Arrowsmith - Sinclair Lewis - E-Book

Arrowsmith E-Book

Sinclair Lewis

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Arrowsmith is a novel by American author Sinclair Lewis, first published in 1925. It won the 1926 Pulitzer Prize ( which Lewis declined). Lewis was greatly assisted in its preparation by science writer Paul de Kruif, who received 25% of the royalties on sales, although Lewis was listed as the sole author. Arrowsmith is an early major novel dealing with the culture of science. It was written in the period after the reforms of medical education flowing from the Flexner Report on Medical Education in the United States and Canada: A Report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1910, which had called on medical schools in the United States to adhere to mainstream science in their teaching and research.

Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American writer and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States (and the first from the Americas) to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters." His works are known for their critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars.
He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. H. L. Mencken wrote of him, " If there was ever a novelist among us with an authentic call to the trade ... it is this red-haired tornado from the Minnesota wilds."

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WE have already seen Mr. Sinclair Lewis display his talents in their full brilliance; but in Martin Arrowsmith he has made a serious effort to subjugate those talents, to use them steadily, to make them instruments to solidify and dignify his theme. In a word, he has tried to write a big novel. That is a cheering ambition, and we are grateful to him. When a writer already famous sets out with all his powers under control to justify that fame, we feel that he is giving us much more than we deserve. And though it turns out that Mr. Sinclair Lewis's new novel is accumulatively good, and not centrally good, though still it is the detail that interests and moves us most, yet Martin Arrowsmith is beyond doubt the best of Mr. Lewis's novels.

Perhaps it will be well to begin by stating the theme, the first impulses of the book. It is an exposure of amateurism, blatancy, and purposelessness in life; it is an argument for the self-sacrificing, self-abnegating cold fury of hard work. And, as it deals with science, especially with medicine, the moral of the book is something like this: "Popularizers and publicists are scoundrels. There is a treachery to the cause of science in every mode of scientific occupation except the severest and most sceptical research. Work ten years, if need be, at the verification of the minutest details. Observe a thousand times before you theorize. Never be satisfied until you have proved each point beyond the possibility of error. Take no thought for fame or money, do not be misled even by a desire to throw open the benefits of science to mankind. It is only when a theory is established finally as a fact that it becomes really valuable."
And that is rather a poor moral; or shall we say, it is shockingly incomplete. In so far as it is Mr. Sinclair Lewis's own opinion, which he wishes to propagate among us, we must condemn it out of hand. It is simply not true that the great triumphs and discoveries of science have been made by assiduous inductions. The verification of scientific theories can often be left, most economically and most safely, to someone other than their propounder. But it has at any rate provided Mr. Lewis with a theme to unify his book, and in so far as it is an ideal to his chief character, driving him to his best accomplishment, keeping him from sinking into laziness or carelessness, bringing him into emotional conflicts and giving him the chance to display his individuality, it is a good and legitimate background for the story. And where it occurs as an ideal in definite and final contrast with other ideals, when we are so placed that we are forced to choose between an almost heartless devotion to science and the common and passionate sympathies of our blood, so that heaven-only-knows which is the better choice, then the quarrel of ideals. becomes noble and tragic. In short, Mr. Lewis has made his novel a story with a problem, and he has explicitly stated his own side in the problem. That is the unforgivable sin in a work of creative fiction; the author's decision may be implicit; must be, indeed; but it must not be explicit; it must not be open for a casual, thoughtless, unrealizing reader to fix upon. So it happens that Mr. Lewis, in trying to write a great novel, has failed; but has nevertheless allowed himself the most thorough organization of his talents. His canvas is crowded, and surprisingly good in all its parts.
He begins by showing us Martin Arrowsmith as a young medical student at the University of Winnemac. He is differentiated from his fellows by a kind of sullen and unsatisfied desire to find some creative work, some contribution to reality, to occupy and complete his life. There is Angus Muir, on the other hand, who knows from the beginning what he wants of the future; he is making himself proficient in medicine and physiology and surgery; he is ambitious and cold and competent. In many ways he is far more to be admired than Martin; for he really achieves as much knowledge of his profession as a fierce and controlled intention to "succeed" can bring him. There is Clif Clawson, too; a vulgar, friendly, practical-joking fellow, rather awful, but high-spirited and valuable for his freedom from snobbery. There is the Rev. Ira Hinkley, flowing over with missionary zeal and loving kindness, a fundamentalist and an intrusive bore, regarding cigarette-smoking as a diabolic sin, but being quite gentle and patronizing in his condemnations. He, too, has a kind of value in his ability to sacrifice himself for his principles and bear sneers and curses with equanimity. These characters are made as vivid and significant as could well be; Mr. Lewis has an admirable talent for convincing portraits.
But Martin vacillates and despairs: he is involved in successive enthusiasms for this branch of science and that, this lecturer and that; he works hard and wastes his time alternately; he envies and despises social success and culture; be falls in love, he gets dead-drunk, he is impertinent to his tutors, he cannot confine himself to any ideal or to any line of work. His most constant enthusiasm is for Dr. Gottlieb, who represents to him science at its purest and best. For Gottlieb is a shabby, shambling old man, the chief expert in the world on his own subjects, with an unwavering contempt for charlatanry, for fame, for stamped work, an unwavering devotion to accuracy and thoroughness in scientific investigation. He publishes a paper once every five years that half-a-dozen men in the world can understand; and those half-dozen know when they see it that they can accept its findings as indubitably established.
Martin has not yet reached such a stability of will that he can join Gottlieb in his single-hearted devotion; but through all his vacillations he keeps in the end Gottlieb's ideal for his own.
He has the good fortune, quite unmerited, to marry an enchanting girl, matter-of-fact, tender and passionate, who loves him with her whole nature and yet, as much for his sake as for hers, never allows her personality to be swamped by his. She is content always with his actions, because she retains so deep a faith in his final integrity; but they are so much at one that they can allow themselves explosions of temper and domestic quarrels.
We follow them through their vicissitudes; the disillusioning life of a general practitioner in a small town; the still more contemptible life of a health officer in a town notable for its "go," where every week was a Write to Mother week, an Eat more Corn week, a Banish the Booze week, a Tougher Teeth week; a More and Better Babies week, a Stop the Spitter Week...; the unimaginative life of a pathologist in a great clinic. And then he goes, with a sense of liberation and joy, to laboratory work under Gottlieb.
The review may have sounded ungenerous up to this point; but, in truth, Martin Arrowsmith is absorbing and illuminating on every page; and whatever fault may be found with the theme of the book, the actual development, the comment, the portrayal of character, is masterly, beyond praise. The book is so packed with good work that only a few page of quotation would indicate its virtues. There arc a dozen kinds of delight in it; we must quote at least an extract from the Leopolis Gazette, an incredibly good satire upon the style of American small-town journalism:—
"Dr. M. Arrowsmith of Wheatsylvania is being congratulated, we are informed by our valued pioneer local physician, Dr. Adam Winter, by the medical fraternity all through the Pong River Valley, there being no occupation or profession more unselfishly appreciative of each other's virtues than the medical gentlemen, on the courage and enterprise he recently displayed in addition to his scientific skill. Being called, to attend the little daughter of Henry Norwalk of near Delft the well-known farmer and finding the little one near death with diphtheria he made a desperate attempt to save it by himself bringing antitoxin from Blassner our ever popular druggist, who had on hand a full and fresh supply. He drove out and back in his gasoline chariot, making the total distance of 48 miles in 79 minutes. Fortunately our ever alert policeman, Joe Colby, was on the job and helped Dr. Arrowsmith find Mr. Blassner's bungalow on Red River Avenue and this gentleman rose from bed and hastened to supply the needed article but unfortunately the child was already too low to be saved but it is by such incidents of pluck and quick thinking as well as knowledge which make the medical profession one of our greatest blessings."
While Martin is working in the laboratbry he discovers a new principle in medicine, a bacteriophage, an organism which feeds upon germs, and he is applying himself to the nature of the bacteriophage upon the germs of the plague when news is brought that in one of the West Indies, St. Hubert, the plague is raging with pitiable severity. Here is his chance to go out and test the value of his discovery; to establish beyond doubt for all future time the scientific facts. But he will need to be ruthless. Every victim must be a case, not a human creature. He must inject the phage into half the population only, and contrast the incidence of plague among them with the incidence among the untreated. He must not allow himself to be carried away by any false humanitarianism; he must allow men to die in order that future generations should be saved. He goes and sees the misery and squalor, the pain, the ruin, the tragedy. His wife, his dearest intimate, dies while he is at work in another part of the island. And in the black struggle between his ideals and his heart, it is heart that wins. He becomes a traitor to himself, a traitor to Gottlieb, a traitor to science; he treats his patients indiscriminately. And the plague stops; but who can say now what caused it to stop? Had it exhausted its virulence or had Martin's discovery proved its worth?
It is here, in the bleak picture of death and the torture of the heart that Mr. Lewis reaches his greatest height. Martin recovers from his shame, and we leave him working with a static resolve never again to let himself be tempted from the path of pure science. But it would have been better if we bad left him in that deadlock of ideals; for there Mr. Lewis has truly shown us tragedy.



The driver of the wagon swaying through forest and swamp of the Ohio wilderness was a ragged girl of fourteen. Her mother they had buried near the Monongahela—the girl herself had heaped with torn sods the grave beside the river of the beautiful name. Her father lay shrinking with fever on the floor of the wagon-box, and about him played her brothers and sisters, dirty brats, tattered brats, hilarious brats.
She halted at the fork in the grassy road, and the sick man quavered, "Emmy, ye better turn down towards Cincinnati. If we could find your Uncle Ed, I guess he'd take us in."
"Nobody ain't going to take us in," she said. "We're going on jus' long as we can. Going West! They's a whole lot of new things I aim to be seeing!"
She cooked the supper, she put the children to bed, and sat by the fire, alone.
That was the great-grandmother of Martin Arrowsmith.
Cross-legged in the examining-chair in Doc Vickerson's office, a boy was reading "Gray's Anatomy." His name was Martin Arrowsmith, of Elk Mills, in the state of Winnemac.
There was a suspicion in Elk Mills—now, in 1897, a dowdy red-brick village, smelling of apples—that this brown-leather adjustable seat which Doc Vickerson used for minor operations, for the infrequent pulling of teeth and for highly frequent naps, had begun life as a barber's chair. There was also a belief that its proprietor must once have been called Doctor Vickerson, but for years he had been only The Doc, and he was scurfier and much less adjustable than the chair.
Martin was the son of J. J. Arrowsmith, who conducted the New York Clothing Bazaar. By sheer brass and obstinacy he had, at fourteen, become the unofficial, also decidedly unpaid, assistant to the Doc, and while the Doc was on a country call he took charge—though what there was to take charge of, no one could ever make out. He was a slender boy, not very tall; his hair and restless eyes were black, his skin unusually white, and the contrast gave him an air of passionate variability. The squareness of his head and a reasonable breadth of shoulders saved him from any appearance of effeminacy or of that querulous timidity which artistic young gentlemen call Sensitiveness. When he lifted his head to listen, his right eyebrow, slightly higher than the left, rose and quivered in his characteristic expression of energy, of independence, and a hint that he could fight, a look of impertinent inquiry which had been known to annoy his teachers and the Sunday School superintendent.
Martin was, like most inhabitants of Elk Mills before the Slavo-Italian immigration, a Typical Pure-bred Anglo-Saxon American, which means that he was a union of German, French, Scotch, Irish, perhaps a little Spanish, conceivably a little of the strains lumped together as "Jewish," and a great deal of English, which is itself a combination of primitive Briton, Celt, Phoenician, Roman, German, Dane, and Swede.
It is not certain that, in attaching himself to Doc Vickerson, Martin was entirely and edifyingly controlled by a desire to become a Great Healer. He did awe his Gang by bandaging stone-bruises, dissecting squirrels, and explaining the astounding and secret matters to be discovered at the back of the physiology, but he was not completely free from an ambition to command such glory among them as was enjoyed by the son of the Episcopalian minister, who could smoke an entire cigar without becoming sick. Yet this afternoon he read steadily at the section on the lymphatic system, and he muttered the long and perfectly incomprehensible words in a hum which made drowsier the dusty room.
It was the central room of the three occupied by Doc Vickerson, facing on Main Street above the New York Clothing Bazaar. On one side of it was the foul waiting-room, on the other, the Doc's bedroom. He was an aged widower; for what he called "female fixings" he cared nothing; and the bedroom with its tottering bureau and its cot of frowsy blankets was cleaned only by Martin, in not very frequent attacks of sanitation.
This central room was at once business office, consultation-room, operating-theater, living-room, poker den, and warehouse for guns and fishing tackle. Against a brown plaster wall was a cabinet of zoological collections and medical curiosities, and beside it the most dreadful and fascinating object known to the boy-world of Elk Mills—a skeleton with one gaunt gold tooth. On evenings when the Doc was away, Martin would acquire prestige among the trembling Gang by leading them into the unutterable darkness and scratching a sulfur match on the skeleton's jaw.
On the wall was a home-stuffed pickerel on a home-varnished board. Beside the rusty stove, a sawdust-box cuspidor rested on a slimy oilcloth worn through to the threads. On the senile table was a pile of memoranda of debts which the Doc was always swearing he would "collect from those dead-beats right now," and which he would never, by any chance, at any time, collect from any of them. A year or two—a decade or two—a century or two—they were all the same to the plodding doctor in the bee-murmuring town.
The most unsanitary corner was devoted to the cast-iron sink, which was oftener used for washing eggy breakfast plates than for sterilizing instruments. On its ledge were a broken test-tube, a broken fishhook, an unlabeled and forgotten bottle of pills, a nail-bristling heel, a frayed cigar-butt, and a rusty lancet stuck in a potato.
The wild raggedness of the room was the soul and symbol of Doc Vickerson; it was more exciting than the flat-faced stack of shoe-boxes in the New York Bazaar: it was the lure to questioning and adventure for Martin Arrowsmith.
The boy raised his head, cocked his inquisitive brow. On the stairway was the cumbersome step of Doc Vickerson. The Doc was sober! Martin would not have to help him into bed.
But it was a bad sign that the Doc should first go down the hall to his bedroom. The boy listened sharply. He heard the Doc open the lower part of the washstand, where he kept his bottle of Jamaica rum. After a long gurgle the invisible Doc put away the bottle and decisively kicked the doors shut. Still good. Only one drink. If he came into the consultation-room at once, he would be safe. But he was still standing in the bedroom. Martin sighed as the washstand doors were hastily opened again, as he heard another gurgle and a third.
The Doc's step was much livelier when he loomed into the office, a gray mass of a man with a gray mass of mustache, a form vast and unreal and undefined, like a cloud taking for the moment a likeness of humanity. With the brisk attack of one who wishes to escape the discussion of his guilt, the Doc rumbled while he waddled toward his desk-chair:
"What you doing here, young fella? What you doing here? I knew the cat would drag in something if I left the door unlocked." He gulped slightly; he smiled to show that he was being humorous—people had been known to misconstrue the Doc's humor.
He spoke more seriously, occasionally forgetting what he was talking about:
"Reading old Gray? That's right. Physician's library just three books: 'Gray's Anatomy' and Bible and Shakespeare. Study. You may become great doctor. Locate in Zenith and make five thousand dollars year—much as United States Senator! Set a high goal. Don't let things slide. Get training. Go college before go medical school. Study. Chemistry. Latin. Knowledge! I'm plug doc—got chick nor child—nobody—old drunk. But you—leadin' physician. Make five thousand dollars year.
"Murray woman's got endocarditis. Not thing I can do for her. Wants somebody hold her hand. Road's damn' disgrace. Culvert's out, beyond the grove. 'Sgrace.
"Endocarditis and—
"Training, that's what you got t' get. Fundamentals. Know chemistry. Biology. I nev' did. Mrs. Reverend Jones thinks she's got gastric ulcer. Wants to go city for operation. Ulcer, hell! She and the Reverend both eat too much.
"Why they don't repair that culvert—And don't be a booze-hoister like me, either. And get your basic science. I'll splain."
The boy, normal village youngster though he was, given to stoning cats and to playing pom-pom-pullaway, gained something of the intoxication of treasure-hunting as the Doc struggled to convey his vision of the pride of learning, the universality of biology, the triumphant exactness of chemistry. A fat old man and dirty and unvirtuous was the Doc; his grammar was doubtful, his vocabulary alarming, and his references to his rival, good Dr. Needham, were scandalous; yet he invoked in Martin a vision of making chemicals explode with much noise and stink and of seeing animalcules that no boy in Elk Mills had ever beheld.
The Doc's voice was thickening; he was sunk in his chair, blurry of eye and lax of mouth. Martin begged him to go to bed, but the Doc insisted:
"Don't need nap. No. Now you lissen. You don't appreciate but—Old man now. Giving you all I've learned. Show you collection. Only museum in whole county. Scientif' pioneer."
A hundred times had Martin obediently looked at the specimens in the brown, crackly-varnished bookcase: the beetles and chunks of mica; the embryo of a two-headed calf, the gallstones removed from a respectable lady whom the Doc enthusiastically named to all visitors. The Doc stood before the case, waving an enormous but shaky forefinger.
"Looka that butterfly. Name is porthesia chrysorrhoea. Doc Needham couldn't tell you that! He don't know what butterflies are called! He don't care if you get trained. Remember that name now?" He turned on Martin. "You payin' attention? You interested? Huh? Oh, the devil! Nobody wants to know about my museum—not a person. Only one in county but—I'm an old failure."
Martin asserted, "Honest, it's slick!"
"Look here! Look here! See that? In the bottle? It's an appendix. First one ever took out 'round here. I did it! Old Doc Vickerson, he did the first 'pendectomy in this neck of the woods, you bet! And first museum. It ain't—so big—but it's start. I haven't put away money like Doc Needham, but I started first c'lection—I started it!"
He collapsed in a chair, groaning, "You're right. Got to sleep. All in." But as Martin helped him to his feet he broke away, scrabbled about on his desk, and looked back doubtfully. "Want to give you something—start your training. And remember the old man. Will anybody remember the old man?"
He was holding out the beloved magnifying glass which for years he had used in botanizing. He watched Martin slip the lens into his pocket, he sighed, he struggled for something else to say, and silently he lumbered into his bedroom.



The state of Winnemac is bounded by Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, and like them it is half Eastern, half Midwestern. There is a feeling of New England in its brick and sycamore villages, its stable industries, and a tradition which goes back to the Revolutionary War. Zenith, the largest city in the state, was founded in 1792. But Winnemac is Midwestern in its fields of corn and wheat, its red barns and silos, and, despite the immense antiquity of Zenith, many counties were not settled till 1860.
The University of Winnemac is at Mohalis, fifteen miles from Zenith. There are twelve thousand students; beside this prodigy Oxford is a tiny theological school and Harvard a select college for young gentlemen. The University has a baseball field under glass; its buildings are measured by the mile; it hires hundreds of young Doctors of Philosophy to give rapid instruction in Sanskrit, navigation, accountancy, spectacle-fitting, sanitary engineering, Provencal poetry, tariff schedules, rutabaga-growing, motor-car designing, the history of Voronezh, the style of Matthew Arnold, the diagnosis of myohypertrophia kymoparalytica, and department-store advertising. Its president is the best money-raiser and the best after-dinner speaker in the United States; and Winnemac was the first school in the world to conduct its extension courses by radio.
It is not a snobbish rich-man's college, devoted to leisurely nonsense. It is the property of the people of the state, and what they want—or what they are told they want—is a mill to turn out men and women who will lead moral lives, play bridge, drive good cars, be enterprising in business, and occasionally mention books, though they are not expected to have time to read them. It is a Ford Motor Factory, and if its products rattle a little, they are beautifully standardized, with perfectly interchangeable parts. Hourly the University of Winnemac grows in numbers and influence, and by 1950 one may expect it to have created an entirely new world-civilization, a civilization larger and brisker and purer.
In 1904, when Martin Arrowsmith was an Arts and Science Junior preparing for medical school, Winnemac had but five thousand students yet it was already brisk.
Martin was twenty-one. He still seemed pale, in contrast to his black smooth hair, but he was a respectable runner, a fair basket-ball center, and a savage hockey-player. The co-eds murmured that he "looked so romantic," but as this was before the invention of sex and the era of petting-parties, they merely talked about him at a distance, and he did not know that he could have been a hero of amours. For all his stubbornness he was shy. He was not entirely ignorant of caresses but he did not make an occupation of them. He consorted with men whose virile pride it was to smoke filthy corncob pipes and to wear filthy sweaters.
The University had become his world. For him Elk Mills did not exist. Doc Vickerson was dead and buried and forgotten; Martin's father and mother were dead, leaving him only enough money for his arts and medical courses. The purpose of life was chemistry and physics and the prospect of biology next year.
His idol was Professor Edward Edwards, head of the department of chemistry, who was universally known as "Encore." Edwards' knowledge of the history of chemistry was immense. He could read Arabic, and he infuriated his fellow chemists by asserting that the Arabs had anticipated all their researches. Himself, Professor Edwards never did researches. He sat before fires and stroked his collie and chuckled in his beard.
This evening Encore was giving one of his small and popular At Home's. He lolled in a brown-corduroy Morris chair, being quietly humorous for the benefit of Martin and half a dozen other fanatical young chemists, and baiting Dr. Norman Brumfit, the instructor in English. The room was full of heartiness and beer and Brumfit.
Every university faculty must have a Wild Man to provide thrills and to shock crowded lecture-rooms. Even in so energetically virtuous an institution as Winnemac there was one Wild Man, and he was Norman Brumfit. He was permitted, without restriction, to speak of himself as immoral, agnostic and socialistic, so long as it was universally known that he remained pure, Presbyterian, and Republican. Dr. Brumfit was in form, tonight. He asserted that whenever a man showed genius, it could be proved that he had Jewish blood. Like all discussions of Judaism at Winnemac, this led to the mention of Max Gottlieb, professor of bacteriology in the medical school.
Professor Gottlieb was the mystery of the University. It was known that he was a Jew, born and educated in Germany, and that his work on immunology had given him fame in the East and in Europe. He rarely left his small brown weedy house except to return to his laboratory, and few students outside of his classes had ever identified him, but everyone had heard of his tall, lean, dark aloofness. A thousand fables fluttered about him. It was believed that he was the son of a German prince, that he had immense wealth, that he lived as sparsely as the other professors only because he was doing terrifying and costly experiments which probably had something to do with human sacrifice. It was said that he could create life in the laboratory, that he could talk to the monkeys which he inoculated, that he had been driven out of Germany as a devil-worshiper or an anarchist, and that he secretly drank real champagne every evening at dinner.
It was the tradition that faculty-members did not discuss their colleagues with students, but Max Gottlieb could not be regarded as anybody's colleague. He was impersonal as the chill northeast wind. Dr. Brumfit rattled:
"I'm sufficiently liberal, I should assume, toward the claims of science, but with a man like Gottlieb—I'm prepared to believe that he knows all about material forces, but what astounds me is that such a man can be blind to the vital force that creates all others. He says that knowledge is worthless unless it is proven by rows of figures. Well, when one of you scientific sharks can take the genius of a Ben Jonson and measure it with a yardstick, then I'll admit that we literary chaps, with our doubtless absurd belief in beauty and loyalty and the world o' dreams, are off on the wrong track!"
Martin Arrowsmith was not exactly certain what this meant and he enthusiastically did not care. He was relieved when Professor Edwards from the midst of his beardedness and smokiness made a sound curiously like "Oh, hell!" and took the conversation away from Brumfit. Ordinarily Encore would have suggested, with amiable malice, that Gottlieb was a "crapehanger" who wasted time destroying the theories of other men instead of making new ones of his own. But tonight, in detestation of such literary playboys as Brumfit, he exalted Gottlieb's long, lonely, failure-burdened effort to synthesize antitoxin, and his diabolic pleasure in disproving his own contentions as he would those of Ehrlich or Sir Almroth Wright. He spoke of Gottlieb's great book, "Immunology," which had been read by seven-ninths of all the men in the world who could possibly understand it—the number of these being nine.
The party ended with Mrs. Edwards' celebrated doughnuts. Martin tramped toward his boarding-house through a veiled spring night. The discussion of Gottlieb had roused him to a reasonless excitement. He thought of working in a laboratory at night, alone, absorbed, contemptuous of academic success and of popular classes. Himself, he believed, he had never seen the man, but he knew that Gottlieb's laboratory was in the Main Medical Building. He drifted toward the distant medical campus. The few people whom he met were hurrying with midnight timidity. He entered the shadow of the Anatomy Building, grim as a barracks, still as the dead men lying up there in the dissecting-room. Beyond him was the turreted bulk of the Main Medical Building, a harsh and blurry mass, high up in its dark wall a single light. He started. The light had gone out abruptly, as though an agitated watcher were trying to hide from him.
On the stone steps of the Main Medical, two minutes after, appeared beneath the arc-light a tall figure, ascetic, self-contained, apart. His swart cheeks were gaunt, his nose high-bridged and thin. He did not hurry, like the belated home-bodies. He was unconscious of the world. He looked at Martin and through him; he moved away, muttering to himself, his shoulders stooped, his long hands clasped behind him. He was lost in the shadows, himself a shadow.
He had worn the threadbare top-coat of a poor professor, yet Martin remembered him as wrapped in a black velvet cape with a silver star arrogant on his breast.
On his first day in medical school, Martin Arrowsmith was in a high state of superiority. As a medic he was more picturesque than other students, for medics are reputed to know secrets, horrors, exhilarating wickednesses. Men from the other departments go to their rooms to peer into their books. But also as an academic graduate, with a training in the basic sciences, he felt superior to his fellow medics, most of whom had but a high-school diploma, with perhaps one year in a ten-room Lutheran college among the cornfields.
For all his pride, Martin was nervous. He thought of operating, of making a murderous wrong incision; and with a more immediate, macabre fear, he thought of the dissecting-room and the stony, steely Anatomy Building. He had heard older medics mutter of its horrors: of corpses hanging by hooks, like rows of ghastly fruit, in an abominable tank of brine in the dark basement; of Henry the janitor, who was said to haul the cadavers out of the brine, to inject red lead into their veins, and to scold them as he stuffed them on the dumb-waiter.
There was prairie freshness in the autumn day but Martin did not heed. He hurried into the slate-colored hall of the Main Medical, up the wide stairs to the office of Max Gottlieb. He did not look at passing students, and when he bumped into them he grunted in confused apology. It was a portentous hour. He was going to specialize in bacteriology; he was going to discover enchanting new germs; Professor Gottlieb was going to recognize him as a genius, make him an assistant, predict for him—He halted in Gottlieb's private laboratory, a small, tidy apartment with racks of cotton-corked test-tubes on the bench, a place unimpressive and unmagical save for the constant-temperature bath with its tricky thermometer and electric bulbs. He waited till another student, a stuttering gawk of a student, had finished talking to Gottlieb, dark, lean, impassive at his desk in a cubbyhole of an office, then he plunged.
If in the misty April night Gottlieb had been romantic as a cloaked horseman, he was now testy and middle-aged. Near at hand, Martin could see wrinkles beside the hawk eyes. Gottlieb had turned back to his desk, which was heaped with shabby note-books, sheets of calculations, and a marvelously precise chart with red and green curves descending to vanish at zero. The calculations were delicate, minute, exquisitely clear; and delicate were the scientist's thin hands among the papers. He looked up, spoke with a hint of German accent. His words were not so much mispronounced as colored with a warm unfamiliar tint.
"Vell? Yes?"
"Oh, Professor Gottlieb, my name is Arrowsmith. I'm a medic freshman, Winnemac B.A. I'd like awfully to take bacteriology this fall instead of next year. I've had a lot of chemistry—"
"No. It is not time for you."
"Honest, I know I could do it now."
"There are two kinds of students the gods give me. One kind they dump on me like a bushel of potatoes. I do not like potatoes, and the potatoes they do not ever seem to have great affection for me, but I take them and teach them to kill patients. The other kind—they are very few!—they seem for some reason that is not at all clear to me to wish a liddle bit to become scientists, to work with bugs and make mistakes. Those, ah, those, I seize them, I denounce them, I teach them right away the ultimate lesson of science, which is to wait and doubt. Of the potatoes, I demand nothing; of the foolish ones like you, who think I could teach them something, I demand everything. No. You are too young. Come back next year."
"But honestly, with my chemistry—"
"Have you taken physical chemistry?"
"No, sir, but I did pretty well in organic."
"Organic chemistry! Puzzle chemistry! Stink chemistry! Drugstore chemistry! Physical chemistry is power, it is exactness, it is life. But organic chemistry—that is a trade for pot-washers. No. You are too young. Come back in a year."
Gottlieb was absolute. His talon fingers waved Martin to the door, and the boy hastened out, not daring to argue. He slunk off in misery. On the campus he met that jovial historian of chemistry, Encore Edwards, and begged, "Say, Professor, tell me, is there any value for a doctor in organic chemistry?"
"Value? Why, it seeks the drugs that allay pain! It produces the paint that slicks up your house, it dyes your sweetheart's dress—and maybe, in these degenerate days, her cherry lips! Who the dickens has been talking scandal about my organic chemistry?"
"Nobody. I was just wondering," Martin complained, and he drifted to the College Inn where, in an injured and melancholy manner, he devoured an enormous banana-split and a bar of almond chocolate, as he meditated:
"I want to take bacteriology. I want to get down to the bottom of this disease stuff. I'll learn some physical chemistry. I'll show old Gottlieb, damn him! Some day I'll discover the germ of cancer or something, and then he'll look foolish in the face!...Oh, Lord, I hope I won't take sick, first time I go into the dissecting-room...I want to take bacteriology—now!"
He recalled Gottlieb's sardonic face; he felt and feared his quality of dynamic hatred. Then he remembered the wrinkles, and he saw Max Gottlieb not as a genius but as a man who had headaches, who became agonizingly tired, who could be loved.
"I wonder if Encore Edwards knows as much as I thought he did? What is Truth?" he puzzled.
Martin was jumpy on his first day of dissecting. He could not look at the inhumanly stiff faces of the starveling gray men lying on the wooden tables. But they were so impersonal, these lost old men, that in two days he was, like the other medics, calling them "Billy" and "Ike" and "the Parson," and regarding them as he had regarded animals in biology. The dissecting-room itself was impersonal: hard cement floor, walls of hard plaster between wire-glass windows. Martin detested the reek of formaldehyde; that and some dreadful subtle other odor seemed to cling about him outside the dissecting-room; but he smoked cigarettes to forget it, and in a week he was exploring arteries with youthful and altogether unholy joy.
His dissecting partner was the Reverend Ira Hinkley, known to the class by a similar but different name.
Ira was going to be a medical missionary. He was a man of twenty-nine, a graduate of Pottsburg Christian College and of the Sanctification Bible and Missions School. He had played football; he was as strong and nearly as large as a steer, and no steer ever bellowed more enormously. He was a bright and happy Christian, a romping optimist who laughed away sin and doubt, a joyful Puritan who with annoying virility preached the doctrine of his tiny sect, the Sanctification Brotherhood, that to have a beautiful church was almost as damnable as the debaucheries of card-playing.
Martin found himself viewing "Billy," their cadaver—an undersized, blotchy old man with a horrible little red beard on his petrified, vealy face—as a machine, fascinating, complex, beautiful, but a machine. It damaged his already feeble belief in man's divinity and immortality. He might have kept his doubts to himself, revolving them slowly as he dissected out the nerves of the mangled upper arm, but Ira Hinkley would not let him alone. Ira believed that he could bring even medical students to bliss, which, to Ira, meant singing extraordinarily long and unlovely hymns in a chapel of the Sanctification Brotherhood.
"Mart, my son," he roared, "do you realize that in this, what some might call a sordid task, we are learning things that will enable us to heal the bodies and comfort the souls of countless lost unhappy folks?"
"Huh! Souls. I haven't found one yet in old Billy. Honest, do you believe that junk?"
Ira clenched his fist and scowled, then belched with laughter, slapped Martin distressingly on the back, and clamored, "Brother, you've got to do better than that to get Ira's goat! You think you've got a lot of these fancy Modern Doubts. You haven't—you've only got indigestion. What you need is exercise and faith. Come on over to the Y.M.C.A. and I'll take you for a swim and pray with you. Why, you poor skinny little agnostic, here you have a chance to see the Almighty's handiwork, and all you grab out of it is a feeling that you're real smart. Buck up, young Arrowsmith. You don't know how funny you are, to a fellow that's got a serene faith!"
To the delight of Clif Clawson, the class jester, who worked at the next table, Ira chucked Martin in the ribs, patted him, very painfully, upon the head, and amiably resumed work, while Martin danced with irritation.
In college Martin had been a "barb"—he had not belonged to a Greek Letter secret society. He had been "rushed," but he had resented the condescension of the aristocracy of men from the larger cities. Now that most of his Arts classmates had departed to insurance offices, law schools, and banks, he was lonely, and tempted by an invitation from Digamma Pi, the chief medical fraternity.
Digamma Pi was a lively boarding-house with a billiard table and low prices. Rough and amiable noises came from it at night, and a good deal of singing about When I Die Don't Bury Me at All; yet for three years Digams had won the valedictory and the Hugh Loizeau Medal in Experimental Surgery. This autumn the Digams elected Ira Hinkley, because they had been gaining a reputation for dissipation—girls were said to have been smuggled in late at night—and no company which included the Reverend Mr. Hinkley could possibly be taken by the Dean as immoral, which was an advantage if they were to continue comfortably immoral.
Martin had prized the independence of his solitary room. In a fraternity, all tennis rackets, trousers, and opinions are held in common. When Ira found that Martin was hesitating, he insisted, "Oh, come on in! Digam needs you. You do study hard—I'll say that for you—and think what a chance you'll have to influence The Fellows for good."
(On all occasions, Ira referred to his classmates as The Fellows, and frequently he used the term in prayers at the Y.M.C.A.)
"I don't want to influence anybody. I want to learn the doctor trade and make six thousand dollars a year."
"My boy, if you only knew how foolish you sound when you try to be cynical! When you're as old as I am, you'll understand that the glory of being a doctor is that you can teach folks high ideals while you soothe their tortured bodies."
"Suppose they don't want my particular brand of high ideals?"
"Mart, have I got to stop and pray with you?"
"No! Quit! Honestly, Hinkley, of all the Christians I ever met you take the rottenest advantages. You can lick anybody in the class, and when I think of how you're going to bully the poor heathen when you get to be a missionary, and make the kids put on breeches, and marry off all the happy lovers to the wrong people, I could bawl!"
The prospect of leaving his sheltered den for the patronage of the Reverend Mr. Hinkley was intolerable. It was not till Angus Duer accepted election to Digamma Pi that Martin himself came in.
Duer was one of the few among Martin's classmates in the academic course who had gone on with him to the Winnemac medical school. Duer had been the valedictorian. He was a silent, sharp-faced, curly-headed, rather handsome young man, and he never squandered an hour or a good impulse. So brilliant was his work in biology and chemistry that a Chicago surgeon had promised him a place in his clinic. Martin compared Angus Duer to a razor blade on a January morning; he hated him, was uncomfortable with him, and envied him. He knew that in biology Duer had been too busy passing examinations to ponder, to get any concept of biology as a whole. He knew that Duer was a tricky chemist, who neatly and swiftly completed the experiments demanded by the course and never ventured on original experiments which, leading him into a confused land of wondering, might bring him to glory or disaster. He was sure that Duer cultivated his manner of chill efficiency to impress instructors. Yet the man stood out so bleakly from a mass of students who could neither complete their experiments nor ponder nor do anything save smoke pipes and watch football-practice that Martin loved him while he hated him, and almost meekly he followed him into Digamma Pi.
Martin, Ira Hinkley, Angus Duer, Clif Clawson, the meaty class jester, and one "Fatty" Pfaff were initiated into Digamma Pi together. It was a noisy and rather painful performance, which included smelling asafetida. Martin was bored, but Fatty Pfaff was in squeaking, billowing, gasping terror.
Fatty was of all the new Freshmen candidates the most useful to Digamma Pi. He was planned by nature to be a butt. He looked like a distended hot-water bottle; he was magnificently imbecile; he believed everything, he knew nothing, he could memorize nothing; and anxiously he forgave the men who got through the vacant hours by playing jokes upon him. They persuaded him that mustard plasters were excellent for colds—solicitously they gathered about him, affixed an enormous plaster to his back, and afterward fondly removed it. They concealed the ear of a cadaver in his nice, clean, new pocket handkerchief when he went to Sunday supper at the house of a girl cousin in Zenith...At supper he produced the handkerchief with a flourish.
Every night when Fatty retired he had to remove from his bed a collection of objects which thoughtful house-mates had stuffed between the sheets—soap, alarm clocks, fish. He was the perfect person to whom to sell useless things. Clif Clawson, who combined a brisk huckstering with his jokes, sold to Fatty for four dollars a History of Medicine which he had bought, second-hand, for two, and while Fatty never read it, never conceivably could read it, the possession of the fat red book made him feel learned. But Fatty's greatest beneficence to Digamma was his belief in spiritualism. He went about in terror of spooks. He was always seeing them emerging at night from the dissecting-room windows. His classmates took care that he should behold a great many of them flitting about the halls of the fraternity.
Digamma Pi was housed in a residence built in the expansive days of 1885. The living-room suggested a recent cyclone. Knife-gashed tables, broken Morris chairs, and torn rugs were flung about the room, and covered with backless books, hockey shoes, caps, and cigarette stubs. Above, there were four men to a bedroom, and the beds were iron double-deckers, like a steerage.
For ash-trays the Digams used sawed skulls, and on the bedroom walls were anatomical charts, to be studied while dressing. In Martin's room was a complete skeleton. He and his roommates had trustingly bought it from a salesman who came out from a Zenith surgical supply house. He was such a genial and sympathetic salesman; he gave them cigars and told G. U. stories and explained what prosperous doctors they were all going to be. They bought the skeleton gratefully, on the installment plan...Later the salesman was less genial.
Martin roomed with Clif Clawson, Fatty Pfaff, and an earnest second-year medic named Irving Watters.
Any psychologist desiring a perfectly normal man for use in demonstrations could not have done better than to have engaged Irving Watters. He was always and carefully dull; smilingly, easily, dependably dull. If there was any cliche which he did not use, it was because he had not yet heard it. He believed in morality—except on Saturday evenings; he believed in the Episcopal Church—but not the High Church; he believed in the Constitution, Darwinism, systematic exercise in the gymnasium, and the genius of the president of the university.
Among them, Martin most liked Clif Clawson. Clif was the clown of the fraternity house, he was given to raucous laughter, he clogged and sang meaningless songs, he even practiced on the cornet, yet he was somehow a good fellow and solid, and Martin, in his detestation of Ira Hinkley, his fear of Angus Duer, his pity for Fatty Pfaff, his distaste for the amiable dullness of Irving Watters, turned to the roaring Clif as to something living and experimenting. At least Clif had reality; the reality of a plowed field, of a steaming manure-pile. It was Clif who would box with him; Clif who—though he loved to sit for hours smoking, grunting, magnificently loafing—could be persuaded to go for a five-mile walk.
And it was Clif who risked death by throwing baked beans at the Reverend Ira Hinkley at supper, when Ira was bulkily and sweetly corrective.
In the dissecting-room Ira was maddening enough with his merriment at such of Martin's ideas as had not been accepted in Pottsburg Christian College, but in the fraternity-house he was a moral pest. He never ceased trying to stop their profanity. After three years on a backwoods football team he still believed with unflinching optimism that he could sterilize young men by administering reproofs, with the nickering of a lady Sunday School teacher and the delicacy of a charging elephant.
Ira also had statistics about Clean Living.
He was full of statistics. Where he got them did not matter to him; figures in the daily papers, in the census report, or in the Miscellany Column of the Sanctification Herald were equally valid. He announced at supper table, "Clif, it's a wonder to me how as bright a fella as you can go on sucking that dirty old pipe. D'you realize that 67.9 per cent of all women who go to the operating table have husbands who smoke tobacco?"
"What the devil would they smoke?" demanded Clif.
"Where'd you get those figures?" from Martin.
"They came out at a medical convention in Philadelphia in 1902," Ira condescended. "Of course I don't suppose it'll make any difference to a bunch of wise galoots like you that some day you'll marry a nice bright little woman and ruin her life with your vices. Sure, keep right on—fine brave virile bunch! A poor weakling preacher like me wouldn't dare do anything so brave as smoke a pipe!"
He left them triumphantly, and Martin groaned, "Ira makes me want to get out of medicine and be an honest harness maker."
"Aw, gee now, Mart," Fatty Pfaff complained, "you oughtn't to cuss Ira out. He's awful sincere."
"Sincere? Hell! So is a cockroach!"
Thus they jabbered, while Angus Duer watched them in a superior silence that made Martin nervous. In the study of the profession to which he had looked forward all his life he found irritation and vacuity as well as serene wisdom; he saw no one clear path to Truth but a thousand paths to a thousand truths far-off and doubtful.


John A. Robertshaw, John Aldington Robertshaw, professor of physiology in the medical school, was rather deaf, and he was the only teacher in the University of Winnemac who still wore mutton-chop whiskers. He came from Back Bay; he was proud of it and let you know about it. With three other Brahmins he formed in Mohalis a Boston colony which stood for sturdy sweetness and decorously shaded light. On all occasions he remarked, "When I was studying with Ludwig in Germany—" He was too absorbed in his own correctness to heed individual students, and Clif Clawson and the other young men technically known as "hell-raisers" looked forward to his lectures on physiology.
They were held in an amphitheater whose seats curved so far around that the lecturer could not see both ends at once, and while Dr. Robertshaw, continuing to drone about blood circulation, was peering to the right to find out who was making that outrageous sound like a motor horn, far over on the left Clif Clawson would rise and imitate him, with sawing arm and stroking of imaginary whiskers. Once Clif produced the masterpiece of throwing a brick into the sink beside the platform, just when Dr. Robertshaw was working up to his annual climax about the effects of brass bands on the intensity of the knee-jerk.
Martin had been reading Max Gottlieb's scientific papers—as much of them as he could read, with their morass of mathematical symbols—and from them he had a conviction that experiments should be something dealing with the foundations of life and death, with the nature of bacterial infection, with the chemistry of bodily reactions. When Robertshaw chirped about fussy little experiments, standard experiments, maiden-aunt experiments, Martin was restless. In college he had felt that prosody and Latin Composition were futile, and he had looked forward to the study of medicine as illumination. Now, in melancholy worry about his own unreasonableness, he found that he was developing the same contempt for Robertshaw's rules of the thumb—and for most of the work in anatomy.
The professor of anatomy, Dr. Oliver O. Stout, was himself an anatomy, a dissection-chart, a thinly covered knot of nerves and blood vessels and bones. Stout had precise and enormous knowledge; in his dry voice he could repeat more facts about the left little toe than you would have thought anybody would care to learn regarding the left little toe.
No discussion at the Digamma Pi supper table was more violent than the incessant debate over the value to a doctor, a decent normal doctor who made a good living and did not worry about reading papers at medical associations, of remembering anatomical terms. But no matter what they thought, they all ground at learning the lists of names which enable a man to crawl through examinations and become an Educated Person, with a market value of five dollars an hour. Unknown sages had invented rimes which enabled them to memorize. At supper—the thirty piratical Digams sitting at a long and spotty table, devouring clam chowder and beans and codfish balls and banana layer-cake—the Freshmen earnestly repeated after a senior:
On old Olympus' topmost top
A fat-eared German viewed a hop.
Thus by association with the initial letters they mastered the twelve cranial nerves: olfactory, optic, oculomotor, trochlear, and the rest. To the Digams it was the world's noblest poem, and they remembered it for years after they had become practicing physicians and altogether forgotten the names of the nerves themselves.
In Dr. Stout's anatomy lectures there were no disturbances, but in his dissecting-room were many pleasantries. The mildest of them was the insertion of a fire-cracker in the cadaver on which the two virginal and unhappy co-eds worked. The real excitement during Freshman year was the incident of Clif Clawson and the pancreas.
Clif had been elected class president, for the year, because he was so full of greetings. He never met a classmate in the hall of Main Medical without shouting, "How's your vermiform appendix functioning this morning?" or "I bid thee a lofty greeting, old pediculosis." With booming decorum he presided at class meetings (indignant meetings to denounce the proposal to let the "aggies" use the North Side Tennis Courts), but in private life he was less decorous.
The terrible thing happened when the Board of Regents were being shown through the campus. The Regents were the supreme rulers of the University; they were bankers and manufacturers and pastors of large churches; to them even the president was humble. Nothing gave them more interesting thrills than the dissecting-room of the medical school. The preachers spoke morally of the effect of alcohol on paupers, and the bankers of the disrespect for savings-accounts which is always to be seen in the kind of men who insist on becoming cadavers. In the midst of the tour, led by Dr. Stout and the umbrella-carrying secretary of the University, the plumpest and most educational of all the bankers stopped near Clif Clawson's dissecting-table, with his derby hat reverently held behind him, and into that hat Clif dropped a pancreas.
Now a pancreas is a damp and disgusting thing to find in your new hat, and when the banker did so find one, he threw down the hat and said that the students of Winnemac had gone to the devil. Dr. Stout and the secretary comforted him; they cleaned the derby and assured him that vengeance should be done on the man who could put a pancreas in a banker's hat.
Dr. Stout summoned Clif, as president of the Freshmen. Clif was pained. He assembled the class, he lamented that any Winnemac Man could place a pancreas in a banker's hat, and he demanded that the criminal be manly enough to stand up and confess.
Unfortunately the Reverend Ira Hinkley, who sat between Martin and Angus Duer, had seen Clif drop the pancreas. He growled, "This is outrageous! I'm going to expose Clawson, even if he is a frat-brother of mine."
Martin protested, "Cut it out. You don't want to get him fired?"
"He ought to be!"
Angus Duer turned in his seat, looked at Ira, and suggested, "Will you kindly shut up?" and, as Ira subsided, Angus became to Martin more admirable and more hateful than ever.
When he was depressed by a wonder as to why he was here, listening to a Professor Robertshaw, repeating verses about fat-eared Germans, learning the trade of medicine like Fatty Pfaff or Irving Watters, then Martin had relief in what he considered debauches. Actually they were extremely small debauches; they rarely went beyond too much lager in the adjacent city of Zenith, or the smiles of a factory girl parading the sordid back avenues, but to Martin, with his pride in taut strength, his joy in a clear brain, they afterward seemed tragic.
His safest companion was Clif Clawson. No matter how much bad beer he drank, Clif was never much more intoxicated than in his normal state. Martin sank or rose to Clif's buoyancy, while Clif rose or sank to Martin's speculativeness. As they sat in a back-room, at a table glistening with beer-glass rings, Clif shook his finger and babbled, "You're only one 'at gets me, Mart. You know with all the hell-raising, and all the talk about bein' c'mmercial that I pull on these high boys like Ira Stinkley, I'm jus' sick o' c'mmercialism an' bunk as you are."
"Sure. You bet," Martin agreed with alcoholic fondness. "You're jus' like me. My God, do you get it—dough-face like Irving Watters or heartless climber like Angus Duer, and then old Gottlieb! Ideal of research! Never bein' content with what seems true! Alone, not carin' a damn, square-toed as a captain on the bridge, working all night, getting to the bottom of things!"
"Thash stuff. That's my idee, too. Lez have 'nother beer. Shake you for it!" observed Clif Clawson.
Zenith, with its saloons, was fifteen miles from Mohalis and the University of Winnemac; half an hour by the huge, roaring, steel interurban trolleys, and to Zenith the medical students went for their forays. To say that one had "gone into town last night" was a matter for winks and leers. But with Angus Duer, Martin discovered a new Zenith.
At supper Duer said abruptly, "Come into town with me and hear a concert."
For all his fancied superiority to the class, Martin was illimitably ignorant of literature, of painting, of music. That the bloodless and acquisitive Angus Duer should waste time listening to fiddlers was astounding to him. He discovered that Duer had enthusiasm for two composers, called Bach and Beethoven, presumably Germans, and that he himself did not yet comprehend all the ways of the world. On the interurban, Duer's gravity loosened, and he cried, "Boy, if I hadn't been born to carve up innards, I'd have been a great musician! Tonight I'm going to lead you right into Heaven!"
Martin found himself in a confusion of little chairs and vast gilded arches, of polite but disapproving ladies with programs in their laps, unromantic musicians making unpleasant noises below and, at last, incomprehensible beauty, which made for him pictures of hills and deep forests, then suddenly became achingly long-winded. He exulted, "I'm going to have 'em all—the fame of Max Gottlieb—I mean his ability—and the lovely music and lovely women—Golly! I'm going to do big things. And see the world...Will this piece never quit?"
It was a week after the concert that he rediscovered Madeline Fox.
Madeline was a handsome, high-colored, high-spirited, opinionated girl whom Martin had known in college. She was staying on, ostensibly to take a graduate course in English, actually to avoid going back home. She considered herself a superb tennis player; she played it with energy and voluble swoopings and large lack of direction. She believed herself to be a connoisseur of literature; the fortunates to whom she gave her approval were Hardy, Meredith, Howells, and Thackeray, none of whom she had read for five years. She had often reproved Martin for his inappreciation of Howells, for wearing flannel shirts, and for his failure to hand her down from street-cars in the manner of a fiction hero. In college, they had gone to dances together, though as a dancer Martin was more spirited than accurate, and his partners sometimes had difficulty in deciding just what he was trying to dance. He liked Madeline's tall comeliness and her vigor; he felt that with her energetic culture she was somehow "good for him." During this year, he had scarcely seen her. He thought of her late in the evenings, and planned to telephone to her, and did not telephone. But as he became doubtful about medicine he longed for her sympathy, and on a Sunday afternoon of spring he took her for a walk along the Chaloosa River.
From the river bluffs the prairie stretches in exuberant rolling hills. In the long barley fields, the rough pastures, the stunted oaks and brilliant birches, there is the adventurousness of the frontier, and like young plainsmen they tramped the bluffs and told each other they were going to conquer the world.
He complained, "These damn' medics—"
"Oh, Martin, do you think 'damn' is a nice word?" said Madeline.
He did think it was a very nice word indeed, and constantly useful to a busy worker, but her smile was desirable.
"Well—these darn' studes, they aren't trying to learn science; they're simply learning a trade. They just want to get the knowledge that'll enable them to cash in. They don't talk about saving lives but about 'losing cases'—losing dollars! And they wouldn't even mind losing cases if it was a sensational operation that'd advertise 'em! They make me sick! How many of 'em do you find that're interested in the work Ehrlich is doing in Germany—yes, or that Max Gottlieb is doing right here and now! Gottlieb's just taken an awful fall out of Wright's opsonin theory."
"Has he, really?"
"Has he! I should say he had! And do you get any of the medics stirred up about it? You do not! They say, 'Oh, sure, science is all right in its way; helps a doc to treat his patients,' and then they begin to argue about whether they can make more money if they locate in a big city or a town, and is it better for a young doc to play the good-fellow and lodge game, or join the church and look earnest. You ought to hear Irve Watters. He's just got one idea: the fellow that gets ahead in medicine, is he the lad that knows his pathology? Oh, no; the bird that succeeds is the one that gets an office on a northeast corner, near a trolley car junction, with a 'phone number that'll be easy for patients to remember! Honest! He said so! I swear, when I graduate I believe I'll be a ship's doctor. You see the world that way, and at least you aren't racing up and down the boat trying to drag patients away from some rival doc that has an office on another deck!"
"Yes, I know; it's dreadful the way people don't have ideals about their work. So many of the English grad students just want to make money teaching, instead of enjoying scholarship the way I do."
It was disconcerting to Martin that she should seem to think that she was a superior person quite as much as himself, but he was even more disconcerted when she bubbled:
"At the same time, Martin, one does have to be practical, doesn't one! Think how much more money—no, I mean how much more social position and power for doing good a successful doctor has than one of these scientists that just putter, and don't know what's going on in the world. Look at a surgeon like Dr. Loizeau, riding up to the hospital in a lovely car with a chauffeur in uniform, and all his patients simply worshiping him, and then your Max Gottlieb—somebody pointed him out to me the other day, and he had on a dreadful old suit, and I certainly thought he could stand a hair-cut."
Martin turned on her with fury, statistics, vituperation, religious zeal, and confused metaphors. They sat on a crooked old-fashioned rail-fence where over the sun-soaked bright plantains the first insects of spring were humming. In the storm of his fanaticism she lost her airy Culture and squeaked, "Yes, I see now, I see," without stating what it was she saw. "Oh, you do have a fine mind and such fine—such integrity."
"Honest? Do you think I have?"
"Oh, indeed I do, and I'm sure you're going to have a wonderful future. And I'm so glad you aren't commercial, like the others. Don't mind what they say!"
He noted that Madeline was not only a rare and understanding spirit but also an extraordinarily desirable woman—fresh color, tender eyes, adorable slope from shoulder to side. As they walked back, he perceived that she was incredibly the right mate for him. Under his training she would learn the distinction between vague "ideals" and the hard sureness of science. They paused on the bluff, looking down at the muddy Chaloosa, a springtime Western river wild with floating branches. He yearned for her; he regretted the casual affairs of a student and determined to be a pure and extremely industrious young man, to be, in fact, "worthy of her."
"Oh, Madeline," he mourned, "you're so darn' lovely!"
She glanced at him, timidly.