Time-Traveling English Schoolteachers Part 4

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

The only sight Moberly and Jourdain did not identify was the rustic bridge spanning the ravine that they had to cross to reach the Trianon. The earliest map they could find--one that Contant de la Motte had copied in 1783 from the original plan for Marie Antoinette's garden (which had been drawn by her architect Mique but had subsequently been lost)--had not shown the rustic bridge or ravine. But no matter. Moberly and Jourdain were satisfied. They already had enough.

In 1911, Moberly and Jourdain published their findings pseudonymously in a little book entitled An Adventure. The book itself was a sensation, although critics did not take it seriously. Worst of all, the London Society for Psychical Research, which collected facts on psychic experiences and had such prestigious members as Henri Bergson, John Ruskin, Lewis Carroll, Lord Tennyson, rejected the adventure of the schoolteachers and announced that the experience was built on "the weakness of human memory."

Defensively, Moberly and Jourdain began to reveal to friends, to faculty members, to their pupils, that they were the ones who had had the adventure at Versailles. The families of their students were appalled. Faculty members were skeptical, and conflict grew. And generally, throughout England and France, the 2 schoolteachers were ridiculed by the majority of scholars, historians, and experts in psychic phenomena. The 2 women were regarded as romancers or hysterics--and the things they claimed to have seen were regarded as no more authentic than the rustic bridge and the ravine that they had been unable to prove had ever existed at Versailles.

But in the end, Moberly and Jourdain scored a stunning triumph. True--in 1901 there was no rustic bridge and no ravine, even though the women swore they had crossed such a bridge. True--De la Motte's map of the gardens, done in 1783, showed neither the bridge nor the ravine. But suddenly, one day in 1912, Moberly and Jourdain learned that the long-lost original map of the gardens drawn by Marie Antoinette's architect Mique had been found--had been discovered, charred and crumpled, stuffed inside an old chimney in a house at Montmorency. And Mique's original map was legible--and lo, it showed the ravine and the rustic bridge over it, which De la Motte had sloppily failed to copy down. Moberly and Jourdain were vindicated--and they published news of the great find in a 3rd edition of An Adventure issued in 1924--an edition which, for the 1st time, bore their real names as the authors, for they were no longer ashamed but now were proud of their book.

How many other human beings had ever--since man has existed on earth--made such a journey as this one, backward and backward through the time barrier into the distant past--and had returned with word of it?

Miss Jourdain died in 1924 at the age of 61. Miss Moberly died in 1937 at the age of 91.

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