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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 294 pages of information about Half a Century.

He gave the order at once, adding:  “Put him to the right of Howard”—­a young Philadelphian with a thigh stump, who was likely to die of hemorrhage, and whose jerking nerves I could soothe and quiet better than any one else.

By this arrangement the man minus a thigh bone was placed in the center of my field of labor, and under the care of Dr. Kelly; but full ten days after this arrangement was made, he came with a rueful face and said: 

“We have consulted the Surgeon-General, Medical Inspector, and a dozen other surgeons outside the hospital, and they all agree that there is no hope for Kendall.  The surgeons here have commissioned me to tell you, for we think you ought to know.  We all appreciate what you are doing, and think you will save all your other men if you live, but you cannot stand this strain long.  You do not know it; but there is a limit to your powers of endurance, and you are breaking.  You certainly will die if you keep on as you have been going, and it is not worth your while to kill yourself for Kendall, for you cannot save him.”

“What is the reason he cannot be saved?”

“Well, there are several reasons.  First, I performed the operation, and did not do it as thoroughly as I wished.  He was coming out from under the influence of the chloroform, and they hurried me.  The case was hopeless, and no use to give him pain, so there are several pieces of bone which I failed to find.  These are driven into the flesh, and nature in trying to get rid of them will get up such excessive suppuration that he must die of exhaustion.  Then there is the thigh without a bone, and there is nothing in the books to warrant a hope that it could heal in that condition.  We could not, in any case, hope for the formation of a new bone.  There are re-sections of two inches, but this is the longest new formation of which we know anything, and in this case there can be no hope, because the periosteum is destroyed.”

“Periosteum, doctor.  What is that, again?”

“It is the bone-feeder; the strong membrane which incloses the bone, and through which it is made.  In this case it is absolutely destroyed, removed, torn to shreds—­gone.  So there are several reasons why he cannot be saved.”

“Doctor Kelly, do you intend to let him lie there and die?”

“Oh no! oh no!  I will do all in my power for him.  I am paid for that; it is my duty; but it is not your duty to sacrifice your own life in a vain effort to save another.”

“Doctor Kelly, he shall not die; I will not let him.  I know nothing about your books and bones; but he can live with one bone wanting, and I tell you he shall not die, and I will not die either.”

It was a week or more after this conversation I found my patient, one morning, with blue lips and a pinched nose, and said to him: 

“What is this?”

“Well, I had a chill last night.”

“A chill and did not send for me?”

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