My good friend Liza O’Connor has released a Victorian Romantic Mystery!! As usual, she has a lot going on. Please welcome her back to the blog!!
Take it away, Liza!
Thank you, Ella.
Today, let’s talk about an item that has become the most beloved object in the universe: the telephone
In 1854 the French engineer Charles Bourseul wrote the first design of a telephone in a public memorandum, but everyone considered it a fantastical concept, thus no one would fund him, so endeth the story.
In 1860, Johanne Phillip Reis constructed a prototype which he named ‘telephon’. Sadly, he couldn’t find anyone in Germany who had the least bit of interest in his invention, so again, endeth the story.
In 1871 Antonio Meucci created a voice link between floors of his house, but failed to mention voice in his patent claim. Never underestimate the importance of proper documentation or persistence. If Meucci had been able to pay the $10 fee to maintain the caveat after 1874, no patent could have been issued to Bell. Sadly Meucci was too poor and let it expire.
1876: Two inventors: Alexander Graham Bell (Bell Telephone Co.) and Elisha Grey (Western Electric Co., now Lucent Technologies) both filed for patents on the same day for voice over wire devices. Gray entered his first, which meant it was further down in the stack of patent requests, thus Bell’s patent was plucked from the pile first, and therefore awarded the patent.
Any of these earlier inventors could have created the telephone if only they had received more encouragement and had the support structure necessary to succeed. Bell happened to have a rich and business-savvy father-in-law who did not wish his daughter to live in disgrace and poverty so he ensured Bell succeeded, whether the fellow liked it or not. (Bell hated being his puppet.)
Throughout the years, there have been a great many patent wars on who actually invented the telephone and specific designs within the phone. But without doubt, the Bell Company was the first to commercialize the telephone.
Still, had Bourseul received funding and support like Bell, the world might have had telephones twenty years earlier. What I do know, if Bell hadn’t had married his wife and gotten a control-freak father-in-law, he wouldn’t not be the father of telephony. Someone else would have stepped up and taken his place.
And who was Alexander’s father in law? Gardinar Greene Hubbard, U.S lawyer, financier, & philanthropist. He founded National Geographic and then made himself its first president, Founded (with friends) Bell Telephone and made himself president. (By the way: Alexander Bell, resident genius, only received the title of Chief Electrician.) If you haven’t figured it out yet, Hubbard was uber high society and Alex would never be one of ‘them’.
The only reason why Alexander even met Hubbard’s daughter was because he taught at the school for the deaf that Hubbard funded to help his daughter Mabel learn to speak. (Yes, he basically bought a school to teach his daughter to live among the hearing). Mabel had gone deaf at five from scarlet fever. She fell in love with her instructor (Bell) and wanted no one else. Given her limited opportunities for a happy life in high society, Hubbard decided to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. His son-in-law would amount to something rather he liked it or not!
In retrospect, Alex might have been happier if he remained a teacher, married someone of his own class, and let one of the other guys invent the phone, but he loved Mabel and Mabel loved her daddy, so he bent his will to that of Hubbard’s. During his life, he created other fascinating things, as well, such as electric heaters, sound carried by light (the beginning of Digital music), electronic mail, and composting toilets, (two of those were practical needs in Canada, the other two were clear foresight into future needs.) Hubbard wasn’t interested in his other inventions. He just wanted a son-in-law that didn’t bring shame to his family name (and for the telephone to sell well enough to pay him & his investors back for all the money they had put out to make Bell Telephone successful, plus a profit.) Ironically, he achieved getting Bell into the history books, while Hubbard has pretty much been been forgotten.
But then the youth of the world may soon forget Bell and insist the inventor of the phone is Steven Jobs.
Main sources: Wikipedia and the biography by Charlotte Gray. Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention.
And what do my characters think of this new contraption? Vic would love a phone but the network to make them useful isn’t established yet. It will be a few more years before Gregory the butler acquires one in his room.
Xavier is appalled at the idea clients could call him up day and night without an appointment set 24 hours in advance. So he stubbornly refuses to consider the matter even once they become a useful item.
The Adventures of
Xavier & Vic
The Troublesome Apprentice
By Liza O’Connor
Cases to be Resolved:
The Key to Aunt Maddy’s Death
The Missing Husband of Mrs. Wimple
The Disappearing Scarlet Nun
The Clever Butcher’s Wife
The Rescue of Lady Anne
While investigating the death of a friend and client, Maddy Hamilton, Xavier Thorn (reputed to be the greatest sleuth in England) is greatly impressed with Maddy’s nephew, Victor, and offers him a job as his secretary. Aware of Xavier’s history of firing secretaries, Victor garners a promise that for three months he cannot be fired. Vic then proceeds, in Xavier’s view, to be cheeky and impertinent at every turn. Xavier endures the impudent pup because Victor is most skilled in extracting the truth from clients and intuiting facts with little evidence to assist.
As they solve a string of cases, Xavier discovers a few more important details about his troublesome apprentice, such as her true gender, and the realization that she has awakened his long dormant heart.
Mrs. Wimple entered and, before Xavier could ask if she wished tea, Victor, the impertinent pup, asked the question as he showed her to a chair. She requested tea, and Victor promised to bring it shortly.
“He’s new,” Mrs. Wimple said once the scamp had left the room.
“Yes, I recently acquired him. He’s just come down from Oxford.”
“Oxford,” Mrs. Wimple repeated, clearly impressed. “I would not think a young man from Oxford would wish to be a mere secretary.”
“Daresay you are right. Victor is my apprentice. He is learning the craft of investigation.”
“Oh, how very exciting for him.”
“I have strong hopes for the young man. He’s incredibly bright and very insightful. I daresay, within a year, I will be forced to make him my partner or he’ll leave and open his own office.”
“And then we would have two Sherlock Holmes.”
Xavier’s muscles tightened at her words. He had already told the damnable woman during her first visit Sherlock Holmes was a fictitious character who bore no resemblance to him at all. He hated it when clients thought themselves clever. “Yes, and imagine how confusing it would be.” He rapped his pencil on the edge of his desk. What is taking Vic so damn long? Unless he has never made tea and hasn’t a clue, but surely he can figure out something so simple.
Victor returned carrying a silver tray burdened with a large assortment of bowls, cups, and saucers. Where the bloody hell did he find a serving set? In the past, all the secretaries had brought a single cup of tea.
Mrs. Wimple seemed to appreciate all the tomfoolery and complimented Victor on his fine manners.
“Mr. Holmes was telling me you are an Oxford man.”
Vic smiled with amusement at Xavier being called “Mr. Holmes”. “I am indeed, ma’am.” Vic smiled at Xavier. “And you, Mr. Holmes, how do you wish your tea?”
Xavier’s eyes narrowed. “Guess.”
Vic handed him a plain tea, then removed the service tray and returned with pencil and paper to take notes. To her surprise, Xavier had waited for her to return before beginning.
“I’ve decided to place Victor in charge of your case, Mrs. Wimple.”
That made no sense. She’d nearly burnt down his place of business. Hardly a reason to promote her to investigator. Without a doubt he was up to something.
“Since he has not read my notes from the first meeting, we are going to start at the beginning, as if you have never been here before. I would like you to tell him all pertinent facts, but bear in mind, if you lie to him, he cannot help you.”
“Lie? Why would I lie?”
“I sincerely hope you will not, but you lied to me. You wasted my time in our last interview and I’ve no patience left. Therefore, I am going to sit quietly and enjoy my tea while Victor conducts his interview. If he manages to do what I could not, I will allow him to continue to learn this business. However, if he cannot pull the truth from you, I will fire him for incompetence and it will be on your head, Mrs. Wimple.”
“But that’s not fair,” she protested.
Vic couldn’t agree more. True her actions had almost scarred Xavier for life and burnt down his business, but he had given her his word she would not be fired for three months. She was barely into her second day. She studied her cranky employer, trying to make sense of his turnabout. He showed no anger, only annoyance, all aimed at Mrs. Wimple.
Xavier set his cup on his desk and leaned forward. “I’m sorry, but it’s your punishment for wasting my time with lies and half-truths.”
The Troublesome Apprentice
I’m tired of telling my proper bio. So you get the improper bio.
Liza O’Connor was raised by feral cats, which explains a great deal, such as why she has no manners, is always getting in trouble, and doesn’t behave like a proper author and give you a proper bio.
She is highly unpredictable, both in real life and her stories, and presently is writing humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
Mostly humorous books by Liza:
Saving Casey – Old woman reincarnates into troubled teen’s body. (Half funny/half traumatizing)
Ghost Lover—Two British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. There’s a ghost cat too. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)
A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)
Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.
Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.
Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.
Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT
Investigate these sites:
Don’t Forget to enter to win one of the two $25 Amazon Gift Cards.