||It had lately become common chatter at Brightwood Hospital--better known for three hundred miles around Detroit as Hudson's Clinic--that the chief was all but dead on his feet. The whole place buzzed with it.
All the way from the inquisitive solarium on the top floor to the garrulous kitchen in the basement, little groups--convalescents in wheeled chairs, nurses with tardy trays, lean internes on rubber soles, grizzled orderlies trailing damp mops--met to whisper and separated to disseminate the bad news. Doctor Hudson was on the verge of a collapse.
On the verge?...Indeed! One lengthening story had it that on Tuesday he had fainted during an operation--mighty ticklish piece of business, too--which young Watson, assisting him, was obliged to complete alone. And the worst of it was that he was back at it again, next morning, carrying on as usual.
An idle tale like that, no matter with what solicitude of loyalty it might be discussed at Brightwood, would deal the institution a staggering wallop once it seeped through the big wrought-iron gates. And the rumour was peculiarly difficult to throttle because, unfortunately, it was true.
Obviously the hour had arrived for desperate measures.
Dr. Malcolm Pyle, shaggy and beetle-browed, next to the chief in seniority, a specialist in abdominal surgery and admiringly spoken of by his colleagues as the best belly man west of the Alleghenies, growled briefly into the ear of blood-and-skin Jennings, a cynical, middle-aged bachelor, who but for his skill as a bacteriologist would have been dropped from the staff, many a time, for his rasping banter and infuriating impudences.
Jennings quickly passed the word to internal-medicine Carter, who presently met eye-ear-nose-and-throat McDermott in the hall and relayed the message.