“Who the dickens are you?” asked Dr. Lord, looking at him as though he thought he were an escaped lunatic.
“Dis is who I am,” replied Dr. Hoffman, handing him a card. “I vas in eighteen-ninety-five by de Staatsklinick in Berlin.” Dr. Lord fell back respectfully.
“I know someting about dot Missis Sahvah’s bones,” went on Dr. Hoffman, “and I know dey vill knit if you gif dem a chance. If all goes vell she vill valk again in t’ree months.”
“I’d like to see you do it,” said Dr. Lord.
“Patience, my friend,” said Dr. Hoffman, “first ve make a little plaster cast.” When Mrs. Brewster came in the afternoon she found a strange doctor in command and Dr. Lord and the nurses obeying his orders as if hypnotized. When she went home that night, hope had come to life again in her heart, where it had been dead for more than a week. Dr. Hoffman spent the afternoon having X-ray photographs of the joint made, and sat up all night trying to figure out how those bones could be set so they would knit and still not leave the joint stiff. By morning he had the solution.
The next day—the day the limb was to have been amputated—an operation of a very different nature took place. Dr. Hoffman, looking more like a pastry cook in his operating clothes than anything else, bustled around the operating room keeping the nurses and assisting physicians on the jump.
“Who’s the Dutchman that’s doing the bossing?” asked a pert young interne of one of the doctors.
“Shut up,” answered the doctor addressed, “that’s Hoffman, of the Staatsklinick in Berlin, and the Royal College of Vienna. He was Professor of Anatomy in the Staatsklinick ’95-’96, don’t you remember?” he said, turning to one of the other doctors. “He’s a wizard at bonesetting. He performed that operation on Count Esterhazy’s youngest son that kept him from being a cripple.” The younger doctor looked at Dr. Hoffman with a sudden respect. The case in question was a famous one in surgical annals.
Dr. Lord, angry as he was at Dr. Hoffman’s arraignment of him before the nurses and visitors, was yet a big enough man to realize that he had a chance to learn something from this sarcastic intruder who had so unceremoniously taken his case out of his hands, and swallowing his wrath, asked permission to witness the operation. “Ach, yes, to be sure,” said Dr. Hoffman, with his old geniality. “You must not mind that I vas so cross yesterday,” he went on, “it vas because I vas so impatient ven I hear you vanted to amputate dot girl’s leg off. But I forget,” he said magnanimously, “you do not know how to set de badly splintered bones so dey vill knit, as I do. Bring all de doctors in you vant to, and all de nurses too. Ve vill haf a Klinick.”
Thus it was that the large operating room of the hospital was crowded to the very edge of the “sterile field” with eager medical men, glad of the chance to watch Dr. Hoffman at work. “Who is that young girl in here?” asked Dr. Lord impatiently, as the anaesthetic was about to be administered.