From it I learned that a huge cordon of police, which had been drawn round the Crinoline, had been mashed beyond recognition, and two regiments of Life Guards razed to the ground, by the devastating Glance of the Wenuses. I passed along King William Street and Prince’s Street to Moorgate Street. Here I met another newspaper boy, carrying the Pall Mall Gazette. I handed him a threepenny bit; but though I waited for twenty minutes, he offered me no change. This will give some idea of the excitement then beginning to prevail. The Pall Mall had an article on the situation, which I read as I climbed the City Road to Islington. It stated that Mrs. Pozzuoli, my wife, had constituted herself Commander-in-Chief, and was busy marshalling her forces. I was relieved by the news, for it suggested that my wife was fully occupied. Already a good bulk of nursemaids and cooks, enraged at the destruction of the Scotland Yard and Knightsbridge heroes by the Wenuses’ Mash-Glance, had joined her flag. It was, said the Pall Mall, high time that such an attack was undertaken, and since women had been proved to be immune to the Mash-Glance, it was clearly their business to undertake it.
Meanwhile, said the Pall Mall, nothing could check the folly of the men. Like moths to a candle, so were they hastening to Kensington Gardens, only to be added to the heap of mashed that already had accumulated there.
So far, the P.M.G. But my mother, who was in the thick of events at the time, has since given me fuller particulars. Notwithstanding, my mother tells me, the fate of their companions, the remainder of the constabulary and military forces stationed in London hastened to the Park, impelled by the fearful fascination, and were added to the piles of mashed.
Afterwards came the Volunteers, to a man, and then the Cloth. The haste of most of the curates, and a few bishops whose names have escaped me, was, said my mother, cataclysmic. Old dandies with creaking joints tottered along Piccadilly to their certain doom; young clerks in the city, explaining that they wished to attend their aunt’s funeral, crowded the omnibuses for Kensington and were seen no more; while my mother tells me that excursion trains from the country were arriving at the principal stations throughout the day, bearing huge loads of provincial inamorati.
A constant stream of infatuated men, flowing from east to west, set in, and though bands of devoted women formed barriers across the principal thoroughfares for the purpose of barring their progress, no perceptible check was effected. Once, a Judge of notable austerity was observed to take to a lamp-post to avoid detention by his wife: once, a well-known tenor turned down by a by-street, says my mother, pursued by no fewer than fifty-seven admirers burning to avert his elimination. Members of Parliament surged across St. James’ Park and up Constitution Hill.