A desert which, except for the railroad and the telegraph poles, has all the charm of the real thing: the sand, the chaos of overthrown stones, the empty horizons everything, in short, save the immensity and infinite solitude, the horror, in a word which formerly made it so little desirable. But I agree that the effect of the whole has lost nothing.
In the course of an hour, that wonderful invention of modern times, the Electric Telegraph conveyed the satisfactory words 'All right' to our friend Mr. Sponge, just as he was sitting down to dinner in a certain sumptuously sanded coffee-room in Conduit Street, who forthwith sealed and posted the following ready-written letter: 'BANTAM HOTEL, BOND STREET.
Merkel remarked: "How come you heard all this, Bill I mean about the Yaquis? None of it filtered here until you come up sweating lather!" "I met one of the deputy sheriffs in town," explained the veteran cow puncher. "He'd just got a telegraph message tellin' him to be on the lookout, as the redskins might be headed this way."
Then, going to the little telegraph instrument which, for his own convenience, he had installed in Barbara's house, he called Captain Hallam out of bed and clicked off the message: The milk in the cocoanut is accounted for. I must see you and Stafford to-night, without fail. Summon him. I'll go up to your house at once.
In his ears there rang already the steady plash of the paddle, the weird melancholy song of the boatmen, the music of the wind amidst the forest trees. Durnovo rose briskly. "Then," he said, "you will join us? I may telegraph out to Meredith that you will join us?" "Yes," replied Oscard simply. "You may do that." "There is no time to be lost," Durnovo went on.
"Now," said Annette, greatly relieved, "find out what time the d-down train starts, and if it's on time." "It ought to start at three," reported Jimmy after consulting the telegraph operator. "It's an hour late on account of the snow. Expecting somebody?" She shook her head. "Going to the city yourself?" "Of course not. Whatever made you think that?" she cried with unnecessary vehemence.
She now directed her steps toward one of the hotels, where she knew there was a telegraph office. "No matter what has happened, or what has not happened," she said to herself as she hurried along, "he ought to be here, and he must come!" The old lady's hand trembled a good deal as she wrote a telegram to Ralph Haverley, but the operator at the window could read it.
If there had been at first two separate companies, one owning the telephone and the other the switchboard, neither could have done the business. Several years before the telephone got a switchboard of its own, it made use of the boards that had been designed for the telegraph. These were as simple as wheelbarrows, and became absurdly inadequate as soon as the telephone business began to grow.
"It's all very well," said he; "but what with a steamer twice a week, and your telegraph to New Orleans, they know what's going on at Liverpool as well as if they were at Prince's Dock. It don't pay now to lay a week alongside the levee on the chance of five cents for cotton." It was a text that suggested a long homily.
And all that time one sorely tried man, the telegraph operator sworn to official secrecy, had to lock his lips and chain his tongue with a silence that was like to rend them; for he, and he only, of all the speculating multitude, knew the great things this sinking sun had seen that day in the east Vicksburg fallen, and the Union arms victorious at Gettysburg!