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The Cancer House
by [?]

“You’ve heard of such things as cancer houses, I suppose, Professor Kennedy?”

It was early in the morning and Craig’s client, Myra Moreton, as she introduced herself, had been waiting at the laboratory door in a state of great agitation as we came up. Just because her beautiful face was pale and haggard with worry, she was a pathetic figure, as she stood there, dressed in deep mourning, the tears standing in her eyes merely because we were a little later than usual.

“Well,” she hurried on as she dropped into a chair, “that is what they are calling that big house of ours at Norwood–a cancer house, if there is such a thing.”

Clearly, Myra Moreton was a victim of nervous prostration. She had asked the question with a hectic eagerness, yet had not waited for an answer.

“Oh,” she exclaimed, “you do not, you cannot know what it means to have something like this constantly hanging over you. Think of it–five of us have died in less than five years. It haunts me. Who next. That is all I can think about. Who next?”

Her first agitation had been succeeded by a calmness of despair, almost of fatalism, which was worse for her than letting loose her pent-up emotions.

I had heard of cases of people in whom there was no record of hereditary predisposition to cancer, people apparently in perfect health, who had moved into houses where cancer patients had lived and died and had themselves developed the disease. Though I had, of course, never even remotely experienced such a feeling as she described, I could well fancy what it must be to her.

Kennedy watched her sympathetically. “But why do you come to me?” he asked gently. “Don’t you think a cancer specialist would be more likely to help you?”

“A specialist?” she repeated with a peculiar hopelessness. “Professor Kennedy, five years ago, when my Uncle Frank was attacked by cancer, father was so foolish as to persuade him to consult a specialist whose advertisement he saw in the papers, a Dr. Adam Loeb on Forty-second Street here in New York. Specialist! Oh, I’m worried sick every time I have a sore or anything like this on my neck or anywhere else.”

She had worked herself from her unnatural calm almost into a state of hysterics as she displayed a little sore on her delicate white throat.

“That?” reassured Kennedy. “Oh, that may be nothing but a little boil. But this Dr. Loeb–he must be a quack. No doctor who advertises–“

“Perhaps,” she interrupted. “That is what Dr. Goode out at Norwood tells me. But father has faith in him, even has him at the house sometimes. I cannot bear the sight of him. Since I first saw him my uncle, his wife, another aunt, my cousin have died, and then, last week, my–my mother.”

Her voice broke, but with a great effort she managed to get herself together. “Now I–I fear that my father may go next. Perhaps it will strike me–or my brother, Lionel–who can tell? Think of it–the whole family wiped out by this terrible thing. Can it be natural, I ask myself? Is there not something back of it?”

“Who is this Dr. Loeb?” asked Kennedy, more for the purpose of aiding her in giving vent to her feelings than anything else.

“He is a New York doctor,” she reiterated. “I believe he claims to have a sure cure for cancer, by the use of radium and such means. My father has absolute confidence in him–visits him at his office and, as I told you, even has him at Norwood. In fact they are quite friendly. So was Lionel until lately.”

“What happened to shake your brother’s faith?” asked Craig.

“Nothing, I imagine, except that Lionel began thinking it over after someone told him about cancer houses. You must admit yourself that it is–at least strange. I wish you could see Lionel. He knows more about it than I do. Or Dr. Goode. I think he has made some kind of test. He could tell you much better than I can all the strange history. But they don’t agree–Lionel and Gail. Oh–it is more than I can stand. What shall I–“