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say — it is my desire to die a doctor.”
Three hours later Dr. Crane was hanged in the prison yard. Father Michael drove into the city. In his hand was a prescription. It puzzled him, but his duty seemed clear enough. At the first telephone he called the office of a Dr. Mark Eberle. Eberle had been men tioned in the news as one of the eminent physicians who had been battling for Mrs. • Merrill’s life. An office nurse said that Dr. Eberle wasn't in; a crisis, she said, had called him to the bedside of Mrs. Merrill. Father Michael drove to the Merrill resi dence. When a maid admitted him. he asked for Dr. Eberle. The maid showed him into a study, and in a little while Dr. Eberle came in. He was a slight, precise man of quick speech and impatient gestures. “Yes?” he asked briskly. Father Michael gave him an exact account of Dr. Crane's death cell request. He handed him the prescription. “Most absurd bit of impudence I ever heard of!” Eberle exclaimed, outraged. "A hangbird. a man who disgraced his profes sion, presuming to prescribe for one of my patients!” Frowning, he read the prescription. Inis is nothing but a slight variation of the old beef, iron and wine formula. Just what you’d expect from a condemned quack — to get sympathy and maybe a headline or two!” “He had more headlines than he needed, doctor, and he's now dead. Tell me. would the tonic as prescribed harm your patient?” “No, it wouldn’t harm her. It wouldn’t help her, either.” “You mean she’s past help?” “It amounts to about that.” he admitted. “Then why not let her decide for herself? We could at least show her the prescription. Is there any objection?” Dr Eberle lighted a cigarette, puffed it fretfully. “Can’t see any objection.” he said, “provided you don't shock her. We’ll say nothing about prisons and executions, mind you. And I don't believe she’d recog nize Crane’s name; she's been too sick to read the papers for many weeks. . . Come.” He led Father Michael to the sick room. A nurse was in attendance there. On the bed lay a woman who seemed little more than a living skeleton. The bones of her face stood out, and her eyes were deep, dark hollows. “This is Father Michael,” Eberle said. “He has a queer story. Do you feel strong enough to hear it?” She nodded, listlessly. Sitting down by her. Father Michael said: "A Dr. Crane died recently. 1 was with him in his last hours. He read of your illness, and said that long ago you’d been a patient of his. He asked to prescribe a tonic for you.” The deep, dark caverns stared blankly. “Dr. Crane!” the woman murmured. “I never heard of anyone by that name.” “You see!" Eberle said. “He was faking. She didn’t even know him.” “But I’ve had so many doctors,” Mrs. Merrill said faintly, “these last twenty years! I can’t remember them all.” Father Michael remembered Dr. Crane’s specific request — that he deliver the pre scription to her personally. So he held it before her eyes. “This,” he said, “is what he prescribed for you.” -News stories about Mrs. Merrill, during the next few weeks, absorbed Father Michael. Her amazing recovery, he read, was confounding her physicians. And Dr. Eberle, too ethical to take credit he hadn’t earned, admitted that the improvement was due entirely to a tonic which he himself hadn’t prescribed. The prescribing consult ant, he said, preferred to remain anony mous. Dr. Eberle admitted that he couldn’t explain it — nothing like it had ever hap pened before. Yet the undeniable facts were that Mrs. Merrill had accepted the un known consultant’s medicine on sight, and that from that moment her recovery had been nothing short of a miracle. Father Michael kept waiting for a sum mons he knew would come. But it was three months before Martha Merrill sent for him. She received him in her drawing room and he wouldn’t have known her anywhere else. Here was a lady of curves and graces, all her pallor gone. Yet her eyes held a sad ness, and he knew she wanted to talk about Dr. Crane. ««UTn. n-nr trnttr 111 IfKonrO” tKo nnoct nelforl “My husband,” she said in a strained voice, “was a Dr. Merrill. We had one happy year together, long ago. Then we quarreled, bitterly, stupidly. It was my fault —all mine. I told him I never wanted to see him again. He disappeared — went to the tropics somewhere.” “And changed his name to Dr. Crane?” “I don’t know. But I do know that it was his handwriting on the prescription. And five letters were underlined — it was a code we used to have.” “Five letters?” questioned Father Michael “Yes, an an /, a y, a r and an m. the first time each occurred It used to mean to us” — her voice choked a little — “ ‘I love you very much!’ ” A glow overspread the priest’s face. “So it wasn’t just beef, iron and wine! What he really sent you was himself, his forgiveness and his love!” Martha Merrill bit her lip. Father Michael knew she was fighting back the tears. 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