As your attorney…

Ye Olde Englishe Fayre was a fairground which included a freak show where you could see the monkey boy and a two-headed pig. It also had a variety show with the top acts of the day, in between local performers of varying quality.

By 1896 the Fayre had relocated to the site now occupied by His Majesty’s Theatre where you could see renowned singer Priscilla Verne do her best known routine, a song called ‘He Sits in the Front Row’:

He sits in the front row; he is blushing like a maid,
I love you, darling; be my hub; now, don’t be afraid.
Don’t turn away in anger, dear; I always will be true,
Accept this kiss, and give me one; for I love you.

At this point she would lean forwards and beckon to a male patron in the front row to act out the final line. This particular Friday, she turned to Gus McBride, who fancied himself a bit of a ladies’ man. Priscilla invited him on stage to kiss her.

For reasons which are not clear, Gussie declined this generous offer and retorted with an insult which made Priscilla’s blood boil. “You contemptible little cad,” she snarled from the stage. The next day she consulted a lawyer, who advised her she should have her abuser horsewhipped in public.

So Priscilla sent a letter, signed ‘Alice Chambers’, claiming she had fallen in love with Gus and would like to meet him outside the Town Hall on Barrack Street that very afternoon. Together with other members of the show, she lay in wait with a cane hidden in her dress.

When Gussie arrived to meet with ‘Alice’ he was shocked to be greeted by the assembled Fayre employees. “Come here! I want to speak to you!” said Priscilla. Gus began to run along Barrack Street, followed by Priscilla who kept lashing out at him with the cane.

“You cad,” she shouted, “I’ll teach you not to insult another woman as you did me.”

By this time a large crowd was enjoying every moment of the scene, and Gus had to plead with two burly police officers to defend him. Soon afterwards he left Perth and we never heard from him again.

There’s probably a moral in all this, but we have no idea what it is.

Caned by Miss Priscilla Verne


The ladies of the company then met and decided that the man should be chastised.

If you’ve been following the posts here over the last few days, I am prepared to bet that you didn’t guess the direction in which this story would veer:

PERTH, Friday.—An extraordinary scene was witnessed in Howick Street, this afternoon, when Miss Priscilla Verne, the serio-comio singer, who is performing at the Olde Englishe Fayre, publicly chastised a well-known man about town.

It appears that while Miss Verne was singing a song, the man ejaculated an improper remark. Miss Verne took umbrage at this, and called him a “contemptible little cad.”

The ladies of the company then met and decided that the man should be chastised, and a plan to entrap him was arranged.

Miss Verne wrote a notice, signing herself as ‘Alice Chambers,’ saying that she had fallen in love with him, and asking him to meet her at an appointed hour.

He swallowed the bait, and strolled to the meeting place, where Miss Verne met him, and producing the cane, began to publicly chastise him.

A crowd quickly gathered, and hemmed the two in, and before he could escape the man was severely drubbed.

It is probable that the affair will be further ventilated in the police Court.