectives; and he had never faced a
detective in his life. How did a man treat detectives? Must one defer,
or order?

Probably Harrison would know. A urologist had every profession in his
grip sooner or later. He reached for the telephone. Dr. Harrison laughed
at the question. It was the first time he had laughed since entering the
hospital that morning, learning of Rose Standish’s death and realizing
that Bear Sterling’s was only a matter of sixty or seventy hours.

“You are tired, aren’t you, Mac? Give ’em some infant feeding and a dose
of paregoric once around! Buck up, old man! I suggest you tell the
truth, the whole truth, and let them create their own suspicions.

“Remember they were hand-picked by the Rockefeller Foundation. They are
intelligent. Newspaper reporters grown up … and you’re a whiz with
newspaper reporters. Call me if you need me. ’By!”

Dr. MacArthur was reassured. Like an oak, Harrison! Tried, staunch and

His secretary entered and said, “Two men and a woman to see you, sir.”

“Show them in, please.”

The two men were carrying handbags and overcoats. The first was tall and
dignified. He had a long square body. Everything about him was muscular,
under perfect control and heavy-set. His eyes, suit, overcoat, and hair
were gray. His teeth were strong and even. His eyes showed the same
steely calm that Bear Sterling’s had. Judgmatical. The enemy was death;
the man you were after, or yours. So far he had been lucky, and he had a
lucky man’s nonchalance.

“Dr. MacArthur? Matthew Higgins is my name.”

His voice was deep and buoyant.

His handclasp was like a vice. It steadied Dr. MacArthur like a cup of
strong coffee.

The voice continued:

“Mr. Smooty, Dr. MacArthur.”

Smooty was slight. His body and face were completely relaxed and pastel.
Green eyes melted into mild cheeks. He had the utter inactivity and
extreme alertness of a clown and the fading quality of a chameleon.

His grip was like that of a contortionist. One had to find it.

His voice was colorless.

“Delighted to know you, Doctor.”

Mr. Higgins turned to the woman and said:

“I beg your pardon, Miss Parkins. I should have introduced you first,
but air-travel leaves me woozy. Miss Parkins, Dr. MacArthur.”

MacArthur was her kind and she sensed it. She stretched her capable hand
and smiled. Their summary was like sun on metal.

One could never lose memory of her physically. She was tall,
square-shouldered, with the long, slender legs of a gracefully tall
woman. Her face was ugly and expressive. The nose was too short, the
mouth too wide, but the flashes were sudden and revealing. They were as
vivid, highly original and occasionally blank as heat lightning. And
massed in with her extreme directness was a wistful, childlike appeal.

Her limpid eyes flashed into life as Dr. MacArthur carefully seated her,
took her coat and motioned the men to chairs.

“A pleasant trip, I hope?”

His voice was old and courteous.

“Very,” the gray man was the spokesman. “This letter,” he drew a thick
envelope from his inside coat pocket and handed it to MacArthur, “we
were instructed, Doctor, to request that you read it immediately upon
our arrival.”

Dr. MacArthur took the letter and carefully tore the flap.

“Thank you,” he said looking up. Then he rose and offered the men and
the woman cigarettes, struck a match and extended it to the woman. He
always offered newspaper reporters cigarettes, and Harrison had said
detectives were….

Miss Parkins smiled, took the match, lighted, and passed it.

Dr. MacArthur returned to his chair and began reading and she said,
“Three on a match. Unlucky!”

Then they were silent. The air was full of estimation. The letter was
long, and evidently from the head of the detective agency. It was
addressed to Dr. MacArthur and said:

“Mr. Higgins has been in our employ about fifteen years and handled
many executive jobs. Your request was for a man capable of
impersonating a well-to-do patient, or a member of the administrative
staff of a distant hospital; a man who may be given full run of the
hospital and thereby an opportunity, we gather, to question, without
creating suspicion, in every department. We have recently had Mr.
Higgins upon a job necessitating the trapping of an embezzler within
one of our largest New York hospitals. He has our complete confidence,
a worldwide experience with people, and an excellent judgment of men.
We have found him especially successful in catching mental criminals,
and from Dr. Bridgman of the Rockefeller, we judge that is your

“Mr. Smooty has long experience in impersonations. He has done
confidence work in Sing-Sing, department stores, and as a hotel
detective; also we have used him in the Pennsylvania Station. His
nondescript appearance is an excellent foil for his capabilities. You
asked for a man who might be placed as a menial.

“He and Mr. Higgins have worked together for many years and are among
the first ranking detectives in America. Mr. Smooty is originally an
Englishman and has also done work for Scotland Yard and in the British

Dr. MacArthur took his handkerchief from his pocket and blew his nose.
This was the first time, to his knowledge, he had ever sat in the
presence of a Scotland Yard man. And as a little boy, next to being a
dogcatcher, to belong to Scotland Yard…. It left him rather awed.
Maybe the woman was a Russian Grand Duchess!

He returned his attention, his eyes had never left it, to the letter and

“Miss Parkins has done international and character work for us for
about five years. She, in our opinion, is capable of any situation
where courage, brains, and mixing abilities are required. Within the
last year we have had her upon one of the big liners between New York
and Cherbourg, on the road with the circus, and living as an immigrant
on the East Side. During the war, she worked for the Government in
Mexico. She, we understand, you desire as a patient on a ward of
medical women. She has an unfortunate, and slight, heart ailment,
which will serve to divert the suspicion of even your staff.

“The terrible delicacy with which the situation must be handled has
occasioned our sending what we consider the three most able people in
New York. Miss Parkins was taken off political work today at the
insistence of Dr. Bridgman, through whom we were contacted, and who
seems to feel that the patient in the ward of medical women is the key
person. All three people were interviewed by and met with the approval
of Dr. Bridgman.

“Our terms, which at his suggestion we state, are $2000.00 per week
and maintenance.

“Awaiting your orders,

“We are….”

Dr. MacArthur carefully folded the letter and decided to take Harrison’s
advice. Two thousand dollars a week … it took brains and plenty of
them to be able to demand that!

The late afternoon sun had left the room. He looked up and discovered
the room was semi-dark, and the three people were sitting motionless.
The door into the corridor was still open; he had been too rattled to
close it when they entered. The measured and constant footfalls of the
thousands of feet had padded into his consciousness so long that he
didn’t sense it, but they must.

He rose, closed the door, turned up the lights and said, as he walked
toward the windows to lower the shades, “Sorry to subject you to all of
that racket. Time for duty changes. Hospitals are noisy places.”

Mr. Higgins had risen and was pulling down the shades, too.

“So is New York, Doctor.”

Dr. MacArthur nodded and returned to his desk. He looked at his wrist
watch and said:

“Miss Parkins, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Smooty, if we are to get Miss Parkins
on Ward B as a patient tonight, my résumé must necessarily be shorter
than I should desire.

“You were sent for because there have been committed in the Elijah
Wilson Hospital within the last week two traceable murders, proved by
autopsy findings, and two deaths … in the same bed. The deaths (we
presume them murders also) preceded the murders. The last person
murdered was a nurse who volunteered to go into the bed in an effort to
solve the mystery.”

Mr. Higgins moved restlessly.

“I know we have been slow in calling you in, Mr. Higgins. But this
decision was only reached after a series of long and irascible
conferences, and frankly I was against it, until the nurse was murdered.

“A hospital, you see … a great hospital … lives, breathes, exists,
as a fountain of hope. It is trusted by _everybody_. For more than forty
years the Elijah Wilson has lived up to that trust. We have received
endowments, and large ones, to add units to our plant for the teaching
of medical students. We were started, have been perpetuated, and are
famous as a great teaching hospital.

“Now a teaching hospital, Miss Parkins, exists upon the fact that it has
more patients than beds. When you have that situation reversed, the
hospital is doomed. D’y’see?”

The three people nodded, and Dr. MacArthur continued:

“If any of you three walked out of this room and gave to the press of
this country the information I have just given you in the last five
minutes, you would automatically ruin the future of every medical man,
resident, student and interne here, the hope of renewed health in a very
large portion of suffering humanity, the years and painstaking labor of
many famous men, now dead, whose lives were given, as bricks are given,
to the building of this hospital’s justified fame.

“It has been upon the complete realization of that grave responsibility
that our hesitation was based. I admit that we were mistaken, but our
situation was so unexpected, so unparalleled, and so terrifying, that we
dared not alter one straw for fear of losing our needle in this great
haystack. There are at least fifteen people who may have been guilty of
this crime. If they suspect…?”

“Have you any suspects, sir?”

“Yes, Mr. Higgins. That was why I finally succumbed to sending for the
best detectives that this country has to offer. My nursing and medical
staffs are beginning to suspect themselves … and each other….”

“I see! I see, Doctor.”

“All four patients were nursed and attended by the same staff members?”

“Yes, Miss Parkins.”

“Then I suggest, in fact, request, sir,” Mr. Higgins intervened, “that
you do not tell us who your suspects are. It will cloud our work. An
open mind and a lack of tradition…. Oh, no. Doctor, … we are
completely aware of that and will guard it, sir, with our lives…. I am
referring to personal tradition with reference to staff members….

“A lack of belief in the honesty of any man we contact because he is
famous, or brilliant, or noted, will be one of the most invaluable
things we can have.

“Now to return to the murders. What do the autopsy findings show,

“That they were committed with the same drug. Coniine, the active
principal of hemlock. Administered hypodermically and in the first case
which took effect in a little over an hour and in the second case within
less than forty minutes. The second dose, that given the nurse was much
larger. Our chief pharmacist has checked the supply sources. We have
never had any coniine in the hospital, and it can be secured from only
three houses in the country. None of them reports recent sales. We have
wired all three.

“Who, qualified to administer a hypodermic, had access to the patients?”
Mr. Higgins’ voice was low and sudden.

Dr. MacArthur’s was clear and calm.

“The entire nursing and medical staff practicing upon that floor.”

Mr. Smooty sat blankly by. Miss Parkins took her second cigarette from
her mouth and asked:

“Are the hypodermics compounded in the pharmacy?”

“No. On the floor. By the nurse on duty, acting only upon prescription
from the attending physician. The medicine closets on the ward … and
every floor of that building … have been searched after each murder.
They reveal nothing.”

“When were the murders discovered?”

“At night, Miss Parkins. After midnight rounds made by the student
nurse. Perhaps I had better give you a full picture. The ward contains
thirty beds, in four rows, each seven being separated by a glass
partition. The two extra beds are in rooms for dying patients. Each ward
has a day white (graduate) nurse, and four student nurses on duty. Their
duty changes as to hours are not important to this case.

“The white nurse goes off duty for the night at seven, and leaves her
instructions with two student nurses who prepare the ward for the night,
and go off duty at nine, when a single student nurse (bringing the total
of student nurses to five) usually a pupil within the last six months of
training, comes on and ‘beds the ward down’ for the night and remains on
duty until seven the following morning. It is her business to give all
night hypodermics and medicines, and make regular rounds upon the
patients to see how they are. On the ward with her is an orderly, who
runs any sudden errands and helps with any manual labor. He usually
remains in the ward-kitchen washing dishes and preparing the breakfast
trays and cleaning the ward corridors, etc. The orderly on this ward has
been there twenty years, and is not capable of any remarkable murder. A
trusted menial. He has been ordered into bed, as a suspected typhoid
carrier, tonight, and it is his position which you are to fill, Mr.

An imperceptible nod was Mr. Smooty’s only acknowledgment.

Dr. MacArthur continued:

“Over the entire building at night there is a night supervisor who makes
floor rounds upon the student nurses in charge and is available in case
they get into difficulties.”

“Where was she during the murders, Doctor?”

“During the first one, in the lavatory, Miss Parkins, and during the
second her telephone did not answer and she was making rounds in the

“I see. The student nurse…?”

“Don’t go into her,” Mr. Higgins ordered. “Take her with an open mind.
You and Smooty tell us about her tomorrow.”

Higgins leaned forward and asked:

“Any way to enter the ward, except by the corridor?”

Dr. MacArthur hesitated a moment; his eyes narrowed suddenly.

“I hadn’t thought of it, sir, but there is. In the rebuilding, the porch
of each floor, upon which the convalescent patients are rolled, is
connected with the porch of the floor below by a narrow concrete
stairway. Wide enough to permit a stretcher, as a matter of fact.
Satisfies fire regulations and does away with fire-escapes.”

Higgins nodded.

MacArthur continued:

“But the door to that porch is always locked at night. The key is on the
inside. All of our combined evidence points to an entry via the ward

Higgins nodded again.

Then to Dr. MacArthur he said:

“Outside of the autopsy findings are there any pieces of evidence which
re-occur after the murders, Doctor?”

“Yes. After the first, the student nurse claimed that she felt someone
on the floor, but was boiling a syringe and could not leave and that a
patient said it was….”

Mr. Higgins stopped him.

“That is just what I do not want to know.”

“Anything else?” Miss Parkins insisted.

“For six months, Mr. Higgins, we have had on that ward a little girl, a
chronic nephritis …” he looked over his glasses and explained to Miss
Parkins, “a kidney ailment of a very stubborn sort…. She is really
pretty and quite a favorite throughout the hospital. Upon her crib, the
morning after the first traceable murder she found a doll.”

He opened his desk drawer and took out the Ma-ma doll. Miss Parkins
reached for it to straighten the bonnet, and it howled. She turned it
over quickly and Mr. Smooty said, “Jesus Christ!”

It was the first response he had made to any of the information. Mr.
Higgins ignored it and said, “Finger-prints?”

“It had been handled by many people when we got it, sir.”

“Yes. Of course. After the second murder, Doctor?”

“There was no doll upon her bed, but this doll was found….” and he
reached for the Pa-pa doll and handed it to Mr. Smooty, whose green eyes
were like pin points.

“Where, Doctor?” his voice was again colorless.

But his interest was so concentrated that he forgot and turned the doll
over and it whined, “Pa-pa.”

Everybody jumped and Mr. Higgins reached for both of them and laid them
on the mahogany table upon their backs. They closed their eyes and Miss
Parkins looked at the crisp bonnets, dresses and panties and shivered.

Two dolls. Two murders.

“I think we should know where it was found, Doctor,” Mr. Higgins’ voice
was firm.

“In the desk of the Head Nurse of Medicine Clinic, sir. A doctor looking
for case charts discovered it, accidentally.”

“Is she friendly with the night student nurse?” It was Smooty who spoke.

“She is her aunt, gentlemen,” and then Dr. MacArthur cleared his throat
and continued, “She was one of the first head nurses when the hospital
was young. Her work has always been well executed. A very trusted

“Especially antagonistic to any doctor?”



“The head of the clinic, Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Junior, affectionately
known as ‘Cub’ Sterling. He is on probation, very confidentially, as
head. The physician-in-chief died of a heart attack last spring, and Dr.
Sterling, who has done very brilliant work, has temporarily his chief’s
place. His father is Dr. Ethridge Sterling, possibly you have heard…?”

“The surgeon. Bear Sterling! I should say so!” Higgins responded. “Why
is the head nurse antagonistic?”

“I do not know. Perhaps because she is getting old and is afraid of
retirement if Sterling remains in charge.”

“I see. Pretty ugly situation you have been in, sir.”

“It isn’t I, it’s the hospital. Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Senior, is dying
of a heart attack complicated by pneumonia brought on by this situation.
One of our graduate nurses has been murdered…. Frankly, your coming
shifts a great weight from my shoulders. And I should like to say if I
have failed to make anything clear, question me. We are all a bit
shell-shocked, I dare say.”

“Yes, there is, Doctor. Did Dr. Sterling, Senior, see all of the
murdered patients, too?”

“He did. He performed the autopsies on all except the last one. The

“Has any person been murdered since he has been out of the picture?”

Mr. Higgins’ weight was behind his words.

“I don’t believe I understand you, Mr. Higgins,” Dr. MacArthur gripped
his chair arms, and his sensitive mouth looked like blistered flesh.

Mr. Higgins ignored that and attacked his eyes.

“Sorry, Doctor, but that is exactly the reason you sent for us. To
understand things. Please answer my question.”

“He was taken with double pneumonia last night, and Rose Standish was
murdered last night. The bed is empty now.”

“But he saw her and left a sleeping potion of which you told Dr.
Bridgman over the ’phone and after that was administered she was

“Please, Mr. Higgins,” Dr. MacArthur’s knuckles were white against the
desk, “I have learned that potion was … bread-pills…. He had hoped
to calm her nerves and yet leave her capable of catching…. I would
swear before God that Dr. Sterling….”

“Of course you would, sir,” there was admiration in Mr. Higgins’
response, “but painful operations are often necessary, and since he is
the only person who has retired from the case, since the beginning, I am
obliged to know what developments have taken place since his retirement.
It’s like chess, Doctor, your moves depend upon your position.”

Dr. MacArthur had regained complete control of himself and Miss Parkins
had risen and poured out a glass of water from a thermos bottle upon the
mantelpiece which she was holding out to him. She smiled and said:

“It’s been a long strain and you have stood it magnificently. Is there
anything else you wish to tell us before Smooty and I go?”

Her strength passed through him and he straightened himself, and Mr.
Higgins said:

“If brought in as an accident, what are the chances of Miss Parkins
being put in this bed … number…?”


The eyes of the other three people were upon Higgins, inquiringly.


“Because, Doctor, in view of the information I now have in hand relative
to the head nurse and her niece … by the way, what are their names?”

“Kerr. K-e-r-r.”

Only Mr. Smooty’s lips fought to remain a straight line. The
concentration of the other three was too intense to notice the

Mr. Higgins placed his gray eyes upon Dr. MacArthur’s blue ones and

“If Miss Parkins goes on the ward in a routine way as a patient, she
will automatically be suspected by them and therefore become less
valuable to us. But if she falls upon the street with a heart attack
within four blocks of the hospital, arrives at the accident room
entrance in an ambulance, and is admitted to Ward B, Bed 11…. You


“Can we be sure that she will be placed in Bed 11, sir? That the staff
in the accident room will admit her for medical treatment and that she
will be sent to that floor and put in that bed?”

“A moment and I’ll see.” Dr. MacArthur reached for his telephone and

“Superintendent of nurses, please. Miss Carruthers? Dr. MacArthur. Will
you please ascertain for your _own_ information the vacant beds in
Medicine Clinic and their location, and call me back immediately? Thank

He turned to Miss Parkins and said:

“What kind of ailment is it? How bad?”

“It’s a false angina, and during the attacks causes extreme palpitation.
By intense excitement I can create a definite change in my heart action,
and the other symptoms are permanent.”

“I see. Given you much trouble?” MacArthur was solicitous.

The telephone interrupted.

He answered and took his pencil, wrote upon a memorandum pad and

“Medicine, Ward A—7 & 8, Ward B—11, and 5th floor, rooms 502 & 514.
Thank you.”

“An unknown accident case, with a heart ailment, Mr. Higgins, picked up
on the street and admitted through the accident room, would undoubtedly
be placed in Bed 11, Ward B. Ward A, which has two vacant beds, is
medical men, and floor five is private rooms. You are too well-dressed,
though, Miss Parkins.”

“If her pocketbook contained only one dollar and she had no addresses
upon her person, Doctor?”

“They would not take a chance on someone paying for a private room, Mr.
Higgins. You are right. The only chance is whether she can pass the
accident staff, as I see it.”

“That is a chance we have to take,” Mr. Higgins decided.

He looked at his wrist watch and said:

“One more question, Doctor, and then, with your permission I should like
to have some private place where I may talk to Mr. Smooty and Miss
Parkins before we turn Miss Parkins out upon the street and you take Mr.
Smooty to the head orderly.

“Two more questions, now I think of it. The first: How is the hysteria
throughout the hospital? The second: You expect, of course, that Mr.
Smooty will be suspected as a detective?”

“Since the last question has the shortest answer, I will go to that
first. That seems to me unavoidable, Mr. Higgins, and perhaps will work
to our advantage. It will focus attention, from the nursing, medical and
menial staffs, upon one person.

“As to the hysteria in the hospital. It is at a dangerous level and
rising hourly. Not among the patients, yet…. Thank God! … with the
exception of the patients on Ward B and they have been told that Miss
Standish, the nurse, hemorrhaged (we put her in as a tubercular suspect)
and although they probably believe her dead, they have no proof. And
their attention has been diverted by the terrible condition of Dr.
Sterling, Senior. He has always been a great favorite throughout the
wards. Patients love him. The other patients, on the other wards are too
segregated and many of them too dangerously ill to be excited or aware
of the situation.

“According to Miss Carruthers, our superintendent of nurses, to whom I
was just talking, the hysteria among the nursing staff is serious.
Before the death of the nurse they took the excitement mildly, with the
exception of the people in Medicine Clinic who were questioned.

“With the exception of the General Staff, the toxicologist, the chief
pharmacist, and the staff of Medical Clinic, no persons in the hospital
have any definite knowledge as to whether these patients are murders or

“Perhaps it is that lack of knowledge which has so increased the fever
heat among the medical staffs. They suspect, but they _do not know_. And
half knowledge, and especially around a hospital….”

He threw his hands out hopelessly.

“Since the death of the nurse, the entire medical and nursing services
have been at a breaking point. Their internal pressure can be felt in
every dining room. Something must be done and done immediately. That is
one of the reasons I approve of the word getting around that a detective
has been put on Ward B at night….”

“A wise attitude, Doctor. Now if you will be so kind as to give us a
private room and a few minutes?”

“I suggest you use my office and allow me to retire. After Miss Parkins
has gone, I will show you a room in which you and Mr. Smooty may meet,
when you desire. A laboratory in an unfrequented part of the hospital.”

He rose wearily and passed out of the door and closed it carefully
behind him.

Mr. Higgins lit a cigarette and turned to the other two.

“What do you make of it?”

He questioned both of them in one sentence.

Miss Parkins answered, “He’s square. But he is shielding someone.”

Mr. Smooty inserted his sentence at the end of hers. “Honest as the
King. But worried sick. There is somebody he considers innocent, that
the others have dots on. All I got to say is somebody around here is
crazy as hell.”

Mr. Higgins, who had never been sick a day in his life and never slept
in a hospital even so much as one night, had a healthy man’s antagonism
for the medical profession.

“Toughest job we’ve ever had. He’s square all right, but how the hell
can you catch a murderer in a hospital? You are right, Snod. Somebody
around here is crazy as a tick. And lots of people are lying. One thing
you got to remember is you are up against professional liars. All nurses
and doctors are professional liars. Didn’t one tell me my mother was
‘doing nicely’ when she had been dead an hour? So watch everybody in the
same way you watch a spy.

“He’s also covering somebody that everybody else believes guilty. I
think I know whom he is covering. But that’ll wait. He suspects that
head nurse and her niece. That’s plain as day. And he didn’t tell the
truth about why he thinks she is doing it. There’s somebody behind them,
in his mind.”

He stopped for a moment to draw breath and Miss Parkins flipped her
cigarette and said:

“Matt, I’d like a gun, if you don’t mind?”

“You scared, Lil?”

“No. I’m never scared. Especially when I have a gun.”

“Don’t be a fool, Lil.” He put his big square hand over her capable one.

“They’ll strip you to the bone when you go through that accident racket.
A gun is out of the question. You’ll have Snod.” He motioned to Mr.

She smiled but she wasn’t reassured.

“He is slow as hell about wiping dishes when you are having a Sunday
night supper. I couldn’t get him out of that kitchen till I’d been dead

Smooty’s green eyes took on life for the first time since he had entered
the room. He said.

“A hospital’s duty is to protect everybody. I’ll be a member of a
hospital staff in twenty minutes, Lil.”

She shrugged her square shoulders and her limpid eyes begged.

“The murderer is a member of the hospital staff, Snod. He’ll beat you to

Higgins intervened.

“For God’s sake, Lil! Hold on to yourself!”

“It’s those damn dolls,” she laughed.

Higgins smiled strongly into her eyes and threw his overcoat over the
dolls. “There’s enough hysteria around here as it is. Don’t add to it.
Unless Snod has something to say I guess you might just as well sneak
out and do your fainting fit. Want me to send you flowers when you get
sick, little girl?”

“Hush, Matt. Flowers are not funny in this case.”

She opened her handbag and took out three hundred dollars in fifty
dollar bills and counted them carefully. Beside them she laid the cards
of a speakeasy on West 11th Street and of one on 44th. She opened the
zipper center of the black alligator bag and took from it her
identification card with the agency and the picture of a man in an
officer’s uniform of the British Intelligence. Near these she spread a
large white silk handkerchief into which she scooped the outlay, and
then removed from her wrist a large sapphire and diamond wrist watch.
She closed the bag, first counting the money remaining. One dollar bill
and three dimes and a nickel. Then she tied the contents of the bag in
the large silk handkerchief and handed it to Higgins.

He took it carefully and put it in his coat pocket.

“Going, Lil?” His gray eyes looked up into her limpid ones confidently.

“Now. See you later.”

She opened the door and disappeared.

Miss Evelina Kerr, student night nurse on Ward B, Medicine Clinic, shook
down the thermometer and inserted it into the mouth of the new patient
in Bed 11, with an air of relief, and just a touch of condescension.

“Good evening. Have you remembered your name?”

Miss Lillian Parkins weakly shook her head and her eyes were sad.

Miss Kerr, who had been over the clothes in the locker, knew that the
coat was expensive and the fur good, but that she had no money, so gave
her her “free patient” smile and passed on.

Lillian Parkins lay inert and tried to clear her mind. A long plane
trip, then the terrible strain of appearing ill before the prying eyes
of two internes and that little Jewish resident doctor had left her weak
as dishwater. A touch of straight scotch was what she needed…. It was
damn hard to relax and veil your eyes and yet see everything. Still that
was the game, that was what made the job so … fascinating!

That girl’s eyes were too close, and there was an ugly sense of triumph
when she had found her in the bed, and a nasty condescension, and a dead
voice, creepy kind of! Somewhere she had seen a woman who moved like
that with a voice like that, a stubborn little mind like that who …
who … hands like snakes, or bananas, who … was it?

She closed her eyes to keep the life out of them, and began to check
cases. On the Leviathan last year, in that Welfare Island group in May,
doing that route collecting for pimps on the Southern circuit? No! None
of those, but somewhere within the last eighteen months….

Ah, she had it. That medium who worked for the hypnotist in the
side-show and peddled dope in the circus. That vicious little adder who
had tried to throw acid in her eyes when she caught her with the goods.
Whew! Lord!

The goose-flesh began to stand out on her arms and legs. That’s who she
was, the same automaton voice, the same kind of little snake, out
working for a python and she had to face her without so much as an
automatic and go to sleep while she was doing it. Not go to sleep. Not
on your life. Feign sleep! Feign sleep for ten hours, and then somehow
manage not to have a real heart attack and pass out honest!

Swell job this was! Lots of fun! If she could get her hands on Matt
Higgins now! Somehow she had to have a word with Snod. And quick!

Around her the monotonous conversation of the ward was droning, but
since she was supposed to be too weak to talk, she closed her mind to
it. Except for the realization that these women were afraid of the
night. Had stood the day, but were afraid of the night and wanted to
tell her about the bed. Wanted desperately to warn her … somehow. The
lapping conversation and her own preoccupation made her unaware of Miss
Kerr’s return, until she felt the thermometer eased from her lips, and

Reptile who moved like that would have a hypodermic in you before you
knew it.

She kept her eyes closed and pretended complete fatigue. Miss Kerr’s
pleasure at her presence seemed to increase. She said briskly and

“You’ll be around before you know it. Your pulse and temperature are
pretty good, considering. Your medicine will be along in a minute and
then you can have a good night’s sleep.”

Miss Parkins opened her eyes feebly and gave her the fading lily smile.
Miss Kerr returned it with the “miserable object” expression.

But had Miss Lillian Parkins been less of the consummate actress, the
glimpse of Snod Smooty, late of Scotland Yard and the British
Intelligence, now arrayed in the nondescript white coat of a hospital
orderly, and carrying, as a hotel porter might bags, an assortment of
bed-pans, would have shattered her facial control.

He was on the ward before Miss Kerr had seen him. His face was as vacant
as a concrete highway and his voice was as deferential as a butler’s.

“Here you are, Miss.”

The laughter of the women made Miss Kerr ease around, and when her slow
eyes had taken in the situation, her routine mind exploded into wrath,
remarkably spontaneous.

“Who told you to do that? You are not supposed to bring the bed-pans on
the ward. I … I….”

Smooty swallowed like a hurt child and one pan started slipping toward
the floor. Miss Kerr slunk forward and caught it.

Mrs. Witherspoon spoke up:

“Don’t be upset, Miss Kerr. We understands. And now thet he’s here….”

Miss Kerr looked appraisingly toward Mrs. Witherspoon and tried to deny

A very insistent telephone commanded her attention and threw her routine
existence out of whack. She was told to prepare for a new patient and
spent five minutes explaining to the night superintendent that the bed
was already given to an accident room case and the patient would have

The orderly took advantage of the opportunity and began handing out pans
along the side of the ward where Miss Parkins lay. It was Mrs.
Witherspoon’s, “Pull the curtains. Pull the curtains. Quick!” which gave
him an opportunity to speak to Miss Parkins unobserved.

He said, “How are you?”


“I’ll watch her, close.”

“Stick to her, Snod. For God’s sake!”

His eyes came to life and strengthened her.

“She won’t do anything tonight. She won’t get around an old pan-handler
like me. If you are scared as you say you are, you must have the….
Here’s a pan!”

He thrust one at her and moved on.

Miss Kerr re-entered the ward and said crisply, “William.”

“Horace, mam,” he corrected as he handed the circus performer her pan.

The girl was disconcerted by the correction.

“Well, it doesn’t matter, really. The thing that matters is that you are
to stay off this ward unless I call you. There is plenty of work for you
in the kitchen. Go down to Ward A and get me a syringe. I’ve already
called Miss Wilson about your coming.”

Snod Smooty looked blankly up at the nurse.

“A hypo syringe?”

“Yes. Of course. Why?”

He thought he detected a slight dilation of her pupils, and replied

“You see, Miss, at St. Giles, in London, we always called enemas
syringes. I jus’ needs to know, you see.”

“Were you there, Horace?”

“I ain’t braggin’ Miss, but I was an orderly there four years. That’s
how come I brought the bed-pans; we done it that way!”

He threw his helpless hands out in an explanatory gesture and shambled
down the corridor.

Miss Evelina Kerr sat down at her desk to regain her control. She should
have gone on with the routine. But she sat down. Things weren’t going so
well. That man was a detective as sure as life and he was lying, and
Aunt Roenna ought to know….

She picked up the telephone and started to take the receiver from the
hook, and then she jumped up and somehow smothered a scream.

Standing over her, peering down into her little, piggish eyes with his
steel-gray slits was a tall, fat man, in a blue uniform with brass
buttons. In his right hand he held a bunch of red American Beauty roses,
and the other was in a side pocket.

Miss Kerr thought he was a policeman and the left hand was upon his
pistol holster. He carefully placed the roses in the elbow of the left
arm, and with his right hand drew her out into the ward. His grip was
strong and heavy.

By that time Miss Kerr had regained her breath. She tried to snatch her
arm away and cringed when she failed.

“What do you want?”

“To shee the night nurse on Ward B.”

“I’m the night nurse.” Her voice still quaked.

Gripping her like a vice, he stuck his thick face into hers and the
stench of his breath reached the whole ward.

“Y’re not Rhosh Standziz! Where is Rosh?”

Then swaying as a top-heavy steamer might when tied to a brittle
mooring, he turned to the ward and announced:

“I’se bin in luz wiz Rosh, scincz … sincz … sincz …” he shook his
head helplessly and the motion seemed to straighten his tongue,
temporarily…. “I just came back from China Station. They said over the
’phone last night Rose was on Ward B.” His voice clouded again. “Sho I
brought her shum r … r … rhozes.”

He laid the flowers upon a bed and took Miss Kerr’s face in both of his
hands. By that time every woman on the ward was sitting bolt upright
regardless of her condition. A fly would have sounded like an airplane.

Crushing her face with his hands, he demanded:

“Swhere iz Rosh? Zhu! Phoo! Zhu ain’t Rosh!” and then his voice took on
a hide-and-seek tenor.

And he crushed with more force, and they both swayed.

“Swherah … iz … Rosh?”

Lillian Parkins sat like a race horse at the starter. Every time he
crushed the nurse, she thanked him … silently….

He swayed horribly and they staggered.

He increased his grip and his voice was brutal.

“Stell me! St-ell me! Swhere iz Rosh?”

“Rose is dead!” Miss Kerr’s voice had taken on life at last. Every woman
in the ward heard her remark.

And it was Mrs. Witherspoon’s horrible, scrunching scream that came like
the brakes of a truck after an accident, which shocked the other women
into silence and brought Horace, the new orderly, up the corridor on the

And with that scream the brain of Lieutenant Brady, U.S.N.
disintegrated. He loosened his grip upon the student nurse and flung her
to the floor.

“Rosh iz dead! Dead in a hoshbittle!”

He began skipping around as a child might and singing monotonously,
“Ring aroun’ de Roshy! Rosh’s dead. Rosh’s dead. Ring aroun’ de Roshy.”

Then he caught the approaching Horace out of the corner of his eye and
laughed hollowly.

“Cash me!”

He began rolling under the patients’ beds, playing a literal
hide-and-seek with both the student nurse, who had staggered to her
feet, and the nimble orderly who was saying in a loud voice.

“You are dead drunk! You … fool!”

The final scramble took place under the bed of Lillian Parkins and Miss
Kerr ran to the telephone to call the night superintendent.

As Snod Smooty caught one foot of the big man and began pulling, Lillian
Parkins leaned over the side of her bed and hissed:

“Don’t let that bitch get within fifteen feet of me! Tell Matt that
examination was worse than being looked over for a harem. If he doesn’t
get me out of here by tomorrow night, I’ll walk out. Get the sailor out
quietly, Snod. He loved that dead nurse.”

Apparently paying no attention, Snod Smooty managed to keep the scramble
loud enough to cover Miss Parkins’ remarks.

He gave the sailor a little jujutsu and had him swaying down the
corridor before Miss Kerr had found the night superintendent. They
disappeared to the sailor’s monotone which had sunk to the note of a
child trying to lull himself to sleep.

“Ring aroun’ de Roshy! Rosh’s dead. Rosh’s dead. Ring aroun’ de Roshy!”

Snod Smooty carried him over his shoulder down the stairs and out of the
side entrance. Upon the curb stone he stood him against a parked
automobile and then socked him under the jaw. As he fell, Snod opened
the automobile door and laid him out upon the back seat to sleep it off.

Snod’s colorless face was tender and old. He wanted a cigarette. Worst
scene he had ever witnessed and he’d seen some hellbenders in his day.
But Lil was as hysterical as any of them.

He shrugged his shoulders and re-entered the building. That was the
trouble with women. They made good detectives, where men were to be
caught, but with women…!

It was Mrs. Witherspoon’s second and blood freezing scream that made Dr.
Mattus close his mind to his own bad heart and forget to button his fly.

The piercing horror of her high agonized wail hung over the corridor
like poison gas. He tore through it and the effort made his knees

What was it? What terror had entered her soul?

When he reached her, she was sitting bolt upright, her weak eyes ablaze,
and gazing with fixed horror at a large bunch of American Beauty roses
which lay upon the foot of her bed.

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Really good people, have these six ways of thinking

I have met a young screenwriter. He is very good and very hard.
He signed the screenwriter movie, last year there are two.
And in the first half of this year he has been practicing triathlon in Taiwan, the second half of the completion of a network drama creation.
Yesterday made a circle of friends, said his drama was trial.
I asked him what to do next, he said he would write a Jiangxi rural theme of the play, about to stay in Jiangxi for some time.

Indeed, and good people contact, the feeling is the same.
If the way of human degeneration is different, then the commonality of the excellent is also very similar.
After that conversation, I summed up the best people of the six most important way of thinking.

[Goal-oriented thinking]

Those who have no goals are always weak and lax.
Excellent people are living in a digger, and constantly deepen their wishes and goals.
The desire here refers to the real demands hidden in the heart.
They also understand that the goal is the first driving force of self, but also the fundamental reason for hard work.

Zhang is an old fritters that have been in the field of O2O for many years. At an operational meeting, I heard him ask all the staff questions: why did we try to get the company done?
Many people answer: for the dream.
The boss said, “No, in order to make money.” Then he asked, “Why do you want to make money?”
The meeting was silent for 1 minute before someone began to answer:
In order to buy a house, in order to buy a car, in order to marry a beautiful girl, in order to sleep to sleep, for the family had a better life, in order to one day no longer let others look down on their own …

CEO’s behavior, in fact, is to arouse everyone’s initial desire. This desire is the goal, they are often buried in some high-sounding rhetoric, need to ask again and again to ask out.

Ordinary people tend to target is not strong, so basically can not drive their own work. But the good people on the contrary, they do not set the target does not act, always use the target to guide their own efforts in the direction.

The first richest man of the Chinese screenwriter, Rich House, was at the meeting: “When I was young, I went to the film academy and wanted to go to the classroom and discuss the movie with the people there, and the result was driven out. At that moment, he vowed to become a screenwriter, will not let others so treat themselves.

He laughed and said, “Since then, a good screenwriter has become the goal of his life.”

[Altruistic thinking]

Have you ever found that those who are lovers are more good at altruising, and those who are hypocritical are more selfish.
The level of a person’s EQ, derived from altruism and selfish two thinking of the game.

Why do good people make better use of altruistic thinking?
Because altruism is to better self, the wise people understand this truth.
The reason why egoists are stupid is because they only focus on short-term gains, while ignoring long-term.
Elderly people are often black face, thinking closed, arrogant overbearing and stingy, there are good things will be exclusive, around the people at arm’s length. On the surface, he did everything that was good for himself.

But what did he lose?
He lost all the possibilities of helping him around him, and lost the possibility of being shared by others. Because not often exchange, occlusion, he will lose a lot of key information sources.
Eventually, he will lose the important interpersonal chain, lost a good word of life.
The profit of the beneficiaries is in a negative level.

Why are good people better at him? The reason lies in this.
The benefit of the altruver is far greater than the selfish.
Those who are willing to help others and provide value for others will often get the value of others.

[Iterative thinking]

Excellent people have a strong sense of crisis, they understand: in this era, a little attention will be behind others. If people do not learn to iterate themselves, update themselves, improve themselves, failure is minutes of things.
Like the product, the product has a 1.0, 2.0 version of the iteration.
Excellent people are also good at optimizing the personal version.
After three or five years, if you are still in place, this is the most dangerous thing.

There are many aspects of a person’s iteration, and an example of this, such as an iteration of a workflow.
When I was in high school, I was particularly slow at the same time, and then I looked at his papers and knew that the words he wrote were too much and wasted too much time.
A stroke of a stroke, a write a Na are clear. The key he has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and some strokes have to describe a three or five times to be assured.
He learned for a long time before learning to write cursive.

See here you may laugh, my mother read high school even the most basic cursive will not write, really fake.
In fact, many people have been writing habits for more than a decade, to change and not so simple, more terrible is a lot of people even “to change” awareness of no.
This is the so-called iteration consciousness.
Keyboard shortcuts to learn as long as 10 minutes, but many people too lazy to learn too lazy to use. With Wubi typing can be much faster than Pinyin, normal training can learn a week, many people are too lazy to learn.

Each small optimization, you can save time to increase efficiency.
Excellent work habits are not a day practice, is after more than ten years of iteration, will have today.
Think of yourself as a product, your soul is your product manager.
Are you still the old version of the past?

[Boring with busy boring]

The greatest feature of modern people is busy.
This is often criticized.
Li Zongsheng also wrote a “busy and blind”, which has a paragraph:
I’m coming and going to me in a hurry
From one direction to another

But in reality, busy should not be criticized, the most should be criticized, it should be boring.
Bored often accompanied by depression, sadness, nothingness and other negative emotions appear together.
No words to talk, nothing to do. Rotten on the sofa, rotten in bed, this is the most terrible.

Divide the state into three categories: boring, busy, busy and meaningful.
The third is the most high-order state, is more targeted busy.
The second kind of busy though not necessarily clear target, but people are still in motion. Since the movement, it can produce the possibility and significance.

Some people are not born to know what they should do, but can continue to find the direction of the movement.
Human vision and cognition, there is a border. You experience more things, your boundaries will be widened, individual extension will increase, inclusive will be stronger.
Excellent people are busy out.
Leisurely for them, is a luxury.

[Integrated thinking]

Excellent people, rarely exclusion of external information. They are like a sponge, as long as the water, will be sucked in to see, and then pick out the useful things.
So you will find that most of them like reading, watching movies, enjoying works of art, have their own taste for music, and have their own understanding of literature.
They are good at integrating, good from the external information to extract their own valuable things.

There was a reader asking me: “What is the use of reading?”
My idea is: if you hold the utilitarian demands to read, it is better not read.
Only quiet people, have the opportunity to experience the beauty of another layer of the world.

As the excellent people have a private, learn the way of nutrition.
Reading, music, film, painting, can be seen as an input. Excellent people hate to refuse, because they all understand: when a person began to unconsciously refused, he is about to fall behind.

I have visited a town on the west side of Shanghai, the district party secretary is very young, he was more than 30 years old.
Listen to the secretary of the live lectures, talked about the new rural construction.
Can you imagine? The secretary even fell in love with B station, also see the day, most like to see American movies.
He was inspired in the western part of the United States, thought of a proposal to benefit the construction of rural areas.

Just as Steve Jobs went to India to find inspiration.
Who would have thought of going to India to build one of the world’s most perfect products?

Excellent people are good at opening pores, fully feel the world of things, like a sponge as hungry, as humble as beginners.
Because some things seem useless, but it is really useless.
It will subtle transformation of you, affecting your critical time to make critical decisions.

[Attention to movement]

I asked a lot of people, why not fitness?
They said: “to practice so hard to do? Limbs developed, simple-minded.”
The meaning of movement has long been neglected.
So many people have a stereotype of the athletes. Think that they are just a simple mind is the development of human beings.
The fact is the opposite, the more people moving, but the better, the more intelligent.
In 1990, Arthur Kramer, a biologist at the University of Illinois at the University of Illinois, designed an experiment that allowed a group of people who did not love sport for six months of aerobic exercise and then tested the change in thinking and found that there was a real improvement. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature.

Sports can optimize people’s minds and make people smarter.
Even more critical is that health is the foundation of everything.
Excellent people will realize: how to ensure that their long-term struggle?
Is movement!

Excellent fight is not just mental, or physical.
In the Chinese writers also popular such a statement: write novels, the body must pass.
Do not believe you look Su Tong, Yu Hua, Mo Yan, do not belong to the kind of “weak” type.

Finally want to say: good people, often not for foreign objects move.
This time, can be around the personal will of things too much.
In other words, they believe in their own truth. In their own way to evaluate themselves, without having to prove to the outside world.
In the choice of the direction of life, good people often follow the heart, dare to refuse others advice.
Indeed, the views of peers do not listen, because you are not them. All the young people are on different runways, family background, background, wealth, luck, each person carrying something different, the way to go naturally different.
You do not have to compare with them, because the comparison, always only produce jealousy and narrow mind.

The older generation do not listen. You may often listen to your parents and relatives, “The civil servants are good to test the civil servants.”
But they are only trying to use the previous generation of outdated experience to domesticate you. Their thoughts and experiences to make them so now the state, if you do not want to become a few decades after their state, why should you listen to their words.

Really good people, have their own evaluation system.
Their courage and firmness, decided that they would take a very different path from ordinary people.

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Spring, poke a curl

The early spring of the new buds have been infected with Liu Shao, that little bit of light green, like a cluster of green small flames, can be Yingyingchuochu see. Some cold wind to pull up the wicker left and right shaking, the spring of the sun across the translucent windows illuminated on the body is the most warm, this time if the sun standing outside the window, although not like the winter biting cold, but also cold cold.

Winter cold is already some of the past, the spring of the North is always quietly kicked off and ended. The fifth spring it, although it has not yet fully understood the meaning of the northern spring, but also has been for five years. Every year this time will say “Shandong is no spring, always take off the coat directly on the short sleeve.” Having said that, but still trying to find the traces of spring. Often this time, the total can not help but think of his hometown: four distinct seasons, spring is spring, in the warm wind in the flower language, foot song.

I remember the school in the mountains of the pear trees, the language teacher shouted: “We talk about ‘suddenly as a spring spring, thousands of trees million pear tree open’ that is what season ah?” In that pear open , Fragrant around the tip of the nose, mosaic into the flowers of the flowers, who would like to think that it is Cen Shen winter snow a parting. Warm air, mature flowers like each other admire each other to invite each other, the sky dance a little bit of stars even into pieces into the branches, the return everywhere, but no regrets. The only extension to the top of the cement trail seems to be embroidered female hook embedded point, the foot of the pace of light moving, fear of the broken line of this needle. However, this spring will be sent to the picture so fragile, underestimated but turned into a disappointment, then moved to the footsteps, point up the mountain, jumping, enjoy the soft spring in the spring.

And then remember that year, April eighth day, Buyi family of special days. Although the background can not understand the significance of this holiday, but all remember that day called April 8, eat eight meals, to bring rice to spring. April 8, parents will prepare a good meal for the children, pick the best home to see the dishes loaded, neatly arranged in the larger bamboo baskets, and then each carrying a small, with dyed red and green Bamboo prepared “rice basket”, which is dyed or red or yellow or green or black glutinous rice, each person’s neck are hung with a color line prepared by the “egg cage”, which stood two Three red eggs. Mighty, together to find a good place to “enter”.

To find a tree can be the most shade of trees, the tree spread out a layer of tarpaulin, the tree is cooked ripe slightly slightly astringent fruit. Children do not just this mouth it? Slightly acidic slightly astringent slightly sweet, one into his mouth, close your eyes, nasal lip compact, eyebrows on the pick, the game who chew first swallowed. Perhaps just do not want to try a small partner, but in the end, without the other small partners deliberately lure, the smell of acid in the air and “crackling” crisp enough to make its saliva DC. Actually could not hold back, Bingzhe “Warriors gone” like tragic, “snapped” a bite, with the face of the expression of change, a small partner laughter is continuous. As long as there is a start, then the more rich expression seems to be just for the show. Until you think of that basket full of basket of food, sitting around a circle, come up with their own food fight together to do tasting, but it is even the most soft and sweetest glutinous rice are chewed. But this is what important, April 8 to eat eight was considered successful, one day also long, since brought out naturally did not bring back the child, just play for a while will naturally eat a naked, then the “Rice basket” filled with fruit, go back after the effort to come back to a game.

Daylight fade after dusk, a group of singing, the name of the child marching clear moonlight shaking to the direction of running toward home. Meet the parents of farming work, the twitter can not wait to share the joy of the day. The adults check whether there is the rest of the food and ask if there is a waste. “No no”, and then respect the fruit with a few go.

Luminous floating in the water of the dam, a stubble on the seedlings just planted lightly on the wet ridge with mud on the sandals, along the water to a rinse, jump on the spacious road, find their own homes The. Moonlight night, attributed to the quiet Enron.

Those who are soaked in the fragrance of flowers, sprinkled with the cool days, dressed in the warm days of the wind up the scale is actually nearly ten years or even farther things. University of the end of the five years, in a hurry to find the gap in the work, recalled that kind of scene, although the heart is not clear, but also warm one. The darkness of the cool in the thin thinking of today’s own, although not as good as others and their expectations so outstanding, but only once left in the heart of the bright and warm light, but also enough to make me have the courage to find a want to go Flowers between the way, listen to the voice of the roadside forest, it may be deep inside the cry: both you, the warmth of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

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From your world

There is no story on Monday.

Really. Very routine.

Three days a day, rush to end, and then because of a “I am lovelorn to comfort my comfort,” far away in Xi’an girlfriend called, chat for an hour and a half, halfway to send a dress, after dinner to the library Study, 21:47 from the library out, walking in the teacher on the road to see the moon, sleep at night to 1:00.

One, you, okay?

You will always meet some people, with the church to leave you, the most important people lost.

I was in the library, listening to the plot in the radio, and writing my own story. Where are you, where are you doing

The story said, love each other and hurt the people, will gradually grow into the same face, to develop the same habits. I do not know if I have ever loved, but I do not like myself now and you are getting more and more similar.

Always feel sick. Grew up, lost love and the courage to be loved, afraid of their injuries, but also afraid of others because of their injuries. Can be the last, hurt others that, but always me.

Later, I always dreamed of the boy who called my son Jun, think he has always calm but because I am sad screaming look. Then later, I let myself a person, used to spare time to stay in the library, listen to music to read and write homework. Occasionally encountered in the teacher on the road, but also do not say a word, watching his figure slowly disappeared in the sea

I asked my friends, you said, our campus is not big?

Not big.

is it? I feel pretty big.

Big to us obviously with a school, and I always meet you.

Night 21:47, out from the library, in the division on the road to see the super moon, because the camera technology is poor, just read all the way. Xu is because the heart filled with too many things, obviously the beauty of the current, and I have chosen to give birth to a desolate feeling. Sorry to stand by me, not you Unfortunately, we look through the same round of time across the moon. Unfortunately, even in a dream, are sorry.

I only wish, those who happen in the dream of the story, it is best not to staged in reality, and you, will live better than me.

 Second, the first love season do not understand love

May you leave the man first, bear all the happy life, rather than crying late at night, tossing and turning on the side of the tea do not think, to be a painful man.

Remember, you promised me a love. Ruoyaorui, plain water. The end of a cold wave, ending in the early winter.

Because I have seen too many points combined with the story, I have seen the best of love, are in the fairy tale, in the Tang poetry of the vast smoke waves.

Always believe that every girl’s heart, have the most beautiful romantic love dream, like a northern woman’s heart is the most warm and soft Jiangnan dream the same. Possibly, when we were young, we had more or less the standard for the future to come, but later found that, with you, did not you have to imagine the way.

In this world of light speed in the world, full of fast food is love. Those who life and death Xu, love at first sight, the era of life and death has been gone, and then there will be no “see Yang missed life,” the first encounter, there will be no “care for the silent, only tears thousands of” memorable, There will be quietly waiting for the forest.

In the ever-changing crowd, I did not become an exception that would not change. Now I will not pay for anyone who does not seek any return, only for the other side of the occasional joy, nor strong to hear a word is not heard, do not want to explain and do not say anything.

Time summer had said to me, you this character, really not suitable for love. Because you always easily wronged yourself, so in love, too no self. Your future boyfriend, must be particularly careful and considerate of the kind, can be the general boys, are big nerve.

I remember one writer once said: sweet words only in the words of the most effective. So you said you like me. I believe. You want to live with me. I believe. You say that unless I choose to let go, otherwise you will not leave. I still believe it. Believe that you are affectionate, but I do not believe in the promise and the oath – will always be a bad check, not true.

Later later, when I realized that I could accept all the other good and bad, but can not accept in such a relationship, become affected by the loss of the nerve of their own, I gave up.

Probably, too hasty love, destined to be able to bear fruit The original, the most difficult thing to open is that the first time to say hello, and the final farewell.

A friend said to me, Enron, do you know? I would rather you like an ordinary girl, will cry will be downtown, will be spoiled will wayward, rather than stubborn Tolerance, all thoughts are buried in the heart. So cold and covered with thorn you, really let me know what to do.

Some people say that the first love season do not understand love, always constantly tempted between each other, and ultimately hurt himself. Perhaps, wait until we are willing to sharpen the edges and corners of the other, 1 +1 = 2 love proposition evolved into 0.5 + 0.5 = 1, is the most complete love.

Three, scattered and parting, are a kind of singing

Storytellers, there is always a story do not want to talk; listen to the story of the people, there is always a story do not want to hear.
Like me, do not like to tell their own stories, do not like to listen to others that parents are short. Because there is a little scholarly atmosphere, but do not like to listen to people burst foul language, saying vulgar words.

I have asked friends, who made you a storyteller, and who makes you a story?

She laughed, I did not have a story, no one because of me and have a story.

Later, I do not like to write a story, do not like to listen to the story. Because I always feel that no one will empathy, and no one will really understand, I also began to reluctant in the beloved words again to live up to those years of their own.

Thus, nearly five months, I did not write about the past and now the word one sentence. Only in a sunny afternoon, a person reading books in the library, through the rainbow bridge, watching the sunset, my mind flashed a lot of fragments, they want to write something to record the recent life.

Later, we always regret the original choice, but also always lament, if how to just fine. But we have forgotten, when we are the best of us, can do the choice, is also able to do whatever they can. And thus can not stand on the later mature position, to regret the original did not how their own, that once their own, not fair.

So later later, we can only say that although through a lot of regret a lot of distance, but it does not regret it. Because no matter who met, who missed, are fate dictates, forced useless.

Fourth, Enron alone, quiet growth.

I hope that all the efforts will not be wasted, I hope to be able to dream come true after the trouble.

Teacher on the road. Cold wind blowing. Indus leaves off. Have been numerous. I and the notes from the walk, leaves like butterflies like flying back shoulder. Suddenly can not remember when to start, in addition to class time, I always wear a headset. I remember one day get out of class, met the particularly hearty, people feel warm and practical girl, she said with a smile, long time no see.

Yeah, long time no see

You see you, every time I see you, your ears are stuffed with headphones. Do not you hurt your ears?

I smiled and got used to it.

Argentinean National Library Director Borges once said that if there is a paradise, it must be the appearance of the library.

Later, I slowly like the kind of wearing headphones through the bustling crowd feeling, but also used to a person in the library to work hard. When I slowly put his life and calm because of his appearance, think of someone told me: When you pass by the wind and rain, through the pain, you can smile when the breakdown of sadness, you will feel that everyone Is tired.

At that moment, I believe it.

Friends say, farewell and forgotten, is the rest of his life to do serious things.

With the parting of the sensational romance extremely happy, as you clean and leave without leaving words. And then wait for the day, you go to your favorite city, live your favorite life, it is brightly look back to all the suffering experienced, no longer live up to any meet, no longer any dreams, getting better and better.

Continue Reading

The Second Doll

At nine o’clock Dr. Harrison entered the hospital through the accident
room door and started up the main corridor. The last of the nurses and
internes were returning from breakfast, the morning sun as they passed
the occasional windows was picking each face out of its oblivion and
then throwing it back again.

Dr. Harrison shivered. The faces looked as the faces did upon the
streets of every city in the United States the morning after the
Lindbergh baby had been found….

The cynically young, the frightened vacant, the intelligent, the eager,
the stupid, all reflected the knowledge that Rose Standish was dead.

“A nurse died last night,” the stupid faces, the childish faces, the
vacant faces reflected, and as the intelligence increased, the horror in
the eyes grew….

Upon the internes and residents they showed:

“A nurse was murdered last night.”

And with an increasing frequency he saw eyes which knew:

“She was murdered in Cub Sterling’s Clinic.”

He passed the entrance to his own clinic, and then retraced his
footsteps. His duty was to MacArthur, but his first duty was to suppress
as much staff hysteria as possible. With the staff in such a condition,
it was only a question of hours before the patients, all over the

His resident was standing beside the elevator upon the first floor. He
turned and Dr. Harrison noted the first, second, and then a third horror
in his eyes.

“’Morning, Wheeler,” his voice was calm and measured.

“Good morning, Doctor Harrison. Do you know?”

“About the nurse? I do.”

“No, sir. About Doctor Bear.”

Dr. Harrison turned his searching brown eyes into the man’s gray ones.


The resident met the glance and responded:

“Pneumonia. Bilateral. Cub is with him. Diagnosis confirmed. Brought him
into hospital on a stretcher about two hours ago. He’s in Medicine
Clinic now … hopeless….”

Dr. Harrison staggered for the first time in his medical life.

“They murdered him! The dogs!”

He turned from the elevator and walked out of his clinic and down the
corridor toward the Medicine Clinic. He walked calmly, like a man going
to his execution and convinced of his innocence…. That heart attack
was responsible, as sure as death itself, Hoffbein, Peters and Paton had
killed … his best, his very best friend….

His agony was so acute that the passing faces with their increasing
hysteria seemed natural.

Turning to Mattus, Cub Sterling said:

“I’d better look in on Miss Merriweather, in case her father telephones
today. Then you can find me with Dr. Sterling, if you need me.”

He turned from Ward B and walked into Room Two and closed the door. That
shade onto the Ward was still lowered. He had lowered it himself the
first night he brought the cigarettes.

He and Sally Ferguson were completely alone.

She was smoking a cigarette. The room swam with pinking air and Cub
leaned against the door jam and snapped:

“How’s the leg since they took the bandages off? All right?”

She ignored the question and said:

“I just woke up! Why did you give me those pills last night?”

He walked toward the bed, and the horror of the night receded and a wild
happiness suffused his features.

“Don’t you know, Salscie?”

“To make me … sleep?”

“Would you have slept … without…?”

He leaned over her and kissed her twice. Completely and reachingly.

She burrowed her head between his collar and his neck and whispered:

“Did you…?”

He laid the weight of his head upon hers and she moaned and brought her
lips within reach again.

Cub drained them a third time and tucking his head between her breasts

“God I need that, darling! I’ve been through hell … hell … red hot

Then he jerked his head up and bored his eyes into hers. His voice was
wild and heavy.

“Whatever happens, whatever anybody tells you, whatever comes … you
must promise me, Salscie, that you’ll believe in me … that you’ll
trust me … and know that I’ve wanted you all my life … and when all
of this works out … I’m going to … live with you….”

Her body stiffened and she snatched her eyes out of his. Her voice was
hard and narrow.

“Cub Sterling, I wouldn’t … ever … live with you! At last I see why
women have children … why they want to belong….”

All the angularity went out of him. He reached over and gathered her
into his arms. His voice curled and nestled in her ear.

“You’ll have them, Salscie! Lots of little Sterlings!”

Outside the loud speaker began:

“Docterr Ste-earling, Junyior, Doct-terr Eth-err-ridge Ste-arling,
Junyior. Calling Doct-terr….”

They wilted apart, but their eyes still held and Cub said, softly and

“My father’s ill. Very ill. The hospital’s in a terrible stew. I may not
get to see you for a couple of days. Be good until I do! Take care of
yourself! Don’t be ferocious to anybody, Salscie! Promise? I’ll tell
Mattus to let you have your clothes, and try sitting up if you like.
Think you’ll need some more pills tonight … darling?”

She blushed and smiled slowly. Cub took a box from his pocket and gave
her two veronal tablets.

Then he leaned over and ordered:

“Kiss me quick, Salscie! Sophie’d better kiss me, too!”

At the door he turned and barked:

“Remember! This place is full of tales…. Trust me?”

“Till death us do part, Cub darling!”

Dr. Henry MacArthur sat at his desk and awaited the arrival of the
staff. He sat perfectly erect, dreadfully calm, with the hopeless
heroism of the stone blind. His hands were relaxed upon his knees.
Lifting them to cradle his head would require such an enormous effort
… mentally and physically….

He was as changed from the man who had lain in bed two nights before and
enjoyed scotch highballs as if he had spent twenty years in Siberia. The
hair at the temples looked grayer and the face was marble in its
emotions. They came separately, and filled its furrows. Bitter self
recrimination. He had sent a perfectly innocent woman to her death. A
mere child. He had allowed her to go up, pass through hell and die …
for his honor, Cub Sterling’s reputation, and the Elijah Wilson
Hospital. And to die so uselessly, so bravely, so quietly.

And the self-recrimination was followed by a nobility which made him
beautiful, as the world thought King Albert beautiful while he was
bleeding over Belgium.

Bleeding over the tremendous heroism of human beings. Over the cool
straight bravery of quiet people. Over the fragile littleness of her
still body. Over the sense of still living that her small ivory face had
held when he and Cub Sterling and Dr. Bear’s assistant were leaning over
her body, under the glaring light of that autopsy table.

It had been like bending over a plucked magnolia blossom, on a summer
morning. There was a spiritual fragrance about her as poignant as the
perfume of magnolias. A feeling of sheer beauty, wasted….

If he lived to be a hundred, he would never forget the exquisite curve
of that child’s small rounded breast and the nauseating sense of having
stuck a knife in it, which came over him!

An Edith Cavell, a Florence Nightingale, a Jeanne d’Arc, and he had
stood in her presence alive … and dead….

And all of it had been so futile. But as certain as death itself was the
knowledge … within his own mind … that Cub Sterling had had nothing
to do with it. That Cub Sterling could not have stood beside him in that
autopsy room a few scant hours ago and the sense of horror and
helplessness have so entirely gripped them. And it did grip … both of

He started to telephone for Cub to come to him now and then he
remembered about Bear, and his head … for the first time since he had
been Director of the Elijah Wilson Hospital … fell into his cupped
hands, while the door into the corridor stood wide open.

Caesar was dead, Napoleon was dead, Osler was dead, Socrates was dead,
Halsted was dead and Bear Sterling was dying….

Dying because of overwork and a bad heart. Sacrificed to his profession
by his colleagues! That heart attack yesterday, coupled with the cold
had done it.

All the great men were dead or dying…. Coniine….

He turned over Cub Sterling’s testimony concerning the death of Miss
Standish, and stared vacantly at the words. Somewhere, at this very
minute, there was walking, still free, about the Elijah Wilson Hospital,
probably laughing and talking with other patients, a nurse, a doctor …
a man … a woman … a murderer….

Dr. MacArthur rose and walked to the far window through which the warm
spring sun was shining. He must pull himself together. His duty was not
to his emotional beliefs concerning men and their motives. Above all
things he must be fair. His duty and theirs was to the hospital and
within the next five minutes he must get himself in such perfect control
that he could compel them to see it.

The opportunity of the hospital to be of benefit to humanity for the
next fifty years depended entirely upon his ability to hold his staff
together this morning. To force these exceptionally capable men to think
calmly … and wisely.

He closed his eyes and allowed the sun to penetrate through the lids. A
soft spring breeze floated in the opened window. A living, gentle breeze
which foretold all the wealth of future living in flowers and
fragrances; which expressed as clearly as Chopin might have, how he felt
about the small, slim body of Rose Standish.

It seared him like a sirocco. Yesterday morning, she had stood there
with just such a breeze blowing. Yesterday morning it had promised her
summer, too … and today…. He turned his back resolutely to the
window and still stood with his eyes closed.

The sun began relaxing the muscles at the base of his brain and then he
seemed suddenly sane. Her death had been like those of the officers in
the Great War who had jumped out of the trenches and walked up and down
to give their men courage….

He returned to his desk and calmly began planning what must be covered
at this meeting, and what witnesses must be called. Cub, if he could
leave his father, otherwise his testimony must suffice. The day white
nurse, the night pupil nurse, Miss Kerr’s niece, and Mattus’ impression
of the patient when he last saw her. Then it would be wise to ask Dr.
Heddis to come over and report upon the autopsy findings.

The lack of sleep was telling upon him. He had entirely forgotten about
questioning the orderly, William. He rang for his secretary and gave her
the orders.

When Dr. Barton’s squared frame filled the door it brought with it a
sense of relief. Queer how sane associating with children made a man.
Almost immediately he was followed by Hoffbein, Peters and Paton …
together. They had just settled themselves when Dr. Harrison strode in.
There was an armor of righteousness about him that dazzled. Dr.
MacArthur had never seen Harrison this way before. Like some great
patriarch of Biblical fame girded for battle.

When they were all seated, Dr. Barton and Dr. Harrison exchanged
monosyllabic diagnoses upon Dr. Bear and Dr. MacArthur read their faces.

Peters, Hoffbein, and Paton missed the discussion. They were funereal,
self-righteous and pious, respectively.

A nurse was dead. They had gone on record opposing placing her in the
position where she might be murdered. Dr. MacArthur had sacrificed her
to save Cub Sterling’s reputation.

At half-past six when Dr. MacArthur had notified Dr. Peters, Dr. Peters
had telephoned Dr. Paton right away and intoned “The sort of thing that
purifies a man,” and after that their conversation had been long,
gossipy … and horrified. Princeton had been propped against his
pillows, his feet glued to a white rubber hot water bottle and a deep
purple corded silk dressing gown thrown over his still firm shoulders.

His wife was abroad with Mrs. Paton.

Prissy, whose telephone was as much a part of his bedtime equipment as
his nightshirt, had lain perfectly flat upon his bed and with their
decisions his “seven months gone” bay-window rose and fell. Cushioned
upon what had once been his chest was a French telephone.

Their first decision had been to tell MacArthur “right out” that they
had to have a private meeting without either of the Sterlings present,
and decide something.

As Prissy’s upper teeth and Princeton’s lower ones were removed for the
night, their vehemence had seemed awfully mushy to the telephone
operator when she cut in for Paton’s resident.

But when the discourse was resumed Princeton had said:

“I shell inten’ to shay, at the meetin’ we are demandin’, Paton.”

Prissy’s front had given a proud heave.

“That we cannot have our poshishun jepodized any longer. Action” … the
bay-window rose … “must be taken immediately. The powice—”

Five minutes had been lost over that word. Neither of them could
persuade the telephone to accept it.

“The law to intervene,” Princeton finally substituted.

“I agwee entirely, Peshurs. I’ll stan’ behin’ you, straight through.”

Prissy’s offer even in the noontide sun would have come in a high treble
and over the telephone and under the circumstances it didn’t sound very

However, after they had both bathed, both felt her death had purified
them, both inserted their teeth, both had called MacArthur and requested
a meeting minus the Sterlings.

It had left them a little shaky … but now that Dr. MacArthur was
beginning to speak, Prissy nodded to Princeton who tiptoed to the door
and closed it. They felt they had been justified in the action they had

Neither Sterling was present.

“Gentlemen,” Dr. MacArthur’s voice was measured and low, “Rose Standish
is dead. She was murdered last night while a patient in Bed 11, Ward B,
of Medicine Clinic. An injection of coniine. She went on that ward to
save your reputation and mine. To lift the hospital out of terror …
and she is dead, and we are….”

“I was against it from the first,” Princeton began clearing himself with
the rapidity of a condemned schoolboy.

Nobody paid him the slightest attention. Prissy blushed, and Hoffbein

“We are faced,” Dr. MacArthur’s blue eyes had taken on their fighting
steeliness, “with the blackest day the Elijah Wilson has ever seen. With
the fact that no patient anywhere is safe in any bed of the institution
… with the responsibility of catching a murderer within our walls. A
person who has committed two untraceable, two traceable murders.
D’y’see? Gentlemen, I ask your advice.”

Princeton Peters and Prissy Paton stared at Dr. Hoffbein and he nodded
… with his eyelids, and Princeton rose.

“To put it plainly, straightly and to the point, MacArthur, it is one
thing to protect your professional colleagues, but after all our
Hippocratic oath binds us _first_ to the protection of our patients.

“I’m glad you called this meeting as we advised, and have given us an
opportunity of speaking frankly. Murder, automatically, cancels loyalty!
Call in the police immediately is the advice of myself, Dr. Paton and
Dr. Hoffbein.”

His peach-blossom face was brick red and it was the fury with which Dr.
Harrison rose that, at a distance of ten feet, scared Dr. Peters into
his chair.

“You might just as well know, Dr. Peters,” his brown eyes were live
coals, “that this meeting was not called without the Sterlings
purposely. Barton and I were dead against it, as was MacArthur. Dr.
MacArthur was intensely kind in his opening speech about the number of
murders which have been committed in this hospital within the last week.
They are five.”

“Stop, Harrison. Please stop!” Dr. MacArthur had risen from his chair,
but he might have been a fly upon the distant mantelpiece for the effect
he produced.

“Sorry. I can’t stop. They might just as well know it! Call in your
police! Call them in now! And as sure as Christ was crucified I’ll swear
out a warrant for each of you, Hoffbein, Peters and Paton, for the
murder of Bear Sterling, now dying of pneumonia complicated by the heart
attack which you, famous colleagues and a world-renowned psychiatrist
caused by your foul insinuations yesterday.

“If you value your international reputations as much as your
self-exhibitions in the last fifteen years indicate, the police are out
of the question.

“Now let’s get down to business.”

For fully four minutes after he had finished no man in the room spoke.
No man could. For fifteen, twenty, perhaps thirty years none of them had
ever heard Dr. Harrison raise his voice above a conversational tone,
never had seen him for one-quarter of a split second lose complete
control of himself or of a situation, never had heard him judge a man
without charity.

And the three he condemned were too seared to be angry, too frightened
to be resentful, too dazed to be amazed.

He had spoken the truth … and they knew it.

Dr. Barton, as a nurse might work upon children upset by an explosion,
took his pipe from his mouth, and began speaking. He said:

“Dr. MacArthur, I think it is your advice that we need, suh.”

The thing that cowed Dr. Peters, Paton and Hoffbein, was that Dr.
Harrison had suffered no relapse. He sat firmly stroking his beard and
looking alternately at each of them.

Dr. MacArthur, his blue eyes firmly defiant, began:

“The hospital has never been in so delicate a situation. I repeat that
the matter must be handled with secrecy, tact, and sanity.

“You see, gentlemen, this hospital was endowed, it has been perpetuated
for, and is famous as, a great teaching institution. When through any
clumsiness of ours we have more beds than patients the hospital is
doomed. Its great advantage has always been more patients than beds.

Prissy’s green, Princeton’s lavender and Hoffbein’s liquid eyes were
glued upon his face. Dr. Barton’s shoulders were hunched attentively.

“Now if we were to turn this situation over to the police, regardless of
Dr. Harrison’s statements, we would automatically spread into every ward
of every department, every newspaper in the country, the superstition of
every negro within a thousand miles, the means of ruining, absolutely,
your work, mine and that of all the medical men now resident and student

“Murder is a very horrible situation, but dooming the future of at least
a thousand capable men is, in my opinion, worse, all oaths,
notwithstanding. D’y’see?

“Whatever hysteria is manifested must not come from the staff, nor the
blunders which so horrible an occurrence makes us likely to fall into.”

“You’re absolutely right, Mac!” Dr. Harrison’s voice was placid, and
Prissy and Princeton automatically exhaled the breath they had been
inhaling preparatory to argument.

Dr. Harrison said:

“Do you know how many rabbit feet I’ve seen on dispensary patients in
the last six months? Sixty-three! The cancer cases love ’em. How many
patients we’ve lost because they moved when another negro sprinkled salt
upon their doorsteps? Eighty-one! Within three blocks of here I’ve
counted fifteen chiropractors, ten optometrists, five osteopaths, and
seventeen midwives.

“Superstition, witchcraft, voodoo, dynamite! We’ve _got_ to keep our
face no matter if all of us are murdered. Matter with you three is just
a touch of hysteria.”

Hoffbein squirmed and replied:

“Fear psychosis is a most contagious disease, but like all contagious
diseases most debilitating. It has only one cure: to remove the cause of
the fear.”

His voice was precise and his words, he felt, showed how he stood and
yet were dignified.

“From which I understand you are suggesting we scrap Cub Sterling,”
MacArthur’s angry eyes bore into him like a hot poker, and his mouth
drew to a tight line as he slapped his hand upon his desk and stated, “I
won’t do it without _ample_, _complete_ and _convincing evidence_. Have
you any to offer?”

Hoffbein squirmed acutely and he replied evasively:

“Nothing … tangible…. Only those small and very personal signs which
to a man in my branch are so revealing. His hands, the hysterical set of
his left shoulder, the peculiar light which comes into his eyes….”

“That’ll do!” Dr. Harrison barked. “If I knew any of you had cancer, I’d
tell you so to your face. If Bear Sterling had found any man here
suffering from an incurable brain tumor, he would have told that man. We
are not asking you for symptoms, Hoffbein. Have you any evidence, yes or

Hoffbein’s eyes lost their whites. “No.”

“Then let’s get on to people who have. Read Ethridge’s testimony,
please, MacArthur.”

Dr. MacArthur picked up the long white sheet of paper and began in an
even voice:

“Complying with the decision of the General Staff of the Elijah Wilson
Hospital, I admitted Rose Standish, graduate nurse of this
institution, as a patient in Medicine Clinic, Ward B, Bed 11,
yesterday afternoon. The diagnosis, for the benefit of the nursing
staff, being a possible tubercular effusion.

“She received a routine examination from the house staff and from
seven-ten until seven-thirty last evening my father, Dr. Sterling, and
I went over her. We found her lungs in excellent shape, her heart
slightly enlarged, but not seriously so, her general physical
condition splendid, with the exception of the fact that she was
somewhat thin and underweight. There were no signs of any malady of
any kind whatever. Her temperature was normal, her pulse good, though
a little rapid, which, considering the circumstances was not
surprising, and her spirits commendably calm.

“We both felt most reassured by her mental and physical condition,
though my father, Dr. Sterling, in case she might discover herself too
fatigued to sleep advised a sedative. We told Miss Standish of the
order and suggested she call for the potion if she felt the necessity.

“There was some vague hysteria in the ward, which both Miss Standish
and ourselves sensed, and I understand from the seven-to-nine-student
nurses that she calmed it by conversation.

“The prescription for the potion was, later, removed from Miss
Standish’s chart and is in the possession of Dr. MacArthur, as is,
also, the testimony of a patient who claimed to have seen Miss Kerr,
student nurse, standing over Miss Standish’s bed for several seconds
during the thunderstorm which extinguished the lights at nine-forty.

“From the time we walked off the ward at seven-thirty, until Mattus
notified me of Rose Standish’s death at one-ten, I did not see Miss
Standish. Mattus saw her around ten and reported her in practically
the same condition in which Father and I had left her.

“After seeing my father, Dr. Sterling, to his car at seven-thirty, I
went to dinner in the doctors’ dining room, took a short walk, and was
in bed by eleven-thirty.

“When Mattus notified me of Miss Standish’s death at one-ten, I
immediately called Dr. MacArthur who ordered an autopsy, tried to get
my father and learned that the cold he had complained of was settling
in his chest and his temperature was 101. At his orders I got his
assistant, Dr. Withers, who in the presence of Dr. MacArthur, Mattus
and myself, performed the autopsy, the findings of which will be given
by Dr. Heddis, who came in when it was half finished and later took
the organs for examination.

“Because of the excellent forethought of Mattus, we borrowed an
operative patient from Surgical Clinic and rolled her bed into the
place where Rose Standish’s had stood and left orders to say to the
patients that Miss Standish had hemorrhaged and been put in a private
room. From the time the ward awoke until the operation was called, the
new patient was in the process of preparation and did not realize the

“From the time of the discovery of Rose Standish’s corpse, until
Mattus and I had rolled the bed toward the elevator, the deportment of
William, the orderly, was most praiseworthy and the demeanor of Miss
Evelina Kerr astonishingly calm.

“While the autopsy was still in progress, my mother called to say that
Dr. Sterling’s temperature had risen to 103, his breathing was labored
and he was requesting I come to him. Dr. MacArthur insisted that I go.
I found him with a definite case of pneumonia, both lungs seriously
involved, pulse irregular, and breathing labored, semi-delirious. I
immediately called an ambulance and brought him into the hospital for

“The response is disheartening. His heart is weakening. I have
remained by his bedside, again through the advice of Dr. MacArthur.

“Dictated to Dr. MacArthur’s secretary, outside room 511, Medicine
Clinic, at 8:30 A. M. Wednesday, May 18th.

“(Signed): Ethridge Sterling, Jr., M.D.
Physician-in-Chief (Pro-tem),
The Elijah Wilson Hospital.”

Dr. MacArthur laid the paper down and looked from the window.

“Questions?” his voice was old and heavy, and he brought his eyes back
to the men with an effort.

Dr. Harrison shot a glance around the room and insisted:

“Let’s continue with the evidence.”

Dr. MacArthur pushed a button upon his desk, the door into the corridor
opened and Miss Evelina Kerr, night student nurse on Ward B, entered.

It was Princeton Peters who escorted her to the chair beside Dr.
MacArthur’s and Dr. Hoffbein who would have liked to question her, had
he not felt Dr. Harrison’s eyes judging his every thought; so Dr.
MacArthur turned to her and said:

“You have been through another dreadful night. I’m sorry. Please tell
about it carefully.”

She sat as she had sat yesterday, her hands primly in her lap and her
flat feet carefully together, her stubborn defiance breaking through her

She looked carefully around the large room before she began to speak,
and to Dr. MacArthur, Dr. Harrison, and Dr. Barton, there flashed a
realization that her eyes were still too close together, and that
somehow she was enjoying her importance.

But her survey did not escape Dr. Harrison.

He barked, “Dr. Sterling is not here because his father is desperately
ill. Will you be so kind as to tell your story, now?”

“Yes, Dr. Harrison, I will.” The stupid definiteness in her voice was
maddening. She turned her eyes upon Dr. Hoffbein and told her story to
him. She said:

“When I went on duty at nine I found Miss Standish a patient in Bed 11,
Ward B. She said Dr. Sterling thought she might have a tubercular
effusion and she was in for observation. I gave her her thermometer and
ran to close the windows as the rain had started.”

“And when the lights went out, you were standing by her bed, Miss Kerr,”
Dr. Barton announced pointedly.

Her eyes did not leave Dr. Hoffbein, and she replied:

“I had come back for the thermometer.”

The answer crashed like a broken plate, and Dr. Harrison insisted:

“And then?”

“Then I counted her pulse,” her voice was wooden, “gave my medicines.
Put out the flowers and called Dr. Mattus about a woman with a heart

“Why didn’t you give Miss Standish her sleeping potion, when you were
distributing medicines?”

“Because, Dr. Barton, Dr. Mattus came up to the heart case and said not
to give it to Miss Standish unless she called for it.

“After he went, I dimmed the lights, went to work on my fever charts,
made up the midnight medicines, and began studying my nursing manual.
William, the orderly, came up the hall twice to ask me about some dishes
and the breakfast trays, and then about eleven-thirty, Miss Standish
rang and asked for her sleeping potion, and I gave it to her.”

“Are you sure you gave her the right prescription?” Dr. Harrison’s eyes
had bored past Dr. Hoffbein and into her.

She pouted her thick lips and lifted her ugly chin.

“Yes, sir, I’m positive. She went to sleep right away. You don’t think,
Dr. Harrison…?”

“What I think does not concern your story, Miss Kerr. Please continue.”

There was a slight tightening of her jaw, and had she had sense enough
to cry then, every man in the room would have felt beaten. She continued

“After I gave Miss Standish her medicine, the next patient had to have
her linen changed, and when I had finished with that, Miss Standish was
asleep. I could tell by her breathing.

“It was then almost midnight and I went to boil my syringes for the
midnight hypodermics, and while I was boiling them Mrs. Witherspoon, the
patient whose bed I had just changed, rang again, and I ran to see about

“And as I reached her bed, I found Dr. Cub Sterling leaning over Miss
Standish. He looked up and nodded, and….”

“Repeat your last three sentences, Miss Kerr. Repeat them twice! And
look at me while you do it.” Dr. Hoffbein’s voice was mesmeric.

Miss Kerr repeated them … twice….

They filled the room and permeated the senses of every man present like
poison gas.

Dr. Harrison shot his gimlet-like brown eyes into the narrow, close ones
of the student nurse.

“You are wrong, Miss Kerr. Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Junior, was in his

“I’m not! He was bending over Miss Standish. I know it. His bushy hair,
his funny shoulder….”

“Did he speak?”

“No, Dr. Harrison. He just nodded. Like he always does.”

“Why didn’t you _make_ him speak?”

“I couldn’t stop to. We had no more clean linen and I had to run for a
bed-pan for Mrs. Witherspoon.”

MacArthur’s hand beat upon his desk … hopelessly….

“Go on, Miss Kerr.” His voice was like a death-knell.

“And when I came back he was gone. He had hurried off the ward while I
was getting the bed-pan. And I went to Miss Standish as soon as I could.
She was still asleep. And I ran to William. He was asleep. And then I
started to ’phone the night supervisor, but it was time to give my
medicines … and Aunt Roenna always told us even if the building were
burning down, the medical patients must have their medicines on time. So
I began giving them their hypodermics. And when I could, I went to look
at Miss Standish. She was still sleeping.

“And then I finished the medicines and fever charts and called in the
rounds … I forgot to mention about Dr. Sterling because the supervisor
rung off so quickly … and I had to hurry from the ’phone to give out
three bed-pans. When I had finished the bed-pans I went to look at Miss
Standish again and she was dead … and so I called Aunt Roenna….”

“Why?” Dr. Harrison’s word hit her like a brick.

“Because she had told me to.”


“Last night before she went off duty.”

“What did she say?”

“She said, ‘All right, I’ll come over.’”

“Then you both _expected_ Rose Standish to die, Miss Kerr?”

All of this dialogue had gone on so swiftly that the girl had failed to
make her brain control her speech. It had come out … spontaneously….

“We didn’t either, only….”

Dr. Harrison decided that this was not the time for the truth. He passed
off her reply with, “What happened next?”

“I called the night supervisor and Dr. Mattus, and waited until they
came. And then….”

“From that point forward we have several eye-witnesses.” Dr. MacArthur
interrupted. “Thank you, Miss Kerr.”

He picked up his telephone and asked:

“Nursing office, please. Miss Merrill, will you please come for Miss
Kerr, student nurse, and put her to bed, and follow the orders given you
this morning. Thank you.”

The girl turned to speak and Dr. Harrison motioned to Dr. Peters to open
the door. He did so, as Miss Merrill appeared.

“Before we discuss this, let’s have the other witnesses,” Dr. Harrison’s
voice was relentless. But it failed to puncture the
self-righteous-I-told-you-so posture of Doctors Peters, Paton and

Dr. MacArthur said, “I think we might dispense with the orderly,
William, and with the day white nurse. According to the testimony of
everybody William slept through the murder. He is useless either to
condemn or confirm the girl’s statement. And the day white nurse seems
to me completely out of it. Here are Dr. Heddis and Rathbone.”

They entered and sat down quietly. The mental heat of the room stifled
them. They drew their handkerchiefs quickly and Dr. Heddis mopped his
leonine head and Rathbone his bald head furiously. Dr. Heddis felt
himself sinking into the tension. He spoke immediately:

“The findings upon the organs of Rose Standish, gentlemen, are that she
was murdered by coniine in such a quantity that it took effect in about
thirty to forty minutes. The left arm bore a hypodermic puncture; the
injection was larger than that administered in the other traceable case.
Her liver, spleen, lungs and stomach were suffused with the odor and the
substance. Because of the enormity of the dose, indications are that the
death was painless. She died of the customary respiratory paralysis.”

At least the testimony of these two men was definite and sane. The staff
sat forward attentively. Dr. Harrison asked:

“Ethridge mentions a sleeping potion in his report…?”

Dr. Heddis turned toward Peter Rathbone. Baldy’s wide straight shoulders
squared. His delivery was impressive:

“The potion was … bread pills. Dr. Sterling, Senior, came by the
pharmacy, around six, and left the order himself. It was his idea that
if the student nurse was doing the murdering and administered the
potion, without knowing its content (the copy upon Miss Standish’s chart
was for an intricate formula), she would create a trap for herself.”

MacArthur groaned, involuntarily. Hoffbein stated:

“He overlooked the psychic effect upon the patient.”

“It seems so, Doctor.” Rathbone’s words were slow and measured: “Dr.
Heddis is unable to trace a potion in the system, and I understand the
student nurse insists she administered the potion, so the obvious
assumption is that she is telling the truth and the effect was

“Bear’s endeavor to prove his son….” Barton ventured and Hoffbein
realized suddenly that he had been in temporary acquiescence with the
theory of Cub Sterling’s innocence, and hastened to add:

“Who, Baldy … er, Rathbone, except yourself and Dr. Sterling, Senior,
knew of the contents of the potion?”

“I can’t say, Doctor.” Rathbone’s mouth closed tightly, and Heddis
lifted his heavy body, as Barton inquired:

“With our methods of cadaver handling is putrefaction possible?”

Rathbone repeated the question to Dr. Heddis, who answered:

“Perfectly. Clip off a small portion of an arm or leg, before embalming,
and keep it….” He threw out his hand, “To a toxicologist the synthetic
possibility seems increasingly unfeasible. Formulas are too intricate,
and the discovery of the murderer that way would be worse than looking
for a penny in quicksand. Mean checking every organ of every cadaver….

“Look for the administrator, not the manufacturer. Someone with access
to the patients in that bed. Time enough after that person is found to
find out….”

He turned to Dr. MacArthur and said, “Any hour night or day, Mac….”

Rathbone, too, rose; his clear baritone filled the room:

“The medicine closets of all floors of Medicine Clinic were searched
again today. They reveal no coniine. The syringes check as to number but
are useless; the routine boiling eliminates any hope of tracing that
way. Is there anything else we can do, sir?”

“No, Rathbone,” MacArthur’s voice was hopeless and affectionate. “I wish
there were. Thank both of you, gentlemen.”

They were followed by Dr. Mattus, who came, as Cub had done the day
before with a doll tucked under his arm. This time the dolly wore a blue
dress and frilled bonnet and said, “Pa-pa. Pa-pa.”

Every man in the room shivered.

“For heaven’s sake turn that damn thing over!” Dr. MacArthur ordered.
“Where did you get it?”

“Found it in the desk of Miss Roenna Kerr.”

“Whew!” It was Dr. Barton who expressed the combined sentiments.

“When?” Dr. Harrison’s face was eerie with hope.

“When she was at Head Nurse Conference, and I went into her office
looking for some case reports.”

“Did you face her with it?”

“No, Dr. MacArthur, I did not. I brought it to you. Only first, I
happened, casually, to learn that her niece won a similar doll at a
street fair last week. She went with a party of nurses during her P. M.”

Dr. Harrison’s fringe of white hair haloed his face. He looked like a
man coming out of torture.

“Tell what you know about last night, Mattus.”

“Dr. James, interne, and I examined Miss Standish yesterday afternoon.
Found her normal in every respect and in good spirits. By Jove … when
I came on the ward, Miss Roenna Kerr was trying to put her in another
bed … and I ordered her into Bed 11. Did not see Miss Standish again
until around ten when I was called to the ward for a heart case. She was
still awake and cheerful; told her Dr. Bear had ordered a sleeping
potion and to call for it if she needed it.”

“What was the potion?” Dr. MacArthur interrupted.

“Veronal, sir. He handed me the prescription as he left Medicine Clinic,

The men stirred and Mattus continued:

“When I saw Miss Standish again, she was dead.”

“Did you see Miss Roenna Kerr on the ward after the murder?”

“Yes, sir. She arrived soon after I did and I presumed Dr. Sterling,
Junior, had sent for her. That’s all I know, sir. Except that Cub, Dr.
Sterling, Junior, left his father and made rounds on that ward to calm
the hysteria this morning about nine and had the heaven-sent sense to
say his father was ill. The women are wallowing in sympathy and have
almost forgotten the death of Miss Standish.

“Dr. Bear is sinking, gentlemen.”

When he was gone, Dr. Peters suggested calling Miss Roenna Kerr, but Dr.
Harrison opposed it.

“Not on your life. You are out to convict Cub Sterling. I’m out to save
him. Let’s have it out in plain words. Bear is on his deathbed.”

Princeton interrupted abruptly, “Harrison, isn’t there some hope? Dear
Bear’s physique….”

Dr. Harrison turned on him coldly.

“No. No, dear Peters. His eyes will not be better, tomorrow. They will
be closed!”

“Then don’t you think we had better wait until after the funeral?”
Prissy intervened.

“Hell, no!” Harrison snorted. “Bear Sterling is the best friend I ever
had. He dragged me out of the gutter and made a doctor of me. Either his
son is cleared, or I’ll not be caught at his funeral with you skunks!”

His anger was so intense that nobody dared object. Princeton wiped his
brow clean with a lavender silk handkerchief and Harrison continued:

“He cannot defend his son who by his own murderers is accused of
murdering patients. Well, I know his son is innocent!”

“How do you know it?” Hoffbein hypodermicked.

“By a method that none of you three could ever comprehend. Because I
trust the man. Now let’s get down to tacks. If Ethridge is innocent he
ought to be cleared before sunset. If he is guilty he ought to be hanged
before then. Clearing him or convicting him with the police is out of
the question. But cleared he has got to be, and therefore I propose that
we instruct MacArthur to hire the best private detectives in the United
States to become patients on B Ward and orderlies throughout the
building, with the right to question any or all of us….”

“But why … why … Harrison…?”

“Shut up, Princeton…. I beg your pardon, Peters…. How do MacArthur
and I know that Miss Roenna Kerr and her niece are not working as
accomplices for you or Hoffbein in murdering patients in Ethridge
Sterling’s clinic?”

“Oh, oh, oh! Harrison you _don’t_ mean that!”

“I do, Peters.”

“You can’t realize what you are saying, man,” Hoffbein was soothingly

“I do, Hoffbein! I realize quite thoroughly that Bear Sterling’s son’s
reputation is as dear to Dr. Barton and Dr. MacArthur and to myself as
that of any world-famous man who ever had a patient in the Elijah Wilson
Hospital. I would sooner, much sooner, see the reputations of you three
scraped in the mire and flung away across the world by the tabloids than
to see the name of a man who cannot be present to protect himself
slurred by your nasty insinuations.

“His good name is just as valuable to us as yours are … more so …
and so far as we are concerned your honor needs cleansing a great deal
more than his does. The only way to cleanse any of our reputations now
is to quit treating every person … _whatever his rank_ … involved in
this matter … as innocent, and consider all of us guilty until the
criminal is caught.

“Do any of you suspect MacArthur? Well, that’s something in your favor.
MacArthur, you hire the detectives, and instruct them to consider all of
us guilty … until we are proved innocent….

“And in case any of you have any scruples whatever about talking I wish
you to remember that Barton’s brother is the Attorney-General of this
state and at one word from MacArthur he will have all of you _made_ to
talk … to save your own reputations, let alone that of the blessed

“Miss Roenna Kerr, working through her niece as accomplice, outside of
Ethridge Sterling, Junior, is the other suspect. She has been a patient
of every man sitting in this room with the exception of Dr. Barton, Dr.
MacArthur and myself. Consider your position, gentlemen….”

Continue Reading

A Brave Nurse

“Miss Kexter,” Miss Kerr still bore her rump and bust inflated, “this is
the new patient for Ward B.”

Beside her stood Rose Standish. She wore a plain blue coat suit and a
small black hat pulled down to her gray eyes.

Miss Kexter turned from Miss Kerr and looked at her.

“Hullo, Miss Standish,” she said. “You sick?” and reached for the small

“Hope not … much,” Miss Standish’s ivory face was somber. “Dr.
Sterling thinks I may have a bum lung. In for observation.”

They walked into the ward and Miss Kerr observed, “Two vacant beds. Oh,
yes, that patient in 21 went home, didn’t she? Put Miss Standish in that

Miss Standish looked upset. Trained nurses haven’t much use for a member
of their profession who has the chicken-heartedness to succumb to
physical ailments. And Miss Kerr’s manner plainly said so. But Rose
Standish had not been head nurse in the accident room three years
without being able to think quickly.

“Oh, please, Miss Kerr, mayn’t I be put in that vacant bed over there,
by the window?”

Miss Kerr, who had suspected something from the first and thought that
the vacant bed she had forgotten had forestalled Dr. Sterling’s plans,

“Certainly not. Any patient with a suspected lung should not be near a
window … and a nurse ought to know better than to want to be.”

The patients, who were too sick to be wheeled out upon the porch, looked
on with interest. Mrs. Witherspoon, who spent most of her waking hours
with her bed curtains drawn and upon a bed-pan, peeked out from between
the curtains. She leaned too far, and then exclaimed:

“Lan’ sakes, nurse! Nurse, come quick!”

Miss Kexter vanished behind the curtains and Miss Kerr stood stiffly
looking out of the window, and Miss Standish placed her suitcase upon
the assigned bed and prepared to open it, but footsteps … male
footsteps … were coming up the corridor, so she hesitated. Dr. Mattus
spoke before he was in the ward. In fact he began speaking when he saw
Miss Standish standing by the bed.

“Hello! How are you feeling? Any weaker? You are not to sleep in that
bed. I want you by the window.”

Then he saw Miss Kerr, and smiled. That smile always saved him verbal
battles. It was delivered straightforward and deep into the eyes of the
avenging female, whatever her age. Miss Kerr moistened her lips and
prepared to resist it, but Miss Kexter had returned from Mrs.
Witherspoon’s disaster and Dr. Mattus turned to her quickly.

“Please get Miss Standish undressed immediately, I want to do a physical
upon her.”

“I can undress myself, Dr. Mattus.”

“You cannot. Until we can definitely locate your area, the more rest,
the better. Remember that, young lady, and be a good patient.”

He smiled at her … and she returned it … and Miss Kerr went down the
corridor and into the medicine closet door.

Dr. Mattus went for his stethoscope, Miss Kexter went to an insistent
telephone and Rose Standish drew the curtains and undressed. Then she
folded her best pink rayon panties and undershirt, her chiffon stockings
and silk blouse with the rose-point and her plain suit and put them into
the small suitcase. On top she placed her hat and patent leather pumps.
She put her hairbrush … the ivory one with heavy bristles which Tony
had given her (he had bought it with five dollars an Italian pressed
upon him when he delivered the man’s wife in externe-obstetrics) …
onto the bedside table and laid her tooth brush and paste beside it.

She re-opened the suitcase and took from a pocket in the top the same
volume of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnets from the Portuguese” she
had been reading at luncheon.

She put her purse in the bedside table, closed the suitcase, dropped her
black satin bedroom slippers from her feet, slipped off her black rayon
kimona and got into bed.

She wore her only silk nightgown and it felt soothing upon her small
round breasts. It caressed her thighs. She opened her book, pulled back
the curtains and began to read.

A student nurse came on the floor and took the suitcase and brought the
bed-pan for a specimen. Then she asked if there was anything else, and
went away.

Mrs. Witherspoon, who had completed her operations for the moment,
emerged from her curtains.

“Good evin’, dearie. Hope you feelin’ fair?”

“Yes, thank you. How are you feeling?”

“Better, dearie. You don’t remember me, do you?” Her small murky eyes
fastened themselves upon Rose’s near cheek.

Rose laid down her book and smiled at her kindly.

“No, I’m sorry, but I am afraid I do not remember. I’ve been sick and
tired and my memory isn’t very good, Mrs….”

“Witherspoon, honey. I come through the accident room a week ago comin’
Sunday. My insulatin’ was low. Too much sugar you know, honey … and
you was so kin’. I could scarce speak and you was so kin’. I’ll never
forgit how kin’ you was, showin’ me the labatory, an’ all.

“You done me so nice that I thinks I ought to tell you, dearie, ’bout
thet bed. Three people … countin’ the one … _they_ seys was operated
on … and Miss Kerr knows was daid … three patients done died in thet
bed sence Thursday. Miss Frisby, an awful nice girl with a goitre, and
Mrs. Overlea … she was a heart attacker … and then last night, Miss
Tuck. It looks suspicious, I seys. If I was you, dearie….”

She was interrupted by the reappearance of Dr. Mattus and Dr. Sarah
James. They pulled the curtains to Miss Standish’s bed and Mrs.
Witherspoon tucked her chins into her breasts and went back to her

Rose Standish noticed her feet felt like icicles.

When their examination was over she was frightened. You could not go
over any human being that thoroughly without finding something wrong,
and her nurse’s disdain for a person who allowed herself to get sick
disturbed her considerably. Suppose they really did find something and
kept her in bed here a month? A lot more than she had bargained for …

Mrs. Witherspoon laid down her crocheting and peered at the little
nurse’s pale face.

“They did you up kinda bad, dearie. All them blood tests and things.
Severe I calls it. A body can’t even keep her corns nowadays!”

Rose Standish laughed in spite of herself.

“Oh, I didn’t mind. A nurse gets used to things.”

“I reckin’ you right. I reckin’ you right. It’s pow’ful sad the amount a
body can put up with, whin you is used to it. Take me, dearie. I had
eleven children. Four breeches presentations, three feet, three dry, and
one nat’rul. And would you believe it, the nat’rul was the wors’! It
lef’ me kinda flat fo’ months. A body gits prepared to put up wid things
… thet hurts … now things like this sugar business … no pain, nor
nuthin’ … you can’t get resisted fur.”

“Relaxation, Mrs. Witherspoon, is the best weapon with which to fight
disease. I’m tired. I think I’ll take a nap.”

“Do you good, dearie. Excitement and all, and then puttin’ you in thet
bed, too. Death-beds is weakenin’. It takes a sunnin’ every day and a
good six months to make a mattress lose a death struggle.”

Rose Standish turned her face to the window and closed her eyes, and
shivered. “Lose your heart, lose your appendix, lose anything, but don’t
lose your nerves,” was what Tony always said.

Ridiculous to be feeling like this. Crazy. Perhaps if she tried to think
about something else, then her feet would quit perspiring. Think about
the way Dr. MacArthur had looked when she offered to come … Galsworthy
said that your mouth was what you had become but your eyes were what you
were…. Dr. MacArthur’s eyes were like wave crests against a blue, blue
sky. Clean and deep and clear, when he had turned them into her, stood
up, and said:

“You have done more for me in fifteen minutes than anybody in the
hospital has ever done. You have picked me out of despair.”

She began to tremble again and then she realized that it was the way he
had looked when he said it that made her tremble. That look was the
grandest thing that had happened to her since Tony kissed her the day he

Of course she must expect to be jumpy, to feel fidgetty, to get dry in
the throat; good heavens, all of that was perfectly natural under the
circumstances! Dr. MacArthur had even told her to expect it, and he had

“If you get scared, shift your mind to something else. You are like a
doctor observing an operation, you are like an important actress
watching a play of which she knows all of the lines being enacted by
amateurs. Remember what you used to do as a student nurse and see,” and
then he smiled wryly, “if the routine has changed one second’s worth. I
bet it hasn’t.”

She opened her eyes and felt better. She looked at her watch and found
it was four forty-five. Time to bring the patients in off the porch and
prepare for supper. Behind her she heard a voice and turned over. The
woman, whose bed stood next to Mrs. Witherspoon’s, had been rolled into
place already!

She was as insignificant as a dried corn stalk. Heart case probably.
That queer revived look a wilted flower has when you stick the stem in
hot aspirin water. She was saying:

“The air was swell! It’s comin’ on cool and ’pears like we may get a
thunder shower by bed-time.”

Across from Rose Standish’s bed had been rolled that of a tremendously
fat woman. Some sort of thyroid insufficiency. The outlines of her obese
legs were visible under the sheets. Rose shivered. Nice job bathing a
hog like that. She had seen one in the accident room last winter with
secondary burns. Fat, layers and layers and layers. Awful to operate

The woman smiled at her and began speaking:


“Yes. Miss Standish,” Mrs. Witherspoon supplied.

Rose bowed politely.

The fat woman whispered loudly:

“I seen her, Mrs. With’spoon!”

“Seen who?”

“Seen … Her…!”


“Who is ‘Her’?” Rose asked.

The fat woman toppled with knowledge. Mrs. Witherspoon snatched the
words from her parting lips.

“The patient in Room Two. They say she was hurt in a bus acci-dent. But
thet was Thursday, an’ she ain’t daid yit. The windie shade is always
drawed and the nurses acts like she ain’t no sicker then the rest….”

“She’s awful prutty,” the fat woman tried to interrupt.

Mrs. Witherspoon continued:

“Callin’ thim dyin’ patient rooms an’ puttin’ thim ’tween the ward an’
the porch! I ain’t no hosbittle fixer, but it ’pears to me, I’d a put
’em closen onto the nurse’s dest….”

Rose Standish laughed softly.

“For a dying patient, Mrs. Witherspoon, the Head Nursing Office sends a
general duty nurse to do ‘special charting’. So dying patients have
private nurses. It doesn’t matter where the rooms are.”

“She ain’t got no privett nurse!” the heavy woman hissed.

“Perhaps the hospital was full and they put her there when she came in
and can’t risk moving her. Have you been here long?” Rose said.

The woman lifted her pendulous breasts and swung them out from the body.

“Whew! Hot today! Three weeks goin’ on Monday, mam. Long enough to know
thet I wouldn’t sleep in thet bed, you is in, not for a million

“What’s the matter with it?” Rose inquired demurely.

“It’s … it’s …” her breasts rested upon her bed as she leaned
forward, “It’s a death….”

But Miss Kexter’s appearance on the ward brought her speech to a sudden
halt. She flopped her body back upon the pillows and smiled weakly.

“When I think of all the clothes I got to wash whin I get outa here. I
prides myself my chillun is the cleanest goin’, and the teachers always
seys so, too. In all the health campaigns at School 17, Willie is always

But Rose Standish heard no more. Miss Kexter was standing beside her bed
and saying, “When did you decide to be sick?” Miss Standish caught the
sarcastic banter in her voice and replied lightly, “I haven’t. And I
hope I aren’t.”

Miss Kexter stood perplexedly by for a moment, pondering that phrase. “I
aren’t, I am not, I aren’t,” she kept saying it over and over to
herself. Rose Standish had been to college. She couldn’t be wrong, yet
that didn’t sound right, somehow … “I aren’t.”

“Sorry this happened to you when the infirmary was closed. You must hate
it on a ward. Hard as we work, I must say in spite of the depression, I
think the nurses ought to be allowed to be sick in private, don’t you?”

“Don’t know,” Rose’s voice had taken on its accident room clip, but the
tone was conversational. “Came so suddenly hadn’t thought about it.
Awful jolt in a way. Glad to be put anywhere, just so it’s the Elijah

“How did you find it out?” Miss Kexter’s voice had lost the skepticism.

“Oh, I don’t know. Been running an afternoon temperature, and then
yesterday I spit a little blood, so I went to Dr. Cub Sterling.” She
shrugged her shoulders despairingly.

“That’s a shame.” Miss Kexter’s voice, like her face, was shallow and
flat. “You don’t mind that bed, do you?”

Rose’s “No. Why?” was casual.

“Oh, nothing. Just that three patients went out in it this week and they
put us on the spot about it.” She had leaned forward and her whisper was
flat, also. “There’s been holy hell around here. They were all patients
of Father and Son.”

“Anybody know what killed them?” Rose’s voice was curiously inquiring.

“The Angels, darling. How the hell should I know? Even ‘Foots’ hasn’t
seen their charts since autopsy and is she mad? ’Bout to bust a

Rose Standish laughed in spite of herself. The thought of Miss Roenna
Kerr bursting a brassiere fitted in perfectly with her own suppressed

Her laugh was high and thin and flutelike. It saved her tears. It
cleared her system. All of her accumulating fear escaped into it.

Miss Kexter’s common face expanded into a grin.

“Shut up, Standish,” she begged, “or _you’ll_ bust a lung.”

Rose didn’t wait to simmer down. She hushed immediately. She had, for
the moment, forgotten she was ill.

The woman with the pendulous breasts swayed forward and said, “Let a
fellow in on the joke, sister.”

But Mrs. Witherspoon’s raucous voice demanded, “Tend to me, Miss Kexter.
A pan, quick!” And as she ran from the ward Miss Kexter turned and
ordered, “Don’t talk to Miss Standish, now. She’s got to be quiet.”

Rose turned upon her side and looked out of the window. She put her thin
little face against her flattened hands and lay completely still. That
laugh had made her realize how tired she really was, and how silly she
had been to let the superstitions of these women frighten her. What she
needed was a nap and then she’d be all right. She closed her lovely eyes
and snuggled into the pillows.

It wasn’t coming to the ward that had made her so awfully tired, but
remembering all … all everything … about Tony again. For two years,
now, she had taught her mind to close up as suddenly as a four-o’clock
when she began to remember. Remembering was no good, it only made you
ache in your back and sting behind your eyes.

Still if she was afraid again, it wouldn’t hurt to make believe. Make
believe, as she used to do when she first knew Tony and wished she could
get sick and nearly die and have pneumonia, and heart trouble and …
and then she smiled to herself at the funny child she had been. If she
had ever come down with a combination of any two of the diseases she had
desired in trios and quartettes, she would have never recovered … and
the object of those imaginary illnesses had always been to get well and
marry Tony!

She was aroused from her reverie by a student nurse saying, “Miss
Standish, are you ready to wash? Here’s your basin.”

She looked at her watch and smiled at the child.

“Right on time, aren’t you?”

The girl laughed merrily.

Rose threw her head to one side and inquired, “And supper will be along
in a minute?”

“Yes, mam. I’m going to begin bringing it in, right now.”

Rose sat erect and wrung her wash cloth out and ran it over her small
face. The water felt good. She wrung it again and laid it behind her
ears. That felt good, too. She took a small comb from her hand bag and
slid it through her short black hair. Then she wrung the cloth out
carefully, folded it as she had been taught to do when a pupil nurse,
and brushed her teeth into the basin.

This was nice. It was fun being in bed in a ward of perfectly strange
women, rather than in a stuffy infirmary with six or seven nurses
talking shop and telling jokes all the time. She looked down the ward at
the rows of beds, and the glass partition which separated them from the
other fourteen beds; at the place where the partition stopped in the
center of the ward to create an aisle and then at the white beds beyond.
Through the far windows was a perfectly glorious sunset, and out of her
own window just the feathery beginning of new leaves upon an old tree.

She had never seen the ward from this angle. It was really a very pretty
sight, when viewed from bed and with nothing to do. Perhaps it was
because she had been through so much emotionally today that it looked
especially pretty. Things did, after such days.

Or perhaps it was because she wasn’t rushing to get everything in order
before the duty changes, rushing to remember this and do that. For once
her day was ending with the sun’s setting.

It was a good feeling. She stretched her toes and the covers swelled
with her rising breasts. And now in a few minutes supper would be along.

The ward was full of chatter, but she didn’t hear it. A voluptuous
relaxation was upon her. In bed. At sunset. Awaiting supper, and
watching the ugly faces of old women bloom, with the softening light …
and the new leaves on the tree taking on that clear green which hurt.

“You are the last in line, so I’m a half minute late in bringing it to
you,” the student nurse apologized, poising her tray. “Want to sit up?”

“Please, nurse,” Rose responded in a very helpless voice.

The nurse wound up her bed, took away the wash basin and Rose began her

It fitted in exactly with her mood, and seemed, at the moment, much
nicer than the meals she had in the nurses’ dining room.

Cream of tomato soup, and batter-bread and liver with bacon and lots of
gravy, and lettuce salad with thousand island dressing, and then for
dessert stewed pears … the only stewed fruit she liked. How utterly

She began “tasting” and discovered that her milk had real cream in it,
too. That was sumptuous!

She ate with a dainty grace which captivated Mrs. Witherspoon, who put
down her soup bowl from which she had been drinking, and announced
“Birdlike! That’s what you are! Set a body wondering soon as I seen you.
Lift your fork as refined as a canary does his foot. Pleasure to watch
you at your victuals, dearie.”

Rose laughed and blushed simultaneously.

Ward women made you feel so nice, somehow….

At seven Miss Kexter and the student nurse went off duty. They had both
come to her and asked if there was anything she specially wanted before
they left. But, of course, there wasn’t, and Miss Kexter had said,
“Please be alive in the morning, Standish.”

And they had both laughed.

After Miss Kexter had gone Mrs. Witherspoon looked over her spectacles
and announced:

“I hearn what she said, dearie. Guess you feel like the clown who was
sick and the doc said, ‘See you in the morning,’ and the clown seys,
‘Sure you will, doc, but will I see you?’ Brave, them circus people. An’
loyal, my soul! They are paying for you, ain’t they, Woodsie?”

She turned to the shrivelled woman with the bad heart. The woman’s face
outshone the sunset.

“Payin’ my pension like I done for many a trouper before me. Circus
folks never let each other down. Never!”

“Who did you travel with?” Rose, who had been “letting her supper down,”
a new and delightful experience, turned and asked.

“I done the back somersault in Barnum and Bailey’s up to 1906. Then I
fell … I ain’t ever known how, but the ringmaster seys the horse
slipped … in Minneapolis that August … and I ain’t ever been right

“You must have had a wonderful sense of balance and courage.” Rose’s
voice carried awe.

“If you ain’t got guts you’d better stay outa circuses, and nursing,
too, I guess.” The woman’s voice had a note of admiration.

The two student nurses who had the seven to nine duty began preparing
the ward for the night. One brought around the bed-pans and tooth-mugs.
Mrs. Witherspoon, and the woman who had been a bareback rider, extracted
their teeth and placed them in their mugs.

The other nurse came around with the thermometers and started counting

The conversation ceased.

Rose Standish put forward her wrist for the child to count her pulse.
How young this pupil nurse looked. How young and frightened!

She was trying to think of something to say to her when the negroes on
the floor above began singing. Through the melody of their voices …
she had been in the accident room so long, she had forgotten about their
singing after supper, she lost touch with the student nurse. A high
soprano fluted: “Swing lo … o … Sweet Char … ee … ot.”

And suddenly she knew their plaintive harmony, the admiration of the
patients, the sense of work ceasing with the day, had left her
tremendously happy and glad to be here. Glad she was part of the Elijah
Wilson! And she was part of it! Dr. MacArthur had said:

“We are planning to enlarge the accident room. You are the first person
I have told about it. And while you are lying in that bed, I want you to
decide what changes you think it would be wise to make. You can be a
great help to me, if you will.”

A great help … and every head nurse in the hospital would give her
eyebrows to have him say that to her! As soon as the ward quieted down,
she’d have to begin to think about it … or perhaps it might be best to
wait until tomorrow and let the singing of the negroes lull her to

She wasn’t afraid any more. And anyhow Dr. MacArthur had said, so far as
evidence was concerned, she had nothing to be afraid of, except
hypodermics, and she would like to see the person who could give her a
hypo now! She would like to see two people try to give her….

Down the corridor she caught a glimpse of Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Senior,
and Dr. Sterling. Was Dr. Bear shrinking or did he just look so little
and chubby because he was walking beside Dr. Cub? They both looked
worried; when they entered the ward, they were smiling.

Their arrival created a nervous tension just the same. A sense of dread
filled the air. Dr. Sterling began doing his rounds and talking briskly
to his father about each patient. But Dr. Bear put his famous hands
firmly across his back and looked solid. Rose Standish frowned. He
looked just that way when a bad accident came in. Like it hurt him …
all over … too.

Finally they reached her bed and Dr. Sterling barked, “Good evening,
Miss Standish. Want Father to look you over. This condition sometimes
comes from effusion and is operative.”

The student nurse hovering in the background ran for the instrument
basket, and Dr. Sterling began drawing the bed curtains.

Dr. Bear was already leaning over and looking straight into her eyes
with his measuring ones.

“All right?”

Her bloodless lips turned a pinkish red. They accentuated the ivory
pallor of her peaked face.

“Perfectly, thank you. But if I get examined many more times, you are
bound to find something wrong, somewhere. How are you, sir?”

It was fun to be talking to Dr. Bear this way. He was accepting her as
an equal, sort of….

“I’m tired. Did two bad carcinomas this morning. Breasts. Two ruptured
appendices, and a gall-bladder, and I’ve a cold.”

“Then why not wait and go over me in the morning, sir?”

“Because I’m the parent of an electric dynamo,” he growled and the nurse
and Dr. Sterling, Junior, reappeared.

“What are you waiting for?” Dr. Bear frowned at the pupil nurse.

“To hand you what you want, sir.” she replied woodenly.

“You can’t. What I want is rest. My son will hand me what I need. You go
back to the ward.”

The nurse backed out hesitantly. Miss Kerr had said every nurse in the
building must permit no doctor to approach any patient without being
present all of the time … but … but….

Mrs. Witherspoon’s, “Nurse! Tend to me….” and then “Hurry, nurse!”
sent the girl running.

Dr. Bear put his stethoscope carefully to his ears and listened to Rose
Standish’s chest.

“Do everything you ought to. Don’t make me ask you,” he ordered.

She inflated, deflated, said “A … A … A….” held her breath, turned
so that he could listen through her back. Repeated it all for Dr.
Sterling, Junior, who listened carefully to her heart.


Dr. Bear winked at her.

“‘Two physicians at the oar will row you to the Stygian shore,’” he

Miss Standish laughed, and Dr. Cub Sterling gave both of them a harassed
stare. They sobered obediently.

The examination was thorough, painstaking and consumed almost half an
hour. At its conclusion Dr. Sterling, Junior, said a very clipped,
“Thank you, Miss Standish,” and vanished. And Rose knew how deeply
grateful he was, really.

His father lingered long enough to say:

“He’ll explode some day. Thank you, my dear. Thank you very much.”

He took her thin little hand in his capable one and growled:

“You are nervous, aren’t you? I’m going to tell Mattus to give you a
bromide, if you need it.” And then he squeezed her hand gratefully and
uttered, for the edification of the ward, a very professional, “Good
night, Miss Standish.”

“Good night, Doctor.”

Her reply was professional, but she put her hand under the cover and
squeezed it herself.

Dr. Bear was a darling. It had been sweet the way he had explained Dr.
Sterling’s attitude and then thanked her himself.

When this was all over, how many real friends she would have gained. But
she mustn’t forget that she was here for a purpose. Perhaps if she took
a short nap now, she would be in better trim for the real thing … if
it came….

She turned over and tried to sleep, but the tension on the ward was so
overpowering that she thought perhaps if she entered the conversation
she might discover … or maybe she was just imagining things and the
thunderstorm which was brewing was causing that feeling.

If only they would all begin to talk of something they were interested
in and not to cover up what they were thinking.

There came a lull and she asked Mrs. Witherspoon:

“Do you think the flavor is better when you cook pork with sauerkraut,
or without it?”

“Without it!” chimed in the woman with the enormous legs. “I give it to
my children since they was babies and I always cooks it thorough …
four to five hours … and then….”

“You do?” Mrs. Witherspoon laid down her crocheting, inserted her teeth
and became emphatic.

“Thet saps all the taste. Mr. Witherspoon likes hisn so ez the pork and
kraut is mixed flavored, if you know what I mean. Ain’t it awful
leathery, yo’ way?”

“It ain’t the cookin’ time, as I was about to say,” the fat woman drew
up her chins, “it’s the _cookin’_ way.”

“I got one of them steamer cookeths. It doz gran’,” lisped the ex-circus

Mrs. Witherspoon gave her a frivolous glance, and replied positively:

“I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout workin’ them new fangled things. But I’ve et
from them. Eddie May, Sammy’s wife,” both of her listeners nodded, “the
one what come to see me Satd’y has one. And Mr. Witherspoon seys after
we went to Sammy’s Easter dinner, ‘Jennie, the only way to cook victuals
is to cook ’em with the eye. Baste ’em, and taste ’em, and it’s jes’
like stokin’ an ingine,’ he seys, ‘you got to keep yo’ eye to it.’ If
you know what I mean….”

This precipitated a hot argument upon washing machines, with the fat
woman as the defendant. So Rose Standish shifted her attention to the
clouds. If the women kept up for fifteen minutes more … and if she
knew wards they were good for hours … the thunderstorm would be here,
and they would be quieted down for the night.

She looked at her watch. It was almost nine. Time for the night nurse to
be coming along, in just a few minutes. And while she was waiting for
her to come and bed the ward down, she might as well begin to think
about the accident room.

Those scrub-up basins should be moved across the room and as far away as
possible from the door in which the accidents were brought. And then,
too, some arrangement should be made to equalize the lighting over the
two tables. And also to give the nurse at the instrument table enough
light to see what she was handing. And in some of the badly mangled
cases, it would quicken things considerably if a passageway was built
directly into the elevator corridor, so that they might be hurried up to
the operating room.

Then, of course it was a little thing, but awfully important nervously:
the girl who took the doctors’ dictation onto the typewriter ought to
have a noiseless machine. And it would be terribly hard to convince the
Superintendent of Nurses, but she was going to tell Dr. MacArthur that
she needed another student nurse on duty there. After a football game or
a big race meet when the automobile accidents began to pour in, it was
frightful. There was nobody, except the girl at the typewriter who
couldn’t stop, whose hands were not all gory and spotted every paper
they touched.

She was distracted by a flash of lightning, Mrs. Witherspoon’s, “Lan’
sake, nurse, I’ve wet my bed,” and Miss Kerr’s niece, the night student
nurse leaning over her and purring:

“Miss Standish, are you better? Here’s your thermometer.”

Perhaps it was her voice coming so soon after the flash, but there
seemed something too saccharin in its tone to Rose Standish. She
shivered before she turned to take the extended thermometer.

Of course she knew Miss Kerr’s niece was the night student nurse they
were watching, but somehow she didn’t associate the name and the girl.
She had never liked this girl when she had been in the accident room. No
real heart, and stubborn and cattish … and then her eyes were too
close together….

With barely a fleeting smile, Miss Kerr thrust the thermometer into Miss
Standish’s hand and ran to close the windows. It had begun to rain.

While the windows were being closed Bessie Ellis, the child down the
ward who had received the toy in the night, began crying in her sleep.
She had been disturbed by the lightning, and her moans made the women

Several of the women called out to her and Mrs. Witherspoon’s lisping
(her teeth again removed), “Alwite bavvy, don cwy,” struck Miss Standish
as highly amusing. She slipped her thermometer around and laughed. Miss
Kerr, the student nurse, flopped down the last window and went to the
moaning child.

While she was walking down the ward there came another flash of
lightning, a sudden hissing, and the lights went out. It was followed by
a panicky silence and then the hysterical laughter of Mrs. Witherspoon.

Rose Standish ducked as if she had been hit, and as she ducked something
began choking her about the neck. She spit her thermometer upon the bed
and began tugging at the horrible pulling. A thing, like a brick, hit
her upon the head as she tried to sit up, and she thought, “it can’t be
the murderer, he only uses hypodermics,” and the lights went up, while
Mrs. Witherspoon was still laughing, and she saw Miss Kerr standing
between their beds, and reaching for her thermometer.

In a moment she understood that the sash of her kimona had become
twisted about her neck, and it was the book she had been reading and
stuck upon the edge of her pillow which had fallen … and it was all
absurd. All, that is, except the look in Miss Kerr’s eyes.

The surprised look, when she saw Miss Standish was still alive! Her
tongue was so dry she couldn’t speak and a horrible nausea began rising
within her, but Mrs. Witherspoon drew the girl’s evil eyes when she
demanded that her bed be fixed _now_.

Miss Kerr went for the sheets and Miss Standish lay down and turned her
face toward the window and tried to forget it all. She placed one of her
thin hands at the base of her brain and began massaging her neck. This
was no way to do. Get frightened at a little thing like a book hitting
you. A person who lost her nerve over such things wasn’t fit to look for
mice in a dark pantry let alone clear the reputation of Dr. Cub Sterling
and solve the terror of the Elijah Wilson. Forget it all for a few
minutes and remember the routine a student nurse should be following,

Of course the changing of Mrs. Witherspoon’s bed was throwing everything
slightly behind time, but that should be finished in a minute, and she
turned over to watch the girl make the bed. Her technique was excellent
and she was a swift worker. Seemed sure of herself.

Even from the back, Rose knew she didn’t like her. And never would. Miss
Kerr turned to finish the pulses. Then she began taking the flowers out
of the ward for the night. She took the pink roses which the clowns had
sent to the circus woman, and the nasturtiums the children had brought
the fat woman, and Mrs. Witherspoon’s tube rose … thank goodness …
and then she came back and gave out the final round of bed-pans, the
final glasses of water, and went for her medicine tray.

The little girl had gone back to sleep, but down the ward a gray old
woman, whose face was like cracked rock, was breathing with the horrible
labor of a heart attack. Rose Standish started to call the student nurse
and tell her to get Mattus right away, and then she decided that it was
about time she began to remember that she was a patient on the ward and
not a nurse.

Miss Kerr returned with the medicine tray. She gave Mrs. Witherspoon her
hypodermic, and almost as a sponge does water, the withered body soaked
it up, and she fell into a deep slumber. The woman with the thyroid
insufficiency had her sleeping potion and began the long slow breathing
of a laboring body.

The rain had broken the tension and the women were drifting off before
the lights were dimmed. It, with the aid of the drugs, of course, was
soothing and lulling them into oblivion. The long, slow torrents fell in
strips outside the window and drowned out the labored breathing of the
woman with the heart attack.

Rose lay perfectly still, so still she was almost drifting herself. Miss
Kerr had reached the bed in which the heart patient lay and at last
realized her condition … a tuned ear could have noted it down the
corridor … she turned and walked prissily off the ward … not
hurrying, and with her hips flat … and called Dr. Mattus. Rose could
hear her cooing out the dying woman’s condition, and gathered that he
was coming up.

In a few minutes he appeared and after a quick glance began pumping
digitalis into her … Rose could have told the nurse to do that! Then
when she rallied, and after the lights had been dimmed, he came by her
bed and said:

“All right, Miss Standish?”

“Perfectly. Thank you.”

He took her pulse and said:

“Good heart you’ve got. Dr. Sterling, Senior, said you could have a
sedative if you buckle. Ring for it, if you want it.”

“What’ll it be, doctor?”

He crinkled his long nose and sniffed, “Poison! Little nurses mustn’t
ask big questions! ’Night!”

His smile was broad, and forced.

By ten … Rose looked at her radio-light watch … the ward had “bedded
down” and the rain had diminished to occasional drippings. Everything
was cool and still. Miss Kerr had settled down to doing her fever charts
at the desk. Occasionally, she turned and peered into the darkened ward,
and Rose felt her looking at her bed, inquiringly.

She lay on her back, stretched her legs, put her arms at her sides,
little girl fashion, and began to breathe deeply. Perhaps if she did
that for thirty counts, she would drift off to sleep. If she buckled.
… she’d show ’em. Begin to get some rest … plenty of it … it had
been a long day … a trying evening … now everything was peaceful and
everybody was beginning to sleep.

But if she dared to go to sleep, why couldn’t the person … whoever it
was … come while she was asleep and … and….

She reached for her glass of water and took a drink. Her lips were so
dry it hurt to open them. This was foolish. How was her heart doing? She
took her pulse and discovered it was 106. Perhaps she had better have a
potion after all.

She looked toward the desk. Miss Kerr wasn’t there!

Continue Reading

The First Doll

Bear Sterling hurried back to take a look at his brain tumor. He had
stopped for a few words with Cub, but Cub had insisted that he must get
back to his clinic and relieve Mattus. So after finishing with the brain
tumor, which was coming along nicely, Bear went to his own office, shut
the door, lay down upon a couch and went to sleep.

There was a crisis ahead. He needed a nap.

Dr. Barton did his rounds, discussed three unusual children with his
resident, did as much work and appeared as natural as possible for an
hour, and then filled his pipe and began the process of elimination on
the evidence.

Dr. Harrison had a fifteen minute survey with his resident; afterward
locked himself up in his laboratory and settled down to a “thinking

Hoffbein returned to his clinic and tried to behave as though nothing
had happened. His consultant and resident nearly died of excitement.

Dr. MacArthur cleared his desk and endeavored to clear his mind. He had
just rung for his secretary and prepared to go upstairs and lie down in
a vacant interne room and get some rest, when Prissy Paton and Princeton
Peters slipped in and closed the door behind them.

“Can you give us a minute, MacArthur?” Peters’ voice was sepulchral.

Prissy stood in the background and looked as if he were going to cry.

“Certainly. What’s on your minds? Sit down.”

They sat upon the edges of the chairs.


“Go on, Peters, and tell him,” Prissy prompted in his treble.

Princeton’s eyes took on their purple mist and he began:

“Dear MacArthur, what we are about to tell you is drawn out of us by our
great love for the Elijah Wilson … and for you. We feel you must know,
and we could not tell you in front of Bear. It would have killed him.”

“What is it? Get to the point.”

“Last night at midnight, Dr. Paton and I were coming up the corridor
from Woman’s Clinic … I had been to see about the eyes of the
president of the Woman’s College … sudden attack … and Ethridge came
out of the door of Medicine Clinic just ahead of us.”

Dr. MacArthur put his hands under his desk and gripped his knees. His
voice, however, was perfectly calm, as he replied.

“You must have been mistaken, Dr. Peters. Ethridge said he was in his

“That is the saddest part. We heard him say it! And we could not both be
mistaken about Ethridge’s back. His queer walk, MacArthur. One shoulder
higher than the other…. And we both saw it.”

“But you say yourself that neither of you saw his face, Dr. Peters.”

“You are quite right,” Prissy purred, “we did not see his face … but I
would swear upon my mother’s Bible that it was he.”

“I’ll ask him,” MacArthur’s voice was decisive.

“Please, MacArthur, don’t act hastily! It would be futile to ask _him_,
and if it were not for the horrible slur upon the hospital….”

Princeton’s pleading was so intense that he did not note Dr. MacArthur’s
silent anger, but Prissy sensed it.

“You must get some rest, MacArthur,” he soothed. “Come on Peters,” and
at the door he finished. “Great decisions must be made and we shall not
meet them unprepared.”

Miss Evelina Kerr, student nurse, lay prone upon her bed, sobbing
bitterly, silently, rackingly. Outside her door a supervisor from
Medicine Clinic, off duty at the time, sat erect in a straight back
chair, reading one of Edgar Wallace’s novels.

Up and down the hall of the Nurses’ Home voices rose and fell. The
nurses on night shift were awakening. Miss Roenna Kerr, head nurse in
Medicine Clinic, sailed down the polished floor and as her reflection
preceded her, a loud whisper sung.


The voices ceased, and the doors filled with blond, black,
straw-colored, yellow and red heads in all degrees of disarray. Thirty
pairs of eyes saw her switch her stern to a halt in front of the
supervisor and smile.

“Mattie! How sweet of you to stay by my child!”

Mattie said deferentially:

“Miss Kerr, anything … anything that I could do!”

Miss Kerr knew Mattie was playing policeman on orders from the
Superintendent of Nurses, but she also knew that Mattie was accustomed
to taking her own orders. Her lips drew to a beautiful firming and she
said huskily:

“Having you in training and upon my staff, Mattie, has been one of the
really great joys of a very trying life!”

Mattie began disintegrating, and Miss Kerr put her hand upon the knob of
her niece’s door and was inside before the supervisor could moisten her

The room was inky, the dark blue window shade was pulled even with the
sill. Miss Kerr whispered, involuntary, “Evelina!”

Two sobs inverted their explosion. The girl sat up beating the air. Miss
Kerr ignored her agony and began relentlessly:

“This is no time for hysterics. Come on and tell me! What did you tell

“Who, Auntie?”

“The General Staff.” Each letter of each word came bitingly.

“Nothing, Aunt Eeenie!”

Miss Kerr threw out her chin, and enunciated carefully:

“No woman can talk to that many men about nothing for half an hour. You
fail to realize Evelina that everything you have you owe to me. Your
training, your education, your clothes, even the straightening of your
teeth I paid for!”

The girl cringed in the blackness. Her voice was subservient:

“I … I … know it, Auntie. I swear … to God … I didn’t tell them
… and I never will! I’d get thrown out of training … before …

Miss Kerr’s words sealed her lips. They beat into her brain:

“A private who accuses his general … is always court-martialed!”

Then she turned upon her heel and closed the door after her.

For ten minutes the student nurse sobbed dryly. Complete exhaustion then
smothered the sobs. She fell asleep.

In the nurses’ cafeteria the first group were beginning to choose their
lunches. The white uniforms of the graduate nurses and the blue uniforms
of the student nurses with their white collars and cuffs reflected the
glare from the thin curtains at the sunlit windows.

Near a table occupied by four student nurses sat Rose Standish, head
nurse in the accident room. Her small ivory face was buried in a volume
of “Sonnets from the Portuguese” and she guided the teaspoons of
gelatine and whipped cream into her mouth by a sense of feeling, not
sight. Her outer eye was transferring to her inner one the charm of a
mind drenched in the world’s great love.

The student nurse with a raucous Kansas whine was saying:

“What’s happened to ’Lina Kerr?”

“I don’t know. Why?” responded a flat Alabama drawl.

“I saw her in the corridor with two supervisors at ten o’clock and
Minnie says they’ve got her locked in her room and won’t let anybody
talk to her. She … she … looked frightful.”

“Where have you been for the last week?” a Virginian purred. “Three
people have died on the ward where she has night duty and they all are
trying to blame it on her.”

“Have you lost your mind, Lizzie?” sneered the Alabamian.

“Well, if you don’t believe me, why did you ask me? They had her up
before the General Staff this morning.”


“Yes. Honest! That’s sweet for her, if you ask me.”

“Jumping Jehosophat! You think she did it?”

“No. Of course not. Dr. Cub Sterling was the doctor on all of the

At the mention of his name the conversation she had just been hearing
re-echoed in Rose Standish’s mind and she looked up just in time to
catch the shrug of the girl’s thin shoulders and her smirk.

“Did he?”

“How should I know?” the girl shrugged again.

Rose Standish closed her book and rose. She wanted air, and plenty of
it. Ever since the second year of her training she had had a very secret
passion for Cub Sterling. Ever since that time he caught her on the
stairway behind the pharmacy kissing … she blushed when she thought
about it … Tony Watson, one of his internes … and never told
anybody, and then when Tony had pneumonia and died, he had let her help
to nurse him and … be with him … at the last.

She reached the sun-parlor of the Nurses’ Home and collapsed into a
chair. After all these five years the thought of Tony could do that to
her! After all these five years … and it was because that thought
could turn her body to liquid soap that she still was so deeply grateful
to Cub Sterling. He was white as chalk and always had been. Gold through
and through … and those student nurses suspected him of murdering
patients. The dirty cats! The rotten little worms! The nasty pigs!

Why, when he found her in Tony’s arms halfway down that pitch-black
stairway, he had pretended he didn’t recognize either of them. He had
laughed and said, “My mistake!”

And then when he had reached the lower doorway, before he opened it, he
turned … she could hear his voice, even now….

“It’s a disease worth having. Good luck!”

Good luck … good luck. She was looking out of the window at the
sunshine; she had long ago quit crying. The grating voice of a furious
woman came up the corridor toward her:

“And I think, Miss Williams, that the nursing staff should request Dr.
MacArthur to cast his attention upon other departments, if you know what
I mean.”

The voice reached the sun-parlor. It came from the firm lips of Miss
Roenna Kerr.

And it settled Rose Standish’s fate.

She rose, respectfully slipped out of another door and into the main
corridor of the hospital.

Doctors Peters and Paton closed the door to Dr. MacArthur’s office
softly behind him, and Dr. MacArthur was too weak to get up and open it.

He felt like a man ordered to fit a jigsaw puzzle during an earthquake.

Somewhere among the group of people he had seen this morning there had
been a liar. Out of them some person … in whom the hospital had placed
a trust … had lied to him, face to face. Coniine….

Malice and all uncharitableness, deceit and hate, murder and meanness.

He cradled his head in his arms and moaned. Cub Sterling, his godchild,
almost his own son, and with the exception of the old orderly William,
every witness…. And now two members of the staff.

How in heaven’s name could Cub ever clear himself … now….

He was so deep in his misery that he did not hear the door open and
quietly close. It was the voice which roused him.

A small nurse with an elfin face and large gray eyes was standing beside
him. She said:

“Please, Dr. MacArthur, may I speak to you, suh?”

He lifted his head and motioned her to a chair. She remained standing,
her upright little body with its slim legs and small, finely arched
feet, motionless.

Dr. MacArthur recognized that she had something tremendously important
to tell him. He smiled.

“What can I do for you, Miss … er…?”

“Rose Standish, suh,” she supplied.

When the staff re-convened, Hoffbein was irritated. He had gone about
his routine and lunched in the doctors’ dining room. While he was there
no other member of the staff entered and it had made him out a fool to
all the internes. Looked like he wasn’t “in” on the decisions. Prissy
and Princeton had had ample time to repent their rash disclosure and
were afraid; MacArthur might face them with it before Harrison and Bear
Sterling. Dr. Harrison and Bear Sterling looked tired and uncertain. Dr.
Barton’s open face had assumed its judgmatical mask. Dr. MacArthur eyed
each man carefully.

It was plain that all of them were ready to talk. He sat erect in his
chair and prepared for battle. The small chatter died out, and the seven
men silently awaited Cub Sterling.

At four minutes past two he entered. His bushy, curly hair was rumpled,
his left shoulder was hysterically high. In his right hand he carried a
small doll in a pink organdie dress and bonnet that continued crying,
“Ma-Ma, Ma-Ma.” He seemed unaware of the noise; but it pierced the other
men like a jigsaw. They all jumped and Dr. MacArthur’s face for the
first time appeared blank. Bear Sterling was the first to regain his
equilibrium; after all he had dealt with the man as a child.

“Cub. What in the hell have you got there?” he growled.

But Cub strode obliviously past him and Dr. Barton took the doll. She
stopped crying immediately. That and Dr. Barton’s action brought Cub to
a halt.

“Dr. MacArthur, that doll was found by Bessie Ellis upon the foot of her
crib in Ward B when she awoke this morning. Evidently a present someone
had put there during the night. Nobody on the ward knew anything about
it. It must have been left by….”

“Who is Bessie Ellis, son?” Dr. Harrison soothed.

“She’s a nephritis case we have had on the ward for several months. Six
years old and cute. Barton and Father know her.”

“Quite a pet,” Bear affirmed.

“Sinister!” Princeton Peters murmured.

“No. Real evidence,” Bear’s brows were thunderously low. “She must bear
the finger prints of the murderer.”

“Impossible,” Cub barked. “She has been handled by at least ten people
since Bessie found her.”

And then everybody began talking at once and Dr. MacArthur rapped for

“Gentlemen,” his voice was commanding, “each of you has had two hours in
which to think over the situation. I need not remind you that our
decisions must be the sum of our wisdom, and reached without emotion.
Therefore it is my suggestion that we, one at a time, state our
conclusions, beginning as we are sitting. Dr. Peters what is your

“I should rather, MacArthur, reserve….”

“No. Out with it. We’ll never get anywhere that way.”

Princeton’s lavender eyes paled with uncertainty. Cub’s sensational
entrance had wobbled his mind.

He moistened his thick lips and his voice lost its usual certainty. It
actually contained a tremor when he began:

“I have always, as you know, gentlemen, deferred to you upon any
question about which I was uncertain. I have always valued the opinion
of specialists above the opinions of … even of friends … where any
patient, whether dear to me or not, was involved.”

“Need I say, my dear MacArthur, that the Elijah Wilson is dearer to me
than a beloved patient, even? The condition is so horribly serious that
I am against delay. It should be referred immediately, in my opinion, to
a specialist, namely, the police. I feel it should be turned over, I
repeat, immediately.”

His speech fell upon them like descending plaster. Somewhere physically
they all jumped. Bear grit his teeth and snorted, Harrison scowled,
MacArthur gripped his knees….

Nobody spoke, except Barton.

“I’m against it!”

His voice was flat and final.

“Why?” Paton purred. “I, personally, am for it. Wholeheartedly.”

“Nonsense!” Dr. Harrison exploded before Dr. Barton could reply. “Sheer,
childish nonsense. Are you out to kill the hospital or the murderer,
Peters? I repeat, some linen is too foul to wash in public! It has taken
forty years and more to build up the reputation of this place and you
are planning to destroy it….”

“Why, Dr. Harrison, I’m not ‘planning’ anything. Dr. MacArthur asked me
for an opinion and I gave it. That’s all!”

“Beg your pardon, Peters. No offense.”

The antagonism stiffened.

Dr. MacArthur intervened, “Your opinion, Dr. Paton?”

“I agree entirely with Dr. Peters. Men trained in the detection of
criminals are the men to catch murderers.” Prissy folded his hands
righteously and sat in a waxy pose.

Dr. MacArthur ignored his silent disapproval and passed on.


“Against the police, suh. Entirely against them. Their intervention is
the way, to my thinking, to muddle the whole thing … and take an awful
chance of making the story public. Something must undoubtedly be done,
and done quickly, but what, suh, I frankly do not know.

“One thing which seems to me possible is to have every person connected
with the affair given a psychiatric examination by Dr. Hoffbein.”

Hoffbein’s back straightened and he smiled deeply.

“That’s in his line, it seems,” Dr. Barton finished.

“I’m against that … flat!” Bear Sterling mumbled. “In the first place
the only hope of ever catching the murderer is to pretend we are not
looking for him. At least twenty people are under suspicion as
possibilities. Remove any one of those twenty people and you may be
removing the murderer. Every person in connection with that ward in any
capacity whatsoever must continue there until the murderer is caught.
Otherwise … we senselessly throw our needle into a hay stack!”

“You’re right, Bear,” MacArthur replied. “Absolutely right!”

“What about the medical student doing routine tests on this ward?”
Prissy interposed. “Dr. Heddis said anybody could, with medical
knowledge…. What type of lad is he?”

“False clue,” Cub snapped. “He’s been home with the mumps for ten days.
The interne on the floor has been doing his work….”

“Well, what about Dr. … er…?”

“James. Sarah James,” Cub defied. “The doll rules her out of the last
one, at least. She was out of town yesterday.”

Dr. Barton who had been considering Bear’s statement replied:

“I see your point, Dr. Sterling, and it is an excellent one … but I
failed, evidently, to express myself clearly.” His voice was perfectly
even. “I was thinking of an examination of that student nurse.”

Cub Sterling sat forward and clipped, “So was I.”

His father turned his searching eyes into him and demanded, “What about

There was a knock at the door and it opened almost immediately. The
erect figure of the Chief Pharmacist shifted their attention. Baldy
Rathbone held in his hand a sheaf of telegrams.

Cub Sterling’s eyes followed those of the other men.

“I’m very sorry to interrupt, gentlemen, but this, Dr. MacArthur, is the
report about where coniine may be obtained.”

He held out the yellow sheets toward Dr. MacArthur.

“Where, Baldy?”

“It is available in gram quantities at the United Wholesale Drug Company
in New York, Parke Davis in Detroit, and the Burroughs Welcome Agents in
San Francisco.”

“Anywhere else?”

“No, sir.”

MacArthur took the telegrams. Baldy hesitated, massaged his shiny spot
and finished:

“They report no recent sales, sir.”

“Blind alley!” Bear Sterling grunted.

“I’m afraid so, Doctor. Anything else, Dr. MacArthur?”

Dr. MacArthur looked over his glasses and shook his head.

“Not that I can think of. Thank you for your promptness.”

“Dr. Heddis asked me to say, sir, that he has just checked the Medical
Library. There have been no reference works upon the subject out for
several years. He, therefore, feels that the student body is cleared.”

“Thank you again, Baldy.”

“May I ask a question?” Cub Sterling was clipping his words. “Will it
keep long?”

“What?” Baldy was resentful of his superior tone.


He turned and looked Cub Sterling full in the eye.

“I don’t know, Doctor. We have never handled it in the pharmacy.”

He was gone before Cub could reply; but his parting speech brought an
involuntary nod from Doctors Peters and Paton, and Hoffbein pierced Cub
with a barometer stare. Bear Sterling appeared to have missed the stab.

“Murderers always have motives. If we could find the motive…. What
about that girl and Hoffbein’s examining her. Where’s the harm?”

“The harm, Bear,” Dr. Harrison pulled his beard, “is (you will pardon
me, Hoffbein, and correct me if am wrong, please?) that presuming she is
the murderer, any examination different from that given any other person
might frighten her into a temporary respite, but it would not put us any
nearer a solution.”

“That is true. Perfectly true.” Hoffbein’s words were enunciated with a
finality, though Cub Sterling thought he hated to say them.

“And in view of the paper I found upon my desk when I returned at two
o’clock such an examination would seriously hinder our apprehension of
her … if she is the murderer.”

“What paper, Dr. MacArthur?”

“Haven’t I told you? I’m sorry. A typewritten sheet … here it is …
which states, Dr. Hoffbein … that because of two low marks she
received in a course in which Ethridge was lecturing last month, she has
dropped from seven to seventeenth in her class and will not be in line
for a staff job upon graduation. She cried straight through for three
nights afterward.”

The paper was still shielding the pudgy faces of Doctors Paton and
Peters, so Barton, the man furthest from them asked, “Who brought it?”

“I don’t know. My door was open and I found it upon my desk. It is
signed … also upon the typewriter … ‘A Student Nurse.’ Gentlemen, we
will never accomplish anything … unless we come to some conclusions.
Will you please give us your opinion, Dr. Hoffbein?”

Dr. Hoffbein’s eyes turned a liquid black. He folded his precise head on
one side and each word settled itself upon the air before its successor
was spoken.

“Gentlemen, I am not in favor of the police. A mental criminal is a
mental case. A murder of this type is undoubtedly a mental criminal. A
very clever, otherwise normal and possibly brilliant intellect. A man
… er … a person quite out of scope of … a police.”

He shrugged the police, with a final hiss, off his thin shoulders.

“What are your personal impressions, Dr. Hoffbein?” Bear Sterling

“I … I … er … as a psychiatrist … I cannot afford to have
personal opinions, Dr. Sterling.”

“Aw, for heaven’s sake! What d’y’_think_?”

Dr. Hoffbein’s little pigeon breast heaved. His eyes had completely lost
their whites.

“I … I … I … think,” he hesitated, and Bear cut in—

“Don’t be so damn slow about it!”

At that Hoffbein flared.

“It is my impression that action … drastic … and terrible should be
quickly taken to apprehend this dangerous man … and that action should
come through the psychiatric service.”

At last Bear Sterling caught the insinuations which hovered thunderously
over the room. He turned too purple for speech, so Dr. Harrison laid him
upon a sofa and murmured:

“Remember your heart, old timer. Remember your heart. Nothing to be
alarmed about. ‘Just a symptom of your disease.’”

And then he laughed heartily, and Dr. Otto Hoffbein ducked like a beaten
boxer. “A symptom of your disease” is a psychiatric term.

Cub Sterling got his father a glass of water. His hand trembled as he
held it. Barton eased a pillow under his head. Peters and Paton sat like
frightened schoolboys in the corner. Hoffbein was still cowed.

“Better, Bear?” Dr. MacArthur asked leaning over him. Dr. Harrison
turned and said:

“Here is the situation. It has to be met. You are going to accomplish
nothing by fighting. Every man in this room knows that between last
night and this morning a woman was murdered in this hospital. As a
result there have been some near murders since….” he gave Hoffbein
another look and his eye lit upon Dr. Paton and Dr. Peters…. “Actions
speak louder than words. If you love the Elijah Wilson, as you have
spent the day saying you do, then quit ‘emoting’ and begin to think!

“Police as a solution! Out of the question, entirely. Impossible to
catch the criminal if he, she or it, knows it is shadowed, let alone
what police would do to the reputation of the hospital.

“Suggestion number two. Turn the night student nurse over to
psychiatrists. Impossible, for the very good reason given by Dr.
MacArthur. Let alone the cruelty of the situation should she be

“Suggestion number three. Turn the whole thing over to the
psychiatrists. Understand perfectly, gentlemen, that I am casting no
slurs upon psychiatry, when it stays within its limits. Hoffbein points
out this is a mental criminal. That’s within its limits. Suppose we
turned the whole thing over to you, Hoffbein? Had you thought how long
it would take you and your entire force to examine twenty people? Thirty
new patients a month is all you claim you are equipped to handle and
give them the proper attention, and these twenty which the hospital
would turn over would have to have a great deal more than just that.

“It would take you … every man working day and night … and nobody
seeing to the clinic … two weeks to give us any kind of a report. Two
weeks sitting upon dynamite!

“Not on your life. Our problem is this, as I see it:

“To catch the murderer, quickly, quietly, and without creating any
suspicion whatever throughout the institution. We have got to keep our
face, or ruin the hospital.

“How to catch the murderer, I frankly do not know. But that is the
situation, as I see it now. I suggest we take it as such and work it out

Bear Sterling was sitting up again, and Dr. MacArthur was back at his

“I have the solution, Harrison,” he said calmly. “Put a nurse in the bed
in which the three patients have been murdered.”

“Are you crazy, MacArthur?” Hoffbein’s voice was at last hysterical.

“No. I hope not,” Dr. MacArthur’s voice was deadly calm. “But today I
have had the privilege of seeing such cool, calm courage exhibited by a
person who really loves this hospital as to make me proud to be here …
even … now.

“A nurse came to me after the meeting this morning … one of our
graduates … and volunteered to go into that bed as a patient. Think it
over, gentlemen. That’s a solution, d’y’see?”

Dr. MacArthur’s words lay over them like spring rain. Some men they
heartened. Some they chilled. All they impressed.

Only Dr. Harrison spoke.

“I hope I’m a friend of hers,” he said.

They were silent so long it upset Dr. Peters.

“Suppose she is murdered, Dr. MacArthur? We couldn’t _allow_ it!”

“Dr. Peters, this nurse knew of the murders, that is why she offered to
go there. Can’t you understand … that? I brought out that she might be
murdered and she countered with” … he put one hand in front of his
mouth … “that her life was a small thing compared to the reputation of
the Elijah Wilson Hospital and the Medicine Clinic.”

Cub Sterling lifted his wild head and snorted.

“She shouldn’t take those chances … for us.”

And then Dr. MacArthur sat perfectly straight and lied.

“She’s not. She’s taking them for the hospital. _She_ wants to take
them. Suppose we vote upon it, gentlemen?”

“Dr. Peters?”

“I am against subjecting any nurse to danger.”

“Dr. Paton?”

“I … I … agree with Peters.”

“Dr. Barton?”

“She seems to me … the solution.”

“Dr. Hoffbein?”

“I should like to be allowed to give her an examination.”

“Sorry. But if she goes on the ward, she must be in bed within an hour.
Do I take it you favor her offer?”

Hoffbein acquiesced hesitantly.

“Dr. Harrison?”

“I regret the danger, but I agree with you, MacArthur.”

“Dr. Sterling?”

“I agree, MacArthur.”


“It’s too much to ask….”

“Nobody asked it, son. She volunteered. And with my vote, and Heddis’
advice, I take it that your decision is, gentlemen, that this nurse
within an hour becomes a patient in Bed 11, Ward B, of Medicine Clinic
… and God willing … catches the murderer.

“Make it as natural as possible, Ethridge. Have your father and Mattus
look at her.”

“Any hypodermics?”

“I think not. You agree, gentlemen?”

When they had risen Princeton Peters’ eyes had purpled and he asked

“Who is she, MacArthur?”

“Rose Standish, gentlemen.”

Cub Sterling, who was standing in the doorway, turned as though someone
had slapped him upon the back. His left shoulder was high.

Continue Reading

Autopsy Findings

Bear Sterling was tilted back in the desk chair. The half-egg-shell
ceiling light blazed in his face. He wore the surgeons’ apron in which
he had performed the autopsy. His lower jaw lay relaxed against the
cushions of his chins. His eyes were peacefully closed. He was asleep.
When the Elijah Wilson had been founded he had been the youngest
surgeon, and had learned to sleep between crises. He did it
automatically, naturally and silently.

Cub Sterling had twined himself around an uncomfortable office chair and
was smoking cigarettes. His left shoulder was hysterically high.

He watched his father’s innocent repose with a visible irritation. He
had struck no matches for over an hour. The smoking was incessant and
the old butt served to light the new cigarettes.

Dr. Sidney Mattus sat stiffly in a straight chair. His head rested upon
one corner of the back and his feet tucked into one of the chair rungs.
He watched all of the men and held his eyes past them, apparently upon
the coming dawn which could just be discerned through the high window.

Dr. Henry MacArthur sat across the double desk from Bear Sterling. He
had shielded his brow from the glaring light and was soothing it like a
man in constant pain. Occasionally he lifted his free hand and twisted
his left ear thoughtfully.

No man had spoken for many minutes.

The air of the room was heavy with smoke, tension, the odor of
formaldehyde and the chilliness of dawn.

It housed all the suppressed horror of a death chamber, and its
occupants had the appearance of men awaiting execution.

Dr. MacArthur’s shoulders were hunched as though prepared for a blow;
even in Bear Sterling’s slumber there was a sense of watchful waiting.

Cub was thinking. Shall I keep my mouth shut and watch that night
student nurse…? She is a niece of Miss Kerr … remember that … old

Dr. MacArthur raised his head as though to answer and said:

“What did your father say about the heart?”

Cub’s eyes met his and he responded:

“In normal condition, considering the history, sir.”

“Strange. Was that your understanding, Mattus?”

“Yes, Dr. MacArthur.”

Silence lay over the air again. MacArthur put his head back into his
hands and began checking it all over: Cub, Mattus, Bear, the student
nurse, the orderly, the Head Nurse in Medicine Clinic … the … was
there anybody else? Was it possible….

He stopped his mind and decided not to think until he had some facts.
There would be no sense in clouding his faculties with hysterical
superstitions. A clear head was what must be maintained.

The morning light was beginning to fill the room; it began to suffuse
the faces of the four men.

MacArthur straightened and turned to Cub Sterling and Mattus, and

“I’m sorry boys if I’ve been taciturn … but the Elijah Wilson is my
only child … and as a parent I guess I’m hopeless.”

“Good God, sir, we understand.”

Cub Sterling was upon his feet and towering over MacArthur. Mattus’
manner dropped from him and he became almost a schoolboy in his shyness.

“Of course we do,” he affirmed.

Bear Sterling stirred in his sleep and awoke. His steel-gray eyes were
softened by the coming dawn. All three men turned to him. His eyes
became pin points.

“Any news?”

“Not yet.”

“Wish Heddis hadn’t gone to that damn convention.”

“I’ve telegraphed for him. Could that sleeping potion have been
administered hypodermically?” MacArthur’s voice was thin and old.

“Improbable. The order was for capsule,” Cub Sterling snapped.

“Then that puncture was from….” Mattus’ voice slid into the opening
each man’s brain had already made.

“Durn these pharmacologists!” Bear announced and closed his eyes.

MacArthur took his watch from his pocket and said:

“Boys, since all tests are being done upon those organs, it may be hours
yet. Go get some sleep and prepare for today. You’ll have a twenty-four
hour job ahead of you to sit on the suppressed hysteria in Medicine
Clinic … and you have _got_ to sit on it!”

Mattus and Cub Sterling rose. Patients, another day, … Tuesday! …
rounds, diagnoses … they had forgotten it all! And within three hours
it must be faced again.

They turned toward the door and it was opened in their faces by the
second assistant chemist.

He was a small damp man whose limp black hair sweated into his muddy
forehead. He said:

“Dr. MacArthur, Dr. Heddis and Dr. Maids are at the convention in
Cincinnati, so I did the tests upon the organs you sent over….”

His voice was matter-of-fact. Its uninterested monotony awakened Bear

He rivetted his eyes into the fellow and growled:

“Who in the hell are you?”

“A gentleman,” Dr. MacArthur said, “who is reporting upon some organs I
sent over to the chemical laboratory, Dr. Sterling. Dr. Heddis’ second

The chemist wiped his perspiring lip and continued in the voice of a

“None of the organs show traces of any foreign substance except the
ingredients of a sleeping potion, which I believe was administered in
powdered form, capsule probably. I have not proceeded with any obscure
tests. Dr. Heddis will be back this afternoon. I regret I can make no
further report until after a consultation with Dr. Heddis.”

Bear Sterling’s regular breathing was the only noise.

“Dr. Heddis is flying back. He should be here within two hours. Sorry to
have called you at such an hour. Please keep on searching and consult
Dr. Heddis immediately he returns. In the meantime, will you be so kind
as to have a typed report of your findings in my hands by nine this
morning? So kind of you!” Dr. MacArthur stated.

He ushered the chemist through the door and shut it after him. He turned
to face the three men. He stood so erect that his wife would have known
he had lost a battle and a tremendous one.

“Bear Sterling, did that body show a hypodermic puncture?”

“It did.”

“Then that syringe contained something … I can’t seem to make my brain
… understand.”

At nine-fifteen, Dr. Henry MacArthur sat in his own office chair and
peered intently at the innocuous findings of the second assistant
chemist and the addenda which Dr. Heddis had written an hour before.

His long brow was pleated with straight thin wrinkles.

He was reading Dr. Heddis’ supplement with fascinated horror. It
indicated, what he had feared, that the patient in Bed 11, Ward B,
Medicine Clinic had not died of a sleeping potion. That somewhere in the
Elijah Wilson….

His door into the corridor of the Administration Building was open.
Except during meetings it was always open.

His secretary appeared in it and said, “Here is your mail, Dr.

The tone of her voice braced him.

He smiled as she advanced and laid the letters upon the desk.

“I won’t dictate this morning, Miss Sadler. There is an important staff
meeting. Please call off my appointment with the Woman’s Board, and that
luncheon engagement with the man from the Duke Foundation … and …
take all telephone messages unless they come from the staff, or Dr.

He was interrupted by the tall shadow of Cub Sterling.

The secretary turned and passed out.

Cub took the proffered chair and said, “Can they all come, sir?”

“I’m afraid not. Your father is doing a brain tumor on the Bishop’s
aunt, Paton is scheduled for a hysterectomy on the president of the
Woman’s College, Peters is demonstrating his new retina operation before
some visiting medical students; but Hoffbein, Harrison, and Barton will
be here, and we have the others’ approval to go ahead. I’m sorry they
can’t come, but I do not feel I can assume the responsibility of
delaying the meeting. Is Mattus coming?”

“No, sir. He’s doing my teaching rounds with the students.”

“Heddis believes….”

Dr. MacArthur slid the typewritten findings toward Cub. The young man
lit a cigarette, looked away from them and frowned.

“Dr. MacArthur,” his voice had assumed its steely quality under which he
always hid his emotions. He held out an envelope.

MacArthur took it automatically and asked, “What is it, son?”

“My resignation, sir.”

MacArthur straightened as though he had been struck by an electric eel.
His blue eyes shot into Cub Sterling’s and he muttered:

“Are you afraid to face the music, Ethridge?”

“No, sir!”

“Then do it without hysterics,” MacArthur ordered, tearing the envelope
into shreds as Prissy Paton’s purring voice interrupted:

“What, am I the first one here, MacArthur? Good morning, Ethridge.
Pleasant morning. Cancerous through and through. No use removing
anything. Fine woman, and great influence in her generation. Sewed her
up again. No use. Will probably live several months. Are the rumors I
hear true? Has there been another? I thought it was that yesterday. I
said to myself, ‘it certainly has all the symptoms….’”

“Blow your bubbles out of the window, Boy Blue,” Dr. Harrison chuckled
easing Dr. Paton into a chair. Then he walked over and shook hands with
Ethridge Sterling, Junior, and with Dr. MacArthur.

He seated himself, took out his pipe and began talking of the tremendous
discoveries of the ruins of Roman towns which had recently been
ascertained in England by means of the airplane.

He filled the room with sanity. Dr. Paton went to his usual morning
manicure, and Dr. Barton came in quietly, nodded, sat down and joined
the listening group. Nobody noticed Flannel-feet Hoffbein’s entrance.

Dr. Harrison stopped and turned politely to Dr. MacArthur; like obedient
schoolboys the other four men turned to MacArthur also.

“Gentlemen, I know it is most unusual and inconvenient to be called to a
staff meeting without notice and at this hour. Still I believe the
occasion justifies the summons. The thing of which Ethridge told you
yesterday afternoon, is this morning…. At three A.M. the patient in
Bed 11, Ward B, Medicine Clinic was found … dead. There was an
unexplained puncture from a hypodermic syringe in the left arm.”

“MacArthur,” Dr. Harrison’s voice had become an august bass, “are you

MacArthur stood up and walked toward Dr. Harrison. In his extended hand
was the typewritten sheet. He was even straighter than he had been in
the autopsy room. For thirty-odd years his and Dr. Harrison’s great
passion had been the Elijah Wilson Hospital. Harrison rose. They met in
a patch of morning sunshine, which threw the sheen from Dr. Harrison’s
head into a mirror over the mantel and back into Prissy Paton’s eyes.

Prissy gave a hysterical gasp and prepared to scream. Dr. Barton, in the
voice he used with children, remarked, “Easy, sister. Easy!”

Nobody laughed.

Nobody registered it.

Hoffbein breathed like a returning pearl diver and enunciated carefully,
“Read it, Harrison.”

As Dr. MacArthur returned to his chair and Dr. Harrison cleared his
throat, the door into the corridor opened slightly and Princeton Peters’
peach-blossom face vied with the morning sun. Cub Sterling saw it and
winced. Before any other man had taken it in, Princeton tiptoed into the
room and his lavender eyes had assumed their death-mask purple.

With a precision which carried the force of bass waves against a rock
ledge, Harrison began engraving into his brain and into theirs, the
report of the second assistant chemist. As he turned the page to Dr.
Heddis’ supplement, the men stirred nervously and Hoffbein’s eyes took
on a mountain-out-of-molehill scorn.

Dr. Heddis’ addition stated: “The routine tests, afore referred to, are
being checked by my first assistant, Dr. Maids, who returned with me; so
far they reveal nothing other than the ingredients of a sleeping potion.
These ingredients tally with those prescribed in the order filed upon
the patient’s chart. Toxicology, like other branches of the Profession,
is partly guess work. Since the cadaver bears evidence of a hypodermic
puncture, and indications are that the potion was not administered that
way, my belief is that this patient died of a syringe of some obscure

“Therefore I am immediately beginning upon the obscure tests. It may
take days to prove or disprove my conclusions. In the meantime, I
repeat, a sleeping potion prescribed in capsule form, which the pharmacy
compounded and the student nurse states she administered, explains
neither the syringe puncture nor the death.

“Indications, it seems to me, point to an obscure and deadly drug.
Possibly a drug which may be administered _per os_, and may have been so
administered in the two previous cases. Any findings will be immediately
reported to the General Staff or Dr. MacArthur.”

As the last words scraped into the consciousness of the men, a solemnity
comparable to that which shadows the faces of pallbearers as they watch
the coffin of a beloved comrade lowered, blanketed the staff. Whatever
their petty hates and puerile quarrels, so far as the reputation of the
Elijah Wilson was concerned, they agreed. It must not be damaged.

“He might be wrong,” Prissy quavered.

Nobody heard him.

“An obscure and deadly drug. Poison. And it may take days to discover
it. Something we never heard of, probably.” Dr. Harrison’s voice seemed
to be directed toward his own mind.

Dr. MacArthur replied:

“Let’s wait for Heddis on the chemistry, gentlemen. Ethridge and Mattus
have spent the last two hours searching texts. They could find nothing.
We would only waste time surmising.” Then, as though Prissy’s statement
had just reached his brain he turned to him and said, “Yes, he might be
wrong. But we can’t have this thing continue, and until he is proved
wrong….” He shook his head slowly, “The effect was obvious. The woman
is dead.”

For a full minute after Dr. MacArthur ceased speaking, no man spoke, and
it was Prissy’s high treble which cut into their consciences.

“Ethridge … er … how was she last night?”

“I saw her around seven,” his voice took on its protective clip. “Her
pulse was around a hundred. Considering her condition that was not odd.
Her spirits were excellent. Eager for Father to go ahead with the
operation. He saw her between eight and nine. Found condition quite in
line with the way she was when I saw her. Is that your understanding,
Dr. MacArthur?”

“And … er … by the way, where is your father?”

“He is doing a brain tumor, Dr. Paton,” Dr. MacArthur cut in.

“And how did your resident … Doctor … er?”


“Yes … thank you … Dr. Mattus, consider her?” Hoffbein slid his
question into Cub.

“He saw her before she went to sleep around nine. He reports her pulse
had dropped to around ninety; otherwise her condition remained
unchanged. Anything else, sir?”

Hoffbein never answered verbally questions which did not flatter him. He
shook his head thoughtfully.

By that time the staff had regained some measure of its equilibrium and
Dr. MacArthur continued.

“Between the time Mattus saw her and three A.M. she was … was….”

“I’m in favor of turning the whole thing over to the police,” Princeton
Peters said most righteously.

“I’m not!” Dr. Harrison was vehement. “Outside of this room … with the
exception of Bear Sterling and Heddis … no living person is aware of
the situation,” he pointed the paper at Peters’ face. “Some linen is too
foul to wash in public. Want to ruin the hospital, d’ye? We think we are
pretty good at death and birth … and we shall not be downed by….”

He waved the paper at them.


Then Dr. MacArthur realized he had expressed an opinion himself….

“What is your conclusion, gentlemen?” he hurried to say.

“Mistake to form one without an examination of the witnesses, I think
… if you can call them that … suh,” Dr. Barton interposed.

“Quite. Ethridge and I decided upon that during the autopsy. And I have
arranged with my secretary to call them quietly … and separately …
in order to avoid…. We would have questioned them minutely this
morning; but the seriousness of our decision … whatever it is … must
be a responsibility we _all_ bear. D’y’see?”

“The night student nurse on Ward B is waiting. Shall I have her brought
in, gentlemen?”

Hoffbein sensed a suppressed motion of Cub Sterling’s, a slight movement
in the chair, an intangible gathering of forces.

“Isn’t this rather cruel?” Dr. Harrison suggested.

“Terribly. But how else will we ever…?”

Princeton Peters interrupted Dr. MacArthur.

“Murder is cruel, too.”

It was the first time the word had been mentioned. It rushed into the
faces of the seven men like an angry wind.

During the ensuing vacuum, Dr. MacArthur lifted his telephone:

“Miss Sadler, will you please bring that pupil nurse to my office.”

The girl entered tensely.

Dr. Barton noticed her eyes were blue and too closely set; Prissy
thought the face was sweet; Princeton Peters felt she had been nicely
brought up; Dr. Harrison’s brain flashed “kitten lined with ox-hide”;
Cub noticed her feet were flat, and Dr. MacArthur was too benevolent for
a personal estimate.

“Won’t you sit down, Miss … er….”

“My name is Evelina Kerr.”

Her voice held a note of defiance as she took the proffered chair beside
Dr. MacArthur’s.

“My child,” he said soothingly, “this is probably the most trying duty
you have had in your whole training … and we regret that it is
unavoidable. Will you please tell us plainly … and as minutely as you
can remember, exactly what happened after you went on duty in B Ward
last night?”

She sat with her feet together, her hands folded in her lap, and a
sullen calm in her voice.

“At nine o’clock, Dr. MacArthur, I went on night duty on B Ward of
Medicine Clinic. Aunt Roenna … I mean Miss Kerr … was on the floor
and Miss Kexter, the white nurse, who had waited to give me my

“White nurse?” Princeton Peters’ voice was polite, but demanding.

“Slang for graduate floor nurse in charge,” Cub Sterling supplied.

The student nurse was silent in her resentment. Finally she continued:

“They left together. Then I took my temperatures, counted pulses,
prepared the patients for the night.”

“The patient in Bed 11, Miss Kerr,” Hoffbein began in his mesmerizing
voice. “How was she?”

The girl started and turned toward him with the underlying resentment of
a schoolboy stopped midway through the multiplication tables.

“She was all right, Dr. Hoffbein. She had no temperature and….”

“Her pulse?” he interrupted again.

Cub Sterling stirred restlessly and lit a cigarette.

“It was between ninety and a hundred. By nine-thirty I had given all of
my medicines….”

“Did she have any medicine?”

“Yes, Dr. Hoffbein, she did. She had a prescription of Dr. Sterling,
Senior’s. A … a sleeping potion.”

“Do you know what it was?”

“No, sir. It came up from the pharmacy filled.”

“Wasn’t the duplicate on her chart?”

“It was pheno-barbital,” Cub Sterling cut in raspingly.

The girl hesitated. She seemed to have lost the thread of her thoughts.

“Go ahead with the story, child,” Dr. MacArthur soothed.

She sat silent a moment and then continued:

“By ten o’clock I had finished my medicines, temperatures and pulses.
The ward was quiet and I started to work upon the fever charts.

“The orderly was in the kitchen straightening up and fixing the
breakfast trays. Two patients called for bed-pans. The orderly came to
tell me that we were short two milk bottles. I telephoned the kitchens
about them.

“Otherwise the ward was perfectly quiet, except for an occasional cough.

“At ten-fifteen, Miss Willis, the night supervisor in Medicine, made her
rounds, and told me to watch the patient in Bed 11 very carefully.

“At eleven-forty I went to the medicine closet to prepare the hypodermic
Dr. Mattus had ordered for another patient.”

“What kind of hypodermic?” Dr. MacArthur inserted.

“A strophanthin mixture. She’s a cardiac case.”

“A dispensary case of cardiac insufficiency,” Cub Sterling cut in.

Miss Kerr’s resentment was again expressed by silence. She seemed to be
debating with herself.

“What happened?” Hoffbein demanded curtly.

For the first time since she had come into the room her speech came

“I … I … was boiling the syringe and had my back to the corridor
door, and suddenly I felt someone passing in the corridor and turned
around, and ran to the medicine closet door. There was no one in sight.
And then I remembered the boiling syringe and went back to turn it off.
I couldn’t leave until I had. It would have been ruined, and if the
patient didn’t get her dose in time she might die.

“So I made myself finish filling the syringe and then went into the
ward. There was nobody there, and all of the patients were sleeping,
except Mrs. Witherspoon, who is queer in the head.

“I asked her if she had seen anybody and she said, ‘Yes.’”

The girl’s speech died in her throat and the seven men held their

MacArthur regained his first.

“Whom did she say she saw, Miss Kerr?”

“She said she saw Dr. … Dr. … Sterling … Junior….”

The girl turned her close-set eyes, acid with hate, upon Cub Sterling.
Princeton’s lavender eyes, death-purple, Prissy’s green ones glinting,
Hoffbein’s black ones deep as wells and the brown eyes of Doctors Barton
and Harrison, gravely inquiring, turned upon Cub Sterling.

Only Dr. MacArthur’s eyes remained the same.

Cub Sterling answered the inquiry sharply.

“The patient is deranged, gentlemen. I was in my rooms.”

The door opened and Bear Sterling, his brows beetling, entered. Cub rose
and gave him his seat. Dr. Harrison pulled up a vacant chair and
motioned Cub into it. The chair was between his and Dr. Barton’s.

Prissy Paton looked at Princeton Peters and both of them decided they
had better not speak … now.

“And what happened next, Miss Kerr?” Hoffbein insisted.

“I went and asked the orderly if he had seen anybody and he said ‘No.’
So I went and looked at the patient in Bed 11 again. She was sleeping

Dr. Harrison leaned suddenly forward. His voice was acid:

“Did that deranged patient see anybody else?”

“No, sir.”

Then his voice stabbed:

“Did you?”

The close eyes shifted quickly. Her response came instantly:

“No, Doctor Harrison.”

A silence began stretching. The girl continued abruptly:

“Then I went back to my desk and finished my fever charts.”

“You did not call your supervisor?”

“No, Dr. MacArthur. I finished the fever charts and then made the
midnight rounds. The patient in Bed 11 was still sleeping peacefully. I
called in the rounds to my night supervisor and began studying my
nursing manual. Three patients rang their bells between then and two.
One wanted a glass of water and two, bed-pans. At two I gave the special
medicines and then went back to my studying.”

“You did not look at the patient in Bed 11?”

“No, Dr. Harrison, she had no special medicine. At three I again made
rounds and found the patient in Bed 11 was dead. I called my supervisor
and failed to get her. I then called the general superintendent. She
told me to draw the curtains around Bed 11 and wait further orders until
Dr. Mattus came.

“He and Dr. Sterling, Junior, came within the next fifteen minutes. Dr.
Sterling and Dr. Mattus rolled the bed off of the ward and into the

“I did not see the patient again. I finished my ward duties by seven,
woke the remaining patients and told them that the patient in Bed 11 had
been operated on in the night and removed to the Surgical Clinic, like
Aunt Roenna told me to….”

“When did she tell you that?” Cub Sterling inquired.

The girl hesitated and flushed. For the moment she seemed to have lost
her control.

“She didn’t. I had forgotten. Miss Willis, the night supervisor told

“Thank you very much, Miss Kerr. Are there any questions any of you
gentlemen wish to ask Miss Kerr, before she is relieved?”

“How long have you been in training?”

“Two years and five months, Dr. Harrison. I finish in December.”

“Thank you again,” Dr. MacArthur said as she rose, and then finished:

“Of all the people concerned in this, Miss Kerr, you are the youngest.
Please do not forget that two years ago you took an oath concerning

Princeton Peters, who was sitting by the door, rose and opened it for

“Thank you, my dear!” he beamed.

No man felt she had told the entire truth.

After her departure, they sat silently awaiting the next witness. The
horror of the thing seemed to have enveloped them.

The night orderly on B Ward entered. A thin, tubercular looking man with
frightened eyes. Everything about him seemed collapsed, and yet still
able to move.

Dr. MacArthur looked up:

“Good morning, William. How are you?”

The man’s appreciation spread over him.

“Well as can be expected, thank you, Doctor. How’s yourself?”

He turned to Prissy, Bear, Cub, and Harrison with a respectful “Good
morning, Doctor.”

“William,” Dr. MacArthur began addressing him before he could enter into
a personal conversation with each man, “were you on duty last night?”

“Yes, sir, I was. As usual. And a frightful night, too, sir.”


“Well, Dr. MacArthur, to begin my rheumatism was bothering. And then
everything seemed to have hid itself. And then that girl just in here
was like a kitten on a brick, sir. Got my hair prickled, so to speak, by
running back and asking me if I’d seen anybody on the ward about
eleven-fifty and then saying she had _felt_ somebody.”

“Was there any basis for it?”

“None, sir, as I knows. It’s true I was in the kitchen during her
feeling spell, so to speak. But, if you will pardon my remarking, sir, I
been on that ward ten years coming August and it’s as hard to get past
me as a watchdog, sir.”

“Yes, William. I know it is.”

“Thank you, Dr. MacArthur. Thank you.”

“How many times did the nurse come back?” Hoffbein smiled encouragingly.

“Only wunst. And then when she found the woman dead, sir! I was resting
with my eyes shet, sir, and she well nigh scared me out of my wits!”

“Was she frightened?” Hoffbein insisted.

“It ain’t fur me to say, Doctor. I was too mad at having my rest ruined
and too scared myself to see, sir. It wasn’t till Dr. Mattus came that I
could stand away from the wall, sir. When Dr. Cub … begging your
pardon, son … Sterling got there I was all right again.

“I been in the hospital long as most of you and I seen death every day,

“And we know how proud you are of the hospital, William,” Dr. MacArthur
cut in, “and what a help you have always been to it. So you must promise
me, upon your oath, before these gentlemen, that you will not repeat to
any living soul a single word of what you know or suspect about the

Dr. MacArthur drew the old man’s eyes to his and William replied:

“I promise, sir.”

“Thank you, William.”

Dr. Peters held the door open.

The old man started toward it and turned midway.

“Dr. MacArthur, do I … do I…?”

“You do. Tonight and every night.”

It was apparent that every man felt from the minute William began
speaking that he was innocent. During his interrogation they had

In the interim between his exit and the entrance of Peter Rathbone,
Chief Pharmacist, the tension had fallen considerably.

“Baldy” Rathbone shook them out of a reverie.

He had a body like a triangle upside down. His wide shoulders showed
strength and assurance. He was a youngish middle-aged man. A spreading
part ran up the center of his scalp and connected his wide forehead with
the bald spot on top.

He had been raised an orphan and worked his way through college at
night, and then worked his way up at the Elijah Wilson. There was a
sense of definite knowledge about the face and figure. His eyes bore the
marks of childhood suffering, but his smile heartened the men.

“Good morning, gentlemen.”

His voice was a deep resonant baritone.

“Sit down, Baldy,” Dr. MacArthur motioned to the “witness chair”; then a
deep blush steeped his face, and he smiled. Rathbone returned the smile,
took the chair, and ran his eyes over the staff. He had never seen any
of them so perturbed.

Dr. MacArthur said carefully:

“Er … er … Rathbone, did you check the prescriptions?”

“As far as possible, sir. A compounded prescription, as you know, cannot
be checked as to relative quantities and so … but the ingredients from
the remainder (I understood from the order that I was to have two
capsules compounded, in case the first failed to take effect) were
checked. They tallied as to substance, perfectly.”

“Who compounded the prescription?” Dr. Hoffbein queried.

“McInnis, my first assistant, sir. He can be trusted.”

He was interrupted by the telephone bell. It jarred the men like a steam
siren. MacArthur’s, “Yes, Heddis. Are you sure? Soon as possible. Thank
you,” held the eight men to a dead silence. A silence which screamed for

Dr. MacArthur placed the hook too carefully upon the receiver, Hoffbein
thought, and then he spoke:

“Coniine, gentlemen. One of the deadliest poisons. Heddis will be over
in fifteen minutes.”

“Whew!” Dr. Harrison ejaculated.

“Hypodermic syringe, then,” Bear Sterling growled.

Cub Sterling jumped as though he had been shot.

They all turned toward him.

“What’s the matter, Ethridge?” Dr. Harrison put his hand on his knee….

“Nothing. Except she was giving hypodermics all night. She….”

Dr. MacArthur’s pointer nose had a dreadful struggle with his judicial

“We must make no decisions … nor allow ourselves any prejudices, until
we are in possession of all evidence.”

His voice was stern.

“You were saying, Baldy…?”

“That Dr. Heddis believes it was done … hypodermically. He suspected
coniine and called me twenty minutes ago, and as a result all of the
medicine closets in Medicine Clinic have just been checked. Nothing was

“Ever have any obscure poisons in the pharmacy?” Cub Sterling was
leaning arrogantly forward.

“Rarely. None, at present.”

“How can you account for the entry of this … coniine?” Cub Sterling
lowered his brows and scowled.

“_I_ can’t, Dr. Sterling,” Rathbone turned his body around and looked
through Cub searchingly. His doming forehead added weight to his eyes.

Cub shifted his position, and Bear Sterling who had missed the by-play

“Is it hard to obtain?”


“I said is coniine difficult to get?”

“Since we never have any use for it, I don’t know, Dr. Sterling,” he
hesitated as if endeavoring to hide his irritation and then continued,
“Shall I find out, sir?”

Dr. MacArthur interposed:

“Good idea. See where and in what quantities the big pharmaceutical
houses have sold coniine within the last year.”

“Perhaps we can trace the person quickly that way,” Dr. Barton affirmed.

Rathbone rose and turned, “Is there anything else, gentlemen? I’ll let
you know directly I find out. Do you wish all syringes in the hospital
checked, Dr. MacArthur?”

“Do you, gentlemen?” Dr. MacArthur turned toward Harrison and Bear

“Plenty of time for that,” Hoffbein inserted. “Check the supply sources

When Rathbone was gone they felt as though a strong support had been
removed. His incisive uprightness rested them; but he had shot them so
full of information they were still dazed when Miss Roenna Kerr entered.

She came, her hair waved, her face firmly set, the bust and rear
defiantly inflated, her enraged vitals midway between. She had been
there as long as any of them. Her work had always been perfect. She wore
her new pair of bunion-rest shoes.

Princeton Peters took her arm in his, patted her hand and murmured:

“Dear Miss Kerr, brace up!”

He eased her into the “witness chair” and tiptoed back to his own.

He was worth a million dollars to the Elijah Wilson … in his way. To
every other man in the room she had appeared _too_ braced!

In response to their “good morning,” she smiled, generally, cocked her
head on one side and said to MacArthur:

“You sent for me, Doctor?”

“Yes, Miss Kerr,” his slow methodical fairness was beating against his
natural inclinations. “We want you to tell us exactly what you know
about the death of the patient in Bed 11, Ward B, Medicine Clinic,

“The last one?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Well, before I begin I should like to say that the Elijah Wilson is as
dear to my heart as to any of yours, and my humiliation is….”

Again Princeton came to the rescue.

“We know it!”

She flopped her bosom, took a snort of air and continued.

“The patient in Bed 11, Ward B, was admitted Sunday as a patient of Dr.
Ethridge Sterling, Senior, under the observation of Dr. Ethridge
Sterling, Junior….”

“Yes, Miss Kerr. But the thing I wish you to report upon is the
nursing-staff angle….”

She flopped her bosom again and said:

“Miss Kexter, my white nurse on Ward B is one of the finest women I have
ever met in the nursing profession. And she had been most surpassingly
brave through this entire … investigation…. I think it has come to
that, now….”

“Trained with us?” Dr. Harrison asked.

“Yes. Stood second in her class. She has under her five student nurses
into whose records I have gone most thoroughly … and who have been
cruelly grilled….”

“Miss Kerr,” Dr. MacArthur interrupted, “we have all been cruelly
grilled as you call it. Please try to realize that it is not because we
suspect your department … any more than any other … that we are
questioning you.”

“Dr. MacArthur,” she bit her lips, “my department has been my life; when
it is criticized….”

“We know you do! And so does everybody else concerned,” Dr. Harrison
interposed. “Really Miss Kerr, please stick to what has happened. Your
niece has night duty on Ward B, I believe?”

“She has.”

“She says you gave her orders about what to say to the patients about
the death. Did you?” Cub Sterling had forgotten his manners and become
bitterly stern.

“I wasn’t on duty, Dr. Ethridge.”

“Did you talk to her over the telephone?”

“Of course not. How should I know of the death?”

“Did you talk to her on the ward?”

She inflated entirely and said with a defiant calm:

“Doctor Ethridge, I just answered that question.”

“Then how do you explain her statement, Miss Kerr?”

A sudden terror flicked her china blue eyes. She dropped the lids
instantly and replied with studied slowness:

“The child has been through such an ordeal, she was rattled.”

“Thank you.”

Bear Sterling shifted, Dr. Harrison stroked his beard, Dr. MacArthur
frowned and took up the questioning before Cub Sterling had regained his

“Who has charge of the hypodermic syringes on your floors, Miss Kerr?”

“The white nurse in charge.”

“Who has access to them?”

“She and the student nurses on duty.”

“At all hours?” Bear Sterling rumbled.

“At _all_ hours, Dr. Sterling. _Night_ as well as day,” she defied.

“I see.”

His two words nicked her composure. She questioned shortly:

“Why aren’t you questioning my night supervisor?”

“She was not available when your niece discovered the murder, and
therefore her testimony would have no value.”

“Where was she?” Dr. Harrison drawled.

Miss Kerr began to turn purple.

“In the lavatory, Doctor.”

“What time did you get into the Clinic this morning, Miss Kerr?”

She turned her defiant eyes upon Cub Sterling and struck:

“At four sharp. The night superintendent had called me at three-thirty
and told me. I came over immediately. You were still with Dr. MacArthur,
I believe.”

Again his “Thank you” cut her down.

Dr. MacArthur realized she was useless, so he said:

“Thank you, Miss Kerr. You have been a great help. Of course I do not
have to ask a person of your integrity to realize the necessity of

Princeton took his cue and opened the door.

Miss Kerr rose majestically and smiled inclusively.

She left every man in the room irritated.

“Gentlemen,” Dr. MacArthur soothed, “that is all of the testimony,
except Mattus’ story, and Dr. Sterling, Ethridge and I went over it with
him while we were awaiting the autopsy findings. Any questions or
decisions before Heddis comes?”

“What was Mattus’ statement?” Dr. Harrison asked.

“That he found the patient in the condition Father and I did when he
made his rounds, and the next time he saw her, at three-five, she was
dead,” Cub Sterling responded.

“Could the murderer have any animus against the patients?” Barton asked
leaning forward.

“Not likely,” Cub said. “One from out of town and genteel poor, second
dispensary admission, and the last old patient. Been in the hospital

He was interrupted by a knock upon the door and Dr. Heddis’ stout, round
body, with its piano-post legs and lion head protruded through the
opening. His wide-set yellow-brown eyes, even in repose, dominated his
highly intelligent face. Dr. MacArthur motioned him into the “witness
chair” and he began speaking in a high, tired voice which, because of
his increasing deafness, had a sing-song quality.

In ordinary conversation his impediment required a “raising” of his
questioner’s voice, so upon a subject of which men spoke in whispers any
information he had to give automatically became a soliloquy:

“’Morning, gentlemen. Luck, pure luck! Organs appeared perfectly normal.
Began the obscure tests alphabetically. It would have taken two days to
reach coniine, if my nose hadn’t been haunted by an almost imperceptible
odor; after about a half hour my brain finally diagnosed it.

“The tests are conclusive. She died of an infusion of coniine, C₈H₁₆NH,
_per os_ or hypodermically. Puncture makes syringe theory conclusive as
coniine administered _per os_ would be remarked by the patient. Smells
like mouse urine. Also acts locally as a caustic. Burning the mouth.
Itching of the throat. Dizziness. Nausea. Tormenting thirst. Paralysis
of the sural muscles…. The patient had none of these symptoms?”

He turned toward Cub Sterling questioningly. So did every other man in
the room. Cub’s “No” was verbal as well as muscular.

“You see,” the leonine head rolled heavily, “one and one-half to two
grains administered hypodermically would be fatal … in a very short
time … before a patient would have the agony symptoms penetrate to the
drug deadened nerve centers. Before she could rouse herself the
paralysis of the peripheral endings of the motor nerves had set in; also
the deadening of the sensory nerves had begun. The dominant action,
however, is upon the motor system. Death ensued from paralysis of

He stopped to draw breath and no man interrupted. Toxicology was only a
branch of the science upon which this man was an authority.

Dr. Heddis continued: “All organs appeared normal. The stomach content,
the organs rich in blood … liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs … appeared
healthy. But they … all … responded positively to the solubility,
crystallization and Melzer’s tests.”

Prissy could stand the tension no longer. He screamed, “Of what plant is
coniine the active principal?”


“The fatal hemlock!” Dr. Harrison’s voice was heavy as he quoted:

“‘Then Socrates lay down upon his back and the person who had
administered the poison went up to him and examined for a little time
his feet and legs and then squeezing his foot strongly, asked whether
he felt him.’”

Dr. Heddis, who never had any trouble understanding Harrison, also knew
his Plato. He nodded and continued:

“‘Socrates replied that he did not. He then did the same to his legs,
and proceeding upwards in this way, showed us that he was cold and
stiff, and he afterwards approached him and said to us that when the
effect of the poison reached the heart Socrates would depart….’”

Heddis threw out his hands helplessly.

Princeton, who was weak upon the classics, spoke.

“Sinister!” he breathed heavily.

“Used to be used for whooping cough,” Cub Sterling clipped gruffly.

The information, for the shadow of a second before Dr. Heddis began
speaking again, made the pupils of Hoffbein’s eyes dilate slightly. Bear
Sterling’s eyes were pin points needling themselves past the grave
figure of MacArthur and into the long face of Heddis, who continued:

“Can be prepared synthetically by means of the same cadaveric alkaloid,
or ptomaine, that is formed in putrefaction of cadavers, that is,
cadaverine or penta-methylene-diamine.”

Hoffbein began to squirm slightly.

“The injection, C₈H₁₆NH (_Conium maculatum_), presumably combined with
lactic acid is colorless and gradually turns yellow and brown in the

Dr. Barton rose and leaned close to Dr. Heddis’ ear.

“In your opinion would the person who gave this … drug … require a
knowledge of chemistry?”

Dr. Heddis pressed his plump thumb into his cheek.

“I can’t say, definitely. But … all that a man needs to know of
dynamite to destroy a city is that it will explode. Rathbone is checking
supply sources, I understand. I’m not hopeful….”

He shrugged his thick shoulders.

“A medical student with a flare for toxicology could have made it
synthetically. Anybody with a medical background could….”

“Then I suggest,” Dr. Harrison’s voice was patiently fighting the rising
tension, “that we separate and think it over privately until after
lunch. Men under a strain as long as this has been upon Ethridge and Dr.
MacArthur are not at their mental best … you both need rest; you have
borne up magnificently…. Let’s re-convene here at two, gentlemen?”

Dr. Heddis turned from the door:

“If you need me, MacArthur….”

Dr. Hoffbein blocked his exit. “One question before we go. Is there much
hysteria on the ward?”

“Nothing visible,” Cub Sterling snapped. “There is tension of course.”

A terrible desire to get away from it all for just fifteen minutes …
to forget! … to run away and rest … made Cub Sterling walk through
the ground floor of his clinic and start down the accident room steps
toward Otto’s.

Halfway down he hesitated.

Three minutes later he walked through Ward B, ascertained from a student
nurse that Dr. James was at lunch and Dr. Mattus still with the
students. Then he opened the door of Room Two.

Rested, relaxed eyes, whose black shadows had disappeared, whose violet
shades sung against the white pillows, turned peacefully toward his
measuring brown ones.

The girl took a cigarette from between her lips and began:

“I slept like a lamb. My leg doesn’t hurt. I told the interne a nurse
brought me the cigarettes and they quieted my nerves, so your shirt-tail
is clear. She let me keep them…. I’ve been thinking a lot. Look here!
Today is Tuesday! There is absolutely no sense keeping me here,

Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Junior, closed the door sharply and strode over
to the bed. His features were flattening. His dark curly hair was
dishevelled. His voice had its “’Night!” quality.

“You are my patient and you are not to get out of that bed until I say
so. I know today is Tuesday just as well as you do. Possibly better!
What you seem never to realize is that I am a tremendously busy man. A
Physician-in-Chief works! You are not the only patient in this hospital
… but God knows you are the most petulant! Spending all your days
lying there thinking up problems to hound me with! Tying yourself in
knots of complications, instead of realizing you are a damned lot
luckier than you deserve!”

Her mouth had been contracting slowly. When Cub stopped for breath she
opened it quickly and began:

“You may be right about the luck, Doctor Sterling. But one thing
medicine has failed completely to teach you is that people without money
still have pride! Do you think I’ve enjoyed lying here for ninety-six
hours having you throw up to me that the Attorney-General will pay my
bills? Do you? There is a rumor that the Attorney-General is going to be
in the next Cabinet. I was riding with him to try and find out. If I had
found out, I’d have had a scoop big enough to pay all the damned-old
bills you care to sling at me….

“Well … I didn’t find out! But that doesn’t keep me from ‘growing the
bills.’ I’ve got to hold my job to meet them and I’ve got to get out to
do it! And all the medical hysterics you could ever throw doesn’t change
the facts. I….”

Her voice broke unexpectedly and she covered her head with a pillow.

Under the sheet Cub could see her body beginning to stiffen.

He reached over gently and took the cigarette from her fingers. Then he
looked around for an ash-tray, saw none, and vacantly placed the
cigarette between his own lips. The harassment of the morning had
drained from his face. A deep concern replaced it.

His voice was bantering and slow:

“Looks like the phlebitis is traveling to your mind, little Salscie.
Let’s take it step by step. The job; it’s intact. The doctor who asked
me to take you in has been talking to the City Editor about you every
day. Mistake was I ordered no visitors and no flowers and so you thought
they had abandoned you. You may stay a month so far as they are
concerned. The job will be there when you get back. If you stay a month,
probably by then our friction may have worn itself out and you’ll begin
to see how nice I really am. Want to try?”

The pillow remained inert, but the feet and legs began to relax. Cub cut
his eye over the body and began talking again. He decided silently that
when the breasts stopped rising, he’d quit talking….

He took the cigarette from his lips and moistened them:

“About the bills, I’ve been a rotter. I should have told you that the
paper was paying them, or the hospital, or … but I was pushed into the
situation uninformed. I didn’t know whether you were the king’s mistress
or the governor’s. I didn’t care a damn! And then some terribly,
horribly important situations arose in the hospital and instead of
thinking the thing out, I bungled it.”

The heaving in the breasts became slower, and Cub said:

“About the bills, I’ll do whatever you want me to. The hospital will
take your note, or I’ll lend you the money myself. There is only one
thing I will not do. I _will not_ let you walk out of this hospital
until I am absolutely sure that you are perfectly well. So make up your
mind to that! I’m sorry if I’ve been cruel…. I didn’t mean to!
Probably I’m just too stupid to be kind, Salscie!”

The heaves died completely. He sat absolutely silent.

With her left hand she caught the edge of the pillow case and pulled the
pillow beside her upon the bed. Her eyes looked straight and completely
into his. Her voice was contrite and admiring:

“You are the first man who ever offered to lend me money and didn’t paw
me at the same time!”

Cub laughed heartily, and then snapped:

“Maybe that’s because I’m stupid!”

Her dimples danced and then she sobered.

“When I’m well, will you come to see me…?”

Cub held her eyes to his and nodded emphatically.

“Whenever you say I may! As often as you’ll let me!”

She began lowering her lids and filled the silence with words:


Cub sat very still and curiosity made her raise her eyes to his again.
When they were safely locked, he said, slowly:


The little flecks of sunlight in the room began cascading around her
hair, an inside blush centered in her neck.

Cub sat perfectly still and watched her. She knew he was watching her
and she also knew that something which made her sick with joy was
squirming inside of her. She began speaking desperately and with
frightful haste:

“We might have to hang your legs out of a window when you come to
dinner. When I get a card table up, there’s not much extra space, you
know … but … oh, by the way … could you steal a knife and fork
from the doctors’ dining room, do you think? Not steal, but….”

Cub laughed joyously.

Her face was sober.

He said, “Cigarettes, a knife and fork, … anything else, Salscie?”

“Yes, Cub. What’s the trouble you spoke about in the hospital?”

The banter slipped from his features and his left shoulder began to

“Nothing for you to worry about. Just … some … friction.”

She took her right hand from under the covers and reached over and
caught his.

“Is it me?”

His eyes met hers and he increased his pressure on the hand.

“No! You can’t cause everything, Salscie!”

Then he rose abruptly.

“I’d better get back, though. Also I’ll make a survey of the knife and
fork situation. That pack of cigarettes will be gone by tonight, won’t

She lay back among the pillows and nodded slowly.

Cub beat his way through the singing air and closed the door securely
behind him.

Continue Reading


“The hospital is facing a future which cannot be prophesied. So far, we
are running no more than the usual deficit and our problem will not be
how to continue on our course, but rather how to meet the increasing
demands which, in such a year, automatically become our lot. That, from
the administrative side, is the situation, gentlemen.

“It is, of course, a condition of which you are too painfully aware; but
I conclude the conference with the mention of it, because it has been
upon the ability to cope with the desperate that the reputation of the
Elijah Wilson has been founded….” Dr. Henry MacArthur hesitated, his
eye-glasses carefully poised between his right thumb and forefinger.
“Have any of you some special problem you wish the staff to consider?
… If not….” His penetrating blue eyes and pointer nose questioned.
Men said he could sense a situation in the hospital with the certainty
of a dog.

The doctors around the long mahogany table shifted in their chairs and
prepared to rise, but Cub Sterling’s voice checked them:

“I have, Dr. MacArthur. A problem which I should like very much….” Cub
began unwinding his body and adjusting his bushy head, unconsciously
balancing that list in his left shoulder, Dr. Hoffbein,
Psychiatrist-in-Chief of the Elijah Wilson, noted.

“The matter you told me about yesterday?” There was a note of patience
in Dr. MacArthur’s question. “Why not wait until you are certain,

“No, sir. With your permission, I would rather….”

Words came out of his mouth as though shot by mental force. They were
chosen with a clarity, spoken with a certainty and uttered with a
velocity which tired the ears of these men whose minds had learned the
defense of slow speech.

Dr. James Harrison raised his shaggy brown eyebrows which had not turned
gray with his fringe of hair and his beard and reached for his watch.
Twenty years ago a smart-alec student had said he looked like Christ in
a Derby hat. But even that didn’t stick. A man whose hazel-brown eyes
had spent sixty-eight years laughing at life received no permanent
nicknames. After thirty years of urology and literature, he still
believed that the wages of sin were occasionally a damn good living.

Cub moistened his lips and hunched forward.

Dr. Harrison stroked his Vandyke beard and measured the intensity of
young Sterling’s excitement. Since Monday staff meetings usually lasted
from four to five and that was an hour when nobody ever died, he could
give the boy fifteen minutes. After five, the really sick patients
didn’t wait for an audience….

“Perhaps the best way to state the situation we suspect is through the
facts.” The eyes of the other seven members of the General Staff of the
Elijah Wilson Hospital turned to Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Junior,
temporarily Physician-in-Chief, aged thirty-eight, whose present
importance came about through the premature death of Dr. Merritt at
fifty-two, and the natural advantage of being his father’s son.

Cub continued, “Two patients in Medicine Clinic, B Ward, have died of
causes which seem to our staff not natural in origin and which cannot be

Dr. Harrison snapped his watch shut and interrupted:

“Ethridge, isn’t it possible you are taking your Hippocratic oath too
seriously, son…?”

“Please, Dr. Harrison!” There was a note of almost childish pleading in
the man’s voice. “Dr. MacArthur has gone over all of this too, and he
thinks it is….”

MacArthur took his hands from his graying temples and stated: “The
deaths have occurred in the same bed.”

With that phrase the waters parted, and Cub’s father, Dr. Ethridge
Sterling, Senior, Dr. Harrison and Dr. Barton braced themselves for the
nervous antagonism which was rising in Doctors Peters, Paton and

“The same bed?” Doctors Peters and Hoffbein inhaled the phrase as a
patient does the ether.

Cub gave one of his quick, emphatic nods and continued:

“The first was a goitre I was preparing for Father. Normal case with a
good prognosis. Basal average, and nerves in excellent shape,
considering the nature of the ailment. The patient died suddenly and

“Who attended her?” cut in Flannel-feet Hoffbein, as he was known to
medical students, and Dr. Otto Hoffbein, Psychiatrist, to the world.

Cub Sterling’s internal barometer began to rise. The antagonism between
these two men was like that between a mule and a shetland pony.

“Dr. Mattus, resident, saw her Thursday morning, Father and I saw her
between seven and nine Thursday night and Dr. Sarah James saw her about
ten-thirty. She was dead by dawn.”

A grunt escaped the set lips of Dr. Harold Barton,

“Dr. James came to us from the Johns Hopkins Medical School and is one
of our best,” Cub defended.

The men held their peace.

“And the other death?” Dr. Virginus Peters, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief,
asked, fingering his Sons of Cincinnati rosette which in the private
opinion of the majority of the staff should have been a dollar mark. His
face was as open as a peach blossom.

With a careful politeness Cub Sterling answered:

“The second was a heart case of a certain type. Also a very good
prognosis. Nothing to interfere with an ultimate and complete recovery.
She was put in the bed the night after the goitre died. A whole day was
given to a complete and thorough examination and the findings were as
stated. Upon the second night, Saturday, the nurse saw her at twelve and
at one. She died, suddenly, between then and daylight.”

“Any autopsies?” Dr. Peters’ face photographed emotions as a stage does
lighting effects. It now held interest.

Cub stalled for self-control by lighting a cigarette. MacArthur and Bear
Sterling watched carefully. When the cigarette was smoking Cub replied:

“No, Dr. Peters. Not on the first one. We thought that was a ‘fade-out.’
Upon the second there was a thorough autopsy. Father did it.”

Princeton Peters turned his lavender eyes upon Dr. Ethridge Sterling,

The only man in the room who appeared to have no interest in the
question was Dr. Harrison. He was scrutinizing the shadows of the
afternoon sun upon the tops of the trees outside.

Doctors Peters, Hoffbein, Barton, and Paton sat, as much as their
respective builds allowed, upon the edges of their chairs, and looked at
Bear Sterling.

Bear Sterling resembled his famous nickname. But as the years wore on,
it should have been changed to Polar-Bear. He riveted his decisive
steel-gray eyes into Peters and growled:

“There were no findings.”

The sentence fell upon the table.

MacArthur, who had sat by judicially, started to close the conference.

Prissy Paton, who had been an obstetrician and gynecologist so long that
the staff had grown to consider him partly feminine, blocked MacArthur’s
move with his high, soothing purr:

“What do you think is back of it, Ethridge?”

“Can’t seem to find anything, physically, sir.”

Dr. Harrison continued contemplating the leaves. Dr. MacArthur realized
the thing must be seen through and settled back in his chair.

Dr. Hoffbein, Psychiatrist, who was perfectly aware that the staff
didn’t think so much of “black magic”, therefore enunciated his words
with an incisive clarity and leaned forward:

“What is your personal impression, Sterling?”

He inserted his sentences the way other men did hypodermics.

Cub Sterling gave himself an angular brace and replied:

“Must be something other than natural causes, Doctor. Everything has
been checked. Everything! Dr. MacArthur and I have combed the
department. The superintendent of nurses has checked the supervisor, the
head nurse, the graduate floor nurse, and I’ve gone over my internes
thoroughly … man by man … and woman by woman…. The reason I’m
bringing it before the staff is I’m stumped. Your experience … then,
too, medical patients are often in the hospital six weeks to two months.
We can’t have the thing repeated….”

“Fear psychosis,” Hoffbein grunted.

Bear Sterling heaved his thick shoulders and began fingering his key
ring. Hoffbein and his foolishness!

This small oddly shaped brass key, and people dying when you least
expected, made him think of the door to the cupola of the Administration
Building: the door nobody had ever entered since that night so many
years ago when he had fixed Flossie Matthews for Ted Longstreet …
before he was old enough to see why a reputable surgeon never had any

Ted had held the chloroform rag, and after giving her a transfusion of
his own blood, had fainted and fallen against his operating hand so that
the scalpel punctured her femoral artery … and Flossie hemorrhaged;
and Ted lay in the pool of blood. When he came to, she was dead … of
chloroform. In the meantime he had tied the artery, somehow….

“Gone” … he could still hear Ted’s voice and see that hoggish splotch
of blood his coat made upon the white plaster wall as he leaned against
it and stretched his slim hands out toward the lids of Flossie’s staring
blue eyes.

Murder! Murder! He’d slipped in operations since, but Ted Longstreet was
the first man he ever heard cry. That night, even now … they were all
so young! She was a Tribly, Ted an interne, and he….

Not all the honors in the world would ever make him forget how they got
the cadaver down the obscure winding stairway behind the Director’s
office, the Nursing office, the pharmacy, into the elevator and down to
the old cadaver vat…. Whew!

It was before they began ticketing stiffs and just after they changed
from the hook system and the vat was a slimy mass of bodies, under which
they were pushing, sliding, hiding….

Then that vile job of cleaning up the cupola. That blotch of blood Ted’s
back had left and which wouldn’t come off and Ted’s saying:

“Sterling, every sunset the sky will reflect that I’ve broken my Oath
and murdered….”

And the next day Longstreet had committed suicide.

He had never been back to that cupola! Nobody had been there. The only
key remained upon his ring day and night. Since he was famous, he had
tried to believe that the blotch was faded, but there came spells still
where he’d lose the key in his dreams and hunt and hunt; when he
couldn’t make himself enter the hospital by the main entrance; when he
would be unable to look at the cupola.

It took ten years of dissecting medical students to finish Flossie; even
then her legs were perfect enough to carry over to the new pathology
building. They had a curve, even to the last … an irresistible

Why couldn’t he ever learn that he must not look backward? If he had
looked backward _then_, he could never have married old Dr. Jemison’s
daughter and been the proud father of Cub and honorary this and that.

The only people who had ever known were dead. Long dead….

Dr. Sterling was cut back into the tense antagonism which was rising
between his son and Hoffbein, when Hoffbein remarked:

“Have you no private conclusions, Ethridge?”

“This is no psychiatric examination, Hoffbein,” said Bear. Bear’s eyes
also knew the hypodermic trick.

“My son has told you the facts, and asked the staff’s aid. He suspects
an unnatural situation in his department, and asks, in relation to the
hospital, how our experience would lead us to handle it. That’s simple,
and like all simple things, complex enough, isn’t it?”

Dr. Harrison took his eyes from the leaves, looked at his watch and
rose. He had said nothing for minutes. His action had the effect of a
seine upon minnows.

They were caught in his force. He said:

“What is being done with the bed now, Ethridge?”

“It is in use, sir. A patient of Father’s.”


Then with the steady stroke of a masseur, he went on:

“I see nothing the staff collectively can contribute which Ethridge and
Dr. MacArthur have not already covered. Mysteries in medicine are more
frequent than recoveries and Ethridge has my profound respect for
acknowledging himself up against one. When one has toyed with homo
sapiens as long as Bear and I have, one realizes that they are so damn
full of mystery … after all, people will die!”

“After the most beautiful operations!” Bear exploded.

“And the ugliest babies,” Prissy Paton’s life-long impulse to fawn had
tricked him again.

With his remark, the opposition collapsed.

The most respected and the weakest member of the staff had declared
themselves. There was nothing more to be said.

With several passing pats upon Ethridge’s shoulders the meeting broke

Bear Sterling lowered his iceberg brows at the utterly self-righteous
bows with which Hoffbein and Princeton Peters retired and growled:

“Come on out to dinner, Mac, and I’ll tell you about the golf I shot

Flannel-feet Hoffbein drew his half-expended smile back into his facial
muscles and slithered out of the Administration Building and to the
right down the long corridor.

Princeton Peters pulled on his gray gloves and sailed into the main
lobby, past the statue of Elijah Wilson, founder, through the front door
of the Administration Building and into his waiting Packard. As the car
slid down Wilson Boulevard he turned his stately head and gave the
Administration Building a regretful stare. The architects had been at
variance about the period and the structure screamed their different
tastes. The four corner turrets were the desire of Elijah Wilson’s
engineering-brother. The cupola was the addition of a New York
consultant; and Princeton’s educated-man’s knowledge of the arts was
always upset by the bastard byzantine building. If he had been on hand
forty years ago….

The car slid down hill and he folded his hands sorrowfully.

Dr. Harold Barton squared his stocky body which had never outgrown the
reach of any child’s hand, and forged to the right down the corridor
behind, well behind, Hoffbein.

Prissy Paton stuck his smooth, pudgy and wonderfully capable hands into
his vest pockets, turned down the long corridor to the left and in what
his students called his “delivery walk,” caught up with the lengthy
stretch of Cub Sterling’s legs.

“Remember, Ethridge, my boy, we are behind you. We have every confidence

A group of internes passed and Prissy’s green eyes noted that Ethridge
barely acknowledged their greeting. Then that report about his never
speaking to anybody except with a nod was true. Too bad! Too bad! He had
been against his elevation from the first. Too young! Told Peters and
Hoffbein so; tried to tell MacArthur, but the meeting came the day, the
very hour the Governor’s wife….

“Great confidence, Lad,” he purred paternally and pattered away.

Cub gave the door of Medicine Clinic a shove and strode into the

Two minutes later he walked into Room Two, off Ward B, and closed that
door. The inclination to be comforted, when harassed, was new to him. He
thought he was being medical and “carrying on.”

Sally Ferguson turned over languidly and slit her eyes slightly.

She was damned tired of being poked at by that Jew resident and that hen
medic; of figuring out a career and a medical school for her famous
father; of taking cascara and mineral oil; of being a sport and trying
to like it.

Her long lashes raised. The slits widened.

Cub forgot his irritation and gazed helplessly.

Her lips began to part scornfully and she said:

“Well … at last! Unchaperoned and alone! Can I believe my own eyes?
Give me a cigarette while I regain my composure.”

“No, Miss Merriweather. You are much better, but you mustn’t smoke!”

She turned her back and lay utterly silent. Then in a husky pleading
voice she began:

“Of course you are too famous to be human! I didn’t know you were
famous. I ought to though! Famous, dictatorial, and snappish. So
overbearing flies won’t even bite you! One of these pure-women-men. No
smoking allowed in His Presence!”

Cub laughed spontaneously, and the girl flopped over furiously.

The eyes blacked and the lashes began to wilt:

“Shut up!”

Her voice had tears in it. Cub’s amusement fell through his lips:


She sat bolt up and every curl on her head shook:

“You devil! You….” Her face changed desperately and she fell backward.

“Where? Where was it?” Cub leaned over and demanded.

“In my leg. My left leg….” She sighed.

He threw back the sheet and began examining. His brows had knit heavily.
His mouth was inexpressive and controlled.

The girl bit her lips, but when her eyes caught his, she said, flatly:

“Come on. The truth. What is it?”

Cub’s medical cloak lowered. He replied cheerfully:

“Just a strain. These things crop up like bursting blisters after
accidents, Sophie.”

Her voice was frighteningly quiet and shocked him out of his shell. She

“It doesn’t do any good to lie to a person without relatives. I report
murder trials, you know … and I have a hellish imagination. No truth
is as bad as imagination!”

Cub’s hand covered hers quickly. Their eyes locked and his voice was
calm and certain:

“It may be nothing. It may be a touch of phlebitis. In either event,
I’ll take no chances. That leg is to be bound and remain bound for
twenty-four hours. And you are to lie absolutely still and leave all of
the worrying to me.”

He gave the hand a squeeze and began sliding too deeply into her eyes.
He said banteringly:

“What brand do you smoke, Soph?”

Twinkles pleated around her nose, but her lips were sober:

“What’s phlebitis?”

Cub shook his head threateningly:

“My dear little question mark, won’t you ever relax?”

The twinkles burst through and she threw back:

“If I did, I’d be an exclamation point!”

Their laughter interlaced, and he switched the conversation and asked:

“How’s Dr. Merriweather?”

“Living with his second wife, still operating every morning, writing
textbooks in the afternoon…. No! he couldn’t do that…. Those bitches
would have to know the titles….”

Cub laughed uproariously:

The girl asked:

“How’s your father?” A fine radiance wakened her features, and she
continued, “I like your father. I heard him talk at the Medical
Convention Dinner last winter and I like him, tremendously.”

Cub bowed quickly. Then, to cover his embarrassment, asked:

“What were you doing there?”

She twisted her head in the pillows and replied, demurely:

“Oh, I was sitting among the medical wives and daughters.”

Cub laughed again, and the timbre of it made her blush. She said

“Truth is, if you remember, Doctor, that dinner took place the day after
New Years. I was in the Press box pinch-hitting for … believe it or
not … the star reporter!”

“Queer I didn’t see you.” The tone carried admiration.

“You couldn’t very well. I was behind a curtain trying to keep up with
your father’s mental ball-bearings.”

“They roll,” Cub said admiringly, then he asked, slowly:

“What’s your name … really…?”

Her mouth twitched slightly:

“According to medical records, Doctor, Sophie Merriweather. But
according to the church register, Sally Ferguson. To the reporters on
_The Call_, ‘Ferg’ … to my father I … was … ‘Salscie’ … I like
that best of all….”

Her body began to stiffen and Cub straightened the cover over her legs.
His voice was casual:

“She _sounds_ like a cigarette smoker. What’s the brand … Miss

She looked at him slowly. Then she smiled.

And Cub said, “Camels, Chesterfields, Old Golds…?”

She nodded and he repeated:

“Old Golds?”

She nodded again, and he said:

“Try to get you a pack at Otto’s. Bring them over later.”

Her voice returned:

“Who’s Otto?”

He walked to the door before he spoke and then he said:

“A bartender who gave me my first belt, first suspenders, first razor
… and my first drink! May be late tonight before I get over there.
After eleven, probably. My house staff meets in ten minutes. Then supper
and after that … rounds. Be a good child, Salscie….”

Her eyes and mouth broke into a natural smile, which followed him out of
the door.

When his footsteps echoed out of hearing, Sally Ferguson remembered that
she hadn’t asked him any of the things she had intended to find out.

When Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Junior, again appeared in the main corridor
he had changed to white hospital coat. The sun had left the trees in the
back garden of the great hospital and the nurses were switching past in
lines of five or six on their way to supper in the new Nurses’ Home.

Had he put it to his staff in the proper way? It was troublesome having
women in a meeting. No matter how hideous they were. They always
listened to what you said and divined what you didn’t say, and whatever
else came of this thing he had to stick by his staff. If for one half
second they suspected….

And in a time like this why in the hell…. If love was as easy to
diagnose as disease … if he could be perfectly sure! He had been
married to medicine for thirty-eight years and they had got along pretty
well…. Why not leave well enough alone! He glanced up at the corridor
clock and swung ’round and returned to Medicine Clinic again. This was
no time to walk along reflecting upon what a smile could mean. Better
tell Miss Kerr how things stood. If your head nurse got down on you….

He lit a cigarette and considered. The proper thing was to go to his own
office and send for Miss Kerr. But if he handled her with a touch of
gallantry, she was always easier.

As the corridor light threw his shadow across the doorsill, Miss Kerr
laid down her pen and carefully smiled. Before she did either of these
things one was always aware that she knew whom her eyes would appraise.

“Dr. Ethridge!”

She always called him that. When he was “a darling little boy,” she had
come from Massachusetts General to “help make the Elijah Wilson.”

Cub folded his frame into a chair and adjusted it into angles of

“Miss Kerr, at the General Staff Meeting this afternoon I reported the
two unexplained deaths on B Ward.”

“Why, Dr. Ethridge! You … you … wasn’t it a little odd … to …

“I don’t believe so. Dr. MacArthur and I….”

“But you,” she interrupted him and Cub felt instinctively that the fire
had reached the ridgepole, “you put the nursing service in a _very
compromising_ position. A matter which reflects so unfavorably upon the
_whole_ medical unit should, I most emphatically feel, have been
discussed with the head of every department before being presented to
the General.” A sanctimonious note entered her heaves of indignation.

“It was.”

He scratched his nose with such care that unless Miss Kerr had been
painfully aware he was contemplating her large flat feet she would have
noticed it. He knew that the nurses since time immemorial had called her
“Foots,” and she knew he knew it.

“Discussed. Yes. Grilled, perhaps better suits what the nursing staff
has been subjected to. But before we were disgraced I do think….”

“You speak as though you alone were bearing the whole thing.”

“Really … er … er,” her pompadour and bosom ascended, “Dr. Merritt
always….” then her china blue eyes protruded and she snapped:

“_You_ speak as though you suspect my service, Doctor. In all the years
Dr. Merritt’s staff….”

“We suspect nobody, Miss Kerr. We do _expect_ the nursing service to
coöperate and do as it is ordered to by the medical. This is not a time
for disagreements. Wherever the blame, until that blame is placed we are
all culpable.

“Dr. MacArthur asked me before the meeting if there were any special
nurses on B Ward. Are there?”


“In what classes are the five student nurses?”

“Two in the class graduating in January, two in the next year’s class
and one entered training last fall. Really, Dr. Ethridge, hasn’t my
service been probed far enough? For you, Dr. MacArthur, the
superintendent of nurses, and the head of the training school, to
suspect my staff….”

Cub cut her short.

“We suspect nobody … and everybody, Miss Kerr.”

But woman roused without consent of will is always woman who will not
keep still.

“But to humiliate me before Dr. Paton … he’s always been against me
… and dear Dr. Hoffbein and even in front of Dr. Peters … without
allowing me to utter one single word in my defense….”

“My dear Miss Kerr, will you never realize that you haven’t been, as you
call it, ‘humiliated’? As your line of duty in a crisis, your service
… like ours … is suspected of a failure … somewhere.”

He rose and turned.

She towered from her chair with the determination of a mule.

“The idea! After all of these years! I can answer now … and later,
Doctor, for _my_ staff … and _myself_.”

The last word came in two ascending notes of inquiry.

“I trust you are correct, Miss Kerr. Good evening.”

The water-off-a-duck’s-back nonchalance with which he quitted her office
left Miss Roenna Kerr, Class of ’90 M. G. and head nurse in Medicine
Clinic Elijah Wilson Hospital since 1900, with a sensation of standing
with her feet in a puddle.

As the elevator girl respectfully bore him to the top floor where his
early rounds began, Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Junior, slouched with his
tongue in the corner of his mouth. He was thinking:

“Could break her damn neck! Sex-repressed old maid.”

Miss Patricia Withers had been night superintendent of nurses so many
years that she had developed an hourly routine.

From two to four-thirty, after all of the clinics had checked-in their
midnight patient rounds, she read mystery stories.

After thirteen false clues and flukes, she had just reached the place
where the real murderer was to be revealed when her telephone bell

With an intensity, every motion of which was profane, she snatched up
the receiver:

“Well,” upon a rising note.

The voice at the other end quaked:

“General Superintendent’s office?”

Miss Withers checked her: “Yes. What do you want?”

“This is Medicine Clinic, Ward B, Miss Evelina Kerr, Student Nurse,
speaking. The telephone of the night supervisor Medicine Clinic does not
answer, so I am reporting to your office the death of Alice Tuck,
patient in Bed 11.”

“What?” Miss Withers’ breath pushed each letter through the receiver.

“Reporting the death….” the student nurse’s voice began to quaver it
out again.

“I heard you before, child! Are you sure? No pulse? No respiration? Draw
the curtains and leave everything exactly … exactly, you understand
until your superiors come….”

There seemed to be no response and Miss Withers feared the nurse had

“Can you hear me?” the authority in her voice would have revived the
dead woman, if she had been nearer.

“Yes’m,” the girl breathed.

“Then do as I order.”

The night operator of the hospital was interrupted in her regular
reverie as to whether she could get into the movies, by Miss Withers:

“Get Dr. Mattus. Get the morgue. Get Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Junior. Get
Dr. Sarah James … and get Miss Kerr.”

The telephone girl decided that was enough for the present and rang off.

“Hell-let-loose,” she muttered and began ringing Mattus’ ’phone.

Miss Withers sat drumming her desk. Again. That’s the third one!
Superstitions! Like three on a match!

Dr. Sidney Mattus turned over in his white iron bed in his “Germicidal
Cell,” and reached for the ringing telephone.


He spat the word with sleepy vehemence born of unconscious fatigue. The
contact between his ear and the receiver took several motions.

“Nayaa.” The inflection bore no interest, it was simply a sign that
contact had been established.

“Dr. Mattus?” Miss Withers’ voice was like a splash of cold water.

“What is it?” he was bluntly and resentfully awakening.

“Miss Withers, speaking. The woman in Medicine, Ward B, Bed 11, is

“Humh? Dead? Couldn’t be!”

“Alice Tuck, Bed 11, Ward B….”

Mattus now wide awake thundered, “Who says so?”

“The floor night student nurse has just reported to me. That’s the

Mattus, too, had realized that it was. He was busily pulling on his
pants. The receiver lay upon the pillow and he was calling into the

“Get Cub Sterling. Notify Dr. MacArthur. Keep the day staff off the
floor until notified. Call the morgue. Call…. My God, Miss Withers,
call everybody but the police! No you don’t. Don’t call anybody but
Sterling until I verify the nurse’s statement.”

He ran from the room, the telephone receiver still upon the bed and the
lights burning. He started around the octagonal hall toward the
stairway. Three flights below … in the center of the lobby … he
could see the statue of Elijah Wilson.

As he reached the second floor he finished buttoning his pants and
started toward the door of Dr. Sarah James, then remembered:

“Spending the night with her mother in Cincinnati. She would be!”

With an indignant grunt he had passed the statue and was letting out his
stride down the long corridor.

As neither Dr. Cub Sterling nor Dr. Henry MacArthur answered
immediately, the operator rang Miss Roenna Kerr.

Miss Kerr and Miss Withers were classmates at Mass. General and it
seemed only fair to tip her….

The bedroom of Miss Roenna Kerr was bare as an operating room. It was
also a front line trench, but the enemy in this case was age. Upon one
chair reposed a specially built corset to hide the collapsing stomach.
Under the bed stood, like a pair of dachshunds, two large white shoes
with built-in bunion-rests. Under her chin nestled a wrinkle strap and
her hair was in “papers.” Kid papers, too. She snored with heavy

For the first time since the fire in Ward M she was awakened by the
insistent clamor of her telephone. She arose, put on her wool wrapper,
loosened the chin strap, and walked over to the ’phone.

“Eeenie, the patient in Bed 11, Ward B, Medicine Clinic, is dead!”

As quickly as the voice had come it had gone and for the first time in
all the years she had been a nurse Miss Kerr stood inefficiently looking
into a silent telephone!

Then, in her highnecked nightgown, she assumed her military bearing and

“I don’t care whose son he is!”

As assistant to Dr. Merritt, Cub Sterling had occupied a series of rooms
on the second floor of the Administration Building. Graduated to “golden
oak,” the internes called it. The furniture had belonged to Elijah

Sterling still used the rooms.

When his telephone began ringing, he lay caticornered in his golden oak
double bed with a pillow nestled into his neck. He had reached that
second sleep where even an insistent telephone cannot cut the purple

But the night operator of the Elijah Wilson had awakened Cub before. She
began ringing in short hysterical jerks like the throbs of a bad heart.

Cub awoke.

The pillow—when he became aware it was a pillow—flew through a door and
landed in the bath tub.

He took his fury out upon the ’phone.


The result was the same as if he had said “Boo!”

Miss Withers actually lost her speech.

Cub repeated the process and then in exasperation rung off.

In the interim Dr. Mattus had cut in upon Miss Withers’ line.

“Miss Withers? Dr. Mattus. She’s dead!”


“Stone! Get Dr. Sterling … wherever he is … get him … quick!”

Cub had decided, now he was awake, to smoke a cigarette. The pillow was
no go … but that lovely little laugh when he handed her the

The ’phone interrupted him.

He repeated his “’Lo!”

“Dr. Sterling, Miss Withers,” the words were tumbling. “Pupil nurse
Medicine reported patient in Bed 11, Ward B, dead four minutes ago. Dr.
Mattus has confirmed the….”

The cigarette followed the pillow … but was aimed at a different

“Dead! You’re wrong. I saw her at rounds. About seven. Dead!” His
incredulity almost Stopped his speech. “Gimme Mattus!”

“Dr. Mattus is on Ward B….”

“All right. All right. Tell him to wait till I get over there before …
and Miss Withers, call Dr. MacArthur right away. It’s….”

He had started to say murder … but he hung up instead….

The night operator snapped to the exchange:

“Now keep on ringing and let me know when you get Riverside 7892, Dr.
Henry MacArthur.”

“Say, what’s the trouble. Can’t you wait….”

“Listen, Pal,” the night operator responded. “You know as much as I do.
A woman ‘went out’ and the whole place is raisin’ hell….”

“Aw girlie, quit y’kiddin’. What did they expect her to do? That’s a
hospital, ain’t it?”

In what the architects refer to as “The Master’s chamber” of a white
colonial house replete with early American antiques—mostly genuine
pieces inherited from his wife’s mother—Dr. Henry MacArthur snored
peacefully. His wife was in Paris and he had spent from ten to midnight
propped up in bed, smoking cigarettes and sipping whiskey highballs. The
enjoyment of sprees is based upon comparison.

He lay with one arm against his head, the other thrown out, from habit,
toward his wife’s side. He snored with vehemence; he had had a grand

Upon a bedside table lay a volume of Osler’s essays and several medical
journals. They were dusty. Only the telephone appeared to have been used
within the last week.

The telephone was as necessary to Dr. MacArthur’s existence as his
eye-glasses. To be so excellent a director of so tremendous a hospital
demanded that at any moment of any hour he must be immediately available
and ready with a wise, sane, judicial decision upon any subject under
the sun. Therefore wherever he went, whenever he went, whyever he went
could be known by any head nurse who cared to inquire. That was why he
had enjoyed his spree.

It had been the servants’ night off.

It had been utterly private.

He was topping it off with uninterrupted snores.

But the night telephone operator at the hospital worked upon the
principle that all men past thirty snore. Therefore she took several
surreptitious puffs of a cigarette, cut in upon the exchange and settled
herself to the task of drowning out a snore … long, continuous,
vibrating, insistent, monotonous….

She was successful.

The monotony of the bell dripped through to Dr. MacArthur’s
consciousness. He turned over and put the pillow over his head.

The operator took several more puffs and began again … this time in
the angry insistence of a crying baby.

MacArthur succumbed and reached feebly for the receiver. It was no use.
She rang like a wrong number. But it was no use.

He was fully awake but kept his eyes shut, in an endeavor to keep them
from aching, which they did anyhow … terribly.

He fumbled the receiver off the hook.

His “yes,” was like a cow’s “moo.”

The voice which responded hit his brain with an impact. He opened his
eyes and listened:

“This is Cub Sterling. The patient in Bed 11, Ward B, is dead. Found by
the night nurse fifteen minutes ago.”


“Yes, sir. Mattus and I have both examined her. There are no signs of
… of anything. It….. What shall we do, Dr. MacArthur?”

“Remove the body to the autopsy room. Order immediate autopsy. Keep
entire staff intact. Notify your father. Keep everything and everybody
composed and wait for me.”

The clearness in his head seemed to recede and he crawled out of bed
with a horrible weariness.

He had fought death, deceit, politics, criticism, financial panics,
women … but this was his first experience with … murder!

Continue Reading

An Unconscious Intruder

“Docterr Ste-earling, Junyior, Doct-terr Eth-err-ridge Ste-earling,
Junyior. Calling Doct-terr….”

The loud speaker whined through laboratories, permeated kitchens, rasped
in corridors. In the service corridor of Medicine Clinic the orderly
rolling the laundry bin halted to listen and expectorate. Four floors
above, Cub Sterling pulled in his long stride and reached for a nurse’s
desk ’phone. His voice pushed through the mouthpiece and almost
immediately severed the monotonous breathing of the loud speaker. He

“Doctor Ethridge Sterling, Junior, is answering from Ward D, Medicine

The dead voice of the operator responded:

“Doc-terr Ste-earling, Jun…?”

Cub’s patience and his ear were closely allied. He cocked his head and

“Well, what is it?”

Her voice dropped several octaves. She cooed:

“Justa minnit, Docterr Sterrling. Docterr Barton’s calling….”

Barton’s voice intervened:

“Cub? Harold Barton. Will you go over to Weber’s and telephone me at my
home, please? Right away.”

Five minutes later, Doctor Ethridge Sterling, Junior, turned from an
elevator on the first floor of the Medicine Clinic of the Elijah Wilson
Hospital, gave a vacant nod to two internes and shambled through the
door, into the accident corridor and out into Beeker Street.

In Weber’s restaurant he folded himself into a telephone booth and said:

“Riverside 7863.”

While waiting for the connection his long fingers manipulated a
cigarette. He was more excited than he dared to admit.

What the hell could Dr. Barton, a life-long friend of his father and
Pediatrician-in-Chief of the Elijah Wilson even before he was born, have
to say which was too confidential to transmit over a hospital telephone?

The operator invaded his curiosity.

“Deposit a nickel. Five cents, please.”

Cub Sterling’s rangy legs began untwisting. He begged:

“Hey! Wait a minute!”

Folding back the door of the booth he bellowed:

“Gimme some nickels, quick, Otto!”

Otto Weber had been bartender, confidant, and advisor to the staff of
the Elijah Wilson when Cub Sterling was in short pants. He waddled from
his bar:

“Sure, Cub!”

The temporary Physician-in-Chief gave the bartender a boyish grin and
arrayed the nickels in front of the telephone box. Then he said:

“Here are two nickels, lady. If I talk up a dollar don’t you interrupt
me. This is Wilson 7390. I’ll pay you after I’m through.”

“It is against the rules….”

“Lots of things are! Thank you, mam!”

A slight giggle was her response and Dr. Barton’s voice drowned that.



“Ethridge Sterling, Junior?”


“Harold Barton. I had to make sure. I’m in a terrible mess, son. I need
your help! If I take time to come over to the hospital … it’ll be too

With his left little finger Cub gave the interior of his ear a violent
shake and transferred the receiver. He moistened his lips, but Dr.
Barton forestalled his words:

“Don’t interrupt me, Cub! Time is valuable! My brother, the
Attorney-General, is slated to be elected senator next fall. The cards
are stacked. Today the Governor gave a political barbecue at his camp.
Half an hour ago, while returning, Herb had an automobile accident …
out on Lincoln Highway. No, he wasn’t hurt. Much too drunk for that! But
the girl was. A newspaper reporter. What? Couldn’t tell you. Never saw

“Another car of newspaper people came by. They had an A. P. man along.
Of course Herb could ‘hush’ it locally, but the A. P. man refused to
kill the story nationally unless Herb promised to get the lady into the
Elijah Wilson and foot all bills.

“She’s in an ambulance now. On the way. Internal injuries. No, you miss
the point! The man insists her reputation as well as her … organs …
must be intact. Will you take her under an assumed name … in case she
dies? Say her father is a friend of yours, and you recognized her.
Anything! If that won’t do, think up another one. Awfully unethical, I
know! But I can’t stand behind any more relatives … right now…!”

The last sentence contained a note Cub had never heard in Barton’s
speech. A helplessness….

Outside in Becker Street an ambulance screamed up the long hill. Cub’s
cigarette was adding another hole to the already scarred floor of the

He said, and his voice had its steel under which he buried real emotion:

“Certainly, Doctor Barton, I’ll take her in. But everything is occupied
except a dying patient room off Ward B. Will the Attorney-General pay
for frills? Private nurses … so on?”

“For anything, son! And Cub … please … you know MacArthur and Herb
admire each other. If you don’t mind…?”

The clanging bell vibrated down Cub’s free ear. He snapped:

“Between ourselves, Doctor. Suppose we leave it that way? Hear an
ambulance now! Report to you later, sir. Not at all! ’By!”

Otto Weber flicked his towel and shouted when Dr. Ethridge Sterling,
Junior, flung open the door of the telephone booth:

“Stoop, Cub! Stoop!”

As the tall, angular body shot across Beeker Street, Otto plodded into
the booth, picked up three nickels, stomped out the cigarette and
replaced the receiver upon the hook.

Across Beeker Street two firemen were lifting the padded stretcher from
a municipal ambulance. One of them ceased pulling for a second and
changed his tobacco wad to the other side.

A big man bent over him and snapped:

“Did you get this accident out the Lincoln Highway?”

“Yeah … looks like them dolls in the wax-works down to Holiday Park.”

Cub Sterling’s left shoulder rose abruptly. His voice ascended, too:

“Be careful. Take it easy … easy … these steps are high!”

While the stretcher was rolling into the Accident corridor, Cub lurched
into both accident rooms, saw that the tables were occupied, and turned
to the internes:

“I’ll take her up to Medicine Clinic, myself. Internal injuries. Just
got a telephone message. Father’s a friend of mine in the East. ’Phone
Miss Kerr to prepare Room Two off Ward B.”

Halfway up the corridor to the Medicine Clinic a student nurse and an
orderly stepped briskly. The orderly gripped the handle bar of a
swishing stretcher. Upon the stretcher, completely covered, lay an inert

Five feet behind, his shoulders stooped, his body tense, slouched Dr.
Ethridge Sterling, Junior. Upon either side of him, like stubby pencils,
a fireman tiptoed. Cub bit his lips and said:

“Who called you?”

“Where? When? For what?” the one with the cud growled.

Cub threw his hand forward, motioning.

The younger fireman answered:

“Fellow used to do fire chasing for _The Call_. And say, Doc, he
promised us a new stretcher, but he didn’t say when … if it’s the same
to you…?”

The student nurse and orderly pranced out of sight. Cub Sterling moved
toward the fireman and said:

“It’s still yours! I’m scared to move her more than necessary. Send it
down in the elevator as soon as she’s transferred. You wait at this

Inside the door of Medicine Clinic, Miss Roenna Kerr, head nurse,
accosted Dr. Sterling. The pompadour which overhung her long face was a
blueing-water white.

Beside her with the quiet diffidence of a poodle, a fat interne was
anchored. Miss Kerr said:

“Dr. Mattus, and Dr. Sarah James, the floor interne on B are off this
afternoon, Dr. Sterling, so I brought the interne from A…. And am I
correct in understanding that you ordered this patient into a dying
patient room off Ward B?”

Dr. Sterling’s voice was crisp and ominous:

“Room Two. You are.”

“But Dr. Ethridge….”

Her bust began to inflate. His reply corroded her vanity:

“I’ll see you later, Miss Kerr.”

The student nurse, the orderly, the stretcher swished aboard the
elevator, Dr. Sterling and the interne followed. Dr. Sterling, the
professor, made the interne forget the friction. He snapped:

“Give you instructions after examination, Doctor. One of the most
interesting things in Internal Medicine. Possible fractures, concussion,
heart involvement … anything….”

As the stretcher passed through the ward on into the room, the interne
trembled behind. Dr. Sterling’s last sentence had been, “Done many
decompressions?” Gosh! Those older fellows hadn’t performed many …
yet…. Lucky! Had wanted to go to the Thursday matinee himself, but Dr.
Mattus and Dr. James off…. Damn those blood sugars on Ward A. What was
a sugar content compared to a decompression?

In the dying patient room off Ward B, a hospital bed stood halfway
between the outside window and the door which opened onto the short
corridor. In the far corner of the oblong room was a stationary washbowl
with chromium fixtures. Over this basin was a glass shelf. Upon the
shelf was a stack of paper towels. Two Windsor chairs, one straight, one
a rocker, and a bedside table completed the equipment. The floor was
covered with battleship linoleum and highly polished.

In the Ward B wall was a glass inset through which the dying patient bed
was visible to a standing nurse. On the room side of the inset was a
window shade, always lowered during examination.

Cub Sterling went over to the stationary basin and turned back the cuffs
of his white hospital coat. Then he took a cake of soap and lathered his
hands thoroughly. The interne followed him and Cub instructed:

“Lather. Rinse. Lather. Dry. Best sterilization in the world. After the
examination wash it off.”

He was silhouetted against the outside window. His carriage and
angularity portrayed his nerves. His spreading fingers were tapering and
full of conscious strength; the joints were oiled with mental precision.
Occasionally his teeth measured the outer rim of his controlled lips.
His mind twitched with his mouth muscles. Poor old Barton! He had never
understood his mild manners before. They were a cover up….

The floor nurse interrupted:

“The patient is ready, Doctor.”

Cub Sterling veered in time to see the interne, thumbs together, rocking
his hands to and fro through space. Fat people irritated him. He barked:

“Quit that foolishness, and take this history!”

He strode to the bed and his left shoulder, which he raised in the way
some men do an eyebrow, began rising.

The interne lifted an offended pencil. Sterling was crazy as a bedbug
… but he knew his guts!

Then Cub’s fingers automatically began the manual examination and his
mind revolved and rushed.

“Beauty! … A nose and mouth which balanced. Hair as fine as a baby’s
and filled with sunshine. Skin so transparent you could almost poke your
finger through it. The eyes should be … blue … brown…? No!
Something else….”

He lifted a lid gently.

“Ah, violet … of course! Only violet eyes could go with lips that
curved that way…. She was too swell to be true…! Something must ruin
her … the teeth, probably….”

His fingers actually hesitated as he pulled back the lips; then, as they
relaxed again, he drew his right forefinger down the cheek, as though
examining the jawbone. The motion was soft and utterly gentle. It
carried a sense of private approval…. The teeth were perfect….

To cover up this sudden finding of a live flesh and blood perfect
person, his dictation clipped and became intricately anatomical.

During the chest examination he noted the nasty bruises against the
cup-like breasts, and decided it was time to pull himself together. She
probably murdered the English language and slept with all comers. The
Attorney-General, for instance….

His irritation vibrated into her leg, when he felt for torn tendons. The
girl roused herself momentarily and screamed:

“I don’t give a damn what kind of general you are! I’ll slap your face
again! Take y’ dirty hands off me!”

The interne had been called away over the loud speaker; the floor nurse
was busy at the ward telephone. Cub Sterling tiptoed to the door and
closed it swiftly.

The tired wrinkles around his eyes began to crinkle, a fine humor
relaxed his brittle body. He came back to the bed and squeezed the curly
head of the unconscious figure against his long leg.

Then he leaned over and whispered in the little ear:

“You are all right, kiddo! But for God’s sake, wake up!”

Then he went back to methodically examining her legs and laughed shortly
at the downy patches where the calves curved behind the small ankles; at
the lopsided little V’s in the big-toe nails….

Never before in all of his medical experience had he had a devastating,
unconscious, perfectly private patient…. He lifted a foot and laid it
from the nape of his palm to the ends of his fingers. It was half an
inch short of his nail tips and the little finger of his left hand could
extend entirely under the instep without touching flesh….

The girl groaned deeply and Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Junior,

He took her pulse again. Noted the excellent heart action. Began
carefully going over the abdomen. Once or twice she cried distantly, and
he decided the best thing to do was to put her out of her pain. The
heart action was so splendid that the wisest way to keep her from
babbling to the nurses would be to narcoticize her.

So he took her head in his hands and went, painstakingly, over the
skull. There were no masses, no abrasions, no visible signs of anything
extraordinary. She was in shock, of course. But an accident coupled with
an endeavor to make old Herb Barton keep his distance…. That
recollection killed his critical faculty for an instant. He lifted the
head slightly forward and massaged the curls which nestled in the hollow
at the base of the skull.

The fat interne and Miss Kexter, the floor nurse, returned
simultaneously. Dr. Sterling resolutely replaced the head among the
pillows and said, shortly:

“No signs of concussions, or injuries; with the exception of that
abdominal sensitivity. Case of extreme shock. Acute pain is from
strained ligaments and bruises. Nurse, give her an eighth of morphia
injection. Doctor, keep your eye on her respiration and notify me at
ten. I’ll be in my rooms, probably. Main thing is to keep her quiet.”

The nurse’s flat voice replied:

“Yes, Doctor. Do you wish a night nurse, Doctor Sterling?”

“Depends. Let you know later.”

She blocked his exit. Her voice was embarrassed:

“They called from the Admitting Office, Doctor, to complete her history.
They said Miss Kerr told them you knew her name. Miss Jaunts asked

Cub Sterling swirled and glanced swiftly over the face of the patient.

“Thank you. I’ll call by the Admitting Office, myself.” Then he shot at
the mouse-haired woman a barrage of questions about the ward patients.

The interne gave the Sleeping Beauty a pouty stare. There would be no
decompression. By now the blood sugars would have increased to six. They
must be done before supper, too!

The nurse followed Dr. Sterling onto the wards and he began his rounds
and gave his instructions. At the patient in Bed 11 he stared carefully
and turning, snapped:

“How was that thyroid’s basal?”

After her response he walked over to the bed, took the woman’s pulse and
said very absently:

“You are doing splendidly. Keep it up!”

The nurse followed him to the elevator and begged:

“You _are going_ by the Admitting Office, Doctor? Will you return the
blanks, or shall I keep them until tomorrow?”

He scowled and his black eyebrows met. Then he pushed the elevator
button with precision.

“Fill out the details, hair, eyes, that bunk, and give them to me
tomorrow. The Admitting Office can wait … for once…. I’ll telephone
over the important particulars. ’Night!”

His “’Night!” was another way of saying, “That’s all! And no more
questions, madam!”

The elevator began ascending and the girl operator asked timidly:

“What floor, Doctor?”

Cub Sterling appraised her vacantly:


The girl’s voice quavered:

“Where to, Doctor?”

“Top floor!”

“Yes, sir.”

When the elevator halted, he quickly raised his head:

“By the way, how’s your cold?”

“What cold, Doctor?”

“Haven’t you a cold?” he growled.

“No, Dr. Sterling. Thank you. I haven’t.”

“You’re welcome. Other operator, I guess.”

He stepped from the elevator and began his rounds. A whole avalanche of
nurses galloped down the hall and he realized it must be time for the
shift. He squinted at his watch and saw that it was almost seven.

“Damn it to hell!” he muttered.

Hot hash was bad enough. By now it would be slime. Better finish the
rounds and eat at Otto’s. Herbie’s hands had messed things up! Damned
old spider! His memory was focusing upon the girl when the floor interne
hurried forward and began to report.

One hour and a half later Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Junior, tilted back in
the swivel chair in his private office. His left heel held the edge of
the seat, the telephone was balanced upon his left knee, the receiver
wedged between his left shoulder and ear. His eyebrows were parted; he
had just given his pants a comforting jerk. His mouth twitched
occasionally; in his free hands he held a copy of “The Love Books of
Ovid” and his eyes measured a familiar illustration. He decided that the
legs weren’t up to hers. His father’s voice centered his attention,

“Yes, son?”

“Your thyroid, sir. Did a remarkable basal. Pulse is down to 110. Lowest
… so far….”

“Fine! I’ll operate tomorrow if you advise. Drop around later and give
her a final once-over. Be there in half an hour.”

“But Father, I’m hungry … I missed….”

“All right. All right! You always were! Go get your supper. I don’t need
you dancing attendance on me! Still know an operative patient when I see
one. Don’t interrupt me! You talk too much! Always did! Goodnight, son!”

His gruff affection blacked out the illustration. Cub placed his right
foot against the center drawer of his desk and began wondering what he
wanted to eat. Shad roe? Lamb chops? Roast beef?

His telephone bell jangled sharply:

He propped open a recent copy of the _New Yorker_ and read four passable
cartoons, turned the page, then lifted the receiver.

Dr. Barton’s voice begged:


“Yes, sir. Yes, Dr. Barton. Been trying to get you all evening, sir.
Think she’s all right. Pull through. Can’t tell for a certainty yet.
Mostly shock. What’s that? Aw, she’s average. Kinda tinselly. By the
way, better say none of those paper people can see her for a week. No
beaus and no flowers. Righto! Not at all! See you tomorrow, sir.”

Cub replaced the receiver, rose, straightened his tie, changed to a blue
serge coat, tore three wedding invitations on his desk to shreds, slung
the shreds into the waste basket, slammed the door and slouched up the
stairs, whistling.

The jingling of a telephone bell followed him. That’s why he whistled.

Five minutes later, the woman in the Admitting Office wrote Thursday,
May 12th for the fourth time, and Sophie Merriweather, Newark, N. J.,
for the tenth time, and Cub Sterling barged into Weber’s deserted
restaurant and said, pathetically:

“Otto, fill me up.”

Otto said:

“Sit down, Cubbie!”

Then he lifted the hose of a talking tube and ordered:

“Three-minut-steak-two-vrench-vrys-asparaggus-on-toas-celler-y- an’-
ollivs- VRIGH-TER-VAY!”

He slid the tube onto its hook, filled two steins with Schlitz, blew the
foam, carefully refilled them, and with a “from the heart” motion,
pushed them across the counter and soothed:

“Y’tired, son?”


Cub raised a stein and drained it.

Otto eased it away, refilled it and stood it beside the full one. Then
he lifted his belly onto a stool, leaned his arms against the bar and
said, earnestly:

“Fut you need, son … iss to get marriet…. Tonight you see you haf
vent viddout your supper. No vivfe allows dat…. No! Fut you need

Cub put down the empty stein and lifted the third one.

“Oh hush, Otto…. I’ll get married when I want to!”

A bell tinkled in the kitchen, below. Otto disengaged his stomach, threw
back his head to balance it, and before he turned, announced:

“Dat’s it! You _don’t vant to_!”

Cub set down the stein and laughed.

“What are you going to do about it, Otto?”

The little German drew himself slowly erect. His words were carefully

“Cub Steerlink, I _von’t_ stand-hit!”

Cub laughed again and begged:

“Aw, Otto!”

Otto turned his back and began lifting the food off the dumbwaiter. His
dignity surrounded him.

He placed the platters in front of the doctor, re-filled the empty stein
and announced placidly:

“You are as fin as dried-herrink!”

Cub cocked his head seriously and replied:

“So you advise marriage, Doctor. Is that how you got prolapsus of the

With three quick “Ach! Ach! Ach!” Otto blew himself to the far end of
the bar and turned his back. But he was careful to turn it so that he
could still see Cub’s thick curly black hair and the way he jerked his
head. So the internes said he was crazy! Otto rolled his own head,
proudly…. You had to know Cub Sterling to understand him…. All the
really famous doctors … like Semmelweiss … were queer. Dr.
MacArthur, himself, said that Cub Sterling had the flare…!

Cub slid off the stool and started for the door, and Otto relented:

“Vus it satissfact’ry, Docturr?”

Cub jerked his head and grinned:

“Yeah. Always is. Send me a bill soon, Otto.”

“Sure, Cubbie. Sure!”

Outside, the sky was a pincushion of diamonds. So reachable, and yet so
distant. An unexplained joy, that was ribbed with restlessness, pulled
Cub’s feet away from the hospital. He began strolling down Beeker
Street. A silent, tuneless whistle tickled his lips. The recesses of his
brain squirmed over the flat vacant center which was usually crowded
with sick people. The way he used to coast this hill on a bicycle when
he was in medical school! Whew! Lucky there were so few automobiles,
then, or he’d have busted up a sight more test tubes.

Lord, that was long ago! Ought to begin going to debutante parties
again, just to keep his foot in. He turned the corner and made his way
back into Wilson Boulevard, and started the long climb to the hospital.

A glittery night, no dying patients, a full stomach! An interior
champagne began to flow, and then his eye caught, in front of him, the
august figure of his head nurse, Miss Kerr, sailing toward the hospital.
Walking carefully and firmly in the glare of the street lamps; her
tightly rolled umbrella protecting her virginity.

His left shoulder began to rise. He stooped quickly, picked a brick-bat
out of a trash can and slung it at the light just behind. The action was
involuntary and unpremeditated. It was an active example of his inner
abandon, and followed by all the reflexes natural to a little boy.

He ducked into a shadow. He peered. His knees trembled slightly.

Miss Kerr turned and scrutinized the street. The search showed enraged
dignity but bore no traces of fear. After a fruitless survey, she
carefully raised the umbrella and proceeded toward the hospital.

Ten minutes later Dr. Ethridge Sterling, Junior, strode through Ward B,
Medicine Clinic. Beside him the fat interne sweated profusely. He was

“The morphia didn’t hold. She’s awake and raising … raising….”


The interne gave a relieved nod. The night nurse rocked her heels in
tune with theirs. Cub turned to her and said:

“I understand. I understand. Nurse, you go back to your ward. Doctor,
you may return to Ward A. I’ll tend to her myself….”

The interne hesitated and a fine hope glistened:

“Doctor Sterling … are you … is there to be a decompression?”

“Not unless absolutely necessary.” Cub’s voice was very grave, “I’ll
call you if I need assistance, Doctor.”

The interne plodded helplessly off the ward. He thought the student
nurse’s haughtiness was aimed at him.

Cub Sterling entered Room Two, pulled down the window shade of the glass
inset opening onto the ward, and snapped on the wall light over the bed.

Then he gripped the bedside table and stared. Among the pillows, eyes
wide with amusement, a wispy smile tracing the pale lips, was the head
he had held in his hands three hours ago, alive, alert, intelligently

It was as though Cleopatra’s understanding had flowed into an Egyptian

The lips moved slowly and she asked, in a monotone:

“Who are you? And where am I?”

“I’m the man who knows your father, and you are in my hospital.”

The composure ran out of her face. She muttered:

“Don’t be funny, please. My father died in the War.”

Cub Sterling straightened a pillow, slowly.

“Of course he did. Now you go to sleep again.”

A bitter wry smile began searing her lips:

“So you think I’m ‘nuts’, too. He did! He and she both did! They were
reporters on _The World_.”

Cub caught the pride of the inflection, turned his back and adjusted the
shade again.

The girl’s voice was husky and amused.

“Will you give me a cigarette, please?”

He swung around:

“Of course not! You are too sick to smoke! You’ve just been in a
horrible automobile accident. You had a narrow squeak. Be quiet and
behave yourself!”

Her pupils turned black with amusement.

She drawled:

“Used to having your way, aren’t you?”

Cub blushed slowly, then announced:

“Speaking of having your own way, the night nurse and interne say….”

“I’m a hell-raisin’-huzzy, Doctor?”

He bit his lip:

“What _have_ you been doing?”

Her eyes and voice dilated softly:

“Just asking questions. I’m a newspaper reporter, you know.”

Cub nodded grimly:

“Yes. I know.”

The girl overlooked the sarcasm. She asked levelly and with deference:

“Was it much of an accident? Did I lose my reputation or just a couple
of teeth?”

Cub moved toward the foot of the bed and fenced:

“Publicly speaking, neither.”

She shot back, “Privately speaking, the teeth are permanent.”

He stood at the end of the bed and looked at her critically. She met the
look and returned it. A short laugh finished her estimate. She said:

“Don’t you think it might be wise if we told each other the truth? You
snap like a police dog, but your eyes are honest.”

Cub’s legs collapsed under him. He sat upon the bed. The girl continued:

“How bunged up am I? I’ve got to get out of here quickly, or I’ll be

Cub’s hands deprecated the statement. She sneered:

“What does a medical man know about life? Ever been poor and
discriminating?” Then she threw the gesture back at him and ordered,
“What’s the story?”

He swallowed twice and said:

“You are in this hospital because your father is supposed to be a
medical man in a distant city, Newark, New Jersey, to be exact, and a
friend of mine. You are recorded as the victim of a bus accident. The
bus went ahead with your luggage and pocketbook. Your name is Sophie
Merriweather. As for your injuries, I’m not certain myself … yet.” His
words were beginning to clip. “Does that satisfy you?”

The girl shut her eyes and lay silent. A minute later she opened them,
cocked her head upon one side and gazed critically down her chin, at her
body. Then she looked reprovingly at Cub Sterling:

“So-ph-ie. How could you? Sophie Merriweather, Newark, New Jersey! I
haven’t got the breastworks for a Sophie!”

The belligerence flew from Cub’s face and his eyes began to dance:

“Breastworks, or no breastworks, madam, Sophie you are and Sophie you
remain until you are well … or else a famous elderly medical man and I
get kicked in the pants….”

Without looking at him, she replied:

“You appeal to my finer feelings! I’ll be Sophie forever, Doctor, if
you’ll promise me that the Attorney-General gets the kick and I get a
cigarette, immediately!”

Cub’s mouth and feet twitched. He rose and became professional:

“I’m sorry, Miss Merriweather. The cigarette is forbidden. Hospitals are
pure places.”

“Rats! Ever look in the trash cans in a Nurses’ Home?”

“No, of course not, Sophie!”

She lay silent a minute and wiggled her toes. Then her voice grew small,
and she said:

“Sounds like you’ve been very nice to me. Darned nice! But you have to
know sometime and I guess you’d better know now that I haven’t any money
to pay you. I’m really a waif.”

Her eyes blacked. She finished, “Respectable though … very!”

“But you’re too loquacious! And you are pretty sick. Shut up and go to

“How sick?”

“I told you I’d tell you tomorrow! As for your bills, they are being
taken care of, so don’t worry.”

The mouth drew to a line, she demanded:

“Who’s paying them? The Attorney-General?”

Cub evaded:

“You were riding in his car when you were hurt, weren’t you?”

Sally Ferguson sat erect and put one hand quickly over her mouth.
Sterling caught her by the shoulders and forced her back among the

“Where was it? Where did it hurt you?”

“Here,” she put her hand on her abdomen and groaned.

Cub began examining her carefully and thoroughly. When he stood up again
he said:

“I’m sorry, Sophie! We’ll stop it if you want us to. The bills and the
pain, too. Talk about them tomorrow. You must get some rest. Lie quiet.
Be still….”

Her mouth fell into a fighting straightness. All of the childish
freshness which had charmed him when he had first seen her was gone. She
lay tense and hard under his hands. Suddenly he knew she was trying not
to cry. Calmly he began talking again:

“Accidents knock a darned lot more out of you than you ever suspect at
the time, you know. You see, Sophie, if you don’t help me, then … if
you get terribly sick and I have a consultation over you … it’ll mean
sending for your father … and it’ll be a hell of a mess all

Her body relaxed under his grip. She smiled again and gasped:


When the glass was empty Cub eased her into the pillows and she laughed:

“I didn’t mean to hiss in your ear, Doctor, but if I hadn’t completed
the sentence in one breath, you’d have yelped: ‘NO!’”

Dr. Sterling ignored the remark and asked:

“Is that comfortable?”

Then Cub barked:

“You ought to have better sense than to antagonize your doctor!”

The patient responded:

“Extremely comfortable, thank you.”

The girl answered:

“The hair of the dog is good for his bite,” and before Cub could reply,
she relaxed her eyes into his and almost whispered:

“Thank you … for … taking me … in.”

With a brusqueness he switched off the light and bowed:

“Pleasure’s all mine! ’Night Sophie. When I look in later, please be
unconscious again!”

After he was gone, she lay for five minutes convinced that she had been
dreaming, and then she began to really dream….

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