C. I knew her uncle. You are forgetting her uncle.
H. Oh, what use is he? Did you know him long? How long was it?
C. Well, I don’t know that I really knew him, but I must have met him, anyway. I think it was that way; you can’t tell about these things, you know, except when they are recent.
H. Recent? When was all this?
C. Sixteen years ago.
H. What a basis to judge a book upon! As first you said you knew him, and now you don’t know whether you did or not.
C. Oh yes, I know him; anyway, I think I thought I did; I’m perfectly certain of it.
H. What makes you think you thought you knew him?
C. Why, she says I did, herself.
H. She says so!
C. Yes, she does, and I did know him, too, though I don’t remember it now.
H. Come—how can you know it when you don’t remember it.
C. I don’t know. That is, I don’t know the process, but I do know lots of things that I don’t remember, and remember lots of things that I don’t know. It’s so with every educated person.
H. (After A pause). Is your time valuable?
C. No—well, not very.
H. Mine is.
So I came away then, because he was looking tired. Overwork, I reckon; I never do that; I have seen the evil effects of it. My mother was always afraid I would overwork myself, but I never did.
Dear madam, you see how it would happen if I went there. He would ask me those questions, and I would try to answer them to suit him, and he would hunt me here and there and yonder and get me embarrassed more and more all the time, and at last he would look tired on account of overwork, and there it would end and nothing done. I wish I could be useful to you, but, you see, they do not care for uncles or any of those things; it doesn’t move them, it doesn’t have the least effect, they don’t care for anything but the literature itself, and they as good as despise influence. But they do care for books, and are eager to get them and examine them, no matter whence they come, nor from whose pen. If you will send yours to a publisher—any publisher—he will certainly examine it, I can assure you of that.
Consider that a conversation by telephone—when you are simply siting by and not taking any part in that conversation—is one of the solemnest curiosities of modern life. Yesterday I was writing a deep article on a sublime philosophical subject while such a conversation was going on in the room. I notice that one can always write best when somebody is talking through a telephone close by. Well, the thing began in this way. A member of our household came in and asked me to have our house put into communication with Mr. Bagley’s downtown. I have observed, in many cities, that the sex always shrink from calling up the central office themselves. I don’t know why, but they do. So I touched the bell, and this talk ensued: