and never saw the man! What a man! What a man!
Merridew, too, under his thumb! There's ability for you!
I murmured something not complimentary. Indeed, I
knew nothing, at that time, of Merridew.
'Ah! He means to keep you here until you accept his
offer. Better take it now, then he'll let you go for his costs.
He won't give up the costs. What a man it is ! And you've
never set eyes on John Merridew, have you ? What a man !
He knows John Merridew, you see. Why, between them
' He looked at me meaningly, and laid his hand upon
my shoulder. 'Take my advice, Sir. Take my advice, and
accept that offer of his. Else I don't say, mind, but Mer-
ridew Merridew ' He placed his thumb upon the left
side of my neck, and pressed it. 'Many many have gone
that way through Merridew. And Probus rules Merri-
END OF BOOK Z
OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE
You have read how a certain lady came to the Prison : how
she spoke with two prisoners of the baser sort in a manner
familiar and yet scornful: and how she addressed me and
appeared moved and astonished on hearing my name. I
thought little more about her, save as an agreeable vision
in the midst of the rags and sordidness of the Prison, now
growing daily alas! more familiar and less repulsive.
For this is the way in the King's Bench.
She came, however, a second time, and this time she came
to visit me. It was in the morning. Alice was in my room ;
with her the boy, now in his second year, so strong that he
could not be kept from pulling himself up by the help of a
chair. She was showing me his ways and his tricks, rejoicing
in the wilfulness and strength of the child. I was watch-
ing and listening, my pride and happiness in the boy dashed
by the thought that he must grow up to be ashamed of his
father as a prison bird. Prison has no greater sting than
the thought of your children's shame. For the time went
on and day after day only made release appear more im-
possible. How could I get out who had no friends and
could save no money ? I had now been in prison for nearly
a year: I began to look for nothing more than to remain
there for all my life.
92 The Orange Girl
While I was looking at the boy and sadly thinking of
these things, I heard a quick, light step outside, followed by
a gentle tap at the door. And lo! there entered the lady
who had spoken with those two sons of Belial and with me.
'I said I would come again/ She smiled, and it was as
if the sunshine poured into the room. She gave me her
hand and it was like a hand dragging me out of the Slough
of Despond. 'Your room,' she said, 'is not so bad, consid-
ering the place. This lady is your wife? Madam, your
So she curtseyed low and Alice did the like. Then she
saw the child.
'Oh !' she cried. 'The pretty boy ! The lovely boy !' She
snatched him and tossed him crowing and laughing, and
covered him with kisses. 'Oh ! The light, soft, silky hair !'
she cried. 'Oh ! the sweet blue eyes ! Oh ! the pretty face.
Master Will Halliday, you are to be envied even in this
place. Your cousin Matthew hath no such blessing as this/
'Matthew is not even married/
'Indeed? Perhaps, if he is, this, as well as other bless-
ings, has been denied him/ she replied, with a little change
in her face as if a cloud had suddenly fallen. But it quickly
I could observe that Alice regarded her visitor with ad-
miration and curiosity. This was a kind of woman unknown
to my girl, who knew nothing of the world or of fine ladies :
they were outside her own experience. The two women
wore a strange contrast to each other. Alice with her seri-
ous air of meditation, and her grave eyes, might have sat
to a painter for the Spirit of Music, or for St. Cecilia her-
self : or indeed for any saint, or muse, or heathen goddess
who must show in her face a heavenly sweetness of thought,
with holy meditation. All the purity and tenderness of re-
ligion lay always in the face of Alice. Our visitor, on the
other hand, would have sat more fitly for the Queen of Love,
or the Spirit of Earthly Love. Truly she was more beauti-
ful than any other woman whom I had ever seen, or imag-
ined. I thought her beautiful on the stage, but then her face
was covered with the crimson paint by which actresses have
to spoil their cheeks. Off the stage, it was the beauty of
Venus herself: a beauty which invited love: a beauty alto-
gether soft: in every point soft and sweet and caressing:
eyes that were limpid and soft: a blooming cheek which
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 93
needed no paint, which was as soft as velvet and as delicately
coloured as a peach : lips smiling, rosy red and soft : her
hands : her voice : her laugh : everything about this heavenly
creature, I say, invited and compelled and created love.
You think that as one already sworn to love and comfort
another woman, I speak with reprehensible praise. Well,
I have already confessed it is not a confession of shame
that I loved her from the very first : from the time when she
spoke to me first. I am not ashamed of loving her : Alice
knows that I have always loved her: you shall hear, pres-
ently, why I need not be ashamed and why I loved her, if I
may say so, as a sister. It is possible to love a woman with-
out thoughts of earthly love : to admire her loveliness : to re-
spect her : to worship her : yet not as an earthly lover. Such
love as Petrarch felt for Laura I felt for this sweet and lovely
She gave back the child to his mother. 'Mr. Will Halli-
day/ she said. 'It is not only for the child that thou art
blessed above other men' looking so intently upon Alice
that the poor girl blushed and was confused. 'Sure/ she
said, 'it is a face which I have seen in a picture/
She was a witch : she drew all hearts to her : yet not, like
Circe, to their ruin and undoing. And if she was soft and
kind of speech, she was also generous of heart. She was
always, as I was afterwards to find out, helping others,
How she helped me you shall hear. Meantime I must not
forget that her face showed a most remarkable virginal in-
nocence. It seemed natural to her face : a part of it, that it
should proclaim a perfect maidenly innocence of soul. I
know that many things have been said about her; for my
own part I care to know nothing more about her than she
herself has been pleased to tell me. I choose to believe that
the innocence in her face proclaimed the innocence of her
life. And, with this innocence, a face which was always
changing with every mood that crossed her mind: moved
by every touch of passion : sensitive as an Aeolian harp to
every breath of wind.
She sat down on the bed. 'I told you that I would come
again/ she said. 'Do not take me for a curious and meddle-
some person. Madam/ she turned to Alice, 'I come because
I know something about your husband's cousin, Matthew.
If you will favour me, I should like to know the meaning of
this imprisonment, and what Matthew has to do with it/
94 The Orange Girl
So I told the whole story : the clause in my father's will :
the attempt made to persuade me to sell my chance of the
succession: the threats used by Mr. Probus: the alleged
debt for his harpsichord: and the alleged debt to one John
She heard the whole patiently. Then she nodded her
Trobus I know, though he does not, happily, know me.
Of the man Merridew also I know something. He is a
sheriff's officer by trade ; but he has more trades than one.
Probus is an attorney ; but he, too, has more trades than one.
My friends, this is the work of Probus. I see Probus in it
from the beginning. I conjecture that Merridew, for some
consideration, has borrowed money from Probus more than
he can repay. Therefore, he has to do whatever Probus
'Mr. Probus is Matthew's attorney.'
'Yes. An attorney does not commit crimes for his client,
unless he is well paid for it. I do not know what it means
except that Matthew wants money, which does not surprise
'Matthew is a partner in the House of Halliday Brothers.
He has beside a large fortune which should have been mine.'
'Yet Matthew may want money. I am not a lawyer, but
I suppose that if you sell your chance to him, he can raise
money on the succession.'
'I suppose so.'
'Probus must want money too. Else he would not have
committed the crime of imprisoning you on a false charge
of debt. Well, we need not waste time in asking why. The
question is, first of all, how to get you out.'
Alice clutched her little one to her heart and her colour
vanished, by which I understood the longing that was in
To get me out ? Madam ; I have no friends in the world
who could raise ten pounds/
'Nevertheless, Mr. Will, a body may ask how much is
wanted to get you out/
'There is the alleged debt for the harpsichord of fifty-five
pounds : there is also the alleged debt due to Mr. John Mer-
ridew of fifty pounds: there are the costs: and there are the
fines or garnish without which one cannot leave the place/
'Say, perhaps in all, a hundred and fifty pounds. It is
ALICE FELL ON HER KNEES AND CLASPED HER HAND.
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 95
not much. I think I can find a man' she laughed 'who,
out of his singular love to you, will give the money to take
'You know a man? Madame, I protest there is no one,
in the whole world who would do such a thing/
'Yet if I assure you '
'Oh! Madame! Will!' Alice fell on her knees and
clasped her hand. 'See! It is herself! herself!'
'But why? why?' I asked incredulous.
'Because she is all goodness,' Alice cried, the tears rolling
down her face.
'All goodness !' Madame laughed. 'Yes, I am indeed all
goodness. Get up dear woman. And go on thinking that,
if you can. All goodness!' And she laughed scornfully.
'A hundred and fifty pounds/ she repeated. 'Yes, I think
I know where to get this money/
'Are we dreaming?' I asked.
'But, Will,' she became very serious, 'I must be plain with
you. It is certain to me that the man Probus has got some
hold over your cousin. Otherwise he would not be so im-
patient for you to sell your reversion. Some day I will
show you why I think this. Learn, moreover, that the man
Probus is a man of one passion only. He wants money:
he wants nothing else : it is his only desire to get money. If
anybody interferes with his money getting, he will grind
that man to powder. You have interfered with him: he
has thrust you into prison. Do not believe that when you
are out he will cease to persecute you/
'What am I to do, then?'
'If you come to terms with him he will at once cease his
'Come to terms with him?'
'His terms must mean a great sum of money for himself,
not for you or for your cousin. Else he would not be so
'I can never accept his terms/ I said.
'He will go on, then. If it is a very large sum of money
he will stick at nothing/
'Then what am I to do?'
'Keep out of his way. For, believe me, there is nothing
that he will not attempt to get you once more in his power.
Consider : he put you in here, knowing that you are penni-
less. He calculates that the time will come when you will
96 The Orange Girl
be so broken by imprisonment that you will be ready to
make any terms. Nay he thinks that the prison air will
'The Lord will protect us/ said Alice.
Madame looked up with surprise. 'They say that on the
stage,' she said. 'What does it mean?'
'It means that we are all in the hands of the Lord. With-
out His will not even a sparrow falleth to the ground/
Madame shook her head. 'At least/ she said, 'we must
do what we can to protect ourselves/ She rose. 'I am
going now to get that money. You shall hear from me in a
day or two. Perhaps it may take a week before you are
finally released. But keep up your hearts/
She took the child again and kissed him. Then she gave
him back to his mother.
'You are a good woman/ she said. 'Your face is good :
your voice is good : what you say is good. But, remember.
Add to what you call the protection of the Lord a few pre-
cautions. To stand between such an one as Probus and the
money that he is hunting is like standing between a tigress
and her prey. He will have no mercy : there is no wicked-
ness that 'he will hesitate to devise : what he will do next, I
know not, but it will be something that belongs to his mas-
ter, the Devil/
'The Lord will protect us/ Alice repeated, laying her hand
on the flaxen hair of her child.
We stared at each other, when she was gone. 'Will/
aske'd Alice, with suffused eyes and dropping voice. 'Is she
an angel from Heaven?'
'An angel, doubtless but not from Heaven yet. My
dear, it is the actress who charmed us when we went to the
Play on our wedding-day. It is Miss Jenny Wilmot her-
'Oh! If all actresses are like her! Yet they say
Will, she shall have, at least, our prayers '
Three or four days later the time seemed many years
an attorney came to see me. Not such an attorney as Mr.
Probus : a gentleman of open countenance and pleasant man-
ners. He came to tell me that my business was done, and
that after certain dues were paid which were provided for
I could walk out of the prison.
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 97
'Sir/ I said, 'I beg you to convey to Miss Jenny Wilmot,
my benefactress, my heartfelt gratitude/
'I will, Mr. Halliday. I perceive that you know her
name. Let me beg you not to wait upon her in person. To
be sure, she has left Drury Lane and you do not know her
present address. 'It is enough that she has been able to
benefit you, and that you have sent her a becoming message
of gratitude. But, Sir, one word of caution. She bids you
remember that you have an implacable enemy. Take care,
therefore, take care.'
HOW I GOT A NEW PLACE
So I was free. For twenty-four hours I was like a boy on
the first day of his holidays. I exulted in my liberty: I
ran about the meadows and along the Embankment: I
got into a boat and rowed up and down the river. But when
the first rapture of freedom was spent I remembered that
free or within stone walls, I had still to earn a living. I
had but one way : I must find a place in an Orchestra. At
the Dog and Duck, where my brother-in-law still led, there
was no place for me.
There are, however, a great many taverns with gardens
and dancing and singing places and bands of music. I set
off to find one where they wanted a fiddle. I went, I be-
lieve, the whole round of them from the Temple of Flora
to the White Conduit House, and from Bermondsey Spa to
the Assembly Rooms at Hampstead. Had all the world
turned fiddler? Everywhere the same reply 'No vacancy/
Meantime we were living on the bounty of my brother-in-
law Whose earnings were scanty for his own modest house.
Then I thought of the organ. Of course my place at St.
George's Borough was filled up. There are about a hun-
dred churches in London, however: most of them have or-
gans. I tried every one: and always with the same result:
the place was filled. I thought of my old trade of fiddling
to the sailors. Would you believe it ? There was not even
a tavern parlour where they wanted a fiddle to make the
98 The Orange Girl
sailors dance and drink. Had Mr. Probus been able to keep
me out of everything?
Alice did her best to sustain my courage. She preserved
a cheerful countenance : she brushed my coat and hat in the
morning with a word of encouragement: she welcomed me
home when I returned footsore and with an aching heart.
Why, even in the far darker time that presently followed
she preserved the outward form of cheerfulness and the
inner heart of faith.
The weeks passed on : my bad luck remained : I could hear
of no work, not even temporary work : I began to think
that even the Prison where I could at least earn my two or
three shillings a day was better than freedom: I began also
to think that Mr. Probus must have all the orchestras and
music-galleries in his own power, together with all the
churches that had organs. My shoes wore out and could
not be replaced: my appearance was such as might be ex-
pected when for most of the time I had nothing between
bread and cheese and beer for breakfast, and bread and
cheese and beer for supper. And I think that the miserable
figure I presented was often the cause of rejection.
Chance say Providence helped me. I was walking,
sadly enough, by Charing Cross, one afternoon, being weary,
hungry, and dejected, when I heard a voice cry out, 'Will
Halfiday! Will Halliday! Are you deaf?'
I turned round. It was Madame, my benefactress, my
patroness. She was in a hackney coach.
'Come in/ she cried, stopping her driver. 'Come in with
I obeyed, nothing loth.
'Why/ she said looking at me. 'What is the matter?
Your cheeks are hollow : your face is pale : your limbs are
shaking: worse still you are shabby. What has hap-
I could make no reply.
'Your sweet wife and the lovely boy. They are well?'
When a man has been living for many weeks on insuffi-
cient food: when he has been turned away at every appli-
cation, he may be forgiven if he loses, on small provocation,
his self-control. I am not ashamed to say that her kind
words and her kind looks were too much for me in my weak
condition. I burst into tears.
She laid her hand on my arm, 'Will/ she said, as if
I TURNED AROUND ; IT WAS MADAM.
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 99
she were a sister, 'yottf shall tell me all-^-but you shall go
home with me and we will talk/
I observed that the coachman drove up St. Martin's Lane
and through a collection of streets which I had never seen
before. It was the part called St. Giles's ; a place which is a
kind of laystall into which are shot every day quantities of
the scum, dirt, and refuse of this huge and overgrown city.
I looked out of the window upon a crowd of faces more vil-
lainous than one could conceive possible, stamped with the
brand of Cain. They were lying about in the doorways,
at the open windows, for it was the month of September and
a warm day and on the doorsteps and in the unpaved, unlit,
squalid streets. Never did I see so many ragged and naked
brats ; never did I see so many cripples, so many hunchbacks,
so many deformed people: they were of all kinds bandy-
legged, knock-kneed, those whose shins curve outward like
a bow, round-backed, one-eyed, blind, lame.
'They are the beggars,' said my companion. 'Their de-
formities mean drink : they mean the mothers who drink
and drop the babies about. Beggars and thieves they are
the people of St. Giles's/
'I wonder you come this way. Are you not afraid ?'
'They will not hurt me. I wish they would,' she added
with a sigh.
A strange wish. I was soon, however, to understand
what she meant.
Certainly, no one molested us, or stopped the coach: we
passed through these streets into High Street, Holburn, and
to St. Giles's Church where the criminal on his way to Ty-
burn receives his last drink. Then, by another turn, into a
noble square with a garden surrounded by great houses, of
which the greatest was built for the unfortunate Duke of
Monmouth. The coachman stopped before one of these
houses on the East side of the Square. It was a very fine
and noble mansion indeed.
I threw open the door of the coach and handed Madame
down the steps.
'This is my house/ she said. 'Will you come in with me?'
I followed marvelling how an actress could be so great a
lady: but still I remembered how she spoke familiarly to
those two villains in the King's Benc'h Prison. The doors
flew open. Within, a row of a dozen tall hulking fellows in
livery stood up to receive Madame. She walked through
ioo The Orange Girl
them with an air that belonged to a Duchess. Then she
turned into a small room on the left hand and threw herself
into a chair. 'So/ she said, 'with these varlets I am a great
lady. Here, and in your company, Will, I am nothing but
...' She paused and sighed. 'I will tell you another time.'
I think I was more surprised at the familiarity with which
she addressed me than with the splendour of the place.
This room, for instance, though but little, was lofty and its
walls were painted with flowers and birds: silver candle-
sticks each with two branches, stood on the mantelshelf
which was a marvel of fine carving: a rich carpet covered
the floor : there were two or three chairs and a table in white
and gold. A portrait of Madame hung over the fireplace.
'Forgive me, my friend/ She sprang from the chair and
pulled the bell rope. 'Before we talk you must take some
She gave her orders in a quick peremptory tone as one
accustomed to be obeyed. In a few minutes the table was
spread with a white cloth and laid out with a cold chicken,
a noble ham, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of Madeira. You
may imagine that I made very little delay in sitting down to
these good things. Heavens! How good they were after
the prolonged diet of bread and cheese !
Madame looked on and waited, her chin in her hand.
When I desisted at length, she poured out another glass of
Madeira. 'Tell me/ she said. 'Your sweet wife and the
lovely boy are they as hungry as you?'
I shook my head sadly.
'We shall see, presently, what we can do. Meantime, tell
me the whole story/
I told her, briefly, that my story was nothing at all but
the story of a man out of employment who could not find
any and was slowly dropping into shabbiness of appearance
and weakness of body.
'No work? Why, I supposed you would go back to to
to something in the City/
'Though my father was a Knight and a Lord Mayor, I
am a simple musician by trade. I am not a gentleman/
'I like you all the better/ she replied, smiling. 'I am
not a gentlewoman either. The actress is a rogue and a
vagabond. So is the musician I suppose/
I stared. Was she, then, still an actress and living in
this stately Palace?
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire 101
'You are a musician. Do you, then, '\vaht to> fitid'- ,wi)lk
as a fiddler?'
'That is what I am looking for.'
'Let us consider. Do you play like a a gentleman or
like one of the calling?'
'I am one of the calling. When I tell you that I used to
live by fiddling for sailors to dance '
'Say no more say no more. They are the finest critics
in the world. If you please them it is enough. Why
should I not engage you, myself?'
'You engage me ? You Madame ?'
'Friend Will,' she laid her hand on mine, 'there are rea-
sons why I wish you well and would stand by you if I could.
I will tell you, another day, what those reasons are. Let
me treat you as a friend. When we are alone, I am not
Madame: I am Jenny/
There are some women who if they said such a thing as
this, would be taken as declaring the passion of love. No
one could look at Jenny's face which was all simplicity and
candour and entertain the least suspicion of such a thing.
'Nay, I can only marvel,' I said. For I still thought that
I was talking to some great lady. 'I think that I must be
'Since you know not where you are, this is the Soho As-
sembly and I am Madame Vallance.'
I seemed to have heard of Madame Vallance.
'You know nothing. That is because you have been in
the King's Bench. I will now tell you, what nobody else
knows, that Madame Vallance is Jenny Wilmot. I have
left the stage, for a time, to avoid a certain person. Here,
if I go among the company, I can wear a domino and re-
main unknown. Do you know nothing about us? We
have masquerades, galas, routs everything. Come with
me. I will show you my Ball Room.'
She led me up the grand staircase from the Hall into a
most noble room. On the walls were hung many mirrors :
between the mirrors were painted Cupids and flowers: rout
seats were placed all round the room : the hanging candela-
bra contained hundreds of candles : at one end stood a
'Will,' she said, 'go upstairs and play me something/
102 ' The Orange Girl
' I found an instrument, which I tuned. Then I stood up
in the gallery and played.
She stood below listening. 'Well played!' she cried.
'Now play me a dance tune. See if you can make me dance/
I played a tune which I had often played to the jolly sail-
ors. I know not what it is called. It is one of those tunes
which run in at the ears and down to the heels which it
makes as light as a feather and as quick silver for nimble-
ness. In a minute she was dancing with such grace, such
spirit, such quickness of motion, as if every limb was with-
out weight. And her fair face smiling and her blue eyes
dancing ! never was there such a figure of grace : as for the