Spalding-Poster.pdf

Peanuts, Popcorn, and Presidents

By Christopher Jon Luke Dowgin

Part of the Sinclair Narratives

Welcome to another episode in The Sinclair Narratives featuring everyone's favorite immortal, Henry Sinclair, and his third-generation reincarnated Viking crew (sometimes). In this episode, I will tell the story of how three of my closest friends met. It was on the night of the testimonial dinner at Delmonico's for Mr. A.G. Spalding and his party of representatives of American Baseball Players on their arrival to New York City from their tour around the world on April 8th, 1889.

I, Henry Sinclair, had just arrived with my friends Teddy Roosevelt, Bjorn, and Keno Crowninshield the afternoon of the game between the Chicago White Stockings and the All American Team put together by Albert Goodwill Spalding, which went around the world for the last year. Louie drove us down from Salem just in time for the gates to open. Speeding through 4 states at 15mph. Spalding traveled with his two teams spreading baseball and his sporting equipment company from Chicago to Los Angeles and then Hawai'i to Ireland before finishing back in Chicago. Today we had box seats behind home plate at Washington Park. John Montgomery Ward of the All American Team was hitting against Chicago White Stockings' Cap Anson.

The lines waiting outside of the stadium were huge, for this was the first game in America since they had left Los Angeles for Hawai'i. The world press had followed them and the world was riveted! Many photos had come back of the teams playing in the Coliseum and in front of the Sphinx. They were a home run and they were home again!

Not only were baseball fans in attendance for the game, but our newly elected president. Benjamin Harrison sat in an adjoining box seat with America's favorite author, Mark Twain. Even if the literary critics hated his latest book, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court…

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So were all of Manhattan's finest prostitutes to guarantee a home run to anyone willing to pay the cost of the equivalent of three hot dogs and the latest fad, a Coca-Cola. Louie was hoping his hot dog would be relished tonight...

The Chicago team performed poorly. Their catcher arrived well after the game started. Anson was dismayed when Ward kept hitting his players home. Mark Twain in the third inning, poked me in the elbow with his own and said, "Anson is like most politicians, likely to take a bet on any horse in a race, as long as it is not his own. For there is rarely seen a politician, who would place his own money on the people who elected him and paid his salary. Present, presidential, company excluded." The last line he looked at Harrison and smiled, but turned to me with a wink and a laugh. John Healy tossed a no-hitter through six innings for the All American Team while many jokes passed back and forth between the two boxes with me, Keno, and Louie in stitches. Though Teddy never warmed up to him after Mark showed his disdain over our affairs in Samoa at the time. Which TRULY ruffled Teddy's feathers who looked forward to America's impending imperialism. Bjorn was looking at some fellow's girl… By the end of the game, Chicago never pulled ahead and allowed the All-American Team to soundly defeat them.

My friends, won't you join me and Benjamin at Delmonico's tonight?" Twain offered, "The teams are going back to their hotel to put on their sharpest penguin suits and lead a parade to the restaurant within the hour."

"Delmonico's, my cousin is the sous-chef," Louie interjected, "He created all of the dishes, but Ranhofer takes the credit. Like his Baked Alaska—my cousin's Gloucester Cluck Surprise! Lobster Newburgh—Gloucester Lobster!"

"We will be honored," I said as we linked arms and began to strut out of the stadium. Keno followed shaking his head at Louie. Louie punched Bjorn in the arm and he broke his gaze on the girl who was smiling back; her suitor frowned when he had seen her and then glowered at Bjorn. Bjorn just waved over his smile. Teddy was in a huff until Harrison caught his ear about his pursuits in Samoa. Then Teddy seemed to cheer up when he met another capitalist.

___

There was a bottleneck leaving the stadium. Women were seen running back into the stadium with their husbands and friends chasing after them with concern and sympathy. The rest of the crowd in the back pushed forward into the corridor leading under the bleaches to the exit. We were in the middle of the confusion of the crowd not knowing if they should exit or not. "I fear gentlemen we are like the frog who found the comfort of a hot bath, but too stubborn to lose a good thing before it cooks him. For we are in the stew now."

Teddy ordered us to surround the President as he stopped one of the police he knew from the city. "What the tarnation is going on—get some of your men and protect our President! I fear the anarchists are around."

"No anarchists tonight. It be murder," said the Irishman.

"Murder, yes. Protect the President before he meets his untimely end, my good man!"

"Not of him, but of her."

"Who?"

"A drunk who was peeking through a hole behind third base got up off his milk crate and slapped one of the local 'ladies' on the shoulder upon commenting on the game. She just fell over. Her coat was closed and she had a catcher's mitt on. The lad screamed when he saw the blood leaving her mouth. We came upon the scene and found her ovaries inside the mitt—it was the only organs her family will be able to bury with her."

"Didn't he notice anything?" Keno asked.

"He said she was there before him, he thought he would be friendly and slap her so she could wake up and go home."

My heart sank. Louie's stomach rose to the challenge and lost. Right onto Harrison.

"We tried keeping it a secret, but it must have spread through the pubs back to the park," explained the emerald officer. "Most of what is preventing the line from moving out is the crowd that heard of the mur-der already."

"The Leather Apron," said Louie.

We all just looked at him in confusion.

___

We sat with Twain and Harrison. Teddy sat as far from Twain as possible. Even though he was upset that the author got to sit next to the President all night with Harrison busting his side open with uproarious laughter. "Bully!" said Teddy as he harrumphed and folded his arms and looked away. Keno just shrugged and was consigned to Teddy's mood. Bjorn began to mingle with the socialite women...

The banquet was held in the anteroom's second-floor ballroom. An orchestra was in the balcony, playing Yankee Doodle Dandy, decorated with bunting and flags. Photos of the trip were displayed on the walls of the hall—developed on George Eastman's new Kodak film. Pictures of the team on the Sphinx and in Italy among other places stood out. There were six long tables filled with food and several flower centerpieces. Each table had a three-foot-tall edible statue of several baseball players. Pyramids of sweets! We all received a nine-page souvenir menu. The cost per plate was $10. Each of the 9 innings of courses featured a dish from one of the countries they toured.

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Word of the murder hadn't spread through the hall yet. Many of New York's finest families were there. Most would never be caught at a baseball game—but dining with the President and Mr. Twain? Even if Twain's latest book was not doing good…

Dinner ended around 10pm. People began to scurry about as the first speaker began. Chauncey Depew of the New York Central Railroad opened. The Governor and the mayor had sent letters of regret. In attendance were 300 people from Wall Street to the theater district. Many of Chauncey's Yale and Bonesmen friends were on hand tonight. When he finished the orchestra sparked up again and played Hail to the Chief as Spalding took to the stage. We all had enough by then and began to mingle.

Twain was leading us through New York society, not really stopping to chat with any of them, until he came across this young Croatian. "My good friends, let me introduce you to the greatest mind since da'Vinci," Twain said as he changed the position of his hand from the man's right to his shoulder as he stepped to his side and smiled. "Nikola."

"Charmed," Nikola said, as he shook my hand.

"I'm quite interested in your work with resonance," I said.

"You too!" Twain interjected. "It sure did cure my constipation. We need to get more of our politicians to stand on his vibrating machine and they might not all have that sour look of your friend there," Twain said, as he pointed at Teddy.

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"Yes resonance; I got the idea from playing with one of those paddle balls," Nikola leaned in and said, "They always amazed me. The harder and longer you hit the ball the faster it goes. It's all in the rhythm."

"Yes that is what the girls back at Harvard tell me…" commented the young 20-year-old Keno. Not sure if he is still wet behind the ears though; most likely. Bjorn just slapped him on the back, as he shook his head. A fine young woman in black sauntered by and Bjorn was off again.

"Everything has its frequency. Like a hole in a cylinder spinning on a shaft with a fixed jet of air, the faster it spins the louder the alarm. The frequency, you understand? The amount of times an occurrence happens. The frequency," Nikola explains.

"Yes, me and Tesla frequent the Players Club. In fact, that is where we met. Later we would come here and dine and—that is where I complained about my gosh tooting constipation and he brought me back to his lab and fixed me right up." Twain paused before he continued looking up from the floor, " Just shook that shit out of me!"

"You think we can go there now..." Louie asked Nikola.

"Right now I'm working on two coils in which they both have their own capacitor, where the first feeds the second when excited to emit a charge into a gap of air. Once the second coil's capacitor becomes oversaturated, like a sponge, it will spark into the air. As quickly as the frequency of the second coil empties, the first fills it. Thus you see, electricity flows through the air through great distances."

I am also working on having a frequency where I aim the current into the magnetic field of the ground, making waves of electricity to circle the globe to feed the first coil without the need for a generator and transformer. I can light bulbs now at a distance. I have the workings to send the voice without telegraph wires and even handwriting, though it's not stable yet. One day I will be able to shoot beams off the ionosphere. Which will direct my mighty currents to control multiple devices—like one of your yachts young man," Nikola finished looking at Keno. "I have heard of your yacht races."

"Yes, young Crowninshield here comes from a long seafaring family—his grand-uncle was once Secretary of the Navy, after his brother turned down the post. A position I hope to serve under one day," Teddy joined in.

"I heard of your family, yes? Was not one of your kin the man who built, what was it—yes, Cleopatra's Barge to free Napoleon from St. Helena?" asked Nikola with whimsy. "Some say they transported him not far from here to the Delaware to his brother's estate."

"Family tradition says we did," Keno answers with pride. "We even have his snuff-box and boots that he left behind after leaving ship in a hurry, after an affair ended badly—shipboard romances and all. A relation, Nathaniel West—he was even forced to rescue his other brother Lucien from his clutches...they are a complicated family."

"Which?" asked Nikola.

"I would dare to say both!" answered Keno.

"I read a plaque about that ship in Hawai'i as I was traveling with the teams," Twain mused, "Sold to the current king's grandfather I believe. A ship fit for Emperors and kings."

"Yes, a sore spot in the family. Many believe we should have kept it."

"Excuse me, Spalding is giving me that look," Twain said as he was shaking a few hands in a hurry, "He is rambling, waiting for me to speak next."

___

Twain went on about apple pie, baseball, and some light-hearted jabs about his new book. He explained how he came up with the idea for a baseball world tour first. The problem was, that he forgot about it until this moment. He said he had hit a ball in Kansas once, which went through the great plains far out of sight. Then, as he was walking in a straight line in the other direction through the prairie, halfway home, the ball hit him in the face, but he just remembered the occurrence now. He went on, and said the funniest thing about his baseball world tour was that the ball was covered in passport stamps from every country on the same latitude.

Then he went on about a baseball game in his book. It was played by the contemporary kings of King Arthur wearing armor. It drew crowds from all over the world. Even if his book was not gaining any readers from his own home. Now after reading it, I wonder if our new friend Nikola is that Connecticut Yankee who they deemed the Wizard con-fouling Merlin. A loose interpretation of Nikola's interactions with Edison?

Twain-Speech.pdf

Twain left the stage to much aplomb. He confided to us, later that he had hoped they would not throw any of the food at him from the buffet tables. Louie said he would have enjoyed that if it had been tossed his way.

Then one of the fellow tourists Mark met on the journey in Samoa bumped him, a journalist I think he said.

"Tom. Glad to see you," Mark said, "How did it go with that Samoan girl—I hope she wasn't Gaugin aged…"

"I can't talk now—I'm sorry, I got to run." With that, he almost bowled Louie over.

Then Twain saw, General Leonard Wood. "Woody, what came over our friend, you know that reporter we found only wearing a hula skirt backwards; well I think it was backwards? Any ideas?"

"Good to see you, Mark," Wood smiled, "Oh, that hooch the natives made, I was lucky no one caught me. I was told by that girl that I left the hut—with my skirt over my head."

"Yes, but Tom?"

"Lovely speech. Plain talk from the plains. I've got to be going."

'Strange," Mark said with exasperation, "On the island, you could not get him to shut up. All about the Indian Wars and the blankets from that ineffable damned fort in Kansas—Fort Riley from where Custard flew out. You hear Harrison just took Indian Territory away from the Choctaws, Osage, and Cherokee—damndest thing..."

Teddy just shook his head and walked off.

___

It was during Dewolf Hopper's oration of Casey at Bat when he finished on the lines 'but there is no joy in Mudville' that we heard the screams.

The screams came from the balcony. The orchestra was returning when one of the women noticed a man hanging from the bunting. We made our way forward. There we saw General Wood for a moment before he saw Twain and left in a hurry. Moving up next to Mark was this English gentleman. "God bless his soul," said the man from Manchester, "I was just talking to him before dinner."

"I saw him too, but he was in a hurry," Twain said to his friend, "Did he seem worried when you saw him?"

"No, he was in fine spirits; we began talking about that night with the Native hooch when they found you with the chief's daughter"

"Enough of that, let me introduce you to my friends," Twain said, placing his hand on the man's shoulder, "Teddy, Keno, Louie, and Henry this is Edward Hulton. He is slumming it in exile from his father's newspaper empire."

"Edward, Athletic News, glad to meet you!"

"Pleasure, you traveled 360 with Spalding?" I asked.

"Yes from Chicago to Chicago by the end of the week. It looks like I will have another story for my father's other newsies," Eddy answered.

"Eddy here is the grandson of the Lord of Manchester, so when I mean slumming it in steerage, I mean slumming it," Twain continued.

"Not as mighty as one of your knights or kings in your tale Samuel," Eddy answered modestly with a grin.

"Maybe so—what do you think happened?" I asked.

"When I was spending time with Anson and Ward, he kept following Wood," Eddy thought.

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"Wood joined us at the Presidio, San Francisco wasn't it. No, after San Francisco he only joined us on the ship to Hawai'i," Twain interjected.

"Yes, Tom plied him full of bourbon!" Eddy pondered.

"What was he up to? Wood is acting strange tonight, he is spending a lot of time with Chauncey and his young Yale friends. Those fellows who meet in the dark and wear those funny robes…" Keno commented.

"Well, we are at a stand-off against the Germans for Samoa. Harrison during the game was telling me we are about to attack the German fleet at any moment now!" Twain added.

"Bully!" yelled Teddy. Twain just gave him a look and went back to Hulton holding his head.

"Wood probably was here tonight to fill in Harrison on the situation there and Hawai'i," Twain continued.

"Probably so. We also have a warship in the distance to see which side to come in on in the battle," Eddy responded without letting on to all he knew.

"Who do you think Tom was working for—Hearst's muckrakers, Germany, or England?" I asked.

"I wonder if he caught a few 'foul balls' in his mouth to keep him quiet," Louie said as he stuffed his face full of appetizers. "I will start asking my cousin and his staff some questions. Nobody pays attention to the caterers."

It can't be, but I saw him skirt the edges of the hall. It could not be! For I killed him with my own sword thirty years ago. Plus, he was too old by his appearance to be reincarnated. How can it be…

___

It turned out Tom was a fine catcher. They let him down. Hysteria had grasped the hall as someone yelled 'the girl' as the room gasped. The chatter became indistinct and agitated like locusts brushing their wings against each other in increasing frequency until they swarmed.

The detail set to protect the event was the first to investigate. The Irishman came in with the Police Commissioner Charles F. McLean. Plus this, Doctor Lazlo. Lazlo examined Tom and found that one of his eyeballs was exchanged for one of the balls believed to be in his mouth. Louie spat out a scallop and winced.

"Any news on the girl's murder?" Teddy asked of the Emerald Gentleman.

"It seems she was not a prostitute but a German heiress," the Irish Sargent continued, "Our private is German. He read some letters in her purse going to some man named Tom Delaney."

Edward just stared at Samuel, "What is the connection?"

"You remember that girl who joined us in Egypt?" Twain asked.

"The one Anson took behind the sphinx trying to solve her riddles?" Eddy asked with raised eyebrows.

"Sarge, did this girl have a brown bob with a heart-shaped scar on her elbow?" asked Twain.

"In fact, she did."

"It's her," Eddy agreed, "She did get into a fight with Wood."

"In truth, I thought it was about the wood of his bat and if he could score a homer that night…"

"No, it must be about the Samoa Crisis."

McLean called in an extra detail to protect the President and escorted him back to the Fifth Street Hotel. The baseball players crowded in. Half volunteered to return the President back to his room.

"I know, I'm going to the kitchen now for more of these Greek tarts and info because…" Louie said before we cut him off.

"Nobody notices the caterers," Teddy, Keno, and I said in unison. Louie just shrugged and left to visit his cousin.

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"What is going on in Samoa?" I asked.

"There are spies throughout the Pacific. There is talk about making Hawai'i a state, we would love to evict Germany from Samoa and keep it for ourselves, and there is also talk of taking on Spain for the Philippines. As you know three nations pose their sea cannons at each other, but the battle is really won in the Samoan people's indifference. Which nation will they stomach? Who will give them less indigestion. After Samoa, we can stage an attack on the Philippines."

"Bully!" Teddy said as he raised a fist across his chest, "It is about time we had a good war!"

Twain just shook his head once more.

"My father has the Prime Minister's ear, he is waiting for America to spill its own blood and have England come into the issue looking like the good guy as they manipulate these nations for their own ends," explains Eddy, "In some circles, they believe we never let America go, we just let you think you won the wars as we took over your banking and thus your politicians."

"At least now we have an independent treasury. Your hold has weakened on us," I said.

"The inner circle talks about those we had in Salem and New England who have killed presidents for us." Eddy continues, "Poison, typhoid has always proven well."

"Sir, you are talking your way into a bloodied lip," Teddy stood forward, "I'll let you know I stood in the ring with Sullivan for 20 rounds when we were younger."

"Sir, I am not in favor of these Protestants and their politics," Eddy answered with an open palm on Teddy's fist. "They have not been nice to us Catholics, though my family has had special dispensation since Henry II to practice our faith."

"I have dealt with the Junto first hand throughout the years," I said with my hand on Eddy's shoulder, "Some I have sent to their makers."

"So you think Wood is behind this Eddy?" asked Twain.

"Tom did have that fight with him in Melbourne," Eddy answered.

"What did he find out—that German lady kept close to him, but distanced herself after Cairo," Twain asked as he tapped his cigar.

"He did head into the Sphinx with a local militia of Bedouins," Eddy remembered as he scratched his head.

"My family talks about Napoleon and what he had found in Egypt," chimed in Keno, "Maps and scrolls talking about a Pacific sea passage to South America through Samoa and Hawai'i. Trade of architecture, Cocaine, tobacco, and magic."

"What magic!" exclaimed Teddy.

"This stuff is truly magic," Louie said as he walked by chugging some Coca-Cola with his eyes bugging out. Those were the days when Coke was coke.

___

"Mr. Twain," I asked as I slid in close, "How well do you know this Edward? Could he be involved in this intrigue for Downing Street? His grandfather, as he says, is royalty. He seems to have kept a close eye on the German, Wood, and Tom."

"He seems like a good bloke," Twain said, "Though, for a tipster on the fillies, he seemed more interested in those of us that traveled with the teams than the teams themselves. His father, Edward the Senior, does sway the public's opinion. Of those on the street and in Parliament through his papers..."

I went to the bar to order a Benedictine and Brandy. The bartender turned his back to grab the bottles from the top shelf and poured me three fingers. As he turned around the bartender transform into Professor Wilmarth and asked, "So any clues?"

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"Wood definitely traveled with the teams for some intrigue in Samoa and Hawai'i. Edward has said nothing about what he was up to, as the teams played in London and in his hometown Manchester. He did chum up to Twain. Twain who has our new president's ear—being an anti-imperialist and all. Wood disappearing into the Sphinx... His argument afterward with the German. Tom shadowing him. Wood a soldier and doctor, he would know how to cleanly sever the organs."

"Leather Apron," said the good professor.

"Louie said that," I asked as I took a sip, "What does that mean?"

"A year ago in Whitechapel, where George Peabody evicted the wretched to build expensive housing for the poor—yeah, OK. In that neighborhood, five women were murdered with their organs removed. Then it just stopped."

"You think this person could have come over with the team?"

"You saw that visage from the past?"

"I did see him!"

"Yes, somehow he is alive again."

"How so?"

"Can't tell."

"Why is he here? Is it for the President? I killed him for his complicity in President Taylor's death."

"So it would have seemed, though he is here again."

"He was an agent for the Essex Junto and their overseers in London; could he be working with this Eddy that Twain is friends with?"

"Remember, the royal family is German."

"What is with this magic that traveled from Egypt to South America?"

"You think the lady was working for the British? Would Wood kill her for her complicity? He would be handy with a scalpel…"

The Professor turned back to the shelves and spun around and the bartender was there again and the Professor was gone. "If you are looking for someone handy with a scalpel I could suggest a few down at the Five Points."

"Sorry, the drink got the best of me," I said as I walked away with the snifter.

Over the edge of my glass, I saw him again sneering at me. As I lowered it, he was gone.

___

When I got back to the bunch, Teddy and Tesla were talking.

"John L. Sullivan, now that is a man's man," Teddy was biting at the bit, "Marquess of Queensberry Rules or bare knuckles if it must—I did fight him back in Cambridge, 20 rounds. I did see him again fight at Ong's Hat in the Pines as I was staying in Philadelphia."

"I hear a lot about his protege; an Irishman by the name of Weir," Nikola pondered, "Is he not so from Boston too?"

"Yes, a fine fighter," Teddy agrees, "For a featherweight—quick though. Also, Kilrain is up next to take on Sullivan. Bare Knuckles! I out rowed him, Kilrain, on the Charles."

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Keno was talking to Twain about the magic items his family had stories about, "Yes, Napoleon's men found the Rosetta Stone and set out to translate all they were able to during their Egyptian Campaign. There were stories of a man, a relation, from Salem coming back as a Nosferatu after his encounters with Napoleon. Others of my relation sailed the Emperor from St. Helena, after another was left in his coffin, to seek financial aid from his brother Joseph in New Jersey. He wanted the money to search for some mysterious item he read about on the walls of the Sphinx. Napoleon planned to outfit an exposition through the Polynesian Islands to Tenochtitlan. The world thought he was gone—the fool he left in his place kept drinking orgeat syrup while the British were feeding him Cream of Tartar for a stomach issue. The latter prevented his body from expelling the arsenic from the almonds in the syrup. Thus the arsenic forces him to drink more syrup… The ship my family sailed the Emperor on, after my uncle George died and Richard sold it, was purchased by British agents who sailed it to Brazil and then Hawai'i following some scrolls and maps said to be left on board before we could remove them. After failing to find what they were looking for, they sold the ship to the King of Hawai'i. Funny though, the King and his wife sailed to Brazil before sailing to England where they died mysteriously as Cleopatra's Barge was scuttled. Were they enticed to seek the item?"

It was getting late, Spalding had settled the party down and the last of the speakers were taking the stage. Spalding was not a man to be upstaged by no mere murder. It was a quarter after one when I saw the ghost again. He just sneered over his shoulder before I lost him in the crowd.

I followed him into the hall, when I saw a service door being closed. I entered, and I only saw his face for a mere second before it all went black. The last thing I saw, was his sneer and that confused look as he fought to focus on his objective, me.

___

I woke up and found myself in motley, padded leather armor on my chest, and a wolf rib bascinet helmet resembling a catcher's mask. I was behind King Lot. He was playing catcher; King Arthur was at-bat. Pitching was King Mark of Cornwall.

Mark tossed one; Arthur swung and missed. Lot, just turned to me and stared.

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"Strike…" I said.

I looked about and saw the field filled with men in armor. All wearing name tags. There was: King Logris, King Marhalt of Ireland, King Pellam, and King of the Lake in the field. Many other Arthurian kings sat in the dugout. A few royal executioners stood around me, sneering. I felt as if I left no joy in Mudville I would lose—my head. I hoped Arthur was a better batter than Casey; removing the proposition from my control.

Mark threw a screwball; Arthur let it go by.

Everyone looked toward me. Executioners gathered to my left and right. Some with the ax. Others with the kind stroke of a sword. Strike I called; a mild melee between executioners on the two sides broke out. Which only settled down on Arthur's order.

It was then Arthur pointed to center field. He was calling his shot. The opposing kings slowly made their way deep into the outfield.

Slowly.

Mark waited for them. He threw a mighty curveball. Arthur then produced Excalibur and slashed the ball in half. It landed yards in front of the pitcher. Arthur kicked off his greaves and lumbered toward first. King Mark fell over in his armor. King Lot took his time raising up from his crouch. By the time Lot stood up and made it to the ball, he still had to wait for one of the other kings to return from the outfield to be close enough for him to throw it. By then, Arthur slid into first or fell on it out of exhaustion.

It felt like it was 90 degrees. The kings must have been dying in their armor.

Up next was the King of Hibernia. Mark looked toward Arthur; Arthur was starting toward second, but Mark knew he would not make it for a pitch or two. Mark looked back at the plate; the catcher signaled. Mark nodded; he threw a screwaball. Swing and a miss. The executioners leered; I called a strike. The hooded men fought amongst themselves, with me in the middle. Mark threw his second pitch; it looked high to the left. I called a ball. The executioners for both teams settled down. The catcher signaled; Mark tossed on in. The batter hit a foul. Two strikes. Mark sent a screaming fastball; the King of Hibernia swung, missed, and fell over. Strike I called; the executioners swung, I ducked and ran for first.

Arthur didn't know any better as he continued for second. I passed him after rounding first with the executioners in tow and gaining. As we went past, we left Arthur in a spin. I rounded third and I ducked one of their axes. It was when I was getting ready to run home, I saw one of the executioners had stayed on the plate. He swung; I slid underneath for a home run.

The Kings called a time out and called together a witan. It was unprecedented. Never before had an umpire ran home. Could Arthur's side count it as a point? If so, was it legal since I ran home before Arthur? Afterward, the executioners took up their place next to their kings and started pushing against each other. I was left to my own accord, for the moment.

Arthur's squire, who was the bat boy, walked up with a King Louisville Slugger; and beknighted me, Sir Henry. Before I passed out I had seen the squire pull back his hood to reveal two rabbit ears. It was Harvey the Pooka smiling down at me.

 

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I woke up to find Keno over me, "Henry, I'm glad I had too much champagne tonight; if not I would not have seen you enter the kitchen before I used the loo."

"Did you see him?"

"He looked like that historian who wrote The History of Ferdinand and Isabella. I have seen his portrait a thousand times back at Harvard. Prescott, I think his name was?"

"Yes, It was him. Though I don't know how it could be."

"He was standing over you with a bloody scalpel; if I came in a moment later I would think your family line would end with you."

"Thank you. My boys thank you!"

"He just went out the back."

Keno helped me halfway down the hall before I could make it on my own. We found Louie feeding Carrie, the President's wife, appetizers from a tray he stole from one of his cousins. Further on in we came upon Mark and Nikola in conference, which they hushed as we approached.

"My dear sir, you look like the undercarriage of an armadillo who forgot which way to roll up as he went downhill through a poke of cactuses!" exclaimed Twain.

"I look much better than I feel."

"Teddy took off to confer with the President," Nikola told us.

"Have you seen Wood or Eddy?" I asked.

"Eddy went to confer with that doctor, Lazlo..." Twain answered, "and Wood has been missing for quite some time."

"What do you know of this man, historian—he looks pretty good for a guy in his 90s old man," Keno asked me.

"William I killed with my sword in 1851 after I caught up with him for his complicity in poisoning President Taylor. He had obtained some typhoid from John Webster, through his son, before delivering it to Senator Henry Clay. Webster was on trial at the time for killing another Harvard professor. Clay ordered Thomas Ewing Jr., who was Taylor's personal aid, to slip it into his nighttime tea. Ewing's father was present when our current president's grandfather was poisoned by typhoid and slipped some to President Polk on his way home from office on a riverboat a few months before Taylor's death. Prescott's father was a traitor during the War of 1812 and present at the ill-fated Hartford Convention. A member of the Essex Junto who sought to hand over our treasury to British bankers. He had just knocked down Dupin in his Baltimore Coat; ready to strike the dolorous blow when I stabbed him through the heart. If he had one?"

"Would he be involved with Wood in this Samoa Affair?" asked Nikola.

"No, I don't think so," I answered, "He is more interested in the English control of our banking and eliminating those presidents who stand in their way."

"Yes, Wood is tunnel focused on the Pacific," Twain added, "He has studied how disease can be used in war at Fort Riley. I'm afraid he will use that information on the natives of those islands like the Calvary did to our natives. Damn blankets."

"Yes, I can see Harrison going along with his plans. He is going to allow people to steal their land in Oklahoma!" said I. "Civilizing the noble savages of this world in exchange for all the raw materials their huts and wigwams stand on."

"What about those Bonesmen from Yale, horrible school," Teddy, the forever Harvard man added, "There are dark secrets about their ceremonies; could they be following Depew's orders?"

"For what purpose, old man?" I asked.

Teddy's friend on the police force came back. "Sir, I have news on the gal. She was one Johanna Vestera— a duchess from Austria."

Before Teddy could answer, Nikola interjected, "Vestera— was she not that sister in the Mayerling incident?"

"The what…" Teddy stammered.

"The Mayerling incident, the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian empire had just committed suicide with his younger lover in a hunting lodge in, Mayerling."

"Yes, it is being written off as a love pact…" Nikola said shaking his head, "There is more to this—Teddy could Austria have any play in the Samoa affair?"

"Not sure; they are all damn Germans, though!"

"So you think this young girl might have been following up on the murder of her sister?" Doctor Lazlo asked as he joined our little party.

"Sir, were you not at Harvard?" Teddy asked.

"Yes, I studied under that Professor Webster; bloody business there."

I just nodded and took note of the good doctor's past.

"Yes, she could be. There is rumor that Emperor Franz Joseph does not like gossip or weakness," explained Tesla, who grew up under the dominion of the Austrians, "I believe he was weeding his garden. So the Vetsera family could be investigating the death of their daughter."

"What gossip or weakness?" busts in Teddy.

"They say after the birth of his daughter, he began to drink and slip into a depression only cured by multiple women's...delights. The Emperor is a proud man," explained Tesla.

"You think he would kill his son?" I asked.

"Yes, he probably shot them both himself," nodded Tesla.

"What does the reporter, Twain's friend, have to do with any of this, my good man?" asked Keno.

"He was cozying up close to that damosel...maybe she told him something?" bemused Twain.

It was then, I saw the specter smiling at me before he disappeared into the crowd once more.

___

I broke through the crowd in chase. Prescott was throwing ladies and gentlemen into my path; I had to leap over and dodge them as they bounced off the dancers on the floor. He ran through the kitchen, and Louie hit him with a silver tray. He, just held his eye and glowered at him, but kept up his run as he spun back away from me. Several of Louie's cousins in the kitchen tossed their knives at him, though he continued unscathed. I had to duck one of the knives too, but I heard a sorry in the distance.

He was running down the stairs. I continued my pursuit. Upon the landing, he turned and went to stab me with, what I must say, an elegant dirk. I sucked in my gut, and he spun and continued down the flight. In the lobby, he waited for me. With him were five goons. He just smiled and disappeared behind them, laughing. They came in for me. Bjorn was sitting on the couch with a lady on his lap. He excused himself and stood up to join the fray. He roared and cracked his back. I arched back and did the same. The berserk was running through our veins. The mad adrenaline surge. I went in leading with my face drawing him in as I snapped my head back and caught him mid punch where he had not centered himself, pulling his arm by the elbow into the ground. Bjorn just went in low and threw his first victim over his shoulder as he stood up to attack the next one. The next one went for him with the arc of his knife. Bjorn grabbed him by the elbow as he went to swing back, he grabbed his wrist and he gave it a twist before smashing into his elbow; dislocated. The fifth just ran.

"Excuse me, I have pressing business," Bjorn said before he went back to the lady on the couch, who now seemed much impressed.

Now, where had this specter gone?

___

As I was heading back up, I ran into Twain. "Some people are quick, but sir you ran like a star across the Mississippi sky. My wife says our sex life is just as quick but may I ask what had gotten your feathers so ruffled?"

"I thought I had seen someone come back from the dead," I said.

"I do wish that frog did too, I never figured someone would weigh him down…"

"Any more word on your reporter friend?"

Fight.pdf

"No, but I have not seen that General lately either, he was running toward Tom before we all found him hanging from the balcony."

Teddy just found us on the landing, "Henry, I got news from Wood."

"Speak of the devil…" said the anti-imperialist Twain.

"Hum, well...Wood said that reporter fellow was part of our military intelligence branch," continued Teddy. "He was sent on the tour to gather intelligence on public opinion about our invasion of Samoa. He was intrigued with the Austrian, he mistook her for working for Emperor Franz Joseph, and tried to ascertain if the Austrian-Hungarian Empire would back Germany in any larger war."

"What about your English friend, Twain?" I asked. "He could be working for the British; they do have one ship off the coast of Samoa."

"I don't think so, but whatever he sees will most definitely end up in one of his father's papers," answered Twain, "He was intrigued about the woman who was killed at the opening of the Eiffel Tower; they found her underneath. He didn't seem surprised about the ghoulish way she was left behind."

"Leather Apron," Louie interjected as he passed with a tray of appetizers.

Louie-Food.pdf

"Who is this 'Leather Apron' Louie keeps going on about?" asked Keno.

Eddy returns, "You Yanks would know of him as Jack the Ripper from a letter addressed to 'Dear Boss' in which the author claimed responsibility. Tom had worked on the case, for me, before I told him to take a break and cover the world tour with me."

"Was he working for us digging up secrets?" I asked.

"Yes, he had a hard time not doing anything," Eddy answered, a bit nervously.

"I guess he picked up the case again when he saw that body in Paris?" surmised Twain as he stuck his chest out and arched his back with his hand on it. He had just lit a cigar with his other hand.

"I would guess, I didn't have the stomach to follow it anymore," answered Eddy.

"I have heard rumors of Victoria's grandson Prince Albert being involved," I said.

"Yes, the future king's son was rumored to have a Catholic mistress with whom he had a child. There is talk that the crown would eliminate such a child and anyone with knowledge of such birth," Eddy responded as he had his Chesterton lit by Twain.

"I wonder if there is any connection between those murders? If the Crown is indeed involved, and the Mayerling Affair?" I asked as I winked and tilted my head in thought, "Could there be a contract killer whose clients include monarchs who want embarrassments removed from their lineage?"

"Or a clandestine group who murder those people they fear will inherit kingdoms they can't control," piped in Teddy, "Those damn chaps from Yale—Depew has brought a viper's nest full of them here tonight."

___

Filled with authority, Wood entered with the New York Hussars, Squadron A. They entered in uniforms from a Napoleonic army and navy surplus store. Quite ridiculous, though New York's finest have the airs to pull it off. At least that was what Keno thought with his mouth agape.

"Keno, that is what we need!" yelled Teddy, "A Harvard cavalry and a good war. We could be the Rough Riders! Bulllllly!!!"

"Line up everyone; up against the wall," Wood ordered, "Search them all for knives, and poison."

"Poison?" I asked.

Bjorn just pushed his way through the silly Hussars. "Henry, they found one of Harrison's aides dead in a stall. It seems he shit and puked himself to death."

"Yes!" yelled Wood, "Poisoned, the President is feeling ill now in his room. There is fear he has been poisoned with typhoid."

"It wasn't from my cousin's food," Louie interrupted, "I can promise you that!" He had a plate of Baked Alaska, or should we say Gloucester Cluck Surprise!

"No, it had to have been delivered to the President before he came here tonight," said Doctor Lazlo the alienist, "By the rash his aide had, he must have been suffering for a day or two."

"Doctor, could of the aide have succumbed from an accidental poisoning before he delivered it to the President?' I asked.

"Why do you ask?"

"I remember President Taylor's aide, Thomas Ewing Jr., administering a similar poison to him," I reminisced. "The man who delivered it to Ewing had suffered stomach complaints beforehand, but lived until I dispatched him at a later date. In fact, his father was one of the last people President Polk saw before he succumbed to Typhoid as well. Plus, he was present at President Harrison's death from typhoid."

 

Hussars.pdf

"Strange, I never read any of that?" Teddy said.

"It is kept quiet by a department of the Treasury that I am part of from time to time," I answered. "It is our job to protect the President and cover up our failures to keep the economy from collapsing."

The Hussars had been going through the dining room harassing the crowd; a few of them were decked, when they touched some of the men's escorts. A brawl broke out and Bjorn came out of nowhere roaring and jumped into the melee. He loves barroom brawls.

Such a good Viking!

___

Leaving the brawl, we found Nikola enjoying one of Delmonico's famous steaks at a lone table. This was the first time I realized there was something unearthly about him. As everyone else was dragged up from their table or began to brawl with the Hussars, he was just sitting there quietly with his B&B and steak. I sat down next to him. I realized there was always a strange calm around him.

As long as there were no women involved...

Just then, Bjorn threw someone over his head as he ducked over his plate to receive a bite of his steak and said, "Welcome Henry, may I ask the chef to get you a plate?" I nodded and he motioned to one of Louie's cousins to fix me up. He took a sniff of his glass and sipped a little before he asked, "What are your thoughts about my compatriot?"

"I think she was murdered to hide the truth about your prince's death," I told him as I got comfortable in the chair. He pointed to his bottle of liquor and I filled one of the snifters that were on the tray. Over the glass, I continued, "I do believe your emperor was cleaning up his genetic line."

"Infidelity, and with a Greek?" I postured, "I do believe he would like to see the Serbs and Croats removed from the country's genetic line too."

"True, it is hard for us on the border of his empire," Nikola agreed. "There were rumors of a pregnancy. Plus the Prince was quite the dolt."

"Prince Albert Victor was quite one too," I added after a sip, "Plus, he fathered a Catholic."

"Yes, it is hard to be a Catholic in England," chimed in Eddy as he sat with us and filled a snifter upon Nikola's silent invite. "Speculation has fallen on those who were close to the Prince, but I doubt it. I believe these men were too high to kill. Though you can discredit them so no one will believe the truth from them."

"So you think the Crown could of hired an outsider to cover up the indiscretion?" I asked Eddy.

"Yes, there was once a William Prescott," Eddy answered, "who had a private dinner with Victoria. Some rumored he was complicit with the deaths of your presidents."

"Yes, I know too well."

"Well, he died before Prince Albert—Eddy's grandfather," Eddy paused, "I'm sorry Prince Albert Victor; they call him Eddy since his father and grandfather share the same name. Prescott had died before the Queen's consort did—but, he died, that is her royal consort, from Typhoid. Is that not the same poison that has taken down at least three of your presidents and was attempted on your current president's life? I share the same problem, I'm the fourth Edward in my family too..."

"Yes."

"Also, a few of his cousins died from it too. Though it took Albert over a year to die."

"Any chance he suffered from a carriage accident before his death?"

"Yes, why so?"

"Well, Senator Daniel Webster eventually succumbed from injuries after he was thrown from his carriage. It was he and Senator Clay who hired Prescott to transport the poison from Professor Webster's son to President Taylor's aide. I had my feelings before Clay had died, earlier in that year, that he might try to have Senator Webster taken care of after his own death. Too many years of drinking and gout probably created an iron gut in the elderly hawk to ever befall an outbreak of typhoid."

"You think Prescott could have tried poisoning him before he tried the carriage accident like Prince Albert?"

"If it worked before."

"I find that when someone overdoes an action or behavior that they are masking their true opposite feelings; is it true that Victoria despised Albert, and thus her children and kin, because Albert would , as you Americans say, 'knock her up' continually so he could rule, when she was in bed?" Nikola asked.

"Many feel that way; it is true. She is confusing, she almost forced Eddy to marry his cousin Princess Alix of Hesse, before she suggested to her to marry Emperor Nikolas of Russia," answered Eddy.

"How could your acquaintance be involved with tonight's affair?" Nikola asked as he crossed his fork and knife over his plate as he looked toward me, "I take it he is dead. I might be working on a time machine, but it is far from complete."

___

I excused myself and headed for the latrine. As I made my way down the hall to the lavatory, the lights went out. I felt a blow to the back of my head and I heard him laughing.

"You're in my world now," he said as he hit me again.

'Oh Willy, is it you?" I asked knowing he hated that name.

He hit me again as I began to get up. "Henry, you should know not to tease," he said as he kicked me in the gut.

He backed off and I got up slowly. "Oh Willy, I can't see you in the dark."

"But, I can see you," he said with glee as I heard him circling me. William was mostly blind after a food fight went bad when he was at Harvard. So he was in his element.

I heard him circling; occasionally moving in for a strike.

Then I remembered, when fighting monkeys you must always face them. They only attack when you're not looking. Though I could not see. How to keep your eyes on someone in the dark?

"So Willy, I thought I killed you."

"How would that be," he asked as he kicked me in the gut, "could a ghost reach out and touch you like this?" Then he struck me in the head with his cane.

"I'm guessing you were behind the Mayerling Affair; did her sister get too close?" I asked as I was slowly spinning to see if I could hear his motions.

"Yes, and that reporter—he almost connected me to Prince Albert's death and then he started following me years later after the Whitechapel murders to cover up Albert's grandson's Catholic tawdriness. The future king pays well…"

"So they were conspiring together to catch you?"

"Yes, and she stumbled on the contract Wood put out on Harrison's life. It seems we have poison in common. He was delighted to be stationed at Fort Riley, the birthplace of America's chemical warfare."

"So, Wood or his Yale superiors believed that Harrison would not bring us into a war with Germany over Samoa? I'm assuming Yale has some advantage over this impending war."

"I believe so, but I don't care about their intentions. I only focus on what I am being paid to focus on."

"The ghoulish murders, I figured you always to be clean. Poison is clean."

"Well, Professor Webster fascinated me. Not only did he teach me how to make a bevy of poisons and learn their symptoms, but he also taught me to dissect. Not all of his cadavers started out dead before they entered his lab; many prostitutes. We just dropped them through the trapdoor into the Charles River like the rest of the professors with their subjects they had stolen from the local graves. Webster was so proud when he said we were dismembering the bones of Samuel Adams; who is to say if they were his bones, but I relished in it. That firebrand which stirred up sentiment away from our Mother England. I had to try my hand at disemboweling my victims. Poisoning was getting quite boring."

"Nikola stumbled on something; he mentioned a time machine. I'm feeling that George Peabody made your introduction to the Queen? They came up in London society together; some say he was in the royal bedchambers before Mr. Brown."

"Watch your tongue! Do not befoul the Queen Mum's name!"

"Did I hit a sore spot? Ah, I understand how you are not dead; you used Peabody's time machine years before I stabbed you in the heart. I was amazed you had one. A heart that is."

"I doubt you can kill me now or before; funny for me it will be later"

I had him talking long enough, so I could pull my sword from my cane and toss it at him. I heard him wince and gurgle blood with a choked insult, I figure.

Bjorn, Louie, Keno, and Teddy came rushing into the dark, before one of them found the lights. Prescott was gone.

"Henry, you look worse for wear," said Bjorn as he held me up.

"We heard you and someone angry with you for insulting the queen," Keno said.

"We need to go after Wood, the president needs to know he was behind the poison attempt," I told them.

"Too late he left with the Hussars already," Teddy was saying, "No one will believe you, he is too well ensconced."

A.G Spalding came down the hall for the latrine, "I heard you talk about the president's life, I can send my baseball team down with their bats to protect him."

"Me and Keno will join you! Bully!" Teddy said with his chest out.

"Not till I use the little boy's room; I've been holding it all night during the various ceremonies," Spalding said as he rushed to relieve himself.

___

Later that week I was at Nikola's table with Twain, having another steak and sharing some B&B. Nikola was reading the paper. "I see the Samoa Crisis has come to an end," Nikola said.

"A rogue storm a couple weeks ago sunk all of the American and German ships harbored in Samoa I fear," Twain said as he winked at Tesla.

"All but that one English cruiser," Tesla said from behind his paper.

"We need to work on making improvements," Twain said as he was buttering his roll.

"What were you two up to?" I asked.

Twain lit up his cigar and some of the smoke was caught within his prodigious eyebrows, "Well, my good Croat there knows more than how to shake the shit out of me with his machine, he also knows how to make holy shit fall from the sky..."

The End.