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home. Police were placed on guard in all directions within a block of the house, with orders that nothing be allowed to disturb the distinguished patient.
For two hours after the shooting, Mrs. McKinley was probably the only one in Buffalo who knew nothing of it. She was at the home of President Milburn, resting from the fatigue of the morning excursion to Niagara. Realizing that to one in her delicate state of health the shock might have serious effects, the physicians issued strict orders that she was not to be told until the last possible moment.
She awoke from her sleep about half-past five. She was feeling well, she said, and at once took up her crocheting, which is one of her favorite diversions. She kept at it as long as it was light, remaining in her room.
When it became dusk and the President had not arrived, she grew anxious concerning him. “I wonder why he does not come,” she said to one of her nieces. There was no clock in her room, and it was seven o'clock before she realized that it was so late. She now began to feel very anxious, since she expected him at six o'clock.
At seven o'clock, Dr. Rixey, the family physician of President and Mrs. McKinley, arrived at the Milburn residence. To him was assigned the dreaded task of breaking the direful news to the invalid wife.
At half past seven he came out, and returned to the exposition grounds in a carriage. He had broken the news most gently to Mrs. McKinley, and said that she had borne up bravely. If it was possible to bring him to her, she wanted it done. Dr. Rixey assured her that the president could safely be removed, and he left Mr. Milburn's to personally superintend the arrangements.
The Milburn house was transformed into a bustling place almost immediately upon the arrival of the ambulance bearing the wounded President. While the sick room was absolutely quiet and no sound penetrated its walls, the parlor below had been transformed into an office, and two stenographers, with their typewriting machines, were installed to answer the telegrams and letters which began to pour in. Arrangements were made for telegraph wires to be placed in the house.
The first official bulletin regarding the condition of the President was issued by Secretary Cortelyou at seven o'clock. He prefaced it with the statement that it had been prepared by the physicians. It read thus :
"The President was shot about four o'clock. One bullet struck him on the upper portion of the breast bone, glancing and not penetrating. The second bullet penetrated the abdomen five inches below the left nipple and one and one-half inches to the left of the median line.
“The abdomen was opened through the line of the bullet wound. It was found that the bullet had penetrated the stomach. The opening in
the front wall of the stomach was carefully closed with silk stitches, after which a search was made for a hole in the back wall of the stomach. This was found and closed in the same way.
"The further course of the bullet could not be discovered, although careful search was made. The abdominal wound was closed without drainage. No injury to the intestines or other abdominal organ was discovered.
“The patient stood the operation well. Pulse of good quality, rate of 130. Condition at the conclusion of the operation was gratifying. The result cannot be foretold. His condition at present justifies hope of recovery.
GEORGE B. CORTELYOU,
“Secretary to the President." The sad news sped around the world. Living wires flashed it from end to end of the continent; through unsounded seas to distant lands. Though divided into political factions, at that moment the American people stood as one.
Bulletins were issued at frequent intervals. For a day or two there was suspense, then encouraging news. The next two days were marked by still further progress. On the roth of September, four days after the shooting, the physicians were confident that he had passed the danger line.
Yet, with true professional conservatism, they refused to give a final statement to that effect, save to the family and to those who were waiting anxiously in the spacious rooms of the Milburn mansion. There was still danger—with the stomach perforated, a bullet hidden somewhere in his back, and septic poisoning always possible.
The President maintained his strength and was cheerful. He asked for the morning papers, but his request could not be granted.
For the first time since the assassin was taken away, the President asked what had been done with him, and was told that he was being held as a prisoner.
“He must have been crazy,” said the President. "I never saw the man until he approached me at the reception.” When told that the man was an anarchist, the President replied:
"Too bad, too bad!" I trust, though, that he will be treated with all fairness."
HOPE OF RECOVERY ENCOURAGED.
The good news which came from the President's bedside was received with great joy throughout the world. At the Grand Army encampment, which was then being held in Cleveland, General Daniel Sickles strode into headquarters, and said to those assembled there:
"Comrades, let us thank God for the good news from Buffalo. The Lord has heard the prayer of the world. Christian, Mohammedan, Chinese and all people have united with us in prayer that McKinley might be spared to us. That prayer is answered. Blessed be the name of the Lord, who preserves that great personality to us.”
Mrs. McKinley was very happy over the good news. “We trust in God and believe Mr. McKinley is going to recover speedily,” she said. "I know he has the best medical attendance that can be obtained and I am perfectly satisfied that these doctors are handling the case splendidly. It is a great pleasure to know the deep interest and sympathy felt by the American people. The case is progressing so favorably that we are all very happy.”
On September 11 the physicians publicly pronounced him out of danger. Vice President Roosevelt left Buffalo for a trip through the Adirondacks, and the members of the Cabinet returned to Washington.
A SUDDEN CHANGE.
Suddenly, without warning, there was a change for the worse. The first alarm came from the house at two o'clock on the morning of September 13, two hours after the encouraging official bulletin sent out after the midnight consultation of the physicians. The'signal of fear was the sending of messages to all the physicians to return to the house at once. The President had had a sinking spell.
At three o'clock it was authoritatively admitted that the President was in an extremely critical condition.
It was stated in the official bulletin, issued at 3:20 a. m., that “the condition of the President gives rise to the gravest apprehensions.”
Throughout the day and evening the expectations of attendant friends and physicians oscillated as a pendulum between hope and despair. Hopeless bulletins followed encouraging reports from the sick room, and they in turn gave way to recurrent hope.
All who passed in and out of the house during the day were questioned as to the President's condition, but little of an encouraging nature could be learned. The truth was too evident to be passed over or concealed. The President's life was hanging in the balance. The watchers felt that at any moment might come the announcement of a change which would foreshadow the end.
A slight improvement was noted in the early bulletins and was maintained during the morning and early afternoon. When it was learned that the President was taking small quantities of nourishment hope rose that he would pass the crisis in safety. Yet every one knew that the coming night, in all probability, would decide whether the President was to live or die. It was known that he was being kept alive by the strongest of heart stimulants, and that the physicians had obtained a supply of oxygen to be used if the worst came.
During the day the President was conscious when he was not asleep. Early in the morning when he awoke, he looked out of the window and saw the sky was overcast with heavy clouds.
"It is not so bright as it was yesterday,” he said. His eyes then caught the waving branches of the trees, glistening with rain, and he spoke again. “It is pleasant to see them,” he said, feebly.
Mrs. McKinley saw the President only once during the day, and then only for a moment. No words passed between them.
The phy sicians led her to his bedside and after she had looked at him for a moment, they led her away.
She was told that he was not so well, but the physicians did not deem it best to explain the complications to her, or the real gravity of his condition.
As fast as steam could bring them the President's secretaries, the members of his family, and the physicians who had left, convinced that he would recover, were whirled back to the city, going at once to the Milburn house.
Ali night the physicians worked to keep the President alive. The day began with a gloomy sky and a pouring rain, broken by frequent bursts that amounted to a torrent. Gloom surrounded the ivy-clad house about which the sentries were steadily marching.
No bulletin was issued at six o'clock, as had been customary. Almost as soon as it became light, men and women began to gather about the ropes which had been stretched in each direction a block away from the house.
Mrs. McKinley was awake early. She had slept well throughout the night. She was isolated in a corner of the Milburn house and, further removed by careful guarding, she remained all unconscious of the cloud over her head, while the wounded husband, for whose ease her strong soul had struggled to overcome a disease-shattered body for days, fought for life.
Yet, as soon as she awoke, she instinctively scented danger. Tremblingly, she asked to be taken to her husband earlier than usual. She was advised to wait a while. Without sign of complaint but with a world of suffering in her eyes, she submitted. She feared to ask for a reason and nobody dared to give her one.
Throughout the day anxiety grew. At half past six a bulletin was issued, signed by Secretary Cortelyou, which read as follows:
“The President's physicians report that his condition is most serious in spite of vigorous stimulation. The depression continues, and is profound. Unless it can be relieved, the end is only a question of time."