The evening was still, and though distracted at times by recollections of the Wenuses, I made good progress with my indictment. Suddenly I was conscious of a pale pink glow which suffused my writing-pad, and I heard a soft but unmistakable thud as of a pinguid body falling in the immediate vicinity.
Taking off my boots, I stole gently down to the scullery and applied the spectroscope to the keyhole. To my mingled amazement and ecstasy, I perceived a large dome-shaped fabric blocking up the entire back garden. Roughly speaking, it seemed to be about the size of a full-grown sperm whale. A faint heaving was perceptible in the mass, and further evidences of vitality were forthcoming in a gentle but pathetic crooning, as of an immature chimaera booming in the void. The truth flashed upon me in a moment. The Second Crinoline had fallen in my back garden.
My mind was instantly made up. To expose myself unarmed to the fascination of the Wonderful Wisitors would have irreparably prejudiced the best interests of scientific research. My only hope lay in a complete disguise which should enable me to pursue my investigations of the Wenuses with the minimum amount of risk. A student of the humanities would have adopted a different method, but my standpoint has always been dispassionate, anti-sentimental. My feelings towards the Wenuses were, incredible as it may seem, purely Platonic. I recognised their transcendental attractions, but had no desire to succumb to them. Strange as it may seem, the man who succumbs rarely if ever is victorious in the long run. To disguise my sex and identity—for it was a priori almost impossible that the inhabitants of Wenus had never heard of Pozzuoli—would guard me from the jellifying Mash-Glance of the Wenuses. Arrayed in feminine garb I could remain immune to their malignant influences.
With me, to think is to act; so I hastily ran upstairs, shaved off my moustache, donned my wife’s bicycle-skirt, threw her sortie de bal round my shoulders, borrowed the cook’s Sunday bonnet from the servants’ bedroom, and hastened back to my post of observation at the scullery door.