It was a cold winter night, but the doctor wanted to help.
[Originally published in Reader's Digest]
"This is Dr. Van Eyck speaking", said the doctor.
A moment later Dr. Van Eyck heard another voice: "This is Dr. Haydon at the hospital in Glens Falls. We have a very sick boy here in our hospital. He has just been brought in with a bullet in his brain. He is very weak and may not live. We should operate at once, but I'm not a surgeon, you know."
"I'm 60 miles from Glens Falls", said Dr. Van Eyck.
"Have you called Dr. Mercer? He lives in Glens Falls."
"He is out of town", said Dr. Haydon. "I am calling you because the boy comes from your city. He was visiting here and shot himself while playing with a gun."
"You say that the boy is from Albany?" asked Dr. Van Eyck. "What is his name?"
"I don't think that I know him. But I'll get there as soon as I can. It's snowing here, but I think that I can get there before 12 o'clock."
"I should tell you that the boy's family is very poor. I don't think that they can pay you anything."
"That's all right", said Dr. Van Eyck.
A few minutes later, the surgeon's car had to stop for a red light at the edge of town. a man in an old black coat opened the door of the car and got in.
"Drive on", he said. "I've got a gun."
"I'm a doctor", said Van Eyck. "I'm on my way to the hospital to operate on a very sick..."
"Don't talk", said the man in the old black coat. "Just drive."
A mile out of town he ordered the doctor to stop the car and get out. Then the man drove on down the road. The doctor stood there for a moment in the falling snow.
A half hour later Dr. Van Eyck found a telephone and called a taxi. At the railway station he learned that the next train to Glens Falls would not leave until 12 o'clock.
It was after two o'clock in the morning when the surgeon arrived at the hospital in Glens Falls. Dr. Haydon was waiting for him.
"I did my best", said Van Eyck, "but I was stopped on the road and my car..."
"It was good of you to try", said Dr. Haydon. "The boy died an hour ago."
The two doctors walked by the door of the hospital waiting room. There sat the man in the old black coat, with his head in his hands.
"Mr. Cunningham", said Dr. Haydon to the man, "this is Dr. Van Eyck. He is a surgeon who came all the way from Albany to try to save your boy."