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 seated herself.
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
“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, too an’ what’s more,
we’ve got to take Phoebe!”
“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 Droop’s question.
“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
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
“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
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
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 panic.
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!
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
“Nay nay, Guy!”
she was screaming. “Stop not to fight!
Fly follow! Shelter is here at hand!”
Forgetting everything but possible
danger for Phoebe, Rebecca dashed out from under the
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 with them.
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, Phoebe here,
child!” she screamed. “This way, quick!
Here we are awaitin’ fer ye. Come,
With a loud cry of joy, Phoebe slipped
from her horse and ran toward her sister.
“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:
“Here this way! We have ’em
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
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
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 tight.”
“Well, hurry up hurry! Come
up here an’ lay down. I’m goin’
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
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 Hartford,
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
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
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 consented.
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
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