“Mark my words,” Twain said, happily puffing on a cigar while taking the measure of his two companions' mood, “by the end of this century, nobody'll be needing to leave his comfortable home anymore for a spot of music.” “See what I did there, m'dear? A veritable pun.”
“Not quite up to your usual high standards I'd say, Mr Twain.”
“I'm not entirely convinced of the need to do so now,” Tesla said, sounding somewhat stiff and (Twain thought) in clear need of a more than somewhat stiff drink.
“One will be able to listen to such marvels as we heard tonight and paid quite some good money for, I should add whenever and, more importantly, wherever one desires.” The trick of maintaining agreeable relations with Tesla, Twain had found, was to simply elect to ignore him from time to time.
(Well, that, and not steal his inventions and then attempt to pass them off as one's own. Which seemed a rather tall order for some, although Twain had never felt the least inclination to commit such a dastardly act of villainy. Then again, he wasn't a scientist.)
“One will be able to take one's morning tea with a spoonful of sugar and a dash of Chopin, one's bath with a pouring of Mozart, and one's afternoon stroll with a helping of Bach.”
“No American composers worth a mention?”
“America's too young yet to have brought forth classics. Or possibly not musical enough. It requires imagination to compose, after all.”
Tesla grimaced, clearly still failing to see the charm of the thing.
”Are you saying all Americans lack imagination, Mr Twain?”
”I'm the exception, m'dear. And I don't write music. No money in it, you see.”
“Your future does sound a bit noisy,” Bertha said, and Tesla nodded once, curtly.
“I suppose it will be.”
Tesla's expression shifted to thoughtfulness. “Not necessarily, baroness. One might ... hm. But then ... And of course ...”
“Pity I won't be around for it. But then, I guess there's something to be said for making the experience a social event. Good place to be seen, the opera. Good food, too. Bit hard on the wallet, though.”
Tesla mumbled something and opened the small notebook he had taken to carrying around with him. (He also, Twain had been bemused to discover, slept with it under his pillow, which was surely taking caution too far.)
Bertha sighed. “Will he be very long, do you think?”
“Only until he's figured out the trick of it,” Twain replied, making himself comfortable. “Shouldn't be more than a few hours.”