Tombstone Silver

Tommy Cooper

Tommy Cooper was going back to Tombstone for Christmas with gifts for his wife and daughter, but they never forgot Santa's visit this year.

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It was about one o'clock in the afternoon, Christmas Eve, 1881, and Tommy Cooper was going back home to Tombstone. He had been gone for about three months while tending to his sick mother in Chicago. Fortunately, she got better and now Tommy was returning to Tombstone to his wife Angela and their daughter Leslie. The stagecoach ride from Tucson to Tombstone was long and there was only one other passenger on board, an elderly woman named Mrs. Brown. Naturally, they chatted along the way.

Tommy told her. "I have quite a surprise for my daughter, Leslie. I bought her a China Doll in Chicago. She's never had a real doll before and just played with anything that she could make, like a sock stuffed with goose down. I also got a Santa Claus suit so I can be Santa for her tonight."

Mrs. Brown answered, "That will make a great Christmas for her. And what did you get your wife, Angela?"

"See this?" Tommy reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a heart-shaped locket on a delicate gold chain. He opened the locket and had his own photograph inside. "I'm going to have a picture made of Leslie so Angela can keep us both close to her heart."

Suddenly, the driver turned and hollered back into the coach, "Better get ready! It looks like somebody's trying to flag us down up here." Almost instinctively, Tommy gripped the locket tightly in his fist as the coach slowed to a stop….

It was about 7:30 PM on Christmas Eve and Leslie was quietly playing in front of the fireplace with a homemade doll. It was a simple doll, but Leslie had an active imagination and that doll was one of her best friends. Angela was idly sewing while she rocked in a chair not far from the fireplace. She had expected Tommy much earlier, but she knew that the stagecoach was not dependable, and it could be late, or Tommy may not even arrive at all until tomorrow. In the meantime, all Angela could do was sew and try to contain her excitement. Tommy had written that he had a surprise for Leslie, and Angela was determined to not ruin that surprise.

Suddenly, there was a clattering on the porch; and both Angela and Leslie were startled; they stopped what they were doing and stared at the front door. Soon, they heard a hearty "Ho, ho, ho!" The front door flung open and standing there in the doorway was Santa Claus, himself. Leslie was beside herself with excitement. She squealed "It's Santa! Look Mama, it's Santa!" It warmed Angela's heart to see her daughter so happy after having missed Tommy for so long. Angela stared at Santa Claus, trying to see her Tommy through the disguise. She thought that he looked a little different somehow, but she figured that maybe he had lost a bit of weight and his desert tan while he was in Chicago.

Santa Claus stepped into the room and said, "Is this the home of Leslie Cooper?" Leslie giggled and nodded in reply. Santa then said, "Well, I believe that I have a gift for her." He reached into a small burlap bag, pulled out a beautiful china doll dressed in a blue silken gown, and handed it to Leslie.

Santa then turned his attention to Angela. He said, "Santa also has a special gift for you. I'll be right back." Santa then turned and walked out the door, closing it behind him. Angela heard footsteps crossing the porch and figured her Tommy had gone around to the back of the house to change clothes so the magic of Santa Claus could live in Leslie for at least another year.

As Angela waited and stared at the front door, she heard footsteps on the porch; and then a knock. She thought that it was rather odd that Tommy would knock on his own door, especially since he'd just been there; however, Angela crossed to the door, opened it, and laughed, "Tommy, you little scamp…". Then she noticed that it wasn't Tommy at the door, it was the Marshal; and he was holding his hat in his hand. She said "Excuse me, Marshal. but I was expecting someone else. Would you like to come in?" The Marshal paused for a few moments and shook his head. He said, "No, thank you. I'm not sure exactly how to tell you this, but the stage was robbed a couple of hours ago just outside of town. One of the passengers, Mrs. Brown, said that the robbers took everything of any value and tore up the rest. We found a china doll broke into a thousand pieces on the ground and a Santa Claus suit hanging over a cactus shot full of holes. Your husband, Tommy, was shot and killed by those robbers. I'm so sorry."

Angela laughed. She assumed that Tommy had put the Marshall up to some kind of a joke, though, truth be told, she didn't think it was so funny. The Marshall asked if she needed anything, if there was a neighbor or someone that he could ask to come sit with her, and she said, "Of course not. Tommy will be home very soon." The Marshall just sighed, turned quietly, and started to walk away. Then he stopped, turned, and said, "Oh, I nearly forgot. Tommy was clutching something in his fist when we found him, and I'm sure that he wanted to give this to you." The Marshall reached into his jacket pocket and when he pulled it out Angela could see in the dim light spilling out the front door, a heart-shaped locket dangling from a delicate gold chain.