At these various gatherings I met practically all the well-born and well-known men and women of the day, and the point most apparent in connection with them was their entire lack of self-assertion. While I carried away with me from these functions a general sense of pomp and grandeur, there was a simplicity about the people which one finds only in those born to greatness, or who have achieved it. Probably the security of their station enabled them to be charming and gracious. Certain it is that they were absolutely free from the affectation and “smallness” which, sooner or later, make their appearance in many who merely buy a position with money.
Photography was now making great strides, and pictures of well-known people had begun to be exhibited for sale. The photographers, one and all, besought me to sit. Presently, my portraits were in every shop window, with trying results, for they made the public so familiar with my features that wherever I went—to theaters, picture galleries, shops—I was actually mobbed. Thus the photographs gave fresh stimulus to a condition which I had unconsciously created. One night, shortly after their appearance, at a large reception at Lady Jersey’s, many of the guests stood on chairs to obtain a better view of me, and I could not help but hear their audible comments on my appearance as I passed down the drawing room. Itinerant vendors sold cards about the streets with my portrait ingeniously concealed, shouting, “The Jersey Lily, the puzzle is to find her.”
One morning I twisted a piece of black velvet into a toque, stuck a quill through it, and went to Sandown Park. A few days later this turban appeared in every milliner’s window labeled “The Langtry Hat.” “Langtry” shoes, which are still worn, were launched, and so on and so on. It was very embarrassing, and it had all come about so suddenly that I was bewildered. If I went for a stroll in the park and stopped a moment to admire the flowers, people ran after me in droves, staring me out of countenance, and even lifting my sunshade to satisfy fully their curiosity. To venture out for a little shopping was positively hazardous, for the instant I entered an establishment to make a purchase, the news that I was within spread with the proverbial rapidity of wildfire, and the crowd about the door grew so dense that departure by the legitimate exit was rendered impossible, the obliging proprietors being forced, with many apologies, to escort me around to the back door.
Instead of the excitement abating, it increased to such an extent that it became risky for me to indulge in a walk, on account of the crushing that would follow my appearance. To better illustrate my predicament I may state as a fact that, one Sunday afternoon, a young girl, with an aureole of fair hair and wearing a black gown, was seated in the park near the Achilles statue. Someone raised the cry that it was I, people rushed toward her, and before the police could interfere, she was mobbed to such an extent that an ambulance finally conveyed her, suffocating and unconscious, to St. George’s Hospital.
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