K (Chapter 6, page 1 of 13)


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Chapter 6

The same day Dr. Max operated at the hospital. It was a Wilson day, the
young surgeon having six cases. One of the innovations Dr. Max had made
was to change the hour for major operations from early morning to
mid-afternoon. He could do as well later in the day,--his nerves were
steady, and uncounted numbers of cigarettes did not make his hand
shake,--and he hated to get up early.

The staff had fallen into the way of attending Wilson's operations. His
technique was good; but technique alone never gets a surgeon anywhere.
Wilson was getting results. Even the most jealous of that most jealous of
professions, surgery, had to admit that he got results.

Operations were over for the afternoon. The last case had been wheeled out
of the elevator. The pit of the operating-room was in disorder--towels
everywhere, tables of instruments, steaming sterilizers. Orderlies were
going about, carrying out linens, emptying pans. At a table two nurses
were cleaning instruments and putting them away in their glass cases.
Irrigators were being emptied, sponges recounted and checked off on written
lists.

In the midst of the confusion, Wilson stood giving last orders to the
interne at his elbow. As he talked he scoured his hands and arms with a
small brush; bits of lather flew off on to the tiled floor. His speech was
incisive, vigorous. At the hospital they said his nerves were iron; there
was no let-down after the day's work. The internes worshiped and feared
him. He was just, but without mercy. To be able to work like that, so
certainly, with so sure a touch, and to look like a Greek god! Wilson's
only rival, a gynecologist named O'Hara, got results, too; but he sweated
and swore through his operations, was not too careful as to asepsis, and
looked like a gorilla.

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