to be pelted in the pillory he had lost his money noth-
ing else mattered.
To a revengeful man this day's work was revenge indeed,
ample and satisfying, if revenge ever can satisfy. I do not
think it can: one would want to repeat it every day: the
man in the Italian Poem who gnaws his enemy's head can
never have enough of his cruel and horrid revenge. I hope,
however, that no one will think that I rejoiced over suffer-
ings, terrors, and pain unspeakable; even though they were
If Mr. Probus showed callousness and insensibility extra-
ordinary, his companion behaved in exactly an opposite
manner. For he had thrown himself down in the bottom of
the cart, and there lay writhing while the execrations of the
people followed the cart. When the procession arrived at
the pillory it took six men to drag him out. He covered his
face with his hands: he wept the tears ran down his
cheeks: he clung to the constables; it took a quarter of an
hour before they had him up the steps and on the platform :
it took another ten minutes before he was placed in the
machine, his face turned towards the crowd on the north
side with his helpless hands struck through the holes. As for
the other he stood facing the south.
When both the miserable men were ready the under-
sheriff and the constables ducked their heads and ran for
their lives from the stage down the ladder and waited under
For, with a roar as of a hungry wild beast the mob began.
There was no formal or courteous commencement with
rotten eggs and dead cats. These things, it is true, were
flung, and with effect. But from the very beginning they
were accompanied by sharp flints, stones and brickbats.
The mob broke through the line of constables and filled up
the open space; they pushed the women to the front: I think
they were mad : they shrieked and yelled execrations : the air
was thick with missiles; where did they come from? There
were neither pause nor cessation. For the whole time the
storm went on: the under-sheriff wanted, I have heard, to
.take down the men;. but no one would venture on the stage
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 279
to release them. Meanwhile with both of them the yellow
streams of broken eggs had given way to blood. Their
faces and heads were covered every inch every half inch
with open bleeding wounds : their eyes were closed, their
heads held down as much as they could: if they groaned;
if they shrieked; if they prayed for mercy; if they prayed for
the mercy of Heaven since from man there was none; no one
could hear in the Babel of voices from the mob. It was the
Thief- taker, the Man-slayer, who was the principal object of
the crowd's attention : but they could not distinguish between
the two and they soon threw at one head or the other impar-
tially. It was indeed a most dreadful spectacle of the popu-
lar justice. Just so, the Jews took out the man who wor-
shipped false idols, and the woman who was a witch and
stoned them with stones, so that they died. For my own
part I can never forget that sight of the two bowed heads
at which a mob of I know not how many hundreds crowded
together in a narrow street hurled everything that they
could find, round paving stones, sharp flints, broken bricks,
wooden logs, with every kind of execration that the worst
and lowest of the people can invent. From the south and
from the north: there was an equal shower; there was no
For a whole hour this went on. The pillory should have
been turned every quarter of an hour. But no one dared to
mount the stage in order to turn it besides it was safer to
let one side exhaust their artillery than to tempt the unspent
stores of the other side.
At last the hour of twelve struck. There was a final dis-
charge: then all stopped. The heads hung down inanimate,
motionless. Had the mob, then, killed them both?
The under-sheriff mounted the stage : one of the constables
cleared it of the miscellaneous stuff lying at the feet of the
prisoners; then they took out the men. Both were senseless;
they were carried down the steps and placed in the cart. The
driver went to the horse's head; the constables closed in:
the show was over.
In five minutes the whole crowd had dispersed; they had
enjoyed the very rare chance of expressing their opinion
upon a Thief-taker and an Attorney. They went off in
great spirits, marching away in companies each in its own
direction. Those from Clare Market I observed, were headed
28 o The Orange Girl
by music peculiar to that district played by eight butchers
with marrow-bones and cleavers.
The horrid business over I thought I would learn how the
other two fared in Soho Square. The pillory was still stand-
ing when I got there, but the business of the day was over.
From a gentleman who had been a spectator I learned that
the two men were turned to the four quarters in the pillory,
that their friends on the St. Giles's side would not pelt them ;
but that on the other three sides they received a liberal allow-
ance of eggs and such harmless gifts, together with a more
severe expression of opinion in stones and brickbats. They
were taken out wounded and bleeding, but they could walk
down the ladder and were carried off in their right senses, at
I went on to Newgate. There I learned that the man
Merridew was already dead: he was found dead in the cart
when he was brought in. It was not wonderful. His skull
was battered in; his cheek-bones were broken: his jaw was
fractured: for the last half-hour it was thought he had been
already senseless if not dead. The case of Mr. Probus was
nearly as bad. He was breathing, they told me, and no more.
It was doubtful if he would recover.
The Captain and the Bishop were, as I have said, more
fortunate. They escaped with scars which would disfigure
them for life. But they did escape, and since their master
the Man-slayer was dead, they might begin again, once out
of prison, with another rope much longer, perhaps, than
I suppose they are long since hanged, both of them. No
other lot was possible for them. I have not seen them or
heard of them, since that day.
" GUILTY, MY LORD "
THE days slipped away. Visitors came, gazed, and departed.
Our attorney exhorted Jenny every day to consider her
decision and to prepare a defence.
' Consider, Madame/ he urged earnestly, ' you will stand
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 281
before a Court already prepossessed by the knowledge of
your history, in your favour. There will be no pressure of
points against you. It will be shown, nay, it is already well
known, that you have, by your own unaided efforts, defeated
a most odious conspiracy and made it possible for the con-
spirators to be brought to justice. This fact, further, assigns
reasons and motives for the persecution and the malignity
of their friends. I am prepared to show that at the time
when you are charged with receiving stolen property you
were occupying a fine position ; that you were solvent because
you were receiving large sums of money : that you were the
last person to be tempted even to receive stolen goods
especially those of a mean and worthless character. Those
who might otherwise be ready to perjure themselves against
you will be afraid to speak since this last business. You
have this protection brought. about by your own action. It
will be impossible to prove that you had any knowledge of
the property found on your premises/
' All that is true. Yet, dear Sir, I cannot change my mind/
' It is so true that I cannot believe it possible under the
circumstances for a jury to convict: you are also, Madame,
which is a very important feature in the case, possessed of a
face and form whose loveliness alone proclaims your
' Oh! Sir, if loveliness had aught to do with justice! But
could I, even then, rely upon that claim? '
' Let me instruct Counsel. He will brush aside the evi-
dence! Good Heavens! What evidence! A woman
swears that she saw the property carried into your
house during the whole of a certain night. That is
quite possible. Certain shopkeepers have been found to
swear to some of the articles found in your rooms as their
own. How do they know? One bale of goods is like
another. That kind of evidence is worth very little. But if
the things are theirs how are you to be connected with them?
I shall prove that you lived in a great house with many ser-
vants: that it was quite easy to carry things in and out of
that house without your knowledge: I shall call your ser-
vants, who will swear that they know nothing of any such
conveyance of goods. I will prepare a defence for you in
which you will state that you had no knowledge of these
things: nor do you know when, or by whom, they were
brought into the house : you will point to your troop of set-
282 The Orange Girl
vants, including footmen, waiters, carvers, cooks, butlers and
women of all kinds: you will ask if a manager of any place
of entertainment is to be held responsible for what was
brought under his roof that you were not in want of
money and that if you were the rubbish lying in your garrets
would be of no use to you. And so on. There could not
possibly be found a better defence/
' I know one better still/ said Jenny quietly.
' Tell me what it is, then/
' I have already told you. Once more then. My mother
has long been notorious as a receiver of stolen goods. The
people used to bring their plunder to the Black Jack by a
back entrance: under the house there are stone vaults and a
great deal of property can be stored there. When I under-
stood that we should want the evidence of my mother I was
obliged to offer her a large sum of money as a bribe before
she would consent. When she found that I would give no
more, she accepted my offer but on conditions. ' Remem-
ber/ she said. ' None of us will ever be able to show our
faces at the Black Jack any more. We should be murdered
for sure, for going against our own people.'
' Well/ said Mr. Dewberry, ' doubtless she was right. But
what were the conditions? '
' They were connected with the stolen goods. The vaults
contained a great deal of property which could not be
sold at once. If I would suffer her to store that property in
my house, she would consent. Sir, at that time, and in
order to defeat those villains, I would have consented to
anything. It was agreed that my mother and sister should
move the things by night after the Black Jack was shut up.
I suppose the woman watched. So you see, unfortunately, I
did consent without thinking/
'You did consent oh!' he groaned. 'But, after all,
your mother and sister will not give evidence. Where is
the evidence of your consent? Are they out of sight? Good.
Let them keep out of sight/
' But there is more. Dear Sir, you will say I am very
imprudent. When it was arranged for my mother to go
away after the trial and lie snug for awhile, she could not
bear to think of losing all her property, and so still with-
out thinking of consequences I bought the whole lot/
'You bought! Oh! This, indeed, I did not expect. You
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 283
bought the whole! However, one comfort, no one knows
except your mother/
' And my sister. Now, Sir, Doll will not allow my mother
to suffer alone. If she is accused of receiving I shall be
charged with buying the property.'
' I wish the mob had burned the place.'
' Nobody can wish that more than myself. Now consider.
If I plead " Not Guilty " and am acquitted, my mother will
certainly be arrested. There will be a Hue and Cry after
her, and I shall then be charged again with buying stolen
property, knowing it to be stolen. No, Sir, my mind is
quite made up. I shall plead Guilty. If the evidence is only
what we know, there will be no further inquiry after the
property. So, at least, my mother will be safe.'
Mr. Dewberry said nothing for a while. ' Would your
mother,' he asked, ' do as much for you? '
' I dare say she would. We have our virtues, we poor
He remonstrated with her: he repeated over and over
again his assurance that her defence was as perfect as a
defence could be. She could not be examined or cross-
examined. The evidence of the woman would be confined
to one point. It was all in vain : she was obstinate.
' I shall plead Guilty,' she said.
Finally he went away and left me alone with her.
' Jenny/ I said, ' sometimes I believe you are mad so far
as your own interests are concerned/
' No, Will only crafty. Now listen a little. I have one
firm, strong, powerful friend I mean Lord Brockenhurst.
If a woman wants a man to remain in love with her, she
must keep him off. He knows all about me, he says: he has
made up the prettiest tale possible. And he actually believes
' Made up a tale, Jenny? '
' It was a very pretty story that he wrote called the " Case
of Clarinda/' This is a prettier story still. It appears that
I am the lost and stolen child of noble parents. My birth
is stamped upon my face. Never a gipsy yet was known to
have light hair like mine, and blue eyes like mine.
I have been brought up in ignorance of my parentage,
by a woman of dishonest character who stole me in
infancy. She made me, against my wish (for a person
of my rank naturally loathes employment so menial)
284 The Orange Girl
an Orange Girl of Drury Lane Theatre. Then I rose
above that station by the possession of parts inherited,
and became an actress and the Toast of the Town. The
woman clung to her pretended daughter still. Then I left
the stage in order to be married: when I found my husband
little better than a sordid gambler, I left his house and
opened the Assembly-room: the woman, for her own safety,
made, unknown to me, a storehouse of my garrets. That
is his story. But the end is better still. My true nobility
of soul, inherited from my unknown illustrious ancestors,
prompts me to plead Guilty in order to save this pretended
mother. Now, Will
'How does the story help?'
' Because it has already got abroad. Because it will
incline everybody's heart to get me saved/
' Yes but an acquittal is so easy/
' Will, you can never understand what it means to belong
to such a family as mine. Suppose I get my acquittal. Then
'What will follow afterwards?'
' Do you think that they will let me return to the stage?
I must face the revenge of the family the family of St.
Giles. Through me the Bishop and the Captain have been
put in pillory and are now in prison. They belong to the
family my family, and I have brought them to ruin I
myself. One of themselves. Can they forgive me? Nay,
Will, I was brought up among them: it is their only point
of honour. Can I expect them to forgive me? Never
until unless ' She stopped and trembled.
' Unless I pay for it, as I have made those two rogues pay
for it. Unless I pass through the fiery furnace of trial and
sentence, even if it leads me to the condemned cell. After
that, Will, I may perhaps look for forgiveness.'
A man must be a stock or a stone not to be moved by
such words as these. ' Oh, Jenny ! ' I said, ' you have brought
all this upon yourself for me.'
' Yes, Will, for you and for yours. I have counted the cost.
Your life is worth it all and more. Don't think I never
flinched. No. I had thoughts of letting everything go.
Why should I imperil myself my life to defeat a villain?
It was easy to do nothing. Then one night I saw a ghost
oh! a real ghost. It was Alice, and in her arms lay your
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 285
boy.' Jenny rose slowly. The afternoon was turning into
early evening: the cell was already in twilight. She rose,
and gradually, so great is the power of an actress, that even
though my eyes were overcast, I saw the narrow cell no
longer. There was no Jenny. In her place stood another
woman. It was Alice. In the arms of that spirit lay the
semblance of a child. And the spirit spoke. It was the voice
of Alice. ' Woman! ' she said, solemnly, ' give me back my
husband. Give the boy the honour of his father. Mur-
deress! Thou wouldst kill the father and ruin the son.
There shall be no peace or rest or quiet for thee to the end.
Save him for thou must. Suffer and endure what follows.
Thou shalt suffer, but thou shalt not be destroyed.' Alice
spoke: it was as if she came there with intent to say those
words. Then she vanished. And with a trembling of great
fear, even as Saul trembled when he saw the spirit of Samuel,
I saw Jenny standing in the place where Alice had been.
She fell into her chair : she burst into tears the first and
the last that ever I saw upon her cheek : she covered her face
with her hands.
I soothed her, I assured her of all that I could say in grat-
itude infinite: perhaps I mingled my tears with hers.
' Oh, Will,' she cried. ' Do not vex yourself over the fate
of an orange-wench. What does it matter for such a creature
The Old Bailey never witnessed a greater crowd than that
which filled the court to witness the trial of Mistress Jenny
Wilmot, charged with receiving stolen goods knowing them
to be stolen. Her assumed name of Madame Vallance was
forgotten: her married name of Halliday was forgot-
ten: on everybody's tongue she was Jenny Wilmot
the actress: Jenny Wilmot the Toast of the Town: Jenny
Wilmot of Drury Lane. They spoke of her beauty, her
grace, her vivacity: these were still remembered in spite of
her absence from the stage of nearly two years. Now two
years is a long time for an actress, unless she is very good
indeed, to be remembered. But the ' Case of Clarinda ' was
by this time known to every club and coffee-house in Lon-
don: not a City clerk or shopman but had the story pat, with
oaths and sighs and tears. My Lord Brockenhurst had done
his share in changing public opinion, and the later story,
that of the noble origin of the stolen girl, was also whis-
pered from mouth to mouth.
286 The Orange Girl
The court, I say, was crowded. Behind the chairs of the
Lord Mayor and Judge, the Aldermen and the Sheriffs, were
other chairs filled with great ladies: the public gallery was
also filled with ladies who were admitted by tickets issued by
sheriffs: the entrances and doorways and the body of the
court were rilled with gentlemen, actors and actresses mixed
with an evil-looking and evil-smelling company from St.
The witnesses, among whom I failed to observe the
revengeful woman, consisted, I was pleased to see, of no
more than the two or three shopkeepers who were waiting to
swear to their own property. They stood beside the witness-
box, wearing the look of determined and pleased revenge
common to those who have been robbed. The Jury were
sworn one after the other, and took their seats. I could not
fail to observe that the unrelenting faces with which they
had received me, the highwayman, were changed into faces
of sweet commiseration. If ever Jury betrayed by outward
signs a full intention, beforehand, of bringing in a verdict of
Not Guilty, with the addition, if the Judge would allow it,
that the lady left the dock without a blemish upon her char-
acter, it was that jury yet a jury composed entirely of per-
sons engaged in trade, who would naturally be severe upon
the crime of receiving stolen goods.
When the Court were ready to take their places the pris-
oner was brought in, and all the people murmured with
astonishment and admiration and pity, for the prisoner was
dressed as for her wedding day. She was all in white with-
out a touch of any other colour. Her lovely fair hair was
dressed without powder over a high cushion with white silk
ribbons hanging to her shoulders: her white silk frock
drawn back in front, showed a white satin petticoat: white
silk gloves covered her hands and arms: she carried a nose-
gay of white jonquils: a necklace of pearls hung round her
neck : her belt was of worked silver. She took her place in
the dock: she disposed her flowers between the spikes,
among the sprigs of rue. Her air was calm and collected:
not boastful: sad as was natural: resigned as was becoming:
neither bold nor shrinking: there was no affectation of con-
fidence nor any agitation of terror. She was like a Queen:
she was full of dignity. She seemed to say, * Look at me,
all of you. Can you believe that I I I such as I
Jenny Wilmot could actually stoop to receive a lot of
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 287
stolen rags and old petticoats and bales of stuff worth no
more altogether than two or three guineas?'
During the whole time of the trial the eyes of everybody
in court, I observed, were turned upon the prisoner. Never
before, I am sure, did a more lovely prisoner stand in the
Dock: never was there one whose position was more com-
miserated: they were all, I verily believe, ready to set her
free at once: but for the act and deed of the prisoner herself.
Her attitude: her face: her dress all proclaimed aloud the
words which I have written down above. Everybody had
seen her on the stage playing principally the coquette, the
woman of fashion and folly, the hoyden, the affected prude
but not a part like this. ' Ye gods ! ' I heard a young
barrister exclaim. ' She looks like an angel : an angel sent
down to Newgate!' The strange, new, unexpected look
of virginal innocence stamped on the brow of the once dar-
ing and headlong actress startled the people : it went to the
heart of everyone: it made everybody present feel that they
were assisting at a martyrdom: nay, as if they were them-
selves, unwillingly, bringing faggots to pile the fire. Before
the trial began many an eye was dim, many a cheek was
The Court entered: the people rose: the Counsel bowed
to the Bench: the Lord Mayor took his seat: beside him
the Judge: with him the Aldermen and the Sheriffs: the
prisoner also did reverence to the Court like a gentle-
woman receiving company. One would not have been
surprised had my Lord Mayor stepped down and kissed
her on the cheek in City fashion. But neither in her look
nor in her actions was there betrayed the least sign of
degradation, fear, or shame.
When a somewhat lengthy indictment had been read,
she raised her head. ' My Lord, I would first desire to ask
for my name to be amended/
' What amendment do you desire? '
' I am described as Madame Vallance, alias Jenny Wilmot,
actress. It is true that Jenny Wilmot was my maiden name,
and that I assumed the name of Madame Vallance when I
left the stage and opened the Assembly Rooms. My true
name is Jenny Halliday, and I am the wife of Mr. Matthew
Halliday, son of Sir Peter Halliday, Alderman, and partner
in the House of Halliday Brothers, West India Wharf, by
the Steel Yard in the Parish of All Hallows the Great 1
288 The Orange Girl
The Judge, whom nothing could surprise, answered with
the awful coldness which becomes a Judge and so terrifies
a prisoner. ' There is no dispute concerning identity. Plead
in your married name, if you will.'
' Then, my Lord, I plead Guilty/
She had done it, then. With a case so strong: with an
assurance of acquittal, she had pleaded Guilty. My heart
sank. Yet I knew what she would do. The Lord Mayor
whispered the judge again.
' You are ignorant of law and procedure in Courts of
Justice/ he said. ' I will allow you to withdraw that plea.
Have you no Counsel ?'
' I need none, my Lord. I plead Guilty/
The people all held their breath. Then the ' Case of
Clarinda ' was true after all.
' I am anxious/ the Judge went on, ' that you should
have a fair trial. Appoint a Counsel. Advise with him/
' I plead Guilty' she repeated.
The Judge threw himself back in his seat. ' Let the trial
proceed/ he said.
The Counsel for the Prosecution opened the case. It was,
he said a remarkable case, because there seemed no sufficient
reason or temptation for breaking the law, or for receiving
stolen property. The information was laid by a woman
living in the purlieus of St. Giles's Parish: she was, very
probably, a person of no character at all: but character
was not wanted in this case because her information would
be supplemented by the evidence of several persons of the
highest respectability who would swear to certain articles
as their own property. The woman in fact, would depose
to the conveyance of stolen goods to the house in question :
she gave information the goods were actually found there:
and other witnesses would claim as their own many things
among the property so found.
' Gentlemen of the Jury/ he went on, ' this is a case of a
painful nature. The prisoner who pleads guilty who