A Two-Party Line by Charles Weathers Bump

I.

(Tuesday, October 23, 1906.)

HE—Hello! Is this Central? Well, give——

SHE—No, it is not Central, and I wish you'd please get off the line.

HE—I beg your pardon, I thought you were the girl at Central.

SHE—No, I am not. I wish you wouldn't break in. The line's busy. You were saying, Evelyn——

HE—I'm sorry to bother you. I don't seem to be able to get Central.

SHE—I do wish you would leave us alone! You were describing that dress you wore at the Marlborough dance, Evelyn.

EVELYN—How is he on this wire?

SHE—I don't know. I suppose he has the other 'phone on this line.

HE—I beg your pardon again. Do I understand you to say this is a two-party line?

SHE—What number are you?

HE—Wait till I read it. Why this is Madison 7-9-3-1-y.

SHE—And I'm Madison 7-9-3-1-m. So you see, we're on the same wire. Please get off.

HE—I beg both of your pardons, ladies. But I'm trying to get a doctor for my mother.

EVELYN—I'll call you up later, Genevieve. I can tell you all about Atlantic City then.

SHE—He had no business coming in like that, Evelyn. But I suppose we'll have to let him have it. Goodbye.

HE—I'm very grateful to both of you, I'm sure.

SHE—Well, after all, we were only gossiping, and I'm sorry we did not understand sooner.

HE—Thank you again. (After a pause.) There goes a click. I guess I can call Central now. By Jove! that girl had spirit, and at the same time showed generosity in saying she was sorry. I wonder who she is. Genevieve the other one called her. Genevieve who?

II.

(Five Minutes Later.)

SHE—Hello, Central. Please give me "Information." Is that "Information"? I want to know who has 'phone Madison 7-9-3-1-y. My number? I'm on the same line. No, no trouble. Just want to know. Who'd you say? Mrs. Mary Vincent, 286 West Lanvale street. Thank you so much.

III.

(Ten Minutes Later.)

HE—Hello, Central, I want to know who has 'phone Madison 7-9-3-1-m. What's that? You'll give me "Information"? All right. Hello, "Information," I want to find out who leases 'phone Madison 7-9-3-1-m. No, not "y." I said "m." Somebody else wanted "y"? Well, that's my number. I want "m." Mr. John D. Platt, 1346 Linden avenue? What's that? Oh, Pratt. Thank you.

IV.

(Wednesday, October 24.)

SHE—Oh! Evelyn, I've got something great to tell you. You remember that man who "butt in" last night on our chat? Well, I've found out all about him. His name is Carroll Vincent, and he's just out of Princeton and is going to study law at the University of Maryland. How did I find out? Oh! I can't tell you all that over the 'phone. I just used my wits. You know Genevieve isn't going to get left. I'd die if he——

HE—Is this Cent——

SHE—Goodness gracious! there he is on the line again!

HE—I beg your pardon. I'll retire gracefully.

SHE—Don't apologize. You could not help it.

HE—I don't like to be a "butter-in," don't you know?

SHE—I hope you got the doctor all right last night. I'd be so sorry if my foolish delay caused you any trouble.

HE—Thank you, I got him all right.

EVELYN (at the other end)—I'll call you some other time, Genevieve.

HE—No; let me get off this time.

SHE (after a pause)—I wonder if he has really gone.

EVELYN—How did you find out who he was? Go on, tell me.

SHE—I'm afraid he may be listening.

EVELYN—Do you think he'd do that deliberately?

SHE—Certainly, I don't. I think he must be just fine. Jack Smallwood says he's a stunning-looking fellow. I'm just crazy to see him.

EVELYN—Did you ask Jack Smallwood about him?

SHE—Why, of course, you goose! They live in the same block.

EVELYN—You're getting on famously, Genevieve.

SHE—That's another slam, Evelyn. You're just jealous, that's what the matter with you. Next time I call you up you'll know it.

EVELYN—I'm sorry, Genevieve. I was only teasing you.

SHE—Well, I can't stand for it. I'll forgive you, though. Say, are you going to see "Madam Butterfly"? You don't know? Well, I'm going tomorrow night with Jack. He asked me today when I called him up about the other. He has got seats in the second row. I'm going to put on all my best regalia. No, not the blue. A pink chiffon. You've never seen it. It's a beauty. Well, goodbye. See you Friday.

V.

(Ten Minutes Later.)

HE—Please give me Madison 6-4-8-6-y. Is this Mr. Smallwood's home? Is Mr. Jack Smallwood there? No? Well, when do you expect him? You don't know? Thank you. Curse the luck! Just when I thought it looked easy.

VI.

(9 A. M. Friday, October 26.)

HE—St. Paul 9-8-6-3. Hello! is Mr. Jack Smallwood in the office? Yes, if you please. Jack, this is Carroll Vincent—no, no, Vincent. Say, old man, saw you at Ford's last night. Fine-looking girl with you—stunningly dressed—beautiful features—who is she?

JACK—Say, Carroll, what the devil is all this between you two who have never met? I'm over seven, you know, and I've shed my sweet innocence.

HE—I don't know what you mean, old man.

JACK—Ah yes, you do! And if you don't come up to the Captain's office and settle I'll blast your reputation with her forever. There's some mystery in it all. First, Genevieve Pratt asks me about you. Then when I saw you last night she twisted her neck so, to look at you, that I thought I'd have to summon medical help. Now you call me up to talk about her. What's the game? Put me wise.

HE—Fact is, old man, Miss Pratt and I are on the same line.

JACK—Same line? What kind of line?

HE—Same 'phone. Two-party line. Butt in on her the other night. Butt out. Butt in again next night. Apologized eighteen times. Must meet her, especially since she's such a smasher.

JACK—All right, Carroll boy. I'll fix it for you, now I understand.

HE—Make it soon, for Heaven's sake.

VII.

(Friday, November 2.)

HE—Give me Madison 7-9-3-1-m, please. No, no; I want the other party on this line. Don't buzz that bell so loud in my ears. Hello! Is that Mr. Pratt's? Oh! is this you, Miss Pratt? You're looking well this evening. This is Carroll Vincent.

SHE—Feeling tiptop, thank you. Did you get wet in the rain last night?

HE—No; it stopped pouring almost as soon as we left your house.

SHE—I'm glad of that. I want to thank you for the chocolates you sent this evening. You said you were going to send a book.

HE—I know I did. I tramped the town over to get that novel, but every shop was out of it. Then I did not like you to think I had forgotten you so soon, and I sent the bonbons.

SHE—It certainly was sweet of you. They're nearly all gone already.

HE—Mercy, mercy—don't make yourself sick! I wouldn't have you that way.

SHE—You wouldn't have me any way, would you?

HE—Give me the chance. But I'm afraid you're a "jollier," Miss Pratt.

SHE—You're the first to tell me.

HE—Did you say "first" or "fiftieth"? There was a noise on the wire just then.

SHE—I know you're a flirt.

HE—Never! I've got my fingers crossed.

SHE—Those eyes of yours were not made for nothing.

HE—Neither were yours. Jack said so last night. By the by, he's a capital fellow. I'll never get over being grateful to him for bringing us together.

SHE—I think he's just fine.

HE—You're speaking very zealously. Do you know I'm almost jealous of him when I hear you talk like that.

SHE—I'm a loyal champion for my friends, you'll find. I have but few, and those I keep.

HE—Do you ever add to the list?

SHE—That's for you to discover.

HE—Count me in, please.

SHE—Well—I'm willing to try to do so.

HE—Thanks, awfully. By the way, they've pledged me their word that a copy of that novel will be here tomorrow. May I bring it around Sunday evening?

SHE—Why, I could be reading the book all day Sunday.

HE—Then I'll make it tomorrow night. Will that suit?

SHE—I have no engagement, and will be glad to have you.

HE—Good-bye until then.

VIII.

(Thursday, December 6.)

HE—Madison 7-9-3-1-m, please. Yes. Is that Mr. Pratt's? Is Miss Genevieve there?

SHE—No, she is not in. Who shall I tell her called?

HE—You didn't disguise your voice, Miss Genevieve? I knew you right away.

SHE—I thought I might learn something, Mr. Vincent.

HE—I might have told my real name.

SHE—That would have been disastrous.

HE—It would, if I had started confessing things.

SHE—What's the matter? Have you anything on your conscience?

HE—Not my conscience, but my heart.

SHE—There you go again. You promised me last night at the Academy you wouldn't jolly any more.

HE—I haven't. I'm desperately in earnest. I swear it.

SHE—I wish I could believe you.

HE—Why don't you?

SHE—It might disturb my peace of mind.

HE—Would that be so bad?

SHE—Um-m-m-m-m, maybe.

HE—I can see those mocking eyes of yours now.

SHE—I don't like that, Mr. Vincent. That's rude.

HE—I'll beg your pardon when next I can look at you. That reminds me. Have you anything on for tomorrow night?

SHE—Um-m-m, no.

HE—I'd like to take you to Albaugh's. You've seen a musical comedy at the Academy, and a serious drama at Ford's, and it might be well to take a dash into "vodevil" before the week is over.

SHE—Do you know you're too good to me. I can never repay you.

HE—Yes, you can. By agreeing to go every time I ask.

SHE—Haven't I done it?

HE—Yes, you've never failed me. It's settled, then, for "vodevil?"

SHE—Come early and avoid the rush.

HE—And can you stay late? Because—well, I thought you might like a bite to eat at the Stafford after the show.

SHE—Another of your surprises. Do you treat all of the girls so finely?

HE—No; only you.

SHE—Bluffer! Goodbye.

IX.

(Monday, January 21, 1907.)

SHE—Please ring the other party on this line. Is that Madison 7-9-3-1-y? Mrs. Vincent, isn't it? This is Genevieve Pratt, Mrs. Vincent. I hope you're feeling better than when I saw you? So glad to hear it. Isn't this fine, crisp weather? Do I want to speak to your son? If I may. Is that you, Carroll?

HE—Why, little girl!

SHE—Surprised to hear from me so soon? Well, after I came in the house I found an invitation to a private dance at the Belvedere two weeks from tonight. Lida and her husband are to give it. I've heard it's to be a swell affair—big ballroom decorated, orchestra and seated supper. I want you to go with me. Will you?

HE—Now, you know very well I will, little girl.

SHE—Oh, I'm so glad! I'll see everybody I know; I'll have you with me, and—you know how to dance so well.

HE—You mean we know how to dance together. Listen, Genevieve: If I go, are you going to give me every dance?

SHE—Certainly not. People would talk too much. If you're good, you may have every other one.

HE—And sit out the rest with you?

SHE—Perhaps. All right, mother.

HE—What did you say?

SHE—Did you hear? That was mother insisting that I come to dinner.

HE—I'll let you go, then. You promised me every one, don't forget.

SHE—No, I didn't.

HE—Do you remember what I told you coming uptown this afternoon?

SHE—You told me a lot of things.

HE—I told you you were the most tormenting little vixen on earth.

SHE—You didn't mean it, did you? All right, mother. Listen, Carroll, I really must go. Tell me you didn't mean it.

HE—I did mean it. You are the most tormenting, also the most lovable. I wouldn't have you otherwise.

SHE—Oh, Carroll!

HE—Goodbye.

X.

(Tuesday, February 5.)

SHE—Madison 7-9-3-1-y, please. Is Mr. Carroll Vincent up? At breakfast? Please tell him Miss Pratt wishes to speak to him. Oh, Carroll, I haven't slept a wink since you left me at the door! I'm so happy! I just lay awake thinking of last night, and then I thought I'd get up and 'phone you before you went downtown. I'm so happy!

HE—I'm glad you are, sweetheart. I'll try all my life to keep you so. I wish I could get closer to you than over this 'phone.

SHE—What would you do?

HE—I'd kiss you and whisper how I love you.

SHE—Don't, Carroll, don't! The telephone girl will hear you.

HE—What do I care? I feel like going around and shouting to all the world, "She loves me, she loves me, she loves me!" just to tell them how happy I am.

SHE—Oh, Carroll, don't do that!

HE—You don't suppose I'd do it, little darling, do you? No, this is our precious little secret. Just we two.

SHE—I don't deserve all this joy, Carroll. I don't feel I'm good enough for you—indeed, I don't.

HE—I thought you promised me in the carriage that you would never talk like that again.

SHE—I can't help it, Carroll. I feel so unworthy of you. I never felt like that before in my life. But when—when you put your arm around me—I just thought—well, I just thought how grand and noble you are and how trifling and insignificant I am.

HE—Don't, don't say that, little sweetheart.

SHE—I just can't help it. I'm so happy I want to cry.

HE—I understand, dear girl.

SHE—And when you asked me in the alcove if I—whether I would give myself to you for keeps—and you spoke so beautifully, Carroll!—indeed, I had trouble to keep back the tears. Love is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

HE—It is, dearest.

SHE—You are coming early tonight, aren't you?

HE—I will fly to you as soon as I can. I tell you what, can't you meet me downtown and have lunch with me?

SHE—Oh! may I? You know I'd just love to!

HE—Well, meet me at half-past 12. Usual corner, you know—Fidelity Building. Goodbye until then.

XI.

(Wednesday, April 10.)

SHE—Madison 7-9-3-1-y, please. Is that you, Carroll?

HE—Yes, it is I.

SHE—I think it perfectly hateful of you to send me that mean note, Carroll Vincent.

HE—Now, look here, girlie, don't you think you're to blame?

SHE—I? Why, the idea!

HE—Yes, you. I don't believe you care for me at all.

SHE—Why, Carroll Vincent, how can you say that?

HE—Now, say, Genevieve, don't take that tone with me. You know you had no business flirting with Jack Smallwood as you did last night at Lehmann's.

SHE—Flirting? Why, Mr. Vincent, how dare you?

HE—Yes, flirting. I said it. If you cared anything for me, you wouldn't treat me so contemptibly as you have been lately.

SHE—Contemptibly? What have I been doing, I'd like to know?

HE—I think the way you carried on with Jack was perfectly outrageous. As for him, when——

SHE—Carroll Vincent, you ought to be grateful to him, if you love me.

HE—If I love you?

SHE—Yes, if you love me. You know very well he introduced us. And Jack isn't anything to me.

HE—And you don't care for him?

SHE—Certainly I like him. He's one of my oldest friends.

HE—Oh, those friends!

SHE—You're letting your jealousy run away with you.

HE—Maybe I am, but I'm glad I found him out before it was too late.

SHE—Indeed! And do you think it is too late? (Pause) What did you say?

HE—I didn't say anything. I was thinking. Listen, Genevieve, what's the use of our going on like this? I see now I was pig-headed to send that note. It was cruel to you. I'll never forgive myself.

SHE—I'm glad you're coming to your senses.

HE—I don't blame you for being angry, Genevieve, dear.

SHE—Oh! Carroll, how could you be so unjust?

HE—I'm awfully remorseful. Can't I come tonight and tell you more?

SHE—Why, certainly, you old goose. I'll forgive you.

HE—I'm so glad, Genevieve. But, tell me, dearest girl, you don't care for Jack Smallwood.

SHE—No, you silly boy. He isn't worth your little finger.

HE—Thank you, sweetheart. Goodbye.

XII.

(Wednesday, June 4.)

SHE—Madison 7-9-3-1-y, please. Is that you, dearest? Oh! Carroll, I'm all so topsy-turvy I don't know what I'm doing. But I just couldn't go to bed without talking to you again.

HE—You know I'm glad.

SHE—And I——Oh! I'm so full of joy I can't wait for tomorrow to come. Doesn't it seem like a dream to think of our being married? It's all so strange, and yet I'm so happy! You don't think me unwomanly for telling you so, do you, dearest? I'm so frightened, and yet my heart is beating—trip—trip—for you. Can't you hear it?

HE—Keep still a moment. Yes, I can. One, two, three——

SHE—Oh, you tease! Such nonsense!

HE—It must be my own then, beating for you.

SHE—You're not nervous, are you?

HE—Of course I am. Am I not going to get the best, sweetest, prettiest, dearest, most lovable girl in the world for a wife? Tomorrow at high noon seems a long way off, doesn't it?

SHE—Oh! Carroll, we won't need a 'phone then, will we?

HE—It has been a dear old two-party line, though, hasn't it?

SHE—It knows an awful lot of our secrets. I wonder how much the exchange girl has heard?

HE—Oh! I guess she got tired of us long ago.

SHE—Then she won't be listening if I send you a kiss over the wire. Um—m—m—m—did you get it?

HE—I'll give it back with interest tomorrow.

SHE—Everything's tomorrow, isn't it?

HE—There's the clock striking midnight. It's today now, and our wedding day.

SHE—Oh, Carroll!

HE—Don't come late, little bride. I'll be "waiting at the church."