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 The Eclipse by Ty Pender and CD Roberts

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Join date : 2013-10-13

20150526
PostThe Eclipse by Ty Pender and CD Roberts



In 1878 the whole country was abuzz with news of a total solar eclipse coming on July 29. The best view would be in Rawlins, Wyoming; scientists and curiosity seekers would be arriving there from all over the world. When Heyes and Curry heard about it they naturally thought of the gambling prospects, but they’d settle for a good view of the eclipse if that didn’t pan out.


Starring

Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes
and
Ben Murphy as Kid Curry

And also, in order of appearance:
 
John Baker Omohundro (aka Texas Jack)


Thomas Alva Edison

Grenville M. Dodge, Chief Engineer Union Pacific Railroad


Edward Fox, Correspondent, New York Herald


George F. Barker, Physician, Scientist and Professor


Henry Draper, Astronomer


Major Thomas Tipton Thornburgh


John Wesley Hoyt, Physician, Lawyer, Professor



The Eclipse
by Ty Pender and CD Roberts


Heyes dropped a hardtack in his coffee and watched a black line slowly move across it. He took it out, shook off the drops and started nibbling the soaked end. He raised his eyes when Curry rode up.

“How’s it taste?” asked Curry.



Heyes swallowed in a gulp. “You could say it has some taste, once you can chew it, that is.” He grimaced. “It sure doesn’t taste good.”

“That figures. Is that all we’ve got to eat?” Curry dismounted, tied up his horse, and walked toward the camp fire.

“There are a couple Johnny cakes in my saddlebag,” offered Heyes, “and I’ve got a pot of beans and bacon warmed up.”

“I’ll skip the Johnny cakes,” Curry said as he sat down and poured himself a cup of coffee. “If I’m desperate enough to eat that stuff I’ll settle for the hardtack; if I soak it long enough it’ll taste like coffee, only salty. But the Johnny cakes are worse; they make lousy coffee taste like stale, salty, cornbread. I’m not that desperate.” Curry took a sip of coffee. “I’ll pass on the beans too; I’m savin’ my appetite for dinner at the hotel in town.”

“I told you we can’t go into town until we know it’s safe. After all the stories about Rawlins and the eclipse, I bet half the country’s there, and Rawlins is probably crawling with the law. After we know it’s safe, we can ride on in. Then we can do a little business,” Heyes smiled, “poker style. We’re bound to win some easy money with all these greenhorns.”

“I rode there while you were busy settin’ up your fire and makin’ your beans and coffee.”

“You went there after what I said?”

“Why not? I had to ride my horse somewhere for exercise. I figured with as many people as you thought would be there, no one would notice me. And no one did.” Curry smiled complacently.

“What did you see?”

“Not much. All I saw were a bunch of Easterners standin’ near the train and millin’ around the hotel. It’s right next to the train.”



“Nothing unusual going on?”

“Well, there’s some people messin’ around with some big tubes on stands. There were some other people hangin’ around the hotel, too, but I didn’t see any law.”

“Those big tubes are telescopes, Kid. Like I told you, this time tomorrow it’ll be black as night around Rawlins. Those Easterners will use those telescopes to see the stars we normally can’t see during the day.”

“Yeah, I figured it was somethin’ like that,” Curry shrugged dismissively. He sipped his coffee. “I went over to the hotel, too. That’s how I found out they’re servin’ a huge meal after the train comes in at four.”

“So that’s why you’re saving your appetite.” Heyes put down the hardtack he was about to make another attempt to nibble on. “You seem pretty sure we can just walk over there and help ourselves.”

Curry pointed his coffee cup in Heyes’ direction. “Why not? You brought disguises; well, sort of. All those Easterners and foreigners are wearin’ bowler hats and suits. We brought our suits; so, you were right about them and the hats.”

Curry got up and walked over to Heyes’ saddlebags. He pulled out a corncob pipe and two bowler hats. He took off his Stetson and put one of the bowlers on, without looking at it, while he walked back to the campfire.

“I figured we’d wear those hats at night to blend in with the crowd,” Heyes responded. “That way we could take our time checking out the law in town. I didn’t think you’d ride right into town in broad daylight.”

“Too late now. Guess we can just ride on into town and eat with no worry.”

“Listen, Kid, I didn’t plan on us wearing our suits to dinner; much less joining a dinner party!”

Curry walked over to Heyes and put the other bowler on his partner’s head. He stood back and appraised the effect. “Looks pretty good,” he joked. Then he stuck the corncob pipe in his mouth. “How do I look?”

“The pipe was for me, Kid; it’s part of my disguise.”

“Yeah, you need it more than me. Tell you what; I’ll practice my shootin’ and you can practice your pipe smokin’.”

Curry gave the corncob pipe to Heyes, turned around, and walked off with a strut.

“Your hat’s on backwards,” Heyes called after him. “Next time you might want to look at it before you put it on.”


oooOOOooo

Curry paced off his targets and took position. After a few shots, a horseman angled toward him from behind. Curry whirled to face the rider, gun drawn and aimed at him. The rider wore fringed hunting buckskins, a short hunting shirt decorated with patches of red and blue stained leather, and a pair of delicate white embroidered moccasins. His short, bright brown curls were covered by a velvet sombrero cap with a broad gold band.

“Good shootin’,” the stranger said in a Southern drawl. He put one hand on his hip as he sat tall in the saddle and he tilted his hat to one side to display the gold band to advantage. He had all the appearance of a man posing for a picture or a crowd.

“Thanks.” Curry relaxed and holstered his gun.

“My name’s John Baker Omohundro, better known as Texas Jack. You’ve heard of me, I assume. And you are…?”

“Thaddeus Jones. And no, I don’t think I’ve heard of you.”

The rider held up his chin and moved his head at a certain angle, as if to show off his sombrero cap. “I’m pleased to meet you, Thaddeus. I have a touring company. We do Western adventures; shootin’ and ridin’ shows that thrill audiences all over the country. I used to tour with Buffalo Bill, but I was such a favorite with the people that I decided to manage my own company.”

The rider reached down toward Curry with his tasseled leather gloved hand. Curry looked at it and shook it, reluctantly.

“I said that’s good shootin’ and I meant it.”

“You camped out here?”

“Yep.” The fancy rider turned and pointed behind him. “I got a spot just below that ridge.”

“So, what brings you out here, the eclipse?”

“The eclipse?” The rider waved his gloved hand dismissively. “Everybody’s talkin’ about it, I know. You could say I’m tangentially here for that; I’m here for the publicity.”

“Publicity?”

“Yes. In my business you’ve got to get your name out. A reporter from the New York Herald is travelin’ with Edison and sends back daily reports. I’m goin’ to get my name in one of those reports.”

“Edison?” asked a puzzled Curry.

The fancy rider put on a self-satisfied smirk. “Surely you have heard of the Wizard of Menlo Park, the great inventor Thomas Edison. His name is in all the papers.”

“Well…”

“He’s comin’ out here to test some kind of new invention durin’ the eclipse. Probably half of the folks in Rawlins are here to see the eclipse, but I bet you even money half came out only because Edison’s here and they want to see what he’s up to.”

“So I suppose that’s why you’re here,” Curry surmised, with a slight bit of disdain, “to see what he’s up to.”

The rider laughed. “No sir; tomorrow there’ll be lots of reporters with spare time on their hands just itchin’ for a story. I’m their man. I’ll come up with somethin’ to grab their attention. There’s some great publicity here for a showman who knows how the press works.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Curry announced.

The rider looked slightly insulted. “Ridiculous! No sir; that’s how business works. Edison’s a publicity hound, too, that’s why he travels with that reporter.”

In the distance a whistle announced the arrival of the four-o’clock train.

“There’s the train; Edison’s on that one. I want to be in Rawlins to see that. I hear he’s been ridin’ on the cow-catcher since Omaha.”

“Edison’s been ridin’ on the cow catcher?”

“Yep. Listen, if you’re lookin’ for a job, I might have an openin’. By any chance, do you happen to shoot from horseback Comanche style?”

“Nope; never needed to.”

“That’s too bad. A Comanche rider would spice up the act: draw in a bigger audience. I saw that fancy ridin’ and shootin’ when I fought the Comanche in Texas.”

“Well, I’m not interested in bein’ in any cowboy shows anyhow, ‘specially with a fella who dresses like you.”

“These are proper show clothes, boy,” Texas Jack said curtly. “You probably can’t shoot in front of a crowd anyhow.” He jerked his reins and rode off.

Curry watched him ride towards town and shook his head. “That’s ridiculous!” he mumbled as he aimed for another shot. He took a couple shots and was about to take a third when he saw Heyes standing on a rise. He holstered his gun and walked over to his partner. Together they watched the train inch slowly towards town.

Heyes shielded his eyes with one hand. “You see something on the cow catcher?”

“Yep, looks like a man in a black suit with a white overcoat.”

“I’ve got to get a better look at that.” Heyes grinned. “Let’s get closer.”

The two men angled down the rise toward the tracks until they had a clear view of the slowly approaching train and the man on the cow catcher at the front of the locomotive.

“He looks familiar,” Heyes said. “I think I’ve seen his face in the papers; I just can’t place it with a name.”

“Yeah? He’s been in the papers? Maybe that’s Thomas Edison.”

“Thomas Ed…” Heyes looked at Curry askance. “Kid, you wanna bet on that?”

Curry looked thoughtful, and spoke hesitatingly. “Alright, how about loser pays for dinner?”

“You’re on.” Heyes turned to look at the train, not seeing Curry’s smile.

As the train approached, the man waved his hat at them. He held onto the pilot beam, and he had a big smile on his face, so big, it seemed to stretch from ear to ear.

“Did they give you a ticket to ride that thing?” Heyes called out.

“Oh yeah, I’ve got a ticket,” the man laughed. “Don’t worry about that; are you men here for the eclipse?”

“Yes sir,” replied the Kid.

“Great,” the man replied. “It’s going to be quite a show; see you in town!”

Heyes and Curry watched the train slowly pass.

“Well, I’ve never seen that before!” exclaimed the Kid.

“Me neither,” added Heyes. “I think I’ll stick to riding inside trains.

“Uh huh. We’ve had our share of jumpin’ from the outside.”

Suddenly, gunshots rang out from the back of the train.

A shackled and handcuffed man had jumped out of the caboose and started moving up the ridge. A rail man leaned out of the rail car and shot after him but missed. As the caboose came by, the rail man called out to Heyes and Curry, “Did you see him?”

“Yeah, we saw him,” Curry said. “He won’t get far, he’s movin’ real slow.”

“He tried to rob a train two days ago but we caught him in the act; he’s kind of stupid. If you bring him into town I’ll see you get a reward. Ask for Grenville Dodge.”

Heyes and Curry tipped their bowler hats. “We’ll get him, mister,” Curry replied.

“By the way, who’s that guy on the cow catcher?” asked Heyes.

“Edison,” the rail man called out just before the train passed out of earshot.

He and Curry watched the train disappear. “Edison?” Heyes mumbled incredulously. He put his hands on his hips and looked suspiciously at the Kid, who was grinning broadly.

The Kid tipped his bowler up on his forehead. “Now we have two reasons to go to town. We have to bring that fella in, and you have to buy me dinner.” He started to walk towards the rail line.

Heyes followed. “Uh huh; if we don’t bring that fella in they just might think he jumped off the train at this spot because he’s a friend of ours, and they might get to wondering about who we are.” He caught up with Curry. “That fella can’t be too stupid if he got away,” he grumbled. “I didn’t know you knew who Edison was.”

“I can read too, Heyes. And, anyone who jumps off a train handcuffed and chained IS pretty stupid, like that fella said.”

They walked along the rails to where the man had jumped. Curry pointed to the side of the ridge just beyond the stone ballast. “There’s his tracks. Looks like he’s limpin.”

They followed the general direction of the man’s tracks. Heyes stopped just a few steps beyond the top of the ridge, “There he is!” he said.

The shackled man had fallen and was still panting. He’d managed to shove himself along the ground and under some brush, and cover himself with some twigs and leaves.

Heyes and Curry stared at the man’s face. One of his eyes was nearly white, and appeared as if made of glass and set in wrong. His face was also extremely irregular. The rim of his ear came around to a sharp edge and was serrated.

The man stared back.

Heyes squared himself beside the man, tipped up his hat and grinned. “Howdy, what’s your name?”

The man spit on Heyes’ boots.

“Tsk tsk,” Heyes replied.

“Can you walk?” asked the Kid.

There was still no reply.

Heyes looked up at Curry and then shrugged. He pulled out his revolver and put the barrel against the man’s head. “Should I shoot him, Thaddeus?”

“I dunno. In one way it could be easier. We wouldn’t have to worry about him tryin’ to escape. On the other hand, a dead weight is, well, a dead weight.”

“If he doesn’t move he’s a dead weight anyway. We might as well shoot him if he won’t move on his own.”

Heyes cocked his gun and the shackled man made a slow attempt to struggle to his feet. Curry helped the prisoner steady himself.

“Good choice. I think he made a good choice, don’t you, Thaddeus?”

After the three men walked back to the makeshift campsite, Curry kept his gun on the prisoners while Heyes quickly broke camp. Curry gestured with his revolver toward the horse trail in the brush. “Alright, let’s get on toward town.” The prisoner led the way, followed by Curry. Heyes held the reins of the horses and kept an eye out.


oooOOOooo

Heyes and Curry were met with applause by a small group when they arrived at the rail station with the prisoner in tow. Two men stepped out of the group and shook Heyes’ and Curry’s hands. “Thank you, gentlemen, for your help. I’m Gustave Schnitger, U.S. Marshal, and this is my deputy.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a glance at this news. The two men quickly led the prisoner away, and Heyes shrugged almost imperceptibly.

A well-dressed gentleman stepped forward and greeted Heyes and Curry with a vigorous handshake. He was followed by the rest of the group, who smiled at them admiringly. “Well done, well done, gentlemen!” he began. “I’m Grenville Dodge, Chief Engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad, and I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Heyes and Curry managed to appear only slightly ill at ease. Heyes coughed into his gloved hand. “I, uh, we didn’t expect a reception committee.”

“I imagine not. However, we didn’t expect to lose the prisoner. We’re extremely grateful that you recaptured him. I deeply apologize for the inconvenience.” He reached in his coat pocket, pulled out a wallet, and gave Heyes and Curry each a twenty dollar bill.

Heyes and Curry looked at the money, then at each other, and turned back to their benefactor. “Thank you, sir; that’s mighty gracious of you,” Heyes said as he shook the man’s hand. “I’m Joshua Smith,” Heyes replied.

Curry shook the man’s hand as well. “Thaddeus Jones; twenty dollars is mighty thoughtful,” he added.

“Who is the prisoner?” asked Heyes.

“We don’t know, he won’t tell us. He was captured two days ago trying to rob this train. We are remanding him to the Territorial Prison. And you, are you here for the eclipse?” he asked.

“Yes, sir, we’re camped out of town,” said the Kid.

“That’s right,” added Heyes. “We read about it in the papers and thought something like this would be a once in a lifetime event. We couldn’t miss that.”

Curry’s eyebrows rose a tad.

“It’s a pleasure to meet upstanding American citizens like you. Not only staunch supporters of law and order, but interested in scientific progress, I see. I think the railroad would like to do more for you than a mere forty dollars.”

“Me and my friend were just doing what any upright American would do,” began Heyes, looking modest as the Kid nodded, “and we appreciate your generosity, but…”

Dodge gestured toward a special railway car that had been moved onto a side rail. “You are welcome to use this Pullman while it is here. It has carried some very distinguished scientists from Europe, as well as the Draper party. They have all moved into the hotel. You will be guests of the Union Pacific during the eclipse. Meals are on Union Pacific at the hotel, and laundry service will be provided.”

“Well now, that’s real kind of you, but…” the Kid looked at Heyes.

“Please accept, we can’t have men like you camping outside of town. We are very grateful for your assistance. We could not stop the train to catch the fugitive because of our important travelers’ schedules. However, if we had lost the prisoner it would have reflected very badly on our company. No doubt the press would have made a story out of it. You have helped the Union Pacific maintain its reputation.”

“My friend and I are only too happy to be of help to the railroad,” Heyes said.

“That’s right; the railroad has always been a big help to us,” added the Kid.

“For transportation,” Heyes said, quickly.

“Good. Then it’s settled. I’ll leave you in the hands of Henry, our porter. Henry, see that Smith and Jones get their choice of unoccupied cabins. Be sure to give them meal tickets for the hotel.” Dodge shook their hands. “Good day, gentlemen,” he said, and left.

Henry, the porter, stepped forward and tipped his cap. “Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones, I am pleased to meet you,” he said, formally. “Do you have any luggage that you wish for me to carry to your rooms?”

“Rooms? Well, we’re....” Curry began.

“You will have your own keys to the cabins. Do not worry about security, if you have anything of value that is” he sniffed. “I have a key to the train, and I never leave the train when it’s in transit.”

“Good man, Henry,” said Heyes patting him on the shoulder. “We’ll feel secure with you around, keeping guard.” The porter shook Heyes’ hand off.

“We’ve only got our saddlebags and guns,” said Curry.

“I see,” the porter responded. “Please follow me to your rooms.”

The men took their saddlebags and guns off their horses and followed the porter to the train. While they walked, the porter glanced at the men’s dirty boots and dusty pants. “These are first class rooms, in the very best coach Pullman has to offer.”

When they reached the train the porter led them down a narrow hallway along one side of the ornate coach. “As Mr. Dodge mentioned, meals will be served at the hotel. However, you are welcome to bring back anything. Ring the bell on the back door and I will open the car for you. We do ask that you maintain quiet in the car and the cabin at all times as a courtesy to our other passengers.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged amused glances. “Are there any other passengers?” asked Heyes.

The porter looked at the two men with slight disdain. “No sir, they’ve all gone to the hotel.”

The porter opened the door to a cabin. “These are your rooms. There is some food and drink stocked. The items are fourni gratuitement”

“Grat what?” asked Curry.

The porter sighed. “Free of charge, gentlemen, help yourself. Would you like me to fix some fresh coffee while you make yourselves comfortable?”

“Sure,” Heyes answered. He sat down in the easy chair and put his dusty boots up on the ottoman.

Curry was already pouring drinks from a decanter. The porter took another look at Curry’s and Heyes’ dusty boots, smiled smugly, closed the door, and left.

“Do they know who we are?” Curry asked.

“I don’t think so. If they did, Dodge or the marshal would have arrested us, when all those deputies and train police were here.

Curry took a sip of his drink, looked around the cabin, and gave Heyes a smile. “I’m goin’ to shave, get my suit on, and see what’s for dinner.”

Heyes laughed, “I figured that’s what you’d say.”

Curry went into the bath closet and started shaving while Heyes sat down on his bed and started to remove his boots.

“You still owe me a dinner,” Curry said to Heyes as he looked in the mirror with his face full of lather.



“Kid, that bet was for tonight.”

“Nope. That bet was for dinner. I didn’t say when.”

Heyes shook his head sadly. “I thought we were partners.”

“We are. You’re just the partner that owes me a dinner.”


oooOOOooo

The porter knocked on the door. “Coffee, gentlemen,” he said.

“Come in,” Heyes answered.

The porter entered with a tray and looked shocked when he saw Heyes and Curry transformed from dusty cowboys to clean-shaven gentlemen in suits and bowler hats.

Curry took a cup of coffee off the tray. “When’s supper?”

“I expect soon,” he said in a strangled voice. “The scientists are lining up for a picture now, and then they’ll go over to the hotel and dine.”

Heyes took his cup off the tray. “We’ll have time to go to the livery?”

“Certainly,” Henry coughed, “gentlemen.”

The porter paused, and took another look at Curry’s and Heyes’ clothes. “If you gentlemen would bring me back supper from the hotel I would be greatly obliged. I am not a chef, and the only items here I know how to prepare are canned beans and bacon.”

Heyes looked thoughtful. “My partner and I can appreciate your situation, Henry. You know, my friend and I were talking about how it would be more convenient for all three of us if he and I had a key to the railroad car.”

“I understand,” the porter said with a tinge of disappointment, “but that would be against Union Pacific policy.”

“Then I guess you’re gonna be eatin’ beans and bacon,” Curry said.

“Henry, you can trust us,” Heyes said ingratiatingly. “We won’t mention the key to Mr. Dodge.” He smiled. “I understand the food at the hotel is excellent.”

The porter paused for a moment. He licked his lips. “We have an agreement, gentlemen!”

“Good,” Heyes said. “Now give us a key and we’ll be on our way.”

“Here are the keys to your cabin; you mustn’t mention this to Mr. Dodge.”

“You have our word,” Curry said.


oooOOOooo

Heyes and Curry gave their names to the hotelier. “You are with the Draper party, gentlemen. May I check your hats?”

The men handed over their bowlers and the hotelier handed them hat checks. “Just go into the dining hall and serve yourself at the buffet. The first two drinks are free.”

A pleased smiled crossed Curry’s face.

The two men entered the small dining hall and looked around. Texas Jack was standing at the bar, still in his fancy dress, drinking and chatting with the bartender. The diners were all dressed in formal evening attire: tuxes and tails, and were involved in intense discussions.



Curry’s eyes wandered over each of the diners. “We’ll stick out like a turd in a punchbowl,” he whispered to Heyes.

Heyes shrugged. “Let’s see what’s on the buffet table.”

Curry’s cautious eyes wandered over to the buffet table. It was stacked with tempting food. “Buffet means all you can eat, right?”

“Right.”

Curry took a second look at the buffet table piled high with food. “On second thought, I think we look fine. At least I do.”

Heyes grinned as he followed the Kid to the serving table.

Texas Jack eyed Heyes and Curry while they filled their plates with food. When the two men turned around and looked for a table, he frowned and whispered in the bartender’s ear.

Dodge waved them over. “Gentlemen, join us, please.” He pointed at two empty chairs at a table where five gentlemen were enjoying their dinners and wine. Heyes and Curry took their places and looked around at the men.



“Gentlemen, let me introduce our guests, Mr. Joshua Smith and Mr. Thaddeus Jones. These two men troubled themselves to bravely apprehend the train robber we were marshaling to Rawlins.”

Dodge gestured to the man to his right. “This is Edward Fox, correspondent, New York Herald. He is accompanying Mr. Edison on assignment, and filing wires on the eclipse for the paper.” Fox looked at Heyes and Curry inquisitively.

The bespectacled man next to Fox nodded his head and smiled warmly at Heyes and Curry as he was introduced. “This is George F. Barker, physician, scientist, and professor of physiological chemistry and toxicology at Yale.”

Barker laughed. “Grenville, you have the order reversed. These days I am professor first, scientist when I have spare time, and physician only for myself.”

Dodge gestured to the man to the right of Barker. “Henry Draper, astronomer, astrophotographer, and I dare say astrophysicist, with his discovery last year of oxygen on the sun.”

Draper lifted his champagne flute toward Dodge with a wink. “Thank you, Grenville, that’s very kind.”

“I’ll introduce myself, Grenville,” said the next man, who was tall and very muscular. He gave everyone a stern look. “Thomas Tipton Thornburgh, Major, United States Army.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a guarded look.

“Major Thornburgh will lead our hunting trip after the eclipse. We hope he will keep us safe from the Utes.”

“Well, Grenville, I will do my best,” Thornburgh replied with a wink.

“Finally, Thomas Alva Edison,” Dodge said, gesturing to the man who sat next to Curry, “whom I believe you already know.”

“That’s right,” Curry offered, “he’s the fella that was ridin’ the cow catcher.”

The men laughed. “Capital,” said Grenville, “you have a wonderful sense of humor, Mr. Jones.”

Draper stood up. He held his champagne flute aloft. “Gentlemen, I propose a toast - a toast to Thomas Edison, whom history will remember for only one thing: that he was the only man who ever rode a cow catcher from Omaha, Nebraska, to the Sacramento Valley.”

The Draper party broke into peals of laughter, raised their glasses, and drank to the toast. Heyes and Curry joined the toast.

Curry, who was seated next to Edison, saw a chance to ask his question. “Mr. Edison, how’d you get the engineer to let you sit on the cow catcher?”

Fox answered before Edison could speak. “He has a letter of permission from Jay Gould.”

“Jay Gould signed a letter for you to ride the cow catcher? How did you manage to convince him to do that?” asked Heyes.

“Mr. Gould not only owns the railroad,” Edison began with a tinge of resentment “he owns the Western Union, for which I provided years of tireless service.”

Draper interrupted. “Gould owns most of the telegraph lines in the country.”

“And he owns New York politics too,” added Fox, the reporter.  “I see that first hand.”

“Now I would like to draw everyone’s attention to the great service Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith provided,” said Dodge.

“Bully, bully,” Barker said. “Bravely done, as Dodge said.”

“It wasn’t too hard,” Curry responded. “He was wearin’ chains and handcuffs.”

“Now partner, it wasn’t that easy,” Heyes quickly added. “He was tough enough to manage to jump off a moving train and walk away. He must have been from a New York gang.”

Dodge looked surprised at Heyes’ comment. “How did you know he was from a New York gang?”

“Easy,” replied Curry. “He had a chewed-off ear and his eye was gouged out.”

“Jehoshaphat!” exclaimed Barker.

“Mr. Jones is correct,” added Fox. “That’s how the Tammany gangs fight.”

“That poor soul probably thought his prospects might be better out West,” Barker said.

Fox looked at Heyes and Curry. “You seem to know a lot about the criminals here. How do you two support yourselves in this wild country? Are you lawmen?”

Heyes and Curry looked at each other. “Ah,” answered Heyes, “we have done some work for the law.”

“That’s right,” Curry added brightly, “we’ve been deputies a couple of times.”

“Otherwise,” Heyes was quick to add, “we take any work that keeps us honest.”

Dodge smiled at them affirmatively. “No man can do better than that.”

A waiter began to clear the table. Edison moved his chair back. “Gentlemen, thank you for the conversation and the company. Fox and I now must get some rest. It’s been a long trip, and I have the tasimeter to set up and calibrate tomorrow. Good night.”

With that, Edward Fox and Thomas Edison left for their room. Texas Jack left the bar and followed them.

A waiter approached the table carrying a basket. “Sir,” he said to Heyes, “here is the extra food you ordered.”

Heyes smiled at Dodge. “For Henry.”

Dodge turned to Heyes. “Joshua, I am touched by your generosity.”

“It’s the least we could do, after all you have done for us,” Heyes replied.

“I wish we had more men like you,” said Thronburgh.

“Just bein’ good, upright citizens,” said the Kid.

“And fewer like that felon,” added Dodge.

“Gentlemen,” Thornburgh announced, “we have about an hour until dusk. I propose a short, fast game of cards; any suggestions?”

Draper turned to Heyes and Curry. “If Thaddeus and Joshua agree to stay,” he suggested, “we will have six players, and that would be perfect for a game of...” He paused, and then looked again at Heyes and Curry for a suggestion.

Heyes and Curry looked at each other.

“Maybe Montana Red Dog for a start,” Curry suggested.

Draper looked puzzled.

“Perhaps Blackjack might be better,” suggested Heyes. “All we need is someone to be dealer.”

“Ah yes, also known as 21, or as the French would say, ‘Vingt et Un,’” said Draper. “Well, that is decided.”

Just then, a gunshot rang out; then there was the sound of someone running above them on the second floor. Pandemonium broke loose in the dining hall. Diners stood up in alarm and some pulled handguns out of their chest holsters underneath their jackets. Then they all pointed to where they thought the shot had originated.

The German and French scientists yelled, creating a cacophony of languages. An English scientist walked over to the Draper table. “Draper, we did not come all this way to be shot at! We were promised security. First there was the train robber, and now - what is this all about?”

The hotelier burst into the dining hall. “Texas Jack threw me out into the hallway in front of Edison’s room, and now he’s shooting!” he exclaimed. “Can anyone help? Does anyone know Jack?”

“I know this Texas Jack,” Major Thornburgh called out to the hotelier. “Lead me to Edison’s room. I’ll take care of Jack.”

Everyone at Draper’s table followed the hotelier and Thornburgh. When they reached the second floor, hotel guests were standing outside their rooms armed with rifles.

“Rifles!” exclaimed a bemused Curry as the group passed astronomers standing in the hallway awkwardly holding their weapons. “What are they plannin’ to do with those?”

“They heard of Wyoming’s reputation, Thaddeus,” Dodge said. “That robber you caught was quite befuddled by the rifles that appeared when he tried to rob the train.”

Major Thornburgh shook his head as they passed an Englishman holding his rifle with his hand over the muzzle. “They’re more likely to shoot their own feet.”

When they reached the back of the hotel, Edison and Fox were standing in the hallway. Texas Jack was nowhere in sight.

“My dear friend,” Barker began, “what happened?”

“We were asleep,” Edison began, “when a thundering knock on the door awakened us.”

Fox continued, speaking histrionically, “I opened the door to see who it was. A tall, handsome man with flowing hair, dressed in Western style, barged into the room. His eyes were bloodshot, and he was somewhat inebriated. He introduced himself: ‘I am `Texas Jack' - John Omohundro,’ he said.”

“He said he wanted to see me,” Edison continued. “He had read about me in the newspapers. He started yelling and boasting. He is quite a talker.”

“The hotelier came running up the hallway,” Fox continued, “and requested him not to make so much noise. Texas Jack then thrust him out into the hall.”

“He then tried to excuse himself,” Edison said. “He said he wasn’t in ‘the best of shape.’ I think he meant he had been drinking.”

“He boasted that he was the ‘boss pistol-shot of the West,’” Fox added, “that it was he who taught the celebrated Doctor Carver how to shoot. Then he suddenly pointed to a wind vane on the freight depot, pulled out a Colt revolver and fired through our open window, hitting the vane.”

Dodge broke in, irate. “He did that? That’s railroad property!”

“Even after waking up the entire floor he wouldn’t leave,” Edison said. “It was only after I told him I was tired and would see him in the morning that he left. I only hope I can get some sleep before tomorrow.”

“I hope we all get some before tomorrow!” Barker exclaimed.

Edison paused, and then laughed. “Well, I took this trip to see the country, and so far I’ve succeeded! This really would just be funny if it wasn’t such a shock. Is he one of the bad men of Wyoming? ”

“No, he’s not one of our bad men,” Dodge said. “I’ll take you over to the jail tomorrow morning and show you some real bad men, if you like. But tonight we need to take care of Texas Jack. Does anyone know his whereabouts?”

“I think I may know where he is. I met him a few hours ago,” offered the Kid. “Come to think of it, he said he was going to see Edison so he could get his name in the papers. I didn’t know he’d do something like this.”

“He wanted to get his name in the paper?” asked Fox incredulously.

“Where did you meet him?” Dodge asked Curry.

“Where we were camped out; he showed me his spot.”

“I think we’ve had enough excitement for tonight,” Dodge said. “I suggest we postpone our game of cards until after the eclipse tomorrow. Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones, and George – would you wait for me, Draper, and Thornburgh downstairs? I have a plan.”

“Yes, of course!” Barker agreed with relish. He turned to Heyes and Curry. “Please join me, gentlemen; you need to tell me the rules to Vingt et Un so that I stand half a chance of winning tomorrow.”

“How about I deal, so you can learn,” Heyes suggested as he, Curry, and Barker turned to go. “In fact we can make a few, small bets; that’ll help you understand the game even better.” Curry raised his eyebrows at Heyes.

“Capital idea!” Barker responded. “Let’s start there.”


oooOOOooo

Dodge, Draper and Thornburgh joined Barker, Heyes and Curry at the table in the dining room.

“I’ve decided that my best role in this game is dealer,” exclaimed Barker. “Smith and Jones have done a good job preparing me for my future Blackjack career. The experience was worth the money.”

Draper laughed warmly. “Somehow, George, I thought that’s how it would turn out.”

Dodge turned to Heyes and Curry. “Gentlemen, we just spoke to a very fine gentleman regarding the Texas Jack incident. He has a small job for you, and I can assure you that he will remunerate you both. It is not dangerous. I urge you to meet him and sincerely consider what he has to offer.”

“Who is this ‘very fine gentleman’?” Heyes’ voice held a note of suspicion.

“He specifically requested that he introduce himself,” replied Draper. “But I can assure you that all three of us know him personally and we consider him one of the finest, most trustworthy men we’ve had the privilege of meeting.”

“Yes, quite true,” Thornburgh agreed.

Heyes and Curry exchanged a questioning glance and then looked at Dodge, Thornburgh and Draper. Heyes and Curry shrugged.


oooOOOooo

The Kid and Heyes were ushered into a room. A finely dressed man stood next to a telescope set up near a window at one end of the well-appointed suite. He had penetrating eyes, but they twinkled with sincerity and good humor.

He walked over to a desk, sat down, and gestured at two chairs in front of it. “Please sit, gentlemen, make yourselves comfortable.”



Heyes and Curry settled, stiffly, into the chairs.

“Mr. Dodge, Major Thornburgh and Mr. Draper have spoken highly of you. I have also learned that you marshaled an escaped train robber this afternoon. I want to thank you. We need men like you in Wyoming.”

“Thank you,” replied Heyes. “We were just doing what any law-abiding citizen would do.”

“That’s right,” Curry added.

The man addressed them warmly. “I think we should introduce ourselves. You are….”

“Thaddeus Jones,” Curry said.

“Joshua Smith,” Heyes said.

“I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith. I am John Wesley Hoyt, physician, lawyer, professor, and I also happen to be …” Hoyt stopped midsentence. He was startled by the looks on Heyes’ and Curry’s faces, which had suddenly become fiercely unsettled. Their arms had stiffened to their chairs, and they stared back at him with open eyes. “… Governor of the Territory of Wyoming.”

The three men sat staring at each other, without blinking.

The governor’s expression slowly changed. His eyes grew as wide as Heyes’ and Curry’s.

“You are Joshua Smith?”

Heyes nodded.

“And you are Thaddeus Jones?”

“Yes sir,” Curry responded, steadily, but quietly.

“Do you two know Lom Trevors?” the governor asked slowly.



Heyes’ face turned pale. “Ah…yes…sir,” he replied.

“Do you two happen to know Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry?”

“Ah…yes…sir …, I suppose we do,” Curry replied.

Hoyt studied Heyes and Curry’s faces closely. “You suppose you do?”

Heyes cleared his throat. “I think you could say we know them as well as we know ourselves.”

“I see; of course,” Hoyt replied slowly and deliberately. “You’ve been staying out of trouble?”

“Yes sir,” Curry and Heyes replied. Their grips on the chair arms eased slightly, and the governor’s eyes relaxed a bit.

“Although, I have to say, it’s not easy,” Heyes added, “not with a ten-thousand dollar reward on each of us, dead or alive. Respectfully sir, you’ve left us in a bind. We can’t settle down and lead a normal life until we have our amnesty.”

The governor nodded and relaxed in his chair a bit. “I understand. Let me be honest with you. First of all, I didn’t know you were the men Mr. Dodge recommended.” The governor allowed a faint smile to cross his face. “I was as surprised, as you were when we introduced ourselves. So, let’s relax a bit. You are not under arrest. I want to discuss a job with you. We will discuss the amnesty after that.”

“Thank you, sir,” Curry replied.

“We’re listening. What’s the job?” Heyes asked.

The governor reached in a desk drawer and pulled out a sealed envelope and placed it before the two men. “This is a letter to Texas Jack. It is signed by me on official stationary. It states that if he wishes to remain welcome in Wyoming he must act with civility and obey the law. If not, he will be apprehended and be arrested.”

“We understand,” Heyes said.

“Dodge said you know where Texas Jack can be found.”

“He showed us where he is camping, sir, but he may not be there tonight.”

“I’m only asking that you do your best. Will you do this?”

“Yes sir,” Heyes answered.

“Good, very good. Now I need to address the amnesty, and I want you to think about what I say.”

Heyes and Curry nodded.

“I believe you two men are too smart for a life of crime.”

Heyes and Curry looked at each other.

“The Territory of Wyoming needs good men, especially good lawmen. I’ve had excellent reports about you. I even received a letter from Judge Handley. It was very complimentary. We need men like you, not like that Sheriff Clitterhouse he mentioned.”

Curry nodded. “Lom told us about that.”

“Bless old Judge Handley’s heart,” Heyes added, smiling at the Kid.

Hoyt nodded. “Lom has been trying to help you two. I hope you appreciate that.”

“We do, sir,” Curry responded.

“Regardless, the rewards on you were set up by the previous governor under pressure from the railroad and the banks, and they’re the ones that have guaranteed the twenty-thousand dollar reward. I can’t give you official amnesty now. With the difficulty we are experiencing with stage, train and bank robbers currently, it would be impossible to announce your amnesties. The uproar could even make your situation more dangerous.”

“I think we’d be willin’ to take a risk for amnesty,” said Curry.

“But I am not willing to take that risk. I’m afraid the uproar would actually put your lives at risk, as well as mine and my family’s lives. And I would be responsible for your lives if anything should happen, not to mention myself and even my wife.”

“What can we do then?” asked Heyes.

“You need to prove to the railroads and banks that you are more of an asset than a liability.”

“How can we do that?” Curry asked.

“Gentlemen, you’ve already started. When you brought in that prisoner, you earned the regard of Mr. Dodge. He carries a great deal of weight with the Union Pacific Railroad. I will discuss your case with him privately if you continue as you have begun.”

“If we continue staying out of trouble, or do you mean if we catch more escaped crooks?” asked Heyes.

Hoyt smiled. “I think you understand me. I am hoping to establish a fund for a special posse to round up desperadoes. You two can assist with that.”

“We can?” Heyes and Curry asked at the same time.

“Yes.  You know how these highwaymen work, you know all their hideouts, you can scout and stalk, you can shoot, and you know how to survive. Agreed?”

Heyes answered cautiously, “Ah…yes.”

“And you know how to stay under cover; that’s very important. Do you know Bannerman pays handsomely for your kind of talent?”

“Ah…yes,” Curry answered.

“Good, then it’s agreed. When the plan for the special posse is complete, you will hear from me, either through Lom or some other way.” Hoyt paused. “I think that covers everything. After you deliver the letter; return here and I’ll pay you.”

Heyes and Curry stood up. “I suppose it does,” Heyes replied.

“Thank you,” Curry added.


oooOOooo

_________________
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, the two most successful outlaws in the history of the west. And in all the trains and banks they robbed, they never shot anyone.


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The Eclipse by Ty Pender and CD Roberts :: Comments

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Re: The Eclipse by Ty Pender and CD Roberts
Post on Tue 26 May 2015, 10:56 pm by royannahuggins
Heyes and Curry walked to the hotel desk and handed their hat checks to the hotelier. ”What do you know about Texas Jack?” Curry asked.

“Mr. Omonhundro stays at the hotel when he is in town,” the hotelier said as he handed the men their bowlers. “He must be down on his luck if he’s camping out tonight.”

“Thanks,” Heyes responded as he tipped his bowler and turned to leave the hotel with Curry.

When they were beyond earshot, Curry turned to Heyes. “It sounds like we’re right back where we started with the amnesty.”



“Nope. If his posse plan goes through, we not only have to stay out of trouble, we have to be bounty hunters, without the bounty. You did notice Hoyt didn’t tell us how much he was going to pay us for this job.”

“Sheesh. I hope Wyoming don’t change governors again. We’ll probably have to do even more if that happens.”

“Yep.”

They started toward the livery which wasn’t far from the hotel. When they entered, Texas Jack was standing near the cashier box. “Just the man we’re looking for,” Heyes said loudly.

“You’ve saved us the trouble of ridin’ out to your campsite,” Curry added.

Jack looked up and saw them. “Come on and join us, fellas, I was jus’ tellin’ the liveryman about my time at the Alamo.”

“All I want is my money,” said an exasperated liveryman, “I don’t care none about the Alamo.”

“The Alamo!” Curry exclaimed in disbelief.

“Yep, and you’ll hear some details y’all never hear anywhere else!”

“Jack, we’ve got a letter from the Gov….” Heyes began, but to no avail.

“So, as I was sayin’, the only way a body could lead Texans, was to find out which way they were goin’ and git out in front of them. They weren’t goin’ to leave even if it meant certain death.”

Jack paused, lifted his chin, and surveyed his audience of three before continuing. “When Davy Crockett showed up with his fiddle and started them fandangos, the old church became the liveliest place around.”

Heyes walked over and handed Texas Jack the letter. “It’s from the governor.”

Texas Jack took the letter. “Oh?” he replied. Then he continued his tale.

“Mexican soldiers started surrounding the fort that night, but our spirits were high. The next day Santa Anna’s forces marched around the plaza, and his dragoons waved their long knives.”

“Jack, if you were at the Alamo,” Heyes interrupted, “you’d be seventy years old by now!"

The liveryman laughed, but Jack held up his chin and studiously ignored Heyes’ comment. “I’ve never see such fierce fights before or since.”

“Now that I believe,” Curry said.

Texas Jack heard this and gave Curry a sideways glance. “In my whole life I’ve never seen anything so awful happen in so short a time!” Then he took another look at Curry and held up the envelope Heyes had handed him.

“Gentlemen, I have a letter from the Governor of Wyoming. He opened the letter and read it silently. Then he looked up angrily at Heyes and Curry. “Who’s behind this? Thornburgh?”

“No,” Heyes replied. “I’d say that after what you did in Edison’s room, it was more of a general agreement among all the hotel guests.”

Jack looked them at them with suspicion. “So who are you? I saw your partner near my camp and he’s a hot shot. How come you two were eatin’ with Edison?”

“Us?” Curry responded. “We work for the Territory of Wyoming.”

Texas Jack drew back his head in surprise. “So the Governor sent you out with this letter?”

“Uh huh,” said Heyes. “Do you have any response?”

“This doesn’t merit a response. I’m renowned for my bravery and my good character. I don’t deserve this.”

With that, Texas Jack mounted his horse and rode out of the livery.

“Wait! Wait!” the liveryman called out after him. “You’ve left without paying your bill!”

“Some good character,” Curry observed. Then he turned to the liveryman. “How much does he owe?”

“Ten cents.”

Curry handed him a dime. “If Texas Jack comes back, tell him he’s not welcome.”

The liveryman looked at the coin and nodded,” Yes sir.”

Heyes and Curry tipped their bowler hats at the liveryman, and left the livery.


oooOOOooo

Hoyt reached in his desk and pulled out a bank draft book. “I understand Mr. Dodge gave you both twenty dollars for your trouble earlier today. The Territory of Wyoming can certainly match that.”

He began to write a bank draft but was interrupted by Heyes. “Sir, with all due respect, we can’t accept a draft. We couldn’t cash it at any bank, you understand.”

Hoyt stopped writing and looked up at Heyes. “Hmmm, I see; it will have to be cash.”

He leaned back in his chair and reached in his jacket for his wallet. After a moment he looked up apologetically.

“Will you settle for ten dollars each? After some misdeeds by my predecessor, President Hayes no longer allows the appointed governors of the Territory of Wyoming to keep petty cash. Twenty dollars of my own is all I am carrying. I will make it up to you though, I promise.”

“If you get us our amnesty, ten dollars each is more than enough,” said Heyes.

“We just hope we can get it before your term is up,” Curry added.

“Let’s do our best, gentlemen, for all of our sakes.”

“Thank you, sir,” Heyes said. “If you have any more jobs for us, let us know.”


ooOOoo

Heyes and Curry handed their bowlers to the hotelier. “Good morning, gents. Early for breakfast?” he asked.

“Yep,” they replied with relish.

“We have a list of morning drinks.” The hotelier handed each man a hat check and a drink list. It read:

Two complimentary drinks for our guests.
• Morning Glory Fizz, a Scotch cocktail
• Buck’s Fizz
• Gin and tonic on the rocks, with lime on request
• House Champagne

Heyes and Curry grinned at each other and Curry gave a silent whistle.

A few small, but animated, groups were clustered around the dining room.

Curry and Heyes headed to the buffet and then joined Barker, who was sitting quietly with a drink. When he saw their plates, he laughed. “Two hungry men! Please join me.”

Heyes and Curry greeted Barker, and started to eat.

A waiter came to the table. “Would you gentlemen be interested in one of the complimentary breakfast cocktails?”

Heyes looked up from his plate and glanced at the list. “I’ll try the Morning Glory Fizz.”

The waiter turned to Curry, “And you sir?”

Curry glanced at his list. “Buck’s Fizz.”

Barker sat quietly, enjoying his drink and watching the two men absorb their breakfasts. The bar waiter brought the drinks; Curry popped the orange peel whole into his mouth and took a sip. “That’s a pretty good way of serving orange juice!”

At that moment, Dodge, Draper, and Thornburgh joined the group. Draper sat down next to Barker and turned to Heyes and Curry. “Where are you and Mr. Smith planning to view the eclipse?” he asked.

“Uh…..” Curry attempted a reply.

“Perhaps you would like to accompany me to Cherokee Mountain? You can help me set up my four scopes.”

“Mr. Draper,” Heyes said, “thanks for the offer, but I believe the governor may have something for us to do, so we should stay close to town.”

“Very well, but do not view the sun directly, even during totality. Use a pinhole viewer. Mr. Barker or I can show you how.”

Draper’s divagation was interrupted by the bar waiter. ”Would any of you gentlemen be interested in one of the complimentary breakfast cocktails?” the waiter asked.

“A Morning Glory for me,” Fox replied, who had just joined the group when the waiter came by.

“Anyone else?” the waiter asked.

“Morning Glory for me,” replied Thornburgh.

“Gin and tonic, with a twist of lime,” replied Draper.

“I’ll take another Buck’s Fizz,” Curry said.

Heyes and Curry’s eyes followed the waiter as he returned to bar, and they were met with a stare from Texas Jack, who was busy joking with the bartender.

“Our friend Texas Jack is back,” Heyes announced to the table. Everyone turned to look.

“I thought you got rid of him last night,” Dodge said.

“The Governor didn’t ask him to leave,” answered Curry. “He told him to act civilly or he would have him arrested.”

“Well, we can’t let him get near Edison,” said Barker. “The poor man was too rattled to get a decent night’s sleep.”

“He wasn’t the only one,” added Fox. “Does anyone have a plan?”

“I think we can handle him if he decides to cause any trouble.” Curry finished off his first drink.

The bar waiter returned with drinks, including Curry’s second Buck’s Fizz. Texas Jack followed.

“Good morning gentlemen,” he began. “I understand y’all will be setting out on a hunting trip after your scientific investigations are complete.” He spoke grandly in the style of a showman on a stage. “I would be honored to lead your expedition if you require my expert services.”

“We already have an excellent guide in Major Thornburgh. Your services will not be required,” Draper replied coldly.

Showing no signs of embarrassment, Texas Jack continued, “I hope you gentlemen won’t hold last night’s minor scrape against me. All in fun, and no harm meant. Ah, I see Mr. Edison is coming. I will take this opportunity to apologize to him personally.”

Edison arrived with Barker who had gone to the buffet for his breakfast. Edison sat down next to Curry, looked at the empty plate and two empty champagne flutes in front of Curry, and studied him closely.

Before Texas Jack could speak, the waiter returned to the table for more drink orders. He concluded with Curry’s. “You’ve already had your two free drinks, sir. However, the kitchen staff has drawn a wager, Mr. Jones. If you drink a third glass of our Buck’s Fizz, we will forfeit your charge.”

Curry shrugged. “Sure.”

Heyes looked at him. “Are you certain?”

“It’s only three drinks, Joshua. You know I can handle that.”

“Mr. Jones,” Edison said. “Would you be so kind as to hold your right hand out for a moment? Please, just for moment?”

All eyes were on Edison as he carefully studied Curry’s hand. “Sir,” he declared “your hand will be of inestimable assistance to me.”

“It will?” Curry asked, puzzled.

“Yes sir. It is steady as a rock after all that food and drink, and it will be steady enough to recheck the tasimeter’s calibration. Early this morning, before daybreak, I set up the tasimeter and calibrated it to Arcturus. If you stand away at thirty feet just before the eclipse begins, and hold out your hand as steady as you just did, I will get a second reading and confirm the calibration.”

Curry looked at Heyes, perplexed. Heyes shrugged and looked back at Edison.

Texas Jack frowned when Edison addressed Curry and his frown turned into a scowl by the time Edison had finished.

Barker turned to Curry. “Thaddeus, my friend Thomas is actually quite serious.  His request may seem odd, but I can assure you that your efforts will be a contribution to astrophysics.”

Edison smiled at Curry and Heyes. “That is true. And besides that, I may need both of you for another reason. The tasimeter is set up in the only wind-protected area left in town: Mr. Galbraith’s small barn. I may need you to help me with the chickens!”

Everyone laughed.

“May I suggest that you accompany Mr. Edison for another reason?” Fox winked. “Your presence will protect him from the cloying public.” He looked at Texas Jack as he spoke.

Jack abruptly left the table. He intercepted the waiter at the bar, looked back at the table he had left, spoke to the waiter, and handed him some money before he left the room.

The waiter picked up a bottle and poured some of it into one of the drinks and brought the tray over to the table where Heyes, Curry and the others sat. He passed out the drinks, including Curry’s third Buck’s Fizz.

Meanwhile, Heyes and Curry did not notice that the bar waiter and Jack had met. Instead they looked at each other, back at Fox, and at each other again. “Sounds like a lot of good reasons,” Heyes said. “Who are we to refuse?”

“Bully,” said Barker. “Gentlemen, I propose a toast. I give you the Total Solar Eclipse of July 29th, 1878!”

Everyone raised their glasses and drank. The men downed their drinks. Curry looked at his empty glass. Then, he gave Heyes a concerned look.

“What?”

“I think it was spiked,” Curry answered. He groaned.

Heyes gave him a pat on the shoulder, “You’ll be fine. After all, it was only three drinks.”


oooOOooo

Dodge, Fox, Curry and Heyes followed Edison behind Mr. Galbraith’s house. In the back of the house, a small barn looked out over a fenceless lot that stretched into the horizon. Chickens wandered around the yard. They pecked in the dirt and flew up on the trees that surrounded the barn.

Curry turned to Heyes. “Wha? I’m ..I’m… whew.”

“Steady, partner. You feel sick?”

“Nah, I feel goo, real goo. It was spiked alright. Mebbe the waishers. They bet on me.”

“Yeah, I heard. But why would they spike it?” Heyes pursed his lips. “Texas Jack may have spiked it before he left the room. He doesn’t exactly like you.”

“Dresshes shtupid. I tole him. Tole him I didn’ wanna be in his shouted show.”

“Uh huh. Then he gets into trouble for shooting up the place and we deliver the Governor’s message to him. Must have been Jack.”

Curry made a silly laugh. “He shows up, I’ll show him.” Curry made another silly laugh. “Hey, put that corncob pipe in your mouth; you don’t look right without it.”

Heyes rolled his eyes, reached in his pocket, and stuck the corncob pipe in his mouth. “Okay, if that makes you happy. Just cut out the silly laughter.”

The group entered the barn and blinked to adjust to the darkness. Faint rays of light streamed in from slats in the barn walls; straw covered the dirt floor.

Edison looked around with a satisfied look. The men followed him as he walked over to a small table about ten feet back from the barn door. He began to point out the equipment on the table.

“I’ve placed a Thomson's reflecting galvanometer on a tripod and set it to a resistance of three-fourths of an ohm. I’ve connected it to the battery through a Wheatstone bridge and then connected it to my tasimeter. Allow me to explain my invention.”



While Edison explained the workings of the tasimeter and the connected equipment, Curry’s eyes glazed over. But Fox and Dodge were fascinated, and Heyes was transfixed.

Edison sat down behind the small table. “Now, I will demonstrate the sensitivity of the carbon button and this tasimeter.” Dodge sat down to the right of Edison, and Fox sat down to left. There was no chair for Heyes, so he stood to the left and absentmindedly began to light the corncob pipe.



Edison noticed the corncob pipe in Heyes mouth. “Please, Mr. Smith, do not light your pipe, the heat will disturb the reading.”

Heyes nodded.

“Whacha havta get it for anyhow? You can’t even schmoke it,” Curry said with a smirk.

Heyes rolled his eyes and waved Curry off.

As Fox and Dodge looked on, Edison switched on the current, and worked the controls. “Will one of you men please place the telescope over here?”

Heyes brought the telescope over and put it on the table beside the tasimeter.

“Now, Mr. Jones, go stand by that stake in front of the table and raise your right hand to a comfortable height you can maintain. You will see that I have stretched a rope straight out from one stake to another stake at the back of the barn.

“On my signal, you will walk very slowly along that rope, in a straight line, all the while holding your right hand up at the same level. When you reach the end, and I give a signal, you may drop your hand, but not before. Remember to keep your hand at the same level.”

Curry looked at Heyes, blinking. Heyes gave him a wry smile and gestured for him to start.

Curry walked slowly and deliberately over to the stake. When he managed to reach the stake, Edison turned to Heyes. “Now, Mr. Smith, look in the vertical eyepiece and verify that Mr. Jones is not in the sight.”

“It looks clear, Mr. Edison.”

Edison adjusted the tasimeter controls. “Good. Now, Mr. Jones, please raise your hand to a comfortable level and hold it steady. That is where you must hold it for the next few minutes.”

Curry raised his right arm and held out his hand.

“Good. Now, Mr. Smith, move the scope and adjust the vertical eyepiece until your partner’s hand fills the sight.”

Heyes made a few adjustments and looked up from the sight. “I got it, his hand fills the sight.”

“Good. Mr. Fox and Mr. Dodge, notice how the galvanometer needle has moved. Now, Mr. Jones, start walking very, very slowly along the rope. Hold your hand at the same level as your partner keeps your hand in the sight.”

Curry started out.

Fox and Dodge looked on in amazement. As Curry walked, his legs wobbled, but his arm and hand stayed steady.

“That man is fuddled,” Fox said.

“But look at his arm, it’s steady as a rock!” exclaimed Dodge.

Heyes could hear this, but he couldn’t watch. He was too busy keeping Curry’s hand in the sight.

“Your partner’s a crack shot, isn’t he, Mr. Smith?” asked Dodge.

“Uh, yeah,” Heyes repeated.

“Mr. Smith, I bet he could teach Texas Jack a thing or two,” Fox ventured.

“Uh, yeah,” Heyes answered. “And he might just do that. Jack spiked his last drink. He’s not too happy about that.”

Fox and Dodge looked at each other. “He what?” Fox asked.

Edison laughed. “I knew Jones was the man for the job; I looked at his hand very carefully. Now, notice that the needle has remained at the same place. When Mr. Jones reaches the end, he will be thirty feet out. If the dial has not moved, I will know that the tasimeter is calibrated for the corona measurement.”

Curry moved further out. His legs wobbled more as he slowly walked.

Fox and Dodge looked on in amazement at Curry’s steady arm. Finally, Curry reached the other stake.

“Alright, Mr. Jones, you may drop your arm.”

When Curry lowered his arm, the needle moved back to zero.

Suddenly, the barn became slightly darker. Edison pulled out his pocket watch. “It’s time to prepare for the observation.”

Curry, Fox and Dodge walked outside to watch the sun through eclipse eyeglasses, which Draper had provided everyone. When Edison and Heyes finished setting up the telescope and instruments, they joined the men watching the sun. Even though it was broad daylight, the sun already had a small flat side.

“The partial eclipse phase has begun,” Edison remarked. “We are standing at latitude 41°47′N and longitude 107°14′W, which will be the center point of a long shadow that extends from the moon into space,” Edison said.

Heyes looked up in the sky. “Where is the moon, Mr. Edison?”

“Wha, the moon’s lost?” Curry asked.

“The moon is nearing the front of the sun, Mr. Jones,” Edison said, amused. “You can’t see the moon now, because the sunlight still predominates, but it is there, making that flat side of the sun. The stars are out there, too.”

“What will we see?” Curry asked as he stared at the sun through the eclipse glasses.

“When the moon has completely covered the sun, you will see large rays of light. Those are the rays of sunlight that shine out behind the moon. You will also see flames, which are the corona of the sun. Professors Barker, Draper and I aim to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the corona is of the same substance as the sun, and is not an incandescent gas with a lower temperature.”

The men stood quietly watching the sun grow dark. Edison pulled out his pocket watch and turned to Heyes. “Mr. Smith, let’s go inside.”

As Heyes watched, Edison looked through the telescope and adjusted the telescope eyepiece. A broad grin crossed his face. “Amazing, that’s amazing.” He turned Heyes. “Mr. Smith, take a look at this.”

Edison looked on silently as Heyes looked through the telescope and adjusted the eyepiece.

“Wha…what is that?” Heyes asked, surprised.

“That’s the corona. That’s the edge of the sun, and that is what we’re going to measure when the eclipse reaches totality. Consider yourself a very lucky man to have seen it. Enjoy the show!”

Edison went back to the table and began adjusting the tasimeter equipment while Heyes kept the scope aimed at the edge of the sun. Suddenly, two chickens flew into the barn. “The chickens are roosting!” Edison exclaimed. “It’s getting dark and the chickens are roosting! Their feathers will affect the reading!

Then he called out to Curry. “Mr. Jones, come into the barn! You have to gather eggs so the chickens won’t roost!”

Curry looked back and saw Heyes and Edison busy with the equipment. His legs were still wobbly as he walked back, and he wore a lopsided grin.

“Gather their eggs?” Heyes asked. “Are you sure that will keep them from roosting, Mr. Edison?”

“I’m not sure; let your partner try it and we’ll see.”

Curry started gathering eggs. He wobbled from one nest to the next, gingerly placing the eggs in his bowler hat. As the eggs piled up in his hat, he started talking to himself.

“A lotta eggs inna hat, a lotta eggs for breakfus, a lotta eggs for…”

It was very dark in the barn now. Fox ran back. “How’s it going? The sun is gone.”

“I know,” Heyes answered excitedly, “I can see it in the scope.” Suddenly, he looked up from the eyepiece as a chicken flew over his head and dropped something on his neck. Heyes reached around the back of his neck and wiped it.

Edison called out, “It’s not working. Jones, start grabbing the chickens! The feathers are getting in the air! I’m losing the reading!”

Curry dropped his hat full of eggs. “Oh, no eggs fro breafas’,” he slurred.

A chicken flew by him and he grabbed it instinctively. Another chicken came in, and he grabbed that one. “Chicken dinner,” he mumbled. Soon he was holding six squawking and flailing chickens.

“Get the chickens to the back of the barn; their feathers might disturb the reading!” Edison called out, without taking his eye off the galvanometer’s needle.

Curry turned around, wobbly, and started toward the back with his chickens. He stumbled over his hat, and nearly fell, but righted himself.

“I didn’ like that hat anyway,” he muttered.

“I got the reading!” Edison exclaimed, relieved. “You fellows can go out now and watch the eclipse. It will be a long one, over three minutes.”

Heyes left the telescope and grabbed Curry. The two men hurried outside and watched the total eclipse. The moon appeared intensely black, surrounded by a pinkish halo. At two points this halo expanded into radial streamers, with swallow-tailed ends.



“That’s amazing,” Fox said. “I never imagined an eclipse could be so bright and complex.

Heyes and Curry stared at the eclipse silently.

Eventually, the moon moved on, and daylight returned. Dodge left, but Fox remained outside the barn. Heyes and Curry went back into the barn with Edison.

“That was truly beautiful,” Heyes said.

“Yes, it was,” Edison agreed. “I watched the corona for a long time through the telescope; it gave me an idea for an invention.”

“What’s that?” asked Heyes.

“A light that burns in a vacuum, like the sun burns in space,” Edison said with a distant look. Then he turned to Curry, “Mr. Jones, how did you feel watching the total eclipse?”

“I felt like, I dunno, kinda like I was reborn, or somethin’,’” Curry mumbled, still holding one chicken.

“Well, that’s an honest sentiment in my book,” Edison said. “The ancients thought that an eclipse was like the death and rebirth of the sun. It was very important to them. Now of course, we know it is just the moon.”

“That’s us! We’re hopin’ for a new life,” Curry blurted out. “Jus’ like those people.”

“Well, you can get it, Mr. Jones, if you set your mind to it. Look at me. Ten years ago I was broke, with no prospects. Now, I’m world famous. I just won the Grand Prize at the Paris Exhibition for my phonograph. I’m getting $500 dollars a week to display it there. Last week, Western Union paid me $100,000 for my carbon telephone patent.”

“But you’re a wizard, that’s what they say. You’re a real genius,” Curry said with a sideways glance at Heyes, “not like my friend.”

Heyes expression stiffened. “You’ll have to forgive my partner, Mr. Edison. I’m afraid that spiked drink has made him a little silly.” Heyes gave Curry a sideways glance, and then continued. “I think I’ll join Fox.”

After Heyes left, Edison turned to Curry. “Mr. Jones, I disagree with your assessment of me. I work hard, that’s all. If you work hard for what you want, you’ll get it. You already have something; I know that.”

“What?”

“When I saw those empty champagne flutes on the table, I thought, I’ll check this man’s shooting arm. If it’s steady, after two drinks, he’ll be steady enough for my tasimeter.”

“You checked out my shootin’ arm?”

“Yes, I did, and I was right. Your legs were wobbling. But your arm was steady as a rock. Dodge was certain you were a crack shot. You can do something other men cannot do because you worked at it.”

“So a man can do anything he sets his mind to?”

“That’s right. It will take time and work, but it will happen. A saying of mine has gotten popular, but it’s true: ‘Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration.’”

Curry let the chicken go and looked down at the ground. Then he looked back up at Edison.

“Let me share something with you, Mr. Jones,” Edison said. “Everything gets the intelligence for what it needs and wants. Else why will a potato vine travel one hundred and fifty feet in a dark cellar, and rise, against the law of gravitation, to get to a meager ray of light peeking through the cellar wall? Right now, you two have an opportunity. I don’t know what it is, but you know. If every man worked at the opportunities available to him, the human race would accomplish wondrous things. Now let’s pack up this tasimeter and get some lunch.”


oooOOOooo

Meanwhile, when Heyes joined Fox, Fox pointed to a rider coming toward the barn. “It’s Texas Jack, I can’t believe it! What do you think we should do?”

“He told my friend he wanted to get his name in the paper,” suggested Heyes. “Maybe, you should tell him you’ll do just that if he causes any trouble. Why not write a story about what he did last night?”

“That’s a brilliant idea, Mr. Smith,” Fox said. “I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of it myself. Of course, that will work.”

Fox and Heyes walked up into the barnyard to intercept Texas Jack before he could dismount.

“What have you come here for?” Fox asked.

Texas Jack eyed Heyes and Fox from his horse, then he lifted his chin and spoke. “Mr. Edison said he would meet with me this morning, I’m taking him at his word.”

“Mr. Edison has no interest in meeting you, I can assure you. He said that last night to get rid of you.”

“Are you sayin’ Mr. Edison won’t honor his word?” Texas Jack retorted as he dismounted. “You can’t prevent me from talkin’ to him. Get out of my way.”

Heyes smiled. “You aren’t getting near Mr. Edison. The Governor told you to stay out of trouble. My suggestion is you get back on your horse and leave—now.”

Texas Jack reached for the gun in his holster, but before he could grab it, Heyes hit him across the jaw.

“I don’t think you listen well. But since you want publicity, this man next to me is going to give you some. He’s a reporter for the New York Herald, isn’t that right, Mr. Fox?”

“Correct, Mr. Smith.” Fox turned to address Texas Jack. “John Baker Omohundro, I assure you the entire country will be highly amused by the story of Texas Jack in Rawlins, and I will make certain that you, John Baker Omohundro, will be remembered in everyone’s mind as the drunken clown who took a shot out of Edison’s hotel window to get publicity. If it is publicity you want, you will get it, but not the kind you seek, I assure you.”

Texas Jack stared at Fox, and then at Heyes. He slowly remounted, and began to leave. “That’s libel. I’m a man of good character. You write that story and I’ll sue you.”

“I’ve heard those kind of threats before,” said Heyes.

Fox watched him ride off. “Now, I really want to write that story.”

Edison and Curry joined Fox and Heyes. “Mr. Smith,” Edison began, “my friend Barker said you and Mr. Jones will finally get around to that Blackjack game after lunch. He said you, Mr. Smith, did a capital job teaching him to be the dealer.”

Heyes looked self-satisfied. “Well, Mr. Barker was a good student, but he had the best teacher around.”

“The best teacher around?” asked Edison. “Great, I want to try my hand at that Blackjack game too!”

“Well, Mr. Edison, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for me to teach a man like you everything I know.”

Edison, Fox and Heyes laughed, while Curry rolled his eyes.



Postlude

In 1882, Governor Hoyt was replaced by a string of Democratically appointed governors, none of whom granted Heyes and Curry their amnesty. But they did keep them busy.

Major Thornburgh’s hunting trip with the Draper party was his last. He was assigned to Fort Steele and was killed by a band of White River Ute warriors on September 29, 1879.

George Barker was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1879, and was instrumental in encouraging Edison to perfect his electric light bulb.

There is no evidence that Edward Fox wrote again after his travels with Edison in1878.

Henry Draper died of pleurisy in 1882 following a prolonged hunting expedition in northern New York State.

There is no record that Texas Jack ever returned to Wyoming, where he had, up until 1878, been leading hunting expeditions. He died in 1880, of pneumonia, in Leadville, Colorado, and was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery there.

Thomas Edison’s vacation took him, with the Draper party, through Yellowstone, the Sierras, and on to San Francisco, followed by their hunting trip with Thornburgh. When he returned to Menlo Park, he invented the commercial light bulb later in October 1878, and made the first public demonstration on December 31, 1879. It was during this time that he said, "We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles."



Author’s Notes - Sources

Thomas Alva Edison
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Edison

Edison’s talk with Curry after the eclipse is drawn from ‘A Night With Edison’ Scribner’s Monthly, Volume 17, 1879, page 94.

For an on-line, albeit not authoritative biography of Edison:
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/820/820-h/820-h.htm

For critical biographies of Edison:
“Edison, A Life of Invention” Paul Israel
“Edison, A Biography” Matthew Josephson
'Eclipse Vicissitudes: Thomas Edison and the Chickens' J Donald Fernie, American Scientist

John Wesley Hoyt
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wesley_Hoyt


George Frederick Barker
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Frederick_Barker


John Baker Omohundro (aka Texas Jack)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Jack_Omohundro
http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/rawlins2.html
http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/yellowstone.html


Henry Draper
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Draper


Thomas Tipton Thornburgh
http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/ttthornburgh.htm


Some background on the astronomers that met in Rawlins.
http://www.universetoday.com/103730/a-weird-west-tale-and-the-hunt-for-vulcan/


Image of the Rawlins 1878 Eclipse
Total eclipse of the sun. Observed July 29, 1878, at Creston, Wyoming Territory. (Plate III from The Trouvelot Astronomical Drawings 1881-1882) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_July_29,_1878#/media/File:Trouvelot_-_Total_eclipse_of_the_sun_-_1878.jpg


The story is conflated to ‘TV’ format; for complete technical detail, refer to George Barker’s report.
http://archive.org/stream/jstor-982766/982766_djvu.txt


The Tasimeter
Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqXpsjANt2o
Drawing
From ‘A Night With Edison’ Scribners Monthly, Volume 17, 1879, page 94.



(Writers love feedback! You can comment on Ty Pender’s and CD Robert’s story by clicking the "post reply" button, found at the bottom left side of your screen. You don't have to be a member of this site and you can be anonymous. You can type any name in the box.)
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Re: The Eclipse by Ty Pender and CD Roberts
Post on Sat 30 May 2015, 1:45 pm by Penski
Oh, I love historical stories and you didn't disappoint! How interesting to put Heyes and Curry in the midst of an event with all those folks. Thanks for the Postlude and Author's Notes as they really added to the story. Great pictures, too! Thanks for writing another wonderful episode, Ty Pender and CD Roberts!
goodjob
fun episode!
Post on Sun 31 May 2015, 12:07 am by littlebluestem
Wow! I love how you intertwined actual events, real historical figures, and even an awesome astronomical event into your episode -- complete with unruly chickens! As a science teacher living in New Jersey, I am embarrassed to say I never knew Edison had traveled out west -- riding on a train's cow catcher, no less! (But Edison should be embarrassed that he switched up the latitude and longitude! Must have been his excitement about the impending eclipse...!)

Thanks for all the links at the end. I have now been both entertained and educated.

I loved how Kid's hand was steady as a rock despite his spiked drink and I am sure Heyes was thrilled to get a glimpse of the sun's corona. On top of all that, they got a free place to stay and all the food they could eat -- nice to have things go their way for a change! clap



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Re: The Eclipse by Ty Pender and CD Roberts
Post on Sun 31 May 2015, 9:56 am by CD Roberts
Heh. Spoke to Edison and he was beet red over that. Embarassed (Thanks for the catch, Bluestem!)
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Re: The Eclipse by Ty Pender and CD Roberts
Post on Sun 31 May 2015, 5:35 pm by ty pender
Thanks for the good catch! We will also add the following link under 'Critical Biographies of Edison - Chicken Vicissitudes' which somehow I did not include in my draft to Penski. 

http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/2000/3/eclipse-vicissitudesthomas-edison-and-the-chickens
avatar
Re: The Eclipse by Ty Pender and CD Roberts
Post on Tue 16 Jun 2015, 2:16 am by moonshadow
Where, oh where, has my little post gone; oh where, oh where, can it be? confusedcry Hmm...it seems that the "internet gremlins" have been running amok and creating havoc here eek  My whole feedback post that I did 2 weeks ago is MISSING IN ACTION!!! hiding affraid

And it was soooooo creative and complimentary, too! biggrin Oh, well...back to the drawing board.

clap cheers (Ty and CD, you get to have two smilies since there are two of you collaborating on this)

This was quite an interesting and entertaining episode, to say the least. thumbsup Colorful, historical, and even some surprise characters only added to the enjoyment of this story.

I learned a LOT about a solar eclipse, and how to ride on a cowcatcher, so that made it educational, too. study

LOVED the bits with the chickens, and my mental images of the Kid wrangling them for Edison, put a big grin on my face that still pops up when I think about it. biggrin

I have quite a few favorite lines, but I'll only share this set:

“My friend and I are only too happy to be of help to the railroad,” Heyes said.

“That’s right; the railroad has always been a big help to us,” added the Kid.

“For transportation,” Heyes said, quickly.


trophy Compliments on a writing job well done. I'm looking forward to more next season from you two!  goodjob


gun Jus' a li'l warnin' to the gremlins...keep your grimey paws offa my posts - or else!!! gun
 

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