The Silent Bullet
4. The Deadly Tube
"For Heaven's sake, Gregory, what is the matter?" asked Craig Kennedy as a tall, nervous
man stalked into our apartment one evening. "Jameson, shake hands with Dr. Gregory.
What's the matter, Doctor? Surely your X-ray work hasn't knocked you out like this?"
The doctor shook hands with me mechanically. His hand was icy. "The blow has fallen,"
he exclaimed, as he sank limply into a chair and tossed an evening paper over to
In red ink on the first page, in the little square headed "Latest News," Kennedy read the
caption, "Society Woman Crippled for Life by X-Ray Treatment."
"A terrible tragedy was revealed in the suit begun today," continued the article, "by Mrs.
Huntington Close against Dr. James Gregory, an X-ray specialist with offices at Madison
Avenue, to recover damages for injuries which Mrs. Close alleges she received while
under his care. Several months ago she began a course of X-ray treatment to remove a
birthmark on her neck. In her complaint Mrs. Close alleges that Dr. Gregory has
carelessly caused X-ray dermatitis, a skin disease of cancerous nature, and that she has
also been rendered a nervous wreck through the effects of the rays. Simultaneously with
filing the suit she left home and entered a private hospital. Mrs. Close is one of the most
popular hostesses in the smart set, and her loss will be keenly felt."
"What am I to do, Kennedy" asked the doctor imploringly. "You remember I told you the
other day about this case--that there was something queer about it, that after a few
treatments I was afraid to carry on any more and refused to do so? She really has
dermatitis and nervous prostration, exactly as she alleges in her complaint. But, before
Heaven, Kennedy, I can't see how she could possibly have been so affected by the few
treatments I gave her. And to-night, just as I was leaving the office, I received a
telephone call from her husband's attorney, Lawrence, very kindly informing me that the
case would be pushed to the limit. I tell you, it looks black for me."
"What can they do?"
"Do? Do you suppose any jury is going to take enough expert testimony to outweigh the
tragedy of a beautiful woman? Do? Why, they can ruin me, even if I get a verdict of
acquittal. They can leave me with a reputation for carelessness that no mere court
decision can ever overcome."
"Gregory, you can rely on me," said Kennedy. "Anything I can do to help you I will
gladly do. Jameson and I were on the point of going out to dinner. Join us, and after that
we will go down to your office and talk things over."
"You are really too kind," murmured the doctor. The air of relief that was written on his
face was pathetically eloquent.