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The Deadly Tube
by [?]

“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 Kennedy.

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.

“Now not a word about the case till we have had dinner,” commanded Craig. “I see very plainly that you have been worrying about the blow for a long time. Well, it has fallen. The neat thing to do is to look over the situation and see where we stand.”

Dinner over, we rode down-town in the subway, and Gregory ushered us into an office-building on Madison Avenue, where he had a very handsome suite of several rooms. We sat own in his waiting-room to discuss the affair.

“It is indeed a very tragic case,” began Kennedy, “almost more tragic than if the victim had been killed outright. Mrs. Huntington Close is–or rather I suppose I should say was–one of the famous beauties of the city. From what the paper says, her beauty has been hopelessly ruined by this dermatitis, which, I understand, Doctor, is practically incurable.”

Dr. Gregory nodded, and I could not help following his eyes as he looked at his own rough and scarred hands.

“Also,” continued Craig, with his eyes half closed and his finger-tips together, as if, he were taking a mental inventory of the facts in the case, “her nerves are so shattered that she will be years in recovering, if she ever recovers.”