Doug Boilesen, 2023
This PhonoLiterature selection
takes place at the beginning of the 20th Century on the birthday
of an old couple's daughter who has moved across the ocean and has
"won fame with her voice." The parents haven't seen her
for some time and are having a hard time trying to stay cheerful
as the memories of their baby Milly who they watched grow into a
graceful woman are making them feel particularly isolated on this
anniversary of her birth -- "even Christmas was not so dreary
as this birthday."
The father goes to do chores before
the impending snowstorm and says he's going to then go to the post-office
as there might be a letter from Milly.
When the father returns he has no
letter, but he does have a large wooden box which had come that
afternoon by express -- and it had been sent by Milly.
As they open it they are puzzled by
what it is, first thinking it "looks like a small-sized sewin'-machine.
And here's a brass horn, too. Now I wonder if Milly sent that fur
a joke, or what?"
Discovering another box with instructions
in it the old man learns, by spelling out the word, that it's a
p-h-o-n-o-g-r-a-p-h "and them things in that air records....I
wisht I knew what 'twas fur though."
While the husband continues to look
puzzled and investigate the mystery his wife says "it must
be good fur somethin' or Milly wouldn't have sent it."
The directions are followed, the machine
is wound up with its key, and they anxiously await to see what it
At first nothing but a peculiar buzzing...and
just as they were ready to be disappointed they heard a voice singing.
It was Milly singing. The "sting of their loneliness"
would soon disappear:
The following is the complete From
a Far Country - The Story of a Prima Donna's Birthday.