“Venus in Kensington Gardens!” he replied. “No, it’s not Venus; it’s the Queen.”
I began to get angry.
“Not the statue,” I shouted. “Wisitors from Wenus. Make copy. Come and see! Copy! Copy!”
The word “copy” galvanised him, and he came, spade and all. We quickly crossed the Park once more. Pendriver lives to the west of it, in Strathmore Gardens, and has a special permit from his landlord to dig. We did not, for sufficient reasons, converse much. Many persons were now hastening towards the strange object. Among them I noticed Jubal Gregg the butcher (who fortunately did not observe me—we owed him a trifle of eighteen shillings, and had since taken to Canterbury lamb from the Colonial Meat Stores), and a jobbing gardener, whom I had not recently paid. I forget his name, but he was lame in the left leg: a ruddy man.
Quite a crowd surrounded the Crinoline when we arrived, and in addition to the match-vendors already mentioned, there was now Giuseppe Mandolini, from Leather Lane, with an accordion and a monkey. Monkeys are of course forbidden in Kensington Gardens, and how he eluded the police I cannot imagine. Most of the people were staring quietly at the Crinoline, totally unaware of its significance. Scientific knowledge has not progressed at Kensington by the same leaps and bounds as at Woking. Extra-terrestrial had less meaning for them than extra-special.
We found Swears hard at work keeping the crowd from touching the Crinoline. With him was a tall, red-haired man, who I afterwards learnt was Lee-Bigge, the Secretary of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He had a summons and several officials with him, and was standing on the Crinoline, bellowing directions in a clear, rich voice, occasionally impeded by emotion, like an ox with a hiccough.
As soon as Swears saw me, he asked me to bring a policeman to assist him to keep back the crowd; and I went away, proud to be so honoured, to find one. I was unsuccessful. P.C. A581 had gone off duty; but another constable, I was told, had been seen, an hour or so earlier, asleep against the railings,—it was a baker’s boy who told me, just back from delivering muffins in St. Mary Abbot’s Terrace,—and had since wandered in the direction of the Albert Hall. I followed, but could not see him in any of the areas, and therefore returned slowly by way of Queen’s Gate, Cromwell Road, Earl’s Court Road, and Kensington High Street, hoping to meet another; and as it was then about noon, I entered an A.B.C. and had half a pork-pie and a bucket of Dr. Jaeger’s Vi-cocolate. I remember the circumstance distinctly, because feeling rather hungry and wishing to vary the menu, I asked the girl for half a veal-and-ham pie and she brought me the balance of the original pasty; and when I remonstrated, she said that her directors recognised no essential difference between veal-and-ham and pork.