Looking Backward From 2000 to 1887 HTML version
As Edith had promised he should do, Dr. Leete accompanied me to my bedroom when I
retired, to instruct me as to the adjustment of the musical telephone. He showed how, by
turning a screw, the volume of the music could be made to fill the room, or die away to
an echo so faint and far that one could scarcely be sure whether he heard or imagined it.
If, of two persons side by side, one desired to listen to music and the other to sleep, it
could be made audible to one and inaudible to another.
"I should strongly advise you to sleep if you can to-night, Mr. West, in preference to
listening to the finest tunes in the world," the doctor said, after explaining these points.
"In the trying experience you are just now passing through, sleep is a nerve tonic for
which there is no substitute."
Mindful of what had happened to me that very morning, I promised to heed his counsel.
"Very well," he said, "then I will set the telephone at eight o'clock."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
He explained that, by a clock-work combination, a person could arrange to be awakened
at any hour by the music.
It began to appear, as has since fully proved to be the case, that I had left my tendency to
insomnia behind me with the other discomforts of existence in the nineteenth century; for
though I took no sleeping draught this time, yet, as the night before, I had no sooner
touched the pillow than I was asleep.
I dreamed that I sat on the throne of the Abencerrages in the banqueting hall of the
Alhambra, feasting my lords and generals, who next day were to follow the crescent
against the Christian dogs of Spain. The air, cooled by the spray of fountains, was heavy
with the scent of flowers. A band of Nautch girls, round-limbed and luscious-lipped,
danced with voluptuous grace to the music of brazen and stringed instruments. Looking
up to the latticed galleries, one caught a gleam now and then from the eye of some beauty
of the royal harem, looking down upon the assembled flower of Moorish chivalry.
Louder and louder clashed the cymbals, wilder and wilder grew the strain, till the blood
of the desert race could no longer resist the martial delirium, and the swart nobles leaped
to their feet; a thousand scimetars were bared, and the cry, "Allah il Allah!" shook the
hall and awoke me, to find it broad daylight, and the room tingling with the electric music
of the "Turkish Reveille."
At the breakfast-table, when I told my host of my morning's experience, I learned that it
was not a mere chance that the piece of music which awakened me was a reveille. The
airs played at one of the halls during the waking hours of the morning were always of an