Harlots (2017) s01e01 Episode Script

Episode 1

1 (street noises) Hello, Pa.
- See you soon, Mr.
- Thank you, Kitty.
I've got Harris's list.
(giggling) Give it back! Give it back! You shouldn't be reading that, you virgin.
Give it back, stop! Let's see what's in here about you girls.
Here's yours, Fanny.
"Miss Fanny Lambert.
"The very thing in winter for those who love a fat, jolly girl, "a fine, bouncing crummy wench, "and not amiss in summer, barring perspiration.
" Does it say I stink? Perspire doesn't mean stink.
Yeah, it does.
Here's Kitty's.
I've read mine already.
I'm appealing.
Read mine.
No, Emily, wait your turn.
"Betsey Fletcher, Russell Street.
"This girl is new upon the town, "having been debauched not six months ago.
" She's one of Nancy's girls.
What's in there for Nancy? (chuckling) Fanny, Kitty, you're both wanted.
Culls are waiting.
"Nancy Birch, Russell Street.
" (whip cracks) "When flagellation is required, "she acquits herself to the entire satisfaction "of her cull.
" Read your sister's.
"Miss Charlotte Wells.
" "Her extravagance would scatter the fortune "of any but the most ambitious keeper.
"But her eyes dart delight.
"Her bosom enchants to rapture, "and her wit makes her the very meteor of the hour.
" I'll be in there next year.
I doubt it.
Your ma keeps you cosseted up like a baby.
She's waiting for the right cull.
Better get a move on.
- You're losing your shine.
- What, like you have? Read mine.
"Miss Emily Lacey.
"A wretched piece, "nasty, disagreeable, "snuffy letch "without even one good quality.
" It doesn't say that.
"Walks like a parrot" (laughter) " and swears like a drunken drab.
" When the time comes, I hope your quim splits.
Emily Lacey! All of you.
I've got an officer out there with such hard prickstand he can hardly walk.
Gibbon's arrived to ponder the riddle of the female, and you're all sitting in here on your goods like pecking hens.
Take me to the circle of bliss! Emily, go and service Mr.
Holland before he expires.
Eat fast.
Scrub up.
Stop vexing my best girl.
I need you to play.
She's as pure as the snow on St.
What's your price, so I may have her? You're a valued patron, Mr.
Gibbon, so you'll pardon my candor when I tell you you'll mount that harpsichord before you have my daughter.
Clawing your way up in the world? I'm soon taking a fine new house, in Soho.
Greek Street.
When we're settled there, I'll be taking sealed bids for Lucy's virginity.
Twenty-five pounds to have her now.
Sealed bids.
As I did for Charlotte, my older daughter.
She is one of the brightest stars in London's firmament.
And I intend no less for Lucy.
Miss Lambert, at last.
Fanny, the lieutenant would cherish a voyage on your peaks.
At your service.
I'll give you thirty pounds to have her, now on that stool.
That's out of the question.
- Forty.
- I know her value.
Fifty pounds.
Lucy? What is keeping Miss Carter? What a hell-bound spider you are.
I'm clawing my way upwards in the world, Mr.
Gibbon, not down.
"At Lydia Quigley's house of earthly delights, "Michelangelo himself could not do justice "to the perfect alabaster of Miss Pettifer's bosom.
" The musk, madame.
That's most gratifying.
I'm sure I don't deserve it.
The French Piece.
Read hers.
"Miss D'Aubigne, Golden Square, Soho.
" It says here you're dead behind the eyes! Charles? Morte derrière les yeux.
I want eager zeal, comprends? Or you'll go to the pimps of Cheapside and you won't be smiling then! She says that from now on, she'll be the very spirit of joy.
We're rehearsing a tableau, Mama.
Diana, bathing with her nymphs; look.
The Duke of Cumberland is bringing his retinue after the play.
Make sure he gets anything he wants.
Where are you going? To watch the sport in Covent Garden.
"This radiant, young votary of Venus "possesses between her lithesome legs "a gateway to the temple of bliss" That's me.
I'm bliss, I'm radiant I'm sunk in lust and lechery.
What is the cost to my soul? Five shillings.
(dogs barking) Go home to your wife, Ned.
Cleanse these streets with the fire and purity in our hearts! The fornicators, the adulterers, the abusers of themselves, the child-stealers, and all the abominations of Sodom They have taken our great city and sunk it in the vilest sin.
(shouting) God lights His righteous fire tonight.
The burning of the harlots! Burning! Shit! Margaret! They're coming for us! (screaming) We will cleanse these streets with a fire of purity.
It is God's work we do tonight.
Let us pray that we do it well.
(thumping at door) They've never touched us, all the years we've been here.
I'll hold them off.
(banging at door) Open the door in the name of the king! Wait a while! Why wake Christian people in the middle of the night? (screaming) Feel God's righteous fire! Burn, harlots! Burn, you sinners! Will you walk with me? If we seem a couple, they might not arrest me.
I'm sorry.
Please, Mr.
Oswald! (chaos, screaming) Jacob, son.
Up to the attic and hide.
Open the door! It pains me to tell you that the constables have come.
I haven't finished yet.
Curse you! I need to get you out.
What is it, what is it, what do we do? Go out the back, Lieutenant.
Get these on.
Who dares interfere with an Englishman's right to go whoring? Mr.
Holland, set yourself straight! Think of the safety of these girls! We should run, let's run! No if you run, you'll be rape-fodder! Go to Charlotte and tell her what's happening.
Get yourself straight, girls.
Open the door! Open the door.
Margaret Wells, I am charging you under the Disorderly Houses Act of 1752, that you do keep an obscene and bawdy house You lie, and your warrant is a trumped-up sham! Get your hands off my tenants! (screaming, chaos) (distant bell tolling) Charlotte Howard! I've ridden hard to be with you.
Now you must ride harder.
How I have pined for you.
Night after night, all alone! Have you signed the contract? Are you mine? I want to be your lord and master.
Surely you don't want to talk about that now? (groaning, panting) What's in the box? It's a gift isn't it? Wait.
You are the pineapple of Great Britain.
Most lovers would bring pearls.
I cut it from our hothouse.
And as I did so, I thought of Eve.
She came to my mind in your form.
Naked, she was tempted by such a fruit, tempted to know sin (groaning) So if I am Eve, then you are? The serpent! A person is here for Miss Wells.
- Her sister.
- Lucy? Curse you, Haxby! Why didn't you damn well wait? It's Ma.
I pay my taxes and my levies.
I support the night watch.
I donate to the parish for the poor; I keep my house in excellent repair The warrant is signed by a witness who declares that he paid you for intimate congress with the women who abide with you.
What witness? The court is not obliged to name him.
I take money for furnished rooms.
These girls are my tenants.
There's nothing illegal in rent.
Your business is procuring harlots.
Nothing would distress this dissolute and shameless whore! Order! Let not her tongue sway you, for this harlot has slithered from her mother's womb to lure mankind to vice.
No, Sir! I am Charlotte Wells and I am here to speak for my mother.
Sit down, Charlotte! The warrant must be faulty and the witness false.
He can only have been paid to smear my mother's name.
How dare you interrupt this court.
We are pursued and harried like prey! My mother protects her girls because the law does not! Charlotte, sit down! These she-hounds are a cancer in our city - Margaret Wells should be commended - and must be cut out! for the way she runs her house, She is the exemplar of all the bawds in London! In your own words, you have admitted that your mother is a common bawd.
(shouting) I grieve for the desperate women I have seen today, who, faced with starvation, have sold their flesh.
But you are no such creature, Margaret Wells.
You are a leech grown fat upon the sins of others.
Not true! A vile parasite engaged in a brutal trade.
I fine you 100 pounds for running a disorderly house, and if I see you before me again, I'll have you whipped and transported.
- Empty the court! - That's justice? It's not enough! That is not enough! - That is not enough - You shut your mouth! Egregious shame! Florence Scanwell, that blind bitch.
Someone had to shut her up.
You have imperiled my move to Greek Street! My final payment was due today, - how am I going to I afford it now? - I'll help you.
Most certainly; a hundred pounds! I have some pressing gaming debts.
But once they're clear You're contracted to a baronet.
He should be paying your debts! Ma, I haven't signed.
How can I relinquish my freedom to a man who thinks I'm a pineapple? Damn you for a stupid slut.
You need to be his property.
Men don't respect whores; they respect property.
That's for what you made me.
Got excellent news, august and venerable madam.
The Wells woman.
(whispering) (street noise, clattering) Bloody Margaret Wells, leaving us to walk home.
Why couldn't she get us sedan chairs? They took all her money.
She's as tight as a nun's nip.
Why are you moaning? She loves you.
(chuckles) She loves my profit.
She loves my pert heavers.
She'll have them worn to sagging, and for what? Enough of your spite and lamenting.
You're like a stinging fly! My cunny puts food on his table.
I'm sick of Covent Garden; sick of Margaret Wells and her two-faced clucking! Sweet Emily.
Why don't you just cluck off? Our new home, if I can still pay for it.
That money-grabbing landlord.
What a weasel.
He's given me till Monday, but he's hiked the rent.
Ma, there's your solution.
Sell her virginity.
I'm keeping you intact till we move in.
Why, when it's coming anyway? You'll get a finer class.
You may leap up to where Charlotte is in one great step.
You had me out at twelve.
Do not think I balk at it.
If you want to keep her immaculate, fine.
Let her marry a shopkeeper.
And see a man own everything she earns? I wouldn't wish marriage on a dog.
I'm worth at least fifty pounds, Ma.
They can view you tonight at the playhouse.
And I'll take sealed bids.
You'll be a Wells woman, through and through.
I believe in your crusade against the daughters of vice.
It is not my intention to charge you any rent.
I am a plain speaker, Mrs.
I am not ignorant of your name or your house.
You suckle and nurture an evil trade in flesh.
Why offer me this? You currently live in a hovel.
You cannot see your child but she is stooped and thin with the pallor of a ghost.
What do you want? I want you to impale Margaret Wells on the spear of your campaign.
There are viler bawds than she.
I am fit and well and my cheeks are rosy.
I'd like to see Margaret Wells publicly flayed until her back resembles a latticed tart.
Would you not enjoy that too? Make an example of her.
(inhales deeply) I worship you, George Howard.
(knock at door) Enter.
I've prepared a fresh copy of the contracts, my lord.
You'll be responsible for her debts as well as her upkeep.
I must advise you, it will drain your funds.
I want sole ownership now! I want Charlotte Wells contracted as mine! "A busy week for toast of the town Miss C.
, "lately in the keeping of young Baronet Hardhead.
" "She was blazing a trail at the boxing on Tuesday.
"At the Masquerade on Wednesday" She said she'd been living like a nun! She was out every night! You knew.
Why didn't you damn well tell me? Come in for a nip of gin, Mags.
Florence Scanwell, Nancy.
What do we know about her? They say that on her wedding night, she saw her husband's prick and thought it such a fiendish thing, she stabbed her own eyes out with a brooch.
(laughter) These boys come to pay my rent.
Strange about the timing though, isn't it? Just when you're set to move up in the world, you get raided.
Who wants me, Nance? Who have you offended? Whose name is on my warrant? (operatic singing) (mixed chatter) (knocking at door) Look what came to the door, Ma.
I would have sent it away, but it has some rather unusual curves.
It's looking for a position.
I'm never stuck for a position, sir.
It's got a spark.
I've been told Mrs.
Quigley's is the outstanding house.
This is my entry in Harris's List.
I have the gateway to the temple of bliss.
Have you been long on the town? I've got good experience.
I'm the best girl in my current house.
- Any children? - None living.
What do you know of art and culture and the current subjects of conversation? I can talk if they want.
- What instruments do you play? - The male instrument.
(Lydia laughs) In other words, you're nothing more than a rutting post.
Every one of my girls moves, eats, speaks, sings, and plays like a lady.
The only way she differs is in her worship of Venus.
I earn a fortune for my current house.
You're nothing but a bare-forked animal, my dear.
Shakespeare and my girls would know that.
Take her out.
I am constantly asked for.
Wells has me on my back morning, noon, and night and I know I can do better.
Presumably Wells owns the dress you're standing in.
What's your debt to her? Don't know, maybe five pounds? As an act of benevolence, I'll settle it.
Then your debt becomes payable to me.
So you will take me? I'll have to refine you and dress you in a proper style.
These costs will be added to your debt.
So you'll work like a black.
Do you understand? (door slams shut, is locked) Wha You can't lock me in! Let me out! (footsteps running downstairs) You are cutting out my heart, you treacherous whore.
Howard! Pining alone.
Living like a nun.
Well, don't you dare come to the playhouse tonight, you cheating, ly you don't deserve to live! Mumma's ordered me to try the goods.
You let me out, or I'll tell every cull I'm a prisoner here.
You'll be hanged for a kidnapping pimp, and so will Mrs.
Then go.
As soon as your debt is paid.
What's your name? Emily Lacey.
Miss Lacey.
I bet you made that up.
What's your real name, Sally Piddle? I'm the Duchess of Quim.
I'll wager you're a wild bouncing kind of a ride.
We'll teach you all the refinements you'll need music, dancing, French.
So climb on.
I won't harm you; look.
We had a girl who left to be mistress to the Duke of Norfolk.
So you will teach my cunny French? Oui.
You need rest.
I must sort things for Lucy.
I've reserved the box.
The word is out.
You will have bids.
See what I've been keeping for you? My mother took me down St.
Martin's Lane.
She'd spent every last farthing on her gin, the slut and she was a bunter; no one'd go near her.
She sold me to a bawd for a pair of shoes.
I was ten.
I know.
Do you know that woman's name? Mrs.
She dressed me warm, she gave me a full meal.
She said if I pleased her gentlemen, I'd be her own sweet girl.
I swore it wouldn't be like that for you.
I gave you schooling.
I gave you time.
Do you like them? They don't fit.
Then make them.
(distant bell tolling) Howard! Where's your fine lady? In Richmond.
Not your wife, man! He means Miss Wells.
Lord Repton is besotted with Miss Wells.
The sister comes out tonight, have you heard? Wells junior.
Maidenhood to the highest bidder, and I swear that will be me.
My husband loves a hymen.
(giggles) I had Charlotte's.
I would like her sister's too.
(laughing) All there for the taking, Lucy.
Snuff? I've carried you before, Miss Wells.
I'd be insulted you don't recall only I was at the back.
Now I've graduated to the front.
But I won't be doing this for very long.
I thought I might set myself up as a fancy-man.
There must be many a lady who'd pay for a throw with a well-shaped man like me.
My price is very fair.
I'd even give you the first one for free.
Nothing comes for free, sir.
You would, I guarantee it.
Right, Seamus.
You're a harlot, sir.
(chuckles) (operatic singing) You lied to me.
You went out every night I was away.
Yes, but all of London knows my constancy.
So why do you not sign my contract? I don't want to be owned, like your wife.
Then I have no surety of your faith.
You have my word.
A whore's word? (murmuring) Take it or not, as you please.
What have you done? Why does he scorn you? I won't sign his poxy contract.
You are the village idiot.
(applause) Lucy.
Lucy! Lucy.
Whatever is the matter? Control yourself.
You must shine! (knock at door) - Lord Repton.
- My dear.
Let me see her.
Silly girl.
The opera moves her.
She cries.
Why, the poor lamb Please.
May I offer you this note? Gentlemen, I'm considering all bids.
I'm not ready.
It's not hard.
You'll learn to be the Queen of Pretend, as I am.
You know why the men sing so high, don't you? Done to them when they're little boys, to stop their voices breaking.
That's the cruelty of the opera.
The subject is love, but the men have no balls and the virgins are all played by whores.
The tears worked, you clever minx.
They want you more than ever.
(knocking at door) Nancy sent me.
Who signed that warrant? Charles Quigley.
Lydia Quigley! Are you coming after me with lawmen and judges? You? See how this sluice rat behaves at the opera.
I want one hundred pounds or I'll have you up before a judge - for a malicious prosecution.
- (laughs) Do you really think you'll have the judge's ear? Oh one of your girls came to me today.
A pert little doxie by the name of Emily Lacey.
A very rideable piece.
She's mine now.
You cannot steal my girls! She implored me to take her from your flyblown cunny house.
Damn you for a kidnapping pimp! Come, my doves.
Let's leave this rat to eat its young.
He offers twice the highest bid.
For me? We need the money.
Then take it.
If you are free to lie and cheat and play the whore, then so will I be.
(wolf whistle) Look at this quagmire you've come from.
Look at what I've done for you! Your sister will realize I am quite man enough.
You may wait.
I'd rather be cut in quarters.
Charlotte! Charlotte, you infernal whore! I'll go after her, my lord.
We are honored by your generous bid.
My precious girl.
I am yours, my lord.
Why are you driving him away? He's an easy keeper.
He's a snake.
You could have him dropping jewels on your pillow, but no, you provoke him to this spite! Indulge him.
Take his contract.
I'm thinking about your future.
You have never, ever had to sell yourself for pence or beg for food.
My ma sold me for a pair of shoes.
I've heard about those shoes so many times I could start a cobbler's.
The only safety is in money! I hate money! Money is a woman's only power in this world.
You make it your solace and your dream and one day wealth, real lasting wealth, will make you free.
Are you free? I will be, when I'm in my new house.
Thank you, Ma, for all you've done, for Lucy and for me.
You never, ever sold us short.
I can't get it in, you slog! (panting) I'm soft as a rotted fruit, curse you! You're the most hideous piece of flesh I've ever had in my life, even more insipid than my dull, fatiguing wife.
You're clearly frigid, still a virgin.
I shall ask your mother for my money back.
No please, my lord, just tell me what to do.
I've had enough of you! I'll do anything you like, just don't tell my ma.
In return for my silence, you will tell everyone that I impaled you, hard.
When Charlotte asks what it was like, what will you say? It was like the opera.
(retching) Once I slept on a feather bed With blankets woven warm Now I'm glad to lay my head On a cloak that's old and torn So sing with me a merry catch As summer days will come My love, he is a soldier boy, So I'm following the drum With a pat-a-pat-a-tat And a rattle and a scrat And the beat of a marching song I'm ragged and I'm worn and my hose are torn Do you need a ride? My offer still stands.
Like I said, first one for free.
Think like a whore.
How much can you get? A guinea.
For what? - Sell me your charms.
- I offer you love.
Then you're a fool.
For a harlot, that doesn't exist.
Then I have nothing.
Hunger in my stomach and a mouth full of breeze.
Here's tuppence.
What's that for? Your company.
I'm lame and tired before my time And still I follow him Oh, I'm lame and tired But still I smile And so I follow I want your forgiveness.
Eight shillings.
I prayed for boys, William.
Every time, I prayed for a boy.
She's strong.
Like her mother.
This city is made of our flesh, every beam, every brick.
We'll have our piece of it.
Once I slept on a feather bed With blankets woven warm Sting Margaret Wells.
Don't confront her.
Quigley must be stood up to.
I must strike back! Leave my house or conflict there will be.
I'm quaking with fear.
I told them I'd try my chances in America.
- I'm leaving.
- I say when you leave! Thank you, Ma, for the gift of whoring.
- I'm no good at this.
- You have to have a keeper! I want Lucy.
Your daughter is a goddess.
What will happen if I say no? Now that's how a whore makes an entrance.
(laughing) Kindness is a cruelty.
I will bring her down.
To capture beasts, you must have bait.
You are a monster! Bitch! - Ma! - Charles, speak to me! We'll hang for this.
London is a den of peril.
No one is safe.