Henry horns x ray eye gl.., p.1
Henry Horn's X-Ray Eye Glasses, p.1Dwight V. Swain
Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net
HENRY HORN'S X-RAY EYE GLASSES
by DWIGHT V. SWAIN
[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Amazing Stories December1942. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.copyright on this publication was renewed.]
"Look!" said Henry Horn with a gasp. "Here, you look atthe camp through the glasses!"]
[Sidenote: Henry Horn had a new invention; a pair of glasses that workedon the x-ray principle. But he didn't expect them to reveal Nazi secretagents and their works of sabotage!]
"It's not enough to have a nudist colony move in next door!" fumedProfessor Paulsen. "No, indeed! That wouldn't disrupt things enough.Now, in addition, every ne'er-do-well in the county comes prowling overour farm in order to spy on the naked numbskulls!"
Scowling ferociously, the gaunt scientist stamped violently back acrossthe meadow's lush verdure toward the little country home he shared withhis partner, Henry Horn. Beside him, matching his own long strides, camethe savant's old friend, Major Ray Coggleston of Army Intelligence.
"None of us can hope for a bed of roses all the time, Joe," Cogglestonremarked, grinning at the professor's outburst. "'Into each life somerain must fall,' you know. You've got trespassers to bother you. Me, I'mresponsible for protecting one of the biggest explosives laboratories inthe country against Axis espionage and sabotage."
Instinctively, as he spoke, the officer's eyes sought out the long, lowOrdnance experiment station, barely a mile away. Professor Paulsen,following the glance, nodded.
"You're right," he agreed. "And when you come right down to it, myworries over the nudist camp back there"--he jerked his head toward thehigh board fence which marked the boundary--"aren't very important. Notwith a war in progress."
By now the two were in the yard and rounding the corner of the house.
The next instant they stopped dead in their tracks.
There, in the shade of the building, stood a slight, familiar figure. Afigure which, at the moment, was the center of attention for a littleknot of interested spectators.
"Oh, yes, gentlemen, it certainly does work!" cried Henry Hornenthusiastically, his scraggly goatee jerking spasmodically with eachnod of emphasis. He waved the battered pair of binoculars he clutched inhis right hand. "Yes, it's a marvelous invention. You can see everythingyou want to, just like you were right inside that camp. And only adollar for a minute's look!"
The professor's face jumped to beet red, then apoplectic purple. Hisfists clenched, and the sound he made as he sucked in his breath closelyresembled that of a cow pulling her foot out of a mudhole. He startedforward.
Major Coggleston choked off an incipient frame-racking spasm of mirthbarely in time. He caught the tall scientist's arm.
"See you later, Joe!" he snickered. "I've got to get back on duty.There's a new super-explosive being tested, and I'm supposed to be onhand."
"All right. Later." Professor Paulsen grated the words through clenchedteeth, but it is doubtful that he was even conscious of speaking. Hiseyes were focussed straight at Henry in a horrible glare, and the smokeof indignation hovered about him in clouds.
* * * * *
"Only a dollar, gentlemen!" cried Henry, oblivious to all this newattention. "It's just like going inside the camp. Really it is!"
"He's right, boys!" broke in a burly, red-headed character. "Thoseglasses of his are better than a seat on the fence." And, turning to thelittle man: "I'll even buy 'em from you. How much'll you take?"
"You see, gentlemen?" whooped Henry, steel-rimmed spectacles nearlysliding off the end of his nose in his excitement. "The gentleman saysmy invention is everything I say it is--"
The little man jumped as if a red-hot flatiron had just been applied tothat portion of his trousers designed for sitting.
"Urghk!" he exclaimed profoundly.
"You prying Piltdown!" flamed the professor. "Is there anything youwon't do for money?" A moment of thunderous silence. "I'm surprisedyou're not doing a fan dance yourself, if these would-be Peeping Tomsare willing to pay for nakedness."
The red-headed man guffawed.
"And you!" exploded the savant, turning on the spectators. "Get out ofhere! Yes, all of you, you riffraff! I won't have you on the place!"
Henry's potential customers fled before the Paulsen wrath like chaffbefore the wind, leaving the quaking little entrepreneur to face hisfate alone. He stood braced against the verbal cloud-burst, eyessqueezed tight shut behind steel-rimmed glasses, goatee stickingstraight out.
"For days these snoopers have driven me half-crazy!" raged theprofessor. "I've tried every trick I could think of to keep them out.I've put signs forbidding trespassing on every tree. I've threatenedmayhem and murder. Yet still they come!"
"Keep quiet 'til I'm finished, you disgrace to science!" The leanscholar ran trembling fingers through his greying hair. Then:
"And now--today! Major Coggleston and I go down to the end of the meadowto drive three of the sneaking human dung beetles away from knot-holes.When we get back, what do we find?"
"We find you--my colleague, my partner, my friend! You--peddling the useof your binoculars to the slimy creatures!" He glared savagely at hisvictim. "If you were in Paris, Henry Horn, you'd be selling Frenchpostcards to tourists!"
* * * * *
Still purple with rage, the savant turned away. Stared dourly backtoward the high board fence that surrounded the nudists.
The next instant he jerked as stiff as if an electric shock had joltedthrough him.
"Yes, Joseph." The other's voice was meekly plaintive as he awaited arenewal of the diatribe.
"Henry, that fence is between us and the nudists! How could you seethem, binoculars or not?"
Henry's face brightened. His goatee moved to a more confident angle.
"That's what I've been trying to tell you, Joseph," he explained. "It'smy new invention--"
"Invention!" There was a hysterical note in the way Professor Paulsenexclaimed the word. "Please, Henry, not that! Don't tell me you've beeninventing again--"
His little colleague bristled.
"And why shouldn't I be inventing, Joseph Paulsen?" he demandedquerulously. "My inventions are mighty valuable. Why my newexplosive--"
"--Which you ran onto quite by accident, and which turned out not to bean explosive at all," the professor cut in grimly.
"Well, the government--"
"The government doesn't have to live with you. Nor to put up with your'inventive' ways." Henry's tall partner was fierce in his vehemence."You've cited one of your devil's devices that turned out well. Well,now let me mention a few. Remember what happened when you decided tofind the universal solvent?"
"But scientists all make mistakes sometimes, Joseph--"
"And how about that time you wiped out every peony within ten miles? Wasthat a mistake too?"
"Honestly, I didn't think it would kill anything but ragweed," Henrysniveled miserably.
"Of course it was all an accident when you rendered every one of ourguinea pigs sterile, wasn't it?" sneered the other. "That was a niceinvention, Henry. All it did was to cut off our income for months onend, and nearly destroy our reputation for reliability as breeders oflaboratory guinea pigs."
"Oh, Joseph!" Henry's voice was an abject wail. His goatee hung limp andbedraggled. "You know I didn't mean any harm any of those times. ReallyI didn't. I just want to be a scie
Professor Paulsen, still glaring, opened his mouth to denounce hispartner further. Then, thinking better of it, he relaxed and put his armaround Henry's quivering shoulders.
"Do you think I like to talk to you like this?" he asked, leading theway toward the porch. "Do you think it's pleasant for me?" Wearily, heshook his head. "I hate to be shouting at you all the time, Henry. It'sjust that
Henry Horn's X-Ray Eye Glasses by Dwight V. Swain / Science Fiction have rating 2.8 out of 5 / Based on17 votes