Several men in tattered clothes, some wearing strange looking hats, are gathered at one end of a small stream. Most of them seem to have their hands in the water. Moving past the trees, our friends notice that this is only one of many small groups which are spread out all along the stream and at various pools in the ground as well. As the first group notices our threesome approaching, several of the men begin to talk excitedly:
"Howdy, strangers! Welcome to Drygultch."
"Would you be th’ ones what come in that thar strange contraption we seen come a-whizzin' through th' air an' plop down behind them trees over thar?"
"I knowed folks was a-usin' ever kinda means conceivable t’ git here, but I swear I ain't never seen nor imagined one o’ them things in all my born days."
"Whata y' call it?"
"How’s it work?"
Walt raises his hand and speaks for the group. "Perhaps we can answer your questions better if you answer a few for us first."
"Whata y' wanna know?"
"Well, for starters, what year is this? And, secondly, where are we?"
A posture of puzzlement comes over the group. Two of its members speak, one right after the other:
"Are you guys crazy or something'?"
"Wow! You must really be outa touch! But, if y' didn't come here ‘cause o’ th' rush, why'd y' come?"
Meanwhile, Kerry and Daniel have been looking around for clues. Upon hearing the word 'rush,' Kerry's ears perk up. "Did you say 'th' rush?' Look at those pans, Walt. They must be panning for gold. This wouldn’t be the great California gold rush of 1849 would it?"
One of the men jumps up and puts his hands on his hips. "So you do know where you are!"
"By conjecture only."
"This is making less and less sense all th' time. Who in th’ heck are y' and where d' y' come from?"
"Why should we tell you?" asks Walt. "You wouldn’t believe us anyway."
"Yeah! You’d better tell us" insets one man, raising his fist, "or we’ll flatten th’ lot o' you here an' now!"
Will scratches his head. "Well don’t say we didn’t warn you that you wouldn't believe us."
"Just tell us, an' let us decide."
"Well," replies Walt, "We are from precisely one hundred and forty seven years into your future."
"That 'contraption' as you call it," adds Kerry, pointing to the cylinder, now barely visible through the trees, "is a time tube."
"It has transported us," adds Daniel, "from what was your future and our present here into what is your present and our past."
"What kinda tom-foolery is that?" yells one man.
"You were right," says another. "We don’t believe y’."
"That’s th' most dogern ridiculous thing I ever did hear of," adds another.
The man who had raised his fist now asks the other men, "Whata y' say, boys? Shall we deck 'em?"
"Nah! Jist hold on, Fred. It wouldn’t be worth it."
Now a small man, who had been quiet up till now, speaks. "And who knows? Perhaps they’re tellin' th' truth."
"You mean t' say you believe 'em Sam?"
"Well It’s possible, I guess. After all we never thought we’d see a contraption like that come a-whizzin' through th' air, now did we?"
"Well, I reckon y’ got a point there, Sam."
"I didn’t see nothing' come through th' air!" insists another man.
"Well, that’s cause you wasn’t looking', Pete," replies the small man, "But it was sure there--bigger 'n' life."
One of the men turns incredulously to the three. "So y’ didn’t come fer gold?"
"Nah!" replies Walt." We’ve got all the money we want. But, we would like to watch you panning, if you don’t mind."
They watch as the men scoop their pans into the stream and bring them out again. When the pan comes up empty, there are cries of disappointment, but when they contain nuggets of gold, shouts of joy go up from the miners. This is truly a new sight for Walt, Daniel and Kerry -- a page out of history indeed. They watch with interest as the men bring up pan after pan.
Finally, one of the men turns to the three visitors and says "Say! I’ll bet you fellows would really enjoy th' shindig over t' th' saloon tonight."
"Saloon?" The three look around, wondering where there could be a saloon in this wilderness.
"At th' town, just over that thar hill," the man explains.
"And--Ah-what's a shindig?" asks Daniel.
“What’s a shindig?” echoes another man, laughing.
"You’ll find out." answers the first man, smiling from ear to ear. "Just be there."
Walt looks at the other two. "Whata y' say fellows?"
"Well, it may give us a chance to learn more about this culture before we move on."
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish