Old Thaddeus McIlvaine discovered a dark star and took it for his own. Thus he inherited a dark destiny--or did he?
"Call them what you like," said Tex Harrigan. "Lost people or strayed, crackpots or warped geniuses--I know enough of them to fill an entire department of queer people. I've been a reporter long enough to have run into quite a few of them."
"For example?" I said, recognizing Harrigan's mellowness.
"Take Thaddeus McIlvaine," said Harrigan.
"I never heard of him."
"I suppose not," said Harrigan. "But I knew him. He was an eccentric old fellow who had a modest income--enough to keep up his hobbies, which were three: he played cards and chess at a tavern called Bixby's on North Clark Street; he was an amateur astronomer; and he had the fixed idea that there was life somewhere outside this planet and that it was possible to communicate with other beings--but unlike most others, he tried it constantly with the queer machinery he had rigged up.
"Well, now, this old fellow had a trio of cronies with whom he played on occasion down at Bixby's. He had no one else to confide in. He kept them up with his progress among the stars and his communication with other life in the cosmos beyond our own, and they made a great joke out of it, from all I could gather. I suppose, because he had no one else to talk to, McIlvaine took it without complaint. Well, as I said, I never heard of him until one morning the city editor--it was old Bill Henderson then--called me in and said, 'Harrigan, we just got a lead on a fellow named Thaddeus McIlvaine who claims to have discovered a new star. Amateur astronomer up North Clark. Find him and get a story.' So I set out to track him down...."