Evening Post: August 12, 1899.
"She immediately alighted, caught hold of the astonished youth, and gave him a sound thrashing, using her fists in a scientific fashion…”
I would love to know what this means.
I think that might be code for “punched him in the balls with devastating accuracy”.
In the language of the day, fighting ‘in a scientific fashion’ meant she appeared to have studied fighting or boxing, rather than just whaling on him by instinct. During the nineteenth century boxing became formalised, with innovations like the Marquess of Queensberry rules regulating the sport. (The introduction of padded gloves actually made it more dangerous, as boxers could now hit each other much harder without risking injury to their own hands, and more serious facial and cranial injuries resulted. Bareknuckle boxers had to be a bit more careful lest they break their own hand-bones.) There was also an interest in the science of fighting, with a knowledge of anatomy and physics helping to establish where on the body were the most effective places to hit, and how a fighter should move to deliver blows more powerfully.
I like the ‘delight of several colliers’ too. I like to imagine they gave her a round of applause while she tucked her blouse back in, straightened her hat, and gave them a brisk nod of acknowledgement before cycling on.
I also like to imagine that she arrived slightly late for a dainty afternoon tea, telling her hostess ‘I’m very sorry to be late, Alice, but you see a young lout accosted me on the road and I had to administer a sound thrashing before I could proceed.’
Alice understood perfectly.