Time-Traveling English Schoolteachers Part 3

About the time-traveling English schoolteachers who claim to have been transported over one hundred years in the past, history and account of their story.

The Adventure--of Adventures

Annie Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain left the palace grounds and took a carriage to the Hotel des Reservoirs in Versailles to have tea, before returning to Miss Jourdain's apartment in Paris. Neither of them mentioned to the other the visit to Versailles, at least not until a week later when Miss Moberly was recording impressions of her visit to France. As Miss Moberly came to the afternoon at Versailles, she began to feel a strange, dreamy, unnatural oppression. She stopped writing and turned to Miss Jourdain and asked, "Do you think that the Petit Trianon is haunted?" Miss Jourdain nodded firmly. "Yes, I do." And for the 1st time, each woman told the other how eerie an experience it had been for her.

Three months later, when Annie Moberly was back in Oxford, Miss Jourdain came from Paris to be her house guest. Obsessively, they resumed their discussion of that afternoon at Versailles--the atmosphere, the haunting quality of that day, the unusual attire the people wore--and how it became apparent that while they had both seen certain things, each of them had seen something the other had not seen--or had been unable to see. Jourdain, alone, had seen the plow on the grass and the woman and girl in the cottage doorway. Moberly, alone, had seen the aristocratic lady sketching before the Petit Trianon. In those moments, both women perceived that something unusual, indeed something very unusual, had happened to them at Versailles--they had, inexplicably, stumbled backward through time into another age. They vowed to keep their experience secret, while each wrote up a separate and detailed account of the adventure, and both agreed to do thorough research on the history of Versailles and the Petit Trianon.

For 9 years, Moberly and Jourdain did their detective work--digging into every archive available that had information on the background of Versailles. The 2 ladies visited Versailles again and again (finding it as it really was in the 1900s, and only once experiencing another slipping-back into the past). When they had completed their sleuthing, they had learned that their afternoon in Versailles in 1901 had actually been an afternoon in 1789, the very day when the mobs of the French Revolution were about to close in on Versailles. The 2 "gardeners" in greenish coats the women had met in 1901 were actually 2 Swiss Guardsmen on duty that day. The girl in the cottage doorway was named Marion and she had lived with her mother on the palace grounds. The repulsive man in the black cloak seated near the kiosk steps was the Comte de Vaudreuil, a Creole friend of the Queen of France. And, most exciting of all for Moberly and Jourdain, they discovered--from a portrait done by Wertmuller, and from the journal of Madame Eloffe, the Queen's dressmaker (who had made her mistress 2 green bodices and several short white skirts for that summer of 1789)--that they had come upon Queen Marie Antoinette herself as she sat sketching before her chateau.

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