The Ladybird, the Mace and Jack the Ripper

This is a standalone short story. It will be integrated into a larger fictional historical work that explores the link between Australia and Jack the Ripper. Based in Melbourne in the Gold Rush, 1868.

There are many factual allusions. Peter J Phalrick. M.P. Investigator and Journalist, is an unreliable, omniscient narrator who, 22 years after the events, releases his story, coincidentally following the death of the Ripper’s last victim.

The story is about a Ladybird,  Maddy, who is violently raped, her revenge on her attacker and solving the puzzle of the missing Mace, all as told by Mr. Phalrick, is a conundrum. Was Mr. Phalrick, an eyewitness, is it hearsay, was he involved in the rape, was he the rapist?

The historical facts are;

  • Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred, 23, was in Melbourne in 1868.
  • Miss Sarah Ferguson’s establishment existed in Little Lonsdale Street.
  • The Prince visited her premises.
  • The Mace was stolen in 1890 and never recovered.
  • A son of Queen Victoria was a person of interest in the Ripper cases.
  • All streets mentioned existed.
  • An urban legend suggests a tunnel connected Parliament house and the bordellos of Little Lonsdale Street.
  • A tunnel under Parliament was converted to a war room and air raid shelter in the 1939-45 war.
  • A Ladybird was a colloquial term for a high-class prostitute.
  • Prostitution was legal at that time.


 ‘Pray, allow me to introduce myself.  Peter J. Phalrick.M.P, Member of Parliament, journalist and investigator, at your service.

For your edification, I present my documented account of the Ladybird and the missing Mace. If you, as an intelligent reader have cause to doubt the veracity of these events; my diaries and other documents are at your disposal.’

Melbourne, June 21st, 1868.

Members Quarters Parliament House.

The four men assembled were getting drunker by the moment, and they were turning nasty.   Maddy was concerned, she had not agreed to this, as she stood to leave the blonde man stopped her and whispered,

‘Where do you think you’re going, whore?’

‘Sir, you all know Miss Sarah’s rules.  If you will allow me to fetch Lizzie and Lucy, we can have a real party.’

She itched to smack him for calling her a whore. No one called Miss Ferguson’s girls’ common whores.

Grabbing Maddy roughly by the arm, he held her captive.

‘You’re whore enough for us.  How would you like to be serviced by this? After all, you should be able to handle it.’

Smirking at his own joke, he pointed the rod at her. Drunk and grinning like a lunatic, his wig was askew, his face flushed and distorted, his eyes bulged and spittle-flecked the corners of his mouth.  Sarah was frightened.

She dropped her eyes to his crotch, surprised that there was no bulge.  Jonny won’t play, she thought, perhaps that’s why there was a problem last night.

‘Maybe Sir, when the others arrive I can help,’ and seeking to appease him she made to caress him. Reeling away from her touch, he swung at her with his fist and she fell.

‘You filthy Trollope! How dare you touch me? Don’t you know who I am?’ He bellowed, ‘hold her down. She needs a lesson in how to behave in company.’

Maddy tried to rise, the others grabbed her limbs and held her down. Fighting to protect herself she tried to kick out, but they did not release their hold.

Bending down he ripped her bodice, her breasts exposed, he came close, and like an animal, he bit at her. She felt a searing pain. She screamed.  He stood, and spat out the nipple he had bitten off. He laughed. One man retched, none let go, but all averted their eyes, maintaining their grip on her limbs.

‘Sir enough please, we can send her back with Jenkins.’

Ripping her gown and petticoats from hem to waist, and in a soft caressing voice he replied,

‘No — I am going to teach this filthy little Ladybird a lesson.’

Maddy felt her dress being ripped, she was aware of her legs being dragged and held apart. He knelt between her legs, and she experienced a pain such as she had never felt in her life, as he rammed the handle of the rod inside her.  Three times he violated her, then making a mocking flourish, he bowed announcing,

‘Arise Madam Whore, you’ve been serviced by an instrument of the Queen.’

Panting, and turning away he threw the rod on the floor, it was covered in blood. The men released their grip, they were retching, pale and shaken.

They all turned their backs on her.

Maddy struggled to open her eyes, the pain was intense. Turning her head she saw the rod on the ground. She found the strength to get to her knees and clutching the rod, Maddy crawled towards him. He stood at the buffet drinking, tearing meat from the pheasant carcass. She called his name, softly.

Surprised, he turned, and she thrust up with all her strength. Pushing the rod into his groin. The cross on the top of the crown acted like a knife, his sac was opened. She drew back and slashed, blood spurted, and she slashed again. He collapsed, screaming and rolling in pain.

Using the rod for support, Maddy dragged herself to her feet.  She pulled her tattered gown together and stumbled from the room.  The door to the tunnel was close by; she knew she had to flee, her life depended on it.

Night Watchman’s Rounds 3:00am

Michael Patrick Jenkins had been a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The past twelve years he had been the night watchman in the newly built Parliament House in Melbourne.  Tonight Jenkins was bored, and he was ready for a good kip, but he needed to complete his rounds, just in case, he thought, just in case.

His watch was usually quiet and he liked that, but things had been turned upside down with the arrival of Her Majesty’s son. His Highness was on a world tour. As he collected his knobkerrie and the lantern, he muttered to himself,

‘Probably keeping him out of the way,’ he sighed, ‘I wish he was out of my way.’ Only last night he’d gone through to Miss Ferguson’s establishment in Stephen Street and with the help of Red Will, brought His Highness and the others back through the tunnel. A nasty man when in his cups and he’d cut up pretty rough. Ruefully, Jenkins rubbed the bruises on his arms.

Most of the building had gas light now including the Great Library. There were some areas without lighting and the rambling building always had work crews adding and extending. The Gold Rush had made Melbourne a wealthy town.

Halfway through his rounds, he heard a low moaning and voices behind the green baize doors of the Members quarters.

Raising his knobkerrie he rapped thrice on the door and requested entry. He heard scuttling and whispering, the moaning continued;

“Who is it?

“It’s Jenkins Sir. Can I be of assistance?’

More scuttling and slowly the door opened, hands grabbed him drawing him inside.  The door shut quickly behind him. He thought he had seen everything, but the scene that met his eyes was unbelievable. Furniture was strewn about the room and there was blood everywhere. It looked and smelled like the inside of the butchering shed where he killed the pigs at home.  He crossed himself,

‘Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, begging your pardon Gentlemen, but what has happened here?  Should I be fetching the Constables?’

The tallest of the three men standing in the room answered,

‘No, for God’s sake man, just go and fetch Dr. Anderson.  Then get back here as fast as you can.’

Jenkins left, returning almost immediately with the Doctor.

‘He was practically on the doorstep Sirs. He had been attending a patient nearby.’

The men exchanged glances.

‘Check him out Anderson, and be quick about it,’ the tall man spoke roughly to the doctor. As they stood aside, for the first time Jenkins was able to identify the man in the daybed.  He was moaning and holding his privates.  He was one of the four men he and Red William had brought back from Miss Sarah’s the night before.

‘Not a word Jenkins, you too Anderson, not a word to anyone.’

Dr. Anderson took off his coat and rolled up his sleeves,

‘You have our word, don’t they Jenkins? We know how to keep our mouths shut. I could sell a dozen juicy stories to the Argus should I choose to do so.’

Anderson looked around the room and started issuing orders. An ex-Army major he was not to be bullied by this group.  He assigned various tasks from cleaning to removing the food. The three glared him rebelliously.

‘Well you won’t want me bringing the cleaning women in here and them wagging their loose tongues. Hop to it now, gentlemen.  Jenkins will assist me.’

The man’s britches were around his ankles and his undergarments soaked with blood.

‘Sir, can you hear me?’

The man stopped moaning and nodded his head. ‘Am I going to die?’

“You have lost a lot of blood. But once I get you stitched up, you should survive if you don’t get a fever’.

Moving the man’s hands from his groin he cut the silk garments away. Meanwhile, Jenkins prepared the hot water and towels.  Anderson addressed the room at large;

‘How did this happen? It appears you were all having a party?’

The tall man snarled, ‘It is safer if you don’t know. Just do your job and shut up.’

Anderson winked at Jenkins and cleaned and stitched.  After a while, he stood and washed his hands.

‘Well Sir, I hope you don’t want to father any children. I have saved your life but I could not save everything. Make sure you see your Physician. Can I suggest Sydney by the sea, as a good place for a recovery,’ and wrapping the testicles in a napkin he laid them on the man’s chest.

Jenkins escorted Doctor Anderson to the main door, speaking softly he said,

‘Be careful Doctor these men are powerful they can destroy you.’

‘Thank you, Jenkins, but I know where the evidence is buried. They need me and they know it,’ and tipping his hat, he walked out into the cold dawn.

Miss Ferguson’s Establishment

Maddy struggled to open the entrance to the tunnel. She fell, hard, banging her knees on the rough cobblestones.  Her tears caked the rice powder she had carefully applied hours earlier. Her eye was swelling, she could barely see. The lampblack she used to outline her beautiful blue eyes made them sting.  Shivering and panting with snot running down her face, she looked like a garish clown. Her mouth was a red slash against her white face, and her hair tumbled about her face freed from its pins It was bitterly cold in the tunnel, and she put her hand on the damp wall to steady herself. Sobbing and pulling herself up, she wiped her nose on the sleeve of her gown. In the half-light, she couldn’t see the blood.

‘Sweet Mother of Jesus,’ she sobbed, ‘they’ll have the rozzers on me for this.’

Limping, stumbling, she kept moving forward. She felt the blood running down her legs.  That fecking bastard, he won’t do this to another girl, she thought. He deserved what she had done to him.  She clutched at her clothes, cradling her stomach, the hurt was worse, she was finding it harder move.

The tunnel started downhill, she must be under Stephen Street. I am half way home, she thought.  It was then she realised the heel of her shoe was missing. Sarah had warned her about wearing her good shoes in the run.  Most of the Ladybirds wore their boots and changed their shoes at the end of the tunnel.  She knew she was going to get a hiding when she returned tonight -if she returned.

Suddenly the gas light in the tunnel flickered, one of the doors must have opened.  She stopped and caught her breath. With her hand over her mouth to stop herself from crying out, she flattened her thin, battered body against the slimy wall. Turning her head she looked back the way she’d come, listening for the smallest sound. But the only noises she heard were the squeaking and scrabbling of the rats in the tunnel.

Her right arm ached, in astonishment, she looked down at the long jewel encrusted club in her hand. Without thinking she threw it from her as far as she could. Clanging loudly it bounced on the cobbles and rolled straight back to her feet.   She looked at it mesmerised, but afraid.  Slowly and deliberately she stretched out her hand. It lay there shining in the dull light, dimmed in places by splashes of colour that did not belong.  It repulsed her, but she knew if she left it lying there, one day it would see her hanged.  Taking a deep breath she removed her shawl, picking up the club she wrapped it carefully.

‘Sweet Jesus,’  she cried, ‘I will hang for this, but I will take that bastard with me.’ Then moving as best she could, she made her way to the end of the tunnel.

Crawling up the rise, she knew she was getting closer to Sarah’s basement in Little Lonsdale.  Sarah would know what to do. She would even welcome the flogging if she was safe with Sarah.  In pain, and dragging herself along she gasped for breath; reaching the door she lifted the club knocking on the door, three knocks was the signal. The bolt was drawn back, the door opened, she saw Red Will standing there, and then she remembered falling.

That last thing Red Will expected when he drew back the bolt was to see Maddy bleeding her dress in tatters.  Scooping her up, he lifted gently her off the floor and laid her on his cot. Throwing a blanket over her to warm her, he barred the passage door. Leaving her, he made his way upstairs. He needed Sarah.

Sarah saw him standing in the parlour doorway, he stood there, silent, wringing his hands.

Nodding to Phoebe she indicated the piano;

‘Miss Phoebe, do be a dear, entertain these charming Gentlemen with some music.  Miss Lucy will assist you.  Dinner and drinks are on the house Gentlemen. Please excuse me I have business to attend to.’  Favouring the gentlemen with her brilliant smile, Sarah curtsied deeply and took her leave. Shutting the door firmly behind her, she pushed Red Will into the passage and hissed at him,

‘What in the name of all that’s holy man, are you doing up here? Is that blood on your clothes?’

Red Will started, looking at his shirt, then with an unusual urgency in his soft voice, he pleaded,

‘Miss Sarah come quick, it’s real bad, it’s Miss Maddy,’ and not waiting for Sarah to answer he headed back to his room.

Sarah followed. He opened the door, she knew there was going to be trouble.

‘Go, find Mrs. Flanders tell her to bring hot water and rags and towels. Then ask Eliza to send Lucy to the parlour. When you have done that, fetch Doctor Anderson, and the priest. Hurry. Tell them it’s urgent.’

Red Will needed no further urging and was gone before Sarah finished speaking.  Moving to the cot she lifted the blanket, Maddy’s gown was ripped and bloody.  Sarah’s eyes widened with dismay as she saw the object Maddy held in her hand. She gently removed it. Then shawl and all, she rolled the club out of sight under the cot.  She would deal with it later. Maddy was crying no sound, just tears.

‘Hush child,  you are safe now, Sarah’s here,’ and she gently brushed Maddy’s tousled hair back from her face.

‘Blessed Mary, what has happened?’ Mrs. Flanders appeared in the doorway as by magic. Placing the basin on the table beside the cot, she did not ask any further questions. Gently she removed the blanket, she crossed herself,

‘May God preserve us. The poor little lamb. Who did this to her?’ Not waiting for an answer she pushed Sarah to the door, ‘go and wait for the Doctor. Have you called the priest? Good. Get Lizzie down here now.’

As she paused to take a breath, Sarah answered, ‘Red Will has gone for Anderson and the priest, and Lizzie will be here in a minute. Can you manage?’ with a sad smile she held the older woman’s arm, ‘don’t let this one die Flanny.’

‘I will do my best Miss Sarah, but it may not be good enough. Now go and get changed before you get blood on that dress’

Taking a large pair of scissors from her pocket, she cut the slashed and bloodied dress from the still form. She tried to staunch the bleeding, cleaning Maddy as best she could. Maddy opened her eyes, seeing Flanny she smiled, then taking a last shuddering breath, she died.


It is an interesting, but sad tale of a beautiful Ladybird and a scandal. Sweet Maddy was buried the next day. There was no investigation into her death, as Doctor Anderson signed she died of fever.  There was an inquiry, of course into the disappearance of the Mace, but it was never found.  Death knows how to keep its secrets, and it lies with Maddy in her coffin. Recent news received from London suggests one of the Queen’s sons is suspected of being Jack the Ripper. What an interesting thought!

I remain your obedient servant,

Peter J Phalrick M.P.

July, 30th 1890.

About lindandsam

Linda is a poet and writer. As a mature aged student, she completed a Bachelor of Creative Writing. Master of Creative Writing at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). Linda has also completed the Diploma of Family History Studies at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) and is looking forward to further post graduate work. Published in the USC Storyboard, 2015. Self-published ‘Where is Gedhum Choekyi Nyima?’ For the Tibetan Children’s Village, Dharamsala, 1997. She now lives in Bass Coast in beautiful Wonthaggi and shares her life with her partner and their four-legged fur baby Hugo Boss

2 responses »

  1. Hi Linda, a very interesting take on an old story! Much editing needed though, eg. ‘Her Majesty’s son’ should be ‘the Prince’, & ‘the Prince & others’, etc. Punctuation & a few other sentence structure glitches need fixing & smoothed out for the flow of the story.
    A knobkerrie is an African club, why does he have it in Australia? Needs explaining & could be another interesting little aside in the story?


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