Time Slip


On Aug. 10, 1901, Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain were visiting Versailles when they were overcome by a feeling of oppression. They became lost and encountered a number of unusual people, including a man with a scarred face, a fair-haired lady sketching on the grounds, and a group of “very dignified officials, dressed in long greyish green coats with small three-cornered hats.”

Months later, in researching the history of the Trianon, they came to believe that they had somehow slipped back in time on that day to the 1770s and had there met the Comte de Vaudreuil and Marie Antoinette. Their account, published in 1911 as An Adventure, created a sensation but was ultimately dismissed. Moberly and Jourdain were respected academics, but their book simply offered no compelling evidence for their claim.

Nor have any French historians found a record of two bewildered women appearing at Versailles in the 18th century.

“Sea Serpent”

We are informed that the Sea Serpent was seen of Squam Bar on Wednesday last, and again on Thursday, in Sandy Bay harbour. At the latter place, he was visible for some time, within fifty yards of the shore, and was fired at a number of times with muskets; two balls were seen to strike him and rebound. He was distinctly seen by as many as fifty people; and is described as appearing perfectly calm, with his head about two feet out of water, and his body visible only in parts or humps, as he has been before described, with a space of about two feet between each. He was judged to be at least seventy or eighty feet long.

Salem Gazette, cited in The Cabinet of Curiosities, 1824

Ill Wind

When air hits the Alps, it sometimes drops its moisture on the windward side and descends into the land beyond as a warm, dry wind.

When this happens, headache and depression increase in Central Europe. The “murder winds” have even been blamed for heart attacks and suicide.

No one has explained the effect.



In 1858 Mark Twain had a vivid dream in which he saw his brother Henry lying in a metal burial case. On Henry’s chest lay a bouquet of white flowers with a red rose at its center.

A month later, Henry lost his life when his steamboat’s boiler exploded. A grieving Twain arrived to discover his brother’s body in a metal case—the other victims had been given wooden coffins, but the ladies of Memphis had taken up a fund for Henry, touched by his youth and good looks.

As Twain stood there, an elderly woman approached and placed a bouquet of white flowers on Henry’s chest. At its center was a single red rose.

See also A Premonition.

Double Talk

Here is the longest correct sentence of ‘thats’ which we have yet seen:

‘I assert that that, that that “that,” that that that that person told me contained, implied, has been misunderstood.’

It is a string of nine ‘thats’ which may be easily ‘parsed’ by a bright pupil.

Boston Journal of Education, cited in Bizarre Notes & Queries, November 1887

Owen Parfitt

In June 1768, bedridden tailor Owen Parfitt was put into a chair at the door of his Somerset cottage while his sister made his bed. She emerged after 15 minutes to find only the empty chair.

A search continued throughout the rural village through the night and all the following day. No trace of him was ever found.