The Crimson Petal And The White (2011) s01e01 Episode Script

Part One

(woman) London, 1874.
Keep your wits about you.
This city is vast and intricate and you do not know your way around.
(woman screeches) You imagine from other stories you've read that you know it well.
But those stories flattered you.
You are an alien from another time and place altogether.
You don't even know what hour it is, do you? Nor do most where you're going.
Here people go to sleep as soon as the gin takes effect.
You've allowed yourself to be led astray and there's no hope of finding your way back.
(whinnies) (laughter) (urinates) Elizabeth? I brought candles.
I won't need 'em.
I'm not a pretty sight.
- You look alright.
- Christ, Sugar.
Don't you never blush? What happened? Two of 'em.
Wouldn't walk all the way back here.
How about a quick soot-arse in the alley? Never stopped laughing.
I'm gonna hunt them down and kill them.
Course you are.
Like all the ones ever done you mischief.
Tomorrow I'll be cold meat.
- They'll toss me in the river.
- They won't.
I won't let them.
Eels will eat out my eyes.
No one'll know I ever lived.
I'll know.
(pants) You again? Who have you come to rescue now? I brought Elizabeth some calf's-foot jelly.
Too late.
She's dead.
(man laughs) (pants) (woman squeals) - Fly.
- Help me.
Fly.
Fly, now.
Fly.
Fly.
Fly! My It's from my hat.
She struck at me with Curlew? (woman) Dr Curlew's been sent for.
Oh, my dear Mrs Fox, please.
- Henry.
- This way.
It is we who must apologise.
The party ended prematurely.
I'm afraid my sister-in-law brought it to a halt with a most unfortunate turn.
Oh, poor Agnes.
I think it best for me to see you home.
I'm sorry, William.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
No need for that.
Am I still your little girl? Yes.
Of course you are.
Always.
- Don't touch me.
- No.
No, of course not.
You know very well Agnes is delicate.
Our current financial woes place an intolerable strain on her nerves.
It's hardly surprising that little incidents like this Little incidents? She knocked a woman's hat clean off her head with a poker! She could have had her eye out! She felt trapped, she said.
Next thing, she caught sight of the stuffed bird on Lady Bridgelow's bonnet and believed it was about to take wing.
She sought only to free it from its yards of net.
- Can you hear yourself? - An erroneous impulse, certainly.
But a generous one, at least.
And given our current financial circumstances If you want your circumstances to change, you know what you have to do.
You turn your mind to the business.
I gave you this year's accounts a month ago.
- Have you looked at them? No.
- I have tried.
I do not have a flair for business.
I am not like you.
I'm a writer! What have you written? A small pamphlet.
Not yet published.
Dear God.
Father, if you were only to sell Rackham's - Sell? and invest the proceeds, we could all live quite comfortably off the interest.
Your allowance was somewhat reduced.
You may now consider it altogether withdrawn.
You go ahead, you be your own man, at your own expense! - But, sir - Write your way out of that! Sir? Sir? Why, pray, was the vintner unable to make this delivery in person? How did it come to pass that I had to ask you to collect the claret, Christopher? He says, "Tell Mrs Castaway it's cos of Christmas.
" Oh, Christmas.
- What is Christmas? - It's the day Jesus was born.
- Who's Jesus? - He died for our sins.
Evidently unsuccessfully since we're all still paying.
One squirt of slime from the man, one fishy egg in the woman and behold, they shall call his name Emmanuel.
(door opens and closes) Got some bear's grease for ya.
Thank you, Christopher.
All alone, is it? No gent in tow? Elizabeth is dead.
Gone to a better place.
Huh! Always said she would, didn't she? Huh! Who's next? You? Me? Be sure and carry a knife in your bodice from now on.
I'd never have the wit to use it.
Watch your dress.
You don't wanna spoil it.
A lot of trouble you go to for clothes that only stay on five minutes.
Excuse me, ladies.
I would be honoured to preserve your image for all time.
- For all time? - No, thank you.
Go on, shush.
Why not? I'd rather not spend an indefinite future being passed from hand to hand by strangers.
Wouldn't have minded being remembered for eternity, that's all.
Elizabeth asked me to put her in my book.
Thinking the same, I suppose.
I used to love it when you read your book to us.
But I wondered whether you ever thought of putting a bit of good fortune in.
Like a miraculous rescue.
No.
It's a book of hate, Caddie.
To wreak revenge on every pompous, trembling worm who taps at Mrs Castaway's door.
- Bill! - Oh! Bodley, Ashwell.
- What has happened to your hair? - Ah.
It's It was supposed to look like Matthew Arnold.
I'm actually pleased it doesn't.
I think his latest work to be overrated.
Come on, old chap.
Let's get you a drink.
(Ashwell) Upwards! So we're we're quite worn out by the research for this book.
And do you have a title yet? The Efficacy of Prayer.
(laughter) It's ironic.
Yes.
Is there any hope of finding a publisher for such a piece? There's a thundering call for books that destroy the fabric of society.
Speaking of which, how goes the great work? At its own pace.
(Bodley) Well, don't let the book consume you entirely.
You're a virtual recluse these days.
And such opportunities lost.
Opportunities? - Lucy Fitzroy, only 14.
- Oh.
Wields a vicious whip at Madame Georgina's.
An absolute fizgig.
But the one we're just dying to have a crack at is Sugar.
- Sugar? - (Ashwell) Over at Mrs Castaway's.
A very high-class house.
Of course, one can never get her.
- Begin to wonder if she even exists.
- The most intriguing reputation.
They say she never disappoints.
That'd put ink in your nib, man.
(doorbell rings) It should never be necessary to ring a doorbell more than once.
Especially if it is one's own, Letty.
- How is Mrs Rackham? - Well, sir, I believe.
Dr Curlew is with her.
Mr Rackham, we're short on coal.
The delivery never arrived.
I've changed supplier.
Our fellow was becoming quite erratic.
Mr Rackham.
Curlew.
Please.
Well, she's tolerably lucid, but I expect a full collapse very shortly.
Really? I had been thinking she seemed rather better.
Then you're deluded.
Rackham, every time I visit her, she has to fight that much more strenuously to compose herself.
She finds your visits very stressful.
Perhaps - Having Agnes temporarily committed - Committed? would cause you personal pain and social embarrassment.
But I have seen other men wrestle with the same decision, and, believe me, once they have made it, they are relieved beyond words.
(Bodley) The most intriguing reputation.
They say she never disappoints.
(Sugar) The jewel in Castaway's crown.
(William) Sugar.
(Sugar) Pay for cotton but lie in silk.
Beg, borrow or steal to buy my services.
Seek me out at the Fireside Inn.
How do I look, Clara? Beautiful.
The doctor says I'm not to read any more.
He says it excites me.
- Well, he doesn't know everything.
- No.
(sighs) (exhales) (lively chatter) (piano music) (woman) You've been a very naughty boy.
(piano music continues) So you never told us what it is you do, what line of business.
Business? Now, there's a word I've no time for.
No, I am a writer, novelist, critic.
What's your name? I might have heard of you.
I very much doubt that.
You ladies don't, if you'll excuse me, look like readers.
I know more than you might expect.
I've had Charles Dickens.
- Ain't he dead? - Not the bit she sucked on.
- Who's that? - Is that who you're waiting for? Him and half the fools in 'ere.
Hey, Sugar! Writer, he says.
Waiting for you.
All his life, I don't doubt.
(women laugh) Good evening, Mr? Hunt.
With an aitch.
Er, George Hunt.
And you are? Sugar is all there is to my name, Mr Hunt.
Sugar.
I do hope you haven't been waiting too long with the three witches for company.
The three witches? That's Macbeth.
You must forgive my appearance.
This foul weather plays havoc with my hair.
Mine too.
I had it cut.
It was supposed to look like Matthew Arnold.
- It doesn't.
- Be thankful.
I think he's rather overrated.
But I'm sure you know better much than I.
No, I agree.
Absolutely.
Give me Ruskin any day.
If it's Mr Ruskin's prose you're referring to, then I quite concur.
Spare me his poetry.
In verse he's a major minor.
Tennyson's latest work, pure whimsy.
It's whimsy.
It's whimsical.
It's There is a poet.
- James Thomson.
- James Thomson? Yes, James Thomson, who, in his latest work, is truly breaking new ground.
The City of Dreadful Night.
You know it? "The world rolls round for ever like a mill.
" "It grinds out life and death, and good and ill.
" "It has no purpose, heart nor mind nor will.
" These are dark notions for a beautiful young woman to take to heart.
My life can be dark sometimes.
But kindred spirits like yourself are difficult to find.
(knocking at door) Your lips are like feathers.
(whispers) Shall they help you take flight? (door opens) Welcome to Mrs Castaway's, sir.
The use of the room will cost you five shillings.
There can be good wine waiting for an additional two.
But what happens up there and for how long is for you and Sugar to put a value to.
Here's ten shillings.
Send up some wine.
(woman laughs) (William mutters) You're tired, Mr Hunt.
I haven't been sleeping.
I go to bed at night I just lie awake.
Well, we shall have to take good care of you.
Strong ale at the Fireside.
(Sugar) He woke from his dreamless drunkard's sleep and found her poised to cut his throat.
Good morning, Mr Hunt.
(William) Morning? I've slept so long? Well, you were very tired.
(William) Yes, I was.
I believe it's (gasps) Miss Sugar, I have suffered the most regrettable, most shameful loss of control.
Throw off your wet things, Mr Hunt, at once.
That is quite beyond I can't expect you to (Sugar) Your things, please, now.
- This really is - Lie back now.
All will soon be set to rights.
Poor baby.
(groans) I have taken up an unconscionable amount of your time.
Not at all.
You are a very interesting man, George Hunt.
I shall look out for your books.
Er, Miss Sugar No Miss.
Just Sugar.
My name is not, erm Please just call me William.
Forgive the deception, but a man has a reputation to uphold.
- And what's in a name? - Indeed.
That's actually a line from Romeo and Juliet.
Also, you may struggle to find my work in published form.
Writing is not my sole occupation.
Well, of course.
Why would a man with your unquenchable curiosity, your Renaissance grasp of the world and its wonders, limit himself to just one sphere? Surely you would bring the same originality of mind and fixity of purpose to anything you were about.
All turns to art in the artist's hand.
Mrs Fox, I must apologise again for our last encounter.
You found my brother and I at our absolute worst.
Oh, I doubt that.
And I perhaps owe you an apology.
I was much preoccupied that night.
Ah.
I put your reserve down to good manners.
I had that afternoon visited a bawdyhouse to see a girl plainly not long for this world.
Good Lord.
It's not uncommon.
There's a trade in sick girls.
I once complained to a madam that one of her employees could barely stand.
She told me standing was not mandatory, that I looked a bit peaky myself and would I like to lie down in the spare room? A most sly and licentious suggestion.
Do I look ill to you? Not at all.
(doorbell rings) Better, Letty, much better.
Though you might tidy yourself up a little.
Fixity of purpose.
I am going to get well, even if it kills me.
(William) Agnes, dearest.
They've really pushed the boat out.
I hope you have an appetite.
What a happy coincidence it is that you've come down today.
- Coincidence? - I am ushering in a new regime.
Including a review of the staff.
The household is out of hand.
And it's not just today.
The rain makes the servants skittish, of course.
I have observed this so often, I mean to write a short piece for Punch on the topic.
The fact is, servants look to their mistress for guidance, and a return to overseeing them might be good for you, dear.
Can't Can't they just sort it out among themselves? I mean, isn't that what you always used to talk about? Socialism? There is a difference between socialism and the staff running amok.
I wonder if Henry will come after church.
I like him, don't you? Henry lately seems to spend his Sundays in the company of Mrs Fox.
Dr Curlew's sister, the widow? You don't mean? No.
God, no.
And Mrs Fox is far too preoccupied with her beloved Rescue Society.
Mrs Fox rescues people? Prostitutes, dear.
A pointless crusade, if you ask me.
It doesn't seem to have occurred to her that many of these girls enjoy their work.
Are you quite alright, Agnes? Would you like (rasps) Clara! Letty! Janey! Mrs Rackham? Mrs Rackham.
Clara, send for Dr Curlew at once.
No.
No.
- No, Mr Rackham.
- (William) Do as I ask.
All turns to art in an artist's hands.
All very sudden, this change of heart.
A revelation of Damascan proportions, sir.
I am a new man.
And I'm expected to jig for joy and slap a fat cheque on the desk, is that it? No, I wish to prove myself, Father.
If I may.
I have brought my unquenchable curiosity to bear on the Rackham accounts.
(woman screeches) Why, William.
What a pleasure to see you again, and so soon.
- I brought you something.
- Really? Something I forgot to give you last time.
You spoil me.
(fake groans) - Oh! Oh, Mr Hunt! - (groans) Oh, Mr Hunt! Oh, Mr Hunt! Oh, Mr Hunt! Oh, Mr Hunt! Oh, Mr Hunt! My name is William Rackham! (William groans) I never thought I'd see the day.
(woman squeals) (man laughs) You're too late.
Sugar don't wait for no one.
(lively chatter) Will you consider it? Exclusive patronage of Sugar by me.
No.
- What? - These matters are complex.
We have a small house here.
If a third of what we offer is unavailable, where does that leave us? - Then there are other complications.
- Such as? Our bond of mutual regard with the Fireside.
Surely you, who are so appreciative of Sugar's merits, can see she is a draw there.
These are details.
It's the principle of the matter that I'm concerned with.
- The principle? - Whether Sugar herself would agree.
Might she come down? It is her future at stake, after all.
(Mrs Castaway) There is another thing you haven't allowed for.
You don't consider the possibility that Sugar might prefer Forgive me, she might prefer variety.
(William) Well, we shall let her decide.
Why, Mr Hunt, what a pleasure.
Mr Hunt has a proposition for you, Sugar.
So I understand.
If I may, what none of us understands is, outside of your arrangement with the house itself what will you pay Sugar? (William) I will pay her whatever makes her happy.
Well, Mr Hunt, I am willing.
What time is it? You don't need to take in copy work any more, or whatever it is you do to get yourself in such a mess.
You know, Rackham's does manufacture a product for dry skin.
But I'm a slave to Atkinson's bear's grease.
Oh! Your life is going to be very different from now on.
- I hope some things remain the same.
- Mmm.
Mmm.
(William laughs) Mmm.
Mmm.
Mmm! (doorbell rings) Your men work on the Sabbath? As do I.
Not enough hours in the day, Henry.
Did you know that there's an octave in perfume as there is in music? Anyway, how can I help? Do you ever think of Mother? No.
You were very young when she, erm passed on.
Henry, she ran off with another man.
She abandoned us.
I am conscious sometimes that we lacked, growing up, any, erm female society.
You know, of course, of Mrs Fox's efforts in the, erm, in the darkest recesses of the city.
Well, I thought that her practical support might be well supplemented by my more doctrinal approach.
My problem, though, is this.
If I am to minister to, erm fallen women how shall I recognise them? (laughs) - Your hands any better? - This bear's grease is miraculous.
How's your book? You know I taught myself to read.
I could teach you.
Don't need it.
Mind your back! (woman) My hand is yours for a shilling, sir.
And any other part for two.
Please, cover yourself up.
Your body parts are not yours to sell.
They belong together, and the whole belongs to God.
My 'ole belongs to anyone that's got two shillings, sir.
Listen to me.
I want you to see these two shillings as an act that's no longer necessary.
It's in lieu, which is to say whatever you were about to do please, I beg you, don't.
(Sugar) "Please," he begged, tugging at the silken bonds.
"Let me go.
I am an important man.
" So tell me, exalted sir, where is it your pleasure to have this blade enter you? (muffled cries) (bell rings) Sir.
You're late.
Hard at work, Mr Rackham? I brought you something.
A couple of my friends produced it.
It's called The Efficacy of Prayer.
Bodley and Ashwell.
(chuckles) How perfectly childish.
Have they nothing better to do? No, nothing.
- Whereas you - Exactly.
- How is the business? - Splendid.
- And your rivals? - Ah - Is the competition stiff? - (laughs) Well, Pears and Yardley are unassailable.
Rowland and Rimmel are in good health.
Nisbett is ailing, perhaps fatally.
I'm I'm sorry.
Is this terribly dull, all this talk of business? Dull? Who understands better than I the connection between commerce and art? On which subject, I've been thinking about this Rackham's catalogue.
"Lavender foot balm? Are malodorous feet your Achilles heel?" I know, I know.
It was written years ago.
Father's work.
Hardly elegant.
So why not rewrite it? It's early days.
I'm not sure Father's ready.
It's time for you to lead, not follow.
Let's make the business worthy of the Rackham name.
William Rackham, that is.
What would I do without you? (Sugar moans) (moans) (Clara) Mrs Rackham.
Oh, you're awake.
Yes, I mean to take breakfast downstairs this morning, Clara.
Have you remembered that Mr Rackham is away? - He has gone to Dundee.
- So you'll take breakfast alone? I think I shall find it easier that way.
I feel so light this morning, Clara.
I can't tell you what a relief it is.
After breakfast, I shall work on my dresses.
The season is almost upon us, after all.
Would you bring them for me? Clara, with, erm with the season so close, there are certain, er, skills I I will need to re-master, such as, erm well, going outside and, erm, er, walking unsupported.
I was, er, I was thinking we might try later.
(Clara) If you feel up to it.
Perhaps after Dr Curlew's been round.
No, but surely Surely he isn't coming today? No, I'm I'm I won't I won't see him, Clara.
I simply won't.
Chepstow Villas.
I'm sorry you have come all this way, because unfortunately for you I am quite well.
You're looking very pale to me.
That may be the face powder, mayn't it? Have I not cautioned you against the use of cosmetics? And did you not tell me that you had dis Disposed of? Yes, so I did.
So it cannot be that.
But I I am too tired to be examined.
Your tiredness may in itself be a symptom of the illness.
You examine me every week.
What harm can it do to leave it undone just this once? Only a madwoman would let her health decline.
I am not a madwoman.
Which is why I ask permission, rather than obliging you, as I would an asylum inmate.
Clara.
Should I stay? No.
The pain lies entirely in the resistance.
Little more.
Little more.
Good.
Thank you.
(door opens) The dresses will be hard to mend, don't you think? (Clara) I don't think we can mend them.
I dream, you know, Clara.
Dream? Of a place, not a not a place with a physical dimension but one that does exist.
Full of nuns so gentle, they they might be angels.
I wish they'd send for me.
(mutters) My God.
William Rackham.
You'll keep me better than you do now.
Wait, wait, wait.
(gasps) My angel.
Come at last.