Phonozoic Text Archive, Document 147
Love and the Phonograph.
Phonoscope, March, 1899, p. 15.
I. -- HIS CYLINDER
MY DARLING CYNTHIA, the Phonograph has just arrived, and I hasten to
act on your charming idea that we should hear each other talk when we are apart
instead of only having the--er--chilliness of words in black and white.
(Turning his head: "Why the deuce she should get such an idea!")
Yet, after all, how can I speak to you on a faceless and thoughtless
Phonograph, when it is your face that I am dying to see and your little ear that
I am dying to whisper into? The sight of you is the only thing that satisfies
me, so how can I be satisfied with such a worldly, callous thing as a
Phonograph? And, if one's heart is not satisfied, how can one say the things
that one feels, the things that stirs in one's--er--heart? I take out your
photograph--I take out your (where on earth?--) As I say, darling, I take out
your photograph from the pocket near my heart, where it lives (Dash the thing!
It's Belinda's!) to pretend I am speaking to your own sweet little self. But at
the sight of it I can only be dumb and think of you.
And when I am thinking of you, telling over your beauties to my
deepest heart, how can I be so soulless as to pour out my soul on a Phonograph,
of all inert things? (Who's that? John? Come in. No, not whiskey this
morning; brandy and soda.) The one thing that gives me happiness is the thought
that, though apart, there is a connecting link between us, even if it is only
represented by a squeaking cylinder. (But that's the tape, John. Where are
you, John? John! See if Catapeltes runs in the first race. Thanks. Now go.)
And it is just that connecting link, squeaking cylinder and gaping
tube though it is, that brings such heavenly joy to my soul. Oh, Cynthia, a man
would serve and wait for years, a man would make no end of a fool of himself
only for love of you! For one kiss I could give up all that other men call
happiness. (How on earth I am to chuck Belinda, I don't know. I suppose a man
Dearest, what did you, what could you mean last night by asking me
if I had ever loved any one else? How can you doubt me? Do I doubt you? I was
horrified. Such a spirit is the ruin of married life. The woman who would be
married must trust her husband absolutely.
When is a man safe if a little unfledged goose like you--ahem!--I
mean, never, never, darling, let yourself say such a thing again. It was almost
treachery to me for you even to think it. Could a man love as devotedly, as--er--unselfishly
as I love you, rich though you are, if he had ever given a thought to another
woman? Could a man look into your eyes if he had ever looked with love into
another woman's? You know he couldn't. Let that be our last word on the
subject. I forgive you, so don't cry your pretty eyes out.
I am simply inundated with business this morning. Every moment I am
called away, but the whole world should wait rather than I'd miss phoning you as
I promised. (By Jove, though, if I don't look sharp over the thing I'll miss
that Goodwin special! Hang it all! I must see Catapeltes run his first race.)
I would give anything to come and drive with you in the Park instead of staying
here. (That reminds me--B. must return that brougham. It will do up nicely for
Cynthia.) But I shall not be able to do more than dine with you to-night,
darling. Work presses very hard, and I want to clear off everything before our
marriage. You little know the incessant toil of my life, the constant sacrifice
of pleasure to the one dull grind. But, darling, it is all worth while. I
would do a hundred times as much for your sake.
When we're married there mustn't be a care in the world. And how
soon that will be? Only three weeks! (Yes, Belinda must clear out of that
Monte Carlo house. By the bye, why not spend the honeymoon there?). Oh, the
thought of three weeks to-day (or to-morrow?) stirs my soul to its very depths!
(Yes, I rang, John. Brandy and curacao, and call me a cab.)
And now, my dearest own, I must say good-by. There must be a throng
of clients in my room. I haven't even time to hear this thing through its
lesson. Forever your own.
What an amusing machine this is, and what a curious, clicking sound
it makes? Though even now--and I read your cylinder quite three hours ago--I
hear its ticking less than the beating of my heart. I am glad, anyhow, that at
first you liked the idea. It was nice to hear your voice. I'd never really
heard it before. How strange it seemed without you!
How curious that your horse Catapeltes was only beaten a head! Are
two heads better than one heart? -- because a few hours ago you might have had
your choice of either head or heart. Now there is only my head left and it has
suddenly become most unreasonable. That is, it even reasons.
To hear your cylinder "through its lesson" was almost better than a
play--if, indeed, a love play without a heroine could ever be put on the stage.
I do not say without a hero, because it has happened before, hasn't it? My only
regret is that I cannot take the other leading part in such a perfect style.
But, at least as a critic, I will try so [sic] shine, more especially as you
cannot yet understand how fully your part was appreciated.
Why, for instance, did you have only two drinks this morning--in the
play? Surely a few more, judiciously interspersed, would have lent more color
and passion to the thing! Not that that was wanting, either. And you did it
passing well, too. I find no fault on that score.
Then, again, why didn't you drink champagne instead of brandy? It
is ever so much more effervescing and even you must agree that, in your letter,
effervescence plays a somewhat leading part. Indeed, it drowns the should-be
Why, too, did you send John so quickly out of the room? Surely one
listener more or less would make no odds--to use your own expression? There are
two here--the girl that was myself, and a strangely calm and reasonable woman
whom I don't quite understand yet. At least, I fully understand her when I feel
her laughing at that stricken girl who lay cuddled up crying on the sofa. How
she cried, too, I really quite believe she thought her heart was breaking. How
Besides, John's laugh, though somewhat boisterous, no doubt, would
have lent power, if only as a precedent. At least, it would have been honest.
Though that might be galling and might even spoil its stage effect. Did you
doubt his quality as worthy critic, or did you fear his mirth prove infectious?
Yet, why should that have mattered, either? And among those tales a laugh would
Phonograph as well, I know. No, I cannot think why John could not remain. He
might, indeed, have lent a hint or two.
Then the mixing of those two photographs--that, for you, was poor
indeed! I thought such faults would only shame a novice! But enough--let us
see how we stand. First and foremost, of course the brougham will not need
doing up--at least, I mean, not for me. That will save a little. Then there's
no necessity for any expense about the changing of the house--or its occupant.
That's on the credit side, too. Then there comes the saving of another
honeymoon. Your loss of time, too. This, however, I dare not attempt to
estimate. The ring, of course, is at least a dinner or so to the good. The
bridesmaids' presents a week at Monte Carlo, for certain.
On the whole, is [sic] seems a very good credit list, indeed. The
Phonograph has been decidedly a success. Nothing on the debit side at all.
Nothing excepting, of course, me, but then, as I said before, I am not the me
you knew at all. I am the calm and reasonable woman, beginning to learn--shall
I admit it?--a rather difficult part, gaining nothing if I succeed, and with
only a private breakdown if I fail.
But with such a lesson and with such a brilliant lead how can I