Travellers in Time [1992]

    • Travellers in Time  Bunty: #1777 (01 February 1992) – #1788 (18 April 1992)
    • [Thanks to “Phoenix” for supplying the ending of the story]

Plot

Clarissa is a well-off, high society girl who is visiting London for the first time. She gets into trouble when she tries to help out a waif, by the name of Beth. Running away from a constable they escape into a tunnel only to find themselves in the underground railway in modern London. They are both out of their depths, but they each add something to the alliance, Clarissa being educated reads newspaper to find out when they are, she also tries to get money from the bank as she assumes her ancestral family will still be wealthy, though she is not successful. Beth is more street smart than Clarissa and adds her usefulness that way, acting as a protector, she also recognizes the buildings as London but she is more wary of going to authorities for help and she doesn’t think they’d be believed. When they tell a sympathetic taxi-driver of their plight, she of course doesn’t believe them, but later she does help them get jobs in a cafe. Still adjusting to this time, after being paid £5 they think they’ve enough to live on for weeks. They soon find out while trying to get to Clarissa’s home in the country their “gold” coins don’t take them too far!

They do manage to get a drive part of the ways, to Kale, and having left their cafe job, they must find a new way to make money. In a shop, Clarissa sees a book with a painting  of her mother painted by her father. Later Beth gives away the cough medicine that Clarissa had bought for her mother, to a busker. Clarissa is angry about this until Beth points out that the picture they saw was from after they left, so her mother must have got better. Beth’s good deed helps them out when they try to earn money singing on the street, as the busker accompanies them on guitar. They get more money when they end up being  extras in a TV show from their time period. The director is impressed with their Victorian accents and mannerisms. Beth decides she will  take the director’s advice to become an actress as she decides she has nothing to go back for, instead she can have a life in this time. So the girls split up, they soon miss each other and Beth realises not being able to read or change her accent hampers her chances to be an actress.

Beth finds Clarissa again, who is glad, as she was missing her, particularly as Beth wasn’t around to help with some rough youths that stole her money. The gang return, but Beth and Clarissa escape by mixing in with a catering crew that are wearing similar uniforms. They end up at an auction, where Clarissa sees what she thinks is a family heirloom, a candlestick, being sold. They follow the man who bought it and grab it back. It’s only on closer inspection that she realises her mistake, but the candlestick is then stolen from them before they can return it. By coincidence while looking for Sidworth Manor, they meet a potential ally in Caroline but she is friend’s with the candlestick buyer, so when he shows up they run away again.

They do find a hopeful lead, when a professor giving a talk about time-travel, suggests the best hope for time travellers to return to their time would be by going somewhere familiar. They run into Caroline again and when they find the stolen candlestick, they also find a picture of Beth painted by Clarissa’s father. They conclude this is proof that they must find their way back. It seems the reason they haven’t been able to find Sidworth Manor was because it was turned into an art school. While Caroline doesn’t believe their story she does drive them to the school.When they arrive at the Manor, they end up in the cellars where Clarissa finds one of her old dolls. They see light ahead and follow it until they find themselves back in their own time. They are in what will become the new London Underground railway and are chided by a workman for going into the tunnels. When they emerge, they get some very strange looks as they are still in their modern short outfits. Clarissa’s father has been looking for them and when he finds them he covers them in his cape to protect their modesty. It seems while they were having their adventures, only a few hours had passed in their own time. When things have settled, Beth is given a home by Clarissa’s family and the father is talking about about turning Sidworth Manor into an Art School. His wife doesn’t think he will go through with it but Clarissa tells her mother that she would not be surprised if he did.

Thoughts

I like this time travel, fish out of water, mismatched buddies story. Time travel stories are fun, often they involve a girl getting sent back in time, but here it is two Victorian girls are sent to the modern times. Because it’s not just just two misplaced time travellers  but also mismatched friends, this adds another interesting element. The characters are very likeable as they are resourceful and in finding themselves in this strange setting with only each other to rely on, a friendship and understanding of each other soon develop. Initially they both make remarks on each other because of their respective backgrounds, like Clarissa remarking on Beth not being able to read or Beth bringing Clarissa down a peg when her family’s high standing doesn’t help them at the bank. Soon they do begin to appreciate each other and miss each other when they part ways. It’s also nice that both of them contribute something in handling their situation. Clarissa has good education but isn’t afraid to work hard to earn their money and Beth proves though she hasn’t schooling she is quite good at reasoning things out, such as when she figures Clarissa’s mother recovered from her illness.

Although they are eager to get back to their own time and sometimes they become distressed at the thought of being stuck (Clarissa in particular), it is mostly quite lighthearted. There is some nice snappy dialogue and the adjustments to modern world can lead to funny situations. The art by “Merry” is good, and does well in capturing Clarissa’s upper class and Beth’s lower class impressions, making them distinct, even when the majority of the story they are dressed the same. The girls do adapt surprisingly quick to their situation, when they get the job at the cafe, they just accept their uniforms (despite being considered immodest in their time) and even Clarissa who would not be used to such work, mucks in straight away to earn her keep. While they accept somethings readily, they are surprised by other things, such as the cost of living. When they buy some crisps, they believe the vendor is cheating them by not giving them change. Clarissa begins to believe everyone is a rogue in the city, when they buy other things, so it takes a little while to realise, everything is just more expensive. Things move along quite quickly as the girls try to make their way to Sidworth Manor, they don’t stay in one place too long, then in the penultimate episode seeing the picture of Beth, we know they do make it home, but we don’t know how they do it. It is nice to see that Beth and Clarissa continue their friendship, even when they return home and Beth who thought she didn’t have much to return to, is offered a home.

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