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 Post subject: New York Times Article on Records Discovery
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:39 pm 
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Victor O
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Remember those games in elementary school--"how many errors can you find in this picture?"

Here's the current version: a New York Times Article on the 1907 Paris Opera vault recordings
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/17/arts/ ... .html?8dpc

Here are a few things I learned:
The Gramophone Company's (pressed) records were made of wax.
Rare records include Caruso's Victor recording of Celeste Aida and Melba's Victor recording of Caro Nome.
If you play a shellac record even once with a modern pickup, you cause irreparable damage to the disk. Best to play a backup copy from an archive.

I'd expect this from Parade Magazine--but the NY Times???


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 Post subject: Re: New York Times Article on Records Discovery
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:52 pm 
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Victor IV
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Location: Boston, MA
yankmycrank wrote:
I'd expect this from Parade Magazine—but the NY Times???

Maybe the economy forced them to lay off some fact-checking staff? :D

— MordEth




The article text, for anyone who does not wish to make an account for the New York Times:

From a Vault in Paris, Sounds of Opera 1907


By Alan Riding
Published: February 16, 2009

PARIS — On Dec. 24, 1907, a group of bewhiskered men gathered in the bowels of the Paris Opera to begin a project that by definition they could never see to fruition. First, 24 carefully wrapped wax records were placed inside two lead and iron containers. These were then sealed and locked in a small storage room with instructions that they should remain undisturbed for 100 years.

Image

Urnes de l’Opéra — 1907

Officials in Paris on Dec. 24, 1907, preparing to fill a canister with records of famous opera singers and instrumental pieces.


The man behind this musical time capsule was Alfred Clark, a New Yorker who headed the London-based Gramophone Company and had provided the records. And in truth, once the ceremony was over, he had achieved his primary objective of drawing attention to his company and to the new flat-disc records it was promoting to compete with the better-known cylinders.

“I know of no other case where a commercial firm has obtained so much free publicity as we have,” he wrote to a colleague two days later.

The Paris Opera displayed a more elevated sense of history. Through this selection of opera arias and instrumental pieces, it announced, future generations could discover the musical taste and the quality of sound recording of the early 20th century.

French officials also predicted radical changes in recording technology. So in 1912, when they added 24 records and two more containers to the trove, they included a new hand-cranked gramophone, along with instructions on how it worked and a score of spare stylus needles.

Now the 100 years are up, and after lengthy examination, cleaning and digitizing of the records, EMI, the heir to the Gramophone Company, is reissuing them on three CDs. The collection will be released in France later this month as “Les Urnes de l’Opéra” and in the United States in early April with the English subtitle “Treasures From the Paris Opera Vaults.”

Most intriguing is the repertory chosen for posterity, and here the surprise is the lack of surprises. Wouldn’t any opera season today also offer evergreens by Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini as well as by Bizet, Gounod, Wagner and Mozart? And won’t many concert programs this year include instrumental pieces by Beethoven and Chopin?

Along with these household names are French composers whose lasting popularity was perhaps less assured. In practice Massenet and Saint-Saëns, who were both still alive in 1907, have fared well in the interim. But operas by Adolphe Adam, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Victor Massé and Ambroise Thomas (apart from his “Hamlet”) are now rarely performed, even in France.

The passage of time is also apparent in the way pre-19th-century music was largely overlooked. Although Mozart was hardly in vogue in 1907, he made the list with arias from “Le Nozze di Figaro” and “Don Giovanni.” But there was no room for Gluck, Handel or Monteverdi, who in recent times have been called on to satisfy the opera world’s need for novelty.

The quality of the recordings themselves is much as might be expected. A century ago, when recordings were made by piping sound through a horn to a diaphragm attached to a cutting stylus, scratchy sound was inevitable. Further, because string instruments were barely audible in early recordings, technicians favored the piano and wind instruments.

The Gramophone Company’s international reach enabled it to feature the top singers of the day. The great tenor Enrico Caruso can be heard in three excerpts from Verdi and one each from Donizetti and Puccini, and the Australian soprano Nellie Melba sings a solo from Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and Cherubino’s “Voi che sapete” from “Le Nozze di Figaro.”

The legendary Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin could hardly be omitted, although he sings only a Russian ballad. In contrast, the Italian tenor Francesco Tamagno, who created the title role in Verdi’s “Otello” in 1887, offers a dramatic reprise of the Moor’s dying aria, “Niun mi tema,” to piano accompaniment.

Other singers in the time capsule may be known only to opera buffs, but some earned footnotes in opera history. Hector Dufranne, for instance, created the baritone role of Golaud in Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande,” and Ernestine Schumann-Heink created the role of Clytemnestra in Strauss’s “Elektra.”

Yet the dream of Alfred Clark and the Paris Opera that these records would be heard a century later has been only partly realized.

In 1989, while air-conditioning was being installed, the opera house’s administrator insisted on opening the storage room where the containers were. It was then discovered that one of the 1912 containers had been opened and emptied and that the gramophone was missing. The three remaining containers were moved to the French National Library.

So in December 2007, when two of the sealed containers were presented to the news media at the opera house before being opened, the gramophone on display was actually an identical period copy of the one that had been stolen.

There were further complications. The records had been wrapped in asbestos-covered cloth, which only technicians wearing all-body protection could handle. They had also been separated by thick sheets of glass; in one container, 9 of 13 sheets had broken. But most records were undamaged.

By good fortune, the first 1907 container and the surviving 1912 container included parchments with a detailed list of all the musical pieces chosen in each year. As a result, thanks to the national library’s collection of 350,000 pre-1938 recordings, it was possible to digitize the same records as those missing from 1912.

Finally, it was decided to leave the other 1907 container sealed and again to use identical recordings from the library’s collection. “Even if these old records are played once, they are slightly damaged by the needle,” said Elizabeth Giuliani, who oversaw the project at the library. “We decided to await new optical technologies that can read them without touching them.”

So even now the experiment is not quite over.

But it has at least drawn attention to a long-ignored plaque set in the marble floor at the entrance to the Comédie-Française, France’s national theater. Dated Dec. 10, 1957, it notes that a live recording of a performance of Henry de Montherlant’s play “Port-Royal” is buried there “for the attention of future times.”

It just doesn’t say when the recordings should be dug up.
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 Post subject: Re: New York Times Article on Records Discovery
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:11 pm 
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Victor Monarch Special
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Who is John Galt?
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Location: New York's Finger Lakes
I'm not surprised a bit - - I suspect the New York Times laid off their fact-checkers about 35 years ago!

George P.


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 Post subject: Re: New York Times Article on Records Discovery
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:35 pm 
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Victor V
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:47 am
Posts: 2413
Location: Jerome, Arizona
Gaston Lerkux's novel The Phantom of the Opera mentions the buried records on the first page! John M
"All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds." Richard Brautigan


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 Post subject: Re: New York Times Article on Records Discovery
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:41 am 
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Victor VI
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Edison Records - Close your eyes and see if the artist does not actually seem to be before you.
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:28 pm
Posts: 3681
Location: Česká Republika
A friend of mine sold an Amberola 30 to the keepers of the historic Splitrock lighthouse in Minnesota on the shores of lake superior. It was put into the lighthouse keepers restored home near the lighthouse.

More recently I toured there. Of course I was looking for this machine. When we finally came to it in a sitting room she pointed out that it played records of PURE AMBER and showed us an example, a blue amberol record. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: New York Times Article on Records Discovery
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:43 am 
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Victor III
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:08 pm
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Location: Romney, West Virginia
I thought the most glaring error was to state that this was a publicity stunt to call attention to the "new disc records". By 1907 disc records were well established, were already considered serious competition for cylinder records, and were hardly "new".


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 Post subject: Re: New York Times Article on Records Discovery
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:49 pm 
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Victor V
on instagram as "oncedeadsound"
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:35 pm
Posts: 2052
Location: just outside Philadelphia, PA
yankmycrank wrote:
Remember those games in elementary school--"how many errors can you find in this picture?"

Here's the current version: a New York Times Article on the 1907 Paris Opera vault recordings
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/17/arts/ ... .html?8dpc

Here are a few things I learned:
The Gramophone Company's (pressed) records were made of wax.
Rare records include Caruso's Victor recording of Celeste Aida and Melba's Victor recording of Caro Nome.
If you play a shellac record even once with a modern pickup, you cause irreparable damage to the disk. Best to play a backup copy from an archive.

I'd expect this from Parade Magazine--but the NY Times???


I noticed the error concerning the "wax" discs... but I don't believe the article said anything about a modern pick-up causing irreparable damage to them - there was a quote toward the end that noted how playing one of these discs even once (without specifying the type of turntable, pick-up or reproducer) could cause damage... and it can, as I think we all know that these records have a shelf life and every time you play one, it wears the surface and diminishes the sound quality a shade more for all future plays (and I think the novelty of these records that had been in storage was that they had never been played even once). and I also couldn't find any lines that referred to the caruso or melba recordings as "rare." maybe we're not reading the same article? but I just don't see all that many problems with the story.


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 Post subject: Re: New York Times Article on Records Discovery
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:56 pm 
this story was published in The Smithsonian Magazine a year ago.


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 Post subject: Re: New York Times Article on Records Discovery
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:26 pm 
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Victor IV
Contact me for TMF tech support.
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Posts: 1077
Location: Boston, MA
The Smithsonian article:

A Record Find

How The Phantom of the Opera led me to a long-lost musical treasure in Paris

By Michael Walsh
Smithsonian magazine, March 2008

With 20 years’ hindsight, it’s easy to see that it was right there on the page, hiding in plain sight: “It will be remembered that, later, when digging in the substructure of the Opéra, before burying the phonographic records of the artist’s voice, the workmen laid bare a corpse.” Thus wrote Gaston Leroux in his horror classic, The Phantom of the Opera, first published in 1910.

As readers, we are naturally drawn to the last words of that sentence: “a corpse.” Dead bodies—fact or fiction—get our attention. Based on the author's clues, the mind races to the crime scene: “the substructure of the Opéra.“ And so, in our haste to discover this poor unfortunate’s identity, we overlook the most important words of the sentence: “before burying the phonographic records.”

Few readers pick up a novel, especially a thriller, expecting a guidebook. They want to be swept away by plot and character; the story’s setting is usually an afterthought. Novelists, however, know better. The best fiction is grounded, made real, by its sense of place.

So the question is not, what corpse?

It is, rather, what records?

Music lovers around the world were stunned this past December when the Opéra National de Paris and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France announced a major discovery: a time capsule, dredged up from a subbasement of the Palais Garnier, which is also known as the Opéra. Carefully packed away inside two large metal urns was not just one phantom of the opera but many—24 gramophone discs featuring such long-dead artists as Nellie Melba, Adelina Patti, Emma Calvé and Enrico Caruso. In 1907, the discs had been entombed, like Aida's lovers, beneath a great architectural monument.

Though I am a music lover, I was not among the stunned, for, in 1987, I had rediscovered the room where the records had been cached. Several stories underground, far beneath the rush of traffic on the Place de l'Opéra, I spied a metal door bearing a dusty plaque that had to be wiped and illuminated before it could be read. “Gift of M. Alfred Clark, 28 June, 1907,” it said in French. “The room in which are contained the gramophone records.” I had bumped into it serendipitously, but I recognized it immediately—not for musical reasons, but for literary ones.

At the time, I was involved in two related projects: a biography of Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose sensational setting of The Phantom of the Opera had been the talk of London for a year, and, for Vanity Fair magazine, an article that featured Sarah Brightman, the Phantom’s original Christine (and the then-Mrs. Andrew Lloyd Webber), posing in character around the Palais Garnier, where the novel is set and where the opera company staged its productions from 1875 to the opening of the Opéra de la Bastille in 1989.

The Garnier, now used largely for ballet, is one of the world’s great buildings. Yes, the composer Debussy famously likened it to a cross between a railway station and a Turkish bath, but it remains one of the most daring, elegant representations of a now-lost Western European confidence in the power of its art. As a secular temple, it might be likened to the cathedral of Notre Dame, not far away; if the great Gothic cathedrals are “symphonies in stone,” then the Garnier is nothing less than Faust by Gounod.

More to the point, it is as described by Leroux in his novel, from the rooftop graffiti of the frolicsome “rats” (apprentice ballet dancers) right down to the subterranean body of water, five stories below the street, that figures so prominently in Phantom. Which is why, when I spied that metal door, I knew at once what it was. Having just reread the novel, I instantly linked Leroux's buried phonographic records to the plaque's inscription.

Later, in the opera company’s library in the Rotonde de l’Empereur, I asked Martine Kahane, then head librarian, if she knew about the room. She did not. She could tell me only that Clark (1873-1950) was an American pioneer in the transition from wax cylinders to discs who ran the Gramophone Company's offices in Paris. And so I reported my find in several places, including the Vanity Fair article, which appeared in February 1988, and in my biography of Lloyd Webber, published in 1989. “No one is exactly sure what is in this room,” I wrote in Andrew Lloyd Webber: His Life and Works, “but it seems that the spot where [the Phantom] died...is a time capsule, not to be opened until 2007” that likely “contains a representative sample of [Clark’s] company’s wares of the period.”

With several other music critics, I petitioned the opera company to unseal the room, in case the gramophone records, or whatever was in it, were in urgent need of preservation. Kahane told us that Clark’s gift had come with conditions—one of which was that the room not be opened until 2007—and that the conditions would be observed.

And so the Garnier ghosts were left undisturbed for two more years, when workmen installing air conditioning in the building’s basement stumbled across the room once more. At that point, Jean-Jacques Beclier, the opera company’s technical supervisor, had the room opened. What he found were four urns containing recordings, two buried in 1907 and two more in 1912. Sure enough, one of the newer urns had been damaged, so all four were removed and transferred without fanfare to the custody of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France until their 100-year interments were up.

Opening the 1907 urns, each of which contains 12 discs, is going to be tricky. According to Elizabeth Giuliani, assistant to the director of the audio-visual department at the Bibliothèque Nationale, the shellac discs were separated by glass plaques, which themselves were kept from touching the surface of the discs by small glass cubes. The whole assemblage was then wrapped in cloth treated with asbestos, then placed inside copper urns, which were then put in urns made of lead. At least one of the urns is to be opened this month in a laboratory under strictly controlled conditions. Eventually the recordings will be transferred digitally and made commercially available by EMI, the successor to the Gramophone Company. Music lovers will once again hear the voices of the long dead singing the music of their time.

But in the meantime, the episode stands as a testament to Gaston Leroux's literary achievement—and raises an issue that has concerned me ever since I left music criticism to write novels and movies a decade ago: To what extent must fact be blended with fancy to create the willing suspension of disbelief? For me, a novel that is not about place is not much of a novel. It is instead a memoir of thinly veiled or nonexistent people wandering through a desolate and unreal landscape.

For why, after all, does The Phantom of the Opera still resonate? Surely not for its creaky plot, its standard-issue heroine, its wooden swain, its Svengali-like villain. Not even for its romance, although that is surely part of its charm. The love story between the beautiful soprano and the disfigured composer has been exploited by everyone from Lon Chaney in 1925 to Joel Schumacher in his 2004 movie version of the Lloyd Webber interpretation.

No, the reason we still read and watch Phantom is its setting: the Opéra itself. Above all, Phantom is a story of place. Firmly grounded in the soaring, underworldly glory of Charles Garnier's architectural masterpiece, it invites readers to partake of a mystery that, if not entirely real, is close enough. From Apollo's rooftop lyre to the mysterious lake 17 stories below, the building is as much a player—and is more lovingly observed—than any of the humans who live and love in its dark embrace.

What is Dickens without London, Mann without Lübeck and Davos? Could John Kennedy Toole's comic masterpiece, A Confederacy of Dunces, be set anywhere but New Orleans? Though we may forget the characters, it is the places that haunt our dreams and give birth to the stories. So here's to Gaston Leroux—not to his Phantom, but to his Opéra.

"I have prayed over his mortal remains, that God might show him mercy notwithstanding his crimes," the author muses after the discovery of the phantom's body at the end of the novel. "Yes, I am sure, quite sure that I prayed beside his body, the other day, when they took it from the spot where they were burying the phonographic records."

And yet the Phantom rose to live again, incarnated by Chaney and Claude Rains and Herbert Lom and and Michael Crawford and Gerard Butler. And now the real Opéra ghosts, Melba and Patti and Caruso, may soon be heard again in glorious song. Thanks to Leroux's eerily accurate sense of place.

Michael Walsh profiled Andrew Lloyd Webber for the October 2007 issue.
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 Post subject: Re: New York Times Article on Records Discovery
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:58 pm 
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Victor Monarch
I have good days...this might not be one of them
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:23 pm
Posts: 4132
Location: Albany NY
Reminds me of this section from DARKNESS AND DAWN (George Allen England 1914) a huge novel where a cataclysm destroys Civilization, leaving a man and woman in suspended animation only to wake up centuries later in the ruins of New York City.

We pick up the action as they explore the ruins of the city where they hope to find an archive of the world's important papers (which is what they mean by "Records") and find a phonograph and records once deposited in the Metropilitan Opera House- and notice they say "A similar thing was done in Paris": (This is a cut and paste from Project Gutenberg)
..............................................................................
“How about that leaden chest?”

She wheeled about and pointed at the other side of the alcove, where stood the metal box, sullen, defiant, secure.

“By Jove, that's so, tool Why, I'd all but forgotten that! You're a brick, Beta! The box, by all means. Perhaps the most important things of all are still in safety there. Who knows?”

“Open it, Allan, and let's see!”

Her recent terror almost forgotten in this new excitement, the girl had begun to get back some of her splendid color. And now, as she stood gazing at the metal chest which still, perhaps, held the most vital of the records, she felt again a thrill of excitement at thought of all its possibilities.

The man, too, gazed at it with keen emotion.

“We've got to be careful this time, Beatrice!” said he. “No more mistakes. If we lose the contents of this chest, Heaven only knows when we may be able to get another glimpse into the past. Frankly, the job of opening it, without ruining the contents, looks pretty stiff. Still, with care it may be done. Let's see, now, what are we up against here?”

He took the torch from her and minutely examined the leaden casket.

It stood on the concrete floor, massive and solid, about three and a half feet high by five long and four wide. So far as he could see, there were neither locks nor hinges. The cover seemed to have been hermetically sealed on. Still visible were the marks of the soldering-iron, in a ragged line, about three inches from the top.

“The only way to get in here is to cut it open,” said Allan at last. “If we had any means of melting the solder, that would be better, of course, but there's no way to heat a tool in this crypt. I take it the men who did this work had a plumber's gasoline torch, or something of that sort. We have practically nothing. As for building a fire in here and heating one of the aeroplane tools, that's out of the question. It would stifle us both. No, we must cut. That's the best we can do.”

He drew his hunting-knife from its sheath and, giving the torch back to Beatrice, knelt by the chest. Close under the line of soldering he dug the blade into the soft metal, and, boring with it, soon made a puncture through the leaden sheet.

“Only a quarter of an inch thick,” he announced, with satisfaction. “This oughtn't to be such a bad job!”

Already he was at work, with infinite care not to shock or jar the precious contents within. In his powerful hands the knife laid back the metal in a jagged line. A quarter of an hour sufficed to cut across the entire front.

He rested a little while.

“Seems to be another chest inside, of wood,” he told the girl. “Not decayed, either. I shouldn't wonder if the lead had preserved things absolutely intact. In that case this find is sure to be a rich one.”

Again he set to work. In an hour from the time he had begun, the whole top of the lead box--save only that portion against the wall--had been cut off.

“Do you dare to move it out, Allan?” queried the girl anxiously.

“Better not. I think we can raise the cover as it is.”

He slit up the front corners, and then with comparative ease bent the entire top upward. To the explorer's eyes stood revealed a chest of cedar, its cover held with copper screws.

“Now for it!” said the man. “We ought to have one of the screw-drivers from the Pauillac, but that would take too much time. I guess the knife will do.”

With the blade he attacked the screws, one by one, and by dint of laborious patience in about an hour had removed all twenty of them.

A minute later he had pried up the cover, had quite removed it, and had set it on the floor.

Within, at one side, they saw a formless something swathed in oiled canvas. The other half of the space was occupied by eighty or a hundred vertical compartments, in each of which stood something carefully enveloped in the same material.

“Well, for all the world if it doesn't look like a set of big phonograph records!” exclaimed the man. He drew one of the objects out and very carefully unwrapped it.

“Just what they are--records! On steel. The new Chalmers-Enemarck process--new, that is, in 1917. So, then, that's a phonograph, eh?”

He pointed at the oiled canvas.

“Open it, quick, Allan!” Beatrice exclaimed. “If it is a phonograph, why, we can hear the very voices of the past, the dead, a full thousand years ago!”

With trembling fingers Stern slit the canvas wrappings.

“What a treasure! What a find!” he exulted. “Look, Beta--see what fortune has put into our hands!”

Even as he spoke he was lifting the great phonograph from the space where, absolutely uninjured and intact, it had reposed for ten centuries. A silver plate caught his eye. He paused to read:

METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE,
New York City.

This Phonograph and these Records were immured in the vault of this building September 28, 1918, by the Philavox Society, to be opened in the year 2000.

Non Pereat Memoria Musicae Nostrae.

“Let not the memory of our music perish!” he translated. “Why, I remember well when these records were made and deposited in the Metropolitan! A similar thing was done in Paris, you remember, and in Berlin. But how does this machine come here?”

“Probably the expedition reached New York, after all, and decided to transfer this treasure to a safer place where it might be absolutely safe and dry,” she suggested. “It's here, anyhow; that's the main thing, and we've found it. What fortune!”

“It's lucky, all right enough,” the man assented, setting the magnificent machine down on the floor of the crypt. “So far as I can see, the mechanism is absolutely all right in every way. They've even put in a box of the special fiber needles for use on the steel plates, Beta. Everything's provided for.

“Do you know, the expedition must have been a much larger one than we thought? It was no child's play to invade the ruins of New York, rescue all this, and transport it here, probably with savages dogging their heels every step. Those certainly were determined, vigorous men, and a goodly number at that. And the fight they must have put up in the cathedral, defending their cache against the enemy, and dying for it, must been terrifically dramatic!

“But all that's done and forgotten now, and we can only guess a bit of it here and there. The tangible fact is this machine and these records, Beatrice. They're real, and we've got them. And the quicker we see what they have to tell us the better, eh?”

She clapped her hands with enthusiasm.

“Put on a record, Allan, quick! Let's hear the voices of the past once more--human voices--the voices of the age that was!” she cried, excited as a child.
CHAPTER VIII
TILL DEATH US DO PART

“All right, my darling,” he made answer. “But not here. This is no place for melody, down in this dark and gloomy crypt, surrounded by the relics of the dead. We've been buried alive down here altogether too long as it is. Brrr! The chill's beginning to get into my very bones! Don't you feel it, Beta?”

“I do, now I stop to think of it. Well, let's go up then. We'll have our music where it belongs, in the cathedral, with sunshine and air and birds to keep it company!”

Half an hour later they had transported the magnificent phonograph and the steel records out of the crypt and up the spiral stairway, into the vast, majestic sweep of the transept.

They placed their find on the broad concrete steps that in the old days had led up to the altar, and while Allan minutely examined the mechanism to make sure that all was right, the girl, sitting on the top step, looked over the records.

“Why, Allan, here are instrumental as well as vocal masterpieces,” she announced with joy. “Just listen--here's Rossini's ‘Barbier de Seville,’ and Grieg's ‘Anitra's Dance’ from the ‘Peer Gynt Suite,’ and here's that most entrancing ‘Barcarolle’ from the ‘Contes d'Hoffman’--you remember it?”

She began to hum the air, then, as the harmony flowed through her soul, sang a few lines, her voice like gold and honey:

Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour, souris à nos ivresses!
Nuit plus douce que le jour, ô belle nuit d'amour!
Le temps fuit et sans retour emporte nos tendresses;
Loin de cet heureux séjour le temps fuit sans retour!
Zéphyrs embrasés, versez-nous vos caresses!
Ah! Donnez-nous vos baisers!

The echoes of Offenbach's wondrous air, a crystal stream of harmony, and of the passion-pulsing words, died through the vaulted heights. A moment Allan sat silent, gazing at the girl, and then he smiled.

“It lives in you again, the past!” he cried. “In you the world shall be made new once more! Beatrice, when I last heard that ‘Barcarolle’ it was sung by Farrar and Scotti at the Metropolitan, in the winter of 1913. And now--you waken the whole scene in me again!

“I seem to behold the vast, clear-lighted space anew, the tiers of gilded galleries and boxes, the thousands of men and women hanging eagerly on every silver note--I see the marvelous orchestra, many, yet one; the Venetian scene, the moonlight on the Grand Canal, the gondolas, the merrymakers--I hear Giulietta and Nicklausse blending those perfect tones! My heart leaps at the memory, beloved, and I bless you for once more awakening it!”

“With my poor voice?” she smiled. “Play it, play the record, Allan, and let us hear it as it should be sung!”

He shook his head.

“No!” he declared. “Not after you have sung it. Your voice to me is infinitely sweeter than any that the world of other days ever so much as dreamed of!”

He bent above her, caressed her hair and kissed her; and for a little while they both forgot their music. But soon the girl recalled him to the work in hand.

“Come, Allan, there's so much to do!”

“I know. Well now--let's see, what next?”

He paused, a new thought in his eyes.

“Beta!”

“Well?”

“You don't find Mendelssohn's ‘Wedding March,’ do you? Look, dearest, see if you can find it. Perhaps it may be there. If so--”

She eyed him, her gaze widening.

“You mean?”

He nodded.

“Just so! Perhaps, after all, you and I can--”

“Oh, come and help me look for it, Allan!” she cried enthusiastic as a child in the joy of his new inspiration. “If we only could find it, wouldn't that be glorious?”

Eagerly they searched together.

“‘Ich Grolle Nicht,’ by Schumann, no,” Stern commented, as one by one they examined the records. “‘Ave Maria,’ Arcadelt-Liszt--no, though it's magnificent. That's the one you sing best of all, Beta. How often you've sung it to me! Remember, at the bungalow, how I used to lay my head in your lap while you played with my Samsonesque locks and sang me to sleep? Let's see--Brahms's ‘Wiegenlied.’ Cradle-song, eh? A little premature; that's coming later. Eh? Found it, by Jove! Here we are, the March itself, so help me! Shall I play it now?”

“Not yet, Allan. Here, see what I've found!”

She handed him a record as they sat there together in a broad ribbon of mid-morning sunlight that flooded down through one of the clearstory windows.

“‘The Form of the Solemnization of Matrimony, by Bishop Gibson,’” he read. And silence fell, and for a long minute their eyes met.

“Beatrice!”

“I know; I understand! So, after all, these words--”

“Shall be spoken, O my love! Out of the dead past a voice shall speak to us and we shall hear! Beatrice, the words your mother heard, my mother heard, we shall hear, too. Come, Beatrice, for now the time is at hand!”

She fell a trembling, and for a moment could not speak. Her eyes grew veiled in tears, but through them he saw a bright smile break, like sunlight after summer showers.

She stood up and held out her hand to him.

“My Allan!”

In his arms he caught her.

“At last!” he whispered. “Oh, at last!”

When the majesty and beauty of the immortal marriage hymn climbed the high vaults of the cathedral, waking the echoes of the vacant spaces, and when it rolled, pealing triumphantly, she leaned her head upon his breast and, trembling, clung to him.

With his arm he clasped her; he leaned above her, shrouding her in his love as in an everlasting benison. And through their souls thrilled wonder, awe and passion, and life held another meaning and another mystery.

The words of solemn sacredness hallowed for centuries beyond the memory of man, rose powerful, heart-thrilling, deep with symbolism, strong with vibrant might--and, hand in hand, the woman and the man bowed their heads, listening:

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony--reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly. Into this holy estate these two persons present now come to be joined.”

His hand tightened upon her hand, for he felt her trembling. But bravely she smiled up at him and upon her hair the golden sunlight made an aureole.

The voice rose in its soul-shaking question--slow and powerful:

“Wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health, and keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?”

Allan's “I will!” was as a hymn of joy upon the morning air.

“Wilt thou have this man to thy wedded husband, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou serve him, love, honor, and keep him in sickness and in health, and keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?”

She answered proudly, bravely:

“I will!”

Then the man chorused the voice and said:

“I, Allan, take thee, Beatrice, to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health to love and to cherish, till death us do part, and thereto I plight thee my troth.”

Her answer came, still led by the commanding voice, like an antiphony of love:

“I, Beatrice, take thee, Allan, to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health to love and to cherish, till death us do part, and thereto I give thee my troth!”

Already Allan had drawn from his little finger the plain gold ring he had worn there so many centuries. Upon her finger he placed the ring and kissed it, and, following the voice, he said:

“With this ring I thee wed, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Forest, river, sky and golden sunlight greeted them as they stood on the broad porch of the cathedral, and the clear song of many birds, unafraid in the virgin wilderness, made music to their ears such as must have greeted the primal day.

Suddenly Allan caught and crushed her in his arms.

“My wife!” he whispered.

The satin of her skin from breast to brow surged into sudden flame. Her eyes closed and between her eager lips the breath came fast.

“Oh, Allan--husband! I feel--I hear--”

“The voice of the unborn, crying to us from out the dark, ‘O father, mother, give us life!’”


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