The Gold of the Gods
21. The Telescribe
I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and that I had better go slow that
day and regain my strength, a fortunate decision, as it turned out.
Kennedy, also, spent most of the time in the laboratory, so that, after all, I did not feel
that I was missing very much.
It was along in the afternoon that the telephone began acting strangely, as it will do
sometimes when a long distance connection is being made. Twice Kennedy answered,
without getting any response.
"Confound that central," he muttered. "What do you suppose is the matter?"
Again the bell rang.
"Hello," shouted Kennedy, exasperated. "Who's this?"
There was a pause. "Just a minute," he replied.
Quickly he jammed the receiver down on a little metal base which he had placed near the
instrument. Three prongs reaching upward from the base engaged the receiver tightly,
fitting closely about it.
Then he took up a watch-case receiver to listen through in place of the regular receiver.
"Who is it?" he answered.
Apparently the voice at the other end of the wire replied rather peevishly, for Kennedy
endeavoured to smooth over the delay. I wondered what was going on, why he was so
careful. His face showed that, whatever it was, it was most important.
As he restored the telephone to its normal condition, he looked at me puzzled.
"I wonder whether that was a frame-up!" he exclaimed, pulling a little cylinder off the
instrument into which he had inserted the telephone receiver. "I thought it might be and I
have preserved the voice. This is what is known as the telescribe--a recent invention of
Edison which records on a specially prepared phonograph cylinder all that is said--both
ways--over a telephone wire."
"What was it about?" I asked eagerly.
He shoved the cylinder on a phonograph and started the instrument.
"Professor Kennedy?" called an unfamiliar voice.