The Paradise: The Paradise Baby

Previously on The Paradise: Sam almost lost his job and Denise came up with a great marketing ploy.

Miss A is desperately trying to come up with ideas of her own, like scattering ugly bouquets of flowers around the place. Oh, Miss A, flowers were so last week. Denise delivers one to Sam’s department, jokes a bit with him and Pauline, and tells them she feels like she could do anything. She says that in about the most smug manner possible, too, and yet they are not offended.

Denise returns to ladieswear and is sent to put a bouquet in the changing room, where she finds something unexpected: a very tiny baby boy.

The men are called for, and Dudley reports they’ve searched the building but come up with nothing. Jonas says that a woman could get in and out without a problem—have you people heard of locks on the doors? Or is he talking about someone getting in during open hours? Because if the baby was left during open hours, wouldn’t someone have found it before this morning? Or maybe ladieswear has been really unpopular lately.

Jonas wants to send the baby to the police, but of course Moray sees this as a great publicity stunt. Wow, using a child’s tragic abandonment as a way to draw attention to yourself and your store? That’s a new low, Moray. Arthur is sent for formula and Jonas gets to fetch some man we’ve never met before. And the baby will be cared for by the staff because they apparently have nothing else to do.

News that The Paradise has become an orphans dumping ground has, for some reason, attracted a number of customers, some of whom want to donate money for the kid. At Denise’s urging, Miss A agrees to put a box out for donations. Denise flutters back to the customers, all of whom want her for the day because she’s an extra special snowflake now. Clara is downcast at the news, and Jonas comes slithering out from behind a curtain to tell her the fuss will die down soon enough, but until then, they’re risking having every unwanted little brat dumped at their door. Thanks, Mr. Sunshine.

Catherine has heard about the baby and finds it in Moray’s office. Moray appears while she’s playing with the infant, accompanied by a friend of his, Peter Adler. Peter clearly likes what he sees in Catherine and also calls Moray out on his shameless exploitation of this kid. Hear, hear. Peter explains that he’s the patron of a foundling home and Moray’s hoping they might have room for the baby, once it’s outlived its usefulness. Catherine can’t imagine what he’s thinking, stashing a baby in a store for several days. He tells her he’s thinking of the publicity, as if she’s an idiot for not considering that herself.

Arthur comes in and Moray quickly dispatches him with the baby and instructions to wander around with him and show him off. Possibly looking for a reason to continue to be friends with his asshole, Peter suggests Moray’s aim is to prove he’s got a heart and is not, in fact, all business. He agrees to take the baby, on the condition that he be allowed to bring a bunch of his foundlings to The Paradise for a day and show them off too. After all, lots of kids need homes, and why not just make this a kiddie parade? Moray doesn’t look pleased, but we know he’ll agree. As Peter goes to leave, Catherine asks him to tell her when the foundlings will visit, as she’s interested and wants to be there. He agrees and departs.

Once he’s gone, Moray tells her she’s wasting her time, because Peter’s too high-minded for her. Dick. Though I guess if she’s that interested in Moray it just proves how low her tastes really are. She asks him if that’s a warning or a challenge.

Later, Pauline is warning Denise to beware of Clara, who’s been getting shafted on commissions since everyone wants Denise right now. Eh, she’s the flavour of the month, Clara, I wouldn’t worry. The two girls and Sam go into the dining room, where Arthur’s hanging around with the baby. Pauline immediately takes charge of him, cooing over “The Paradise Baby,” a name Arthur takes offense to, because he considers himself the original Paradise Baby, having been born in the same spot where the enlarged store now stands. Sam and Denise try to calm him down, but Clara, who’s sitting nearby, spitefully tells the boy his mother just dumped him the minute she could. Actually, the words ‘dropped him like a turd’ are used, because Clara’s charming. Arthur asks where she heard that and Sam tells her to lay off and tells Arthur that his mother was a drayman’s daughter who died when he was born, and his father was a soldier who died in battle. Apparently, that’s the story Arthur’s always heard, but he’s not sure where it actually came from.

At the Glendenning home, Lord Glen praises Moray’s marketing genius. Catherine ignores that and asks him what he knows about Peter. He knows he’s rich, philanthropic, and all-around awesome. She tells her father she was planning to ask him to dinner.

At The Paradise, Dudley crows over how the baby’s made the front page of every newspaper in town. Wow, slow news day? I mean, I can understand a story somewhere in the paper, but the front page? Of every paper? Jonas says the cost of all those front pages are Peter’s brats tramping through the store. He’s clearly not a fan of foundlings, which he considers the wages of sin. Ok, then. Moray asks where the baby is (haberdashery) and tells Dudley to warn the employees not to get too attached. Dudley takes this as an opportunity to tell Moray that people have been gossiping about why the baby was left at The Paradise. Some say it’s his. Yes, why was the baby left there? Seems like an odd choice, considering it would be easier to leave it at a church or something. Leaving it at The Paradise would leave one pretty wide open to be caught, since you’d have to get inside with an infant without attracting any notice, get into the dressing room in ladieswear, leave the kid, and get back out of the store, again without attracting attention. The more I think about it, the less likely it seems.

I know I shouldn’t think too hard about this show, really, but this whole baby thing is a bit much for me. For one thing, at no point is there any mention of even trying to find the baby’s mother, even though I’d say it’s likely she’d be fairly trackable. Consider this: she’s probably of the lower classes, since a young woman of the middle or upper classes who found herself unexpectedly pregnant would have been hastily married off or sent away to have her child in secret, at which point the baby would have been placed with a family to be raised or in an orphanage. So, a lower-class woman clutching a baby wandered into The Paradise, which appears to attract a fairly moneyed clientele, without catching anyone’s eye? These are judgmental people who rely a lot on appearances. They’d notice if a poor woman walked in, even if she was dressed in her best (which still probably wouldn’t have been even close to the level of wear on their usual customers) and they’d probably be tracking her, at least out of curiosity, if not due to class prejudices of the time. So it’s pretty unlikely she’d be able to get in, leave the baby, and get out without anyone noticing, in which case someone could give a description to the police. The only other option is she broke in in the middle of the night (in which case, their security is unbelievably bad for such a high-end store) or she slipped in with the cleaners or something, which would have made her even more noticeable. And this baby’s been all over the front pages, so surely someone in this city who knew a girl who had a baby and then suddenly didn’t have him any more would sit up and take notice? And yet, no word of the mother is ever spoken. So this whole plotline poses some issues for me.

Anyhow, Moray admits that he ‘slipped’ once about 18 months previous, but the kid couldn’t possibly be his. After Dudley leaves, though, Moray looks a bit torn.

Jonas finds Arthur making a list that consists entirely of Dudley and Moray. Arthur says he’s trying to list everyone who’s been there as long as he has, and they’re the only two. Jonas knows what this is about and warns the kid not to listen to gossip.

The Paradise staff arrange themselves throughout the store to await the arrival of the foundlings. Moray goes out to meet them and is greeted by Lovett, who’s holding a baby doll and heckling Moray. But nobody’s paying him any attention, because here come the moppets, all very sweet and charming, led by Peter. Moray greets them all with a smile and ushers them inside while Lovett continues to embarrass himself.

The children—all of them girls—are taken upstairs to ladieswear, and as soon as they appear, Clara makes herself scarce, claiming the kids are filthy and she wants nothing to do with them. Miss A hisses to the girls that the children are to touch nothing. Moray tells all the children that Miss A is the queen there, and one particularly adorable little girl curtseys to her. Miss A meanly calls her a ridiculous child, which falls like a lead ball right in the middle of the room. Catherine steps in to save the day and tells the little girl (Grace) that Miss A isn’t really a queen, but sometimes Catherine wants to curtsey to her as well. Catherine is rather adorable with the children. She turns to Miss A and asks for permission to show the kids the gowns and let them touch just a little. Miss A clearly starts to panic, so Denise saves the day (of course) and says the most precious gowns can’t be touched by anyone, not even Moray, but they can let them handle some fabric samples instead. The children are very happy with that. Before they move away, Catherine further puts little Grace at ease by commiserating over new shoes that pinch. Aww! Clara watches the exchange from the stockroom.

Later, the kids are enjoying a lunch in the dining room. Peter sidles up to Catherine and thanks her for taking the time with Grace. She says it’s nothing, since the child’s marvellous. She asks what her story is and Peter tells her she’s the rare foundling whose keep is paid for, so she can’t be adopted out. Catherine’s glad, because she thinks everyone should feel like they’re wanted. Looking at the kids, she gets an idea and calls Moray over to share it.

Her idea is to clothe 40 of the orphans at her own expense, something which seems to surprise Sam, though I don’t see why. Rich ladies need hobbies. Clara thinks this is just Catherine trying to make Moray jealous by ingratiating herself with Peter, and although I’m sure there’s a little bit of that going on here, I also think her interest in these kids is genuine. Clara heads off to the pub, and as she goes Denise spots her uncle putting a little limerick on a chalkboard outside his shop:

A store that expanded in stages

Has paid all its staff paltry wages

Saw fit to employ

A sweet baby boy

And got itself on the front pages

Charming. Denise begs him not to leave that outside because this is the place she’s working that he’s making fun of, not that he ever seems to care how his ridiculous antics might affect her. He can’t understand why she doesn’t think this is hilarious and tells her not to let Moray scare her. She tells him she’s not scared, she’s just worried the entire city will see how childish Lovett is. Fair enough. And attacking a man who’s currently being upheld as some sort of saint is really, really stupid when your business is already suffering. Miss A wanders by and invites Denise for a nightcap, which Denise accepts. Miss A eyes the limerick and sort of rolls her eyes.

In her sitting room, Miss A serves Denise a small glass of something and observes that Denise doesn’t seem all that crazy about the kid. Not as crazy about him as Pauline, certainly. Denise says she just has other things on the agenda just now besides family and kids. Miss A tells her that she received several offers of marriage, but she turned them all down because she was all about her career, and a married woman can’t work in a shop. She goes on to tell Denise that, henceforth, she’s to have no more ideas. Because Miss A doesn’t want any competition, you see. If she wants to keep her job, she’s got to become an idiot. Denise isn’t happy, but she loves her job and will do anything to keep it. Before she goes, she wonders if women can have it all. Oh, how very late-20th century of you, Denise.

There are now cash boxes with signs that say ”The Foundling Fund” all over the store, and customers are giving generously. Pauline’s besotted with the baby and walks all over the place with him.

Dudley and Moray walk through the store, talking about Moray’s love life. He knows that Catherine is playing a game with him, pitting him against Peter to see who comes out on top. I know which of those two I’m rooting for. Arthur, who’s trailing them, starts bleating about how he should be the Paradise baby too and starts relaying the story of his birth, which Moray already knows. Arthur asks how he knows and Moray says he heard it from Miss A.

Miss A finds Pauline with the baby in the ladieswear department and shoos her away before customers start showing up. Arthur replaces her and Miss A snaps at him to stop lurking.

Later, Catherine is looking through fabric samples with Peter, trying to decide between velvet and wool for the foundlings’ clothes. Clara, who’s helping her and hoping for a bigger commission, pushes her towards the velvet but Denise tells her the wool is more comfortable, so it gets Peter’s vote. Catherine orders it up and goes off to fetch some undergarments. Once they’re gone, Clara snaps at Denise for costing her half a crown in commission and Denise snaps right back at her for only thinking about money. Denise starts looking around the store, noting a few mums and children about and Miss Audrey correctly realises Denise is coming up with an idea. She warns her not to think whatever it is she’s thinking.

Miss A heads up to ladieswear and Peter apologetically tells her they’ve stripped her shelves. She gets all awkward over that wording and tries to cover up by telling him the seamstresses are already at work on the clothes and they can begin fittings that night. Clara will assist—and apparently that’s some unwelcome news to her. She tries to beg off but Miss A tells her to see this through or lose her commission.

In ladieswear, out of Miss A’s earshot, Denise innocently suggests to Catherine that the store would certainly benefit from having a children’s wear department. Catherine seems to consider it.

Catherine’s gathered Moray, Peter, and a few others at the Glendenning manse for dinner. Peter praises her support of the orphans but says he wants to make the orphans’ home independent of anyone’s generosity. Except his own, presumably, unless he wants to turn this into a child labour workshop in order to make enough money to run the place. Moray tells him the generosity of their customers will certainly help. In fact, the baby seems to be coming to the home with a dowry. Catherine wonders why the place needs a patron, instead of a patroness. All the men, save Peter, snort rather derisively at this suggestion and Moray condescendingly tells her she’d make a delightful figurehead, though more for decoration than use. Wow. I realise this was a different time and all, but why would she not just toss the idea of marrying this manipulative, mind-game-playing assclown right now? He clearly has no respect for her and is just toying with her affections, keeping her on the chain so he can convince daddy to give him loans. He continues to dig his own grave by calling her a delightful confection of froth, frivolity, and fashion and warns her to steer away from tasks she’s wholly unfitted for. What might Denise think if she heard all this?

Someone brings up the money that’s been raised and Catherine says she’s not surprised by the customers’ generosity, considering most of them are women and mothers. She goes on to suggest the children’s wear department and speaks Moray’s language by telling him he’s missing an opportunity to make lots and lots of money. To her credit, she tells him the idea isn’t hers but belongs to one of his shopgirls.

Back at the store, the orphans are being fitted for their new clothes. Denise happens past the dressing room and spots Clara having a sweet moment with little Grace.

Later, once everyone’s cleared out, Clara lifts some money from one of the orphans’ fund jars. Denise nearly catches her in the act, and Clara hastens out of there.

At Mount Glendenning, Peter finds Catherine relaxing in the garden after dinner and sits down for a chat. He asks what she’s thinking and she says she was thinking of a gown: her very first grown-up dress, which, sadly, was a mourning gown she was dressed in after her mother died. Both the event and the dress thrust her wholly into the adult world when she was barely out of childhood, and she wasn’t entirely prepared for it. She tells him how lost she felt, until they put the dress on her, and suddenly she realised what she needed to be and do. Somehow, I sense Moray’s never heard this story. I doubt anyone who had could call her all froth and frivolity.

She goes on to say that, ever since then, she’s used clothes to transform herself. Peter gently asks her who she’s been these past few days, since they met. She thinks about it and genuinely tells him she’s been someone she rather liked; someone she’d like to be more often. Catherine, dump Moray right now! Peter reveals he knows she was originally using him to provoke Moray’s jealousy, but he asks to court her anyway. She gives him leave to do so.

Very late, Clara rips her bed apart and then launches herself on a sleeping Denise, shrieking that she’s a thief. The baby wakes and begins to cry as Pauline grabs a jug of water and tosses it over Clara to cool her down. The noise brings Miss A running and Pauline quickly lies that Clara just had a nightmare. Clara confirms it. Denise just looks bewildered. Miss A leaves and Clara says she knows Denise stole the money that Clara stole in the first place. Pauline can’t believe that Clara would steal from orphans, but Clara weeps that it was given for a child, so what does it matter whose child it goes to? Ahh, we see now. Denise realises that little Grace is Clara’s kid, which seems awfully coincidental, but it’s true. Clara says she pays bed and board for the girl, but her commissions have gone down since Denise started, so it’s getting harder. Denise swears she didn’t take the money. Clara sobs and thinks she’s going to lose her little girl.

The next day, she’s back to her frigid self and avoiding Denise’s eyes. Miss A sends Denise to Moray’s office with the full collection tin and then chases down Pauline, who’s wandering about with the baby again. Doesn’t Pauline have work to do? Miss A takes the baby from her and goes off to her sitting room for some slightly wistful quiet time. She visibly softens, looking down at him.

Dudley and Jonas count up the money—9 pounds, 7s, 10d. Dudley tells Denise that Moray wants to see her, presumably so she can help out with the big song-and-dance presentation of both money and infant to Peter.

Poor Denise goes into Moray’s office all smiles, only to be lambasted for mentioning the children’s wear department to Catherine. Moray thinks she went behind his back and used his connections against him, which just shows he’s not thinking about this properly at all. If he was, he’d realise that Denise has never had an issue with sharing her ideas with him quite readily in the past, so why should she resort to subterfuge all of a sudden? Either she mentioned something conversationally, in passing, which Catherine ran with, or she’s being prevented from being direct some other way. Moray considers none of this, which seems odd for someone who’s always looking for a good angle, and he menacingly tells Denise he’s not to be toyed with. Thankfully, Dudley comes in to say that Catherine’s asking for him, and Moray sends Denise off before stomping away like a complete child. Denise tearfully tells him she’s sorry before getting back to work.

Moray puts on his smiles and finds Catherine on the main floor. She asks him to speak somewhere more private, which is, apparently, the glassware department. She drops the bombshell that Peter wants to court her, and says she wanted to tell him herself rather than have him get the word through the gossip mill. He sneers that she’s just getting pleasure out of this, and Catherine rightly all but calls him a complete dick. She tells him she’s offering honesty and he’s just throwing it back in her face and twisting it into something ugly. She finishes up by telling him he treats her like something tainted, and is it any wonder she prefers Peter? Go Catherine! It’s nice to see her actually developing a personality. Also nice to finally see someone call Moray out on his dickishness.

Miss A’s still cuddling the baby when Arthur shows up at her sitting room and begs her for the true story of his birth. She’s evasive for a little while, but he finally convinces her to tell him what she knows. She says she wasn’t present at his birth, but she heard the story from someone who knew his grandfather. Arthur asks who that is and she fetches her coat to take him for a little field trip.

Dudley shows up at Moray’s office and finds his partner pouting a bit over Peter and Catherine. He pretends not to care about the relationship but Dudley knows better. He brings up Moray’s admission of having “slipped up” over a year before and asks him why he keeps punishing himself and acting so guilty. Moray says it’s because it felt like infidelity. Dudley suggests it’s time for him to move on, since his wife has been dead three years now, and frankly, it seems like Moray’s more in love with the memory than the actual woman. Dudley urges Moray to just let himself be happy.

Miss A’s field trip ends across the road at Lovett’s. She leaves Arthur there to learn the truth about his past before returning to The Paradise to hand the baby over to Moray, who holds it awkwardly. Before she goes, she warns him not to give the baby back to Pauline. Heh.

Lovett sits Arthur down and spills the truth: his mother was, indeed, a drayman’s daughter, but the boy’s father wasn’t a soldier at all. He was a drayman too, and he had nothing to do with Arthur because he basically got beaten to death by Arthur’s grandfather for raping Arthur’s mother when she was very young indeed. Yikes—death deserved. I can’t help but wonder why they cooked up this other story about the drayman’s daughter and the soldier and then turned around and spilled the truth to Arthur at this point. It’s not like there’s much to be gained by learning your father was a monster, after all.

Late that night, Denise comes downstairs to find Moray sitting on the steps with the baby. She apologises and goes to leave, but Moray calls her over and finally gets around to asking her why she didn’t come to him with her idea. She explains that she has to deal with Miss Audrey every day, and he realises she’s getting sort of caught in the middle here. He kind of apologises for his early douchiness. They have A Moment over the baby and then awkwardly say goodnight, which is actually sort of funny. As she flees, Moray tells her they need to name the baby, and he was thinking Arthur. She approves.

And then Denise detours to Arthur’s cupboard under the stairs, or wherever it is he seems to sleep on the floor, and asks him if he stole the money from Clara because of what she said about his mother. Wow, that was a deductive leap. A correct one, of course. Arthur fesses up immediately but says he didn’t keep the money—he put it in the orphans’ tin.

So, Denise goes up to ladieswear and carefully opens one of the tins, removing a bill from it. I really thought she was going to get caught, which could have actually given us a bit of a plot arc here, but no, she gets away scot free and wakes Clara to give her the cash. Clara looks at it, and then looks at Denise in surprise.

The press and the foundlings (in their pretty new clothes) are gathered to watch Moray pass Peter a cheque and a baby. Moray also takes the opportunity to announce they’ll be opening a dedicated children’s wear department, the credit for which he gives to Catherine. Denise looks relieved. Pauline cries. Clara smiles really, really obviously at Grace, who smiles back.

A little later, Arthur gives Peter a book they’ve all written in for the baby. Aww. Catherine says she’s finding all this heartbreaking, but Peter reassures her the baby will be adopted in an instant. The one he feels badly for is Grace, who could have been in a loving home if it weren’t for the parent holding her back. Of course, Clara overhears this, and a moment later, when Grace smilingly approaches her, she backs away and harshly calls the children filthy before sweeping out. Itty bitty Grace’s face falls and she returns to the other orphans.

Post-presentation, Miss A shows up in Lovett’s shop where we quickly learn that he was once one of her suitors—the most serious one, no less. She tells him the baby’s gone, so he can take down his dolls and verses. He admits it was only supposed to be a joke, but then he saw how much it upset Denise. Miss A tells him to stop chattering about Denise, because she’s tired of hearing about her, and she knows she’ll eventually put Miss A out of a job. But that day hasn’t come yet. She goes on to say that the two of them would never have made it work and he sadly says they’ll never know, will they?

Miss A returns to her sitting room, which is ablaze with kerosene lamps, which seems rather dangerous.

Clara stumbles through the door, waking Denise, who shepherds her to bed. Pauline, who’s had to deal with Clara’s BS way longer than Denise, just pulls the covers over her head, but Denise helps Clara change and asks what happened to the money. Clara tells her it was spent on drinks, lots and lots of them. I’ll say. She slurs that she hates Denise. Like, really, really hates her. Denise just looks at her pityingly as she drops into bed, still mostly dressed.

Much later, Denise wakes to the sound of Clara sobbing brokenheartedly. She gets up and goes over to her, climbing into bed beside Clara and wrapping her arms around her as Clara sobs that she’s lost her little girl. I really hope this show stays with some sort of character development for Clara, because she could actually get interesting. And here I thought she was just going to be the stock Bitch.