HOW I REACHED HOME.
I remember nothing of my flight, except the stress of blundering against trees and stumbling over the railings. To blunder against some trees is very stressful. At last I could go no further: I had run full tilt into a gasworks. I fell and lay still.
I must have remained there some time.
Suddenly, like a thing falling upon me from without, came—Beer. It was being poured down my throat by my cousin’s man, and I recollect thinking that he must have used the same can with which he filled the lamps. How he got there I cannot pretend to tell.
“What news from the park?” said I.
“Eh!” said my cousin’s man.
“What news from the Park?” I said.
“Garn! ’oo yer getting at?” said my cousin’s man. “Aint yer just been there?” (The italics are his own.) “People seem fair silly abart the Pawk. Wot’s it all abart?”
“Haven’t you heard of the Wenuses?” said I. “The women from Wenus?” “Quite enough,” said my cousin’s man, and laughed.
I felt foolish and angry.
“You’ll hear more yet,” I said, and went on my way.
Judging by the names of the streets, I seemed to be at Kennington, and it was an hour after dawn, and my collar had burst away from its stud. But I had ceased to feel fear. My terror had fallen from me like a bath towel. Three things struggled for the possession of my mind: the beauty of Kennington, the whereabouts of the Wenuses, and the wengeance of my wife. In spite of my cousin’s man’s beer, which I could still taste, I was ravenously hungry; so, seeing no one about, I broke into a chemist’s shop and stayed the pangs on a cake of petroleum soap, some Parrish’s food, and a box of menthol pastilles, which I washed down with a split ammoniated quinine and Condy. I then stole across the road, and dragging the cushions from a deserted cab (No. 8648) into the cab shelter, I snatched a few more hours of restless sleep.
When I woke I found myself thinking consecutively, a thing I do not remember to have done since I killed the curate in the other book. In the interim my mental condition had been chaotic, asymptotic. But during slumber my brain, incredible as it may seem, stimulated and clarified by the condiments of which I had partaken, had resumed its normal activity. I determined to go home.
Resolving at any cost to reach Campden Hill Gardens by a sufficiently circuitous route, I traversed Kennington Park Road, Newington Butts, Newington Causeway, Blackman Street, and the Borough High Street, to London Bridge. Crossing the bridge, I met a newspaper boy with a bundle of papers, still wet from the press. They were halfpenny copies of the Star, but he charged me a penny for mine. The imposition still rankles.