by Harold Steele Mackaye
HAROLD STEELE MACKAYE
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
COPYRIGHT, 1904, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Published, April, 1904
CHAPTER I. THE
CHAPTER II. A
VISIT TO THE
CHAPTER III. A
CHAPTER IV. A
CHANGE OF PLAN
THE SANDS OF
CHAPTER VII. NEW
TIES AND OLD
PHOEBE AT THE
CHAPTER X. HOW
THE QUEEN READ
CHAPTER XI. THE
FAT KNIGHT AT
THE BOAR'S HEAD
CHAPTER XII. HOW
WROTE HIS PLAYS
HOW THE FAT
CHAPTER XIV. THE
FATE OF SIR
CHAPTER XV. HOW
CHAPTER XVI. HOW
SIR GUY KEPT HIS
CHAPTER I. THE THEORY OF COPERNICUS
The two sisters were together in their garden.
Rebecca Wise, turned forty and growing slightly gray at the temples,
was moving slowly from one of her precious plants to the next, leaning
over each to pinch off a dead leaf or count the buds. It was the
historic month of May, 1898, and May is the paradise of flower lovers.
Phoebe was eighteen years younger than her sister, and the beauty of
the village. Indeed, many declared their belief that the whole State of
New Hampshire did not contain her equal.
She was seated on the steps of the veranda that skirted the little
white cottage, and the absent gaze of her frank blue eyes was directed
through the gate at the foot of the little path bordered by white
rose-bushes. In her lap was a bundle of papers yellowed by age and an
ivory miniature, evidently taken from the carved wooden box at her
Presently Rebecca straightened her back with a slight grimace and
looked toward her sister, holding her mold-covered hands and fingers
spread away from her.
Well, she inquired, hev ye found anythin'?
Phoebe brought her gaze back from infinity and replied:
No, I ain't. Only that one letter where Isaac Burton writes her
that the players have come to town.
I don't see what good them letters'll do ye in the Shakespeare
Rebecca spoke listlesslymore interested in her garden than in her
I don't know, Phoebe rejoined, dreamily. It's awful funnybut
whenever I take out these old letters there comes over me the feelin'
that I'm 'way off in a strange countryand I feel like somebody else.
Rebecca looked up anxiously from her work.
Them sort o' philanderin' notions are foolish, Phoebe, she said,
and flicked a caterpillar over the fence.
Phoebe gave herself a little shake and began to tie up the papers.
That's so, she replied. But they will come when I get these out,
an' I got 'em out thinkin' the' might be somethin' about Shakespeare in
'em for our class.
She paused and looked wistfully at the letters again.
Oh! she cried, how I do wonder if he was among those players at
the Peacock Inn that day! You know 'players' is what they called
play-actors in those days, and he was a play-actor, they say.
Did he live very far back, then? said Rebecca, wishing to appear
interested, but really intent upon a new sprout at the foot of the
Yes, three hundred years ago. Three of these letters has a date in
There was a long silence, and at length Rebecca looked up from the
ground to ascertain its cause. She frowned and drew her aching back
stiffly straight again.
Everlastin'ly lookin' at that pictur'! she exclaimed. I declare
to goodness, Phoebe Wise, folks'll think you're vain as a pouter
Phoebe laughed merrily, tossed the letters into the box and leaped
to her feet. The miniature at which she had been gazing was still in
Folks'll never see me lookin' at it, Rebeccaonly you, she said.
Then with a coaxing tone and looking with appealing archness at her
sister, she went on:
Is it really like me, Rebecca? Honest true?
The elder woman merely grunted and moved on to the next bed, and
Phoebe, with another laugh, ran lightly into the house.
A few moments later she reappeared at the front door with
consternation on her face.
Land o' goodness, Rebecca! she cried, do you know what time it
is? Near onto one o'clock, an' I've got to be at the Shakespeare class
at half past. We'll have to dish up dinner right this minute, and I
don't see how I can change my dress after it an' help with the dishes
She whisked into the house again, and Rebecca followed her as
rapidly as possible.
She was very proud of her baby sister, proud of her having been
clear through high school, and proud of her eminence in the local
literary society. There was certainly something inspiring in having a
sister who was first corresponding secretary of the Women's Peltonville
Association for the Study of Shakespearian History and Literature; and
it was simply wonderful how much poetry she could repeat from the pages
of her favorite author.
* * * * *
Peltonville Center, New Hampshire, was one of those groups of neatly
kept houses surrounding a prettily shaded, triangular common which seem
to be characteristic of New England. Standing two miles from the
nearest railway station, this little settlement possessed its own
combined store and post-office, from whose narrow veranda one might
watch the rising generation playing Saturday base-ball on the grassy
The traditional old meeting-house stood on the opposite side of the
common, facing the store. The good old days of brimstone theology were
past, and the descendants of the godly Puritans who raised this steeple
in the fear of the Lord, being now deprived of their chief source of
fear, found Sunday meetings a bore, and a village pastor an unnecessary
Indeed, there seemed little need of pastoral admonition in such a
town as Peltonville Center. There was a grimly commonplace and
universal goodness everywhere, and the village was only saved from
unconsciousness of its own perfection by the individual shortcomings of
one of its citizens. Fortunately for the general self-complacence,
however, the necessary revealing contrast was found in him.
Copernicus Droop was overfond of the bottle, and in spite of the
prohibition laws of his State, he proved himself a blessed example and
warning by a too frequent and unmistakable intoxication in public. He
was gentle and even apologetic in his cups, but he was clearly a slave
of rum and his mission was therefore fulfilled.
On this first of May, 1898, a number of idle young men sat in a row
on the edge of the store veranda. Some were whittling, some making
aimless marks in the dust with a stick. All leaned limply forward, with
their elbows on their knees.
It was clearly not a Sunday, for the meeting-house was open, and
from time to time, one or perhaps two young women together passed into
the cool and silent room. The loungers at the store let none escape
their notice, and the name of each damsel was passed down the line in
an undertone as its owner entered the church.
A lantern-jawed young farmer at the end of the row slowly brushed
the shavings from his clothes and remarked:
Thet's the secon' meetin' of the Shekspeare class this month, ain't
Yep, an' there'll be two more afore the summer boarders comes
The second speaker would have continued, but he was here interrupted
by a third, who whispered loudly:
Say, fellers, there goes Copernicus.
All eyes were raised and unanimously followed the shabby figure
which had just emerged from behind the church and now started into the
road leading away from the common toward the north.
Walks pretty straight fer him, don't he? snickered the first
He's not ben tight fer two days.
Bet ye a jack-knife he'll be spreein' it fer all he's wuth
Fortunately these comments did not reach the ears of their object,
who, all unconscious of the interest which he inspired, made good his
way at a fairly rapid pace.
Presently he stopped.
With muslin skirts swaying, hair rumpled, and fair young face
flushed with exertion, Phoebe Wise was hurrying toward the common. She
was almost running in her haste, for she was late and the Shakespeare
class was a momentous institution.
Oh, say, Cousin Phoebe, was the man's greeting, can you tell me
ef yer sister's to home?
The young girl came to a sudden full stop in her surprise. This
cousinly greeting from the village reprobate was as exciting and as
inexplicable as it was unheard of.
Why, Mr. Droop! she exclaimed, III s'pose so.
The truth was the truth, after all. But it was hard on Rebecca. What
could this man want with her sister?
Droop nodded and passed on.
Thank ye. Don't stop fer me, he said.
Phoebe moved forward slowly, watching Copernicus over her shoulder.
She noted his steady steps and pale face and, reassured, resumed her
flying progress with redoubled vigor. After all, Rebecca was forty-two
years old and well able to take care of herself.
Meanwhile, Rebecca Wise, having carefully wrung out her dishcloth,
poured out the water and swept the little sink, was slowly untying her
kitchen apron, full of a thankful sense of the quiet hour before her
wherein to knit and muse beside the front window of her little parlor.
In the centre of this room there stood a wide, round table, bearing
a large kerosene-lamp and the week's mending. At the back and opposite
the two windows stood the well-blacked, shiny, air-tight stove. Above
this was a wooden mantel, painted to imitate marble, whereon were
deposited two photographs, four curious Chinese shells, and a plaster
cross to which there clung a very plaster young woman in scant attire,
the whole being marked Rock of Ages in gilt letters at the base.
Horse-hair furniture in all the glory of endless tidies was
arranged against walls bedight with a rainbow-like wilderness of
morning-glories. The ceiling was of white plaster, and the floor was
painted white and decked here and there with knitted rag-carpets, on
whose Joseph's-coated surfaces Rebecca loved to gaze when in
retrospective mood. In those humble floor-coverings her knowing eyes
recognized her first clocked stockings and Phoebe's baby cloak. There
was her brother Robert's wool tippet embalmed in loving loops with the
remnants of his wife's best Sunday-go-to-meetin' ribbons. These two had
long been dead, but their sister's loving eyes recreated them in
rag-carpet dreams wherein she lived again those by-gone days.
Rebecca had just seated herself and was unrolling her work, when her
eyes caught a glimpse of a man's form through the window. He had passed
into her gate and was approaching the door. She leaned forward for a
good look and then dropped back into her chair with a gasp of surprise.
Copernicus Droop! she exclaimed, did you ever!
She sat in rigid astonishment until she heard his timid knock,
followed by the sound of shoes vigorously wiped upon the door-mat.
Well, come! Thet's a comfort! she thought. He won't muss the
carpetand she rose to admit her visitor.
Good mornin', said Droop, timidly. I seen Cousin Phoebe a-runnin'
down the road, an' I sorter thought I'd run in an' see how you was.
Come right in, said Rebecca, in non-committal tones. She shut the
door and followed him into the parlor.
Here, give me yer hat, she continued. Set right there. How be
Droop obeyed. In a few moments the two were seated facing each
other, and Rebecca's needles were already busy. There was an interval
of awkward silence.
Well, what did ye come fer?
It was Rebecca who broke the spell. In her usual downright fashion,
she came to the point at once. She thought it as well he should know
that she was not deceived by his polite pretence of casual friendly
Droop settled forward with elbows on his knees and brought his
finger-tips carefully and accurately together. He found this action
amazingly promotive of verbal accuracy.
Well, Cousin Rebecca, he began, slowly, I'm lookin' fer a
partner. He paused, considering how to proceed.
The spinster let her hands drop in speechless wonder. The audacity
of the man! Heto hera proposal! At her age! From him!
Fortunately the next few words disclosed her error, and she blushed
for it as she lifted her work again, turning nearer the window as if
for better light.
Yes, Droop proceeded, I've a little business plan, an' it needs
capital an' a partner.
He waited, but there was no response.
Capital an' a partner, he repeated, an' intelligence an'
ambition. So I come to you.
Rebecca turned toward him again, scarcely less surprised now than
To me! D'ye mean to say ye've me in yer mind fer a partnerwith
Droop nodded slowly and compressed his lips.
Well, I want to know! she exclaimed, helplessly.
Oh, I know you ain't overly rich right now, said Droop,
apologetically; but it warn't no secret thet ye might hev hed Joe
Chandler ef ye hadn't ben so shifty in yer mind an' fell betwixt two
stoolsan' Lord knows Joe Chandler was as rich asas Peter Craigin
down to Keenepretty nigh.
Again Rebecca blushed, but this time in anger.
See here, Copernicus Droop she began.
Oh, I don't mean nothin' mean, now, he insisted, earnestly. I'm
jest leadin' up to the pint sorter natural likebreakin' the thing
easy, ye know.
What air you a-drivin' at?
Droop shifted uneasily in his seat and ran his finger around inside
of his collar before he replied:
Ye see, it's sorter hard to explain. It's this way. I hev a mighty
fine plan in my mind founded on a mixin' up of astronomical
considerations with prior inventions
Mister Droop! exclaimed his hostess, gazing severely into his
eyes, ef you think I'll let you go to drinkin' rum till
Honest to goodness, Miss Wise, I've not teched a drop! cried
Droop, leaping to his feet and leaning forward quickly. You may smell
my breath ef
A violent push sent him back to his chair.
Thet'll do, Mr. Droop. I'll undertake to believe ye fer once, but
I'll thank ye to speak plain English.
I'll do my best, he sighed, plaintively. I don't blame ye fer not
takin' to it quick. I didn't myself at first. Wellhere. Ye seeye
He paused and swallowed hard, gazing at the ceiling for inspiration.
Then he burst out suddenly:
Ye know the graphophone an' the kodak and the biograph an' all them
things what ye can see down to Keene?
Rebecca nodded slowly, with suspicion still in her eye.
Well, the's a heap o' things ben invented since the Centennial of
1876. Don't you s'pose they've made hills o' money out o' them
thingswith patents an' all?
An' don't you s'pose that ef anybody in 1876 was to up an' bring
out sech inventions all at once he'd be bigger than all the other
inventors put together!
Rebecca slowly pushed her needle through her hair, which was a sign
Wal, o' course, she said, at length, ef anybody hed aben smart
enough to've invented all them things in 1876 he'd aben a pretty big
man, I guess.
Droop edged forward eagerly.
An' s'posen' that you hed married Joe Chandler back in 1876, an'
you was rich enough to back up an inventor like that, an' he come to
you an' offered to give you half ef you'd up an' help him put 'em on
the market, an' s'posen'
What the land sake's the use o' s'posin'? Rebecca cried, sharply.
This is 1898, an' I ain't married, thanks be to goodness!
Ah, but ye could be, ef we was in 1876! There, thereI know what
you want to saybut 'taint so! What would ye say ef I was to tell ye
that all ye've got to do is jest to get into a machine I've got an' I
can take ye back to 1876 in next to no time! What would ye say
I'd say ye was tighter'n a boiled owl, Copernicus Droop.
But I ain't, I ain't! he almost screamed. I tell ye I hevn't
teched liquor fer two days. I've reformed. Ef ye won't smell my
Then you're plum crazy, she interrupted.
No, nor crazy either, he insisted. Why, the whole principle of it
is so awful simple! Ef you'd ben to high school, now, an' knew
astronomy an' all, you'd see right through it like nothin'.
Well, then, you c'n explain it to them as hez ben to high school,
an' that's sister Phoebe. Here she comes now.
She went at once to the door to admit the new-comer. Her visitor,
watching the pretty younger sister as she stepped in, rosy and full of
life, could not but remark the contrast between the two women.
Twenty-two years makes a heap o' difference! he muttered. But
Rebecca was jest as pretty herself, back in 1876.
Look, Rebecca! cried Phoebe, as she entered the door, here's a
new book Mrs. Bolton lent me to-day. All about Bacon writing
Shakespeare's plays, an' how Bacon was a son of Queen Elizabeth. Do you
s'pose he really did?
Oh, don't ask me, child! was the nervous reply. Mr. Droop's in
Phoebe had forgotten her short interview with Droop, and she now
snatched off her hat in surprise and followed her elder sister, nodding
to their visitor as she entered.
Set down, both o' ye, said Rebecca. Now, then, Mr. Droop, perhaps
Rebecca was far more mystified and interested than she cared to
admit. Her brusque manner was therefore much exaggerateda
dissimulation which troubled her conscience, which was decidedly of the
tenderest New England brand.
Poor Copernicus experienced a sense of relief as he turned his eyes
to those of the younger sister. She felt that Rebecca's manner was
distinctly cold, and her own expression was the more cordial in
Why, Miss Phoebe, he said, eagerly, I've ben tellin' your sister
about my plan to go back to the Centennial year1876, ye know.
Toto what, Mr. Droop?
Phoebe's polite cordiality gave place to amazed consternation. Droop
raised a deprecating hand.
Now don't you go to think I'm tight or gone crazy. You'll
understand it, fer you've ben to high school. Now see! What is it makes
the days go byain't it the daily revolution of the sun?
Phoebe put on what her sister always called that schoolmarm look
Why, it's the turning round of the earth on its axis once in
YesyesIt's all oneall one, Droop broke in, eagerly. To put
it another way, it comes from the sun cuttin' meridians, don't it?
Rebecca, who found this technical and figurative expression beyond
her, paused in her knitting and looked anxiously at Phoebe, to see how
she would take it. After a moment of thought, the young woman admitted
her visitor's premises.
Very good! An' you know's well's I do, Miss Phoebe, that ef a man
travels round the world the same way's the sun, he ketches up on time a
whole day when he gets all the way round. In other words, the folks
that stays at home lives jest one day more than the feller that goes
round the world that way. Am I right?
Droop glanced triumphantly at Rebecca. This tremendous admission on
her learned young sister's part stripped her of all pretended coldness.
Her deep interest was evident now in her whole pose and expression.
Now, then, jest follow me close, Droop continued, sitting far
forward in his chair and pointing his speech with a thin forefinger on
his open palm.
Ef a feller was to whirl clear round the world an' cut all the
meridians in the same direction as the sun, an' he made the whole trip
around jest as quick as the sun didtime wouldn't change a mite fer
him, would it?
Phoebe gasped at the suggestion.
Why, I should thinkof course
She stopped and put her hand to her head in bewilderment.
Et's a sure thing! Droop exclaimed, earnestly. You've said
yerself that the folks who stayed to home would live one day longer
than the fellow that went round. Now, ef that feller travelled round as
fast as the sun, the stay-at-homes would only be one day older by the
time he got backain't that a fact?
Both sisters nodded.
Well, an' the traveller would be one day younger than they'd be.
An' ain't that jest no older at all than when he started?
My goodness! Mr. Droop! Phoebe replied, feebly. I never thought
Well, ain't it so?
Of courseleastwayswhy, it must be!
All right, then!
Droop rose triumphantly to his feet, overcome by his feelings.
Follow out that same reasonin' to the bitter end! he cried, an'
what will happen ef that traveller whirls round, cuttin' meridians jest
twice as fast as the sungoin' the same way?
He paused, but there was no reply.
Why, as sure as shootin', I tell ye, that feller will get jest one
day younger fer every two whirls round!
There was a long and momentous silence. The tremendous suggestion
had for the moment bereft both women of all reasoning faculty.
At length the younger sister ventured upon a practical objection.
But how's he goin' to whirl round as fast as that, Mr. Droop? she
Droop smiled indulgently.
Et does sound outlandish, when ye think how big the world is. But
what if ye go to the North Pole? Ain't all the twenty-four meridians
jammed up close together round that part of the globe?
Thet's so, murmured Rebecca, I've seen it many's the time on the
map in Phoebe's geography book.
Sure enough, Droop rejoined. Then ain't it clear that ef a
feller'll jest take a grip on the North Pole an' go whirlin' round it,
he'll be cuttin' meridians as fast as a hay-chopper? Won't he see the
sun gettin' left behind an' whirlin' the other way from what it does in
nature? An' ef the sun goes the other way round, ain't it sure to
unwind all the time thet it's ben a-rollin' up?
Rebecca's ball of yarn fell from her lap at this, and, as she
followed it with her eyes, she seemed to see a practical demonstration
of Droop's marvellous theory.
Phoebe felt all the tremendous force of Droop's logic, and she
flushed with excitement. One last practical objection was obvious,
The thing must be all right, Mr. Droop, she said; an' come to
think of it, this must be the reason so many folks have tried to reach
the North Pole. But it never has been reached yet, an' how are
you agoin' to do it?
You think it never hez, Copernicus replied. The fact is, though,
that I've ben there.
You! Phoebe cried.
And is there a pole there? Rebecca asked, eagerly.
The's a pole there, an' I've swung round it, too, Droop replied,
sitting again with a new and delightful sense of no longer being
Here's how 'twas. About a year ago there come to my back door a
strange-lookin' man who'd hurt his foot some way. I took him in an'
fixed him upyou know I studied for a doctor oncean' while he was
bein' fixed up, he sorter took a fancy to me an' he begun to give me
the story of his life. He said he was born in the year 2582, an' had
ben takin' what he called a historical trip into the past ages. He went
on at a great rate like that, an' I thought he was jest wanderin' in
his mind with the fever, so I humored him. But he saw through me, an'
he wouldn't take no but I should go down into Burnham's swamp with him
to see how he'd done it.
Well, down we went, and right spang in the thickest of the bushes
an' muck we come across the queerest lookin' machine that ever ye see!
Right there an' then he told me all the scientific talk about time
an' astronomy thet I've told you, an' then he tuck me into the thing.
Fust thing I knew he give a yank to a lever in the machinery an' there
was a big jerk thet near threw me on the back o' my head. I looked out,
an' there we was a-flyin' over the country through the air fer the
There, now! cried Rebecca, didn't Si Wilkins' boy Sam say he seen
a comet in broad daylight last June?
Thet was us, Droop admitted.
And not a soul believed him, Phoebe remarked.
Well, continued Droop, to make a long story short, thet
future-man whirled me a few times 'round the North Poleunwound jest
five weeks o' time, an' back we come to Peltonville a-hummin'!
And then? cried the two women together.
Ef you'll believe me, there we was back to the day he fust
comean' fust thing I knew, thet future-man was a-comin' up to my back
door, same ez before, a-beggin' to hev his foot fixed. It was hard on
him, but I was convinced fer keeps.
Copernicus shook his head sadly, with retrospective sadness.
An' where is the future-man now? Phoebe asked.
Tuk cold on his lungs at the North Pole, said Droop, solemnly.
Hed pneumonia an' up'n died.
But there warn't nobody round heerd of him except you, said
Rebecca. Who buried him?
Ah, thet's one o' the beauties o' the hull business. He'd showed me
all the ropes on his machinehis Panchronicon, as he called itan' so
I up'n flew round the North Pole the opposite way as soon's he passed
away, till I'd made up the five weeks we'd lost. Then when I got back
it was five weeks after his funeral, an' I didn't hev to bother about
The two sisters looked at each other, quite overcome with
My land! Rebecca murmured, gathering up her yarn and knitting
again. Sence they've invented them X-rays an' took to picturin' folks'
insides, I kin believe anythin'.
You don't hev to take my word fer it, Droop exclaimed. Ef you'll
come right along with me this blessed minute, I'll show you the machine
I'd jest love to see it, said Rebecca, her coldness all forgotten,
but it's mos' too late fer this afternoon. There's the supper to get,
you know, an'
But the plan, Rebecca, Phoebe cried. You've forgotten that I
haven't heard Mr. Droop's plan.
I wish 't you'd call me 'Cousin Copernicus,' said Droop,
earnestly. You know I've sworn offquit drinkin' now.
Phoebe blushed at his novel proposal and insisted on the previous
But what is the plan? she said.
Why, my idea is this, Cousin Phoebe. I want we should all go back
to 1876 again. Thet's the year your sister could hev married Joe
Chandler ef she'd wanted to.
Rebecca murmured something unintelligible, blushing furiously, with
her eyes riveted to her knitting. Phoebe looked surprised.
You know you could, Cousin Rebecca, Droop insisted. Now what I
say is, let's go back there. I'll invent the graphophone, the kodak,
the vitascope, an' Milliken's cough syrup an' a lot of other big modern
inventions. Rebecca'll marry Chandler, an' she an' her husband can back
up my big inventions with capital. Why, Cousin Phoebe, he cried, with
enthusiasm, we'll all hev a million apiece!
The sentimental side of Droop's plan first monopolized Phoebe's
Rebecca Wise! she exclaimed, turning with mock severity to face
her sister. Why is it I've never heard tell about this love affair
before now? Why, Joe Chandler's just a fine man. Is it you that
broke his heart an' made him an old bachelor all his life?
Rebecca must have dropped a stitch, for she turned toward the window
again and brought her knitting very close to her face.
What brought ye so early to home, Phoebe? she said. Warn't there
no Shakespeare meetin' to-day?
No. Mis' Beecher was to lead, an' she's been taken sick, so I came
right home. But you can't sneak out of answerin' me like that, Miss
Slyboots, Phoebe continued, in high spirits.
Seating herself on the arm of her sister's chair, she put her arms
about her neck and, bending over, whispered:
Tell me honest, now, Rebecca, did Joe Chandler ever propose to
No, he never did! the elder sister exclaimed, rising suddenly.
Now, Mr. Droop, she continued, your hull plan is jest too absurd
to think of
Droop tried to expostulate, but she raised her voice, speaking more
An' you come 'round again after supper an' we'll tell ye what we've
decided, she concluded.
The humor of this reply was lost on Copernicus, but he moved toward
the door with a sense of distinct encouragement.
Remember the rumpus we'll make with all them inventions, Droop
called back as he walked toward the gate, think of the money we'll
But Rebecca was thinking of something very different as she stood at
the front door gazing with softened eyes at the pasture and woods
beyond the road. She seemed to see a self-willed girl breaking her own
heart and another's rather than acknowledge a silly error. She was
wondering if that had really been Rebecca Wise. She felt again all the
old bewitching heart-pangs, sweetened and mellowed by time, and she
wondered if she were now really Rebecca Wise.
CHAPTER II. A VISIT TO THE
At precisely eight o'clock that evening, a knock was again heard at
the door of the Wise home, and Droop was admitted by the younger
sister. She did not speak, and her face was invisible in the dark hall.
The visitor turned to the right and entered the parlor, followed by his
young hostess. Rebecca was sitting by the lamp, sewing. As she looked
up and nodded, Droop saw that her features expressed only gloomy
severity. He turned in consternation and caught sight for the first
time of Phoebe's face. Her eyes and pretty nose were red and her mouth
was drawn into a curve of plaintive rebellion.
Set down, Mr. Droop. Give me yer hat, she said; and there was a
suspicious catch in her voice.
The visitor seated himself by the centre-table beside the lamp and
sat slowly rubbing his hands, the while he gazed mournfully from one to
the other of the silent sisters. Phoebe sat on the long horse-hair
settle, and played moodily with the tassel hanging at its head.
There was a long pause. Each of the women seemed bent on forcing the
other to break the silence.
Poor Droop felt that his plans were doomed, and he dared not urge
either woman to speech, lest he hear the death-sentence of his hopes.
Finally, however, the awkward silence became unbearable.
Well? he said, inquiringly, still rubbing his hands.
Well, Rebecca exclaimed, it seems it's not to be done, and she
looked reproachfully at Phoebe.
The words fulfilled his fears, but the tone and glance produced a
thrill of hope. It was evident that Rebecca at least favored his plans.
Turning now to the younger sister, Droop asked, in a melancholy
Don't you want to get rich, Cousin Phoebe?
Richme! she replied, indignantly. A mighty lot of riches it'll
bring me, won't it? That's just what riles me so! You an' Rebecca just
think of nothin' but your own selves. You never stop to think of me!
Droop opened his eyes very wide indeed, and Rebecca said, earnestly:
Phoebe, you know you ain't got any call to say sech a thing!
Oh, haven't I? cried Phoebe, in broken accents. Did either of you
think what would happen to me if we all went back to 1876? Two years
old! That's what I'd be! A little toddling baby, like Susan Mellick's
Annie! Put to bed before suppercarried about in everybody's armsfed
on a bottle andand perhapsand perhaps getting spanked!
With the last word, Phoebe burst into tears of mingled grief and
mortification and rushed from the room.
The others dared not meet each other's guilty eyes. Droop gazed
about the room in painful indecision. He could not bear to give up all
hope, and yetthis unforeseen objection really seemed a very serious
one. To leave the younger sister behind was out of the question. On the
other hand, the consequences of the opposite course werewell, painful
to her at least.
In his nervousness he unconsciously grasped a small object on the
table upon which his left hand had been lying. It was a miniature
daintily painted on ivory. He looked vacantly upon it; his mind at
first quite absent from his eyes. But as he gazed, something familiar
in the lovely face depicted there fixed his attention. Before long he
was examining the picture with the greatest interest.
Well, now! he exclaimed, at length. Ain't that pretty! Looks jest
like her, too. When was that tuck, Miss Wise?
That ain't Phoebe, said Rebecca, dejectedly.
Ain't Phoebe! Droop cried, in amazement. Why, it's the finest
likenesswhybutit must be yer sister!
Well, 'tain't. Thet pictur is jest three hundred years old.
Three hundred he beganthen very slowly, Well, now, do tell!
Phoebe's got the old letter that tells about it. The's a lot of 'em
in that little carved-wood box there. They say it come over in the
Droop could not take his eyes from the picture. The likeness was
perfect. Here was the pretty youthful oval of her facethe same
playful blue eyethe sensitive red lips seeming about to sparkle into
a smileeven the golden brown mist of hair that hid the delicately
Then Droop suddenly remembered his plans, and with his hand he
dropped the picture as his mind dismissed it. He rose and looked about
for his hat.
Ye wouldn't want to come back to '76 with me an' leave Cousin
Phoebe behind, would ye? he suggested, dismally.
What! cried Rebecca, giving vent to her pent-up feelings, an'
never see my sister again! Why, I'd hev to come livin' along up behind
her, and, all I could do, I'd never catch up with hernever! You'd
ought to be ashamed to stand there an' think o' sech a thing,
For some time he stood with bent head and shoulders, twirling his
hat between his fingers. At length he straightened up suddenly and
moved toward the door.
Well, he said, the' isn't any use you seem' the Panchronicon now,
What's it like, Mr. Droop? Rebecca inquired.
He paused helpless before the very thought of description.
Oh, he said, weakly, et's likeet's awhyOh, it's a machine!
Hez it got wings?
Not exactly wings, he began, then, more earnestly, why don't ye
come and see it, anyway! It can't do ye any harm to jest look at it!
Rebecca dropped her hands into her lap and replied, with a
I'd like to fust rateit must be an awful queer machine! But I
don't get much time fer traipsin' 'round now days.
Why can't ye come right along now? Droop asked, eagerly. It's dry
as a bone underfoot down in the swamp now. The's ben no rain in a long
She pondered some time before replying. Her first impulse was to
reject the proposal as preposterous. The hour seemed very ill chosen.
Rebecca was not accustomed to leaving home for any purpose at night,
and she was extremely conservative.
On the other hand, she felt that only under cover of the darkness
could she consent to go anywhere in company with the village reprobate.
Every tongue in the place would be set wagging were she seen walking
with Copernicus Droop. She had not herself known how strong was the
curiosity which his startling theories and incredible story had
awakened in her. She looked up at her visitor with indecision in her
I don't see how I could go now, she said. Besides, it's mos' too
dark to see the thing, ain't it?
Not a mite, he replied, confidently. The's lights inside I can
turn on, an' we'll see the hull thing better'n by daylight.
Then, as she still remained undecided, he continued, in an
Cousin Phoebe's up in her room, ain't she? Ye might not get another
chance so easy.
He had guessed instinctively that, under the circumstances, Rebecca
preferred not revealing to Phoebe her own continued interest in the
The suggestion was vital. Phoebe was in all probability sulking in
her own bedroom, and in that event would not quit it for an hour. It
seemed now or never.
Rebecca rolled up her knitting work and rose to her feet.
Jest wait here a spell, she said, rapidly. I won't be a minute!
* * * * *
Shortly afterward, two swiftly moving, shadowy figures emerged from
the little white gate and turned into a dark lane made more gloomy by
overhanging maples. This was the shortest route to Burnham's swamp.
Copernicus was now more hopeful. He could not but feel that, if the
elder sister came face to face with his marvellous machine, good must
result for his plans. Rebecca walked with nervous haste, dreading
Phoebe's possible discovery of this most unconventional conduct.
The night was moonless, and the two stumbled and groped their way
down the lane at a pace whose slowness exasperated Rebecca.
Ef I'd a-known! she exclaimed, under her breath.
We're 'most there, Cousin Rebecca, said Copernicus, with
deprecating softness. Here, give me holt o' yer hand while we climb
over the wall. Here's Burnham's swamp right now.
Accepting the proffered aid, Rebecca found herself in the midst of a
thicket of bushes, many of which were thorny and all of which seemed
bent upon repelling nocturnal adventurers.
Droop, going ahead, did his best to draw aside the obstinate twigs,
and Rebecca followed him with half-averted head, lifting her skirts and
'Mighty lucky, 'tain't wet weather! she mumbled.
At that moment her guide stood still.
There! he exclaimed, in a low, half-awed voice.
Rebecca stopped and gazed about. A little to the right the dark gray
of the sky was cut by a looming black mass of uncertain form.
It looked like the crouching phantom of some shapeless sea-monster.
Rebecca half expected to see it dissolve like a wind-driven fog.
Their physical sight could distinguish nothing of the outer
characteristics of this mysterious structure; but for this very reason,
the imagination was the more active. Rebecca, with all her directness
of nature and commonplace experience, felt in this unwonted presence
that sense of awed mystery which she would have called a creepy
What unknown and incomprehensible forces were locked within that
formless mass? By what manner of race as yet unborn had its elements
been brought togetherno, nowould they be brought together?
How assume a comfortable mental attitude toward this creation whose
present existence so long antedated its own origin?
One sentiment, at least, Rebecca could entertain with hearty
consistency. Curiosity asserted its supremacy over every other feeling.
Can't we get into the thing, an' light a candle or suthin'? she
Of course we can, said Droop. That's what I brought ye here fer.
Take holt o' my hand an' lift yer feet, or you'll stumble.
Leading his companion by the hand, Copernicus approached the dark
form, moving with great caution over the clumps of grassy turf.
Presently he reached the side of the machine. Rebecca heard him strike
it with his hand two or three times, as though groping for something.
Then she was drawn forward again, and suddenly found herself entering
an invisible doorway. She stumbled on the threshold and flung out her
free hand for support. She clutched at a hand-rail that seemed to lead
Droop's voice came out of the blackness.
Jest wait here a minute, he said. I'll go up an' turn on the
She heard him climbing a short flight of stairs, and a few moments
later a flood of light streamed from a doorway above her head, amply
lighting the little hallway in which Rebecca was standing.
The hand-rail to which she was already clinging skirted the iron
stairs leading to the light, and she started at once up this narrow
She was met at the door by Copernicus, who was smiling with a proud
Wal, Cousin Rebecca, he said, with a sweeping gesture indicating
their general surroundings, what d'ye think o' this?
They were standing at the head of a sort of companion-way in a roomy
antechamber much resembling the general cabin of a luxurious old-time
sailing-packet. The top of the stairs was placed between two windows in
one side wall of the machine, through which there was just then
entering a gentle breeze. Two similar openings faced these in the
opposite side wall, and under each of the four windows there was a long
wooden bench carrying a flat mattress cushion.
In the middle of the room, on a square deep-piled rug, stood a table
covered with a red cloth and surrounded by three or four solid-looking
upholstered chairs. Here were some books and papers, and directly over
the table a handsome electric chandelier hung from the ceiling of
dark-wood panels. This was the source of their present illumination.
This here's the settin'-room, Droop explained. An' these are the
state-roomsthat's what he called 'em.
He walked toward two doors in one of the end walls and, opening one
of them, turned the switch of the lamp within.
'Lectric lights in it, like down to Keene, Rebecca remarked,
approaching the cabin and peering in.
She saw a small bedroom comfortably furnished. The carpet was
apparently new, and on the tastefully papered walls hung a number of
Droop opened the other door.
They're both alike, he said.
Rebecca glanced into the second apartment, which was indeed the
counterpart of its companion.
Well, it wouldn't do no harm to sweep an' beat these carpets! she
exclaimed. Then, slipping her forefinger gingerly over the edge of a
chair: Look at that dust! she said, severely, holding up her hand for
But Droop had bustled off to another part of the room.
Here's lockers under these window-seats, he explained, with a
dignified wave of the hand. Here's books an' maps in this set o'
shelves. Here's a small pianner that plays itself when you turn on the
There was a stumbling crash and a suppressed cry at the foot of the
With his heart in his mouth, Droop leaped to the chandelier and
turned out the lights; then rushed to the state-rooms and was about to
turn their switches as well, when a familiar voice greeted their ears
Don't be scaredit's only Phoebe.
What ever possessed began Rebecca, in a low tone.
But at that moment Phoebe's head appeared over the stair rail in the
light shed from the two state-rooms.
Won't you light up again, Mr. Droop? she said, merrily, smiling
the while into her sister's crestfallen face. I heard you two leavin'
the house, an' I just guessed what you'd be up to. So I followed you
She dropped into one of the chairs beside the table just as Droop
relighted the lamps.
With one slender hand resting upon the table, she looked up into
Droop's face and went on:
I was havin' a dreadful time, stumbling over stocks an' stones at
every step, till suddenly there was quite a light struck my face, and
first I knew I was lookin' right into your lighted windows. I guess
we'll have a pleasant meetin' here of all the folks in town pretty
soonnot to mention the skeeters, which are comin' right early this
Lands sakes! cried Rebecca.
There now! exclaimed Copernicus, bustling toward the windows, I
must be a nateral born fool!
Phoebe laughed in high spirits at thought of her prank, while Droop
closed the tight iron shutters at each window, thus confining every ray
Rebecca seated herself opposite Phoebe and looked severely straight
before her with her hands folded in her lap. She was ashamed of her
curiosity and much chagrined at being discovered in this unconventional
situation by her younger sister.
Phoebe gazed about her and, having taken in the general aspect of
the antechamber in which they were assembled, she explored the two
state-rooms. Thence she returned for a more detailed survey. Droop
followed her about explaining everything, but Rebecca remained unmoved.
What's all those dials on the wall, Mr. Droop? asked the younger
I wish't you'd call me Cousin Copernicus, said Droop, appealingly.
Phoebe ran up very close to a large steel dial-plate covered with
Now what the land is this for? she exclaimed.
Thet, said Droop, slowly, is an indicator of height above ground
and tells yer direction.
And what d'ye do with this little handle?
Why, you set that for north or west or any other way, an' the hull
machine keeps headed that way until ye change it.
Oh, is that the rudder?
No, that is fer settin' jest one course fer a long ridelike's ef
we was goin' north to the pole, ye know. The rudder's in here, 'long
with the other machinery.
He walked to one of the two doors which faced the state-rooms.
Phoebe followed him and found herself in the presence of a
bewildering array of controlling and guiding handlesgaugestest
cocksmeters and indicators. She was quite overawed, and listened with
a new respect for her distant relative as he explained the uses of the
various instruments. It was evident that he had quite mastered the
significance of each implement.
When Droop had completed his lecture, Phoebe found that she
understood the uses of three of the levers. The rest was a mystery to
This is the starting-lever, she said. This steers, and this
reverses. Is that it?
That's correct, said Droop, an' if
She cut him short by whisking out of the room.
What drives the thing? she asked, as he meekly followed her.
Oh, the's power storage an' all kinds o' works down below stairs.
An' what's this room for? she asked, opening the door next the
Thet's the kitchen an' butler's pantry, said Droop. It's mighty
finely fitted up, I tell ye. That future-man was what ye call a
conusure. My, but he could cook up fine victuals!
Rebecca found this temptation stronger than her ill humor, and she
rose with alacrity and followed her companions into the now brightly
Here the appointments were the completest possible, and, after she
and Phoebe had mastered the theory of the electric range, they agreed
that they had never seen such a satisfactory equipment.
Phoebe stood in the middle of the room and looked about her with
kindling eyes. The novelty of this adventure had intoxicated her.
Rebecca's enthusiasm was repeated threefold in the more youthful bosom
of her sister.
My! she cried, wouldn't it be lovely if we could make this our
house down here for a while! What would the Mellicks an' the Tituses
They'd take us for a lunatic asylum, Rebecca exclaimed, severely.
Phoebe considered a moment and then gravely replied:
Yes, I s'pose they would.
Copernicus was pacing slowly up and down from range to china-closet
and back, rubbing his hands slowly over each other.
I wish't you'd try to see ef ye couldn't change yer mind, Cousin
Phoebe, he said, earnestly. Jest think of all there is in this
extrordnery vesselwhat with kitchen an' little cunnin'
state-roomswhat with the hull machinery an' allit's a sinful waste
to leave it all to rot away down in this here swamp when we might all
go back to the Centennial an' get rich asas Solomon's temple!
Phoebe led the way in silence to the outer room again, and Droop
carefully extinguished the lights in the kitchen and engine-room.
As the three stood together under the main chandelier their faces
were the exponents of three different moods.
Droop was wistfulanxious.
Rebecca looked grimly regretful.
In Phoebe's eyes there shone a cheerful lightbut her expression
Now let's go home, she said, briskly. I've got somethin' that I
want to talk to Rebecca about. Can't you call in to-morrow mornin', Mr.
Don't ye believe ye might change yer mind? he asked, mournfully.
We'll be through with the breakfast an' have things set to rights
by eight o'clock, said Phoebe.
CHAPTER III. A NOCTURNAL EVASION
Promptly at the appointed time, Copernicus Droop might have been
seen approaching the white cottage. Still nursing a faint hope, he
walked with nervous rapidity, mumbling and gesticulating in his
excitement. He attracted but little attention. His erratic movements
were credited to his usual potations, and no one whom he passed even
gave him a second glance.
Nearing the house he saw Phoebe leaning out of one of the
second-story windows. She had been gazing westward toward Burnham's
swamp, but she caught sight of Droop and nodded brightly to him. Then
she drew in her head and pulled down the window.
Phoebe opened the door as Copernicus entered the garden gate, and it
was at once apparent that her buoyant mood was still upon her, for she
actually offered her hand to her visitor as he stood at the threshold
wiping his feet.
Good mornin', she said. I've ben tryin' to see if I could find
the Panchronicon out of my window. It's just wonderful how well it's
hidden in the bushes.
She led him to the parlor and offered him a seat.
Where's Cousin Rebecca? he said, as he carefully placed his hat on
the floor beside his chair.
Phoebe seated herself opposite to her visitor with her back to the
windows, so that her face was in shadow.
Rebecca's upstairs, she replied.
Then, after a moment's pause: She's packin' up, she said.
Droop straightened up excitedly.
Whatpackin'! he cried. Hev ye decided ye'll go, then?
Well, said Phoebe, slowly, we have an'an' we haven't.
What d'ye mean?
Why, Mr. Droop, it's just like this, she exclaimed, leaning
forward confidentially. Ye see, Rebecca an' I are both just plumb
crazy to try that wonderful plan of cuttin' meridians at the North
Polean' we're wild fer a ride on that queer kind of a boat or
whatever ye call it. At the same time, Rebecca has to acknowledge that
it's askin' too much of me to go back to two years old an' live like a
baby. For one thing, I wouldn't have a thing to wear.
But ye might make some clothes before ye start, Droop suggested.
Mr. Droop! Phoebe exclaimed, severely, what do you s'pose
folks would say if Rebecca and I was to set to work makin' baby
clothestwo old maids like us?
Droop looked down in confusion and plucked at the edge of his coat.
Phoebe Wise, you're only just tryin' to be smart fer argument!
This sentence was delivered with a suddenness which was startling.
Droop looked up with a jump to find Rebecca standing at the door with a
pile of clean sheets on her arm.
She was gazing sternly at Phoebe, who appeared somewhat
You know's well's I do, continued the elder sister, that every
one o' your baby clothes is folded an' put away as good as new in the
Phoebe rallied quickly and repelled this attack with spirit.
Well, I don't care. They'll stay right where they are, Rebecca,
she answered, with irritation. You know we settled it last night that
I wasn't to be pestered about goin' back to 1876!
That's true, was the reply, but don't you be givin' such fool
reasons for it. It's really just because you're afraid o' bein' whipped
an' put to bedan' goodness knows, you deserve it!
With this, Rebecca turned grimly and went into the garden to hang
the sheets up for an airing.
There was a moment's awkward pause, and then Phoebe broke the
Our plan's this, Mr. Droop, she said, an' I hope you'll agree. We
want to have you take us to the North Pole and unwind about six years.
That'll take us back before the World's Fair in Chicago, when I was
eighteen years old, an' we can see fer ourselves how it feels to be
livin' backward an' growin' younger instead of older every minute.
But what's the good of that? Droop asked, querulously. I ain't
goin' to do it jest fer fun. I'm growin' too old to waste time that
way. My plan was to make money with all them inventions.
Well, an' why can't ye? she replied, coaxingly. There's that
X-ray invention, now. Why couldn't you show that at the World's Fair
an' get a patent fer it?
I don't understand that business, he replied, sharply. Besides I
can't get one o' them X-ray machinesthey cost a heap.
This was a blow to Phoebe's plan and she fell silent, thinking
deeply. She had foreseen that Droop would take only a mercenary view of
the matter and had relied upon the X-ray to provide him with a motive.
But if he refused this, what was she to do?
Suddenly her face lighted up.
I've got it! she cried. You know those movin' picture boxes ye
see down to Keene, where ye turn a handle and a lot of photograph cards
fly along like rufflin' the leaves of a book. Why, it just makes things
look alive, Mr. Droop. I'm sure those weren't thought of six years ago.
They're span spinter new. Why won't they do?
I ain't got one o' those either, Droop grumbled. I've got a kodak
an' a graphophone an' a lot o' Milliken's cough syrup with the
Why there! cried Phoebe, exultantly. Milliken's cough syrup is
only four years old, ain't it?
Droop did not reply, but his silence was a virtual assent.
The's a mint o' money in thatyou know there is, Mr. Droop, she
urged. Why, I guess Mr. Milliken must have two or three millions,
Rebecca returned at this moment and seated herself on the haircloth
settle, nodding silently to Droop.
What's about Mr. Milliken's money, Phoebe? she asked.
Why Mr. Droop says the X-ray is no good because it costs a heap and
he hasn't got a machine fer itan' I was tellin' him that Milliken's
cough syrup was just as goodfor that wasn't invented six years ago,
Phoebe Wise, what do you mean! exclaimed Rebecca. Why, it would
be jest like robbery to take Mr. Milliken's syrup, an' palm it off as
Mr. Droop's. I'm surprised at ye!
This attack upon the ethical plane struck Phoebe speechless. She
blushed and stammered, but had no reply to make. The seeming defeat
really concealed a victory, however, for it instantly converted
Copernicus into an ally.
You don't understand the thing, Cousin Rebecca, he said, gently
but firmly. Ye see ef we go six years back, it'll be a time when Mr.
Milliken hadn't ever thought of his cough syrup. How could we be
robbin' him of somethin' he hasn't got?
Rebecca looked confused for a moment, but was not to be so easily
'Tain't somethin' he ain't thought of, she said, stoutly. He's
makin' money out of it, an' ef we get back before him, why, when time
comes agin for him to invent it he won't have it to invent. I'm sure
that's jest as bad as robbin' him, ain't it?
Phoebe looked anxiously at Copernicus and was much pleased to find
him apparently unmoved.
Why, you certainly don't understand this yet, he insisted.
Milliken ain't agoin' back six years with us, is he? He'll jest go
right along livin' as he's ben doin'.
What! Rebecca exclaimed. Will he be livin' in one time an' we be
livin' in anotherboth at the same She stopped. What was she
Nono! replied Copernicus. He'll go on livin'. That's what he
will do. We'll go on havin' lived. Or to put it differentwe
have gone on livin' after we get back six yearsto 1892. Ye see,
we really have past all the six yearsso the's no harm in it. Milliken
won't be hurt.
Rebecca glanced at Phoebe, in whose face she found her own
perplexity reflected. Then, throwing out her hands, as though pushing
away her crowding mental obstructions, she cried:
Therethere! I can't get the hang of it. It's too much for me!
Oh, when you've done it once it'll be all easy and clear, said
Phoebe looked hopefully into his face.
Will you take us, Mr. Droop? she asked.
Oh, I s'pose I'll hev to.
An' only unwind six years?
Yesjest six years.
She jumped up excitedly.
Then I'll be off to my packin'!
She ran to the door and, pausing here, turned again to their
Can we start to-night, Mr. Droop?
Yes, indeed! he replied. The sooner the better.
That's splendid! she cried, and ran quickly up the stairs.
The two older people sat for a while in melancholy silence, looking
down. Each had hoped for more than this. Copernicus tried to convince
himself that the profit from the cough syrup would comfort him for his
disappointment. Rebecca dismissed with a sigh the dreams which she had
allowed herself to entertainthose bright fictions centering on Joe
Chandlernot the subdued old bachelor of 1898, but the jolly young
fellow of the famous Centennial year.
At length Rebecca looked up and said:
After all, Mr. Droop, come to think of it, you've no call to take
us with ye. I can't do ye any goodgoin' back only six years.
Yes ye can, said Droop. I'll need somebody to help me keep house
in the Panchronicon. I ain't no hand at cookin' an' all, an' besides,
it'll be mighty lonely without anybody in there.
Well, she rejoined, rising, I'll jest go up an' finish my
An' I'll go tend to mine.
As they parted at the front door, it was arranged that Droop was to
bring a wheelbarrow after supper and transport the sisters' belongings,
preparatory to their departure.
The rest of the day was spent in preparation for the momentous
voyage. Phoebe went to the little bank at Peltonville station and
withdrew the entire savings of herself and sister, much to the
astonishment and concern of the cashier. She walked all the way to the
bank and back alone, for it was obviously necessary to avoid
When the two sisters stood in their little dining-room with the heap
of greenbacks on the table before them, Rebecca was attacked by another
I don't hardly know as we're doin' right, Phoebe, she said,
shaking her head dubiously. When we get back to 1892 we'd ought to
find some money in the bank already. Ef we hev this with us, too, seems
to me we'll hev more'n we're entitled to. Ain't it a good deal like
cheatin' the bank?
Mercy, no! Phoebe exclaimed, pettishly. You're forever raisin'
some trouble like that! Ain't this our money?
Well, then, what's the use o' talkin' 'bout it? Just wait till we
can mention your trouble to Mr. Droop. He'll have a good answer for
But s'posin' he can't answer it? Rebecca insisted.
Well, if he can't we can give back the difference to the bank.
So saying, Phoebe took her share of the bills and quickly left the
I've got lots of things to do before night, she remarked.
At promptly half-past nine all the lights in the house were
extinguished, and the two sisters sat together in the dark parlor
awaiting Copernicus. It was Rebecca who had insisted on putting out the
Ef folks was to see lights here so late in the night, she said,
they'd suspicion somethin' an' they might even call in.
Phoebe admitted the justness of this reasoning, and they had both
directed every endeavor to completing all their arrangements before
their accustomed bed-time.
It was not long after this that a stealthy step was heard on the
gravel path and Phoebe hurried to the door. Copernicus came in with a
low word of greeting and followed the ghostly shadow of his hostess
into the parlor.
The three stood together in the dark and conversed in an undertone,
like so many conspirators surrounded by spies.
Hev ye got everythin' ready? Droop asked.
Yes, said Phoebe. The's only two little trunks for you. Did you
bring the wheelbarrow?
YepI left it outside the gate. 'Twould hev made a lot of noise on
the gravel inside.
That's right, said Phoebe. I guess you'll not have any trouble to
carry both o' those trunks at once. We haven't packed only a few
things, 'cause I expect we'll find all our old duds ready for us in
1892, won't we?
Why, 'f course, said Droop.
But how 'bout linensheets an' table-cloths an' all? said
Rebecca. We'll need some o' them on the trip, won't we?
I've got a hull slew o' them things in the Panchronicon, said
Copernicus. Ye won't hev to bother a bit about sech things.
How long do you s'pose it'll take to make the trip, asked Phoebe.
I mean by the clock? We won't have to do any washing on the way, will
I don't see how we can, Rebecca broke in. The's not a blessed tub
on the hull machine.
No, no, said Droop, reassuringly. We'll make a bee-line for the
pole, an' we'll go 'bout three times as fast as a lightnin' express
train. We'd ought to reach there in about twenty-four hours, I guess.
Then we'll take it easy cuttin' meridians, so's not to suffer from side
Side weight! exclaimed the two women together.
Yes, said Droop. That's a complaint ye get ef ye unwind the time
too fast. Ye see, growin' young isn't a thing folks is used to, an' it
disgrummages the hull constitution ef ye grow young too fast. Well, 's
I was a-sayin', I guess it'll take 'bout eighteen hours by the clock to
cut back six years. Thet's by the clock, ye understand. As a matter of
fact, of course, we'll be just six years less'n no time in finishin'
Well, said Phoebe, briskly, that's no kind o' reason fer dawdlin'
about it now. Let's be startin'.
Where's the trunks? said Droop.
The trunks were pointed out, and with very little trouble Copernicus
put them onto the barrow. He then came to the door for his last
'S anythin' more? he asked.
No, said Rebecca. We'll bring on our special duds in our arms.
We'll wait a spell an' come on separate.
The door was carefully closed and they soon heard the slight creak
of the weighted wheel as Droop set off with the trunks for Burnham's
Now, then, said Phoebe, bustling into the parlor, let's get our
things all together ready to start. Have ye got your satchel with the
money in it?
Rebecca gently slapped a black leather bag hanging at her side.
Here 'tis, she said.
Let's see, Phoebe went on. Here's my box with the letters an'
miniature, here's the box with the jewelry, an' here's that book Mrs.
Bolton gave me about Bacon writin' Shakespeare.
Whatever air ye takin' that old book fer, Phoebe?
Why, to read on the trainI mean on the way, ye know. We'll likely
find it pretty pokey in that one room all day.
I don't know what ye mean by 'all day,' Rebecca exclaimed in a
discouraged tone. So far's I see, th'ain't goin' to be any days.
What'll it feel likelivin' backward that way? D'ye guess it'll make
us feel sick, like ridin' backward in the cars?
Don't ask me, Phoebe exclaimed, despairingly. 'F I knew what
'twas like, perhaps I wouldn't feel so like goin'.
She straightened herself suddenly and stood rigid.
Hark! she exclaimed. Is that Mr. Droop comin' back, d'you
There were distinctly audible footsteps on the path.
Phoebe came out into the hall on tiptoe and stood beside her sister.
There was a knock on the door. The two sisters gripped each other's
'Taint Copernicus! Rebecca whispered very low.
The knock was repeated; rather louder this time. Then
Miss WiseMiss Wiseare ye to home?
It was a woman's voice.
Sarah Allen! Phoebe exclaimed under her breath.
Whatever shall we do? Rebecca replied.
Miss Wise, the voice repeated, and then their visitor knocked
again, much more loudly.
I'll go to the door, exclaimed Phoebe.
I must. She'll raise the whole town if I don't.
So saying, Phoebe walked noisily to the door and unlocked it.
Is that you, Mis' Allen? she asked.
The door was opened, and Phoebe found herself face to face with a
short, light woman whose white garments shone gray in the night.
Why, you're up'n dressed! exclaimed Mrs. Allen. She did not offer
to enter, but went on excitedly:
Miss Phoebe, she said, d'you know I b'lieve you've ben robbed.
Yes; on'y a minute ago I was a-comin' up the road from M'ria
Payson'syou know she's right sick an' I've ben givin' her
massidgean' what sh'd I see but a man comin' out o' your gate with
suthin' on his shoulder. I couldn't see who 'twas, an' he was so quiet
an' sneaky without a light that I jest slipped behind a tree. You know
I've ben dreadful skeery ever sence Tom was brought home with his arm
broke after a fight with a strange man in the dark. Well, this man
to-night he put the bundle or what not into a wheelbarrow an' set off
quiet as a mouse. He went off down that way, an' says I to myself,
'It's a robber ben burglin' at the Wise's house,' says I, an' I come
straight here to see ef ye was both murdered or what. Air ye all right?
Hez he broken yer door? Hev ye missed anythin'?
As the little woman paused for breath, Phoebe seized her
Did you say he went off to the north, Mis' Allen? she said, with
Oh, dearoh, dear! cried Phoebe, wringing her hands. Didn't I
say I heard a noiseI told you I heard a burglar, Rebecca, she went
on, hysterically, turning to her sister.
Is Miss Rebecca there? asked Mrs. Allen.
Rebecca came forward in silence. She was quite nonplussed. To tell
the truth, Phoebe's sudden outburst was as great a tax upon her nerves
as Mrs. Allen's unwelcome visit. Surely Phoebe had said nothing about a
burglar! It was Droop that Mrs. Allen had seenof course it was. She
dared not say so in their visitor's presence, but she wondered mightily
at Phoebe's apparent perturbation.
Phoebe guessed her sister's mental confusion, and she sought to draw
Mrs. Allen's attention to herself to avoid the betrayal of their plans
which would certainly follow Rebecca's joining the conversation.
Mis' Allen, she exclaimed, excitedly, the's just one thing to be
done. Won't you run's quick's ever you can to Si Pray, an' ask him to
bring his gun? You won't meet the burglar 'cause he's gone the other
way. Rebecca 'nd I'll jest wait here for you an' Si. I'll get some hot
water from the kitchen, in case the burglar should come back while
you're gone. Oh, please will you do it?
Course I will, was the nervous reply. This hint of the possible
return of the robbers made an immediate retreat seem very desirable.
I'll go right now. Won't be gone a minute. Lock your door nowquick!
She turned and sped down the path. She had not reached the gate
before Phoebe walked rapidly into the parlor.
Quickquick! she panted, frantically gathering up her belongings.
Get your duds an' come along.
But what d'you
Comecomecome! cried Phoebe. Come quick or they'll all be
here. Gun and all!
With her arm full of bundles, Phoebe rushed back through the hall
and out of the front door. Rebecca followed her, drawn along by the
fiery momentum of her sister.
Lock the front door, Rebecca, Phoebe cried. Then, as she reached
the gate and found it fastened: Here, I can't undo the gate. My hands
are full. Oh, do hurry, Rebecca! We haven't a minute!
The elder sister locked the front door and started down the path in
such a nervous fever that she left the key in the lock. Half way to the
gate she paused.
Come oncome on! Phoebe cried, stamping her foot.
My land! stammered Rebecca. I've forgot everythin'! She started
back, running with short, unaccustomed steps.
My umbrella! she gasped. My recipesmy slips!
Phoebe was speechless with anger and apprehension at this delay, and
Rebecca was therefore allowed to re-enter the house without objection.
In a short time she reappeared carrying an umbrella, two
flower-pots, and a folded newspaper.
There! she panted, as she came up to her sister and opened the
gate. Now I guess I've got everythin'!
Silently and swiftly the two women sped northward, following the
imaginary burglar, while the devoted Mrs. Allen ran breathless in the
opposite direction for Si Pray and his gun.
We'll hev to go more careful here, said Rebecca as they turned
into the lane leading down to the swamp.
With many a stumble and some scratches they moved more slowly down
the rutted track until at length they reached the point where they were
to turn into the swamp.
Here the sisters leaned against the wall to rest and recover breath.
My goodness, but that was a narrow escape! murmured Phoebe.
Yes, said Rebecca, with reproachful sadness; but I'm afraid you
paid a heavy price fer it, Phoebe!
What do you mean?
Why, 's fur's I could make out, you told Mis' Allen a deliberate
wrong story, Phoebe Wise.
What did I say? said Phoebe, in shocked surprise.
You said you hed told me you'd heerd a burglar!
Did I say that? Those very words?
Why, you know you did.
Wasn't it a question, Rebecca? Phoebe insisted. Didn't I ask
you ef I hadn't told you I heard a burglar?
No, it was a plain downright wrong story, Phoebe, an' you needn't
to try to sneak out of it.
Phoebe was silent for a few moments, and then Rebecca heard her
laugh. It was a very little, rippling thingbut it was genuinethere
was real light-heartedness behind it.
Phoebe Wise! exclaimed Rebecca, how ken you laugh so? I wouldn't
hev the weight of sech a thing on my mind fer a good deal.
Well, Rebecca, tittered her sister, I didn't have it on my mind
yesterday, did I?
An' won't it be yesterday for us mighty soonyes, an' a heap
longer ago than that?
She laughed again merrily and began to climb over the wall, a
proceeding not rendered easier by the various articles in her hands.
A few minutes later the two women had joined Copernicus within his
mysterious machine and were standing in the brightly lighted
antechamber at the head of the stairs.
Wellwell! cried Droop, as he caught sight of the two women for
the first time in the light. Where ever did ye get them funny dresses?
Why, your sleeves is all puffed out near the shoulders!
These are some of our old dresses, said Rebecca. They was made in
1891, an' we thought they'd prob'bly be more in the fashion back in
1892 when we get there than our newer dresses.
Never mind our dresses, Mr. Droop, said Phoebe. Where can we put
down all these things? My arms are breakin' off.
Right here, Cousin Phoebe.
Droop bustled over to the state-rooms, opening both the doors at
Here's a room apiece fer ye. Take yer choice.
Oh, but where'll you sleep? said Phoebe. P'raps Rebecca and I'd
better have one room together.
Not a bit of it, said Droop. I'll sleep on one o' them settles
under the windows. They're real comfortable.
Welljust as you say.
The sisters entered their rooms and deposited their bundles, but
Phoebe returned at once and called to Droop, who had started down the
Mr. Droop, you've got to start right straight off. Mrs. Allen knows
't you've carried off the trunk and she's comin' after us with Si Pray
an' a gun.
Just then they heard the loud barking of a dog. He was apparently
running rapidly down the lane.
Sakes alive! cried Phoebe, in alarm. Slam to that door,
Copernicus Droop! Si has let his dog loose an' he's on your tracks!
The baying was repeatednow much nearer. Droop clattered
frantically down the stairs, and shut the door with a bang. At the next
moment a heavy body leaped against it, and a man's voice was heard
close at hand.
Sic um, Touser, sic um! Where is he, boy?
Up the stairs went Copernicus two steps at a time. He dashed into
the anteroom, pale and breathless.
Lie down on the floor! he shouted. Lie down or ye'll get throwed
down. I'm agoin' to start her!
By this time he had opened the engine-room door.
The two women promptly lay flat on their backs on the carpet.
Droop braced himself firmly and had just grasped the starting lever
when a cry from Rebecca arrested him.
Copernicus Droophold on! she cried.
He turned to her, his face full of anxious fear. Rebecca lay on her
back with her hands at her sides, but her head was raised stiffly from
Copernicus Droop, she said, solemnly, hev ye brought any rum
aboard with ye? 'Cause if ye have I won't
She never concluded, for at this moment her head was jerked back
sharply against the floor by a tremendous upward leap of the machine.
There was a hissing roar as of a thousand rockets, and even as
Rebecca was wondering, half stunned, why she saw so many jumping
lights, Si Pray gazed open-mouthed at the ascension of a mysterious
dark body apparently aimed at the sky.
The Panchronicon had started.
CHAPTER IV. A CHANGE OF PLAN
It was long after their bed-time and the two sisters were utterly
exhausted; but as the mysterious structure within which they lay glided
northward between heaven and earth with the speed of a meteor, Rebecca
and Phoebe long courted sleep in vain.
The excitement of their past adventures, the unreal wonder of their
present situation, the bewildering possibilities and impossibilities of
their future plansall these conspired to banish sleep until long past
midnight. It was not until, speeding due north with the unswerving
obedience of a magnet, their vessel was sailing far above the waters of
the upper Saguenay, that they at length sank to rest.
They were awakened next morning by a knocking upon Rebecca's door.
It's pretty nigh eight-thirty, Droop cried. I've got the kettle
on the range, but I don't know what to do nex'.
What! Why! Who! Where! Sakes! what's this?
Rebecca sat up in bed, unable to place herself.
It's pretty nigh half-past eight, Copernicus repeated. Long after
breakfast-time. I'm hungry!
By this time Phoebe was wide awake.
All right! she cried. We'll come in a minute.
Then Rebecca knew where she wasor rather realized that she did not
know. But fortunately a duty was awaiting her in the kitchen and this
steadied a mind which seemed to her to need some support in the midst
of these unwonted happenings.
Phoebe was the first to leave her bedroom. She had dressed with
frantic speed. In her haste to get to the windows and see the world
from the sky, she had secured her hair very imperfectly, and Droop was
favored with a charming display of bright locks, picturesquely
Good-mornin', Cousin Phoebe, he said, with his suavest manner.
Good-morning, Mr. Droop, Phoebe replied. Where are we? Is
everything all right?
She made straight for one of the windows the iron shutters of which
were now open.
I wish't you'd call me Cousin Copernicus, Droop remarked.
Ohoh! What a beautiful world!
Phoebe leaned her face close to the glass and gazed spell-bound at
the wonderful landscape spread before her.
The whole atmosphere seemed filled with a clear, cold sunlight whose
brilliance irradiated the giant sphere of earth so far away.
Directly below and to the right of their course, as far as she could
see, there was one vast expanse of dark blue sea, gilded dazzlingly
over one portion where the sun's beams were reflected. Far ahead to the
north and as far behind them the sea was bordered with the fantastic
curves of a faint blue coast dotted and lined with the shadows of many
a hill and mountain. It was a map on which she was gazing. Nature's own
mapthe only perfect chart in the world.
So newso intensely, almost painfully, beautiful was this scene
that Phoebe stood transfixedfascinated. She did not even think of
The scene was not so new to Droopand besides he was a prey to an
insistent appetite. His mental energies, therefore, sought expression
Approaching Phoebe's side, he said:
Mighty pretty, ain't it?
She did not reply, so he continued:
That water right under us is Hudson Strait. The ocean to the right
is the Atlantic. Ye can see Hudson's Bay off to the left out o' one o'
them windows. I've ben lookin' it up on the map.
He strolled toward the table, as if inviting Phoebe to see his chart
which lay there unrolled. She did not follow him.
Yes, he continued, that's Hudson Strait, and we're four miles
high, an' that's all I'll tell ye till I have my breakfast.
He gazed wistfully at Phoebe, who did not move or speak, but let her
eyes wander in awed delight over the wonders thus brought before them.
Just then Rebecca emerged from her room.
Good-mornin', she said. I guess I'm late.
Good-mornin', Cousin Rebecca; I guess ye are a mite late. Cousin
Phoebe won't moveso I'm sayin' we're four miles high an' right over
Hudson Strait, an' that's all I'll tell ye till I get my breakfast.
Goodness me! exclaimed Rebecca. Ain't that mos' too high, Mr.
Droop? She hurried to the window and looked out.
Sakes alive! she gasped.
She was silent for a moment, awed in her turn by the immensity of
Whybutit's all water underneath! she exclaimed at last. Ef we
was to fall now, we'd be drowned!
Now don't you be a mite skeert, said Droop, with reassuring
politeness. We've ben scootin' along like this all night an'an' the
fact is, I've got the kettle onp'raps it's b'iled over.
Rebecca turned from the window at once and made for the kitchen.
Phoebe, she said, briskly, you set the table now an' I'll hev
breakfast ready in a twinklin'.
Reluctantly Phoebe left the window and Droop soon had the
satisfaction of sauntering back and forth between kitchen and
dining-table in pleased supervision of the progress of both.
In due time a simple but substantial breakfast was in readiness, and
the three travellers were seated around the table partaking of the meal
each in his own way.
Droop was business-like, almost enthusiastic, in his voracious
hunger. Rebecca ate moderately and without haste, precisely as though
seated in the little Peltonville cottage. Phoebe ate but little. She
was overcome by the wonders she had seen, realizing for the first time
the marvellous situation in which she found herself.
It was not until the table was cleared and the two women were busy
with the dishes that conversation was resumed. Droop sat with his chair
tilted backward against the kitchen wall enjoying a quiet satisfaction
with his lot and a kindly mental attitude toward all men.
He glanced through the kitchen door at the barometer on the wall in
the outer room.
We've climbed near a mile since before breakfast, he remarked.
Rebecca paused before hanging up the soap-shaker.
Look here, Mr. Droop, she said, anxiously, we are mos' too high
a'ready, I think. S'posin' we was to fall down. Where do you s'pose
Why, Rebecca, said Phoebe, laughing, do you suppose five miles is
any worse than four? I guess we'd be killed by falling one mile jest as
quick as five.
Quicker! Droop exclaimed. Considerable quicker, Cousin Rebecca,
fer it would take us a good deal longer to fall five miles than it
But what ever's the use o' keepin' on a-climbin'?
Why, that's the nature of this machine, he replied. Ye see, it
runs on the rocket principle by spurtin' out gases. Ef we want to go up
off the ground we squirt out under the machine an' that gives us a
h'ist. Then, when we get 'way up high, we spread out a pair o' big
wings like and start the propeller at the stern end o' the thing. Now
them wings on'y holds us up by bein' inclined a mite in front, and
consequence is we're mighty apt to climb a little right 'long.
Well, but won't we get too high? suggested Phoebe. Ain't the air
too thin up very high?
Of course, we mustn't go too high, Droop conceded, an' I was just
a-thinkin' it wouldn't go amiss to let down a spell.
He rose and started for the engine-room.
How do you let down? Phoebe asked, pausing in her work.
Why, I jest turn the wings horizontal, ye know, an' then we sink
very slow till I incline 'em up again.
He disappeared. Phoebe gave the last of the dishes a brief touch of
the dish-towel and then ran into the main room to watch the barometer.
She was much interested to observe a gradual but continual decrease
in their altitude. She walked to the window but could see no apparent
change, save that they had now passed the sea and only the blue land
with silver streaks of river and indigo hill shadows was beneath them.
How fast do you s'pose we're flyin', Mr. Droop? she asked.
There's the speed indicator, he said, pointing to one of the dials
on the wall. Ye see it says we're a-hummin' along at about one hundred
an' thirty miles an hour.
My gracious! cried Phoebe. What if we was to hit something!
Nothin' to hit, said Droop, with a smile. Ye see, the's no sort
o' use goin' any slower, an' besides, this quick travellin' keeps us
Why, how's that?
The sides o' the machine rubbin' on the air, said Droop.
That's so, Phoebe replied. That's what heats up meteors so awful
hot, ain't it?
Rebecca came out of the kitchen at this moment.
I must say ye wasn't particler about gettin' all the pans to rights
'fore ye left the kitchen, Phoebe. Ben makin' the beds?
Land, no, Rebecca! said Phoebe, blushing guiltily.
Rebecca said no more, but her set lips and puckered forehead spoke
much of displeasure as she stalked across to the state-rooms.
Well, I declare to goodness! she cried, as she opened her door.
Ye hevn't even opened the window to air the rooms!
Phoebe looked quite miserable at thought of her remissness, but
Copernicus came bravely to the rescue.
The windows can't be opened, Cousin Rebecca, he said. Ef ye was
to open one, 'twould blow yer head's bald as an egg in a minute.
Yes, said Phoebe, briskly, I couldn't air the beds an' make 'em
because we're going one hundred and thirty odd miles an hour, Rebecca.
D'you mean to tell me, Copernicus Droop, cried the outraged
spinster, that I've got to go 'thout airin' my bed?
No, no, Copernicus said, soothingly. The's special arrangements
to keep ventilation goin'. Jest leave the bed open half the day an'
it'll be all aired.
Rebecca looked far from pleased at this.
I declare, ef I'd known of all these doin's, she muttered.
Unable to remain idle, she set to work putting things to rights,
as she called it, while Phoebe took her book to the west window and was
soon lost in certain modern theories concerning the Baconian authorship
of Shakespeare's works.
Is these duds yourn, Mr. Droop? asked Rebecca, sharply, pointing
to a motley collection of goods piled in one corner of the main room.
Yes, Droop replied, coming quickly to her side. Them's some of
the inventions I'm carryin' along.
He stooped and gathered up a number of boxes and bundles in his
arms. Then he stood up and looked about him as though seeking a safe
place for their deposit.
That's all right, said Rebecca. Ye can put 'em right back, Mr.
Droop. I jest wanted to see whether the' was much dust back in there.
Droop replaced his goods with a sigh of relief. One box he retained,
however, and, placing it upon the table, proceeded to unpack it.
Rebecca now turned her attention to her own belongings. Lifting one
of her precious flower-pots carefully, she looked all about for a more
suitable location for her plants.
Phoebe, she exclaimed at length, where ever can I set my slips?
They ought to be in the sun there by the east window, but it'll dirt up
the coverin' of the settle.
Phoebe looked up from her book.
Why don't ye spread out that newspaper you brought with you? she
Rebecca shook her head.
No, she replied, I couldn't do thet. The's a lot o' fine recipes
in thereI never could make my sweet pickle as good as thet recipe in
the New York paper thet Molly sent me.
Phoebe laid down her book and walked over to her sister's side.
Oh, the' must be some part of it you can use, Rebecca, she said.
Land sakes! she continued, laughing. Why, it's the whole of the
New York World for a Sundaypictures an' all! Heretake this
advertisin' piece an' spread it outso.
She tore off a portion of the voluminous paper and carefully spread
it out on one of the eastern settles.
Whatever did you bring those slips with you for? she asked.
Rebecca deposited the flower-pots carefully in the sun and slapped
her hands across each other to remove the dust on them.
One o' them is off my best honeysuckle thet come from a slip thet
Sam Mellick brought from Japan in 1894. This geranium come off a plant
thet was given me by Arabella Slade, 'fore she died in 1896, an' she
cut it off'n a geranium thet come from a lot thet Joe Chandler's father
raised from slips cut off of some plants down to Boston in the ground
that used to belong to our great-grandfather Wilkins 'fore the
This train of reasoning seemed satisfactory, and Phoebe turned to
resume her book.
Copernicus intercepted her as she passed the table.
What d'ye think o' this little phonograph, Cousin Phoebe? he said.
One of Droop's boxes stood open and beside it Phoebe saw a
phonograph with the usual spring motor and brass megaphone.
I paid twenty-five fer that, secon' hand, down to Keene, said the
There! exclaimed Phoebe. I've always wanted to know how those
things worked. I've heard 'em, you know, but I've never worked one.
It's real easy, said Droop, quite delighted to find Phoebe so
interested. Ye see, when it's wound up, all ye hev to do is to slip
one o' these wax cylinders on hereso.
He adjusted the cylinder, dropped the stylus and pushed the starting
Instantly the stentorian announcement rang out from the megaphone.
The Last Rose of SummerSolaSung by Signora Casta DivaEdison
Goodness gracious sakes alive! cried Rebecca, turning in affright.
Her two companions raised their right hands in a simultaneous appeal
for silence. Then the song began.
With open eyes and mouth, the amazed Rebecca drew slowly nearer, and
finally took her stand directly in front of the megaphone.
The song ended and Copernicus stopped the motor.
Oh, ain't it lovely! Phoebe cried.
WellI'llbeswitched! Rebecca exclaimed, with slow emphasis.
Can it sing anythin' else?
Didn't you never hear one afore, Cousin Rebecca? Droop asked.
I never did, she replied. What on the face of the green airth
Have ye any funny ones? Phoebe asked, quickly, fearful of
receiving a long scientific lecture.
Yes, said Droop. Here's a nigger minstrels. The's some jokes in
The loud preliminary announcement made Rebecca jump again, but while
the music and the songs and jokes were delivered, she stood earnestly
attentive throughout, while her companions grinned and giggled
Is thet all? she asked at the conclusion.
Thet's all, said Droop, as he removed the cylinder.
Well, I don't see nothin' funny 'bout it, she said, plaintively.
Droop's pride was touched.
Ah, but that ain't all it can do! he cried. Here's a blank
cylinder. You jest talk at the machine while it's runnin', an' it'll
talk back all you say.
This was too much for Rebecca's credulity, and Droop could not
induce her to talk into the trumpet.
You can't make a fool o' me, Copernicus Droop, she exclaimed.
You try, Cousin Phoebe, he said at last.
Phoebe looked dubiously at her sister as though half of opinion that
her shrewd example should be followed.
You sure it'll do it? she asked.
Certain! cried Copernicus, nodding his head with violence.
She stood a moment leaning over with her pretty lips close to the
Then she straightened up with a face of comical despair.
I don't know what to say, she exclaimed.
Droop stopped the motor and looked about the room. Suddenly his eyes
There, he cried, pointing to the book Phoebe had been reading,
read suthin' out o' that into it.
Phoebe opened the book at random, and as Droop started the motor
again she read the following lines slowly and distinctly into the
It is thus made clear from the indubitable evidence of the plays
themselves that Francis Bacon wrote the immortal works falsely ascribed
to William Shakespeare, and that the gigantic genius of this man was
the result of the possession of royal blood. In this unacknowledged son
of Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England, was made manifest to all
countries and for all centuries the glorious powers inherent in the
regal blood of England.
That'll do, said Droop. Now jest hear it talk back.
He substituted the repeating stylus for the recording point and set
the motor in motion once more. To the complete stupefaction of Rebecca,
the repetition of Phoebe's words was perfect.
Why! It's Phoebe's voice, she began, but Phoebe broke in upon her
Why, see the hills on each side of us, Mr. Droop, she cried.
Droop glanced out and leaped a foot from the ground.
Goramighty! he screamed, she'll strike! He dashed to the
engine-room and threw up the forward edges of the aeroplanes. Instantly
the vessel swooped upward and the hills Phoebe had seen appeared to
drop into some great abyss.
The two women ran to a window and saw that they were over a bleak
and rocky island covered with ice and snow.
Droop came to their side, quite pale with fright.
Great Moses! he exclaimed. I warn't more'n jest in time, I tell
ye! We was a-settlin' fast. A little more'n we'd ha' struck He
snapped the fingers of both hands and made a gesture expressive of the
complete destruction which would have resulted.
I tell you what, Mr. Droop, said Rebecca, sternly, but with a
little shake in her voice, you've got to jest tend to business and
navigate this thing we're a-ridin' on. You can't work and play too.
Don't you say anythin' more to Phoebe or me till we get to the pole.
What time'll that be?
About six or half-past, I expect, said Droop, humbly. But I don't
see how I can be workin' all the time. The machine don't need it, an',
besides, I've got to eat, haven't I?
When it comes time fer your victuals, Phoebe'll watch the windows
an' the little clocks on the wall while I feed ye. But don't open yer
head agin now, only fer necessary talkin' an' eatin', till we get
there. I don't want any smash-ups 'round here.
Copernicus found it expedient to obey these instructions, and under
Rebecca's watchful generalship he was obliged to pace back and forth
from engine-room to window while Phoebe read and her sister knitted. So
passed the remainder of the day, save when at dinner-time the famished
man was relieved by his young lieutenant.
Immediately after supper, however, they all three posted themselves
at the windows, on the lookout for the North Pole. Droop slowed down
the propeller, and the aeroplanes being thus rendered less effective
they slowly descended.
They were passing over an endless plain of rough and ragged ice. In
every direction all the way to the horizon nothing could be seen but
the glare of white.
How'll you know when we get there? asked Phoebe.
Droop glanced apprehensively at Rebecca and replied in a whisper:
We'll see the pole a-stickin' up. We can't go wrong, you know. The
Panchronicon is fixed to guide itself allus due north.
You don't need to whisperspeak right up, Mr. Droop, said
Copernicus started, looked nervously about and then stared out of
the window northward with a very business-like frown.
Is the' really an' truly a pole there? Phoebe asked.
Yes, said Droop, shortly.
An' can ye see the meridians jammed together like in the
geographies? asked Rebecca.
No, said Droop, no, indeedat least, I didn't see any.
Why, Rebecca, said Phoebe, the meridians are only conventional
signs, you know. They don't
Hallo! Droop cried, suddenly, what's that? He raised a spyglass
with which he had hitherto been playing and directed it northward for a
few seconds. Then he turned with a look of relief on his face.
It's the pole! he exclaimed.
Phoebe snatched the spyglass and applied it to her eye.
Yes, on the horizon she could discern a thin black line, rising
vertically from the plain of ice. Even as she looked it seemed to be
nearer, so rapid was their progress.
Droop went to the engine-room, lessened speed and brought the
aeroplanes to the horizontal. He could look directly forward through a
thick glass port directly over the starting-handle. Gradually the great
machine settled lower and lower. It was now running quite slowly and
the aeroplanes acted only as parachutes as they glided still forward
toward the black upright line.
In silence the three waited for the approaching end of this first
stage of their journey. A few hundred yards south of their goal they
seemed about to alight, but Droop slightly inclined the aeroplanes and
speeded up the propeller a little. Their vessel swept gently upward and
northward again, like a gull rising from the sea. Then Droop let it
settle again. Just as they were about to fall rather violently upon the
solid mass of ice below them, he projected a relatively small volume of
gas from beneath the structure. Its reaction eased their descent, and
they settled down without noise or shock.
They had arrived!
Copernicus came forward to the window and pointed to a tall, stout
steel pole projecting from the ice a few yards to the right of the
Thet, neighbors, is the North Pole! he said, with a sweeping wave
of the hand.
For some minutes the three voyagers stood in silence gazing through
the window at the famous pole. This, then, was the goal of so much
heroic endeavor! It was to reach this complete opposite of all that is
ordinarily attractive that countless ambitious men had sufferedthat
so many had died!
Well! exclaimed Rebecca at length. I be switched ef I see what
there is fer so many folks to make sech a fuss about!
Droop scratched his head thoughtfully and made no reply. Surely it
would have been hard to point out any charms in the endless plain of
opaque ice hummocks, unrelieved save by that gaunt steel pole.
Where's the open sea? Rebecca asked, after a few moments' pause.
Dr. Kane said the' was an open sea up here.
Oh, Dr. Kane! said Droop, contemptuously. He's no 'count fer
What I can't understand, said Phoebe, is how it comes that, if
nobody's ever been up here, they all seem to know there's a North Pole
That's a fact, Rebecca exclaimed. How'd they know about it? The'
ain't anythin' in the Bible 'bout it, is the'?
Droop looked more cheerful at this and answered briskly:
Oh, they don't know 'bout it. Ye see, that pole there ain't a
nat'ral product of the soil at all. Et's the future man done thatthe
man who invented this Panchronicon and brought me up here before. He
told me how that he stuck that post in there to help him run this
machine 'round and 'round fer cuttin' meridians.
Oh! exclaimed both sisters together.
Yes, Droop continued. D'ye see thet big iron ring 'round the
pole, lyin' on the ground?
I don't see any ground, said Rebecca, ruefully.
Well, on the ice, then. Don't ye see it lyin' black there against
Yesyes, I see it, said Phoebe.
Well, that's what I'm goin' to hitch the holdin' rope on to. You'll
see how it's done presently.
He glanced at the clock.
Seven o'clock, he said. I guessed mighty close when I said
'twould take us twenty hours. We left Peltonville at ten-thirty last
Seven o'clock! cried Rebecca. So 'tis. Why, what's the matter
with the sun. Ain't it goin' to set at all?
Not much! said Droop, chuckling. Sun don't set up here, Cousin
Rebecca. Not until winter-time, an' then et stays set till summer
Well! was the breathless reply. An' where in creation does it go
when it stays set?
Why, Rebecca, exclaimed Phoebe, the sun is south of the equator
in winter, you know.
Shinin' on the South Pole then, Droop added, nodding.
For a moment Rebecca looked from one to the other of her companions,
and then, realizing the necessity of keeping her mind within its
accustomed sphere, she changed the subject.
Come nowthe' ain't any wind to blow us away now, I hope. Let's
open our windows an' air out those state-rooms.
She started toward her door.
Hold on! cried Droop, extending his arm to stop her. You don't
want to fall down dead o' cold, do ye?
Don't you know what a North Pole is like fer weather an' sich?
Droop continued. Why, Cousin Rebecca, it's mos' any 'mount below zero
outside. Don't you open a windownot a tiny crackif ye don't want to
freeze solid in a second.
There! Rebecca exclaimed. You do provoke me beyond anythin',
Copernicus Droop! Ef I'd a-knowed the kind o' way we'd had to
livewhy, there! It's wuss'n pigs!
She marched indignantly into her room and closed the door. A moment
later she put out her head.
Phoebe Wise, she said, if you take my advice, you'll make your
bed an' tidy yer room at once. Ain't any use waitin' any longer fer a
chance to air.
Phoebe smiled and moved toward her own door.
Thet's a good idea, said Droop. You fix yer rooms an' I'll do
some figurin'. Ye see I've got to figure out how long it'll take us to
get back six years. I've a notion it'll take about eighteen hours, but
I ain't certain sure.
Poor Rebecca set to work in her rooms with far from enviable
feelings. Her curiosity had been largely satisfied and the unwonted
conditions were proving very trying indeed. Could she have set out with
the prospect of returning to those magical days of youth and courtship,
as Droop had originally proposed, the end would have justified the
means. But they could not do this now if they would, for Phoebe had
left her baby clothes behind. Thus her disappointment added to her
burdens, and she found herself wishing that she had never left her
comfortable home, however amazing had been her adventures.
I could'v aired my bed at least, she muttered, as she turned the
mattress of her couch in the solitude of her chamber.
She found the long-accustomed details of chamber work a comfort and
solace, and, as she finally gazed about the tidy room at her completed
work, she felt far more contented with her lot than she had felt before
I guess I'll go help Phoebe, she thought. The girl is that slow!
As she came from her room she found Copernicus leaning over the
table, one hand buried in his hair and the other wielding a pencil. He
was absorbed in arithmetical calculations.
She did not disturb him, but turned and entered Phoebe's room
without the formality of knocking. As she opened the door, there was a
sharp clatter, as of a door or lid slamming.
Who's there? cried Phoebe, sharply.
She was seated on the floor in front of her trunk, and she looked up
at her sister with a flushed and startled face.
Oh, it's you! she said, guiltily.
Rebecca glanced at the bed.
It had not been touched.
Well, I declare! Rebecca exclaimed. Ain't you ever agoin' to fix
up your room, Phoebe Wise?
Oh, in a minute, Rebecca. I was just agoin' over my trunk a
She leaned back against the foot of the bed, and folding her hands
gazed pensively into vacancy, while Rebecca stared at her in
Do you know, Phoebe went on, I've ben thinkin' it's awful mean
not to give you a chance to go back to 1876, Rebecca. Joe Chandler's a
mighty fine man!
Rebecca gave vent to an unintelligible murmur and turned to Phoebe's
bed. She grasped the mattress and gave it a vicious shake as she turned
it over. She was probably only transferring to this inoffensive article
a process which she would gladly have applied elsewhere.
There was a long silence while Rebecca resentfully drew the sheets
into proper position, smoothed them with swift pats and caressings, and
tucked them neatly under at head and sides. Then came a soft,
The spinster made no reply but applied herself to a mathematically
accurate adjustment of the top edge of the upper sheet.
The second call was a little louder than the first, and there was a
queer half-sobbing, half-laughing catch in the speaker's voice that
Rebecca looked up.
Phoebe was still sitting on the floor beside her trunk, but the
trunk was open now and the young woman's rosy face was peering with a
pathetic smile over awhat!could it be!
Rebecca leaned forward in amazement.
Yes, it was! In Phoebe's outstretched hands was the dearest possible
little baby's undergarmentall of cambric, with narrow ribbons at the
For a few seconds the two sisters looked at each other over this
unexpected barrier. Then Phoebe's lips quivered into a pathetic curve
and she buried her face in the little garment, laughing and crying at
Rebecca dropped helplessly into a chair.
Phoebe Martin Wise! she exclaimed. Do you meanhev you
She fell silent, and then, darting at her sister, she took her head
in her hands and deposited a sudden kiss on the smooth bright
gold-brown hair and whisked out of Phoebe's room and into her own.
In the meantime Copernicus was too deeply absorbed in his
calculations to notice these comings and goings. Apparently he had been
led into the most abstruse mathematical regions. Nothing short of the
triple integration of transcendental functions should have been
adequate to produce those lines of anxious care in his face as he
slowly covered sheet after sheet with figures.
He was at length startled from his preoccupation by a gentle voice
at his side.
Can't I help, Mr. Droop?
It was Phoebe, who, having made all right in her room and washed all
traces of tears from her face, had come to note Droop's progress.
Dazed, he raised his head and looked unexpectedly into a lovely face
made the more attractive by an expression only given by a sense of duty
II wish'd you'd call me Cousin Copernicus, he said for the fifth
She picked up one of the sheets on which he had been scribbling as
though she had not heard him, and said:
Why, dear me! How comes it you have so much figurin' to do?
Well, he began, in a querulous tone, it beats all creation how
many things a feller has to work out at once! Ye see, I've got a rope
forty foot long that's got to tie the Panchronicon to the North Pole
while we swing 'round to cut meridians. Now, then, the question is, How
many times an hour shall we swing 'round to get to 1892, an' how long's
it goin' to take an' how fast must I make the old thing hum along?
But you said eighteen hours by the clock would do it.
Well, I jest guessed at that by the time the future man an' I took
to go back five weeks, ye know. But I can't seem to figur it out
Phoebe seated herself at the table and took up a blank sheet of
Please lend me your pencil, she said. Now, then, every time you
whirl once 'round the pole to westward you lose one day, don't you?
That's it, said Droop, cheerfully. Cuttin' twenty-four
And how many days in twenty-two years? Phoebe broke in.
You mean in six years.
Why, no, she replied, glancing at Droop with a mischievous smile,
it's twenty-two years back to 1876, ain't it?
To '76why, but
He caught sight of her face and stopped short.
There came a pleased voice from one of the state-rooms.
Yes, we've decided to go all the way back, Mr. Droop.
It was Rebecca.
She came forward and stood beside her sister, placing one hand
affectionately upon her shoulder.
Droop leaned back in his chair with both hands on the edge of the
Goin' all the way! Why, but then
He leaped to his feet with a radiant face.
Great Jumpin' Jerusha! he cried.
Slapping his thigh he began to pace excitedly up and down.
Why, then, we'll get all the big inventions outkodak an'
phonograph and all. We'll marry Joe Chandler an' set things agoin' in
two shakes fer millions.
Eight thousand and thirty-five, said Phoebe in a quiet voice,
putting her pencil to her lips. We'll have to whirl round the pole
eight thousand and thirty-five times.
Whose goin' to keep count? asked Rebecca, cheerfully. Ah, how
different it all seemed now! Every dry detail was of interest.
Phoebe looked up at Droop, who now resumed his seat, somewhat
Don't have to keep count, he replied. See that indicator? he
continued, pointing to a dial in the ceiling which had not been noticed
before. That reads May 3, 1898, now, don't it? Well, it's fixed to
keep always tellin' the right date. It counts the whirls we make an'
keeps tabs on every day we go backward. Any time all ye hev to do is to
read that thing an' it'll tell ye jest what day 'tis.
Then what do you want to calculate how often to whirl round? asked
Phoebe, in disgusted tones.
Well, ye see I want to plan out how long it'll take, Droop
replied. I want to go slow so as to avoid side weightbut I don't
want to go too slow.
I see, said Phoebe. Well, then, how many times a minute did the
future man take you when you whirled back five weeks?
'Bout two times a minute.
That's one hundred and twenty times every hour. Did you feel much
side weight then?
Well, let's see. Divide eight thousand and thirty-five whirls by
one hundred and twenty, an' you get sixty-seven hours. So that, ef we
go at that rate it'll be two days and nineteen hours 'fore we get back
Don't talk about days, Droop objected. It's sixty-seven hours by
the clockbut it's twenty-two years less than no time in days, ye
Sixty-seven hours, said Phoebe. Well, that ain't so bad, is it?
Why not go round twice a minute?
We can't air our beds fer three days, Phoebe, said Rebecca.
But if we go much faster, we'll all be sick with this side weight
trouble that Mr. Droop tells about.
I vote fer twice a minute, said Droop. And so twice a minute was
Air ye goin' to start to-night, Mr. Droop? asked Rebecca.
Well, no, he replied. I think it's best to wait till to-morrow.
Ye see, the power that runs the Panchronicon is got out o' the sunlight
that falls on it. Of course, we're not all run out o' power by a good
lot, but we've used considerable, an' I think it's a little mite safer
to lie still fer a few hours here an' take in power from the sun. Ye
see, it'll shine steady on us all night, an' we'll store up enough
power to be sure o' reachin' 1876 in one clip.
Well, said Rebecca, ef thet's the plan, I'm goin' to bed right
now. It's after eight o'clock, an' I didn't get to sleep las' night
till goodness knows when. Good-night! Hedn't you better go, too,
I guess I will, said Phoebe, turning to Copernicus. Good-night,
Good-night, Cousin Phoebegood-night, Cousin Rebecca. I'll go to
bed myself, I b'lieve.
The two doors were closed and Droop proceeded to draw the steel
shutters in order to produce artificially the gloom not vouchsafed by a
In half an hour all were asleep within the now motionless
CHAPTER V. DROOP'S THEORY IN PRACTICE
All were up betimes when the faithful clock announced that it ought
to be morning. As for the sun, as though resenting the liberties about
to be taken by these adventurers with its normal functions, it refused
to set, and was found by the three travellers at the same altitude as
the night before.
Promptly after breakfast Droop proceeded to don a suit of furs which
he drew from a cupboard within the engine-room.
Ye'd better hev suthin' hot ready when I come in again, he said.
I 'xpect I'll be nigh froze to death.
He drew on a huge cap of bear's fur which extended from his crown to
his shoulders. There was a small hole in front which exposed only his
nose and eyes.
My, but you do look just like a pictur of Kris Kringle! laughed
Phoebe. Don't he, Rebecca?
Rebecca came to the kitchen door wiping a dish with slow circular
movements of her towel.
I don't guess you'll freeze very much with all that on, she
Thet shows you don't know what seventy or eighty below zero means,
said a muffled voice from within the fur cap. You'll hev suthin' hot,
won't ye? Droop continued, looking appealingly at Phoebe.
The'll be a pot o' good hot tea, she said. That'll warm you all
Droop thought of something more stimulating and fragrant, but said
nothing as he returned to the cupboard. Here he drew forth an
apparently endless piece of stout rope. This he wound in a thick coil
and hung over his head.
Now, then, he said, when I get down you shet the door at the top
of the stairs tight, coz jest's soon's I open the outside door, thet
hall's goin' to freeze up solid.
All right! said Phoebe. I'll see to it.
Droop descended the stairs with a heavy tread, and as he reached the
foot Phoebe closed the upper door, which she now noticed was provided
Then the two women stood at the windows on the right-hand side of
the vessel and watched Droop as he walked toward the pole. He raised
the huge iron ring, snapping over it a special coupling hook fixed to
the end of the rope.
Then he backed toward the vessel, unrolling the coil of rope as he
moved away from the pole. Evidently they were within the forty-foot
limit from the pole, for Droop had some rope to spare when he at length
reached under the machine to attach the end to a ring which the sisters
could not see.
He emerged from beneath the bulging side of the vessel swinging his
arms and blowing a mighty volume of steam, which turned to snow as it
left him. As he made directly for the entrance again, Phoebe ran to the
Poor man, he'll be perished! she exclaimed.
As Droop entered the room, bringing with him a bitter atmosphere,
Phoebe appeared with a large cup of hot tea.
Here, Mr. Droop, she said, drink this quick!
Copernicus pulled off his cap and sat down to drink his tea without
a word. When he had finished it, he pulled back his chair with a sigh.
Whillikins! But 'twas cold! he exclaimed. Seems mos' like heaven
to get into a nice warm room like this!
An' did ye get every thin' done right? Rebecca asked.
I guess I did, he said, emphatically. I don't want to take no two
bites out o' that kind o' cherry.
He rose and proceeded to remove his fur coverings.
Goin' to start right now? said Phoebe.
Might's well, I guess.
He proceeded to the engine-room, followed by Phoebe, who watched his
actions with the greatest interest.
What you doin' with that handle? she asked.
That sets the airyplane on the uptilt. I'm only settin' it a
mitejest 'nough to keep the machine from sinkin' down when we get to
How are you goin' to lift us up?
Just let out a mite o' gas below, said Droop. He suited the action
to the word, and, with a tremendous hissing beneath it, the vessel rose
Droop pulled the starting lever and they moved forward with
increasing speed. When they had gathered way, he shut off the gas
escape and carefully readjusted the aeroplanes until the machine as a
whole moved horizontally.
There was felt a slight jerk as they reached the end of the rope,
and then they began to move in a circle from east to west.
Phoebe glanced at the clock.
Just five minutes past eight, she said.
The sun was pouring its beams into the right-hand windows when they
started, but the shafts of light now began to sweep circularly across
the floor, and in a few moments, as they faced the sun, it ceased to
shine in from the right. Immediately afterward it shone in at the
left-hand windows and circled slowly around until again they were in
shadow with the sun behind them.
Droop took out his watch and timed their revolutions by the sun's
progress from window to window.
'Bout one to the minute, he remarked. Guess I'll speed her up a
Carefully he regulated the speed, timing their revolutions
There! he said at length. I guess that's pretty nigh two to the
minute. D'ye feel any side weight? he said, addressing his companions.
No, said Rebecca.
Phoebe shook her head.
You manage right well, Mr. Droop, she said. You must have
practised a good deal.
Oh, not much, he replied, greatly pleased. The future man showed
me how to work it threefour times. It's simple 'nough when ye
understand the principles.
These remarks brought a new idea to Rebecca's mind.
Why, Mr. Droop, she exclaimed, whatever's the use o' you goin'
back to 1876! Why don't ye jest set up as the inventor o' this machine?
I'm sure thet ought to make yer everlastin' fortune!
Oh, I thought o' that, he said. But it's one thing to know how to
work a thing an' it's a sight different to know how it's made an' all
that. The future man tried to explain all the new scientific principles
that was mixed into itfer makin' power an' allbut I couldn't
understand that part at all.
An' besides, exclaimed Phoebe, it's a heap more fun to be the
only ones can use the thing, I think.
Yesseems like fun's all we're thinkin' of, said Rebecca, rising
and moving toward the kitchen. We're jest settin' round doin' nothin'.
I'll finish with the breakfast things if you'll put to rights and dust,
Phoebe. We can't make beds till night with the windows tight shut.
These suggestions were followed by the two women, while Droop,
picking up the newspaper which Rebecca had brought, sat down to read.
After a long term of quiet reading, his attention was distracted by
I declare to goodness, Phoebe! she was saying. Seems's if every
chance you get, you go to readin' those old letters.
Well, the's one or two that's spelled so funny and written so badly
that I haven't been able yet to read them, Phoebe replied.
Droop looked over his paper. Phoebe and her sister were seated near
one of the windows on the opposite side.
P'raps I could help ye, Cousin Phoebe, he said. I've got mighty
Oh, 'tain't a question of eyesight, Phoebe replied, laughing.
Oh, I see, said Droop, smiling slyly, letters from some young
He winked knowingly at Rebecca, who drew herself up indignantly and
looked severely down at her knitting.
Phoebe blushed, but replied quite calmly:
Yessome of them from a young man, but they weren't any of them
written to me.
No? said Droop. Who was they to'f I may ask?
They were all written to this lady.
Phoebe held something out for Droop's inspection, and he walked over
to take it.
He recognized at once the miniature on ivory which he had seen once
before in Peltonville.
Well, he said, taking the portrait from her and eying it with his
head on one side, if ye hadn't said 'twasn't you, I'd certainly
a-thought 'twas. I'd mos' sworn 'twas your photygraph, Cousin Phoebe.
Who is it, anyway?
It isn't anybody, she replied, but it was Mistress Mary
Burton of Burton Hall. I'm one of her descendants, an' these are some
letters she had with her in this funny old carved box when she
disappeared with her lover. They fled to Holland and were married
there, the story goes, an' one o' their children came over in the early
days o' New England. He brought the letters an' the picture with him.
Well, now! I want to know! exclaimed Droop, in great admiration.
'Twouldn't be perlite, I s'pose, to ask to hear some o' them letters?
Would you like to hear some of them? Phoebe asked.
I would fer a fact, he replied.
Well, bring your chair over here and I'll read you one, she said.
Droop seated himself near the two sisters and Phoebe unfolded a
large and rather rough sheet of paper, yellow with age, on which Droop
perceived a bold scrawl in a faded ink.
This seems to have been from Mary Burton's father, Phoebe said. I
don't think he can have been a very nice man. This is what he says:
'Dear Poll'horrid nickname, isn't it?
Seems so to me, said Droop.
'Dear PollI'm starting behind the grays for London, on my way, as
you know ere this, to be knighted by her Majesty. I send this ahead by
Gregory on Bessshe being fast enow for my purposewhich is to get
thee straight out of the grip of that'
He uses a bad word there, she said, in a low tone. I'll go on and
leave that out.
Yes, do, said Droop.
'That aunt of thine,' she continued, reading. 'I know her
tricks and I learn how she hath suffered that'
There's another, said Phoebe.
Skip it, said Droop, gravely.
'That milk-and-water popinjay to come courting my Poll. So see
you follow Gregory, mistress, and without wait or parley come with him
to the Peacock Inn, where I lie to-night. The grays are in fine fettle
and thy black mare grows too fat for want of exercise. Thy
mother-in-law commands thy instant return with Gregory, having much
business forward with preparing gowns and fallals against our
presentation to her Majesty.'
It is signed 'Isaac Burton,' said Phoebe, and see, the paper was
sealed with a steel gauntlet.
Droop examined the seal carefully and then returned it, saying:
Looks to me like a bunch of 'sparagus tumbled over on one side.
But what always interests me most in this letter is the
postscript, she said. It reads: 'Thy mother thinks thou wilt make
better speed if I make thee to know that the players thou wottest
What's a 'wottest'? said Droop, in puzzled tones.
Wottest means knowesthaven't you read Shakespeare?
No, said Droop.
'The players thou wottest of are to stop at the Peacock, and will
be giving some sport there.'
Now, those players always interest me, Phoebe continued. Somehow
I can't help but believe that William Shakespeare
Fiddle ends! Rebecca interrupted. I've heard that talk
fifty-leven times an' I'm pinin' fer relief. Mr. Droop, would you mind
tellin' us what the time o' year is now. Seems to me that sun has
whirled in an' out o' that window 'nough times to bring us back to the
days o' creation.
Droop consulted the date indicator and announced that it was now
September 5, 1897.
Not a year yet! cried the two women together.
Why, no, said Copernicus. Ye see, we are takin' about three hours
to lose a year.
Fer the lands sakes! cried Rebecca. Can't we go a little faster?
My gracious, yes! said Droop. But I'm 'fraid o' the side weight
I'd rather hev side weight than wait forever, said Rebecca, with a
D'ye think ye could stand a little more speed, Cousin Phoebe? said
We might try, she replied.
Well, let's try, then, he said, and turned promptly to the
Very soon the difference in speed was felt, and as they found
themselves travelling more rapidly in a circle, the centrifugal force
now became distinctly perceptible.
The two women found themselves obliged to lean somewhat toward the
central pole to counteract this tendency, and as Copernicus emerged
from the engine-room he came toward the others at a decided angle to
There! now ye feel the side weight, he exclaimed.
My, ain't it funny! exclaimed Rebecca. Thet's the way I've felt
afore now when the cars was goin' round a curvekinder topplin' like.
Why, that is the centrifugal force, Phoebe said, with dignity.
It's the side weightthat's what I call it, Droop replied,
obstinately, and for some time there was silence.
How many years back are we makin' by the hour now, Mr. Droop?
Rebecca asked at length.
Jest a little over two hours fer a year now, he replied.
Well, said Rebecca, in a discontented tone, I think the old
Panchronicle is rayther a slow actin' concern, considerin' th' amount
o' side weight it makes. I declare I'm mos' tired out leanin' over to
one side, like old man Titus's paralytic cow.
Phoebe laughed and Droop replied:
If ye can't stand it or set it, why lay, Cousin Rebecca. The's good
settles all 'round.
With manifestly injured feelings Droop hunted up a book and sat down
to read in silence. The Panchronicon was his pet and he did not relish
its being thus contemned.
The remainder of the morning was spent in almost completely silent
work or reading. Droop scarce took his eyes from his book. Phoebe spent
part of the time deep in the Baconian work and part of the time
contemplating the monotonous landscape. Rebecca was dreaming of her
future pastor her past future, while her knitting grew steadily upon
The midday meal was duly prepared and disposed of, and, as the
afternoon wore away, the three travellers began to examine the date
indicator and to ask themselves surreptitiously whether or not they
actually felt any younger. They took sly peeps at each other's faces to
observe, if possible, any signs of returning youth.
By supper-time there was certainly a less aged air about each of the
three and the elders inwardly congratulated themselves upon the
unmistakable effects of another twelve hours.
Not long after the supper dishes had been washed, Rebecca took
Phoebe aside and said:
Phoebe, it seems to me you'd ought to be goin' to bed right soon,
now. You're only 'bout eighteen years old at present, an' you'll
certainly begin to grow smaller again very soon. It wouldn't hardly be
respectable fer ye to do yer shrinkin' out here.
This view of the probabilities had not yet struck Phoebe.
Why, no! she exclaimed, rather startled. II don't know's I
thought about it. But I certainly don't want Mr. Droop to see me when
my clothes begin to hang loose.
Then a new problem presented itself.
Come to think of it, Rebecca, she said, dolefully, what'll I do
all the time between full-grown and baby size? I didn't bring anything
but the littlest clothes, you know.
Thet's so, said Rebecca, thoughtfully. Then, after a pause: I
don't see but ye'll hev to stay abed, Phoebe, till we get to th' end,
she said, sympathetically.
There it is, said Phoebe, crossly. Gettin' sent to bed
a'readyeven before I expected it.
But 'tain't that, Phoebe, said Rebecca, with great concern. I
ain't sendin' ye to bedbutbutwhatever else can ye do with
a man in the house!
Nothin', Phoebe replied, with a toss of her chin.
She crossed the room and held out her hand to Droop.
Good-night, Mr. Droop, she said.
Surprised at this sudden demonstration of friendship, he took her
hand and tipped his head to one side as he looked into her face.
Next time you see me, I don't suppose you'll know me, I'll be so
little, she said, trying to laugh.
II wish't you'd call me Cousin Copernicus, he said, coaxingly.
Well, p'raps I will when I see ye again, she replied, freeing her
hand with a slight effort.
Rebecca retired shortly after her sister and Copernicus was once
more left alone. He rubbed his hands slowly, with a sense of
satisfaction, and glanced at the date dial.
July 2, 1892, he said to himself. I'm only thirty-four years old.
Don't feel any older than that, either.
He walked deliberately to the shutters, closed them and turned on
the electric light. Surrounded thus by the wonted conditions of night,
it was not long before he began to yawn. He removed his coat and shoes
and lay back in an easy chair to meditate at ease. He faced toward the
pole so that the side weight would tend to press him gently backward
into his chair and therefore not annoy him by calling for constant
He soon dozed off and was whisked through a quick succession of
fantastic dreams. Then he awoke suddenly, and as though someone had
spoken to him. Listening intently, he only heard the low murmur of the
machinery below and the ticking of the many clocks and indicators all
He closed his eyes, intending to take up that last dream where he
had been interrupted. He recollected that he had been on the very point
of some delightful consummation, but just what it was he could not
Sleep evaded him, however. His mind reverted to the all-important
question of the recovered years. He began to plan again.
This time he should not make his former mistakes. Nohe would not
only make immense wealth promptly with the great inventions, he would
give up liquor forever. It would be so easy in 1876, for he had never
taken up the unfortunate habit until 1888.
Thenrich, young, sober, he would seek out a charming, rosy,
good-natured girlsomething of the type of Phoebe, for instance. They
would be married and
He got up at this and looked at the clock. It was after midnight. He
looked at the date indicator. It said October 9, 1890.
Well, come! he thought. The old Panchronicon is a steady vessel.
She's keepin' right on.
He put on his shoes again, for something made him nervous and he
wished to walk up and down.
The first thing he did after his shoes were donned was to gaze at
himself in the mirror.
Don't look any younger, he thought, but I feel so. He walked
across the room once or twice.
Shucks! he exclaimed. Couldn't expect to look younger in these
old duds, an' at this time o' night, tootired like I am.
For some time he walked up and down, keeping his eyes resolutely
from the date indicator. Finally he threw himself down in the chair
again and closed his eyes, nervous and exhausted. He did not feel
sleepy, but he must have dozed, for the next time he looked at the
clock it was half-past one.
He put out the light and crossed to a settle. Here he lay at full
length courting sleep. When he awoke, he thought, refreshed and alert,
he would show his youth unmistakably.
But sleep would not return. He tried every position, every trick for
propitiating Morpheus. All in vain.
At length he rose again and turned on the light. It was two-fifteen.
This time he could not resist looking at the date indicator.
It said September 30, 1889.
Again he looked into the glass.
My, but I'm nervous! he thought as he turned away, disappointed.
I look older than ever!
As he paced the floor there all alone, he began to doubt for the
first time the success of his plan.
It must work right! he said aloud. Didn't I go back five
weeks with that future man? Didn't he
A fearful thought struck him. Had he perhaps made a mistake? Had
they been cutting meridians the wrong way?
But no; the indicator could not be wrong, and that registered a
constantly earlier date.
Ah, I know! he suddenly exclaimed. I'll ask Cousin Phoebe.
He reflected a moment. Yesthe idea was a good one. She would be
only fifteen years old by this time, and must certainly have changed to
an extent of which he was at his age incapable. Besides, she had been
asleep, and nervous insomnia could not be responsible for retarding the
evidences of youth in her case. His agony of dread lest this great
experiment fail made him bold.
He walked directly to Phoebe's door and knockedfirst softly, then
Cousin PhoebeCousin Phoebe, he said.
After a few calls and knockings, there came a sleepy reply from
Wellwhatwho is it?
It's Cousin Copernicus, he said. Please tell me. Hev ye shrunk
Whathow? The tones were very sleepy indeed.
Hev ye shrunk any yet? Are ye growin' littler in there? Oh, please
feel fer the footboard with yer toe!
He waited and heard a rustling as of someone moving in bed.
Did ye feel the footboard? he asked.
Yeskicked it goodnow let me sleep. She was ill-natured with
Poor Droop staggered away from the door as though he had been
All had failed, then. They were circling uselessly. Those inventions
would never be his. The golden dreams he had been nursingoh,
impossible! It was unbearable!
He put both hands to his head and walked across the room. He paused
half-consciously before a small closet partly hidden in the wall.
With an instinctive movement, he touched a spring and the door slid
back. He drew from the cupboard thus revealed two bottles and a glass
and returned to seat himself at the table.
A half an hour later the Panchronicon, circling in the outer
brightness and silence, contained three unconscious travellers, and one
of them sat with his arms flung across the table supporting his head,
and beside him an empty bottle.
CHAPTER VI. SHIPWRECKED ON THE SANDS
Rebecca was the first of the three to waken. Over her small window
she had hung a black shawl to keep out the light, and upon this screen
were thrown recurrent flashes of sunlight.
Still a-swingin', she murmured. Wonder how fur back we be now!
She was herself surprised at the eagerness she felt to observe at
last the results of their extraordinary attempt.
She rose quickly and was very soon ready to leave her room. She was
longing to see PhoebePhoebe as she had been when a girl.
Opening her door, she was astonished to find the lamps of the main
room aglow and to see Copernicus in his shirt-sleeves, asleep with his
head on the table.
As she stepped out of her own room, her senses were offended by the
odor of alcohol. With horror she realized that rum, the spirit of all
the sources of evil, had found its way into their abode.
She entertained so violent a repugnance for liquors and for men
under their influence that she could not bring herself to approach
He's gone an' got drunk again, she muttered, glaring with helpless
anger at the bottles and then at him.
Mister Droop! Copernicus Droop! she cried in a high, sharp voice.
There was no reply.
She looked about her for something to prod him with. There was an
arm-chair on casters beside her door. She drew this to her and pushed
it with all her might toward the unconscious man.
The chair struck violently against Droop's seat, and even caused his
body to sway slightly, but he still slept and gave no sign.
That settles it! she exclaimed, with mingled disgust and alarm in
What's the matter?
It was Phoebe who called.
It's me, said Rebecca. Can I come in?
Rebecca walked into Phoebe's room, which she found darkened like her
own. Her sister was in bed.
What ever happened to you? Phoebe asked. Sounded as though ye'd
fallen down or somethin'.
Rebecca stood stiffly with her back to the closed door, her hands
folded before her.
Copernicus Droop is tight! Dead drunk! she exclaimed, with a
Drunk! cried Phoebe. Lands sakes!an' She looked about her
with alarm. Then what's happened to the machine? she asked.
Whirlin', whirlin', same as ever! Cuttin' meridians or sausage meat
fer all I care. I jest wish to goodness an' all creation I'd never ben
sech a plumb born nateral fool as tooh, wouldn't I like to jest
shake that man! she broke out, letting her anger gain the upper
Then Phoebe recalled their situation and their expectations of the
Why, then I ought to be gettin' little pretty fast, she said,
feeling her arms. I don't see's I've shrunk a mite, hev I?
No more'n I hev! Rebecca exclaimed, hotly. Nor you won't, nuther.
Ye might jest's well make up yer mind to it thet the whole business is
foolish folderols. We're a nice couple o' geese, we are, to come out
here to play 'Here we go round the mulberry bush' with the North
Polean' all along of a shif'less, notorious slave o' rum!
She plumped herself into a chair and glared at the darkened window
as though fascinated by those ever-returning flashes of sunlight.
Wellwellwell! murmured Phoebe.
She was much disappointed, and yet somehow she could not avoid a
certain pleasure in the thought that at least there was no fear of a
return to childhood.
But what're we goin' to do? she asked at length. If Mr. Droop's
so tight he can't manage the machine, what'll we do. Here we are tied
up to the North Pole
Oh, drat the old Panchronicon! cried Rebecca.
Then rising in her wrath, she continued with energy: The's one
thing I'm goin' to do right this blessed minute. I'm goin' to draw a
hull bucket o' cold water an' throw it over that mis'able critter in
there! Think o' him sleepin' on the tablethe table as we eat our
Nono. Don't try to wake him up first! cried Phoebe. Let's have
breakfastwe can have it in the kitchenan' then you can douse him
afterward. Just think of the wipin' an' cleanin' we'll have to do after
it. We'll be starved if we wait breakfast for all that ruction!
Rebecca reflected a moment. Then:
I guess ye're right, Phoebe, she said. My, won't that carpet look
a sight! I'll go right an' fix up somethin' to eat, though goodness
knows, I'm not hungry.
She left Phoebe to dress and made a wide circuit to avoid even
approaching the table on her way to the kitchen. Not long afterward she
was followed by her sister, who took a similar roundabout path, for
Phoebe was quite as much in horror of drink and drinkers as Rebecca.
She glanced at the date indicator as she passed it.
My sakes! she said, as she entered the kitchen, it's March 25,
1887. Why, then's the time that I had the measles so bad. Don't you
remember when I was thirteen years old an' Dr.
Rebecca broke in with a snort.
Eighty-seven grandmothers! she exclaimed. Don't you get to
frettin' 'bout gettin' the measles or anything else, Phoebeonly
sof'nin' of the brainI guess we've both got that right bad!
I don't know 'bout that, Phoebe replied, as she began to set the
small table for two. I believe we're gettin' back, after all, Rebecca.
The's one thing sure. Everybody knows that ye lose a day every time you
go round the world once from east to west, an' I'm sure we've gone
round often enough to lose years. I believe that indicator's all
We've not ben goin' round the world, though, Rebecca replied.
That's the p'int. This old iron clothes-pole out here ain't the hull
world, I can tell ye!
Well, but all the meridians
Oh, bother yer meridians! I ain't seen one o' the things yetnor
you hevn't, either, Phoebe Wise!
Phoebe was not convinced. It seemed not at all unreasonable, after
all, that they should lose time without undergoing any physical change.
She concluded to argue the matter no further, however.
Their meal was eaten in silence. As they rose to clear the table,
Th' ain't any use of goin' back to 1876 now, is there, Rebecca.
Though I do s'pose it won't make any difference to Mr. Droop. He can
bring out his inventions an'
Not with my money, or Joe Chandler's, either, Rebecca declared,
firmly. Not as Joe'd ask me to marry him now. He'd as soon think o'
marryin' his grandmother.
Then what's the use o' goin' back any further. We might's well stop
the machine right now, so's not to have so many more turns to wind up
Fiddlesticks! Rebecca exclaimed. Don't you fret about that! Don't
I tell ye it's folderol! Tell ye what ye can do, though. Open them
shutters out there an' let in some sunlight. I've more'n half a mind to
open a window, too. Thet smell o' rum in there makes me sick.
We'd freeze to death in a minute if we tried it, said Phoebe, as
she entered the main room.
She went to each of the four windows and opened all the shutters,
avoiding in the meantime even a glance at the middle of the room. She
did not forget the date indicator, however.
Merry Christmas! she cried, with a little laugh. It's
Christmas-day, 1886, Rebecca.
The engine-room door was open. Perhaps it was a sign of her
returning youth, but the fact is her fingers itched to get at those
bright, tempting brass and steel handles. Droop had explained their
uses and she felt sure she could manage the machinery. What a
delightful thing it would be to feel the Panchronicon obeying her hand!
Really, Rebecca, she exclaimed, if we're not going back to '76
after all, I think it's a dreadful waste of time for us to be throwin'
away six months every hour this way.
'Twon't be long, Rebecca replied, as she turned the hot water into
her dishpan. You come in here an' help wash these dishes, an' ef I
don't soon wake up that mis'able She did not trust herself further,
but tightly compressed her lips and confined her rising choler.
Why, Rebecca Wise, said Phoebe, you know it will be hours before
that man's got sense enough to run this machine. I'm goin' to stop it
myself, right now.
Rebecca had just taken a hot plate from her pan, but she paused ere
setting it down, alarmed at Phoebe's temerity.
Don't you dast to dream o' sech a thing, Phoebe! she cried, with
But Phoebe was confident, and crossed the threshold with a little
Why, Rebecca, what you scared of? she said. It's just as easy as
She pulled the starting lever.
The next instant found her flying out into the middle of the main
room following Droop, the table, and all the movable furniture. In the
kitchen there was a wild scream and a crash of crockery as Rebecca was
thrown against the rear partition.
Phoebe had pulled the lever the wrong way and the Panchronicon was
swiftly reaching full speed.
Heavens and airth! cried Rebecca.
Whatever in gracious began the dismayed Phoebe.
She broke off in renewed terror as she found herself pushed by an
irresistible force to the side of the room.
Herehere! she heard from the kitchen. What's this a-pullin'?
Land o' promise, Phoebe, come quick! I've got a stroke!
I can't come! wailed Phoebe. I'm jammed tight up against the
wall. It's as though I was nailed to it.
Oh, whywhy did ye touch that machinery! cried Rebecca, and then
said no more.
The speed indicator pointed to one hundred and seventy-five miles an
hour. They were making one revolution around the pole each secondand
they were helpless.
As she found herself pushed outward by the immensely increased
centrifugal force, Phoebe found it possible to seat herself upon one of
the settles, and she now sat with her back pressed firmly against the
south wall of the room, only able by a strong effort to raise her head.
She turned to the right and found that Droop had found a couch on
the floor under the table and chairs at the rear of the room, also
against the south wall.
In the kitchen Rebecca had crouched down as she found herself forced
outward, and she now sat dazed on the kitchen floor surrounded by the
fragments of their breakfast all glued to the wall as tightly as
Oh, dearoh, dear! she cried, closing her eyes. Copernicus Droop
said that side weight would be terrible if we travelled too fast. Why,
I'm so heavy sideways I feel like as if I weighed 497-1/2 pounds like
that fat woman in the circus down to Keene.
So do I, Phoebe said, only I'm so dizzy, too, I can hardly
Shet your eyes, like me, said Rebecca.
I would only I can't keep 'em off the North Pole there, said
Phoebe, as she gazed fascinated through the north window opposite.
Why, what's the matter with the child! Rebecca exclaimed, in
alarm. Air ye struck silly, Phoebe?
No, but I guess you'd want to watch it too if you could see that
ring we're tied to spinnin' round right close to the top of the pole.
Therethere! she continued, shrilly. It'll fly right off in another
minute! There! Oh, dear!
Their attachment did indeed appear precarious. The increased speed
acting through the inclined aeroplane had caused the vessel to rise
sharply, and the rope had raised the ring by which it was attached to
the pole until it came in contact with the steel ball at the top, when
it could rise no farther. Here the iron ring was grinding against and
under the retaining ball which alone prevented its slipping off the top
of the pole.
I don't see's we'd be any wuss off ef we did come loose, said
Rebecca, with eyes still closed. At least we wouldn't be gummed here
ez tight's if the walls was fly-paper.
No, but we'd fly off at a tangent into infinite space, Rebecca
Wise, Phoebe said, sharply.
Where's that? asked her sister. I'll engage 'tain't any wuss
place than the North Pole.
Why, it's off into the ether. There isn't any air there or
anythin'. An' they say it's fifty times colder than the North Pole.
Who's ben there?
Why, nobody Phoebe began.
Then let's drop it, snapped Rebecca. Dr. Kane said the' was an
open sea at the North Polean' I'm sick o' bein' told about places
nobody's ever ben to before.
Phoebe was somewhat offended at this and there was a long silence,
during which she became more reassured touching the danger of breaking
away from the Pole. Soon she, too, was able to shut her eyes.
The silence was broken by a meek voice from under the table.
Would you mind settin' off my chist? said Droop.
There was no answer and he opened his eyes. His bewilderment and
surprise were intense when he discovered his situation.
Shutting his eyes again, he remarked:
What you flashin' that bright light in my eyes so often for?
Phoebe gave vent to a gentle sniff of contempt.
Mymymy! Droop continued, in meek amazement. I s'pose I must
hev taken two whole bottles. I never, never felt so heavy's this
before! What's the old Pan lyin' on it's side fer?
'Tain't on its side, snapped Phoebe. The old thing's run away,
Copernicus Droop, an' it's all your fault. There was a quiver in her
Run away! said Droop, opening his eyes again. Where to?
Nowheresjest whirlin'. Only it's goin' a mile a second, I do
believean' it'll fly off the pole soonan'an' we'll all be
killed! she cried, bursting into tears.
She dragged her hands with great difficulty to her face against
which she found them pressed with considerable energy. Crying under
these circumstances was so very unusual and uncomfortable that she soon
gave it up.
Oh, I see! It's the side weight holds me here. Where are you?
There was no reply, so he turned his head and eyes this way and that
until at length he spied Phoebe on the settle, farther forward.
Am I under the table? he said. Where's Cousin Rebecca? Was she
pressed out through the wall?
I'm out here in the kitchen, Copernicus Droop, she cried. I wish
to goodness you'd ben pressed in through the walls of the lock-up 'fore
ever ye brought me'n Phoebe into this mess. Ef you're a man or half
one, you'll go and stop this pesky old Panchronicle an' give us a
chance to move.
How can I go? he cried, peevishly. What the lands sakes did you
go an' make the machine run away for? Couldn't ye leave the machinery
I didn't touch your old machine! cried Rebecca. Phoebe thought
we'd be twisted back of our first birthday ef the thing wasn't stopped,
an' she pulled the handle the wrong way, that's all!
Droop rolled his eyes about eagerly for a glimpse of the date
What's the date, Cousin Phoebe? he asked.
April 4, 1884no, April 3d2doh, dear, it's goin' back so fast
I can't tell ye the truth about it!
Early in 1884, Droop repeated, in awe-struck accents. An' we're
a-whirlin' off one day every secondjust about one year in six
minutes. Great Criminy crickets! When was you born, Cousin Phoebe?
Second of April, 1874.
Ten years. One year in six minutesgives ye jest one hour to live.
Then you'll go outbang!like a candle. I'll go next, and Cousin
Well! exclaimed Rebecca, angrily, ef I can hev the pleasure o'
bein' rid o' you, Copernicus Droop, it'll be cheap at the pricebut
the's no sech luck. Ef you think ye can fool us any more with yer
twaddle 'bout cuttin' meridians, ye're mistakenthat's all I can say.
Droop was making desperate efforts to climb along the floor and
reach the engine-room, but, although by dint of gigantic struggles he
managed to make his way a few feet, he was then obliged to pause for
breath, whereupon he slid gently and ignominiously back to his nook
under the table.
Here he found himself in contact with a corked bottle. He looked at
it and felt comforted. At least he had access to forgetfulness whenever
he pleased to seek it.
The two women found it wisest to lie quiet and speak but little. The
combined rotary movement and sense of weight were nervously disturbing,
and for a long time no one of the three spoke. Only once in the middle
of the forenoon did Phoebe address Droop.
Whatever will be the end o' this? she said.
Why, we'll keep on whirlin' till the power gives out, he replied.
Ye hevn't much time to live now, hev ye?
With a throb of fear felt for the first time, Phoebe looked at the
It's May, 1874, she said.
Jest a monththirty seconds, he said, sadly.
Copernicus Droop, do you mean it? screamed Rebecca from the
Unless the power gives out before then, he replied. I don't
suppose ye want to make yer will, do ye?
Stuff! said Phoebe, bravely, but her gaze was fixed anxiously on
the indicator, now fast approaching the 2d of April.
Oh, dear! 'F I could only see ye, Phoebe! cried Rebecca. I know
he's a mis'able deceivin' man, but ififoh, Phoebe, can't ye
It's April 8thgood-bye! Phoebe said, faintly.
Hurrayhurray! It's March 31st, and here I am!
Phoebe tried to clap her hands, but the effort was in vain.
I allus said it was folderol, said Rebecca, sternly. Oh, but I'd
like to throw somethin' at that Copernicus Droop!
Come to think of it, said Droop, that future man must hev come
back long, long before his birthday.
Why didn't ye say that sooner? cried Rebecca.
There was no further conversation until long afterward, when Rebecca
Aren't ye hungry, Phoebe?
Why, it's gettin' along to dinner-time, ain't it? she replied. I
don't see, though, how I'm to get any victuals, do you?
Why, the's bread an' other scraps slammed up against the wall here
all round me, said Rebecca. Couldn't we fix some way to get some of
'em to ye?
Phoebe looked anxiously about and finally caught sight of her
sister's knitting work near at hand. It proved to be just within reach,
and by slow degrees and much effort she brought it into her lap within
easy reach of both her heavy hands.
Oh, dear! she said, I feel's if both my arms had turned to lead.
Here, Rebecca, I'm goin' to see if I can roll your ball o' yarn along
the floor through the kitchen door. The centrifugal force will bring it
to you. Then you can cut the yarn an' tie somethin' on the end for me
to eat an' I'll haul it back through the door.
That's jest the thing, Phoebe. Go onI'm ready.
The theory seemed excellent, as Rebecca had fortunately been working
with a very tough flaxen yarn; but so great was the apparent weight of
Phoebe's arms that it was only after a long series of trials ending in
failures that she finally succeeded.
I've got it! cried Rebecca, triumphantly. Now, then, I've got a
slice of ham and two slices of bread
Don't send ham, said Phoebe. I'd be sure to eat it if I had it,
an' 'twould make me fearful dry. I'm sure I don't see how I'm to get
any water in here.
Thet's so, said Rebecca. Well, here's an apple and two slices of
Are you keepin' enough for yourself, Rebecca?
Enough an' to spare, she replied. Now, thenall ready! Pull 'em
Phoebe obeyed and soon had secured possession of the frugal meal
which Rebecca had been able to convey to her.
She offered a portion of her ration to Droop, but he declined it,
saying he had no appetite. He had lapsed into a kind of waking reverie
and scarce knew what was going on about him.
The two women also were somewhat stupefied by the continual rotation
and their enforced immobility. They spoke but seldom and must have
dozed frequently, for Phoebe was much surprised to find, on looking at
the clock, that it was half-past five.
She glanced at the date indicator.
Why, Rebecca! she cried. Here 'tis November, 1804!
My land! cried Rebecca, forgetting her scepticism. What do you
s'pose they're doin' in New Hampshire now, Phoebe?
It's 'bout election time, Rebecca. They're probably votin' for
Adams or Madison or somebody like that.
My stars! said Rebecca. What ever shall we do ef this old machine
goes on back of the Revolution! I should hate to go back an' worry
through all them terrible times.
We'll be lucky if we stop there, said Phoebe. I only hope to
gracious we won't go back to Columbus or King Alfred.
Oh, I hope not! said Rebecca, with a shudder. Folks ud think we
was crazy to be talkin' 'bout America then.
Phoebe tried to toss her head.
If 'twas in Alfred's time, she said, they couldn't understand
what we was talkin' about.
Phoebe Wise! What do you mean?
I mean just that. There wasn't any English language then.
Besideswho's to say the old thing won't whirl us back to the days of
the Greeks an' Romans? We could see Socrates and Pericles and Croesus
Oh, I'd love to see Croesus! Rebecca broke in. He's the richest
man that ever lived!
Yesand perhaps we'll go back of then and see Abraham and Noah.
Ef we could see Noah, 'twould be worth while, said Rebecca. Joe
Forrest said he didn't believe about the flood. He said Noah couldn't
hev packed all them animals in tight enough to hev got 'em all in the
Ark. I'd like mighty well if I could ask Noah himself 'bout it.
He couldn't understand ye, said Phoebe. All he spoke was Hebrew,
Oh! exclaimed Rebecca. Then, after a pause: S'pose we went back
to the tower of Babel. Couldn't we find the folks that was struck with
the English language an' get one of 'em to go back an' speak to Noah?
What good would that do? If he was struck with English he wouldn't
know Hebrew any more. That's what madeBut there! she exclaimed,
what ninnies we are!
There was a long pause. After many minutes, Rebecca asked one more
Do you s'pose the flood would come up as fur's this, Phoebe?
I don't know, Rebecca. The Bible says the whole earth, you know.
And so passed the slow hours. When they were not dozing they were
either nibbling frugally the scant fare in reach or conversing by short
snatches at long intervals.
For thirty hours had they thus whirled ceaselessly around that
circle, when Phoebe, glancing through the window at the ring to which
their rope was attached, noticed that its constant rubbing against the
ball at the top of the pole had worn it nearly through.
My goodness, Rebecca! she cried. I believe we're goin' off at a
tangent in a minute.
The ring on the pole is nigh worn out. I believe it'll break in a
If it breaks we'll move straight an' get rid o' this side weight,
Yesbut goodness only knows where we'll fly to.
Whyain't Mr. Droop there? If the side weight goes, he can get
into the engine-room an' let us down easy.
That's so! cried Phoebe. Oh, won't it be grand to stand still a
minute after all this traipsin' around and around! Mr. Droop, she
continued, do you hear? You'd better be gettin' ready to take hold an'
stop the Panchronicon, 'cause we're goin' to break loose in half no
There was no reply. Nor could any calling or pleading elicit an
answer. Droop had yielded to his thirst and was again sleeping the
sleep of the unregenerate.
Oh, Rebecca, whatOhoooo!
There was a loud scream from both the sisters as the iron ring, worn
through by long rubbing, finally snapped asunder.
The tremendous pressure was suddenly lifted, and the two women were
With a single impulse, they flew toward the kitchen door and fell
into each other's arms.
The Panchronicon had gone off at a tangent at last!
Oh, RebeccaRebecca! cried Phoebe, in tears. I was afraid I'd
never see you again!
Rebecca cried a little too, and patted her sister's shoulder in
silence a moment.
There, deary! she said, after awhile. Now let's set down an' hev
a good cup o' tea. Then we can go to bed comfortable.
But, Rebecca, said Phoebe, stepping back and wiping her eyes,
what shall we do about the Panchronicon? We're jest makin' fer
Infinite Space, or somewheres, as fast as we can go.
Can't help it, Phoebe. Ye sha'n't touch a thing in that engine-room
this daynot while I'm here. Ye might blow us up the nex' time. NoI
guess we'll jest hev to trust in the Lord. He brought us into this
pickle, an' it's fer Him to see us out of it.
With this comforting reflection the two sisters brewed a pot of tea,
and after partaking of the refreshing decoction, went to their
I declare, I'm dog tired! said Rebecca.
So'm I, said Phoebe.
Those were their last words for many hours.
CHAPTER VII. NEW TIES AND OLD
How long they slept after their extraordinary experience with the
runaway air-ship neither Rebecca nor Phoebe ever knew; but when they
awoke all was still, and it was evidently dark outside, for no ray of
light found its way past the hangings they had placed over their
There was something uncanny in the total silence. Even the noise of
the machinery was stilled, and the two sisters dressed together in
Rebecca's room for company's sake.
Do you suppose we've arrived in Infinite Space yet? Rebecca asked.
It's still enough fer it, Phoebe replied, in a low voice. But I
don't hear the Panchronicon's machinery any more. It must have run down
entirely, wherever we are.
At that moment there was borne faintly to their ears the distant
crowing of a cock.
Well, there! said Rebecca, with an expression of immense relief,
I don't believe the's any hens an' roosters in Infinite Space, is
Phoebe laughed and shook her head as she ran to the window. She drew
aside the shawl hanging before the glass and peered out.
The first gleams of dawn were dispelling the night, and against a
dark gray sky she saw the branches of thickly crowding trees.
Dropping the shawl, she turned eagerly to her sister.
Rebecca Wise! she exclaimed. As sure as you're alive, we're back
safe on the ground again. We're in the woods.
Mos' likely Putnam's wood lot, said Rebecca, with great
satisfaction as she finally adjusted her cameo brooch. Gracious! Won't
I be glad to see all the folks again!
She pushed open her door and, followed by Phoebe, entered the main
room. Here all was gloom, but they could hear Droop's breathing, and
knew that he was still sleeping under the table in the corner.
For the lands sakes! Let's get out in the fresh air, Rebecca
exclaimed as she groped her way toward the stairs. You keep a-holt o'
me, Phoebe. That's right. We'll get out o' here an' make rabbit tracks
fer home, I tell ye. We can come back later for our duds when that
mis'able specimen is sober fer awhile again.
Slowly the two made their way down the winding stairs to the lower
hall, where, after much fumbling, they found the door handle and lock.
As they emerged from the prison that had so long confined them, a
cool morning zephyr swept their faces, bringing with it once more the
well-known voice of distant chanticleer.
They walked across the springing turf a few yards and were then able
to make out the looming black mass of some building beyond the end of
Goodness! Rebecca whispered. This ain't Peltonville, Phoebe.
There ain't a house in the town as high as that, 'less it's the
meetin'-house, an' 'tain't the right shape fer that.
They advanced stealthily toward the newly discovered building, in
which not a single light was to be seen.
In good sooth, Phoebe exclaimed, putting one hand on her sister's
arm, it hath an air of witchcraft! Dost not feel cold chills in thee,
Rebecca stopped short, stiff with amazement.
What's come over ye? she asked, trying to peer into her sister's
face. Whatever makes ye talk like that, child?
Phoebe laughed nervously and, taking her sister's arm, pressed close
up to her.
I don't know, dear. Did I speak funny? she asked.
Why you know you did. What's the use o' tryin' to scare a body with
gibberish? This place is creepy 'nough now.
As she spoke, they reached the door of the strange building. They
could see that it stood open, and even as they paused near the
threshold another puff of air passed them, and they heard a door squeak
on its rusty hinges.
They stood and listened breathlessly, peering into the dark interior
whence there was borne to their nostrils a musty odor. A large bat
whisked across the opening, and as they started back alarmed he
returned with swift zig-zag cuts and vanished ghostlike into the house.
It's deserted, whispered Rebecca.
Perhaps it's haunted, Phoebe replied.
Well, we needn't go in, I guess, said Rebecca, turning from the
door and starting briskly away. Come on this way, Phoebelook out fer
the treeslands! Did y'ever see so many?
A few steps brought them to a high brick wall, against which
flowers, weeds, and vines grew rank together. They followed this wall,
walking more rapidly, for the day was breaking in earnest and groping
was needless now. Presently they came to a spot where the wall was
broken away, leaving an opening just broad enough to admit a man's
body. Rebecca squeezed boldly through and Phoebe followed her, rather
for company's sake than with any curiosity to see what was beyond.
They found themselves in a sort of open common, stretching to the
edge of a broad roadway about a hundred yards from where they stood. On
the other side of the road a cluster of gabled cottages was visible
against the faint rose tint of the eastern sky.
As Phoebe came to her sister's side, she clutched her arm excitedly:
Rebecca! she exclaimed. 'Tis Newington, as true as I live!
Newington and Blackman Street!
Suddenly she sat down in the grass and hid her face in her hands.
What d'ye mean? said Rebecca, looking down at her sister with a
puzzled expression. Where's NewingtonI never heerd tell of Blackman
Street. Air ye thinkin' of Boston, or
Phoebe interrupted her by leaping to her feet and starting back to
the opening in the wall.
Come back, Rebecca! she exclaimed. Come back quick!
Rebecca followed her sister in some alarm. Phoebe must have been
taken suddenly ill, she thought. Perhaps they had reached one of those
regions infected by fevers of which she had heard from time to time.
In silence the two women hurried back to the Panchronicon, whose
uncouth form was now quite plainly visible behind the trees into the
midst of which it had fallen when the power stored within it was
Not until they were safely seated in Rebecca's room did Phoebe speak
There! she exclaimed, as she dropped to a seat on the edge of the
bed, I declare to goodness, Rebecca, I don't know what to make of it!
What is it? What ails ye? said Rebecca, anxiously.
Why, I don't believe I'm myself, Rebecca. I've been here before. I
know that village out there, andandit's all I can do to talk same's
I've always been used to. I'm wanting to talk likelike I did awhile
It's all right! It's all right! said Rebecca, soothingly. Th'
ain't nothing the matter with you, deary. Ye've ben shet up here with
side weight an' what not so longo' course you're not yerself.
She bustled about pretending to set things to rights, but her heart
was heavy with apprehension. She thought that Phoebe was in the first
stages of delirium.
Not myself! No, said Phoebe. Nothe fact is, I'm somebody else!
At this Rebecca straightened up and cast one horrified glance at her
sister. Then she turned and began to put on her bonnet and jacket. Her
mind was made up. Phoebe was delirious and they must seek a doctorat
Get your things on, Phoebe, she said, striving to appear calm.
Put on your things an' come out with me. Let's see if we can't take a
Phoebe arose obediently and went to her room. They were neither of
them very long about their preparations, and by the time the sun was
actually rising, the two women were leaving the air-ship for the second
time, Phoebe carrying the precious carved box and Rebecca her satchel
What you bringin' that everlastin' packet o' letters for? Rebecca
asked, as they reached the opening in the wall.
I want to have it out in the light, Phoebe replied. I want to see
Outside of the brick wall she paused and opened the box. It was
I thought so! she said.
Why, ye've brought the box 'thout the letters, Phoebe, said
Rebecca. You're not agoin' back for them, air ye?
No, Phoebe replied, 'twouldn't do any good. Rebecca. They aren't
She dropped the box in the grass and looked wistfully about her.
Not there! said Rebecca, nonplussed. Why, who'd take 'em?
Nobody. They haven't been written yet.
Notnot Rebecca gasped for a moment and then hurried toward the
road. Come on! she cried.
Surely, she thoughtsurely they must find a doctor without delay.
But before they reached the road, Rebecca was glad to pause again
and take advantage of a friendly bush from whose cover she might gaze
without being herself observed.
The broad highway which but so short a time ago was quite deserted,
was now occupied by a double line of bustling peopleyoung and
oldmen, women, and children. Those travelling toward their left, to
the north, were principally men and boys, although now and then a pair
of loud-voiced girls passed northward with male companions. Those who
were travelling southward were the younger ones, and often whole
families together. Among these the women predominated.
All of these people were laughingcalling rough jokes back and
forthsinging, running, jumping, and dancing, till the whole roadway
appeared a merry Bedlam.
Must be a county fair near here! exclaimed Rebecca. But will ye
listen to the gibberish an' see their clothes!
Indeed, the language and the costumes were most perplexing to good
New England ears and eyes, and Rebecca knew not whether to advance or
The women all wore very wide and rather short skirts, the petticoat
worn exposed up to where a full over-skirt or flounce gave emphasis to
their hips. The elder ones wore long-sleeved jackets and high-crowned
hats, while the young ones wore what looked like low-necked jerseys
tied together in front and their braided hair hung from uncovered
The men wore short breeches, some full trunk hose, some tighter but
puffed; their jackets were of many fashions, from the long-skirted open
coats of the elders to the smart doublets or shirts of the young men.
The children were dressed like the adults, and most of them wore
wreaths and garlands of flowers, while in the hands of many were
baskets full of posies.
Phoebe gazed from her sister's side with the keenest delight, saying
nothing, but turning her eyes hither and thither as though afraid of
losing the least detail of the scene.
Presently two young girls approached, each with a basket in her
hand. They moved slowly over the grass, stopping constantly to pick the
violets under their feet. They were so engrossed in their task and in
their conversation that they failed to notice the two sisters half
hidden by the shrubbery.
Naynay! the taller of the two was saying, I tell thee he made
oath to't, Cicely. Knew ye ever Master Stephen to be forsworn?
A lover's oathstruly! laughed the other. Why, they be made for
breaking. I doubt not he hath made a like vow to a score of silly
wenches ere this, coz!
Thou dost him wrong, Cicely. An he keep not the tryst, 'twill only
'Twill only be thy first misprision, eh?
Here their words were lost as they continued to move farther away,
still disputing together.
Well! exclaimed Rebecca, turning to Phoebe. Now I know where
we've ben carried to. This is the Holy LandJerusalem or Bethlehem or
Canaan or some sech place. Thoutheethy! Did ye hear those girls
talkin' Bible language, Phoebe?
Phoebe shook her head and was about to reply when there was a loud
clamour of many tongues from the road near by.
The May-pole! The May-pole! and someone started a roaring song in
which hundreds soon joined. The sisters could not distinguish the
words, but the volume of sound was tremendous.
There was the tramp of many rushing feet and a Babel of cries behind
them. They turned to see a party of twenty gayly clad young men bearing
down upon them, carrying a mighty May-pole crowned with flowers and
streaming with colored ribbons.
Around these and following after were three or four score merry lads
and lasses, all running and capering, shouting and dancing, singly or
in groups, hand in hand.
In a trice Rebecca found herself clinging to Phoebe with whom she
was borne onward helpless by the mad throng.
The new-comers were clad in all sorts of fantastic garbs, and many
of them were masked. Phoebe and her sister were therefore not
conspicuous in their long scant black skirts and cloth jackets with
balloon sleeves. Their costumes were taken for disguises, and as they
were swallowed up in the mad throng they were looked on as fellow
Had Rebecca been alone, she would probably have succeeded in time in
working her way out of this unwelcome crowd, but to her amazement, no
sooner had they been surrounded by the young roysterers than Phoebe,
breaking her long silence, seized her sister by the hand and began
laughing, dancing, and running with the best of them. To crown all,
what was Rebecca's surprise to hear her sister singing word for word
the madcap song of the others, as though she had known these words all
her life. She did not even skip those parts that made Rebecca blush.
It was incrediblemonstrousimpossible! Phoebe, the sweet, modest,
gentle, prudish Phoebe, singing a questionable song in a whirl of
Up the broad road they dancedup to the northward, all men making
way for them as, with hand-bag and umbrella flying in her left hand,
she was dragged forward on an indecorous run by Phoebe, who held her
tightly by the right.
Onever on, past wayside inn and many a lane and garden, house and
hedge. Over the stones and ruts, choking in clouds of dust.
Once Rebecca stumbled and a great gawky fellow caught her around the
waist to prevent her falling.
Lips pay forfeit for tripping feet, lass! he cried, and kissed her
with a sounding smack.
Furious and blushing, she swung her hand-bag in a circle and brought
it down upon the ravisher's head.
Take that, you everlastin' rascal, you! she gasped.
The bumpkin dodged with a laugh and disappeared in the crowd and
dust, cuffing, pushing, scuffling, hugging, and kissing quite heedless
of small rebuffs.
When they had proceeded thus until Rebecca thought there was nothing
left for it but to fall in her tracks and be trampled to death, the
whole crowd came suddenly to a halt, and the young men began to erect
the May-pole in the midst of a shaded green on one side of the main
Rebecca stood, angry and breathless, trying to flick the dust off
her bag with her handkerchief, while Phoebe, at her side, her eyes
bright and cheeks rosy, showed her pretty teeth in a broad smile of
pleasure, the while she tried to restore some order to her hair. As for
her hat, that had long ago been lost.
I declareI declare to goodness! panted Rebecca, ef anybody'd
told me ez you, Phoebe Wise, would take on soso likelike aa
Like any Zanny's light-o-love, Phoebe broke in, her bosom heaving
with the violence of her exercise. But prithee, sweet, chide me not.
From this on shall I be chaste, demure, and sober as an abbess in a
play. But oh!but oh! she cried, stretching her arms high over her
head, 'twas a goodly frolic, sis! I felt a three-centuries' fasting
lust for it, in good sooth!
Rebecca clutched her sister by the arm and shook her.
Phoebe WisePhoebe Wise! she cried, looking anxiously into her
face, wake up nowwake up! What in the universal airth
A loud shout cut her short, and the two sisters turned amazed.
The bull! The bull!
There was an opening in the crowd as four men approached leading and
driving a huge angry bull, which was secured by a ring in his nose to
which ropes were attached. Another man followed, dragged forward by
three fierce bull-dogs in a leash.
The bull was quickly tied to a stout post in the street, and the
crowd formed a circle closely surrounding the bull-ring. It was the
famous bull-ring of Blackman Street in Southwark.
A moment later the dogs were freed, and amid their hoarse baying and
growling and the deep roaring of their adversary, the baiting
beganthe chief sport of high and low in the merry days of good Queen
The sisters found themselves in the front of the throng surrounding
the raging beasts, and, before she knew it, Rebecca saw one of the dogs
caught on the horns of the bull and tossed, yelping and bleeding, into
For one moment she stood aghast in the midst of the delighted crowd
of shouting onlookers. Then she turned and fiercely elbowed her way
outward, followed by her sister.
Come 'longcome 'long, Phoebe! she cried. We'll soon put a stop
to this! I'll find the selectmen o' this town an' see ef this cruelty
to animals is agoin' on right here in open daylight. I guess the's laws
o' some kind here, ef it is Bethlehem or Babylon!
Hot with indignation, the still protesting woman reached the
outskirts of the throng and looked about her. Close at hand a tall,
swaggering fellow was loafing about. He was dressed in yellow from head
to foot, save where his doublet and hose were slashed with dirty red at
elbows, shoulders, and hips. A dirty ruff was around his neck, and on
his head he wore a great shapeless hat peaked up in front.
Hey, mister! cried Rebecca, addressing this worthy. Can you tell
me where I can find one o' the selectmen?
The stranger paused in his walk and glanced first at Rebecca and
then, with evidently increased interest, at Phoebe.
Selectmen? he asked. Who hath selected them, dame?
He gazed quizzically at the excited woman.
Now you needn't be funny 'bout it, Rebecca cried, fer I'm not
goin' to take any impidence. You know who I mean by the selectmen
jest's well as I do. I'd be obliged to ye ef ye'd tell me the wayan'
drop that Bible talkgood every-day English is good enough fer me!
In good sooth, dame, he replied, 'tis not every day I hear such
English as yours.
He paused a moment in thought. This was May-daya season of revelry
and good-natured practical joking. This woman was evidently quizzing
him, so it behooved him to repay her in kind.
But a truce to quips and quillets, say I, he continued. 'Twill do
me much pleasure an your ladyship will follow me to the selectman. As
it happens, his honor is even now holding court near London Bridge.
London Bridge! gasped Rebecca. Why, London ain't a Bible country,
Deigning no notice to a query which he did not understand, the young
fellow set off to northward, followed closely by the two women.
Keep close to him, Phoebe, said Rebecca, warningly. Ef we should
lose the man in all this rabble o' folks we would not find him in a
Thou seest, sweet sister, Phoebe replied, 'tis indeed our beloved
city of London. Did I not tell thee yon village was Newington, and here
we be now in Southwark, close to London Bridge.
Rebecca had forgotten her sister's ailment in the fierce indignation
which the bull-baiting had aroused. But now she was brought back to her
own personal fears and aims with a rude shock by the strange language
She leaped forward eagerly and touched their guide's shoulder.
Hey, mister! she exclaimed, I'd be obliged to ye if ye'd show us
the house o' the nearest doctor before we see the selectman.
The man stopped short in the middle of the street, with a cunning
leer on his face. The change of purpose supported his belief that a
May-day jest was forward.
Call me plain Jock Dean, mistress, he said. And now tell me
further, wilt have a doctor of laws, of divinity, or of physic. We be
in a merry mood and a generous to-day, and will fetch forth bachelors,
masters, doctors, proctors, and all degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, or
London at a wink's notice. So say your will.
Rebecca would have returned a sharp reply to this banter, but she
was very anxious to find a physician for Phoebe, and so thought it best
to take a coaxing course.
What I want's a doctor, she said. I think my sister's got the
shakes or suthin', an' I must take her to the doctor. Now look
hereyou look like a nice kind of a young man. I know it's some kind
of antiques and horribles day 'round here, an' all the folks hes on
funny clothes and does nothin' on'y joke a body. But let's drop comical
talk jest fer a minute an' get down to sense, eh?
She spoke pleadingly, and for a moment Jock looked puzzled. He only
understood a portion of what she was saying, but he realized that she
was in some sort of trouble.
Why bait the man with silly questions, Rebecca, Phoebe broke in.
A truce to this silly talk of apothecaries. I have no need of
surgeons, I. My good fellow, she continued, addressing Jock with an
air of condescension that dumfounded her sister, is not yonder the
Ay, mistress, he replied, with a grin. It's there you may see the
selectman your serving-maid inquired for.
Rebecca gasped and clinched her hands fiercely on her bag and
Serving-maid! she cried.
Ahoywhooproom! Yiki yi!
A swarm of small white animals ran wildly past them from behind, and
after them came a howling, laughing, scrambling mob that filled the
street. Someone had loosed a few score rabbits for the delight of the
There was no time for reflection. With one accord, Jock and the two
women ran with all speed toward the pillory and the bridge, driven
forward by the crowd behind them. To have held their ground would have
been to risk broken bones at least.
Fortunately the hunted beasts turned sharply to the right and left
at the first cross street, and soon the three human fugitives could
halt and draw breath.
They found themselves in the outskirts of a crowd surrounding the
pillory, and above the heads of those in front they could see a huge
red face under a thatch of tousled hair protruding stiffly through a
hole in a beam supported at right angles to a vertical post about five
feet high. On each side of the head a large and dirty hand hung through
an appropriate opening in the beam.
Under the prisoner's head was hung an account of his misdeeds,
placed there by some of his cronies. These crimes were in the nature of
certain breaches of public decorum and decency, the details of which
the bystanders were discussing with relish and good-humor.
Let's get out o' here, said Rebecca, suddenly, when the purport of
what she heard pierced her nineteenth-century understanding. These
folks beat me!
She turned, grasping Phoebe's arm to enforce her request, but she
found that others had crowded in behind them and had hemmed them in.
This would not have deterred her but, unaccountably, Phoebe did not
seem inclined to move.
Naynay! she said. 'Tis a wanton wastrel, and he well deserves
the pillory. But, Rebecca, I've a mind to see what observance these
people will give the varlet. Last time I saw one pilloried, alas! they
slew him with shards and paving-stones. This fellow is liker to be
pelted with nosegays, methinks.
Mercy me, Phoebe! Whateverwhatoh, goodness gracious
grandmother, child! Poor Rebecca could find only exclamations wherein
to express her feelings. She began to wonder if she were dreaming.
At this moment a sprightly, dashing lad, in ragged clothing and
bareheaded, sprang to the platform beside the prisoner and waved his
arms for silence.
There were cries of Hearhear! Look at Baiting Will!
Hohobully rook! Sh-sh-h!
After a time the tumult subsided so that Baiting Will could make
himself heard. He was evidently a well-known street wag, for his
remarks were received with frequent laughter and vocal applause.
Hear yehear yeall good folk and merry! he shouted. Here ye
see the liege lord of all May merry-makers. Hail to the King of the
May, my bully boys!
Hoho! All hail!
Hurrahcrown him, crown him!
The King of the May forever!
By dint of bawling for silence till he was red in the face, the
speaker at length made himself heard again.
What say ye, my good heartsshall we have a double coronation?
Where's the quean will be his consort? Bring her forward, lads. We'll
crown the twain.
This proposal was greeted with a roar of laughter and approval, and
a number of slattern women showing the effects of strong ale in their
faces stepped boldly forward as competitors for coronation.
But again Baiting Will waved his arms for a chance to speak.
Nay, my merry lads and lasses, he cried, it were not meet to wed
our gracious lord the king without giving him a chance to choose his
He leaned his ear close to the grinning head, pretending to listen a
moment. Then, standing forward, he cried:
His gracious and sovereign majesty hath bid me proclaim his choice.
He bids ye send him up for queen yon buxom dame in the black doublet
and unruffed neckher wi' the black wand and outland scrip.
He pointed directly at Rebecca. She turned white and started to push
her way out of the crowd, but those behind her joined hands, laughing
and shouting: A queena queen!
Two or three stout fellows from just beneath the pillory elbowed
their way to her side and grasped her arms.
She struggled and shrieked in affright.
Phoebe with indignant face seized the arm of the man nearest her and
pulled lustily to free her sister.
Stand aside, you knaves! she cried, hotly. Know your betters and
keep your greasy hands for the sluttish queans of Southwark streets!
The lads only grinned and tightened their hold. Rebecca was
struggling fiercely and in silence, save for an occasional shriek of
Phoebe raised her voice.
Good people, will ye see a lady tousled by knavish street brawlers!
What hoa rescuea Burtona Burtona rescueho!
Her voice rose high above the coarse laughter and chatter of the
What's this? Who calls?
The crowd parted to right and left with screams and imprecations,
and on a sudden two horsemen reined up their steeds beside the sisters.
Back, ye knaves! Unhand the lady! cried the younger of the two,
striking out with his whip at the heads of Rebecca's captors.
Putting up their hands to ward off these blows, the fellows hastily
retreated a few steps, leaving Rebecca and Phoebe standing alone.
What's here! cried the young man. God warn us, an it be not fair
Mistress Burton herself!
He leaped from his horse, and with the bridle in one hand and his
high-crowned hat in the other, he advanced, bowing toward the sisters.
He was a strongly built young man of middle height. His smooth face,
broad brow, and pleasant eyes were lighted up by a happy smile wherein
were shown a set of strong white teeth all too rare in the England of
his time. His abundant blond hair was cut short on top, but hung down
on each side, curling slightly over his ears. He wore a full-skirted,
long-sleeved jerkin secured by a long row of many small buttons down
the front. A loose lace collar lay flat over his shoulders and chest.
His French hose was black, and from the tops of his riding-boots there
protruded an edging of white lace.
He wore a long sword with a plain scabbard and hilt, and on his
hands were black gloves, well scented.
Phoebe's face wore a smile of pleased recognition, and she stretched
forth her right hand as the cavalier approached.
You come in good time, Sir Guy! she said.
In very sooth, most fair, most mellific damsel, your unworthy
servitor was erring enchanted in the paradise of your divine idea when
that the horrific alarum did wend its fear-begetting course through the
labyrinthine corridors of his auricular sensories.
Phoebe laughed, half in amusement half in soft content. Then she
turned to Rebecca, who stood with wide-open eyes and mouth
contemplating this strange apparition.
Be not confounded, sweetheart, she said. Have I not told thee I
have ta'en on another's self. Comethou art none the less dear, nor I
less thine own.
She stepped forward and put her hand gently on her sister's.
Rebecca looked with troubled eyes into Phoebe's face and said,
Won't ye go to a doctor's with me, Phoebe?
There was a rude clatter of hoofs as the elder of the new-comers
trotted past the two women and, with his whip drove back the advancing
crowd, which had begun to close in upon them again.
You were best mount and away with the ladies, Sir Guy, he said.
Yon scurvy loons are in poor humor for dalliance.
With a graceful gesture, Sir Guy invited Phoebe to approach his
horse. She obeyed, and stepping upon his hand found herself instantly
seated before his saddle. She seemed to find the seat familiar, and her
heart beat with a pleasure she could scarce explain when, a moment
later, the handsome cavalier swung into place behind her and put one
arm about her waist to steady her.
Rebecca started forward, terror-stricken.
PhoebePhoebe! she cried. Ye wouldn't leave me here!
Naynay! said a gruff but kindly voice at her side. Here, gi'e
us your hand, dame, step on my foot, and up behind you go.
Sir Guy's horse was turning to go, and in her panic Rebecca awaited
no second bidding, but scrambled quickly though clumsily to a seat
behind the serving-man.
They were all four soon free of the crowd and out of danger, thanks
to the universal respect for rank and the essential good nature of the
The horses assumed an easy ambling gait, a sort of single step which
was far more comfortable than Rebecca had feared she would find it.
The relief of deliverance from the rude mob behind her gave Rebecca
courage, and she gazed about with some interest.
On either side of the street the houses, which hitherto had stood
apart with gardens and orchards between them, were now set close
together, with the wide eaves of their sharp gables touching over
narrow and dark alleyways. The architecture was unlike anything she had
ever seen, the walls being built with the beams showing outside and the
windows of many small diamond-shaped panes.
They had only proceeded a few yards when Rebecca saw the glint of
sunbeams on water before them and found that they were approaching a
great square tower, surmounted by numberless poles bearing formless
round masses at their ends.
With one arm around her companion to steady herself, she held her
umbrella and bag tightly in her free hand. Now she pointed upward with
her umbrella and said:
Do you mind tellin' me, mister, what's thet fruit they're a-dryin'
up on thet meetin'-house?
The horseman glanced upward for a moment and then replied, with
something of wonder in his voice:
Why, those are men's heads, dame. Know you not London Bridge and
the traitors' poles yet?
Oh, good land! said the horrified woman, and shut her mouth
tightly. Evidently England was not the sort of country she had pictured
They rode into a long tunnel under the stones of this massive tower
and emerged to find themselves upon the bridge. Again and again did
they pass under round-arched tunnels bored, as it were, through gloomy
buildings six or seven stories high. These covered the bridge from end
to end, and they swarmed with a squalid humanity, if one might judge
from the calls and cries that resounded in the vaulted passageways and
As they finally came out from beneath the last great rookery, the
sisters found themselves in London, the great and busy city of four
hundred thousand inhabitants.
They were on New Fish Street, and their nostrils gave them witness
of its name at once. Farther up the slight ascent before them they met
other and far worse smells, and Rebecca was disgusted.
Where are we goin'? she asked.
Why, to your mistress' residence, of course.
Rebecca was on the point of objecting to this characterization of
her sister, but she thought better of it ere she spoke. After all, if
these men had done all this kindness by reason of a mistake, she needed
not to correct them.
The street up which they were proceeding opened into Gracechurch
Street, leading still up the hill and away from the Thames. It was a
fairly broad highway, but totally unpaved, and disgraced by a ditch or
kennel into which found their way the ill-smelling slops thrown from
the windows and doors of the abutting houses.
Good land o' Goshen! Rebecca exclaimed at last. Why in goodness'
name does all the folks throw sech messes out in the street?
Why, where would you have them throw them, dame? asked her
companion, in surprise. Are ye outlandish bred that ye put me such
Not much! she retorted, hotly. It's you folks that's outlandish.
Why, where I come from they hev sewers in the city streets an'
pavements an' sidewalks an' trolley cars. Guess I've ben to Keene, an'
I ought to know.
She tossed her head with the air of one who has said something
The man held his peace for a moment, dumfounded. Then he laughed
heartily, with head thrown back.
That's what comes of a kittenish hoyden for a mistress. Abroad too
early, dame, and strong ale before sunrise! These have stolen away your
wits and made ye hold strange discourse. Sewersside-walkers
forsoothtroll carries, hoho!
Rebecca grew red with fury. She released her hold to thump her
companion twice on the arm and nearly fell from the horse in
You great rascal! she cried, indignantly. How dare ye talk 'bout
drinkin' ale! D'you s'pose I'd touch the nasty stuff? Mea member of
the Woman's Christian Temperance Union! Mea Daughter of Temperance
an' wearin' the blue ribbon! You'd ought to be ashamed, that's what you
But the servant continued to laugh quietly and Rebecca raged within.
Oh how she hated to have to sit thus close behind a man who had so
insulted her! Clinging to him, too! Clinging for dear life to a man who
accused her of drinking ale!
They turned to the left into Leadenhall Street and Bucklesbury,
where the two women sniffed with delighted relief the spicy odor of the
herbs exposed on every hand for sale. They left Gresham's Royal
Exchange on the right, and shortly afterward stopped before the door of
one of the many well-to-do houses of that quarter.
Sir Guy and the two women dismounted, and, while the groom held the
horses, the others approached the building before which they had
Rebecca was about to address Phoebe, whose blushing face was beaming
with pleasure, when the door was suddenly thrown open and a
happy-looking buxom woman of advanced middle age appeared.
Wellwellwell! she cried, holding up her fat hands in mock
amazement. Out upon thee, Polly, for a light-headed wench!
Whatsneaking out to an early tryst! Fie, girl!
Now, good mine aunt, Phoebe broke in, with a smile and a curtsey,
no tryst have I kept, in sooth. Sir Guy is my witness that he found me
quite by chance.
In very truth, good Mistress Goldsmith, said the knight, it was
but the very bounteous guerdon of fair Dame Fortune that in the
auspicious forthcoming of my steed I found the inexpressible delectancy
of my so great discovery!
He bowed as he gave back one step and kissed his hand toward Phoebe.
All oneall one, said Dame Goldsmith, laughing as she held out
her hand to Phoebe. My good man hath a homily prepared for you,
mistress, and the substance of it runneth on the folly of early rising
on a May-day morning.
Phoebe held forth her hand to the knight, who kissed it with a
flourish, hat in hand.
Shall I hear from thee soon? she said, in an undertone.
Forthwith, most fairly beautifulmost gracious rare! he replied.
Then, leaping on his horse, he dashed down the street at a mad
gallop, followed closely by his groom.
Rebecca stood stupefied, gazing first at one and then at the other,
till she was rudely brought to her senses by no other than Dame
What, Rebecca! she exclaimed. Hast breakfasted, womanwhat?
Ay, aunt, Phoebe broke in, hurriedly. Rebecca must to my chamber
to tire me ere I see mine uncle. Prithee temper the fury of his homily,
Taking the dame's extended hand, she suffered herself to be led
within, followed by Rebecca, too amazed to speak.
On entering the street door they found themselves in a large hall,
at the farther end of which a bright wood fire was burning, despite the
season. A black oak table was on one side of the room against the wall,
upon which were to be seen a number of earthen beakers and a great
silver jug or tankard. A carved and cushioned settle stood against the
opposite wall, and besides two comfortable arm-chairs at the two
chimney-corners there were two or three heavy chairs of antique pattern
standing here and there. The floor was covered with newly gathered
A wide staircase led to the right, and to this Phoebe turned at once
as though she had always lived there.
Hast heard from my father yet? she asked, pausing upon the first
stair and addressing Dame Goldsmith.
Nay, girl. Not so much as a word. I trow he'll have but little to
say to me. Ayaya humorous limb, thy father, lass.
She swept out of the room with a toss of the head, and Phoebe smiled
as she turned to climb the stairs. Immediately she turned again and
held out one hand to Rebecca.
Come along, Rebecca. Let's run 'long up, she said, relapsing into
her old manner.
She led the way without hesitation to a large, light bedroom, the
front of which hung over the street. Here, too, the floor was covered
with sweet rushes, a fact which Rebecca seemed to resent.
Why the lands sakes do you suppose these London folks dump weeds on
their floors? she asked. An' look there at those two beds, still
unmade and all tumbled disgraceful!
Why, there's where we slept last night, Rebecca, said Phoebe,
laughing as she dropped into a chair. As for the floors, she
continued, they're always that way when folks ain't mighty rich. The
lords and all have carpets and rugs.
Rebecca, stepping very high to avoid stumbling in the rushes, moved
over to the dressing-table and proceeded to remove her outer wraps,
having first deposited her bag and umbrella on a chair.
I don't see how in gracious you know so much about it, she
remarked, querulously. 'Pon my word, you acted with that young
jackanapes an' that fat old lady downstairs jest's ef you'd allus known
Well, so I have, Phoebe replied, smiling. I knew them all nearly
three hundred years before you were born, Rebecca Wise.
Rebecca dropped into a chair and looked helplessly at her sister
with her arms hanging at her sides.
Phoebe Wise she began.
No, not now! Phoebe exclaimed, stopping her sister with a gesture.
You must call me Mistress Mary. I'm Mary Burton, daughter of Isaac
Burton, soon to be Sir Isaac Burton, of Burton Hall. You are my dear
old tiring-womanmy sometime nurseand thou must needs yield me the
respect and obedience as well as the love thou owest, thou fond old
The younger woman threw her arms about the other's neck and kissed
Rebecca sat mute and impassive, making no return.
Seems as though I ought to wake up soon now, she muttered, weakly.
Come, Rebecca, Phoebe exclaimed, briskly, stepping to a high,
carved wardrobe beside her bed, this merry-making habit wearies me.
Let us don a fitter attire. Comelend a hand, deariebe quick!
Rebecca sat quite still, watching her sister as she proceeded to
change her garments, taking from wardrobe and tiring chest her wide
skirts, long-sleeved jacket, and striped under-vest with a promptitude
and readiness that showed perfect familiarity with her surroundings.
There, thought Rebecca, I have it! She's been reading those old
letters and looking at that ivory picture so long she thinks that she's
the girl in the picture herself, now. Yes, that's it. Mary Burton was
When Phoebe was new-dressed, her sister could not but acknowledge
inwardly that the queer clothes were mightily becoming. She appeared
the beau ideal of a merry, light-hearted, healthy girl from the
On one point, however, Rebecca could not refrain from expostulating.
Look a-here, Phoebe, she said, in a scandalized voice, as she rose
and faced her sister, ain't you goin' to put on somethin' over your
chest? That ain't decent the way you've got yerself fixed now!
Nonsense! cried Phoebe, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
Wouldst have me cover my breast like a married woman! Look to thine
own attire. Come, where hast put it?
Rebecca put her hands on her hips and looked into her sister's face
with a stern determination.
Ef you think I'm agoin' to put on play-actor clothes an' go round
lookin' indecent, Phoebe Wise, why, you're mistaken'cause I ain'tso
Nay, nurse! Phoebe exclaimed, earnestly. 'Tis the costume thou
art wearing now that is mummer's weeds. Come, sweetcome! They'll not
yield thee admittance below else.
She concluded with a warning inflection, and shook her finger
affectionately at her sister.
Rebecca opened her mouth several times and closed it again in
despair ere she could find a reply. At length she seated herself
slowly, folded her arms, and said:
They can do jest whatever they please downstairs, Phoebe. As fer
me, I'd sooner be seen in my nightgown than in the flighty,
flitter-scatter duds the women 'round here wear. Not but you look good
enough in 'em, if you'd cover your chest, but play-actin' is meant for
young folksnot fer old maids like me.
What the lands sakes d'ye holler neigh all the time fer? I'm not
agoin' to neigh, an' you might's well make up your mind to't.
Phoebe bit her lips and then, after a moment's hesitation, turned to
Well, well! E'en have it thy way! she said.
Followed by Rebecca, the younger woman descended the stairs. As she
reached the entrance hall, she stopped short at sight of a tall, heavy
man standing beside the table across the room with his face buried in a
great stone mug.
He had dropped his flat round hat upon the table, and his long hair
fell in a sort of bush to his wide, white-frilled ruff. He wore a
long-skirted, loose coat of green cloth with yellow fringe, provided
with large side-pockets, but without a belt. The sleeves were loose,
but brought in tightly at the wrists by yellow bands. His green hose
were of the short and tight French pattern, and he wore red stockings
and pointed shoes of Spanish leather.
As he removed the cup with a deep sigh of satisfaction, there was
revealed a large, cheerful red face with a hooked nose between bushy
brows overhanging large blue eyes.
Phoebe stood upon the lowest stair in smiling silence and with
folded hands as he caught her eye.
Ha, thou jade! cried Master Goldsmith, for he it was. Wilt give
me the slip of a May-day morn!
He set down his cup with a loud bang and strode over to the
staircase, shaking his finger playfully at his niece.
Rebecca had just time to notice that his long, full beard and
mustache were decked with two or three spots of froth when, to her
great indignation, Phoebe was folded in his arms and soundly kissed on
There, lass! he chuckled, as he stepped back, rubbing his hands.
I told thy aunt I'd make thee do penance for thy folly.
Phoebe wiped her cheeks with her handkerchief and tipped her head
impudently at the cheerful ravisher.
Now, God mend your manners, uncle! she exclaimed. What! Bedew my
cheeks with the froth of good ale on your beard while my throat lacks
the good body o't! Why, I'm burned up wi' thirst!
Good lack! cried the goldsmith, turning briskly to the table. Had
ye no drink when ye first returned, then?
He poured a smaller cupful of foaming ale from the great silver jug
and brought it to Phoebe.
Rebecca clutched the stair-rail for support, and, with eyes ready to
start from her head, she leaned forward, incredulous, as Phoebe took
the cup from the merchant's hand.
Then she could keep silence no longer.
Phoebe Wise! she screamed, be you goin' to drink ALE!
No words can do justice to the awful emphasis which she laid upon
that last dread word.
Phoebe turned and looked up roguishly at her sister, who was still
half-way up the stairs. The young girl's left hand leaned on her
uncle's arm, while with her right she extended the cup in salutation.
Here's thy good health, nurseand to our better acquaintance, she
Rebecca uttered one short scream and fled up to their bed-room. She
had seen the impossible. Her sister Phoebe with her face buried in a
mug of ale!
CHAPTER VIII. HOW FRANCIS BACON
CHEATED THE BAILIFFS
It was at about this time that Copernicus Droop finally awakened. He
lay perfectly still for a minute or two, wondering where he was and
what had happened. Then he began to mutter to himself.
Machinery's stopped, so we're on dry land, he said. Then, starting
up on one elbow, he listened intently.
Within the air-ship all was perfect silence, but from without there
came in faintly occasional symptoms of lifethe bark of a dog, a loud
laugh, the cry of a child.
Droop slowly came to his feet and gazed about. A faint gleam of
daylight found its way past the closed shutters. He raised the blinds
and blinked as he gazed out into a perfect thicket of trees and
shrubbery, beyond which here and there he thought he could distinguish
a high brick wall.
Well, we're in the country, anyhow! he muttered.
He turned and consulted the date indicator in the ceiling.
May 1, 1598, he said. Great Jonah! but we hev whirled back fer
keeps! I s'pose we jest whirled till she broke loose.
He gazed about him and observed that the two state-room doors were
open. He walked over and looked in.
I wonder where them women went, he said. Seems like they were in
a tremendous hurry 'bout gettin' way. Lucky 'tain't a city we're in,
'cause they might'v got lost in the city.
After an attempt to improve his somewhat rumpled exterior, he made
his way down the stairs and out into the garden. Once here, he quickly
discovered the building which had arrested the attention of the two
women, but it being now broad daylight, he was able thoroughly to
satisfy himself that chance had brought the Panchronicon into the
deserted garden of a deserted mansion.
Wal, we'll be private an' cosy here till the Panchronicon hez time
to store up more force, he said out loud.
Strolling forward, he skirted the high wall, and ere long discovered
the very opening through which the sisters had passed at sunrise.
Stepping through the breach, he found himself, as they had done,
near the main London highway in Newington village. The hurly-burly of
sunrise had abated by this time, for wellnigh all the villagers were
absent celebrating the day around their respective May-poles or at bear
With his hands behind him, he walked soberly up and down for a few
minutes, carefully surveying the pretty wooden houses, the church in
the distance, and the stones of the churchyard on the green hill-slope
beyond. The architecture was not entirely unfamiliar. He had seen such
in books, he felt sure, but he could not positively identify it. Was it
Russian, Japanese, or Italian?
Suddenly a distant cry came to his ears.
HiLizzieLizzie, wench! Come, drive the pig out o' the
He stopped short and slapped his thigh.
English! he exclaimed. 'Tain't America, that's dead sure. Then
it's England. England in 1598, he continued, scratching his head.
Let's see. Who in Sam Hill was runnin' things in 1598? Richard Coor de
LionHenry Eightnoor was it Joan of Arc? Be darned ef I know!
He looked about him again and selected a neighboring house which he
thought promised information.
He went to the front door and knocked. There was no reply, despite
many attempts to arouse the inmates.
Might ha' known, he muttered, and started around the house, where
he found a side door half hidden beneath the projection of an upper
Here his efforts were rewarded at last by the appearance of a very
old woman in a peaked hat and coif, apparently on the point of going
Looks like a witch in the story-books, he thought, but his spoken
comment was more polite.
Good-mornin', ma'am, he said. Would you be so kind as to tell me
the name of this town?
This be Newington, she replied, in a high, cracked voice.
Newington, he replied, with a nod and a smile intended to express
complete enlightenment. Ah, yesNewington. Quite a town!
Is that all you'd be askin', young man? said the old woman, a
little suspiciously, eying his strange garb.
Why, yesnothat is, can you tell me how far it is to London?
This was the only English city of which he had any knowledge, so he
naturally sought to identify his locality by reference to it.
Lunnun, said the woman. Oh, it'll be a matter of a mile or
Droop was startled, but highly pleased. Here was luck indeed.
Thank you, ma'am, he said. Good-mornin', and with a cheerful
nod, he made off.
The fact is that this information opened up a new field of
enterprise and hope. At once there leaped into his mind an improved
revival of his original plan. If he could have made a fortune with his
great inventions in 1876, what might he not accomplish by the same
means in 1598! He pictured to himself the delight of the ancient
worthies when they heard the rag-time airs and minstrel jokes produced
by his phonograph.
By hockey! he exclaimed, in irrepressible delight, I'll make
their gol darned eyes pop out!
As he marched up and down in the deserted garden, hidden by the
friendly brick wall, he bitterly regretted that he had limited himself
to so few modern inventions.
Ef I'd only known I was comin' this fur back! he exclaimed, as he
talked to himself that he might feel less lonely. Ef I'd only known, I
could hev brought a heap of other things jest's well as not. Might hev
taught 'em 'bout telegraphin' an' telephones. Could ha' given 'em
steam-engines an' parlor matches. By ginger! he exclaimed, I b'lieve
I've got some parlor matches. Great Jehosaphat! Won't I get rich!
But at this a new difficulty presented itself to his mind. He
foresaw no trouble in procuring patents for his inventions, but how
about the capital for their exploitation? Presumably this was quite as
necessary here in England as it would have been in America in 1876.
Unfortunately, his original plan was impossible of fulfilment. Rebecca
had failed him as a capitalist. Besides, she and Phoebe had both
It was long before he saw his way out of this difficulty, but by
dint of persistent pondering he finally lit upon a plan.
He had brought with him a camera, several hundred plates, and a
complete developing and printing outfit. He determined to set up as a
professional photographer. His living would cost him nothing, as the
Panchronicon was well stored with provisions. To judge by his
surroundings, his privacy would probably be respected. Then, by setting
up as a photographer he would at least earn a small amount of current
coin and perhaps attract some rich and powerful backer by the novelty
and excellence of his process. On this chance he relied for procuring
the capital which was undoubtedly necessary for his purpose.
By noon of the next day he had begun operations, having taken two or
three views of familiar scenes in the neighborhood, which he affixed as
samples to a large cardboard sign on which he had printed, in large
| AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHER |
| THE ONLY ONE IN EXISTENCE |
| Step up and have your picture taken |
This sign he nailed to a tree near the road which he made his
headquarters. He preferred to keep the location and nature of his abode
a secret, and so spent his days under his tree or sitting in the porch
of some neighboring house, for he was not long in making friends, and
his marvellous tales made him very popular.
It was difficult for him to fix a price at first, not being
acquainted with the coin of the realm, but he put his whole mind to the
acquisition of reliable information on this point, and his native
shrewdness brought him success.
He found that it was wisest for every reason to let it be believed
that the pictures were produced by hand. The camera, he explained, was
a mere aid to accuracy of observation and memory in reproduction of
what he saw through it. Thus he was able to command much higher prices
for the excellence and perfection of his work and, had he but known it,
further avoided suspicion of witchcraft which would probably have
attached to him had he let it be known that the camera really produced
In the course of his daily gossip with neighbors and with the
customers, rustic and urban, who were attracted by his fame, he soon
learned that Good Queen Bess ruled the land, and his speech gradually
took on a tinge of the Elizabethan manner and vocabulary which,
mingling with his native New England idioms, produced a very
It was a warm night some weeks after Droop had hung out his
shingle as a professional photographer that he sat in the main room of
the Panchronicon, reading for perhaps the twentieth time Phoebe's
famous book on Bacon and Shakespeare, which she had left behind. The
other books on hand he found too dry, and he whiled away his idle hours
with this invaluable historic work, feeling that its tone was in
harmony with his recent experiences.
So to-night he was reading with the shutters tightly closed to
prevent attracting the gaze of outsiders. No one had yet discovered his
residence, and he had flattered himself that it would remain
permanently a secret.
His surprise and consternation were great, therefore, when he was
suddenly disturbed in his reading by a gentle knocking on the door at
the foot of the stairs.
Great Jonah! he exclaimed, closing his book and cocking his head
to listen. Now, whowonder ef it's Cousin Rebecca or Phoebe!
The knock was repeated.
Why, 'f course 'tis! he said. Couldn't be anybody else. Funny
they never come back sooner!
He laid his book upon the table and started down the stairs just as
the knocking was heard for the third time.
Comin'comin'! he cried. Save the pieces!
He threw open the door and started back in alarm as there entered a
strange man wrapped in a black cloak, which he held so as to completely
hide his features.
The new-comer sprang into the little hallway and hastily closed the
door behind him.
Close in the light, friend, he said.
Then, glancing about him, he ascended the stairs and entered the
main room above.
Droop followed him closely, rubbing his hand through his hair in
perplexity. This intrusion threatened to spoil his plans. It would
never do to have the neighbors swarming around the Panchronicon.
The stranger threw off his cloak on entering the upper room and
turned to face his host.
I owe you sincere acknowledgment of thanks, good sir, he said,
He appeared to be about thirty-five years of age, a man of medium
stature, dark of hair and eyes, with a pale, intellectual face and a
close-clipped beard. His entire apparel was black, save for his
well-starched ruff of moderate depth and the lace ruffles at his
Wal, I dunno, Droop retorted. Marry, an I hed known as thou wast
not an acquaintance
You would not have given me admittance?
The calm, dark eyes gazed with disconcerting steadiness into Droop's
OhwellI ain't sayin'
I hope I have not intruded to your hurt or serious confusion,
friend, said the stranger, glancing about him. To tell the very
truth, your hospitable shelter hath offered itself in the hour of
Whatdoth it rainetheh?
What can I do fer ye? Take a seat, said Droop, as the stranger
dropped into a chair. Thou knowest, forsooth, that I don't take
photygraphs at nightmarry, no!
Are you, then, the new limner who makes pictures by aid of the box
Yeathat's what I am, said Droop.
I was ignorant of the location of your dwelling. Indeed, it is pure
accidenta trick of Fortune that hath brought me to your door
Droop seated himself and directed an interrogative gaze at his
My name's DroopCopernicus Droop, he said. An' you
My name is Francis Bacon, Master Droopyour servitor, he bowed
Droop started up stiff and straight in his chair.
Francis Bacon! he exclaimed. What! Not the one as wrote
ShakespeareShakespeare! said the stranger, in a slow, puzzled
tone. I do admit having made some humble essays in writingcertain
modest commentaries upon human motives and relationsbut, in good
sooth, the title you have named, Master Droop, is unknown to me.
ShakespeareShakespeare. Pray, sir, is it a homily or an essay?
Why, ye see, et'sas fur's I know it's a mana sorter poet or
genius or play-writin' man, said Droop, somewhat confused.
A mana poeta genius? Bacon repeated, gravely. Then, prithee,
friend, how meant you in saying you thought me him who had written
Shakespeare? Can a mana poetbe written?
Nayverilyin good soothmarry, no! stuttered Droop. What they
mean is thet 'twas you wrote the things Shakespeare put his name
toyou did, didn't you?
Ahem! said the stranger, with dubious slowness. A poeta genius,
you say? And I understand that I am reputed to have been the true
Yes, indeedyeala! exclaimed Droop, now sadly confused.
Might I ask the name of some work imputed to me, and which
Ay, this Shakespeare hath impudently claimed for his own credit and
Wellwhysuffer mejest wait a minute, said Droop. He clutched
the book he had been reading and opened it at random. Here, he said.
'Love's Labor's Lost,' for instance.
What! exclaimed Bacon, starting indignantly to his feet. 'Tis but
a sennight I saw this same dull nonsense played by the Lord
Chamberlain's players. 'Love's Labor's he broke off and repressed
his choler with some effort. Then in a slow, grave voice he continued:
Why, sir, you have been sadly abused. Surely the few essays I have
made in the field of letters may stand my warrant that I should not so
demean myself as is implied in this repute of me. Pray tell me, sir,
who are they that so besmirch my reputation as to impute to my poor
authority the pitiful lines of this rascal player?
Why, in very truthmarry, it's in that book. It was printed in
Bacon glanced contemptuously at the volume without deigning to open
And prithee, Master Droop, where may Chicago be?
Why it was inno! I mean it will beoh, darn it all!
Chicago's in Illinois.
Illinoisyesand Illinois? Bacon's dark eyes were turned in
grave question upon his companion.
Why, that's in America, ye know.
Oh! said Bacon. Then, with a sigh of great relief: Ah! he
Yea, verilyin soothoror thereabouts, said Droop, not knowing
what to say.
Ah, in America! A land of heathen savagesred-skinned hunters of
men. Yesyes! 'Twere not impossible such persons might so misapprehend
my powers. 'Twould lie well within their shallow incapacities,
methinks, to impute to Francis Bacon, Barrister of Gray's Inn, Member
of Parliament for Melcombe, Reversionary Clerk of the Star Chamber, the
friend of the Earl of Essexto impute to me, I say, these frothings of
a villain playerthis Shakeeh? What?
Bacon paced placidly up and down for a few moments, while Droop
followed him apologetically with his eyes. Evidently this was a most
important personage. It behooved him to conciliate such a power as
this. Who could tell! Perhaps this friend of the Earl of Essex might be
the capitalist for whom he was in search.
For some time Master Bacon paced back and forth in silence,
evidently wrapped in his own thoughts. In the meantime Droop's hopes
rose higher and higher, and at length he could no longer contain
Why, Master Bacon, he said, I'm clean surprisedyea, marry, am
Ithat anybody could hev ben sech a foolaeh? Well, a
loonwhat?as to hev said you wrote Shakespeare. You're a man o'
sciencethat's what you are. You don't concern yourself with no
trumpery poetry. I can see that stickin' out.
Bacon was startled and examined himself hurriedly.
What! he exclaimed, what is sticking out, friend?
Oh, I was jest sayin' it in the sense of the word! said Droop,
apologetically. What I mean is, it's clear that you're not a triflin'
poet, but a man of scienceeh?
Why, no. I do claim some capacity in the diviner flights of lyric
letters, friend. You are not to despise poetry. Nayrather contemn
those who bring scorn to the name of poetvain writers for filthy
pencefellows like this same Shakespeare.
Yesthat's what I meant, said Droop, anxious to come to the
point. But your high-water mark is sciencephilosophyall that. Now,
you're somethin' of a capitalist, too, I surmise.
He paused expectant.
A what, friend?
Why, you're in some Trust er other, ain't ye?Member of
CongressI mean Parlymentfriend of Lord What's-'is-nameClerk of
the Starsuthin' or other. Guess you're pretty middlin' rich, ain't
Bacon's face grew long at these words, and he seated himself in
Why, to speak truth, friend, he said, I find myself at this
moment in serious straits. Indeed, 'tis an affair of a debt that hath
driven me thus to your door.
A debt! said Droop, his heart sinking.
Ay. The plain truth is, that at this moment I am followed by two
bailiffsbearers of an execution of arrest upon my person. 'Twas to
evade these fellows that I entered this deserted garden, leaving my
horse without. 'Tis for this cause I am here. Now, Master Droop, you
know the whole truth.
Great Jonah! said Droop, helplessly. But didn't you say you had
None better, Master Droop. My uncle is Lord BurleighLord High
Treasurer to her Gracious Majesty. My patron is the Earl of Essex
Why don't they give ye a lift?
Bacon's face grew graver.
Essex is away, he said. On his return my necessities will be
speedily relieved. As for mine uncle, to him have I applied; but his
lordship lives in the sunshine of her Majesty's smiles, and he cannot
be too sudden in aid of Francis Bacon for fear of losing the Queen's
A long tale of politics, friend. A speech made by me in Parliament
in opposing monopolies.
Oh! said Droop, dismally. You're down on monopolies, air ye?
Bacon turned a wary eye upon his companion.
Why ask you this? he said.
Why, only to He paused. To say sooth, he continued, with
sudden resolution, I want to get a monopoly myselftwo or three of
'em. I've got some A1 inventions here, an' I want to get 'em patented.
I thought, perhaps, you or your friends might help me.
Ah! Bacon exclaimed, with awakening interest. You seek my
influence in furtherance of these designs. Do I apprehend you?
That's jest it, said Droop.
And what would be theahemthe recognition which
Why, you'd git a quarter interest in the hull business, said
Droop, hopefully. That is, provided you've got the inflooence, ye
Too slighttoo slight for Francis Bacon, Master Droop.
Copernicus thought rapidly for a minute or two. Then he pretended
Oh, very good! he said. I'll take up with Sir Thomas
Bacon pretended to accept the decision and changed the subject.
Now permit me to approach the theme of my immediate need, he said.
These bailiffs withoutthey must be evaded. May I have your
assistance, friend, in this matter?
Whywhat can I do?
Pray observe me with all attention, Bacon began. These my
habiliments are of the latest fashion and of rich texture. Your habit
is, if I may so speak, of inferior fashion and substance. I will
exchange my habit for yours on this conditionthat you mount my horse
forthwith and ride away. The moon is bright and you will be pursued at
once by these scurvy bailiffs. Lead them astray, Master Droop, to the
southward, whilst I slip away to London in your attire, wherein I feel
sure no man will recognize me. Once in London, there is a friend of
mineone Master Isaac Burtonwho is hourly expected and from whom I
count upon having some advances to stand me in present stead. What say
you? Will you accept new clothing and richfor old and worn?
Droop approached his visitor and slowly examined his clothing,
gravely feeling the stuff between thumb and finger and even putting his
hand inside the doublet to feel the lining. Bacon's outraged dignity
struggled within him with the sense of his necessity. Finally, just as
he was about to give violent expression to his impatience, Droop
stepped back and took in the general effect with one eye closed and his
head cocked on one side.
Jest turn round, will ye? he said, with a whirling movement of the
hand, an' let me see how it looks in the back?
Biting his lips, the furious barrister turned about and walked away.
Needs must where the devil drives, he muttered.
Droop shook his head dismally.
Marry, come up! he exclaimed. I guess I can't make the bargain,
I don't like the cut o' them clothes. I'd look rideec'lous in 'em.
Besides, the's too much risk in it, Bacon, my boy, he said,
familiarly, throwing himself into the arm-chair and stretching out his
legs comfortably. Ef the knaves was to catch me an' find out the trick
I'd played 'em, why, sure as a gun, they'd put me in the lock-up an'
try me fer stealin' your dudsyour habiliments.
Nay, then, Bacon exclaimed, eagerly, I'll give you a writing,
Master Droop, certifying that the clothes were sold to you for a
consideration. That will hold you blameless. What say you?
What about the horse and the saddle and bridle?
These are borrowed from a friend, Master Droop, said Bacon. These
rascals know this, else had they seized them in execution.
Ah, but won't they seize your clothes, Brother Bacon? said Droop,
Naythat were unlawful. A man's attire is free from process of
I'll tell ye wherein I'll go ye, said Droop, with sudden
animation. You give me that certificate, that bill of sale, you
mentioned, and also a first-class letter to some lord or political chap
with a pull at the Patent Office, an' I'll change clothes with ye an'
fool them bailiff chaps.
I'll e'en take your former offer, then, said Bacon, with a sigh.
One fourth part of all profits was the proposal, was it not?
Oh, that's all off! said Droop, grandly, with a wave of the hand.
If I go out an' risk my neck in them skin-tight duds o' yourn, I get
the hull profits an' you get to London safe an' sound in these New
But, good sir
Take it or leave it, friend.
Well, said Bacon, angrily, after a few moments' hesitation, have
your will. Give me ink, pen, and paper.
These being produced, the barrister curiously examined the wooden
penholder and steel pen.
Why, Master Droop, he said, from what unknown bird have you
plucked forth this feather?
Feather! Droop exclaimed. What feather?
Why this? Bacon held up the pen and holder.
That ain't a feather. It's a pen-holder an' a steel pen, man. Say!
he exclaimed, leaning forward suddenly. Ye hain't ben drinkin', hev
To this Bacon only replied by a dignified stare and turned in
silence to the table.
Which you agoin' to write first, said Droop, considerately
dropping the question he had raised.
The bill of sale.
All right. I'd like to have ye put the one about the patent real
strong. I don't want to fail on the fust try, you know.
Bacon made no reply, but dipped his pen and set to work. In due time
the two documents were indited and carefully signed.
This letter is addressed to my uncle, Lord Burleigh, said Bacon.
He is at the Palace at Greenwich, with the Queen.
Shall I hev to take it to him myself?
Might hev trouble findin' him, I should think, said Droop.
Mayhap. On more thought, 'twere better you had a guide. I know a
worthy gentlemanone of the Queen's harbingers. Take you this letter
to him, for which purpose I will e'en leave it unsealed that he may
read it. He will conduct you to mine uncle, for he hath free access to
What's his name?
Sir Percevall Hart. His is the demesne with the high tower of burnt
bricks, near the west end of Tower Street. But stay! 'Twere better you
did seek him at the Boar's Head Tavern in Eastcheap.
Sir Percevall HartBoar's HeadEastcheap. That's in London City,
Yesyes, said Bacon, impatiently. Any watchman or passer-by will
direct you. Now, sir, 'tis for you to fulfil your promise.
All right, said Droop. It's my innin'sso here goes.
In a few minutes the two men had changed their costumes and stood
looking at each other with a very evident disrelish of their respective
Droop held his chin high in the air to avoid contact with the stiff
ruff, while his companion turned up the collar of his
nineteenth-century coat and held it together in front as though he
feared taking cold.
Why, Master Droop, said Bacon, glancing down in surprise at his
friend's nether extremities, what giveth that unwonted spiral look to
your legs? They be ribbed as with grievous weals.
Droop tried to look down, but his wide ruff prevented him. So he put
one foot on the table and, bringing his leg to the horizontal, gazed
dismally down upon it.
Gosh all hemlockthem's my underdrawers! he exclaimed. These
here ding-busted long socks o' yourn air so all-fired tight the blamed
drawers hez hiked up in ridges all round! Makes me look like a bunch o'
bananas in a bag! he said, crossly.
Wellwella truce to trivial complaints, said Bacon, hurriedly,
fearful that Droop might withdraw his consent to the rescue. Here are
my cloak and hat, friend; and now away, I pray you, and rememberride
to southward, that I may have a clear field to London.
Droop donned the hat and cloak and gazed at himself sorrowfully in
Darned ef I don't look like a cross 'tween a Filipino and a crazy
cowboy! he muttered.
And think you I have not suffered in the exchange, Master Droop?
said Bacon, reproachfully. In very truth, I were not worse found had I
shrunken one half within mine own doublet!
After some further urging, Droop was induced to descend the stairs,
and soon the two men stood together at the breach in the brick wall.
They heard the low whinnying of a horse close at hand.
That is my steed, Bacon whispered. You must mount with instant
speed and away with all haste to the south, Master Droop.
D'ye think I won't split these darned pants and tight socks? said
Hush, friend, hush! Bacon exclaimed. The bailiffs must not know
we are here till they see you mount and away. Naynayfear not. The
hose and stockings will hold right securely, I warrant you.
Well, so long! said Droop, and the next moment he was in the
saddle. G'lang there! Geet ap! he shouted, slapping the horse's neck
with his bridle.
With a snort of surprise, the horse plunged forward dashing across
the moonlit field. A moment later, Bacon saw two other horses leap
forward in pursuit from the dark cover of a neighboring grove.
Good! he exclaimed. The lure hath taken!
Then leaning over he rubbed his shins ruefully.
How the night wind doth ascend within this barbarous hose! he
CHAPTER IX. PHOEBE AT THE PEACOCK
While Copernicus Droop was acquiring fame and fortune as a
photographer, Rebecca and Phoebe were leading a quiet life in the city.
Phoebe was perfectly happy. For her this was the natural
continuation of a visit which her father, Isaac Burton, had very
unwillingly permitted her to pay to her dead mother's sister, Dame
Goldsmith. She was very fond of both her aunt and uncle, and they
petted and indulged her in every possible way.
Her chief source of happiness lay in the fact that the Goldsmiths
favored the suit of Sir Guy Fenton, with whom she found herself deeply
in love from the moment when he had so opportunely arrived to rescue
the sisters from the rude horse-play of the Southwark mob.
Poor Rebecca, on the other hand, found herself in a most unpleasant
predicament. She had shut herself up in her room on the first day of
her arrival on discovering that her new hosts were ale drinkers, and
she had insisted upon perpetuating this imprisonment when she had
discovered that she would only be accepted on the footing of a servant.
Phoebe, who remembered Rebecca both as her nineteenth-century sister
and as her sixteenth-century nurse and tiring-woman, thought this
determination the best compromise under the circumstances, and
explained to her aunt that Rebecca was subject to recurring fits of
delusion, and that it was necessary at such times to humor her in all
On the very day of the visit of Francis Bacon to the Panchronicon,
the two sisters were sitting together in their bed-room. Rebecca was at
her knitting by the window and Phoebe was rereading a letter for the
twentieth time, smiling now and then as she read.
'Pears to amuse ye some, said Rebecca, dryly, looking into her
sister's rosy face. How'd it come? I ain't seen the postman sence
we've ben here. Seems to me they ain't up to Keene here in London. We
hed a postman twice a day at Cousin Jane's house.
No, 'twas the flesher's lad brought it, said Phoebe.
Rebecca grunted crossly.
I wish the land sake ye'd say 'butcher' when ye mean butcher,
Phoebe, she said.
Well, the butcher's boy, then, Miss Particular! said Phoebe,
Rebecca's face brightened.
My! It does sound good to hear ye talk good Yankee talk, Phoebe,
she said. Ye hevn't dropped yer play-actin' lingo fer days and days.
Oh, 'tis over hard to remember, sis! said Phoebe, carelessly. But
tell me, would it be unmaidenly, think you, were I to grant Sir Guy a
private meetingwithout the house?
Which means would I think ye was wrong to spark with that
high-falutin man out o' doors, eh?
Yessay it so an thou wilt, said Phoebe, shyly.
Why, ef you're goin' to keep comp'ny with him 'tall, I sh'd think
ye'd go off with him by yerself. Thet's the way sensible folks doat
least, I b'lieve so, she added, blushing.
Aunt Martha hath given me free permission to see Sir Guy when I
will, Phoebe continued. But she hath been full circumspect, and ever
keepeth within ear-shot.
Humph! snapped Rebecca. Y'ain't got any Aunt Martha's fur's I
know, but ef ye mean that fat, beer-drinkin' woman downstairs, why,
'tain't any of her concern, an' I'd tell her so, too.
Phoebe twirled her letter between her fingers and gazed pensively
smiling out of the window. There was a long pause, which was finally
broken by Rebecca.
What's the letter 'bout, anyway? she said. Is it from the guy?
You mean Sir Guy, said Phoebe, in injured tones.
Oh, well, sir or ma'am! Did he write it?
Why, truth to tell, said Phoebe, slipping the note into her bosom,
'Tis but one of the letters I read to thee from yon carved box,
My sakesthat! cried her sister. How'd the butcher's boy find
it? You don't s'pose he stole it out o' the Panchronicle, do ye?
Lord warrant us, sis, no! 'Twas writ this very day. What o'clock is
She ran to the window and looked down the street toward the clock on
the Royal Exchange.
Three i' the afternoon, she muttered. The time is short. Shall I?
Shall I not?
Talkin' o' letters, said Rebecca, suddenly, I wish'd you take one
down to the Post-Office fer me, Phoebe. She rose and went to a drawer
in the dressing-table. Here's one 't I wrote to Cousin Jane in Keene.
I thought she might be worried about where we'd got to, an' so I've
written an' told her we're in London.
The Post-Office Phoebe began, laughingly. Then she checked
herself. Why undeceive her sister? Here was the excuse she had been
Yes; an' I told her more'n that, Rebecca continued. I told her
that jest's soon as the Panchronicle hed got rested and got its breath,
we'd set off quick fer homeyou an' me. Thet's so, ain't it, Phoebe?
she concluded, with plaintive anxiety in her voice.
I'll take the letter right along, said Phoebe, with sudden
But Rebecca would not at once relax her hold on the envelope.
That's so, ain't it, dearie? she insisted. Won't we make fer home
as soon's we can?
Sis, said Phoebe, gravely, an I be not deeply in error, thou art
right. Now give me the letter.
Rebecca relinquished the paper with a sigh of relief, then looked up
in surprise at Phoebe, who was laughing aloud.
Why, here's a five-cent stamp, as I live! she cried. Where did it
I hed it in my satchel, said Rebecca. Ain't that the right
Yesyes, said Phoebe, still laughing. And now for the
She donned her coif and high-crowned hat with silver braid, and
leaned over Rebecca, who had seated herself, to give her a good-by
Great sakes! exclaimed Rebecca, as she received the unaccustomed
greeting. You do look fer all the world like one o' the Salem witches
in Peter Parley's history, Phoebe.
With a light foot and a lighter heart for all its beating, Phoebe
ran down the street unperceived from the house.
Bishopsgate! she sang under her breath. The missive named
Bishopsgate. He'll meet me within the grove outside the city wall.
Her feet seemed to know the way, which was not over long, and she
arrived without mishap at the gate.
Here she was amazed to see two elderly men, evidently merchants, for
they were dressed much like her uncle the goldsmith, approach two gayly
dressed gentlemen and, stopping them on the street, proceed to measure
their swords and the width of their extravagant ruffs with two
The four were so preoccupied with this ceremony that she slipped
past them without attracting the disagreeable attention she might
otherwise have received.
As she passed, the beruffled gentlemen were laughing, and she heard
one of them say:
God buy you, friends, our ruffs and bilbos have had careful
measurement, I warrant you.
Right careful, in sooth, said one of those with the yardsticks.
They come within a hair's breadth of her Majesty's prohibition.
Phoebe had scant time for wonder at this, for she saw in a grove not
a hundred yards beyond the gate the trappings of a horse, and near by
what seemed a human figure, motionless, under a tree.
Making a circuit before entering the grove, she came up behind the
waiting figure, far enough within the grove to be quite invisible from
She hesitated for some time ere she felt certain that it was indeed
Sir Guy who stood before her. He was dressed in the extreme of fashion,
and she fancied that she could smell the perfumes he wore, as they were
borne on the soft breeze blowing toward her.
His hair fell in curls on either side from beneath a splendid murrey
French hat, the crown of which was wound about with a gold cable, the
brim being heavy with gold twist and spangles. His flat soft ruff,
composed of many layers of lace, hung over a thick blue satin doublet,
slashed with rose-colored taffeta and embroidered with pearls, the
front of which was brought to a point hanging over the front of his
hose in what was known as a peascod shape. The tight French hose was
also of blue satin, vertically slashed with rose. His riding-boots were
of soft brown Spanish leather and his stockings of pearl-gray silk. A
pearl-gray mantle lined with rose-colored taffeta was fastened at the
neck, under the ruff, and fell in elegant folds over his left arm, half
concealing the hand resting upon the richly jewelled hilt of a sword
whose scabbard was of black velvet.
God ild us! Phoebe exclaimed in low tones. What foppery have we
Then, slipping behind a tree, she clapped her hands.
Guy turned his head and gazed about in wonder, for no one was
visible. Phoebe puckered her lips and whistled softly twice. Then, as
her lover darted forward in redoubled amazement, she stepped into view,
and smiled demurely upon him with hands folded before her.
The young knight leaped forward, and, dropping on one knee, carried
her hand rapturously to his lips.
Now sink the orbed sun! he exclaimed. For behold a fairer cometh,
whose love-darting eyes do slay the night, rendering bright day
Smiling roguishly down into his face, Phoebe shook her head and
You are full of pretty phrases. Have you not been acquainted with
goldsmiths' wives, and conned them out of rings?
For an instant the young man was disconcerted. Then rising, he said:
Nay, from the rings regardant of thine eyes I learned my speech.
What are golden rings to these?
Why, how much better is thy speech when it ringeth true, said
Phoebe. Thy speech of greeting was conned with much pains from the
cold book of prior calculation, and so I answered you from a poet's
play. I would you loved me!
Loved thee, oh, divine enchantresstoo cruel-lovely captress of my
Tuttuttut! she broke in, stamping her foot. Thou dost it
badly, Sir Guy. A truce to Euphuistic word-coining and phrase-shifting!
Wilt show thy lovein all sadness, say!
In any wayor sad or gay!
Then prithee, good knight, stand on thy head by yonder tree.
The cavalier stepped back and gazed into his lady's face as though
he thought her mad.
Standonmyhead! he exclaimed, slowly.
Phoebe laughed merrily and clapped her hands.
Good my persuasion! she rippled. See how thou art shaken into
thyself, man. What! No phrase of lackadaisical rapture! Why, I looked
to see thee invert thine incorporate satin in an airy rhapsodyupheld
and kept unruffled by some fantastical twist of thine imagination. Oh,
FancyFancy! Couldst not e'en sustain thy knight cap-à-pie! and she
laughed the harder as she saw her lover's face grow longer and longer.
Why, mistress, he began, soberly, these quips and jests ill
become a lover's tryst, methinks
As ill as paint and scent and ear-ringsas foppish attire and
fantastical phrases do become an honest lover, said Phoebe,
indignantly. Dost think that Mary Burton prizes these weary
labyrinthine sentencesall hay and wool, like the monstrous swelling
of trunk hose? Far better can I read in Master Lilly's books. Thinkest
thou I came hither to smell civet? NayI love better the honest odor
of cabbages in mine aunt's kitchen! And all this finerythis
lacethis satin and this pearl embroidery
In God His name! the knight broke in, stamping his foot. Dost
take me for a little half-weaned knave, that I'll learn how to dress me
of a woman? An you like not my speech, mistress
Phoebe cut him short, putting her hand on his mouth.
Then she leaned her shoulder against a tree, and looking up saucily
into his face:
Now, don't get mad! she said.
Madmad! said Sir Guy, with a puzzled look. An this be madness,
mistress, then is her Majesty's whole court a madhouse.
Well, young man, Phoebe replied, with her prim New England manner,
if you want to marry me, you'll have to come and live in a country
where they don't have queens, and you'll work in your shirt-sleeves
like an honest man. You might just's well understand that first as
The knight moved back a step, with an injured expression on his
Nay, then, he said, an thou mock me with uncouth phrases, Mary,
I'd best be going.
Perhaps you'd better, Guy.
With a reproachful glance, but holding his head proudly, the young
man mounted his horse.
He hath a noble air on horseback, Phoebe said to herself, and she
The young man saw the smile and took courage.
He urged his horse forward to her side.
Mary! he exclaimed, tenderly.
Fare thee well! she replied, coolly, and turned her back.
He bit his lip, clinched his hand, and without another word, struck
fiercely with his spurs. With a snort of pain, the horse bounded
forward, and Phoebe found herself alone in the grove.
She gazed wistfully after the horseman and clasped her hands in
silence for a few moments. Then, at thought of the letter she knew he
was soon to writethe letter she had often seen in the carved boxshe
smiled again and, patting her skirts, stepped forth merrily from the
edge of the grove.
After all, 'twill teach the silly lad better manners! she said.
Scarcely had she reached the highway again when she heard a man's
voice calling in hearty tones.
Well met, Mistress Mary! I looked well to find you nearfor I take
it 'twas Sir Guy passed me a minute gone, spurring as 'twere a shame to
She looked up and saw a stout, middle-aged countryman on horseback,
holding a folded paper in his hand.
Oh, 'tis thou, Gregory! she said, coolly. Mend thy manners, man,
and keep thy place.
The man grinned.
For my place, Mistress Mary, he said, I doubt you know not where
your place be.
She looked up with a frown of angry surprise.
Up here behind me on young Bess, he grinned. See, here's your
father's letter, mistress.
She took the paper with one hand while with the other she patted the
soft nose of the mare, who was bending her head around to find her
Good Bessgood old mare! she said, gently, gazing pensively at
How well she knew every wrinkle in that paper, every curve in the
clumsy superscription. Full well she knew its contents, too; for had
she not read this very note to Copernicus Droop at the North Pole?
However, partly that he might not be set to asking questions, partly in
curiosity, she unfolded the paper.
DEAR POLLit beganI'm starting behind the grays for London on
my way to be knighted by her Majesty. I send this ahead by Gregory on
Bess, she being fast enow for my purpose, which is to get thee out of
the clutches of that ungodly aunt of thine. I know her tricks, and I
learn how she hath suffered that damned milk-and-water popinjay to come
courting my Poll. So see you follow Gregory, mistress, and without wait
or parley come with him to the Peacock Inn, where I lie to-night.
The grays are in fine fettle, and thy black mare grows too fat for
want of exercise. Thy mother-in-law commands thy instant return with
Gregory, having much business forward with preparing gowns and fal lals
against our presentation to her Majesty.Thy father, Isaac Burton, of
Thy mother thinks thou wilt make better speed if I make thee to
know that the players thou wottest of are to stop at the Peacock Inn
and will be giving some sport there.
The players! she exclaimed, eagerly. Be these the Lord
Chamberlain's men? she asked. Is there not among them one Will
Shakespeare, Gregory? What play give they to-night?
All one to me, mistress, said Gregory, slowly dismounting. There
be players at the Peacock, for the kitchen wench told me of them as I
stopped there for a pint; but be they the Lord Chamberlain's or the
Queen's, I cannot tell.
Do they play at the Shoreditch Theatre or at the inn, good
I' faith I know not, mistress, he replied, bracing his brawny
right hand, palm up, at his knee.
Mechanically she put one foot into his palm and sprang lightly upon
the pillion behind the groom's saddle.
As they turned and started at a jog trot northward, she remembered
her sister and her new-found aunt.
Holdhold, Gregory! she cried. What of Rebecca? What of my
I am to send an ostler from the Peacock for your nurse and
clothing, mistress, said Gregory. My orders was not to wait for
aught, but bring you back instant quickly wheresoever I found you.
After a pause he went on with a grin: I doubt I came late, hows'ever.
Sir Guy hath had his say, I'm thinkin'! and he chuckled audibly.
Now you mind your own business, Gregory! said Phoebe, sharply.
His face fell, and during the rest of their ride he maintained a
* * * * *
The next morning found Phoebe sitting in her room in the Peacock
Inn, silently meditating in an effort to establish order in the chaos
of her mind. Her hands lay passively in her lap, and between her
fingers was an open sheet of paper whose crisp folds showed it to be a
Daily contact with the people, customs, dress, and tongue of
Elizabethan England was fast giving to her memories of the nineteenth
century the dim seeming of a dream. As she came successively into
contact with each new-old acquaintance, he took his place in her heart
and mind full growncompletely equipped with all the associations,
loves, and antipathies of long familiarity.
Gregory had brought her to the inn the night before, and here she
had received the boisterous welcome of old Isaac Burton and the cooler
greeting of his dame, her step-mother. They took their places in her
heart, and she was not surprised to find it by no means a high one. The
old lady was overbearing and far from loving toward Mistress Mary, as
Phoebe began to call herself. As for Isaac Burton, he seemed quite
subject to his wife's will, and Phoebe found herself greatly estranged
That first afternoon, however, had transported her into a paradise
the joys of which even Dame Burton could not spoil.
Sitting in one of the exterior galleries overlooking the courtyard
of the inn, Phoebe had witnessed a play given on a rough staging
erected in the open air.
The play was The Merchant of Venice, and who can tell the thrills
that tingled through Phoebe's frame as, with dry lips and a beating
heart, she gazed down upon Shylock. Behind that great false beard was
the face of England's mightiest poet. That wig concealed the noble
forehead so revered by high and low in the home she had left behind.
She was Phoebe Wise, and only Phoebe, that afternoon, enjoying to
the full the privilege which chance had thrown in her way. And now, the
morning after, she went over it all again in memory. She rehearsed
mentally every gesture and intonation of the poet-actor, upon whom
alone she had riveted her attention throughout the play, following him
in thought, even when he was not on the stage.
Sitting there in her room, she smiled as she remembered with what a
start of surprise she had recognized one among the groundlings in front
of the stage after the performance. It was Sir Guy, very plainly
dressed and gazing fixedly upon her. Doubtless he had been there during
the entire play, waiting in vain for one sign of recognition. But
Shylock had held her spellbound, and even for her lover she had been
She felt a little touch of pity and compunction as she remembered
these things, and suddenly she lifted to her lips the letter she was
Poor boy! she murmured. Then, shaking her head with a smile: I
wonder how his letter found my room! she said.
She rose, and, going to the window where the light was stronger,
flattened out the missive and read it again:
MY DEAR, DEAR MARYdear to me ever, e'en in thy displeasurehave
I fallen, then, so low in thy sight! May I not be forgiven, sweet girl,
or shall I ever stand as I have this day, gazing upward in vain for the
dear glance my fault hath forfeited?
In sober truth, dear heart, I hate myself for what I was. What a
sad mummery of lisping nothings was my speechand what a vanity was my
attire! Thou wast right, Mary, but oh! with what a ruthless hand didst
thou tear the veil from mine eyes! I have seen my fault and will amend
it, but oh! tell me it was thy love and not thine anger that hath
prompted thee. And yetwhy didst thou avert thine eyes from me this
even? Sweetspeak but a wordwrite but a linegive some assurance,
dear, of pardon to him who is forever thine in the bonds of love.
She folded the letter slowly and slipped it into the bosom of her
dress with a smile on her lips and a far-away look in her eyes. She had
known this letter almost by heart before she received it. Had it not
been one of her New England collection? Foreknowledge of it had
emboldened her to rebuke her lover when she met him by the
Bishopsgateand yetit had been a surprise and a sweet novelty to her
when she had found it on her dressing-table the night before.
At length she turned slowly from the window and said softly:
Guy's a good fellow, and I'm a lucky girl!
There was a quick thumping of heavy feet on the landing, and a
moment later a young country girl entered. It was Betty, one of the
serving girls whom Dame Burton had brought with her to London.
The lass dropped a clumsy courtesy, and said:
Mistress bade me tell ye, Miss Mary, she would fain have ye wait on
her at once. She's in the inn parlor. Then, after a pause: Sure she
hath matter of moment for ye, I warrant, or she'd not look so solemn
Phoebe was strongly tempted to decline this peremptory invitation,
but curiosity threw its weight into the balance with complaisance, and
with a dignified lift of the chin she turned to the door.
Show the way, Betty, she said.
Through several long corridors full of perplexing turns and varied
by many a little flight of steps, the two young women made their way to
the principal parlor of the inn, where they found Mistress Burton
standing expectantly before a slow log fire.
Phoebe's worthy step-mother was a dame of middle age, ruddy,
black-haired, and stout. Her loud voice and sudden movements betrayed a
great fund of a certain coarse energy, and, as her step-daughter now
entered the parlor, she was fanning her flushed face with an open
letter. Her expression was one of triumph only half-concealed by
Aha, lass! she cried, as she caught sight of Phoebe, art here,
then? Here are news in soothnews for She broke off and turned
sharply upon Betty, who stood by the door with mouth and ears wide
Leave the room, Betty! she exclaimed. Am I to have every lazy
jade in London prying and eavesdropping? Trotlook alive!
She strode toward the reluctant maid and, with a good-natured push,
hastened her exit. Then, closing the door, she turned again toward
Phoebe, who had seated herself by the fire.
Well, Polly, she resumed, art still bent on thy foppish lover,
lass? Not mended since yesternightwhat?
A cool slow inclination of Phoebe's head was the sole response.
Out and alas! the dame continued, tossing her head with mingled
pique and triumph. 'Tis a sad day for thee and thine, then! This Sir
Guy of thine is as good as dead, girl! Thy popinjay is a traitor, and
his crimes have found him out!
Phoebe stood erect with one hand on her heart.
Dame Burton repressed a smile and continued with a slow shake of the
Ay, girl; a traitor to her blessed Majesty the Queen. His brother
hath been discovered in traitorous correspondence with the rebel
O'Neill, and is on his way to the Tower. Sir Guy's arrest hath been
ordered, and the two brothers will lose their heads together.
Very pale, Phoebe stood with hands tight clasped before her.
Where have you learned this, mother? she said.
Where but here! the dame replied, shaking the open sheet she held
in her hand. Thy Cousin Percy, secretary to my good Lord Burleigh, he
hath despatched me this writing here, which good Master Portman did
read to me but now.
Let me see it.
As Phoebe read the confirmation of her step-mother's ill news, she
tried to persuade herself that it was but the fabrication of a jealous
rival, for this Percy was also an aspirant to her hand. But it proved
too circumstantial to admit of this construction, and her first fears
Ye see, said Dame Burton, as she received the note again, the
provost guard is on the lad's track, and with a warrant. I told thee
thy wilful ways would lead but to sorrow, Poll!
Phoebe heard only the first sentence of this speech. Her mind was
possessed by one idea. She must warn her lover. Mechanically she turned
away, forgetful of her companion, and passing through the door with
ever quicker steps, left her step-mother gazing after her in speechless
Phoebe's movements were of necessity aimless at first. Ignorant of
Sir Guy's present abiding-place, knowing of no one who could reach him,
she wandered blindly forward, up one hall and down another without a
distinct immediate plan and mentally paralyzed with dread.
The sick pain of fearthe longing to reach her lover's sidethese
were the first disturbers of her peace since her return into this
strange yet familiar life of the past. Now for the first time she was
learning how vital was the hold of a sincere and deep love. The thought
of harm to himthe fear of losing himthese swept her being clear of
all small coquetries and maiden wiles, leaving room only for the
strong, true, sensitive love of an anxious woman. Over and over again
she whispered as she walked:
Oh, GuyGuy! Where shall I find you? What shall I do!
She had wandered long through the mazes of the quaint old
caravansary ere she found an exit. At length she turned a sharp corner
and found herself at the top of a short flight of steps leading to a
door which opened upon the main outer court. At that moment a new
thought leaped into her mind and she stopped abruptly, a rush of warm
color mantling on her cheeks.
Then, with a sigh of content, she sank down upon the top step of the
flight she had reached and gently shook her head, smiling.
Too much Mary Burton, Miss Phoebe! she murmured.
She had recollected her precious box of letters. Of these there was
one which made it entirely clear that Mary Burton and her lover were
destined to escape this peril; for it was written from him to her after
their flight from England. All her fears fell away, and she was left
free to taste the sweetness of the new revelation without the
bitterness in which that revelation had had its source.
Very dear to Phoebe in after life was the memory of the few moments
which followed. With her mind free from every apprehension, she leaned
her shoulder to the wall and turned her inward sight in charmed
contemplation upon the new treasure her heart had found.
How small, how trifling appeared what she had until then called her
love! Her new-found depth and height of tender devotion even frightened
her a little, and she forced a little laugh to avert the tears.
Through the open door her eyes registered in memory the casual
movements without, while her consciousness was occupied only with her
soul's experience. But soon this period of blissful inaction was
sharply terminated. Her still watching eyes brought her a message so
incongruous with her immediate surroundings as to shake her out of her
waking dream. She became suddenly conscious of a nineteenth-century
intruder amid her almost medieval surroundings.
All attention now, she sat quickly upright and looked out again.
Yesthere could be no mistakeCopernicus Droop had passed the door
and was approaching the principal entrance of the inn on the other side
of the courtyard.
Phoebe ran quickly to the door and, protecting her eyes with one
hand from the flood of brilliant sunlight, she called eagerly after the
Mr. DroopMr. Droop!
The figure turned just as Phoebe became conscious of a small crowd
of street loafers who had thronged curiously about the courtyard
entrance, staring at the new-comer's outlandish garb. She saw the
grinning faces turn toward her at sound of her voice, and she shrank
back into the hallway to evade their gaze.
The man to whom she had called re-crossed the courtyard with eager
steps. There was something strange in his gait and carriage, but the
strong sunlight behind him made his image indistinct, and besides,
Phoebe was accustomed to eccentricities on the part of this somewhat
Her astonishment was therefore complete when, on removing his hat as
he entered the hallway, this man in New England attire proved to be a
Evidently the gentleman had suffered much from the rudeness of his
unwelcome followers, for his face was flushed and his manner
constrained and nervous. Bowing slightly, he stood erect just within
Did you do me the honor of a summons, mistress? said he.
The look of amazement on Phoebe's face made him bite his lips with
increase of annoyance, for he saw in her emotion only renewed evidence
of the ridicule to which he had subjected himself.
II crave pardon! Phoebe stammered. I fear I took you for
For one Copernicus Droop, and I mistake not!
Do you know him? she faltered in amazement.
I have met himto my sorrow, mistress. 'Tis the first time and the
last, I vow, that Francis Bacon hath dealt with mountebanks!
Francis Bacon! cried Phoebe, delight and curiosity now added to
puzzled amazement. Is it possible that I see before me Sir Francis
Baconor rather Lord Verulam, I believe. She dropped a courtesy, to
which he returned a grave bow.
Nay, good mistress, he replied. Neither knight nor lord am I, but
only plain Francis Bacon, barrister, and Secretary of the Star
Oh! Phoebe exclaimed, not yet, I see.
Then, as a look of grave inquiry settled over Bacon's features, she
continued eagerly: Enough of your additions, good Master Bacon. 'Twere
better I offered my congratulations, sir, than prated of these lesser
Congratulations! Good lady, you speak in riddles!
Smiling, she shook her head at him, looking meaningly into his eyes.
Oh, think not all are ignorant of what you have so ably
hidden, Master Bacon, she said. Can it be that the author of that
wondrous play I saw here given but yesternight can be content to hide
his name behind that of a too greatly favored player?
Play, mistress! Bacon exclaimed. Why, here be more soothsaying
manners from a fairer speakerbut still as dark as the uncouth ravings
of that fellowthatthat Droop.
Naynay! Phoebe insisted. You need fear no tattling, sir. I will
keep your secretthough in very truth, were I in your worship's place,
'twould go hard but the whole world should know my glory!
Secretglory! Bacon exclaimed. In all conscience, mistress, I
beg you will make more clear the matter in question. Of what play speak
you? Wherein doth it concern Francis Bacon?
To speak plainly, then, sir, I saw your play of the vengeful Jew
and good Master Antonio. What! Have I struck home!
She leaned against the wall with her hands behind her and looked up
at him triumphantly. To her confusion, no answering gleam illumined the
young man's darkling eyes.
Struck home! he exclaimed, shaking his head querulously.
Perhapsbut where? Do you perchance make a mock of me,
She replied to the inquiry in his manner and tone with
disappointment in her voice:
Mistress Mary Burton, sir, at your service.
Bacon started back a step and a new and eager light leaped into his
The daughter of Isaac Burton? he cried, soon to be Sir Isaac?
The same, sir. Do you know my father?
Ay, indeed. 'Twas to seek him I came hither.
Then, starting forward, Bacon poured forth in eager accents a full
account of his meeting with Droop in the deserted groveof how they
two had conspired to evade the bailiffs, and of his reasons for
borrowing Droop's clothing.
Conceive, then, my plight, dear lady, he concluded, when, on
reaching London, I found that the few coins which remained to me had
been left in the clothes which I gave to this Droop, and I have come
hither to implore the temporary aid of your good father.
But he hath gone into London, Master Bacon, said Phoebe. It is
most like he will not return ere to-morrow even.
Droop's hat dropped from Bacon's relaxed grasp and he seemed to wilt
in his speechless despair.
Phoebe's sympathy was awakened at once, but her anxiety to know more
of the all-important question of authorship was perhaps the keenest of
Why, she exclaimed, 'tis a little matter that needs not my
father, methinks. If ten pounds will serve you, I should deem it an
honor to provide them.
Revived by hope, he drew himself up briskly as he replied:
Why, 'twill do marvellous well, Mistress Marymarvellous wellnor
shall repayment be delayed, upon my honor!
Nay, call it a fee, she replied, and give me, I beg of you, a
legal opinion in return.
Bacon stooped to pick up the hat, from which he brushed the dust
with his hand as he replied, with dubious slowness, looking down:
Why, in sooth, mistress, I am used to gain a greater honorarium. As
a barrister of repute, mine opinions in writing
Ah, then, I fear my means are too small! Phoebe broke in, with a
smile. 'Tis a pity, too, for the matter is simple, I verily believe.
Bacon saw that he must retract or lose all, and he went on with some
Perchance 'tis not an opinion in writing that is required, he
Naynay; your spoken word will suffice, Master Bacon.
In that case, then
She drew ten gold pieces from her purse and dropped them into his
extended palm. Then, seating herself upon a bench against the wall hard
by, she said:
The case is this: If a certain merchant borrow a large sum from a
Jew in expectation of the speedy arrival of a certain argosy of great
treasure, and if the merchant give his bond for the sum, the penalty of
the bond being one pound of flesh from the body of the merchant, and if
then the argosies founder and the bond be forfeit, may the Jew recover
the pound of flesh and cut it from the body of the merchant?
As she concluded, Phoebe leaned forward and watched her companion's
face earnestly, hoping that he would betray his hidden interest in this
Shakespearian problem by some look or sign.
The face into which she gazed was grave and judicial and the reply
was a ready one.
Assuredly not! Such a bond were contrary to public policy and void
ab initio. The case is not one for hesitancy; 'tis clear and
certain. No court in Christendom would for a moment lend audience to
the Jew. Why, to uphold the bond were to license murder. True, the
victim hath to this consented; but 'tis doctrine full well proven and
determined, that no man can give valid consent to his own murder. Were
this otherwise, suicide were clearly lawful.
Oh! Phoebe exclaimed, as this new view of the subject was
presented to her. Then the Duke of Venice
She broke off and hurried into new questioning.
Another opinion hath been given me, she said. 'Twas urged that
the Jew could have his pound of flesh, for so said the bond, but that
he might shed no blood in the cutting, blood not being mentioned in the
bond, and that his goods were forfeit did he cut more or less than a
pound, by so much as the weight of a hair. Think you this be law?
Still could she see no shadow in Bacon's face betraying
consciousness that there was more in her words than met the ear.
Nono! he replied, somewhat contemptuously. If that A make
promise of a chose tangible to B and the promise fall due, B may have
not only that which was promised, but all such matters and things
accessory as must, by the very nature of the agreed transfer, be
attached to the thing promised. As, if I sell a calf, I may not object
to his removal because, forsooth, some portion of earth from my land
clingeth to his hoofs. So blood is included in the word 'flesh' where
'twere impossible to deliver the flesh without some blood. As for that
quibble of nor more nor less, why, 'tis the debtor's place to deliver
his promise. If he himself cut off too much, he injures himself, if too
little he hath not made good his covenant.
Complete conviction seemed to spring upon Phoebe, as though it had
been something visible to startle her. It shook off her old English
self for a moment, and she leaped to her feet, exclaiming:
Well, there now! That settles that! I guess if anybody wrote
Shakespeare, it wasn't Bacon!
The astonishmentalmost alarmin her companion's face filled her
with amusement, and her happy laugh rang through the echoing halls.
Many, many gracious thanks, good Master Bacon! she exclaimed.
Right well have you earned your honorarium. And now, ere you depart,
may I make bold to urge one last request?
With a bow the young man expressed his acquiescence.
If I mistake not, you will return forthwith to Master Droop, to the
end that you may regain your proper garb, will you not?
That is my intention.
Then I pray you, good Master Bacon, deliver this message to Master
Droop from one Phoebe Wise, an acquaintance of his whom I know well.
Tell him he must have all in readiness for flight and must not leave
his abode until she come. May I rely on your faithful repetition of
this to him?
Assuredly. I shall forget no word of the message wherewith I am so
Tell him that it is a matter of life and death, sirof life and
She held out her hand. Bacon pressed his lips to the dainty fingers
and then, jamming the hard Derby hat as far down over his long locks as
possible, he stepped forth once more into the courtyard.
CHAPTER X. HOW THE QUEEN READ HER
For Rebecca, left alone in the goldsmiths' city house, the past
night and day had been a period of perplexity. She had been saved from
any serious anxiety by the arrival of a messenger soon after Phoebe's
departure, who had brought her word that her mistress was safe in the
Peacock Inn, and had left a verbal message commanding her to come with
him at once to rejoin her.
This command she naturally refused to comply with, and sent word to
the much-puzzled man-servant that she wasn't to be bossed around by
her younger sister, and that if Phoebe wanted to see her she knew where
to find her. This message was delivered to old Mistress Burton, who
refrained from repeating it to her step-daughter. For her own ends, she
thought it best to keep Mistress Mary from her nurse, whose influence
seemed invariably opposed to her own.
Left thus alone, Rebecca had had a hitherto unequalled opportunity
for reflection, and the result of her deliberations was most practical.
Whatever might be said of the inhabitants of London in general, it was
clear to her mind that poor Phoebe was mentally unbalanced.
The only remedy was to lure her into the Panchronicon, and regain
the distant home they ought never to have left.
The first step to be taken was therefore to rejoin Copernicus and
see that all was in readiness. It was her intention then to seek her
sister and, by humoring her delusion and exercising an appropriately
benevolent cunning, to induce her to enter the conveyance which had
brought them both into this disastrous complication. The latter part of
this programme was not definitely formed in her mind, and when she
sought to give it shape she found herself appalled both by its
difficulties and by the probable twists that her conscience would have
to undergo in putting her plan into practice.
Well, well! she exclaimed at length. I'll cross that bridge when
I come to it. The fust thing is to find Copernicus Droop.
It was at about eleven o'clock in the morning of the day after
Phoebe's departure that Rebecca came to this audible conclusion, and
she arose at once to don her jacket and bonnet. This accomplished, she
gathered up her precious satchel and umbrella and approached her
bed-room window to observe the weather.
She had scarcely fixed her eyes upon the muddy streets below her
when she uttered a cry of amazement.
Good gracious alive! Ef there ain't Copernicus right this minute!
Out through the inner hall and down the stairs she hurried with
short, shuffling steps, impatient of the clinging rushes on the floor.
Speechless she ran past good Mistress Goldsmith, who called after her
in vain. The only reply was the slam of the front door.
Once in the street, Rebecca glanced sharply up and down. The man she
sought was not in sight, but she shrewdly counted upon his having
turned into Leadenhall Street, toward which she had seen him walking.
Thither she hurried, and to her infinite gratification she saw, about a
hundred yards ahead, the unmistakable trousers, coat, and Derby hat so
familiar on the person of Copernicus Droop.
Hey! she cried. Hey, there, Mister Droop! Copernicus Droop!
She ended with a shrill, far-carrying, long-drawn call that sounded
much like a whoop. Evidently he heard her, for he started, looked
over his shoulder, and then set off with redoubled speed, as though
anxious to avoid her.
She stopped short for a moment, paralyzed with astonishment.
Well! she exclaimed. If I ever! I suppose it's a case of 'the
wicked flee,' but he can't get away from me as easy's that.
And then began a race the like of which was never seen before. In
advance, Francis Bacon scurried forward as fast as he dared without
running, dreading the added publicity his rapid progress was sure to
bring upon him, yet dreading even more to be overtaken by this amazing
female apparition, in whose accents and intonation he recognized
another of the Droop species.
Behind Bacon came Rebecca, conspicuous enough in her prim New
England gown and bonneted head, but doubly remarkable as she skipped
from stone to stone to avoid the mud and filth of the unpaved streets,
and swinging in one hand her little black satchel and in the other her
From time to time she called aloud: Hey, stop there! Copernicus
Droop! Stop, I say! It's only Rebecca Wise!
The race would have been a short one, indeed, had she not found it
impossible to ignore the puddles, rubbish heaps, and other obstacles
which half-filled the streets and obstructed her path at every turn.
Bacon, who was accustomed to these conditions and had no impeding
skirts to check him, managed, therefore, to hold his own without
These two were not long left to themselves. Such a progress could
not take place in the heart of England's capital without forming in its
train an ever-growing suite of the idle and curious. Ere long a rabble
of street-walkers, beggars, pick-pockets, and loafers were stamping
behind Rebecca, repeating her shrill appeals with coarse variations,
and assailing her with jokes which, fortunately for her, were worded in
terms which her New England ears could not comprehend.
In this order the two strangely clad beings hurried down toward the
Thames; he in the hope of finding a waterman who should carry him
beyond the reach of his dreaded persecutors; she counting upon the
river, which she knew to lie somewhere ahead, to check the supposed
Copernicus in his obstinate flight.
To the right they turned, through St. Clement's Lane into Crooked
Lane, and the ever-growing mob clattered noisily after them, shouting
and laughing a gleeful chorus to her occasional solo.
Leaving Eastcheap and its grimy tenements, they emerged from New
Fish Street and saw the gleam of the river ahead of them.
At this moment one of the following crowd, more enterprising than
his fellows, ran close up behind Rebecca and, clutching the edge of her
jacket, sought to restrain her.
Toll, lass, toll! he shouted. Who gave thee leave to run races in
Rebecca became suddenly fully conscious for the first time of the
sensation she had created. Stopping short, she swung herself free and
looked her bold assailant fairly in the face.
Well, young feller, she said, with icy dignity, what can I do fer
The loafer fell back as she turned, and when she had spoken, he
turned in mock alarm and fled, crying as he ran:
Save ussave us! Ugly and old as a witch, I trow!
Those in the background caught his final words and set up a new cry
which boded Rebecca no good.
A witcha witch! Seize her! Stone her!
As they now hung back momentarily in a new dread, self-created in
their superstitious minds, Rebecca turned again to the chase, but was
sorely put out to find that her pause had given the supposed Droop the
advantage of a considerable gain. He was now not far from the river
side. Hoping he could go no farther, she set off once more in pursuit,
observing silence in order to save her breath.
She would apparently have need of it to save herself, for the
stragglers in her wake were now impelled by a more dangerous motive
than mere curiosity or mischief. The cry of Witch had awakened cruel
depths in their breasts, and they pressed forward in close ranks with
less noise and greater menace than before.
Two or three rough fellows paused to kick stones loose from the clay
of the streets, and in a few moments the all-unconscious Rebecca would
have found herself in a really terrible predicament but for an accident
seemingly without bearing upon her circumstances.
Without warning, someone in the upper story of one of the houses
near by threw from a window a pail of dirty water, which fell with a
startling splash a few feet in front of Rebecca.
She stopped in alarm and looked up severely.
I declare to goodness! I b'lieve the folks in this town are all
plumb crazy! Sech doin's! The idea of throwin' slops out onto the road!
Why, the Kanucks wouldn't do that in New Hampshire!
Slipping her bag onto her left wrist, she loosened the band of her
umbrella and shook the ribs free.
Lucky I brought my umbrella! she exclaimed. I guess it'll be
safer fer me to h'ist this, ef things is goin' to come out o' windows!
All unknown to her, two or three of the rabble behind her were in
the act of poising themselves with great stones in their hands, and
their muscles were stiffening for a cast when, just in the nick of
time, the obstinate snap yielded, and with a jerk the umbrella spread
Turning the wide-spread gloria skyward, Rebecca hurried forward once
more, still bent upon overtaking Copernicus Droop.
That simple act saved her.
A mere inactive witch was one thinga thing scarce distinguishable
from any other old woman. But this transformation of a black wand into
a wide-spreading tent was so obviously the result of magic, that it was
self-evident they had to do with a witch in full defensive and
Stones fell from deadened hands and the threatening growls and cries
were lost in a unanimous gasp of alarm. A moment's pause and
thenutter rout. There was a mad stampede and in a trice the street
was empty. Rebecca was alone under that inoffensive guardian umbrella.
To her grief, she found no one on the river's brim. He whom she
sought was half-way across, his conveyance the only wherry in sight,
apparently. Having passed beyond the houses, Rebecca now folded her
umbrella and looked carefully about her. To her great relief, she
caught sight of a man's figure recumbent on a stone bench near at hand.
A pair of oars lay by him and betrayed his vocation.
She stepped promptly to his side and prodded him with her umbrella.
Here, mister! she cried. Wake up, please. What do you charge for
ferryin' folks across the river?
The waterman sat up, rubbed his eyes and yawned. Then, without
looking at his fare, he led the way to his boat without reply. He was
chary of words, and after all, did not all the world know what to pay
for conveyance to Southwark?
Rebecca gazed after him for a moment and then, shaking her head
pityingly, she murmured:
Tuttut! Deef an' dumb, poor man! Dear, dear!
To hesitate was to lose all hope of overtaking the obstinate
Copernicus. So, first pointing vigorously after the retreating boat
with closed umbrella, and with many winks and nods which she supposed
supplied full meaning to her gestures, she stepped into the wherry, and
the two at once glided out on the placid bosom of the Thames.
Far different was the spectacle that greeted her then from that
which may now be witnessed near London Bridge. In those days that
bridge was alone visible, not far to the East, and the tide that moves
now so darkly between stone embankments beneath a myriad of grimy
steamers, then flowed brightly between low banks and wooden wharves,
bearing a gliding fleet of sailing-vessels. To the south were the
fields and woods of the open country, save where loomed the low frame
houses and the green-stained wharves of Southwark village. Behind
Rebecca was a vast huddle of frame buildings, none higher than three
stories, sharp of gable overhanging narrow streets, while here a tower
and there a steeple stood sentinel over the common herd. To the east
the four great stone cylinders of the Tower, frowning over the moving
world at their feet, loomed grimly then as now.
Rebecca had fixed her eyes at first with a fascinated stare on this
mighty mass of building, penetrated by a chill of fear, although
ignorant of its tragic significance. Turning after a minute or two from
contemplation of that gloomy monument of tyrannical power, she gazed
eagerly forward again, bent upon keeping sight of the man she was
He and his boat had disappeared, but her disappointment was at once
lost in admiring stupefaction as she gazed upon a magnificent craft
bearing across the bows of her boat and coming from the direction of
The hull, painted white, was ornamented with a bold arabesque of
gilding which seemed to flow naturally in graceful lines from the
garment of a golden image of Victory mounted high on the towering prow.
From the deck at the front and back rose two large cabins whose
sides were all of brilliant glass set between narrow panels on which
were paintings, which Rebecca could not clearly distinguish from where
she was sitting.
At the waist, between and below the cabins, ten oars protruded from
each side of the barge, flashing rhythmically as they swept forward
together, seeming to sprinkle drops of sunlight into the river.
The splendor of this apparition, contrasting as it did with the
small and somewhat dingy craft otherwise visible above the bridge, gave
a new direction to Rebecca's thoughts and forced from her an almost
For the lands sakes! she murmured. Whoever in the world carries
on in sech style's that!
The waterman looked over his shoulder, and no sooner caught sight of
the glittering barge than, with a powerful push of his oars, he backed
water and brought his little boat to a stand.
The Queen! he exclaimed.
Rebecca glanced at the boatman with slightly raised brows.
Thought you was deef an' dumb, she said. Then, turning once more
to the still approaching barge, she continued: An' so thet's Queen
Victoria's ship, is it?
Victoria! growled the waterman. Ye seem as odd in speech as in
dress, mistress. Who gave ye license to miscall our glorious
Rebecca's brows were knit in a thoughtful frown and she scarce knew
what her companion said. The approach of the Queen suggested a new plan
of action. She had heard of queens as all-powerful rulers, women whose
commands would be obeyed at once and without question, in small and
personal things as in matters of greater moment. Of Queen Victoria,
too, some accounts had reached her, and all had been in confirmation of
that ruler's justice and goodness of heart.
Rebecca's new plan was therefore to appeal at once to this benign
sovereign for aid, entreat her to command the Burtons to release Phoebe
and to order Copernicus Droop to carry both sisters back to their New
England home. This course recommended itself strongly to the strictly
honest Rebecca, because it eliminated at once all necessity for
humoring Phoebe's madness, with its implied subterfuges and
equivocations. The moment was propitious for making an attempt which
could at least do no harm, she thought. She determined to carry out the
plan which had occurred to her.
Standing up in the boat: What's the Queen's last name? she asked.
Be seated, woman! growled the waterman, who was growing uneasy at
sight of the increasing eccentricity of his fare. The Queen's name is
Elizabeth, as well ye know, he concluded, more gently. He hoped to
soothe the woman's frenzy by concessions.
Now, mister, said Rebecca, severely, don't you be sassy to me,
fer I won't stand it. Of course, I don't want her first nameshe ain't
hired help. What's the Queen's family namequick!
The waterman, now convinced that his fare was a lunatic, could think
of naught better than to use soothing tones and to reply promptly,
however absurd her questions. I' faith, he said, in a mild voice, I'
faith, mistress, her Gracious Majesty is of the line of Tudor.
But he broke off in horror.
Waving her umbrella high above her head, Rebecca, still standing
upright in the boat, was calling at the top of her voice:
Hallo there! Mrs. Tudor! Stop the ship, will ye! I want to speak to
Mrs. Tudor a minute!
All nature seemed to shiver and shrink in silence at this enormous
breach of etiquetteto use a mild term. Involuntarily the ten pairs of
oars in the royal barge hung in mid-air, paralyzed by that sudden
outrage. The great, glittering structure, impelled by momentum, glided
forward directly under the bows of Rebecca's boat and not a hundred
Again Rebecca's cry was borne shrill and clear across the water.
Hallo! Hallo there! Ain't Mrs. Tudor on the ship? I want to speak
to her! Then, turning to the stupefied and trembling waterman:
Why don't you row, you? What's the matter, anyway? Don't ye see
they've stopped to wait fer us?
Someone spoke within the after cabin. The command was repeated in
gruff tones by a man's voice, and the ten pairs of oars fell as one
into the water and were held rigid to check the progress of the barge.
Wherry, ahoy! a hail came from the deck.
Ay, ay, sir! the waterman cried.
Ay, ay, sir!
Pale and weak with dread, the boatman pulled as well as he could
toward the splendid vessel ahead, while Rebecca resumed her seat, quite
satisfied that all was as it should be.
A few strokes of the oars brought them to the barge's side, and
Rebecca's waterman threw a rope to one of the crew.
A young man in uniform glowered down upon them, and to him the
waterman turned, pulling off his cap and speaking with the utmost
The jade is moon-struck, your worship! he exclaimed, eagerly. I
would not for a thousand pound
Moon-struck! snapped the lieutenant. Who gave thee commission to
ferry madmen, fellow?
The poor waterman, at his wits' end, was about to reply when Rebecca
Young man, she said, standing up, I'll thank you to 'tend to
business. Is Mrs. Victoria Tudor at home?
At this moment a young gentleman, magnificently apparelled, stepped
forth from the after cabin and approached the man in uniform.
Lieutenant, he said, her Majesty commands that the woman be
brought before her in person. As for you, he continued, turning to the
waterman, return whence you came, and choose your fares better
Two of the barge's crew extended each a hand to Rebecca.
Bend onto that, Poll! said one, grinning.
Well, I declare! exclaimed Rebecca. I never see sech impident
help in all my born days! Ain't ye got any steps for a body to climb?
A second gorgeously dressed attendant backed hastily out of the
Look alive! he said, peremptorily. Her Majesty waxes impatient.
Where is the woman?
Ay, ay, sir! replied the sailors. Here she be!
They leaned far forward and, grasping the astonished Rebecca each by
a shoulder, lifted her quickly over the rail.
The first gentleman messenger beckoned to her and started toward the
Follow me! he said, curtly.
Rebecca straightened her skirt and bonnet, shook her umbrella, and
turned quietly to the rail, fumbling with the catch of her bag.
I pity yer manners, young man! she said, coldly. Then, with some
Here you, mister, don't ye want yer money?
But the waterman, only too glad to escape at all from being involved
in her fate, was pulling back to the northern shore as fast as his boat
Suit yourself, said Rebecca, simply. Saves me a dime, I guess.
Turning then to the impatient gentleman waiting at the door:
Guess you're one o' the family, ain't ye? Is your ma in, young
Fortunately her full meaning was not comprehended, and the person
addressed contented himself with drawing aside the heavy curtain of
cloth of gold and motioning to Rebecca to precede him.
She nodded graciously and passed into the cabin.
That's better, she said, with an ingratiating smile. Good manners
never did a mite o' harm, did they?
Before following her, the messenger turned again to the young
Give way! he said.
At once the sweeps fell together, and the great barge resumed its
course down the river.
As Rebecca entered the glass and gold enclosure, she was at first
quite dazzled by the crowd of gorgeously arrayed courtiers who stood in
two compact groups on either side of her. Young and old alike, all
these men of the sword and cloak seemed vying one with another for
precedence in magnificence and foppery. The rarest silks of every hue
peeped forth through slashed velvets and satins whose rustling masses
bedecked men of every age and figure. Painted faces and ringed ears
everywhere topped snowy ruffles deep and wide, while in every hand,
scented gloves, fans, or like toys amused the idle fingers.
In the background Rebecca was only vaguely conscious of a group of
ladies in dresses of comparatively sober pattern and color; but seated
upon a luxurious cushioned bench just in front of the others, one of
her sex struck Rebecca at once as the very centre and climax of the
magnificence that surrounded her.
Here sat Elizabeth, the vain, proud, tempestuous daughter of bluff
King Hal. Already an old woman, she yet affected the dress and
carriage of young maidenhood, possessing unimpaired the vanity of a
youthful beauty, and, despite her growing ugliness, commanding the
gallant attentions that gratified and supported that vanity.
Her face, somewhat long and thin, was carefully painted, but not so
successfully as to hide the many wrinkles traced there by her
sixty-five years. Her few blackened teeth and her false red hair seemed
to be mocked by the transcendent lustre of the rich pearl pendants in
her ears. Her thin lips, hooked nose, and small black eyes betokened
suppressed anger as she glared upon her admiring visitor; but, far from
being alarmed by the Queen's expression, Rebecca was only divided
between her admiration of her magnificent apparel and blushing
uneasiness at sight of the frankly uncovered bosom which Elizabeth
exhibited by right of her spinsterhood. Rebecca remembered ever
afterward how she wished that all those men would sink through the
floor of the cabin.
The Queen was at first both angry at the unheard-of language Rebecca
had used, and curious to see what manner of woman dared so to express
herself. But now that she set eyes upon the outlandish garb of her
prisoner, her curiosity grew at the expense of her wrath, and she sat
silent for some time while her little black eyes sought to explore the
inmost depths of Rebecca's mind.
Rebecca, for her part, was quite unconscious of having infringed any
of the rules of courtly etiquette, and, without expressing her belief
in her complete social equality with the Queen or anyone else present,
was so entirely convinced of this equality that she would have deemed a
statement of it ridiculously superfluous.
For a few moments she stood in the middle of the open space
immediately before the Queen, partly dazed and bewildered into silence,
partly expectant of some remark from her hostess.
At length, observing the grimly rigid aspect of the silent Queen,
Rebecca straightened herself primly and remarked, with her most formal
air: I s'pose you are the Queen, ma'am. You seem to be havin' a little
party jest now. I hope I'm not intruding but to tell ye the truth, Mrs.
Tudor, I've got into a pretty pickle and I want to ask a little favor
She looked about to right and left as though in search of something.
Don't seem to be any chairs around, only yours, she continued.
Then, with a quick gesture of the hand: No, don't get up. Set right
still now. One o' your friends here can get me a chair, I guess, and
she looked very meaningly into the face of a foppish young courtier who
stood near her, twisting his thin yellow beard.
At this moment the rising wonder of the Queen reached a climax, and
she burst into speech with characteristic emphasis.
What the good jere! she cried. Hath some far planet sent us a
messenger. The dame is loyal in all her fantasy. Say, my Lord of
Nottingham, hath the woman a frenzy, think you?
The gentleman addressed stood near the Queen and was conspicuous for
his noble air. His prominent gray eyes under rounded brows lighted up a
long, oval face surmounted by a high, bald forehead. The long nose was
aquiline, and the generous, full-lipped mouth was only half hidden by a
neatly trimmed full blond beard. Rebecca noticed his dress particularly
as he stepped forward at the Queen's summons, and marvelled at the two
doublets and heavy cape coat over which hung a massive gold chain
supporting the brilliant star of some order. She wondered how he could
breathe with that stiff ruff close up under his chin and inclined
downward from back to front.
Dropping on one knee, Nottingham began his reply to the Queen's
inquiry, though ere he finished his sentence he rose to his feet again
at a gracious sign from his royal mistress.
May it please your Majesty, he said, I would humbly crave leave
to remove the prisoner from a presence she hath nor wit nor will to
reverence. Judicial inquiry, in form appointed, may better determine
than my poor judgment whether she be mad or bewitched.
This solemn questioning of her sanity produced in Rebecca's mind a
teasing compound of wrath and uneasiness. These people seemed to find
something fundamentally irregular in her behavior. What could it be?
The situation was intolerable, and she set to work in her
straightforward, energetic way to bring it to an end.
Stepping briskly up to the astonished Earl of Nottingham, she
planted herself firmly before him, turning her back upon Elizabeth.
Now look a-here, Mr. Nottingham, she said, severely, I'd like to
know what in the world you see that's queer about me or my ways. What's
the matter, anyway? I came here to make a quiet call on that lady,
here she pointed at the Queen with her umbrella, and instead of
anybody bringin' a chair, or sayin' 'How d'ye do,' the whole raft of ye
hev done nothin' but stare or call me loony. I s'pose you're mad
because I've interrupted your party, but didn't that man there invite
me in? Ef you're all so dreadful particler, I'll jest get out o' here
till Mrs. Tudor can see me private. I'll set outside, ef I can find a
With an air of offended dignity she stalked toward the door, but
turned ere she had gone ten steps and continued, addressing the
assembled company collectively:
As fer bein' loony, I can tell you this. Ef you was where I come
from in America, they'd say every blessed one of ye was crazy as a hen
with her head off.
America! exclaimed the Queen, as a new thought struck her.
America! Tell me, dame, come you from the New World?
That's what it's sometimes called in the geographies, Rebecca
stiffly replied. I come from Peltonville, New Hampshire, myself.
Perhaps I'd ought to introduce myself. My name's Rebecca Wise, daughter
of Wilmot and Nancy Wise, both deceased.
She concluded her sentence with more of graciousness than she had
shown in the beginning, and the Queen, now fully convinced of the
innocent sincerity of her visitor, showed a countenance of half-amused,
Why, Sir Walter, she cried, this cometh within your province,
methinks. If that this good woman be an American, you should be best
able to parley with her and learn her will.
A dark-haired, stern-visaged man of middle height, dressed less
extravagantly than his fellows, acknowledged this address by advancing
and bending one knee to the deck. Here was no longer the gay young
courtier who so gallantly spoiled a handsome cloak to save his
sovereign's shoes, but the Raleigh who had fought a hundred battles for
the same mistress and had tasted the bitterness of her jealous cruelty
There was in his pose and manner, however, much of that old grace
which had first endeared him to Elizabeth, and even now served to fix
her fickle favor.
Most fair and gracious Majesty, he said in a low, well-modulated
voice, turning upward a seeming fascinated eye, what Walter Raleigh
hath learned of any special knowledge his sovereign hath taught him,
and all that he is is hers of right.
'Tis well, my good knight, said Elizabeth, beckoning with her
slender finger that he might rise. We know your true devotion and
require now this service, that you question this stranger in her own
tongue concerning her errand here and her quality and estate at home.
As Raleigh rose and advanced toward Rebecca, without turning away
from the Queen, the half-bewildered American brought the end of her
umbrella sharply down upon the floor with a gesture of impatience.
What everlastin' play-actin' ways! she snapped. Then, addressing
Sir Walter: Say, Mr. Walter, she continued, ef you can't walk only
sideways, you needn't trouble to travel clear over here to me. I'll
come to you.
Suiting the action to the word, Rebecca stepped briskly forward
until she stood in front of the rather crestfallen courtier.
He rallied promptly, however, and marshalling by an effort all he
could remember of the language of the red man, he addressed the
astonished Rebecca in that tongue.
What's that? she said.
Again Sir Walter poured forth an unintelligible torrent of syllables
which completed Rebecca's disgust.
With a pitying smile, she folded her hands across her stomach.
Who's loony now? she said, quietly.
Raleigh gazed helplessly from Rebecca to the Queen and back again
from the Queen to Rebecca.
Elizabeth, who had but imperfectly heard what had passed between the
two, leaned forward impatiently.
What says she, Raleigh? she demanded. Doth she give a good
Good my liege, said Raleigh, with a despairing gesture, an the
dame be from America, her tribe and race must needs be a distant one,
placed remote from the coast. The natives of the Floridas
Florida! exclaimed Rebecca. What you talkin' about, anyway?
That's away down South. I come from New Hampshire, I tell you.
Know you that region, Raleigh? said the Queen, anxiously.
Raleigh shook his head with a thoughtful expression.
Nay, your Majesty, he replied. And if I might venture to hint my
doubts He paused.
Well, go on, mango on! said the Queen, impatiently.
I would observe that the name is an English one, and 'tis scarce
credible that in America, where our tongue is unknown, any region can
be named for an English county.
Land sakes! exclaimed Rebecca, in growing amazement. Don't know
English! Whydon't I talk as good English as any of ye? You don't have
to talk Bible talk to speak English, I sh'd hope!
Elizabeth frowned and settled back in her chair, turning her
piercing eyes once more upon her mysterious visitor.
Your judgment is most sound, Sir Walter, she said. In sooth,
'twere passing strange were our own tongue to be found among the
savages of the New World! What have ye to say to this, mistress?
Rebecca turned her eyes from one to the other of the bystanders,
doubtful at first whether or not they were all in a conspiracy to mock
her. Her good sense told her that this was wellnigh impossible, and she
finally came to the conclusion that sheer ignorance was the only
Well, well! she exclaimed at last. I've heerd tell about how
simple Britishers was, but this beats all! Do you reely mean to tell
me, she continued, vehemently nodding her head at the Queen, that you
think the's nothin' but Indians in America?
A murmur of indignation spread through the assembly caused by
language and manners so little suited to the address of royalty.
The woman hath lost her wits! said the Queen, dryly.
There 'tis again! said Rebecca, testily. Why, ef it comes to talk
of simpletons and the like, I guess the pot can't call the kettle
Elizabeth gripped the arm of her chair and leaned forward angrily,
while two or three gentlemen advanced, watching their mistress for the
first sign of a command. At the same moment, a triumphant thought
occurred to Rebecca, and, dropping her umbrella, she opened her satchel
with both hands.
Ye needn't to get mad, Mrs. Tudor, she said. I didn't mean any
offence, but I guess you wouldn't like to be called a lunatic yerself.
See here, she continued, dragging forth a section of the newspaper
which she had brought with her, ef you folks won't believe my word,
jest look at this! It's all here in the newspaperright in print.
She held the paper high where all might see, and with one accord
Queen and courtiers craned forward eagerly, burning with curiosity at
sight of the printed columns interspersed with nineteenth-century
Rebecca stepped forward and handed the paper to the Queen, and then,
drawing forth another section from her bag, she carried it to the
bewildered Raleigh, who took it like one in a trance.
For some time no one spoke. Elizabeth turned the paper this way and
that, reading a bit here and a bit there, and gazing spellbound upon
the enigmatic pictures.
Having completely mastered the situation, Rebecca now found time to
consider her comfort. Far on one side, near the door through which she
had entered, there stood a youth of perhaps sixteen, clad in the
somewhat fantastic garb of a page. Having picked up her umbrella,
Rebecca approached this youth and said in a sharp whisper:
Couldn't you get me a chair, sonny?
The lad disappeared with startling promptitude, but he did not
return. It was an agony of perplexity and shyness which had moved him,
not a willingness to serve.
Rebecca gazed about at the etiquette-bound men and women around her
and muttered, with an indignant snort and toss of the head:
Set o' decorated haystacks!
Then, with head held high and a frigid Beg pardon, mister! she
elbowed her way through the dense throng of gentlemen-in-waiting and
seated herself on the bench arranged along the side of the cabin.
Oof! she exclaimed. Feels though my legs would drop clear off!
At length the Queen looked up.
Why, what now! she exclaimed. Whither hath the strange woman
A tall man dressed in black and gold stepped forward and dropped
upon one knee. He had a long, humorous face, with high cheek bones, a
straight, good-humored mouth, with a high mustache well off the lip and
a pointed beard. The eyes, set far apart, twinkled with the light of
fun as he awaited permission to speak.
Well, my Lord of Southampton, said the Queen, kindly, I doubt
some gay mischief be afoot. Your face tells me as much, my lord.
Nay, my liege, was the humble reply. Can my face so far forget
the duty owed to Royalty as to speak thus, not being first admitted to
Elizabeth smiled and replied:
Even so, my lord, but we forgive the offence if that your face hath
spoken truth. Know you aught of the strange woman? Pray be standing.
The earl arose and replied:
Of her rank and station, she must be a queen at least, or she doth
forget herself. This may your Majesty confirm if but these your
Majesty's servants be commanded to cross the room.
Elizabeth, puzzled, bowed her head slightly, and the courtiers
behind whom Rebecca had sought rest walked with one accord to the other
side of the cabin, revealing to the astonished eyes of the Queen her
visitor quietly seated upon the bench.
Rebecca nodded with a pleased look.
Well, there! she exclaimed. Much obliged to you all. That's
Dame, said Elizabeth, sternly, is this the respect you show to
them above you in America?
Above me! said Rebecca, straightening up stiffly. There ain't
anybody put above me at home, I can tell you. Ef the' was, I'd put 'em
down mighty quick, I guess.
Elizabeth raised her brows and, leaning toward the lord treasurer,
who stood at her side, she said in an undertone:
This must be some sovereign princess in her own country, my lord.
How comes it I have not had earlier intelligence of her arrival in this
Lord Burleigh bowed profoundly and mumbled something about its being
out of his immediate provincehe would have investigation madeetc.,
The Queen cut him short a little impatiently.
Let it be done, my lord, she said.
Then turning to Rebecca, she continued:
Our welcome is somewhat tardy, but none the less sincere. England
hath e'er been friendly to the American, and you had been more
fittingly received had our informants been less negligent.
Here the Queen shot a glance at poor Sir Walter Raleigh, who now
seemed the personification of discomfiture.
By what name are you called? Elizabeth continued.
Wise, said Rebecca, very graciously, Rebecca Wise.
Lady Rebecca, will you sit nearer?
Instantly one of the pages sprang forward with a low chair, which,
in obedience to a sign from the Queen, he placed at her right hand.
Why, I'd be right pleased, said Rebecca. That is, if the other
folks don't mind, she continued, looking around. I don't want to
spile your party.
So saying, she advanced and sat beside the Queen, who now turned
once more to the luckless Raleigh.
Well, Sir Walter, she said, what say you now? You have the
printed proof. Can you make aught of it? How comes it that in all your
fine travels in the New World you have heard no English spoken?
Oh, I dare say 'tain't his fault! said Rebecca, indulgently. I'm
told they have a mighty queer way o' talkin' down South, where he's
ben. Comes o' bein' brought up with darkies, ye know.
Elizabeth took up the newspaper once more.
Was this printed in your realm, Lady Rebecca? she asked.
Elizabeth started haughtily, but recollected herself and repeated:
Was this leaf printed in your country?
Oh, yesyes, indeed! Down to New York. Pretty big paper, ain't
Not voluminous alone, but right puzzling to plain English minds,
said the Queen, scanning the paper severely. Instance this.
Slowly she read the opening lines of a market report:
The bulls received a solar-plexus blow yesterday when it was
reported that the C. R. and L. directors had resigned in a body owing
to the extensive strikes.
What words are these? Elizabeth exclaimed in a despairing tone.
What is a plexus of the sun, and how doth it blow on a bull?
Rebecca jumped up and brought her head close to the Queen's, peering
over the paper which she held. She read and reread the paragraph in
question and finally resumed her chair, slowly shaking her head.
I guess that's the Wall Street talk I've heerd tell of, she said.
I don't understand that kind myself.
Why, Sir Walter, Elizabeth exclaimed, triumphantly, here have we
two separate tribes at least, each speaking its proper dialect. Can it
be that you have heard no word of these before?
Even so, my liege, was the dejected reply, the tribes of the
North are known to no man as yet.
Passing strange! mused the Queen, running a critical eye over the
printed page before her. Your talk, and that of others, hath been only
of wild, copper-colored savages, living in rude huts and wearing only
skins. Sure such as these have not types and printing-presses! What is
this book, Lady Rebecca?
That's a newspaper, ma'am. Don't you have 'em in London? They come
out every day an' people pay a penny apiece fer 'em.
Elizabeth flashed a stern glance upon her visitor.
'Twere best not go too far, my lady, she said, harshly. E'en
traveller's tales must in some sort ape the truth at least. Now,
prithee, to what end is such a pamphlet printedwhy, 'tis endless!
I'll shet right up, Mis' Tudor, ef ye think I'm tellin' wrong
stories, said Rebecca, indignantly. Thet's a newspaper an' thet's all
there is to it.
Elizabeth evaded the issue and turned now to the illustrations.
These be quaint-wondrous images! she said. Pray, what now may
this be? Some fantastic reverie limned for amusement?
Rebecca jumped up again and peered over the Queen's shoulder.
Why, thet's a picture of the troops marchin' down Broadway, in New
York City. See, it's all explained in print underneath it.
But these men carry arquebuses and wear a livery. And these
templesto what false gods are they set up?
False gods! exclaimed Rebecca. Bless your simple heart, those
ain't temples. They're jest the buildin's where the men hev their
Elizabeth sat in mute contemplation, vainly seeking to realize it
My lords! she burst forth suddenly, casting the paper violently to
the floor, or this be rank forgery and fraud or else have we been
She frowned at Sir Walter, who dropped his eyes.
'Tis not to be believed that such vast cities and great armies
habited by peoples polite and learned may be found across the sea and
no report of it come to them that visit there. How comes it that we
must await so strange a chance as this to learn such weighty news?
She paused and only silence ensued.
Rebecca stooped and recovered the paper, which in falling had opened
so as to expose new matter.
Don't be surprised, she said, soothingly. I allus did hear that
Britishers knew mighty little 'bout America.
Still frowning, Elizabeth mechanically stretched forth her hand and
Rebecca gave her the paper. The Queen glanced at the sheet and her face
lost its stern aspect as she eagerly brought the print nearer to her
Why, what now! she exclaimed. God mend us, here have we strange
attire! Is this a woman of your tribe, my lady?
Rebecca looked and blushed. Then, in an uneasy tone, she said:
That's jest an advertisement fer a new corset, Mis' Tudor. I never
did see how folks ever allowed sech things to be printed'tain't
A corset, call you it! And these, then?
Oh, those are the styles, the fashions! That's the fashion page, ye
know. That's where they tell all about what the rich folks down to New
York are wearin'.
There was a murmur and a rustle among the ladies-in-waiting, who had
hitherto made no sign, and upon the Queen's cheek there spread an added
tinge, betokening a high degree of interest and gratification.
Ah! she sighed, and glanced pleasantly over her shoulder, here be
matters of moment, indeed! Your Grace of Devonshire, what say you to
Eagerly the elderly lady so addressed stepped forward and made a low
Looklook here, ladies all! Elizabeth continued, with a tremor of
excitement in her voice. Saw you ever such an array as this?
With one accord the whole bevy of assembled ladies pressed forward,
trembling with delighted anticipation. A fashion sheetand from the
New World! What wonder they were moved!
Her Majesty was about to begin perusal of one of the fascinating
paragraphs wherein were described those marvellous fashion-plates when
there was a cry outside of Way 'nough! and a moment later the smart
young lieutenant who had before accosted Rebecca entered and stood at
Elizabeth looked up and frowned slightly. Folding the paper
carefully, she called to Sir Walter, who still held in his unconscious
hand the other section of the paper.
Bring hither yon sheet, Sir Walter, she cried. Perchance there
may be further intelligence of this sort therein. We will peruse both
pamphlets at our leisure anon.
Then, turning to the Lord High Admiral:
My Lord of Nottingham, she said, you may depart. Your duties
await you without. Let it be the charge of your Grace, she continued,
addressing the Duchess of Devonshire, to attend her Highness the Lady
Rebecca. See that she be maintained as suits her rank, and let her be
near our person that we may not lose aught of her society.
The ceremony of landing prevented further discourse between Rebecca
and the Queen, and it was with the greatest interest that the stranger
observed every detail of the formal function.
Peering through the glass sides of the cabin, Rebecca could see the
landing wharf, thronged with servants and magnificently dressed
officers, while beyond there loomed a long, two-storied white stone
building, with a round-arched entrance flanked by two towers. This was
Greenwich Palace, a favorite summer residence of the Queen.
CHAPTER XI. THE FAT KNIGHT AT THE
When Francis Bacon, having evaded Rebecca's mistaken pursuit,
reached the deserted grove in which the Panchronicon still rested, he
found to his dismay that Droop was absent.
Copernicus was not the man to let the grass grow under his feet, and
he had set off that morning with his letter of introduction to seek Sir
Percevall Hart, the Queen's knight harbinger.
He had determined to begin with moderation, or in other words to ask
at first for only two patents. The first of these was to cover the
phonograph. The second was to give him a monopoly of bicycles.
Accordingly he set forth fully equipped, carrying a box of records
over his shoulder by a strap and his well-oiled bicycle trundling along
beside him, with a phonograph and small megaphone hung on the
handle-bar. He thought it best to avoid remark by not riding his wheel,
being shrewdly mindful of the popular prejudice against witchcraft.
Thanks to his exchange with Master Bacon, he feared no comment upon his
garb. A pint flask, well filled, was concealed within his garments, and
thus armed against even melancholy itself, he set forth fearlessly upon
Droop had set out from the Panchronicon in the middle of the
forenoon, but, as he was obliged to distribute a large number of
photographs among his customers before going to London, it was not
until some time after Bacon had crossed the river and Rebecca had
departed with the Queen that he found himself on London Bridge.
On reaching the London side, he stood awhile in the ill-smelling
street near the fish markets gazing about him in quest of someone from
whom he might ask his way.
Let's see! he mused. Bacon said Sir Percevall Hart, Boar's Head
Tavern, Eastcheap. First thing to find is Eastcheap, I guess. Hullo
there, forsooth! he cried, addressing a baker's boy who was shuffling
by with his basket on his head. Hullo there, boyknave! What's the
shortest cut to Eastcheap?
The lad stopped and stared hard at the bright wheels. He seemed
What mean you, master, by a cut? he said, at length.
Oh, pshawbother! Droop exclaimed. Jest tell me the way to
Eastcheap, wilt thee?
The boy pointed straight north up New Fish Street.
Eastcheap is yonder, he said, and turned away.
Well, that's somethin', muttered Droop. Gives me a start,
Following the route pointed out, he retraced the very course along
which earlier in the day Rebecca had proceeded in the opposite
direction, thinking she saw him ahead of her. By dint of making
numerous inquiries, he found himself at length in a region of squalid
residences and second-rate shops and ale-houses, in the midst of which
he finally discovered the Boar's Head Tavern.
The entrance was by a dark archway, overhung by the upper stories of
the building, down which he could see a reddish glow coming and going,
now faint now bright, against the dead wall to the left. Passing
cautiously down this passage, he soon found that the glow was projected
through a half-curtained window to the right, and was caused by the
dancing light of a pleasant fire of logs within.
He thought it wise to reconnoitre before proceeding farther, and,
peeping through the small leaded panes, he found he could survey the
The room into which Droop stood gazing was the common tap-room of
the inn, at that moment apparently the scene of a brisk altercation.
To the left of the great brick fireplace, a large pewter mug in his
right hand, an immensely fat man was seated. He was clad as became a
cavalier, although in sober colors, and his attitude was suggestive of
defence, his head being drawn far back to avoid contact with a closed
fist held suggestively before his face. The fist was that of a woman
who, standing before the fire with her other hand resting on her hip,
was evidently delivering her sentiments in no gentle terms.
A long table, black with age and use, stood parallel to the
right-hand wall, and behind this three men were sitting with mugs
before them, eying the disputants with evident interest. To the left a
large space was devoted to three or four bulky casks, and here an
aproned drawer sat astride of a rush-bottomed chair, grinning
delightedly and exchanging nods and winks from time to time with an
impish, undersized lad who lay on his stomach on a wine-butt with his
head craning forward over the edge.
Only an occasional word reached the watcher at the window, but among
these few he recognized a number which were far more forcible than
decent. He drew back, shook his head, and then slowly returned to the
door and looked up.
Yeshe had made no mistake. Above his head there swung the sign of
the Boar's Head. And yetwas it likely or even possible that Sir
Percevall Hart could make such a vulgar haunt as this his headquarters?
Sir Percevallthe Queen's harbinger and the friend of the Prime
With a sinking heart and a face clouded with anxiety, Droop propped
his bicycle against the wall within the passage and resolutely raised
the heavy latch.
To his surprise, instead of the torrent of words which he had
expected to hear when he opened the door, complete silence reigned as
he entered. The fat man in the chair by the fire was still leaning
backward, but his tankard was now inverted above his head, and a glance
showed that his companions at the long table were similarly employed.
Copernicus turned about and closed the door very carefully,
unwilling to break the profound silence. Then he tiptoed his way to the
fire, and leaning forward rubbed his hands before the crackling logs,
nervously conscious of six pairs of eyes concentrated upon his back.
Droop was not unfamiliar with the bar-rooms of such a city as Boston,
but he found an Elizabethan tavern a very different sort of place. So,
although already warmer than desirable, he could only stand half bent
before a fire all too hot and wonder what he should do next.
Finally he mustered courage enough to turn about and survey with
shamefaced mien the tavern interior. As he turned the four guests
dropped their eyes with painful unanimity and the drawer fell to
scouring a pewter mug with his apron. Only the boy perched on the cask
kept his eyes obstinately fixed on the stranger.
Droop now noticed for the first time that behind the casks there was
a snug recess containing a table and two well-worn benches, evidently
intended for the entertainment of guests desirous of a tête-à-tête.
Thither he at once directed his steps, and seating himself upon one
of the benches, looked about him for a bell. He could hear the three
men at the long table whispering busily, and could see that they had
their heads together.
The fat man stirred in his chair with a rolling motion.
Drawer! he called.
Here! cried the drawer, bustling up to the fire.
A second tankard of that same sack, boy. Bustle, bustle!
I must first to my mistress, sir, was the reply. Nothing for
credit, sir, save by permission.
A pox upon thee! growled the thirsty man. On thee and thy
Muttering and shaking his head, the ponderous guest stretched forth
his legs, closed his eyes, and composed himself for a nap.
The drawer tipped a wink to the grinning pot-boy on the cask, and
then bustled over to Droop's table, which he proceeded to wipe
vigorously with his apron.
Did you call, sir? he said.
Yes, said Copernicus. Bring me a schooner of light lager.
The drawer's busy apron hand stopped at once and its owner leaned
hard on the table.
What command gave you, sir? he said.
Marrya schooner of lagerlight, forsooth! Droop repeated.
Cry you mercy, sir, said the drawer, straightening up, this be
the Boar's Head Tavern, sir. What may your worship require by way of
food and drink?
These old-timers beat all creation for ignorance, muttered Droop.
Then, looking up into the man's face, he called for one drink after
another, watching hopefully for some sign of answering intelligence.
Give me a Scotch high-ball. No? Then a gin sling. Hot Tom and
Jerry, then. Marry, an egg flip, i' faith! Ain't got 'em? Get me a
brandy smasha sherry cobblera gin rickeyrock and ryea whisky
soura mint julep! What! Nothin'? What in thunder do ye sell,
The drawer scratched his head, and then grinned suddenly and gave
vent to a dry laugh.
Well said! Well said, master! The jest is a merry onecall me a
Jew else! Then, sobering as briskly as he had taken to laughing: Will
you have a cup of sack, master, to settle the stomach after fastingor
a drop of Canary or Xeres or a mug of ale, perchance
That's right, by my halidom! Droop broke in. Bring me some ale,
The drawer whisked away and returned in a few moments with a huge
power tankard topped with a snowy foam.
That's the stuff! said Droop, smacking his lips. He half-emptied
the beaker, and then, turning to the drawer:
Can you tell me, he said, if I can find a man by the name of Hart
hereSir Percevall Hart?
Sir Percevall, said the drawer, in an undertone. Why, there's
your man, master. The fat knight snoring by yon fire.
What! exclaimed Droop. The man who He broke off and stared
awhile in silence. Finally, shaking his head: Never would have thought
it! he said.
Copernicus lapsed into meditation and the drawer withdrew. At length
Droop roused himself with a shake.
Won't do no good to set here doin' nothin', he muttered. Then,
swallowing the remainder of his ale, he drew his letter of introduction
from his pocket and walked back to the fireplace.
The knight, who was not sleeping very soundly, slightly opened one
eye, and to his surprise, beheld a letter which Droop held almost under
Sitting up straight and now fully awake, Sir Percevall stared first
at Copernicus and then at the letter.
A letter! he exclaimed. For me?
Verily, yea, Droop replied, very politely.
The knight opened the letter slowly and turned so that the light
from a window fell full upon it.
What's here! he exclaimed. This direction is to my Lord
Yepoh, yes, yea! said Droop, confusedly. But you was to read
itperuse it, you wotBacon said as much. He said you knew the lord
and could take me around, forsooth, and sorter interduce me, ye see.
With leisurely gravity, Sir Percevall slowly read the note, and
then, returning it with a polite gesture:
This letter hath reference to certain monopolies, he said. My
cousin Bacon doth write in high terms of your skill and high merit,
Droop, sir. Copernicus Droop's my name.
Ah, yes! And the service you require? I beg your indulgence, but,
sooth to say, being nigh starved of late in this tavern of ill repute,
my poor wits have grown fat. I am slow of apprehension, Master
Naycry you mercyMaster Droop.
Why, now, Sir Percy, said Copernicus, with oily grace, ef you
wouldn't mind, I'd be proud ef you'd set down over yonder, perchance,
and have a glass with me. We'd be more private then, and I could make
this hull business clear to ye. What say ye, sir?
Why, there's my hand, Master DupeDroop, said the knight, his
face brightening mightily. Five yards are a mile for a man of my
girth, Master Droop, but praise God such words as these of yours cheer
my heart to still greater deeds than faring a mile afoot.
Slowly and painfully the corpulent knight drew himself to his feet,
and with one hand bearing affectionately but heavily on Droop's
shoulder, he shuffled over to the recess and seated himself.
What ho, there! Drawer! he shouted, as soon as they were
comfortably disposed face to face.
Anon, sir, anon! came the familiar reply, and the drawer, who had
just served two new guests at the long table, now hurried over to the
nook behind the casks.
A quart of sack, villain! said Sir Percevall.
And for you, sir? said the drawer, turning to Droop.
Yes, yea, bring me the same. He had no idea what sack was, but he
felt that in all probability it was a mild beverage, or no one would
order a quart at once.
And this same letter, now, Sir Percevall began. To warn you
truly, friend, this matter of monopolies hath something of an ill savor
in the public mind. What with sweet wines, salt, hides, vinegar, iron,
oil, lead, yarn, glass, and what not in monopoly, men cry out that they
are robbed and the Queen's advisers turn pale at the very word.
He interrupted himself to give his attention to the wine which had
just been placed before him.
To better acquaintance! he said, and the two drank deep together.
Droop smacked his lips critically and turned up his eyes for greater
abstraction. The wine was pleasant to the palate, he thought,
butwellit wasn't whiskey.
Of this letter, now, the knight resumed, anxious to discover his
own advantage in Droop's plans. 'Twere vain for you, a stranger to the
Lord High Treasurer, to accost him with it. A very circumspect and
pragmatical old lord, believe me. Not every man hath admittance to him,
I promise ye. As for me, why, God 'ild you, man! 'twas but yesterday a
fortnight Burleigh slapped me o' the shoulder and said: 'Percevall, ye
grow fat, you rogueon the word of a Cecil!' Oh, trust me, Master
Droop; my lord much affects my conversation!
Is that a fact? said Droop, admiringly. It certainly ain't done
your conversation any harm to be affected that way.
Oh, then, an you jest, Master
Not a mite! exclaimed Copernicus, anxiously. Verily, nay, friend.
Or never trust thee! quoth the knight, with a twinkle in his eye.
Droop took refuge in his wine, and Sir Percevall imitating him, the
two emptied their cups together and sighed with a simultaneous content.
That's not bad swizzle, said Droop, patronizingly. But, as fer
me, give me whiskey every time!
Whiskey! said the knight with interest. Nay, methought I knew
every vintage and brew, each label and brand from Rhine to the
Canaries. But this name, Master Droop, I own I never heard. Whiskey,
Well, now, do tell! said Droop, drawing forth his flask of
nineteenth-century rye, never heerd o' whiskey, eh? Never tasted it,
either, I s'pose?
How should I taste it, man, not knowing its very name?
Verily, thou sayest sooth! said Droop. Then, glancing all about
him: Ain't there any smaller glasses 'round here?
Drawerho, drawer, I say! roared the knight.
Here, sirhere! What is your pleasure?
The pleasure is to come, rogue! Fetch hither two of yon scurvy
glass thimbles you wot of. Hostess calls them cordial glasses. Haste
now! Scramble, varlet!
When the two small glasses were brought, Droop uncorked his flask
and poured each full to the brim.
Th' ain't any seltzer in this one-hoss town, he said, so I can't
make ye a high-ball. We'll jest hev to drink it straight, Sir Knight.
Here's luck! Drink hearty! and with a jerk of hand and head he tossed
the spirits down his throat at a gulp and smacked his lips as he set
down his glass.
Sir Percevall followed his friend's movements with a careful eye and
imitated him as exactly as possible, but he did not escape a coughing
fit, from which he emerged with a purple face and tear-filled eyes.
Have another? said Droop, cheerfully.
A plague on queezy gullets! growled the knight. Your spirits
sought two ways at once, Master Droop, and like any other half-minded
equivocal transaction, contention was the outcome. But for the whiskey,
mind youwhy, it hath won old Sir Percevall's heart. Zounds, man!
Scarce two fingers of it, and yet I feel the wanton laugh in me
a'ready. Good fellows need good company, my master! So pour me his
They drank again, and this time the more cautious knight escaped all
Look you, Master Droop, said the delighted old toper, leaning back
against the wall as he beamed across the table at his companion, look
you! An you have a butt of this same brew, Sir Percevall Hart is your
slave, your scullion, your foot-boy! Why, man, 'tis the elixir of life!
It warms a body like a maid's first kiss! Whence had you it?
Oh, they make it by the million gallons a year where I come from,
Droop replied. Have another. Take it with hot water and sugarI mean
The advice was followed, and while they sipped the enlivening
decoction, Copernicus explained his plans touching the patenting of his
phonograph and bicycle. When he concluded his relation, the knight
leaned back and gazed at him with an affectionate squint.
See, now, bully rook, if I take you, he said. It behooves you to
have fair inductance at court. For this ye come to Sir Percevall Hart,
her Majesty's harbinger andthough he says so himselfa good friend
to Cecil. Now, mark me, lad. Naught do I know or care of thy 'funny
craft' or 'bicycle.' Master Bacon is a philosopher and you have here
his certificate. Say I wellwhat?
He paused and Droop nodded.
Goodand so to better. Naught care I, or know I, or should or
could I trow, being a man of poetical turn and no base mechanicno
offence meant to yourself, Master Droop. But this I do sayand now
mark me wellI sayand dare maintain it (and all shall tell ye that
is a fair maintenance and a good champion), that for a sure and
favorable inductance to the favors of the court there's no man living
takes the wall o' Percevall Hart, Knight!
Bacon told me as much, said Droop.
And he told thee well, my master. Frank is a good lad, though vain,
and his palm itcheth. So to terms, eh? Now, methinks 'twere but equity
and good fellowship for two such as we are to go snacks, eh? Cut
through the middleeven halves, bullyeven halves! How say you?
You don't mean, said Droop, that you'd want half the profits,
jest fer introducin' me to Lord What's-is-name, do ye?
With a small retainer, of course, to bind fast. Sayoh, a matter
of twenty gold angels or so.
Why, blame your confounded overstretched skin! cried Droop, hotly,
I'd sooner drop the hull darn thing! You must take me fer a nat'ral
born fool, I guess!
Nay, then'twixt friends, said the knight, soothingly. 'Twixt
friends, say we remit one half the profits. Procure me but the angels,
Master Droop, and drop the remainder.
As many devils sooner! said Droop, indignantly. I'll take my pigs
to another market.
He rose and beckoned to the drawer.
Nay, then, why so choleric! pleaded the knight, leaning anxiously
across the table. What terms do ye offer, Master Droop? Come, man,
give a show of reason nowname your terms.
It was to this point that Copernicus had counted upon bringing the
helpless knight, who was far from a match for a Yankee. He had driven
his own bargain with Bacon, and he now resolved that Bacon's friend
should fare no better. In pursuit of this plan, he moved from his seat
with a sour face.
I don't feel much like takin' up with a man who tries to do me, he
grumbled, shaking his head and beckoning again to the drawer.
Do thee, mando thee! cried the knight. Why, an I do thee good,
what cause for grief? Spreading forth his two fat hands, he continued:
Spake I not fairly? An my offer be not to thy tastesay thine own
say. What the devil, man; must we quarrel perforce?
Droop scratched his head and seemed to hesitate. Finally he slapped
the table with his open hand and cried with a burst of generosity:
I'll tell ye what I will do. I've got two quart bottles of
that same ripe whiskey, and I'll give 'em both to ye the day the Queen
gives me my patents!
Naynay! said the knight, straightening himself with dignity.
'Twere a mere fool's prank at such terms!
Oh, all right! cried Droop, turning away.
Holdhold! Not so fast! cried Sir Percevall. But Copernicus
merely slapped his hat on his head and started toward the door.
Sir Percevall leaned over the table in flushed desperation.
Listen, friend! he cried. Wilt make a jolly night of it in the
Droop stopped and turned to his companion.
D'ye mean right now?
A nod was the reply.
And you'll take my offer if I do?
The knight sat upright and slapped the table.
On my honor! he cried.
Then it's a go! said Droop.
CHAPTER XII. HOW SHAKESPEARE WROTE
As Francis Bacon returned to London from the Peacock, Phoebe had
stood at the foot of the steps leading into the courtyard and watched
him depart. She little foresaw the strange adventure into which he was
destined to lead her sister. Indeed, her thoughts were too fully
occupied with another to give admittance to Rebecca's image.
Her lover was in dangerdanger to his life and honor. She knew he
was to be saved, yet was not free from anxiety, for she felt that it
was to be her task to save him. To this end she had sent Bacon with his
message to Copernicus. She believed now that a retreat was ready for
young Fenton. How would her confidence have been shaken could she have
known that Copernicus had already left the Panchronicon and that Bacon
had been sent in vain!
In ignorance of this, she stood now at the foot of the stairs and
let her thoughts wander back to the day before, dwelling with
tenderness upon the memory of her lover's patient attendance upon her
in that group of rustic groundlings. With a self-reproachful ache at
the heart she pictured herself as she had sat far up in the gallery
gazing downward with every faculty centred upon the stage, while he,
thinking only of her
She started and looked quickly to right and left. Why, it was here,
almost upon these very stones, that he had stood. Here she had seen him
for one moment at the last as she was leaving her seat. He was leaning
upon a rude wooden post. She sought it with her eyes and soon caught
sight of it not ten feet away.
Then she noticed for the first time that she was not alone. A young
fellow in the garb of a hostler stood almost where Guy had been the day
before. He paid no attention to Phoebe, for he was apparently deeply
preoccupied in carving some device upon the very post against which Guy
Already occupied with her own tenderness, she was quick to conclude
that here, too, was a lover, busy with some emblem of affection. Had
not Orlando cut Rosalind's name into the bark of many a helpless tree?
Clasping her hands behind her, she smiled at the lad with head
A wager, lad! she cried. Two shillings to a groat thou art
cutting a love-token!
The fellow looked up and tried to hide his knife. Then, grinning, he
I'll no take your challenge, mistress. Yet, i' good faith, 'tis but
to crown another's work.
Then, pointing with his blade:
See where he hath carved letters four, he continued. Wi'
love-links, too. A watched un yestre'en, whiles the play was forward. A
do but carve a heart wi' an arrow in't.
She blushed suddenly, wondering if it were Guy who had done this.
Stepping to the side of the stable-boy, she examined the post.
The letters were in pairs. They were M. B. and G. F.
Her feeling bubbled over in a little half-stifled laugh.
Silly! she exclaimed. Then to the boy: Know you him who cut the
letters? she asked, with affected indifference.
Nay, mistress, he replied, falling again to his work, but he be a
rare un wi' the bottle.
The bottle! Phoebe exclaimed, in amazement. Then quite sternly:
Thou beliest him, knave! No more sober She checked herself,
suddenly conscious of her indiscretion.
Why, how knowest his habits? she asked, more quietly.
A saw un, mistress, sitting in the kitchen wi' two bottles o'
Spanish wine. Ask the player else.
The player! What player?
Him as was drinking wi' him. Each cracked his bottle, and 'twas nip
and tuck which should call first for the second.
So Guy had spent the eveningthose hours when she was tenderly
dreaming of him with love reneweddrinking and carousing with some
Within her Phoebe Wise and Mary Burton struggled for mastery of her
What more natural than that a poor lad, tired with waiting on his
feet for hours for one look from the mistress who disdained him, should
seek to forget his troubles quaffing good wine in the company of some
witty player? This was Mary's view.
What! To leave the presence of his sweetheartthe girl to whom he
had just written that penitent letterto go fresh from the inspiration
of all that should uplift a lover, and befuddle his brains with rum,
gossiping with some coarse-grained barn-stormer! So Phoebe railed.
Who was the player? she asked, sharply.
Him as wore the long white beard, said the boy. The Jew, to wit.
Eh, but a got his cess, the runnion!
Shylock! she cried, in spite of herself.
So this was the gossiping barn-stormer, the dissolute actor. Will
Shakespeare it was with whom her Guy had spent the evening! Phoebe Wise
could but capitulate, and Mary Burton took for a time triumphant
possession of the heart that was Guy Fenton's.
Have the players left the Peacock? she asked, eagerly.
Nay, mistress, know you not that they play to-night at the home of
Sir William Percy?
Then they are here, at the inn, boy?
A saw him that played the Jew i' the garden not a half hour since.
He's wont to wander there and mutter the words of the play. I'll
warrant him there now, mistress.
Here, indeed, was good fortune! Shakespeare was in the garden. He
should tell her where to find Guy that she might warn him. Quickly she
turned away and hurried out of the yard and around the north L, beyond
which was the garden, laid out with ancient hedges and long beds of
Now this same garden was the chief pride of the neighborhood, the
more especially that gardens were but seldom found attached to inns in
those days. Here there had been a partly successful attempt to imitate
Italian landscape gardening; but the elaborately arranged paths, beds,
and parterres, with their white statues and fountains, lost their
effectiveness closed in as they were by high walls of vine-covered
brick. It was rumored that once a stately peacock had here once
flaunted his gorgeous plumage, giving his name to the inn itselfbut
this legend rested upon little real evidence.
When Phoebe reached the entrance to the main walk she stopped and
looked anxiously about her. Nowhere could she see or hear anyone. Sadly
disappointed, she moved slowly forward, glancing quickly to right and
left, still hoping that he whom she sought had not utterly departed.
She reached a small stone basin surmounted by a statue of Plenty,
whose inverted horn suggested a copious stream long since choked up.
Behind the fountain there was a stone bench with a high back. Peeping
behind this, Phoebe found that a second seat was placed beyond the
back, inviting a seclusion whose expected purpose was distinctly
suggested by a sly little Cupid on a pedestal, holding one forefinger
to his smiling lips.
At this moment Phoebe was conscious of a distant mumbling to her
left, and, glancing quickly in that direction, she saw a plainly
dressed, bareheaded man of medium height just turning into the main
walk out of a by-path, where he had been hidden from view by a thick
hedge of privet. His eyes were turned upon some slips of paper which he
held in one hand.
Could this be he? Shakespeare! The immortal Prince of Poets!
To Mary Burton, the approach of a mere player would have given
little concern. But Phoebe Wise, better knowing his unrivalled rank,
was seized with a violent attack of diffidence, and in an instant she
dodged behind the stone seat and sat in hiding with a beating heart.
The steps of the new-comer slowly approached. Phoebe knew not
whether pleasure or a painful fear were stronger within her. Here was
indeed the culmination of her strange adventure! There, beyond the
stone which mercifully concealed her, He was approachingthe wondrous
Master Mind of literature.
Would he go by unheeding? Could she let him pass on without one
glanceone word? And yet, how address him? How dare to show her face?
The slow steps ceased and at the same time he fell silent. She could
picture him gazing with unconscious eyes at the fountain while within
he listened to the Genius that prompted his majestic works. Again the
gravel creaked, and then she knew that he had seated himself on the
other bench. The two were sitting back to back with only a stone
partition between them.
To her own surprise, the diffidence which had oppressed her seemed
now to be gradually passing off. She still realized the privilege she
enjoyed in thus sharing his seat, but perhaps Mary Burton was gaining
her head as well as her heart, for she positively began to think of
leaving her concealment, contemplating almost unmoved a meeting with
Then he spoke.
The infant firstthen the school-boy, he muttered. So far good!
The third agemmm There was a pause before he proceeded, slowly
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing his heart out in a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow.
He chuckled audibly a moment, and then, speaking a little louder:
Fenton to the life, poor lad! he said.
Phoebe sat up very straight with a startled movement. Oh, to think
of it! That she should have forgotten Sir Guy! To have sought Will
Shakespeare for the sole purpose of tracing her threatened loverand
then to forget him for a simple namea mere celebrity!
Unconscious of the small inward drama so near at hand, the
playwright proceeded with his composition.
'Sighing his heart out,' he mused. Nay, that were too strong a
touch for Jacques. Lighterlighter. Then, after a moment of thought:
Ayay! he chuckled. 'Sighing like furnace'poor Fenton! How like a
very furnace in his dolor! Yet did he justice to the Canary. Soso! To
go back now:
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow.
'Twill pass, in sooth, 'twill pass!
Lightly Phoebe climbed onto the bench and peeped over the back. She
looked down sidewise upon the author, who was writing rapidly in an
illegible hand upon one of his paper slips.
There was the head so familiar to us allthe domelike brow, the
long hair hanging over the ears. This she could see, but of his face
only the outline of his left cheek was visible. Strange and unexpected
to herself was the light-hearted calm with which, now that she really
saw him, she could contemplate the great poet.
He ceased writing and leaned against the back, gazing straight
The third age past, what then? Why the soldier, i' faiththe
Full of strange oaths
came a mischievous whisper from an invisible source
and bearded like the pard.
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth.
For a moment the poet sat as though paralyzed with astonishment.
Then rising, he turned and faced the daring girl.
Now she saw the face so well remembered and yet how little known
before. Round it was and smooth, save for the small, well-trimmed
mustache above the beautifully moulded mouth and chinsensitive yet
firm. But above all, the splendid eyes! Eyes of uncertain color that
seemed to Phoebe mirrors of universal life, yet just now full of a
For she was herself the centre of a picture well fitted to arrest a
poet's attention. Her merry face was peering over the smooth white
stone, with four pink finger-tips on each side clinging for greater
security. Behind her a cherry-tree was dropping its snowy blossoms, and
two or three had fallen unheeded upon her wavy brown hair, making a
charming frame for the young eyes and tender lips whose smiling harmony
seemed to sing with arrant roguishness.
With a trilling laugh, half-suppressed, she spoke at last.
A penny for your thoughts, Master Shakespeare! she said.
The mood of the astonished player had quickly yielded to the girl's
compelling smile, and his fine lips opened upon a firm line of teeth.
'Show me first your penny,' he quoted.
I'll owe you it.
He laughed and shook his head.
That would I not my thoughts, damsel.
Pay them, then. Pay straightway! she pouted, and see the account
Nay, then, he replied, bowing half-mockingly, an the accountant
be so passing fair, must not the account suffer in the comparison?
The face disappeared for a moment, and then Phoebe emerged from
behind the stone rampart, dusting her hands off daintily one against
Did not your wit exceed your gallantry, sir, she said, courtesying
slightly, I had had my answer sooner.
Shakespeare was somewhat taken aback to see a developed young woman,
evidently of gentle birth, where he had thought to find the mere
prank-loving child of some neighboring cottager. Instantly his manner
changed. Bowing courteously, he stepped forward and began in a
Nay, then, fair mistress, an I had known
Tuttut! she interrupted, astonished at her own boldness. You
thought me a chit, sir. Let it pass. Pray what think you of my lines?
They seemed the whisper of a present muse, he said, gayly, but
with conviction in his voice. 'Twas in the very mood of Jacques, my
ladya melancholy fellow by profession
Holding that light which another might presently approveshe
broke inand praise bestowing on ill deserts in the mere wantonness
of a cynic wit! What!doth the cap fit?
The amazement in her companion's face was irresistible, and Phoebe
burst forth into a spontaneous laugh of purest merriment.
'A hita hita very palpable hit!' she quoted, clapping her
hands in her glee.
Were not witches an eldritch race, said Shakespeare, you,
mistress, might well lie under grave suspicion.
Whatwhat! Do I not fit the wizened stamp of Macbeth's sisters
Shakespeare flung out his arms with a gesture of despair.
Yet more and deeper mystery! he cried. My half-formed
plotshalf-finished scrapsthe clear analysis of souls whose only
life is here! he tapped his forehead. Say, good lady, has Will
Shakespeare spoken, perchance, in sleepyet e'en so, how could
He broke off and coming to her side, spoke earnestly in lowered
Tell me. Have you the fabled power to read the soul? Naught else
explains your speech.
Tell me, sir, first the truth, said Phoebe. In all sadness,
Master Shakespeare, have you had aught from Francis Bacon? I mean by
way of aid in writingor e'en of mere suggestion?
BaconFrancis Bacon, said he, evidently at a loss. There was one
Nay, 'tis of his son I speak.
Then, in good sooth, I can but answer 'No,' mistress; since that I
knew not even that this Nicholas had a son.
Phoebe heaved a sigh of relief and then went on with a partial
return of her former spirit.
Then all's well! she exclaimed. I am a muse well pleased; and
now, an you will, I'll teach you straight more verses for your play.
As you like it, said Shakespeare, bowing, half-amused and wholly
Good! she retorted, brightly. 'As You Like It' shall you name the
piece, that henceforth this our conversation you may bear in mind.
Smiling, he took up his papers and wrote across the top of one of
them As You Like It in large characters.
Now write as I shall bid you, Phoebe said. Pray be seated, good
my pupil, come.
Then, seated there by Phoebe's side, the poet committed to paper the
whole of Jacques's speech on The Seven Ages, just as Phoebe spoke it
from her memory of the Shakespeare club at home.
When he ceased scribbling, he leaned forward with elbows on his
knees and ran his eyes slowly and wonderingly over each line in turn,
whispering the words destined to become so famous. Phoebe leaned a
little away from her companion, resting one hand on the bench, while
she watched his face with a smile that slowly melted to the mood of
dreamy meditation. They sat thus alone in silence for some time, so
still that a wren, alighting on the path, hopped pecking among the
stones at their very feet.
At length the poet, without other change in position, turned his
head and looked searchingly and seriously into the young girl's eyes.
What amazing quality was it that stamped its impress upon the maiden's
facea something he had never seen or dreamed of? Even a Shakespeare
could give no name to that spirit of the future out of which she had
Is it then true? he said, in an undertone. Doth the muse live?
Not a mere prompting inward sense, but in bodily semblance visiting the
poet's eye? Or art thou a creature of Fancy's colors blended, feigning
Never before had the glamour of her situation so penetrated her to
whom these words were addressed. She was choked by an irrepressible sob
that was half a laugh, and a film of moisture obscured her vision. With
a sudden movement, she seized the poet's hand and pressed it to her
lips. Then, half-ashamed, she rose and turned away to toy with the
foliage of a shrub that stood beside the path.
Nay, then! Shakespeare cried, with something like relief in his
voice, you are no insubstantial spirit, damsel. Yet would I fain more
clearly comprehend thee!
There was a minute's pause ere Phoebe turned toward the speaker,
that spirit of mischief dancing again in her eyes and on her lips.
I am Mary Burton, of Burton Hall, she said.
Oh! he exclaimed. And then again: Oh! with much of understanding
and something of disappointment.
Is all clear now? she asked, roguishly.
Shakespeare rose, and, shaking one finger playfully at her, he said:
Most clear is thisthat Sir Guy knows well to choose in love;
although, an I read you aright, my Mistress Mockery, his wife is like
to prove passing mettlesome. For the rest, your lover knows poor Will
Shakespeare's secretshis Macbeth and half-written Hamlet. 'Tis with
these you have made so bold to-day! My muse, in sooth! Oh, fiefie!
And he shook his head, laughing.
Indeed! In very sooth! said Phoebe, with merry sarcasm. And was
it, then, Guy who brought me these same lines of Jacques the
melancholy? And she pointed to the papers in his hand.
Nay, there I grant you, said the poet, shaking his head, while the
puzzled expression crept once more into his face.
Ay, there, and in more than this! Phoebe exclaimed. You have
spoken of Hamlet, Master Shakespeare. Guy hath told me something of
that tragedy. This Prince of Denmark is a most unhappy wight, if I
mistake not. Doth he not once turn to thought of self-murder?
Ay, mistress. I have given Sir Guy my thoughts on the theme of
Hamlet, and have told him I planned a speech wherein should be made
patent Hamlet's desperate weariness of life, sickened by brooding on
his mother's infamy.
'To be or not to be, that is the question,' quoted Phoebe. Runs
it not so?
This passes! cried Shakespeare, once more all amazement. I told
not this to your friend!
Nor did I from Guy receive it, said Phoebe. Tell me, Master
Shakespeare, have you yet brought that speech to its term?
No, he replied, nor have I found the task an easy one. Much have
I written, but 'tis all too slight. Can you complete these lines, think
My life upon it! she cried, eagerly.
He shook his head, smiling incredulously.
You scarce know what you promise, he said. Can one so younga
damsel, toosound to its bitter deeps the soul of Hamlet!
Think you so? Phoebe replied, her eyes sparkling. Then what say
you to a bargain, Master Shakespeare? You know where Sir Guy Fenton may
Ay, right well! 'Tis a matter of one hour's ride.
So I thought, she said. Hear, then, mine offer. I must perforce
convey a message straight that touches the life and honor of Sir Guy.
To send my servant were over-dangerous, for there may be watchers on my
going and coming. Will you go, sir, without delay, if that I speak for
you the missing lines completing young Hamlet's soliloquy?
Shakespeare looked into her face for a few moments in silence.
Why, truly, he said at last, I have here present business with my
fellow-player Burbidge. He paused, and then, yielding to the pleading
in her eyes: Yet call it a bargain, mistress, he said. Speak me the
lines I lack and straightway will I take your word to Sir Guy.
Now blessings on thee! cried Phoebe. Give me straight the line
you last have written.
At once the poet began:
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkinbroke in the excited girl. Who would fardels
bear, to grunt and sweat beneath a weary life, but that the thought of
something after deaththe undiscovered country from whose bourne no
traveller returnspuzzles the will, and makes us rather bear the ills
we have than fly to others that we know not of. Thus conscience does
make cowards of us all, and so the native hue of resolution is sicklied
o'er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pith and
moment by this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of
No moreno more! cried Shakespeare, in an ecstasy. More than
completely hast thou made thy bargain good, damsel unmatchable! What!
Can it be! Why here have we the very impress of young Hamlet's
soul'To grunt and sweat beneath a weary life'feel you not there
compunction and disgust, seeing in life no cleanly burden, but a
'fardel' truly, borne on the greasy shoulders of filthy slaves!
He turned and paced back and forth upon the gravel, repeating
without mistake and with gestures and accents inimitable the lines
which Phoebe had dictated. She watched him, listening attentively,
conscious that what she saw and heard, though given in a moment, were
to be carried with her forever; convinced as well that she was for
something in this, and thankful while half afraid.
Reaching the end of the soliloquy, Shakespeare turned to the maiden,
who was still standing, backed by the warm color of a group of peonies.
Nay, but tell me, damsel, he cried, appealingly. Explain this
power! Art thou, indeed, no other than Mary Burton?
How refuse this request? And yetwhat explanation would be
believed? Perhaps, if she had time, she thought, some intelligible
account of the truth would occur to her.
And have you forgot your bargain so soon? she said, reproachfully
shaking her head. Away, friend, away! Indeed, the matter is urgent and
grave. If, when you return, you will ask for Mary Burton, knowing your
task fulfilled, she may make clear for you what now must rest in
You say well, he replied. Give me your message, and count fully
on Will Shakespeare to carry it with all despatch and secrecy.
Phoebe's face grew grave as she thought of all that depended on her
messenger. She stepped closer to her companion and glanced to right and
left to make sure they were still alone. Then, drawing from her finger
a plain gold ring, she offered it to her companion, who took it as she
If you will show this to Sir Guy, she said, he will know that the
case is serious. It beareth writing within the circle'Sois
fidèle'do you see?
'Twill be an admonition for you both, said Phoebe, with a faint
smile. Tell him to be in the lane behind the Peacock garden at sunset
to-morrow even with two good horses, one for himself and one for me.
Tell him to come alone and to travel by back ways. Bid him in my
namein God's nameclose till then, trusting in me that there is
need. Tell him to obey now, that later he may have the right to
Good! said Shakespeare. And now good-by until we meet again.
A parting pressure of the hand, and he turned to go to the stables.
She stood by the fountain musing, her eyes fixed on the entrance gate
of the garden until at length a horseman galloped past. He rose in his
stirrups and waved his hand. She ran forward, swept by a sudden dread
of his loss, waving her hands in a passionate adieu.
When she reached the gate no one was in sight.
CHAPTER XIII. HOW THE FAT KNIGHT DID
On Rebecca's arrival with the royal attendants at Greenwich Palace,
the Queen had ordered that she be given a splendid suite of apartments
for her own use, and that she be constantly attended by a number of
young gentlewomen assigned to her establishment. The news soon spread
through the palace that an American princess or empress had arrived,
and she was treated in every way on the footing of a sort of inferior
royalty. Elizabeth invited her to share every meal with her, and took
delight in her accounts of the manners and customs of the American
As for Rebecca, she finally yielded to the conviction that Elizabeth
was not Victoria, and found it expedient to study her companions with a
view to avoiding gross breaches of etiquette. Of these, the first which
she corrected was addressing Elizabeth as Mrs. Tudor.
In twenty-four hours the shrewd and resourceful New England woman
was able to learn many things, and she rapidly found her bearings among
the strange people and stranger institutions by which she was
Seated in her own presence chamber, as she called it, surrounded
by her civil and assiduous attendants, she discovered a charm in being
constantly taken care of which was heightened by the contrast which it
presented with her usually independent habits of life. The pleasing
effect of novelty had never more strongly impressed her.
Her anxiety in Phoebe's behalf had been dispelled when she learned
that Isaac Burton was expected at the palace, and was to bring his
family with him. With diplomatic shrewdness, she resolved to improve
every opportunity to win the Queen's favor, in order that when the time
came she might have the benefit of her authority in removing her
younger sister from her pretended relatives.
It was about five in the afternoon of the day succeeding her
adventure on the Thames, and Rebecca sat near a window overlooking the
entrance court. She was completing the knitting upon which she had been
engaged when Droop made his first memorable call on her in Peltonville.
On either side of Rebecca, but on stools set somewhat lower than her
chair, were her two favorites, the Lady Clarissa Bray, daughter of
Walter Bray, Lord Hunsforth, and the Honorable Lady Margaret Welsh,
daughter of the Earl of March.
Clarissa was employed in embroidering a stomacher whose green, gold,
and russet set off her dark curls very agreeably. The Lady Margaret was
playing a soft Italian air upon the cithern, which she managed with
excellent taste, to the entertainment of her temporary mistress and her
half dozen attendants.
Rebecca's needles moved in time with the graceful measure of the
music, while her head nodded in unison, and she smiled now and then.
As the air was concluded she let her hands sink for a moment into
her lap, turning to bend an approving look upon the fair young
There, now! she said. I declare, Miss Margaret, that's real sweet
music. I'm much obliged to ye, I'm sure.
Margaret arose and courtesied, blushing.
Would your Highness that I play again? she asked.
No, thank ye, said Rebecca, resuming her knitting. The's no sort
o' use in drivin' folks to death as are kind to ye. Sit right down an'
rest now, an' I'll tell ye all a story thet hez a bearin' right on that
She turned to the four maids of honor seated behind her.
Now you girls can jest's well come an' set in front o' me while I'm
talkin'. I'll like it a heap better, I'm sure.
With great diffidence on the part of her attendants, and after much
coaxing on Rebecca's part, this change was accomplished. The idea of
being seated in the presence of royalty was in itself quite distasteful
to these young courtiers, but upon this Rebecca had insisted from the
first. It made her feel tired, she said, to see people standing
continually on their feet.
Well, she began, when all were disposed to their satisfaction, it
all happened in my country, ye know. 'Twas 'bout ten years ago now, I
guessor rather thenI mean it will be
Clarissa's wondering eyes caught the speaker's attention and she
Never mind when 'twas, she went on. Ye see, things are very
different heretime as well's the rest. However, 'long 'bout then, my
cousin Ann Slocum took a notion to 'nvite me down to Keene fer a little
visit. Phoebethet's my sistershe said I could go jest's well's not,
an' so I went. The fust night I was there, when dinner was over, of
course I offered to wash up the dishes, seem'
An involuntary and unanimous gasp of amazement from her fair
auditors cut Rebecca short at this point.
Well, she said, a little anxiously, what's the matter? Anythin'
The Lady Clarissa ventured to voice the general sentiment.
Did we hear aright, your Highness? she asked. Said you'wash up
Oh! said Rebecca, conscious for the first time of her slip, did
that puzzle ye?
Do queens and princesses perform menial offices in America? asked
the Honorable Lady Margaret.
Short as was the time allowed, it had sufficed for Rebecca to
compose a form of words which should not wound her conscience by direct
falsehood, while not undeceiving her hearers as to her rank.
Why, to tell ye the truth, she said, in a semi-confidential
manner, all the queens and princesses there are in America wash the
dishes after dinner.
There was some whispering among the girls at this, and Rebecca's
ears caught the expressions passing strange and most wonderful more
She waited until the first excitement thus produced had subsided and
Of course Cousin Ann hadn't no objection, an' so I went into the
kitchen. When we got through, blest ef she didn't ask me to wash out
the dish-towels while she filled the lamps! Now
The growing amazement in the round, open eyes and shaking curls of
her audience brought Rebecca once more to a standstill. Evidently some
further explanation of this unwonted state of things would be expected.
To gain time for further invention, Rebecca rose and carried her
knitting to the window as though to pick up a stitch. Mechanically she
glanced down into the court-yard, where there was now a large
assemblage, and uttered an exclamation of astonishment.
Gracious alive! she cried. If there ain't a bicycle! Well, well,
don't that look nat'ral, now! Makes me feel homesick.
She turned to her companions, each of whom was ceremoniously
standing, but all showing clearly in their faces the curiosity which
Come 'long! said Rebecca, smiling. Come one and all! I'm blest ef
ye don't make me think of Si Pray's dog waitin' to be whistled fer when
Si goes out to walk.
The obedience to this summons was prompt and willing, and Rebecca
turned again to observe those who came with the mysterious bicycle.
Land o' sunshine! she exclaimed, did ye ever see sech a fat man
as that! Do any of you girls know who 'tis?
'Tis Sir Percevall Hart, harbinger to the Queen, I ween, Clarissa
Gracious! said Rebecca, anxiously. I do hope now he ain't
bringin' any very bad news!
Wherefore should he, your Highness? said Clarissa.
Why, if he's a harbinger of woeain't that what they call 'em?
she spoke, with some timidity.
Nay, said the Lady Margaret. Sir Percevall is reputed a wit and a
pleasant companion, your Highness. He is harbinger to the Queen.
An' who's the man with him in black togs an' rumpled stockin's?
said Rebecca. The one holdin' the bicycle?
Mean you him holding the two bright wheels, your Highness?
Lady Margaret could not answer, nor could any of the other
attendants. Could Rebecca have had a more advantageous view of the
stranger, she would herself have been the only one in the palace to
recognize him. She could only see his hat and his borrowed clothes,
however, and her curiosity remained unsatisfied.
That looks like Copernicus Droop's wheel, she muttered. I wonder
ef somebody's ben an' stole it while he was away. 'Twould serve him
right fer givin' me the slip.
Then turning to Lady Margaret again, she continued:
Would you mind runnin' down to ask who that man is, Miss Margaret?
Seems to me I know that bicycle.
Courtesying in silence, the maid backed out of the room and hurried
down the stairs quite afire with the eagerness of her curiosity. This
strange, bright-wheeled thing to which the American princess so easily
applied a name, could only be some wonderful product of the New World.
She was overjoyed at the thought that she was to be the first to
closely examine and perhaps to touch this curiosity.
Her plans were delayed, however, for when she reached the court-yard
she found herself restrained by a row of men with halberds, one of whom
informed her that her Majesty was returning from chapel.
The Queen and her retinue were obliged to pass across the courtyard
on the way to the apartment where Elizabeth was to take her evening
meal. Her progress at such times was magnificently accompanied, and was
often much delayed by her stopping to notice her favorites as she
passed them, and even at times to receive petitions.
Copernicus, who, as we have seen, had just arrived, was inclined to
bewail the interruption caused by this procession, but his companion
insisted that, on the contrary, all was for the best.
Why, man, said he, Dame Fortune hath us in her good books for a
surety. What! Could we have planned all better had we willed it? To
meet the Queen in progress from chapel! 'Twill go hard but Sir
Percevall shall win his suitand you, Master Droop, your monopolies.
Mark me nowmark me well!
So saying, the fat knight advanced and joined one of the long lines
of courtiers already forming a hedge on each side of the direct way
which the Queen was to traverse. Droop, leaning his bicycle against the
palace wall and taking in his hands his phonograph and box of
cylinders, placed himself behind his guide and watched the proceedings
with eager curiosity.
A door opened at one end of the lane between the two courtiers and
there appeared the first of a long procession of splendidly apparelled
gentlemen-in-waiting, walking bareheaded two by two. Of these, the
first were simple untitled knights and gentlemen. These were followed
by barons, then earls, and lastly knights of the garter, each gentleman
vying with the others in richness of apparel and lavish display of
collars, orders, jewelled scabbards, and heavy chains of gold.
Behind these there came three abreast. These were the Lord High
Chancellor, in wig and robes, carrying the Great Seal of England in a
red silk bag. On his right walked a gentleman carrying the golden
sceptre, jewelled and quaintly worked, while he on the left carried the
sword of state, point up, in a red scabbard, studded with golden
A few steps behind this imposing escort came the Queen, with a small
but richly covered prayer-book in her hand. She looked very majestic on
this occasion, being dressed in white silk bordered with pearls of the
size of beans, over which was thrown a mantle of black silk shot with
silver threads. An oblong collar of jewelled gold lay upon her
otherwise bare bosom.
The Queen's train was very long and was carried by a marchioness,
whose plain attire set off the magnificence of royalty.
As Elizabeth proceeded across the yard, she spoke to one by-stander
or another, and Droop, looking on, made up his mind that the rule was
that anyone to whom she addressed a word, or even a look, should drop
forthwith to his knees and so remain until she had passed, unless she
pleased to extend her hand to raise him up.
On each side of this main procession there was a single file of five
and twenty gentlemen pensioners, each carrying a gilt battle-axe.
The remainder of the procession consisted of a train of court ladies
all dressed in white and nearly destitute of ornaments. Evidently the
Royal Virgin would suffer no rivalry in dress from those of her own
Just behind Elizabeth and to one side, in such a position as to be
within easy reach for consultation, walked the Lord High Treasurer,
William Cecil, Baron of Burleigh. It was to this nobleman that his
nephew, Francis Bacon, had addressed the letter which he had given to
By dint of much squeezing and pushing, Sir Percevall made his way to
the front of the waiting line, and, as Elizabeth approached, he dropped
painfully to his knees, and, with hat in hand, gazed earnestly into the
Queen's face, not daring to speak first, but with a petition writ large
in every feature.
Now, Elizabeth was most jealous of her dignity, and valued her own
favors very highly. In her eyes it was downright impertinence at a time
like this for anyone to solicit the honor of her attention by kneeling
before he was noticed.
Knowing this, Burleigh, who recognized the knight and wished him
well, motioned to him earnestly to rise. Alarmed, Sir Percevall made a
desperate effort to obey the hint, and, despite his huge bulk, would
perhaps have succeeded in regaining his feet without attracting the
notice of the Queen but for the impatient movement of the crowd behind
him. Unfortunately, however, he had but half risen when the bustling
multitude moved forward a little against his expansive rear. The result
Sir Percevall lost his balance, and, feeling himself toppling, threw
his hands out forward with a cry and fell flat on his face.
Elizabeth was at this moment addressing a few gracious words to a
white-haired courtier, who kneeled among those gathered on the right of
her line of progress. Startled by the loud cry of the falling knight,
she turned swiftly and saw at her feet a man of monstrous girth
struggling in vain to raise his unwieldy form. His plumed hat had
rolled to some distance, exposing a bald head with two gray tufts over
the ears. His sword stood on its hilt, with point in air, and his
short, fat legs made quick alternate efforts to bend beneath
himefforts which the fleshy knees successfully resisted.
The helpless, jerking limbs, the broad, rolling body, and the
mixture of expletives and frantic apologies poured forth by the
prostrate knight turned the Queen's first ready alarm to irrepressible
laughter, in which the bystanders joined to their great relief. Droop
alone was grave, for he could only see in this accident the ruin of his
Now, by the rood! cried the Queen, as soon as she could speak
distinctly, fain would we see your face, good gentleman. Of all our
subjects, not one doth us such low obeisance! Then, beckoning to those
of her gentleman pensioners who stood nearest:
Raise us yon mighty subject of ours, whose greatness we might in
our majesty brook but ill did not his humble bearing proclaim a loyal
Four gentlemen, dropping their gilt axes, hastened to Sir
Percevall's aid, raising him by the arms and shoulders.
Enoughenough, lads! cried the knight, when they had got him to
his knees. Let it not be said that Sir Percevall Hart dared to tempt
erect the dreadful glance of majesty. Here let him lowly bend beneath
the eyes that erstwhile laid him low.
Still holding him, the four gentlemen turned their eyes to the Queen
for orders, and Sir Percevall, clasping his mud-stained hands,
addressed himself directly to Elizabeth, in whose still laughing face
he foresaw success.
O Majesty of England! he cried. Marvel not at this my sudden
fallfor when, with more than royal glory is linked the potency of
virgin loveliness, who can withstand!
Why, how now, Sir Knight! said Elizabeth, banteringly. Are we
less lovely or less awful now than a moment since? You seem at least
one half restored.
Nay, your Majesty, was the reply. 'Tis his sovereign's will and
high command that stiffens poor Percy's limbs, and in obedience only
that he finds strength to present his suit.
A suit! she exclaimed. Pride cometh before a fall, 'tis said.
Then, in sooth, by the rule of contraries, a fall should presage
humility's reward. What says my Lord Baron?
She turned to Burleigh, who smiled and, bowing, replied:
So witty a flight to so sound a conclusion Cecil could not have
winged alone, but where majesty teacheth wisdom, who shall refuse it!
'Tis well! said Elizabeth, more soberly. Rise, Sir Knight, and,
when that we have supped, seek audience again. An the petition be in
reason, 'twill not suffer for the fall you have had.
With this speech, Sir Percevall's first audience ended, and it was
with a happy face that he suffered himself to be helped to his feet by
the four gentlemen who had first been sent to his aid.
As the Queen resumed her progress and entered the apartments wherein
she was to prepare for her evening meal, there resounded through the
palace the ringing notes of trumpets and the musical booming of a
In a large antechamber immediately outside of the room where the
Queen was to sup there was placed a splendidly carved table of black
oak, and here were made all the preparations for her repast,
accompanied by the usual ceremonies.
Moving to the sound of trumpets and drum, two gentlemen entered the
room, the first bearing a rod and the second a table-cloth. Advancing
one behind the other, they kneeled three times between the door and
table, apparently expressing the deepest veneration. Having spread the
table, they retired backward, not forgetting to repeat the
genuflections as performed on their approach.
These first two were followed immediately by two other gentlemen,
the first with a rod and the other carrying a salt-seller, plates, and
bread. These articles were carried to the table with the same ceremony
as had attended the spreading of the cloth.
Next there entered a young lady, whose coronet indicated the rank of
countess and whose uncovered bosom proclaimed the unmarried state. She
was accompanied by a married lady of lower rank, carrying a knife. The
Countess rubbed the plates with bread and salt, and then the two ladies
stood awhile by the table, awaiting the arrival of the supper.
Finally there entered, one at a time, twenty-four yeomen of the
guard, the tallest and handsomest men in the royal service, bareheaded
and clothed in scarlet coats, with roses embroidered in gold thread on
their backs. Each yeoman carried a separate special dish intended for
the royal repast, and, as each approached the table, the lady with the
knife cut off and placed in his mouth a portion of the food which he
was carrying. After depositing their dishes upon the table, the yeomen
departed and the maids of honor then approached and carried the dishes
into the inner room, where the Queen sat at her supper.
Of all those who thus advanced to the table and departed walking
backward, none omitted the reverent kneelings, nor did anyone concerned
in all this ceremony speak a word until it was concluded. Although the
Queen was actually absent, in fiction she was present, and it was to
this fiction that so much reverence was paid.
Shortly after the commencement of these preparations, Droop and his
guide appeared among other petitioners and other lookers-on around the
doorways. Copernicus carried his phonographic apparatus, but the
bicycle had been left in the court-yard in the care of a man-at-arms.
Jiminy! said Droop, looking curiously about him, ain't this A No.
1, though! Et must be fun to be a queen, eh, Percevall?
To speak truly, my lad, said the knight, there is something too
much of bravery and pomp in the accidents of royalty. What! Can a king
unbendbe merrya good fellow with his equals? No! And would you or I
barter this freedom for a crown? He shook his head. Which think you
passed the merrier nightor the Queen (God's blessing on her) or you
Droop paid little heed to his companion, for his eyes were busy with
the unwonted scene before him.
Well, now! he exclaimed. Look there, Sir Knight. See how the old
lady digs out a piece o' that pie and pokes it into that lord's mouth!
He must be mighty hungry! I'm darned ef I'd thought they'd hev let him
hev his grub before the Queenand out of her own dish, too!
Nay, Brother Droop, said the Englishman, this custom hath its
origin in the necessary precaution of our sovereign. Who knows but that
poison be in this food! Have not a score of scurvy plots been laid
against her life? 'Tis well to test what is meant for the use of
Droop whistled low.
Thet's the wrinkle, eh? he said. I don't guess I'd be much
tempted to take a job here as a taster, then! Hello! he said. Why,
they're takin' the victuals out o' the room. What's that fer? Did they
find p'ison in 'em?
Sir Percevall did not reply. His attention had been caught by the
arrival of a strangely dressed woman, apparently attended by six maids
Turning to a gentleman at his elbow:
Can you tell me, sir, he said, who is yonder stranger in
Following the speaker's eyes, the gentleman stared for a few moments
and then replied:
Marry, sir, it can but be the American princess with her retinue.
They say that her Majesty much affects this strange new-comer.
It was, indeed, Rebecca who, in response to an invitation brought by
a page in the Queen's livery, was on the way to take supper with
Elizabeth. On her arrival at the anteroom door, an attendant went in
before the Queen to announce her presence; and, while awaiting
admission, Rebecca gazed about her with a curiosity still unsatisfied.
There, now, she was saying, 'twas suttenly too bad to send you
off on a wild-goose chase, Miss Margaret. Ef you could hev found the
man, I'd hev ben glad, though.
At that very moment, a voice close beside her made her start
Wellwell! I declare! Rebecca Wise, how do you do!
She turned and saw him of whom she was at that moment speaking, and
lo! to her amazement, it was Copernicus Droop who held out his right
Copernicus Droop! she gasped. Then, remembering her adventure of
the previous day, she went on coldly, without noticing the proffered
hand: Ye seem right glad to see me now, Mr. Droop.
Droop was taken aback at her manner and at the sarcastic emphasis
laid upon the word now.
Whywhyof course, he stammered. I thought you was lost.
Lost! she cried, indignantly. Lost! Why, you know right well I
chased you up one street and down the other all the mornin' yesterday.
You tried to lose me, Mr. Droopand now you find me again, you see.
Oh, yes, you must be glad to see me!
Droop was at first all astonishment at this accusation, but in a few
moments he guessed the true state of the case. Without delay he
explained the exchange of clothes, and had no difficulty in persuading
Rebecca that it was Francis Bacon whom she had pursued by mistake.
Poor young man! Rebecca exclaimed, in a low voice of contrition.
Why, he must hev took me fer a lunatic!
Then she suddenly recollected her young attendants, and turned so as
to bring them on one hand and Droop on the other.
Young ladies, she said, primly, this here's Mr. Copernicus Droop,
With one accord the six girls dropped their eyes and courtesied low.
Mr. Droop, Rebecca continued, as she indicated one of the girls
after the other with her forefinger, make you acquainted with Miss
Clarissa, Miss Margaret, Miss Maria, Miss Gertrude, Miss Evelina, and
Miss Dorothy. They've got sech tangled-up last names, I declare I can't
keep 'em in my head. Mr. Droop's the same rank I am, she concluded,
addressing the girls.
Droop fidgeted and bowed six awkward bows with eyes riveted to the
ground. He had never been a ladies' man, and this unexpected
presentation was a doubly trying ordeal.
There was a murmur of your Highness from the courtesying young
women which convinced the abashed Yankee that he was being mocked, and
this impression was deepened by the ill-suppressed giggles occasioned
by the sight of his sadly rumpled hose. His confusion was complete.
Now, tell me, said Rebecca, curiously, whatever brought you up
here? Hev ye some errand with the Queen?
Yes, said Droop. My friend and me came up here to get a patent.
Say, he exclaimed, brightening up with startling suddenness, praps
you know the racketgot the inside track, eh?
Yes. Don't you know the Patent Examineror Commissioner, or Lord
High Thingummy that runs the Patent Office here? I hate to bother the
Queen about sech things! Goodness knows, I'd never ha' thought o'
troublin' President McKinley about patents!
Rebecca shook her head.
I'm blest ef I know the fust thing about it, she declared. Ef you
take my advice, you'll not bother Miss Elizabeth 'bout your old
At this moment the page returned.
Her Majesty awaits your Royal Highness within, he said, bowing
Droop's jaws fell apart and his eyes opened wide.
Royal Highness! he murmured.
Well, I've got to go now, said Rebecca, smiling at her friend's
astonishment. But don't you go 'way fer a while yet. I'll try an' get
the Queen to let you in soon. I want to talk with you 'bout lots of
In a moment she was gone, leaving Copernicus rooted to the floor and
dumb with amazement.
Someone touched his elbow and, turning, he saw Sir Percevall, with
the light of triumph on his fat face.
Fortune's smiles have turned to mere laughter, my lad, he said,
chuckling. This American princess hath the Queen's good-will. How the
fiend's name came you acquainted?
CHAPTER XIV. THE FATE OF SIR
In the inner chamber, Elizabeth was seated at a small table, at the
opposite end of which sat Rebecca. Burleigh, Nottingham, and two or
three other great lords stood near at hand, while one dish after
another was brought in from the outer room by maids of honor.
Standing to the right of the Queen's chair was a dark man of foreign
aspect, wearing the robes of a Doctor of Laws. In his hand was
Rebecca's copy of the New York World, which he was perusing with
an expression of the utmost perplexity.
Well, Master Guido, said the Queen, what make you of it?
Maestà eccellentissima the scholar began.
Naynay. Speak good plain English, man, said the Queen. The Lady
Rebecca hath no Italian.
Messer Guido bowed and began again, speaking with a scarcely
Most Excellent Majesty, I have but begun perusal of this document.
It promiseth matter for ten good years' research in the comparison of
parts, interpretation of phrases, identifying customs, manners, dress,
and the like.
Nay, then, said the Queen, with the help of the Lady Rebecca,
'twill be no weighty task, methinks. My lady, why partake you not of
the pasty? she said, turning to Rebecca. Hath it not a very proper
My, yes, Rebecca replied; it's mighty good pie! Somehow, though,
pie don't lay very good with me these days. Ye don't happen to have any
tea, do ye?
If I may venture said Guido, eagerly.
Speak, Messer Guido.
Why, it would appear, your Majesty, that tea is a sort of stuff for
Stuff for dresses! said Rebecca. Stuff and nonsense! Why, tea's a
A beverage! Then how explain you this? the Italian cried,
triumphantly. Lifting the newspaper, he read from it the following
passage: The illustration shows a charming tea-gown, a creation of
You see, Maestàyour Majestyit is clear. A 'tea-gown' is shown
in the drawinga gown made of tea.
Rebecca had opened her mouth to overwhelm the poor savant with the
truth when a page entered and stood before the Queen.
Well, sirrah, said Elizabeth, what is your message?
Sir Percevall Hart craves an audience, your Majesty, for himself
and his American friend and client.
Another American! exclaimed the Queen.
Copernicus Droop! cried Rebecca.
Know you Sir Percevall's friend, Lady Rebecca? asked Elizabeth.
Why, yes, your Majesty. He and I came over together from
Peltonville. I believe he's after a patent.
A patent? What mean you? Doth he ask for a patent of nobilitya
title? Can this be the suit of the fat knight?
I don't know, said Rebecca. 'Tain't nothin' 'bout nobility, I'm
sure, though. It's a patent on a phonograph, I b'lieve.
Know you aught of this, my lord? said Elizabeth, turning to
Why, yes, your Majesty. I have to-day received from Sir Percevall
Hart a letter written by my nephew, Francis Bacon
Bacon! What! Aymethinks we know somewhat of this same Francis,
said the Queen, grimly. A member of Parliament, is he not?
Even so, your Majesty, said Burleigh, somewhat crestfallen. From
this letter I learn, he continued, while Elizabeth shook her head,
that this Americana Master Dupe, I believe
NonoDroop! cried Rebecca. Copernicus Droop.
The baron bowed.
That this Master Droop desires the grant of a monopoly in
A monopoly! cried Elizabeth. What! This independent young
barristerthis parliamentary meddler in opposition, forsooth! He
craveth a monopoly? God's death! A monopoly in all the impudence in
this our realm is of a surety this fellow's right! We grant itwe
grant it. Let the papers be drawn forthwith!
The baron bent before the storm and, bowing, remained silent.
Rebecca, however, could scarce see the justice of the Queen's position.
Well, but look here, your Majesty, she said. 'Tain't Mr. Bacon as
wants this patent; it's Mr. Droop. Mr. Bacon only gave him a letter to
Mr. Burleigh here.
Astonishment was depicted in every face save in that of the Queen,
whose little eyes were now turned upon her sister sovereign in anger.
Harkye, Lady Rebecca! she exclaimed. Is it the custom to take the
Queen to task in your realm?
Rebecca's reply came pat. The type was prepared beforehand, and she
answered now with a clear conscience.
Why, of course. We talk jest as we feel like to all the queens
there is in my country.
The equivocation in this reply must have struck the Queen, for she
said, without taking her eyes from Rebecca's face:
And, prithee, Lady Rebecca, how many queens be there in America? We
begin to doubt if royalty be known there.
Again Messer Guido evinced signs of an anxious desire to speak, and
Rebecca shrewdly took advantage of this at once.
Messer Guido can tell you all 'bout that, I guess, she said.
Elizabeth turned her eyes to the savant.
What knowledge have you of this, learned doctor? she asked,
Why, your Majesty, said Guido, with delighted zeal, the case is
plain. Will your Majesty but look at this drawing on one of the inner
pages of the printed document brought by the Lady Rebecca? Behold the
effigy of a powder canister, with the words 'Royal Baking Powder'
thereon. This would appear evidence that in America gunpowder is known
and is used by the sovereigns of the various tribes. Here again we see
'The Royal Corset,' and there 'Crown Shirts.' Can it be doubted that
the Americans have royal governors?
The Queen's face cleared a little at this, and Guido proceeded with
Behold further upon the front page, your Majesty, the effigy of a
man wearing a round crown with a peak or projecting shelf over the
eyes. Under this we read the legend 'The Czar of the Tenderloin.' Now,
your Majesty will remember that the ruler of Muscovy is termed the
Czar. The Tenderloin signifieth, doubtless, some order, akin,
perchance, to the Garter.
This hath a plausible bent, Messer Guido, said Elizabeth, with
more good-nature. Lady Rebecca, can you better explain this matter of
No, indeed, Rebecca replied, with perfect truth. Mister Guido
must have a fine mind to understand things like that!
In sooth, good Messer Guido, said Elizabeth, with a smile, your
research and power of logic do you great credit. We doubt not to learn
more of these new empires from your learned pains than ever from
Raleigh, Drake, and the other travellers whose dull wits go but to the
surface of things. But, Lord warrant us! she continued, here standeth
our page, having as yet no answer. Go, sirrah, and bid Sir Percevall
and this great American to our presence straight.
Then, turning again to Guido, she said:
Messer Guido, we enjoin it upon your learning that you do make a
note of the petition of this American, as well as of those things which
he may answer in explanation of his design.
With a bow, Guido stepped to one side and, carefully folding the
newspaper, drew from his bosom his tablets and prepared to obey.
All eyes turned curiously to the door as it opened to admit the two
suitors, who were followed by the page. Sir Percevall, with plumed hat
in one hand and sword hilt in the other, advanced ponderously, bowing
low at every other step. Droop hurriedly deposited his two boxes upon
the floor and followed his monitor, closely imitating his every step
and gesture. Having no sword, he thought it best to put his left hand
into his bosom, an attitude which he recollected in a picture of Daniel
The fat knight was about to kneel to kiss the royal hand, but
Elizabeth, smiling, detained him.
Nay, nay! she said. You, Sir Percevall, have paid your debt of
homage in advance for a twelvemonth. He who kisses the dust at our feet
hath knelt for ten. Then, turning to Droop, who was down on both
knees, with his hand still in his breast: What now! she exclaimed.
Hath your hand suffered some mischance, Sir American, that you hide it
in your bosom?
Not a mitenot a mite! Droop stuttered, quickly extending the
member in question. Nay, your Majestyin sooth, nomy hand beeth all
We learn from the Lord Treasurer, said Elizabeth, addressing Sir
Percevall, that your petition hath reference to a monopoly. Know you
not, Sir Knight, that these be parlous days for making of new
monopolies? Our subjects murmur, and 'tis said that we have already
been too generous with these great gifts. Have you considered of this?
My liege, said Sir Percevall, these things have we considered.
Nor would we tempt this awful Presence with petitions looking to tax
further the public patience. But, please your Majesty, Master Droop, my
client here, indicating the still kneeling man with a sweeping
gesture, hath brought into being an instrument, or rather two
instruments, of marvellous fashion and of powers strange. Of these your
Majesty's subjects have had hitherto no knowledge, and it is in the
making and selling of these within this realm that we do here crave a
right of monopoly under the Great Seal.
Excuse me, forsooth, your Majesty, Droop broke in, but would thou
mind if I get up, my liege?
Nay, rise, rise, Master Droop! exclaimed the Queen, smothering a
laugh. We find matter for favor in your sponsor's speech. Can you more
fully state the nature of this petition?
Yes, ma'amyour Majesty, said Droop, rising and dusting off his
knees. I am the inventor of a couple of things, forsooth, that are
away ahead of the age. Marry, yes! I call 'em a bicycle and a
Well, did you ever! murmured Rebecca, amazed at this impudent
claim to invention.
Messer Guido paused in his writing and began to unfold his precious
American newspaper, while Droop went on, encouraged by the attentive
curiosity which he had evidently excited in the Queen.
Now, the bicycleor the bike, fer shortis a kind of a wagon or
vehycle, you wot. When you mount on it, you can trundle yerself along
like all possessed
Gramercy! broke in the Queen, in a tone of irritation. What have
we here! We must have plain English, Master Droop. American idioms are
unknown to us.
As Droop opened his mouth to reply, Guido stepped forward with a
great rustling of paper.
May it please your Gracious Majesty he panted, eagerly.
Speak, Messer Guido.
I would fain question this gentleman, your Majesty, touching
certain things contained herein. He shook the paper at arm's length
and glared at Droop, who returned the look with a calm eye.
You may proceed, sir, said Elizabeth.
Why, Master Droop, you that are the inventor of this same
'bicycle,' how explain you this?
He thrust the paper under Droop's nose, pointing to an advertisement
Here, he continued, here have we a picture bearing the legend,
'Baltimore BicycleBuy No Other' He paused, but before Copernicus
could speak he went on breathlessly: And look on this, Master
Droopsee herehere! Another drawing, this time with the legend,
'Edison's Phonographs.' How comes it that you have invented these
things? Can you invent on this 21st day of May, in the year of our Lord
1598, what was here set forth as early asas he turned the paper
back to the first page, as early as April he stopped, turned pale,
and choked. Droop looked mildly triumphant.
Wellwell! cried Elizabeth, hast lost thy voice, man?
My liege, murmured the bewildered savant, the datethis
Is dated in 1898, said Droop, solemnly. This here bike and
phonograph won't be invented by anyone else for three hundred years
Elizabeth frowned angrily and grasped the arms of her chair in an
access of wrath which, after a pause, found vent in a torrent of words:
Now, by God's death, my masters, you will find it ill jesting in
this presence! What in the fiend's name! Think ye, Elizabeth of England
may be tricked and cozenedmade game of by a scurvy Italian bookworm
and a witless
The adjectives and expletives which followed may not be reported
here. As the storm of words progressed, growing more violent in its
continuance, Droop stood open-mouthed, not comprehending the cause of
this tirade. Of the others, but one preserved his wits at this moment
Sir Percevall, well aware that the Queen's fury, unless checked,
would produce his and his client's ruin, determined to divert this
flood of emotion into a new channel. With the insight of genius, the
fat knight realized that only a woman's curiosity could avert a queen's
rage, and with what speed he could he stumbled backward to where Droop
had left his exhibits. He lifted the box containing the phonograph and,
taking the instrument out, held it on the palm of his huge left hand
and bent his eyes upon it in humble and resigned contemplation.
The quick roving eye of the angry Queen caught sight of this queer
assemblage of cogs, levers, and cylinder, and for the first time her
too-ready tongue tripped. She looked away and recovered herself to the
end of the sentence. She could not resist another look, however, and
this time her words came more slowly. She pausedwaveredand then
fixed her gaze in silence upon the enigmatical device. There was a
unanimous smothered sigh as the bystanders recognized their good
fortune. Guido, frightened half to death, slipped unobserved out of a
side door, and was never seen at Greenwich again. Nor has that fatal
newspaper been heard from since.
What may that be, Sir Percevall? the Queen inquired at length,
settling back in her chair as comfortably as her ruff would permit.
This, my liege, is the phonograph, said the knight, straightening
An my Greek be not at fault, said the Queen, this name should
purport a writer of sound.
Sir Percevall's face fell. He was no Greek scholar, and this query
pushed him hard. Fortunately for him, Elizabeth turned to Droop as she
concluded her sentence.
Hath your invention this intent, Master Droop? she said.
Verily, I guess you've hit itI wot that's right! stammered the
still frightened man.
A very audible murmur of admiration passed from one to another of
the assembled courtiers and ladies-in-waiting. These expressions
reached the ears of the Queen, for whom they were indeed intended, and
the consciousness of her acumen restored Elizabeth entirely to
The conceit is very novel, is it not, my lord? she said, turning
to Baron Burleigh.
Novel, indeed, and passing marvellous if achieved, your Majesty,
was the suave reply.
How write you sounds with this device, Master Droop? she asked.
Why, thusly, ma'amyour Majesty, said Droop, with renewed
courage. One speaketh, you wottalketh-like into this holethis
aperture. He turned and pointed to the mouth-piece of the instrument,
which was still in Sir Percevall's hands. Hevin' done this, you wot,
this little pin-like pricketh or scratcheth the wax, an' the next time
you go over the thing, there you are!
Conscious of the lameness of this explanation, Droop hurried on,
hoping to forestall further questions.
Let me show ye, my liege, how she works, in sooth, he said, taking
the phonograph from the knight. Looking all about, he could see nothing
at hand whereon to conveniently rest the device.
Marry, you wouldn't mind ef I was to set this right here on your
table, would ye, my liege? he asked.
Permission was graciously accorded, and, depositing the phonograph,
Droop hurried back to get his records. Holding a wax cylinder in one
hand, he proceeded.
Now, your Majesty can graciously gaze on this wax cylinder, he
said. On here we hev scrawledwrittena tune played by a cornet. It
is 'Home, Sweet Home.' Ye've heerd it, no doubt?
Nay, the title is not familiar, said the Queen, looking about her.
With one accord, the courtiers shook their heads in corroboration.
Is that so? Well, well! Why, every boy and gal in America knows
that tune well! said Droop.
He adjusted the cylinder and a small brass megaphone, and, having
wound the motor, pressed the starting-button. Almost at once a
stentorian voice rang through the apartment:
Home, Sweet HomeCornet SoloBy Signor Paolo MorituriEdison
The sudden voice, issuing from the dead revolving cylinder, was so
unexpected and startling that several of the ladies screamed and at
least one gentleman pensioner put his hand to his sword-hilt. Elizabeth
herself started bolt upright and turned pale under her rouge as she
clutched the arms of her chair. Before she could express her feelings
the cornet solo began, and the entire audience gradually resumed its
wonted serenity before the close of the air.
Marvellous beyond telling! exclaimed Elizabeth, in delight. Why,
this contrivance of yours, Master Droop, shall make your name and
fortune throughout our realm. Have you many such ingenious gentlemen in
your kingdom, Lady Rebecca?
Oh, dear me, yes! said Rebecca, somewhat contemptuously.
Copernicus Droop ain't nobody in America.
Droop glanced reproachfully at his compatriot, but concluded not to
give expression to his feelings. Accordingly, he very quickly
substituted another cylinder, and turned again to the Queen.
Now, your Majesty, said he, here's a comic monologue. I tell you,
verily, it's a side-splitter!
What may a side-splitter be, Master Droop?
Why, in sooth, somethin' almighty funny, you knowmake a feller
laugh, you wot.
Elizabeth nodded and, with a smile of anticipation, which was copied
by all present, prepared to be amused.
Alas! The monologue was an account of how a farmer got the best of a
bunco steerer in New York City, and was delivered in the esoteric
dialect of the Bowery. It was not long before willing smiles gave place
to long-drawn faces of comic bewilderment, and, although Copernicus set
his best example by artificial grins and pretended inward laughter, he
could evoke naught but silence and bored looks.
Marry, sir, said Elizabeth, when the monologue was at an end,
this needs be some speech of an American empire other than that you
come from. Could you make aught of it, Lady Rebecca?
Nothin' on airth! was the reply. Only a word now an' then about a
farmeran' somethin' about hayseed.
Now, here's a reg'lar bird! said Droop, hastily, as he put in a
Can you thus record e'en the voices of fowls? said the Queen, with
Hopeless of explaining, Droop bowed and touched the starting-button.
The announcement came at once.
Liberty Bells MarchEdison Record, and after a few preliminary
flourishes, a large brass band could be heard in full career.
This proved far more pleasing to the Queen and her suite.
So God mend us, a merry tune and full of harmony! said the Queen.
But that ain't all, your Majesty, said Droop. Here's a blank
cylinder, now. He adjusted it as he spoke and unceremoniously pushed
the instrument close to the Queen. Here, he said, jest you talk
anythin' you want to in there and you'll see suthin' funny, I'll bet
ye! He was thoroughly warmed to his work now, and the little court
etiquette which he had acquired dropped from him entirely.
The Queen's eager interest had been so aroused that she was
unconscious of his too familiar manner. Leaning over the phonograph as
Droop started the motor, she looked about her and said, with a titter:
What shall we say? Weighty words should grace so great an occasion, my
Oh, say the Declaration of Independence or the 'Charge of the Light
Brigade'! Droop exclaimed. Any o' them things in the school-books!
Elizabeth saw that the empty cylinder was passing uselessly and
wasted no time in discussion, but began to declaim some verses of
Mmm exclaimed Droop, doubtfully. I don't know as this
phonograph will work on Latin an' Greek!
The Queen completed her quotation and, sitting back again in her
Now, Master Droop, we have done our part, she said.
Droop readjusted the repeating diaphragm and started the motor once
more. There were two or three squeaks and then an affected little
What shall we say? it began. Weighty words should grace so great
an occasion, my lords.
Elizabeth laughed a little hysterically to hear her unstudied phrase
repeated, and then, with a look of awe, listened to the repetition of
the verses she had recited.
Can any voice be so repeated? she asked, seriously, when this
record was completed.
Anyone ye pleaseany ye please! said the delighted promoter,
visions of uncounted wealth dancing in his head. Now, here's a few
words was spoken on a cylinder jest two or three weeks ago by Miss
Wise, he continued, hunting through his stock of records. Ah, here it
is! It's all 'bout Mister BaconI daresay you know him. The Queen
looked a little stern at this. Tells all 'bout him, I believe. I
ferget jest what it said, but we can soon see.
The cylinder was that before which Phoebe had read an extract from
the volume on Bacon's supposed parentage and his writings while she was
at the North Pole. Little did Droop conceive what a train he was
unconsciously lighting as he adjusted the cylinder in place. As he
said, he had forgotten the exact purport of the extract in question,
but, even had he recollected it, he would probably have so little
understood its terrific import that his course would have been the
same. Ignorant of his danger, he pushed the starting-button and looked
pleasantly at the Queen, whose dislike of anything having to do with
Francis Bacon had already brought a frown to her face.
All too exactly the fateful mechanism ground out the very words and
voice of Phoebe:
It is thus made clear from the indubitable evidence of the plays
themselves, that Francis Bacon wrote the immortal works falsely
ascribed to William Shakespeare, and that the gigantic genius of this
man was the result of the possession of royal blood. In this
unacknowledged son of Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England, was made
manifest to all countries and for all centuries the glorious powers
inherent in the regal blood of England.
As the fearful meaning of these words was developed by the machine,
amazement gave place to consternation in those present and
consternation to abject terror. Each fear-palsied courtier looked with
pale face to right and left as though to seek escape. The fat knight,
hitherto all complacency, listening to this brazen traducer of the
Queen's virgin honor, seemed to shrink within himself, and his very
clothing hung loose upon him.
Droop and Rebecca, ignorant of the true bearing of the spoken words,
gazed in amazement from one to another until, glancing at the Queen,
their eyes remained fixed and fascinated.
The unthinkable insult implied in the words repeated was trebled in
force by being spoken thus publicly and in calm accents to her very
face. Shethe daughter of Henry the Eighth; sheElizabeth of
Englandthe Virgin Queento be thus coolly proclaimed the mother of
this upstart barrister!
As a cyclone approaches, silent and terrific, visible only in the
swift swirling changes of a livid and blackened sky, so the fatal
passion in that imperial bosom was known at first only in the gleaming
of her black eyes beneath contorted brows and the spasmodic changes
that swept over the pale red-painted face.
The danger thus portended was clear even to the bewildered Droop,
and, before the instrument had said its say, he began to slip very
quietly toward the door.
As the speech ended, Elizabeth emitted a growl that grew into a
shriek of fury, and, with her hair actually rising on her head, she
threw herself bodily upon the offending phonograph.
In her two hands she raised the instrument above her, and with a
maniac's force hurled it full at the head of Copernicus Droop.
Instinctively he dodged, and the mass of wood and steel crashed
against the door of the chamber, bursting it open and causing the two
guards without to fall back.
Droop saw his chance and took it. Turning, with a yell he dashed
past the guards and across the antechamber to the main entrance-hall.
The Queen, choked with passion, could only gasp and point her hand
frantically after the fleeing man, but at once her gentlemen, drawing
their swords, rushed in a body from the room with cries of
Treasontreason! Stop him! Catch him!
Down the main hallway and out into the silent court-yard Droop fled
on the wings of fear, pursued by a shouting throng, growing every
As he emerged into the yard a sentry tried to stop him, but, with a
single side spring, the Yankee eluded this danger and flung himself
upon his bicycle, which he found leaning against the palace wall.
Close the gates! Trap him! was the cry, and the ponderous iron
gates swung together with a clang. But just one second before they
closed, the narrow bicycle, with its terror-stricken burden, slipped
through into the street beyond and turned sharply to the west, gaining
speed every instant. Droop had escaped for the moment, and now bent
every effort upon reaching the Panchronicon in safety.
Then, as the tumult of futile chase faded into silence behind the
straining fugitive, there might have been seen whirling through the
ancient streets of London a weird and wondrous vision.
Perched on a whirl of spokes gleaming in the moonlight, a lean black
figure in rumpled hose, with flying cloak, slipped ghostlike through
the narrow streets at incredible speed. Many a footpad or belated
townsman, warned by the mystic tinkle of a spectral bell, had turned
with a start, to faint or run at sight of this uncanny traveller.
His hat was gone and his close-cropped head bent low over the
handle-bars. The skin-tight stockings had split from thigh to heel, mud
flew from the tires, beplastering the luckless figure from nape to
waist, and still, without pause, he pushed onward, ever onward, for
London Bridge, for Southwark, and for safety. The way was tortuous,
dark and unfamiliar, but it was for life or death, and Copernicus Droop
CHAPTER XV. HOW REBECCA RETURNED TO
Within the palace all was confusion and dismay. Only a very few knew
the cause of this riot which had burst so suddenly upon the wonted
peace of the place, and those few never in all their lives gave
utterance to what they had learned.
Within the presence chamber Elizabeth lay on the floor in a swoon,
surrounded by her women only. Among these was Rebecca, whose one
thought was now to devise some plan for overtaking Droop. From the
window she had witnessed his flight, and she had guessed his
destination. She felt sure that if Droop reached the Panchronicon
alone, he would depart alone, and then what was to become of Phoebe and
Just as the Queen's eyes were opening and her face began to show a
return of her passion with recollection of its cause, Rebecca had an
inspiration, and with the promptitude of a desperate resolution, she
acted upon it.
Look a-here, your Majesty! she said, vigorously, let me speak
alone with you a minute and I'll save you a lot of trouble. I know
where that man keeps more of them machines.
This was a new idea to Elizabeth, who had destroyed, as she
supposed, the only existing specimen of the malignant instrument.
With a gesture she sent her attendants to the opposite end of the
Now speak, woman! What would you counsel? she said.
Why, this, said Rebecca, hurriedly. You don't want any more o'
them things talkin' all over London, I'm sure.
A groan that was half a growl broke from the sorely tried sovereign.
Of course you don't. WellI told you him and I come from America
together. I know where he keeps all his phonograph things, and I know
how to get there. But you must be quick or else he'll get there fust
and take 'em away.
You speak truly, Lady Rebecca, said the Queen. How would you
goby what conveyance? Will you have horsesmen-at-arms?
No, indeed! was the reply. Jest let me hev a swift boat, with
plenty o' men to row it, so's to go real fast. Then I'll want a
carryall or a buggy in Southwark
A carryalla buggy! Elizabeth broke in. What may these be?
Oh, any kind of a carriage, you know, 'cause I'll hev to ride some
distance into the country.
But why such haste? asked the Queen. Had this American a horse?
He had a bicycle an' that's wuss, said Rebecca. But ef I can
start right away and take a short cut by the river while he finds his
way through all them dirty, dark streets, I'll get there fust an' get
the rest of his phonographs.
Your wit is nimble and methinks most sound, said the Queen,
decisively. Then, turning to the group of ladies, she continued:
Send us our chamberlain, my Lady Temple, and delay not, we charge
In ten minutes Rebecca found herself once more upon the dark, still
river, watching the slippery writhings of the moonbeams' path. She was
alone, save for the ten stalwart rowers and two officers; but in one
hand was her faithful umbrella, while in the other she felt the welcome
weight of her precious satchel.
The barge cut its way swiftly up the river in silence save for the
occasional exclamations of the officers urging the willing oarsmen to
their utmost speed.
Far ahead to the right the huge bulk of the Tower of London loomed
in clumsy power against the deep dark blue of the moonlit sky. Rebecca
knew that London Bridge lay not far beyond that landmark, although it
was as yet invisible. For London Bridge she was bound, and it seemed to
her impatience that the lumbering vessel would never reach that goal.
She stood up and strained her eyes through the darkness, trying to
see the laboring forms of the rowers in the shadow of the boat's side,
but only the creak of the thole-pins and the steady recurrent splash
and tinkle from the dripping oars told of their labor.
Air ye goin' as fast as ye can? she called. Mr. Droop'll get
there fust ef ye ain't real spry.
If spry be active, mistress, said a voice from the darkness aft,
then should you find naught here amiss. Right lusty workers, these, I
promise you! Roundly, men, and a shilling each if we do win the race!
Ayay, sir! came the willing response, and Rebecca, satisfied
that they could do no more, seated herself again, to wait as best she
At length, to her great delight, there arose from the darkness ahead
an uneven line of denser black, and at a warning from one of the
officers the boat proceeded more cautiously. Rebecca's heart beat high
as they passed under one of the low stone arches of the famous bridge
and their strokes resounded in ringing echoes from every side.
Having passed to the upper side of the bridge, the boat was headed
for the south shore, and in a few moments Rebecca saw that they had
reached the side of a wooden wharf which stood a little higher than
their deck. One of the officers leaped ashore with the end of a rope in
his hand, and quickly secured the vessel. As he did so a faint light
was seen proceeding toward them, and they heard the steps of a half
dozen men advancing on the sounding planks. It was the watch, and the
light shone from a primitive lantern with sides of horn scraped thin.
Who goes there? cried a gruff voice.
The Queen's bargein the service of her Majesty, was the reply.
The watchman who carried the lantern satisfied himself that this
account was correct, and then asked if he could be of service.
Tell me, fellow, said he who had landed, hast seen one pass the
bridge to-night astride of two wheels, one before the other, riding
There was a long pause as the watchman sought to comprehend this
Comecome! cried the officer, who had remained on the boat.
Canst not say yes or no, man?
Ay, can I, master! was the reply. But you had as well ask had I
seen a witch riding across the moon on a broomstick. We have no been
asleep to dream of flying wheels.
Wellwell! said he who had landed. Go you now straight and stand
at the bridge head. We shall follow anon.
The watch moved slowly away and Rebecca was helped ashore by the
Our speed hath brought us hither in advance, my lady, he said.
Now shall we doubtless come in before the fugitive.
Well, I hope so! said Rebecca. Then, with a smothered cry: Oh,
Land o' Goshen! I've dropped my umbrella!
They stooped together and groped about on the wharf in silence for a
few moments. The landing was encumbered with lumber and stones for
building, and, as the moon was just then covered by a thick cloud, the
search was difficult.
I declare, ain't this provokin'! Rebecca cried, at length.
These beams and blocks impede us, said the officer. We must have
light, perforce. Ho there! The watch, ho! Bring your lanthorn!
Why, 'tain't worth while to trouble the watchman, said Rebecca.
I'll jest strike a light myself.
She fumbled in her satchel and found a card of old-fashioned silent
country matches, well tipped with odorous sulphur. The officer at her
side saw nothing of her movements, and his first knowledge of her
intention was the sudden and mysterious appearance of a bluish flame
close beside him and the tingle of burning brimstone in his nostrils.
With a wild yell, he leaped into the air and then, half crazed by
fear, tumbled into the boat and cut the mooring-rope with his sword.
Cast offcast off! he screamed. Give way, lads, in God's name! A
witcha witch! Cast off!
A gentle breeze off the shore carried the sulphurous fumes directly
over the boat, and these, together with their officer's terror-stricken
tones and the sight of that uncanny, sourceless light, struck the crew
with panic. Fiercely and in sad confusion did they push and pull with
boat-hook and oar to escape from that unhallowed vicinity, and, even
after they were well out in the stream, it was with the frenzy of
superstitious horror that they bent their stout backs to their oars and
glided swiftly down stream toward Greenwich.
As for Rebeccacomprehending nothing of the cause of this commotion
at firstshe stood with open mouth, immovable as a statue, watching
the departure of her escort until the flame reached her fingers. Then,
with a little shriek of pain, she flicked the burnt wood into the
Well, if I ever! she exclaimed. I'm blest ef I don't b'lieve
those ninnies was scared at a match!
Shaking her head, she broke a second match from her card, struck it,
and when it burned clear, stooped to seek her umbrella. It was lying
between two beams almost at her feet, and she grasped it thankfully
just as her light was blown out by the breeze.
Then, with groping feet, she made her way carefully toward the
inshore end of the wharf, and soon found herself in the streets of
Southwark, between London Bridge and the pillory. From this point she
knew her way to the grove where the Panchronicon had landed, and
thither she now turned a resolute face, walking as swiftly as she dared
by the light of the now unobscured moon.
If Copernicus Droop ketches up with me, she muttered, I'll make
him stop ef I hev to poke my umbrella in his spokes.
CHAPTER XVI. HOW SIR GUY KEPT HIS
For one hour before sunset of that same day Phoebe had been
patiently waiting alone behind the east wall of the inn garden. As she
had expected, her step-mother had accompanied her father to London that
afternoon, and she found herself free for the time of their
watchfulness. She did not know that this apparent carelessness was
based upon knowledge of another surveillance more strict and secret,
and therefore more effective than their own.
The shadow of the wall within which she was standing lengthened more
and more rapidly, until, as the sun touched the western horizon, the
whole countryside to the east was obscured.
Phoebe moved out into the middle of the road which ran parallel to
the garden wall and looked longingly toward the north. A few rods away,
the road curved to the right between apple-trees whose blossoms gleamed
more pink with the touch of the setting sun.
Nothingno one yet! she murmured. Oh, Guy, if not for love,
could you not haste for life!
As though in answer to her exclamation, there came to her ears a
faint tapping of horses' hoofs, and a few moments later three horsemen
turned the corner and bore down upon her.
One glance was enough to show her that Guy was not one of the group,
and Phoebe leaped back into the shadow of the wall. She felt that she
must not be seen watching here alone by anyone. As she stood beneath
the fringe of trees that stood outside of the garden wall, she looked
about for means of better concealment, and quickly noticed a narrow
slit in the high brick enclosure, just wide enough for a man to enter.
It had been barred with iron, but two of the bars had fallen from their
sockets, leaving an aperture which looked large enough to admit a
Phoebe felt instinctively that the approaching riders were
unfriendly in their purpose and, without pausing to weigh reasons, she
quickly scrambled through this accidental passage, not without tearing
She found herself within the garden and not far from the very seat
where she had hidden from Will Shakespeare. How different her situation
now, she thought. Not diffidence, but fear, was now her motivefear
for the man she loved and whom she alone could save.
While she listened there, half choked by the beating of her own
heart, she heard the three cavaliers beyond the wall. Their horses were
walking now, and the three conversed together in easily audible tones.
My life on it, Will, said one, 'twas here the wench took cover!
Thine eyes are dusty, Jack, replied a deep voice. 'Twas farther
on, was it not, Harry?
The horses stopped.
Ayyou are i' the right, Will, was the answer. By the same
token, how could the lass be here and we not see her? There's naught to
hide a cat withal.
Naynay! said Will. Count upon it, Jack, the maid fled beyond
the turn yonder. Come on, lads!
I'll not stir hence! said Jack, obstinately. Who finds the girl,
catches the traitor, too. Go you two farther, an ye will. Jack Bartley
Let it be e'en so, Will, said Harry, the third speaker. Dismount
we here, you and me. Jack shall tie the nags to yon tree and seek where
he will. Do you and I creep onward afoot. So shall the maid, hearing no
footfall, be caught unaware.
Have it so! said Will.
Phoebe heard the three dismount and, trembling with apprehension,
listened anxiously for knowledge of what she dared not seek to see.
She heard the slow walk of the three horses, shortly interrupted,
and she knew that they were being tethered. Then there was a murmur of
voices and silence.
This was the most agonizing moment of that eventful night for
Phoebe. Strain her ears as she might, naught could she hear but the
shake of a bridle, the stamp of an occasional hoof, and the cropping of
grass. The next few seconds seemed an hour of miserable uncertainty and
suspense. She knew now that she was watched, that perhaps her plans
were fully known, and all hope for her lover seemed past. She had
called him hither and he would walk alone and unaided into the arms of
these three mercenaries.
She clasped her hands and looked desperately about her as though for
inspiration. To the right an open sward led the eye to the
out-buildings surrounding the inn. To the left a dense thicket of trees
and bushes shut in the view.
Suddenly she started violently. Her ear had caught the snapping of a
twig close at hand, beyond the concealing wall. At the next moment she
saw a stealthy hand slip past the opening by which she had entered, and
the top of a man's hat appeared.
Like a rabbit that runs to cover, she turned noiselessly and dashed
into the friendly thicket. Here she stopped with her hand on her heart
and glanced wildly about her. Well she knew that her concealment here
could be but momentary. Where next could she find shelter?
A heap of refuse, stones and dirt, leaves and sticks, was heaped
against that portion of the wall, and at sight of this a desperate plan
crossed her mind.
'Tis that or nothing! she whispered, and, still under cover of the
shrubbery, she hurried toward the rubbish heap.
In the meantime, Jack, whose quick eye had descried that ancient
opening in the wall, perceived by neither of his companions, was
standing just within the wall gazing about for some clue to his prey's
Phoebe leaped upon the refuse heap and scrambled to the top. To her
dismay, there was a great crashing of dead wood as she sank nearly to
her knees in the accumulated rubbish.
Jack uttered a loud exclamation of triumph and leaped toward the
thicket. Poor Phoebe heard his cry, and for an instant all seemed
hopeless. But hers was a brave young soul, and, far from fainting in
her despair, a new vigor possessed her.
Grasping the limb of a tree beside her, she drew herself up until,
with one foot she found a firm rest on the top of the wall. Then,
forgetting her tender hands and limbs, straining, gripping, and
scrambling, she knew not how, she flung herself over the wall and fell
in a bruised and ragged heap on the grass beyond.
When her pursuer reached the thicket, he was confounded to find no
one in sight.
Phoebe lay for one moment faint and relaxed upon the ground. The
landscape turned to swimming silhouettes before her eyes, and all
sounds were momentarily stilled. Then life came surging back in a
welcome tide and she rose unsteadily to her feet. She walked as quickly
as she could to where the three horses stood loosely tied by their
bridles to a tree. At any moment the man she feared might appear again
at the opening in the wall.
She untied all three horses and, choosing a powerful gray for her
own, she slipped his bridle over her arm so as to leave both hands
free. Then, bringing together the bridles of the other two, she tied
them together in a double knot, then doubled that, and struck the two
animals sharply with the bridle of the gray. Naturally they started off
in different directions, and, pulling at their bridles, dragged them
into harder knots than her weak fingers could have tied.
She laughed in the triumph of her ingenuity and scrambled with foot
and knee and hand into place astride of the remaining steed. Thus in
the seclusion of the pasture had she often ridden her mare Nancy home
to the barn.
There was a shout of anger and amazement from the road, and she saw
the two men who had elected to walk farther on running toward her.
Turning her steed, she slapped his neck with the bridle and chopped
at his flanks with the stirrups as best she could. The horse broke into
an easy canter, and for the moment she was free.
Unfortunately, Phoebe found herself virtually without means for
urging her steed to his best pace. Accustomed as he was to the
efficient severity of a man's spurred heel, he paid little attention to
her gentle, though urgent, voice, and even the stirrups were hardly
available substitutes for spurs, since her feet could not reach them
and she could only kick them flapping back against the horse's sides.
Her one chance was that she might meet Sir Guy in time, and she
could only pray that the knots in the bridles of the remaining horses
would long defy every effort to release them. As she turned the curve
among the apple-trees, she looked back and saw that the horses had been
caught and that all three men were frantically tugging and picking with
fingers and teeth at those obstinate knots.
Phoebe drew up for a moment a few yards beyond the curve and broke
off a long, slender switch from an overhanging bough. Then, urging the
horse forward again, she picked off the small branches until at length
she had produced a smooth, pliant switch, far more effective than
bridle or stirrup. By the help of this new whip, she made a little
better speed, but well she knew that her capture was only a matter of
time unless she could find her lover.
Great was her joy, therefore, when she turned the next curve in the
road; for, straight ahead, not twenty rods away, she saw Sir Guy
approaching at a canter, leading a second horse.
By this time the twilight was deepening, and the young cavalier
gazed in astonishment upon the ragged girl riding toward him astride,
making silent gestures of welcome and warning. Not until he was within
twenty yards of her did Sir Guy recognize his sweetheart.
Mary! he cried.
Together they reined in their horses, and instantly Phoebe slipped
to the ground.
Quick, Guyquick! she exclaimed. Help me to mount yon saddle.
Leaping at once from his horse, Sir Guy lifted Phoebe to the back of
the beast he had been leading, which was provided with a side-saddle,
the stirrup of which carried a spur. Stopping only to kiss her hand, he
mounted his own steed, turned about, and followed Phoebe, who had
already set off at her best speed. Even as they started, they heard a
shout behind them, and Phoebe knew that the pursuit had begun in
What is itwho are they whom you flee? asked the young knight, as
he came to Phoebe's side.
Men seeking thee, Guyfor reward! There is a price on thy head,
dear. For high treason! Oh, may God aid us this night!
High treason! he exclaimed. Then, after a pause, he continued, in
a stern voice:
How many be they?
Sir Guy laughed in evident relief.
But two! By my troth, why should we fear them, sweetheart? he
said. An I be not a match for four of these scurvy rascals, call me
Alasalas! cried Phoebe, in alarm, as she saw Sir Guy slacken his
pace. Stay not to fight, Guy. Urge onurge on! The whole countryside
is awake. How, then, canst thou better thee by fighting two? Nay,
onon! and she spurred again, beckoning him after with an imperious
He yielded to her reasoning, and soon reached her side again.
We must to London Bridge, Guy, Phoebe said. Know you a way back
Wherefore to London, sweet? asked Guy. Were we not safer far
afield? Why seek the shadow of the Tower?
One way is left thee, said she, with intense earnestness. A way
that is known to me alone. Thereby only canst thou escape. Oh, trust
metrust me, dear heart! Only I can guide thee to safety and to
On, my Mary! he cried, gayly. Lead on! Thou art my star!
For the moment both forgot the danger behind them. The intoxication
of an ideal and self-forgetting trusta merger of all else in
tendernessflooded their souls and passed back and forth between them
in their mutual glances.
Then came that pursuing shout again, much nearer than before, and
with a shock the two lovers remembered their true plight.
Sir Guy reined in his steed.
Halthalt, Mary! he commanded. We must conceal us here in this
dell till that these fellows pass us. Then back to London by the way we
came. There is no other road.
Obedient now in her turn, Phoebe drew rein and followed her lover up
the bed of a small stream which crossed the road at this point. Behind
a curtain of trees they waited, and ere long saw their two pursuers
dart past them and disappear in a cloud of dust down the road.
They will stop at the next dwelling to ask news of us, and thus
learn of our evasion, said Guy. The chase has but begun. Come, sweet,
let us hasten southward again.
Darkness had now begun to fall in earnest, and as the two fugitives
passed the Peacock Inn, no one saw them.
They were soon near enough to the city gate to find many houses on
either hand, and Sir Guy deemed it wiser to move at a reasonable pace,
for fear of attracting suspicion in a neighborhood already aroused by
rumors of the man-hunt which had begun. They could count upon the
obscurity to conceal their identity.
They had not proceeded far beyond the inn when they met a party of
travellers on horseback, one of whom uttered a pleasant Good-even!
Good-even! said Phoebe, thinking only of due courtesy.
What the good jere! cried a voice from the rear of the group.
What dost thou here, Poll?
My father! exclaimed Phoebe, in terror.
Hush! whispered Sir Guy, putting his hand upon her bridle. Ride
forward at an easy gait until I give example of haste.
They trotted quietly past the greater number of the group until a
dark figure approached and a voice in the gloom said, severely:
What dost thou here? Who rides with thee, lass?
Sir Guy now leaned forward and spurred his horse, leaping away into
the darkness without a word. In equal silence Phoebe followed his
example and galloped headlong close behind her lover.
Help, ho! yelled old Sir Isaac. 'Tis the traitor Fenton, with my
daughter! After themstop thema Burtona Burton! and, mad with
excitement, the angry father set off in hot pursuit. With one accord
the others wheeled about and joined in the chase, uttering cries and
imprecations that rang through the country for a mile around.
Now have we need of speed! said Sir Guy, as they galloped together
toward London, whose walls were now visible in the distance. Soon will
the whole country join the hue-and-cry. The watch will meet us at the
'Twere better, were it not, Phoebe suggested, that we turn to the
left and make a circuit into the Aldersgate?
Good wit, my lady! cried Guy, whose excitement had taken on the
form of an exalted gayety. Who rides with thee rides safe, my
lovee'en as Theseus of old did ride, scathless 'neath the spell of
Stuff! said Phoebe, spurring again, with a smile.
Guy led the way at once across country to the eastward, the soft
English turf so deadening their hoof-beats that those behind them had
no clue to their change of route.
When the pursuing party reached the Bishopsgate, they met the watch
and learned that no one had passed since the hue-and-cry was heard.
Here divide we, then, cried stout Sir Isaac Burton. Let eight
follow them around the wall, while I with other six ride on, that, if
haply they have entered London by the Aldersgate, we may meet them
within the city.
The suggestion was adopted, and, all unconscious of their peril, the
lovers were rapidly hemmed in between two bands of pursuers. Sir Guy
and Phoebe reached the Aldersgate unmolested and were allowed to pass
in without protest, as the hue-and-cry had not yet reached so far. They
ambled quietly past the watch, arousing no suspicion, but no sooner had
they turned the first corner than once more they urged their tired
horses to greater exertion.
Choose we the side streets, said Guy. Who knows what watch hath
been set on Gracechurch Street. 'Tis for London Bridge we are bound,
Yes, said Phoebe. I pray no prying watch detain us ere we pass
Picking their way through the dark and narrow streets at a pace
necessarily much reduced, they slowly approached their goal, until at
length, on emerging into New Fish Street, they discerned the towering
walls of London Bridge.
Here they reined in suddenly with one accord, for, plainly visible
in the moonlight, a group of horsemen was gathered and there was borne
to their ears the sturdy voice of Sir Isaac.
Hallo! he cried. There be riders in New Fish Street. See where
they lurk in the shadow! What ho, there! Give a name! Stand forth
Sir Guy drew his sword.
'Tis time for steel to answer! he laughed.
Naynay! Waitwait! said Phoebe, earnestly. There must be other
issue than in blood!
Two or three horsemen now detached themselves from the group near
the bridge and cantered up New Fish Street. Sir Isaac was among them.
Are ye there, traitor? he cried. Where is my daughter?
Sir Guy was about to reply when Phoebe put her hand on his arm.
Hush! she whispered. Hearken!
Faint at first, but growing momentarily louder, there came the clear
trilling of a mysterious bell. It floated out from the dark by-ways
whence they had themselves just emerged, and something eerie and
uncanny in its clamor brought a thrill of terror to the young knight's
nerves for the first time.
Now, what in God's name he began.
But he broke off in horror, for there flashed past him, as silent as
the wind and swifter, a dark, bent figure, with flying cloak, under
which, as the moonlight struck him, there whirled a web of glittering
tissue whereon he seemed to ride. That uncanny tinkling floated back
from this strange vision, confirming to the ear what otherwise might
have appeared a mere trick of the vision.
As for Sir Isaac and his band, the distant bell had early brought
them to a wondering stand; and now, as this rushing
phantomtrillingtrillingtrillingswept down on a living moonbeam,
with one accord they put spurs to their steeds, and with cries of
horror fled in all directions.
Forward! cried Phoebe, exultantly. Why, what now! she exclaimed,
as she saw her lover still sitting petrified with fear. How now, my
knight! Why sit you here amazed? Is not the way clear?
Comefollowfollow! and she started forward on a trot.
But her lover did not move, and she was obliged to turn back. Laying
her hand on his arm:
Why, what ails thee, dear heart? she asked.
The spectrethe ghostly steed! he stammered.
Ohoh! laughed Phoebe. Why, this was but some venturous
bicyclist on his wheel!
A bicyclist! exclaimed Sir Guy. Can you thus give a name to this
black phantom, Mary?
'Tis naught, dear Guy, believe me! she said. Then, in pleading
tones, she continued: Didst not agree to trust thy lady, dear?
The young knight passed his hand over his eyes and straightened
himself resolutely in his saddle.
E'en to the death, love. Lead on! I shall not falter!
They trotted forward through a now silent street to the bridge, and
soon found themselves enveloped in the darkness and assailed by the
countless odors of London Bridge. From time to time they crossed a path
of moonlight, and here Phoebe would smile into the eyes of her still
much-puzzled lover and murmur words of encouragement.
Before they reached Southwark, there rang out behind them the sound
of hoofs upon the stones of the bridge.
Can these be your father's minions, think you? said Sir Guy.
Nay! Phoebe exclaimed. Rest assured, they were scattered too far
to dog our steps again to-night.
They emerged some moments later on the Southwark side and saw the
pillory towering ahead of them.
How far shall we fare to-night, love? asked the knight.
To Newington on horseback, Phoebe replied, and thenwell, then
shalt thou see more faring.
There was a loud cry from the bridge, startling the pair from their
There they ride! The watch, ho! Stop the traitor! Stop him! For the
Queen! For the Queen!
God help us! cried Phoebe. 'Tis the two yeomen of the Peacock
With one accord the pair clapped spurs to their horses' sides and
resumed once more the flight which they had thought concluded.
CHAPTER XVII. REBECCA'S TRUMP CARD
When Rebecca set out for the Panchronicon from London Bridge, she
knew that she had a long walk in prospect, and settled down to the work
with dogged resolution. Her trip was quite uneventful until she neared
the village of Newington, and then she realized for the first time that
she did not know exactly where to find the deserted grove. One grove
looked much like another, and how was she to choose between garden
walls as like as two peas, as she expressed it?
Look here, Rebecca Wise, she said, aloud, as she paused in the
middle of the road, you'll be lost next you know!
She looked about dubiously and shook her head.
The thing fer you to do is to set right down an' wait fer that
pesky good-fer-nothin' Copernicus Droop! she remarked, and suiting
action to speech she picked her way to a convenient mile-stone and
Having nothing better to do, she began to review mentally the events
of the last two days, and as she recalled one after the other the
unprecedented adventures which had overtaken her, she wondered in a
dreamy way what would next befall. She built hazy hypotheses, sitting
there alone in the moonlight, nodding contentedly. Suddenly she
straightened up, realizing that she had been aroused from a doze by a
cry near at hand.
Turning toward London, she saw a wriggling mass about fifty feet
away which, by a process of slow disentanglement, gradually developed
into a man's form rising from the ground and raising a fallen bicycle.
Darn the luck! said this dark figure. Busted my tire, sure as
Copernicus Droop! cried Rebecca, in a loud voice.
Droop jumped high in the air, so great was his nervousness. Then,
realizing that it was Rebecca who had addressed him, he limped toward
her, rolling his bicycle beside him.
How in creation did you get here? he asked. Ain't any steam-cars
'round here, is there?
Guess not! Rebecca replied. I come by short cut up river. I
guessed you'd make fer the Panchronicle, and I jest made up my mind to
come, too. Thinks I, 'that Copernicus Droop ud be jest mean enough to
fly away all by himself an' leave me an' Phoebe to shift fer
ourselves.' So I'm here to go, tooan' what's more, we've got to take
How'll ye find yer sister, Cousin Rebecca? said Droop. We must
git out to-night. When the Queen gets on her ear like that, it's now or
never. Can you find Cousin Phoebe to-night?
Where is the old machine, anyhow? Rebecca asked, not heeding
Right over yonder, said he, pointing to a dark group of trees a
few rods distant.
Well, come on, then. Let's go to it right away, said Rebecca. I'd
like to rest a bit. I'm tired!
Tired! Droop exclaimed. What about me, then?
Without further parley, the two set off toward the grove which Droop
had indicated. Having dwelt here for several weeks, he knew his
bearings well, but it was not until they came much nearer to the
deserted mansion that Rebecca recognized several landmarks which
convinced her that he had made no mistake.
Under the trees, the shadows were so black that they were unable to
find the breach in the wall.
Got any matches, Cousin Rebecca? Droop asked.
Yes. Wait a minute an' I'll strike a light. I know that blessed
hole is somewhere right near here.
She found again her card of matches, and breaking off one of them,
soon had a tiny taper which lit up their surroundings wonderfully.
There 'tis! I've found it, cried Droop, and, taking Rebecca by the
arm, he led her toward the broken place in the wall. The match went out
just as they reached it.
Droop was about to suggest that he go in first to see if all was
well, when he was startled by Rebecca's hand on his arm.
Hark! she cried.
He listened and distant cries coming nearer through the night were
borne to his ears.
What's that? Rebecca exclaimed again.
Rigid with excitement and dread, they stood there listening. At
length Droop pulled himself free of Rebecca's hold.
That's some o' them palace folks chasin' after me! he cried, in a
Fiddle-dee-dee! Rebecca exclaimed, with energy. How should they
know where you are?
By this time the sounds were more distinct, and they could easily
make out cries of: Traitor! Stop him! For the Queen! Stop him!
The two listeners had just mentally concluded that this alarm did
not in any wise concern them when Rebecca was startled beyond measure
to hear her sister Phoebe's voice, loud above all other sounds.
Naynay, Guy! she was screaming. Stop not to fight! Flyfollow!
Shelter is here at hand!
Forgetting everything but possible danger for Phoebe, Rebecca dashed
out from under the trees.
There in the moonlight she saw Phoebe on horseback, her head
uncovered, her hair floating free and her clothing in tatters. A few
paces behind her was Sir Guy, also mounted, fiercely attacking two
pursuing horsemen with his sword. Farther back, rendered indistinct by
distance, was a larger group of mingled horse and foot travellers.
There was a lantern among them, and Rebecca inferred that the watch was
A moment later, one of the two men engaged with Sir Guy fell from
his horse. Instantly the young knight turned upon the second pursuer,
who fled at once toward the larger group now rapidly approaching.
Rebecca ran forward and waved her card of matches frantically,
apparently thinking in her excitement that she held a flag.
Here, Phoebehere, child! she screamed. This way, quick! Here we
are awaitin' fer ye. Come, quickquick!
With a loud cry of joy, Phoebe slipped from her horse and ran toward
Oh, Rebecca, Rebecca! she cried, throwing herself into her
sister's arms. Oh, you dear, lovely, sweet old darling!
Rebecca kissed her younger sister with tears in her eyes, almost as
affected as the girl herself, who was now laughing and crying
hysterically on her breast.
While they stood thus tightly locked in each other's arms, Guy came
to their side with sword in hand.
Quick! he said, sharply. You must away to shelter. Here comes the
watch apace. I will protect the rear.
The two women started apart and Phoebe set forward obediently, but
Rebecca only gave the fast-approaching crowd a look of proud contempt.
Fiddle-ends! she exclaimed. You go on ahead, Guy. I'll fix them
Whether Rebecca's voice convinced him of her power to make good her
words or that he felt his first duty was at Phoebe's side, the fact is
that the young knight strode forward with his sweetheart toward the
breach in the wall, leaving Rebecca behind to bear the first attack.
Droop had already passed within the enclosure and was groping his
way toward the black mass of the Panchronicon.
Phoebe, led by an accurate memory of her surroundings, had but
little difficulty in finding the opening, and, by her voice, Sir Guy
and Rebecca were guided to it.
Phoebe passed through first and Sir Guy followed just as the advance
guard of the pursuing mob rushed under the trees, swinging their two
lanterns and shouting aloud:
Herethis way! We have 'em fast!
Rebecca coolly stooped and drew the edge of her entire card of
matches across a stone at her feet. Then, standing erect, she thrust
the sulphurous blue blaze into the faces of two rough-looking fellows
just advancing to seize her.
Sir Guy, who stood within the wall, found cause for deep amazement
in the yell of startled fear with which Rebecca's act was met; and
deeper yet grew his astonishment when that cry was re-echoed by the
whole terror-stricken mob, who turned as one man to flee from this
flaming, sulphurous sorceress.
Rebecca quietly waited until the sulphur had burned off and the wood
blazed bright and clear. Then she pushed through the broken wall and
showed the way to their destination by the light of the small torch.
Sir Guy's feelings may be imagined when he suddenly found that they
were all four standing before a strangely formed structure in the side
of which Copernicus had just opened a door.
Why, Mary! he exclaimed, pausing in his walk. What have we here?
She took his hand with a smile and drew him gently forward.
Trust thy Mary yet further, Guy, she said. Thy watchword must be,
'Trust and question not.'
He smiled in reply and, sheathing his sword, stepped boldly forward
into the interior of the Panchronicon. Phoebe knew the power of
superstition in that age, and she glowed with pride and tenderness,
conscious that in this act of faith in her the knight evinced more
courage than ever he might need to bear him well in battle.
When the electric lights shed a sudden bright glare down the spiral
staircase, Sir Guy cowered and stopped short again, turning pale with a
fear irrepressible. But Phoebe put one arm about his neck and drew his
head down to hers, whispering in his ear. What she said none heard save
him, but the spell of her words was potent, for the young knight stood
erect once more and firmly ascended to the room above.
Droop stood nervously waiting at the engine-room door.
Are ye all in? he said, sharply. Where's Cousin Rebecca?
Here I be! came a voice from below. I'm jest lockin' the door
Well, hurry uphurry! Come up here an' lay down. I'm goin' to
In a few moments all was in readiness. Droop pulled the lever, and
with a roar and a mighty bound the Panchronicon, revived by its long
period of waiting, sped upward into the night.
As the four fugitives sat upright again, and Droop, rubbing his
hands with satisfaction, was about to speak, the door of one of the
bedchambers was opened, and a stranger dressed in nineteenth-century
attire stepped forward, shading his blinking eyes with his hand.
The two women screamed, but Droop only dropped amazed into a chair.
Francis Bacon! he exclaimed.
Then, leaping forward eagerly, he cried aloud:
Gimme them clothes!
* * * * *
Of the return trip of the five, little need be said save to record
one untoward incident which has been the occasion of a most unfortunate
The date-recording instrument must have been deranged in some way,
for when, after a great number of eastward turns around the pole, it
marked the year 1898, they had really only reached 1857. Supposing
themselves to have actually reached the year erroneously indicated by
the recorder, they set off southward and made a first landing in
Here they discovered their mistake, and returned to the pole to
complete their journey in time. All but Francis Bacon. He declared that
so much whirling made him giddy, and remained in Connecticut. Alas! Had
Phoebe known the result of this desertion, she would never have
consented to it.
Bacon, who had read much of Shakespeare while in the Panchronicon,
found on returning thus accidentally to modern America, that this
playwright was esteemed the first and greatest of poets and dramatists
by the modern world. Then and there he planned a conspiracy to rob the
greatest character in literary history of his just fame; and, under the
pseudonym of Delia Bacon, advanced those theories of his own
concealed authorship which have ever since deluded the uncritical and
disgusted all lovers of common-sense and of justice.
Copernicus Droop, on returning his three remaining passengers to
their proper dates and addresses, discovered that his sole remaining
phonograph, with certain valuable records of Elizabethan origin, had
disappeared. As he owed a grudge to Francis Bacon, that worthy fell at
once under suspicion, and accordingly Droop promptly returned to 1857,
sought out the deserter, and charged him with having stolen these
It was not until the accused man had indignantly denied all
knowledge of Droop's property that the crestfallen Yankee recollected
that he had left the apparatus in question in the deserted mansion of
Newington, where he had stored it for greater safety after Bacon's
first unexpected visit.
Without hesitation, he determined to return to 1598 and reclaim his
own. Bacon, who had learned from modern historical works of the
brilliant future in store for himself in England, begged Droop to take
him back; and as an atonement for his unjust accusation, Droop
It is not generally known that, contrary to common report, Francis
Bacon was not arrested for debt in 1598; but that, during the
time he was supposed to have been in prison, he was actually engaged in
building up in his own behalf the greatest hoax in history.
* * * * *
Let those who may be inclined to discredit this scrupulously
authentic chronicle proceed forthwith to Peltonville, New Hampshire,
and there ask for Mr. and Mrs. Guy Fenton. From them will be gained
complete corroboration of this history, not only in the account which
they will give of their own past adventures, but in the unmistakable
Elizabethan flavor distinguishable to this day in their speech and
manner. Indeed, the single fact that both ale and beer are to be found
behind their wood-pile should be convincing evidence on this point.
As for Rebecca, fully convinced at last of the marvellous qualities
of the Panchronicon, she never tires of taking her little nephew, Isaac
Burton Wise Fenton, on her knee and telling him of her amazing
adventures in the palace of Miss Tudor.