A Drama in Four Acts
Drawing-room at the LARRABEES. Evening.
|The scene represents the drawing-room at Edelweiss Lodge, an old
house, gloomy and decayed, situated in a lonely district in a little-frequented
part of London.
The furniture is old and decayed, with the exception of the piano — a baby-grand. The desk is very solid. The ceiling is heavily beamed. Many places out of repair in the walls and ceilings. Carvings broken here and there.
The music stops an instant before rise of curtain. A short pause after curtain is up. Curtain rises in darkness — lights come up. MADGE LARRABEE is discovered anxiously waiting. A strikingly handsome woman, but with a somewhat hard face. Black hair. Richly dressed.
Enter FORMAN with evening paper. He is a quiet perfectly trained servant. He is met by MADGE who takes the paper from him quickly.
FORMAN (speaks always very quietly): Pardon, ma’am, but one of the maids wishes to speak with you.
(MADGE is scanning the paper eagerly and sinks on to seat at the foot of the piano)
MADGE (not looking from paper): I can’t spare the time now.
FORMAN: Very well, ma’am. (Turns to go.)
MADGE (without looking up from paper): Which maid was it?
FORMAN (turning towards MADGE again): Térèse, ma’am.
MADGE (looking up. Very slight surprise in her tone): Térêse!
FORMAN: Yes, ma’am.
MADGE: Have you any idea what she wants?
FORMAN: Not the least, ma’am.
MADGE: She must tell you. I’m very busy, and can’t see her unless I know.
FORMAN: I’ll say so, ma’am.
(Turns and goes out, carefully and quietly closing the door after him — immediately coming in again and watching MADGE, who is busy with paper. Finds what she has been looking for and starts eagerly to read it. As if not seeing the print well, she leans near light and resumes reading with the greatest avidity. FORMAN quietly shuts door. He stands at the door looking at MADGE as she reads the paper. This is prolonged somewhat, so that it may be seen that he is not waiting for her to finish from mere politeness. His eyes are upon her sharply and intensely, yet he does not assume any expression otherwise. She finishes and angrily rises, casting the paper violently down on the piano. She turns and goes near the large heavy desk. Pauses there. Then turns away angrily. Sees FORMAN, calms herself at once. Just as MADGEturns, FORMAN seems to be coming into room.)
I could get nothing from her, ma’am. She insists that she must speak to you herself.
MADGE: Tell her to wait till to-morrow.
FORMAN: I asked her to do that, ma’am, and she said that she would not be here to-morrow.
(MADGE turns toward FORMAN with some surprise.)
MADGE: What does she mean by that?
FORMAN: Pardon me for mentioning it, ma’am, but she is a bit singular, as I take it.
MADGE: Tell her to come here— (FORMAN bows and turns to go. MADGE goes toward the piano, near where the paper lies. She sees it. Stops with hand on piano.)
(FORMAN stops and comes down. Everything quiet, subdued, cat-like in his methods.)
How did you happen to imagine that I would be interested in this marriage announcement? (Takes up paper and sits in seat below the piano.)
FORMAN: I could ‘ardly help it, ma’am.
(MADGE turns and looks hard at him an instant. FORMANstands deferentially.)
MADGE: I suppose you have overheard certain references to the matter — between myself and my brother?
FORMAN: I ‘ave, ma’am, but I would never have referred to it in the least if I did not think it might be of some importance to you ma’am to know it.
MADGE: Oh no — of no special importance! We know the parties concerned and are naturally interested in the event. Of course, you do not imagine there is anything more (She does not look at him as she says this)
FORMAN (not looking at MADGE —eyes front): Certainly not, ma’am. Anyway if I did imagine there was something more I’m sure you’d find it to your interest ma’am to remember my faithful services in helpin’ to keep it quiet.
MADGE (after slight pause, during which she looks steadily in front): Judson, what sort of a fool are you?
(FORMAN turns to her with feigned astonishment)
(Speaks with sharp, caustic utterances, almost between her teeth. Turns to him.) Do you imagine I would take a house, and bring this girl and her mother here and keep up the establishment for nearly two years without protecting myself against the chance of petty blackmail by my own servants?
FORMAN (protestingly) Ah—ma’am—you misunderstand me — I —
MADGE (rising—throws paper on to the piano) I understand too well! And now I beg you to understand me. I have had a trifle of experience in the selection of my servants and can recognize certain things when I see them! It was quite evident from your behaviour you had been in something yourself and it didn‘t take me long to get it out of you. You are a self-confessed forger.
FORMAN (quick movement of apprehension): No! (Apprehensive look around) Don’t speak out like that! (Recovers a little) It — it was in confidence — I told you in confidence ma’am.
MADGE: Well, I’m telling you in confidence that at the first sign of any underhand conduct on your part this little episode of yours will —
FORMAN (hurriedly—to prevent her from speaking it): Yes, yes! I — will bear it in mind, ma’am. I will bear it in mind!
MADGE (after a sharp look at him as if satisfying herself that he is now reduced to proper condition): Very well … Now, as to the maid — Térèse —
(FORMAN inclines head for instruction.)
Do you think of anything which might explain her assertion that she will not be here to-morrow?
FORMAN (his eyes turned away from MADGE. Speaking in low tones, and behaviour subdued as if completely humiliated): It has occurred to me, ma’am, since you first asked me regarding the matter, that she may have taken exceptions to some occurrences which she thinks she ‘as seen going on in this ‘ouse.
MADGE: I’ll raise her wages if I find it necessary; tell her so. If it isn’t money that she wants — I’ll see her myself.
FORMAN: Very well, ma’am. (He turns and goes out quietly.)
(MADGE stands motionless a moment. There is a sound of a heavy door opening and closing. MADGE gives a quick motion of listening. Hurries to look off. Enter JIM LARRABEE, through archway, in some excitement. He is a tall, heavily-built man, with a hard face. Full of determination and a strong character. He is well dressed, and attractive in some respects. A fine looking man. Dark hair and eyes, but the hard sinister look of a criminal.)
MADGE: Didn’t you find him? I
LARRABEE: No. (Goes to the heavy desk and throws open the wooden doors of lower part, showing the iron and combination lock of a safe or strong-box. Gives knob a turn or two nervously, and works at it.)
(MADGE follows, watching him.)
He wasn’t there! (Rises from desk.) We’ll have to get a lock smith in.
MADGE (quickly): No, no! We can’t do that! It isn’t safe!
LARRABEE: We’ve got to do something, haven’t we? (Stoops down quickly before door of safe again, and nervously tries it.) I wish to God I knew a bit about these things. (Business at safe.) There’s no time to waste, either! They’ve put Holmes on the case!
MADGE: Sherlock Holmes?
LARRABEE: Yes. (At safe, trying knob.)
MADGE: How do you know?
LARRABEE: I heard it at Leary’s. They keep track of him down there, and every time he’s put on something they give notice round.
MADGE: What could he do?
LARRABEE (rises and faces her): I don’t know — but he’ll make some move — he never waits long! It may be any minute! (Moves about restlessly but stops when MADGE speaks.)
MADGE: Can’t you think of someone else — as we can’t find Sid?
LARRABEE: He may turn up yet. I left word with Billy Rounds, and he’s on the hunt for him. (Between his teeth.) Oh! it’s damnable. After holding on for two good years just for this and now the time comes and she’s blocked us! (Goes to and looks off and up stairway. Looks at MADGE. Goes to her.) Look here! I’ll just get at her for a minute. (Starting to go out.) I have an idea I can change her mind.
MADGE (quickly): Yes — but wait, Jim.
(LARRABEE stops and turns to her.)
(She goes near him.) What’s the use of hurting the girl? We’ve tried all that!
LARRABEE: Well, I’ll try something else! (Turns and goes to archway.)
MADGE (quick, half whisper): Jim! (LARRABEE turns, MADGE approaches him.) Remember — nothing that’ll show! No marks! We might get into trouble.
LARRABEE (going doggedly): I’ll look out for that.
(LARRABEE goes out, running upstairs in haste. As MADGElooks after him with a trifle of anxiety standing in archway, enterTERESE. She is a quiet-looking French maid with a pleasant face. She stands near the door. MADGE turns into the room and sees her. Stands an instant. She seats herself in the arm-chair.)
MADGE: Come here.
(TERESE comes down a little way—with slight hesitation.)
What is it?
TERESE: Meester Judson said I vas to come.
MADGE: I told Judson to arrange with you himself.
TERESE: He could not, madame. I do not veesh longer to remain.
MADGE: What is it? You must give me some reason!
TERESE: It is zat I wish to go.
MADGE: You’ve been here months, and have made no complaint.
TERESE: Ah, madame — it is not so before! It is now beginning zat I do not like.
MADGE (rising): What? What is it you do not like?
TERESE (with some little spirit but low voice): I do not like eet, madame — eet — here — zis place — what you do — ze young lady you have up zere! I cannot remain to see! (Indicating above.) Eet ees not well! I cannot remain to see!
MADGE: You know nothing about it! The young lady is ill. She is not right here — (Touching forehead.) She is a great trouble to us, but we take every care of her, and treat her with the utmost kindness and —
(A piercing scream, as if muffled by something, heard in distant part of house above.)
(Music on scream. Very pianissimo. Agitato.)
(Pause. Both motionless. TERESE does not assume a horrified expression; she simply stands motionless. After quite a pause, MRS. FAULKNER comes down stairway rapidly, a white-haired lady, dressed in an old black gown.)
MRS. FAULKNER: My child! my child! They’re hurting my child!
(MRS. FAULKNER stands just within archway, looking vacantly, helplessly, at MADGE. MADGE turns, sees her and goes quickly to her.)
MADGE (between her teeth): What are you doing here? Didn’t I tell you never to come down!
(The old lady simply stares vacantly, but a vague expression of trouble is upon her face.)
Come with me! (Taking MRS. FAULKNER by the arm and drawing her towards stairs.)
(The old lady hangs back in a frightened way.)
Come, I say! (The scream again—more muffled—from above. Sudden change. Tenderly.) Don’t be alarmed, dear, your poor daughter’s head is bad to-day. She’ll be better soon! (Turns to TERESE.) Terèse — come to me in the morning. (To old lady.) Come along, dear. (Then angrily in low threatening voice.) Do you hear me? Come!
(Takes MRS. FAULKNER off with some force up the stairs. TERESE stands looking after them. Enter FORMANquietly. He looks a moment toward where MADGE has just taken the old lady off. TERESE is looking also the same way. FORMAN goes down to TERESE. They look at one another an instant in silence. Then he speaks to her in a low voice. Just before FORMAN speaks the music stops)
FORMAN: She’s made it quite satisfactory, I suppose.
(TERESE looks at FORMAN.)
You will not leave her — now?
TERESE: Leave her now? More zan evaire before! Do you hear young lady? What is eet they make to her?
FORMAN (low voice): It may be she is ill.
TERESE: Indeed, I think it is so zat zey make her eel! I weel not remain to see! (Turning a little.) I can find another place; eet eez not so difficult.
FORMAN: Not so difficult if you know where to go!
TERESE: Ah—zhat eez it!
FORMAN: I have one address —
TERESE (turns to him quickly): Bien — you know one?
Est-ce serieux? What you call re-li-ah-ble?
FORMAN (moves to her): Here — on this card — (Quickly takes card from pocket and pushes it into her hands.) Go to that address! Don’t let anyone see it!
TERESE (quickly looking at card while FORMAN looks away— begins slowly to read): Meester — Sheer — lock —
FORMAN (with a quick warning exclamation and sudden turn, seizes her, covering her mouth with one hand; they stand a moment, he looks slowly round): Some one might hear you! Go to that address in the morning.
(The front door bell rings. FORMAN motions her off with quick, short motion. She goes out. FORMAN goes out to open the house door —quickly. Sound of house door opening — a solid, heavy sound — not sharp. Enter SID PRINCE, walking in quickly. He is a short, stoutish, dapper little fellow. He carries a small black satchel, wears overcoat and hat, gloves, etc., and is well dressed and jaunty. He wears diamond scarf pin, rings, etc., is quick in movements and always on the alert. FORMAN follows him on, standing near archway.)
PRINCE (going across towards piano): Don’t waste toime, you fool; tell ‘em I’m ‘ere, can’t yer?
FORMAN: Did you wish to see Mr. Chetwood, sir, or was it Miss Chetwood?
PRINCE (stopping and turning to FORMAN): Well, I’ll be blowed! You act as if I’d never been ‘ere before! ‘Ow do you know but I was born in this ‘ere ‘ouse? Go on and tell ‘em as it’s Mr. Sidney Prince, Esq. (He puts satchel, which is apparently heavy, on seat at foot of piano.)
FORMAN: Oh yes, sir — I beg your pardon! I’ll announce you immediate, sir. (Goes out upstairs.)
(PRINCE takes off hat, gloves, etc., laying them so as to cover the satchel. Looks about room. Walks over to the heavy desk and glances at it. Swings door of the desk open in easy business-like way.)
PRINCE: Ah! (As if he had found what he was looking for. Not an exclamation of surprise. Drops on one knee and gives the lock a turn. Rises and goes over to his satchel—which he uncovers and opens. Feels about for something.)
(MADGE and LARRABEE come downstairs and enter.PRINCE sees them, but does not stop what he is doing.)
MADGE (going across to PRINCE): Oh, is that you, Sid? I’m so glad you’ve come.
LARRABEE: Hallo, Sid! … Did you get my note?
PRINCE (going right on with what he is doing): Well, I’m ‘ere, ain’t I? (Business at satchel.) … That’s what it is, I take it? (Motion of head towards desk.)
MADGE: Yes … We’re awfully glad you turned up, Sid. We might have had to get in some stranger to do it. (Going across to below piano in front of PRINCE.)
PRINCE (standing up and looking at LARRABEE andMADGE): That would be nice now, wouldn’t it? If your game ‘appens to be anything off colour —!!!
LARRABEE: Oh — it isn’t so specially dark.
PRINCE: That different. (Goes across to desk with tools from satchel.) I say, Larrabee —
(Quick “Sh!” from MADGE just behind him.)
LARRABEE (at same time): Shut up!
(They look round. PRINCE looks up surprised.)
For Heaven’s sake, Sid, remember — my name is Chetwood here.
PRINCE: Beg your pardon. My mistake. Old times when we was learnin’ the trade together—eh!
LARRABEE: Yes, yes!
PRINCE: I ‘ardly expected you’d be doin’ the ‘igh tone thing over ‘ere, wen I first come up with you workin’ the Sound Steamer Line out O’ New York.
LARRABEE: Come! Don’t let’s go into that now.
PRINCE: Well, you needn’t get so ‘uffy about it! You wouldn’t a’ been over ‘ere at all, if it ‘adn’t been for me … An’ youd a’ never met Madge ‘ere neither — and a devil of a life of it you might a’ been leadin’.
LARRABEE: Yes, yes.
MADGE: We know all that, Sid — but can’t you open that box for us now? We’ve no time to lose.
PRINCE: Open it! I should say I could! It’s one o’ those things it’ll fall open if you let it alone long enough! I’d really like to know where you picked up such a relic as this ‘ere box! It’s an old timer and no mistake! (About to try some tools on lock, looks about.) All clear, you say, no danger lurking?
LARRABEE (shaking head): Not the least!
(MADGE moves away a little, glancing cautiously about.PRINCE tries tools. LARRABEE remains near piano. Both watch him as he tries tools in the lock.)
PRINCE (at lock): You’re not robbing yourselves, I trust?
LARRABEE (near PRINCE): It does look a little like it!
PRINCE: I knew you was on some rum lay — squatting down in this place for over a year; but I never could seem to — (business) get a line on you. (He works a moment, then crosses to get a tool out of satchel, and goes near light on piano and begins to adjust it. This must bring him where he commands stage. Stopping and looking sharply at MADGEand LARRABEE.) What do we get here? Oof, I trust?
LARRABEE: Sorry to disappoint you, but it isn’t.
PRINCE: That’s too bad!
MADGE (shakes head): Only a bundle of papers, Sid.
(PRINCE works at tool an instant before speaking.)
LARRABEE: Um! (Grunt of assent.)
PRINCE: Realize, I trust?
MADGE: We can’t tell — it may be something — it may be nothing.
PRINCE: Well, if it’s something, I’m in it, I hope.
MADGE: Why, of course, Sid — whatever you think is due for opening the box.
PRINCE: Fair enough. (As if it was all settled to go on.) Now ‘ere. (Glances round quickly.) Before we starts ‘er goin’ what’s the general surroundin’s?
LARRABEE: What’s the good of wasting time on — (Going near PRINCE.)
PRINCE (up to him): If I’m in this, I’m in it, ain’t I? An’ I want to know wot I’m in.
MADGE: Why don’t you tell him, Jimmie?
PRINCE: If anything ‘appened, ‘ow’d I let the office know ‘oo to look out for?
LARRABEE: Well — I’m willing to give him an idea of what it is but I won’t give the name of the — (Hesitates.)
(MADGE goes up to arch.)
PRINCE: That’s all I ask — wot it is. I don’t want no names.
LARRABEE (nearer PRINCE and speaking lower): You know we’ve been working the Continent. Pleasure places and all that.
PRINCE: So I’ve ‘eard.
(MADGE motions them to wait. Looking off quietly. Nods them to proceed.)
LARRABEE: It was over there — Homburg was the place. We ran across a young girl who’d been havin’ trouble. Sister just died. Mother seemed wrong here. (Touches forehead.)
PRINCE: Well — you run across ‘er.
LARRABEE: Madge took hold and found that this sister of hers had been having some kind of love affair with a — well — with a foreign gentleman of exceedingly high rank — or at least — expectations that way.
PRINCE: A foreign gentleman?
LARRABEE: That’s what I said.
PRINCE: I don’t so much care about that, yer know. My lay’s ‘ere at home.
LARRABEE: Well, this is good enough for me.
PRINCE: ‘Ow much was there to it?
LARRABEE: Promise of marriage.
PRINCE: Broke it, of course.
LARRABEE: Yes — and her heart with it. I don’t know what more she expected — anyway, she did expect more. She and her child died together.
LARRABEE: Yes, but the case isn’t; there are evidences — letters, photographs, jewellery with inscriptions that he gave her. The sister’s been keeping them … (A glance about.) We’ve been keeping the sister … You see?
PRINCE (whistles): Oh, it’s the sister you’ve got ‘ere? An’ what’s ‘er little game?
LARRABEE: To get even.
PRINCE: Ah! To get back on ‘im for the way ‘e treated ‘er sister?
PRINCE: She don’t want money?
PRINCE: An’ your little game?
LARRABEE (shrug of shoulders): Whatever there is in it.
PRINCE: These papers an’ things ought to be worth a little Something!
LARRABEE: I tell you it wouldn’t be safe for him to marry until he gets them out of the way! He knows it very well. But what’s more, the family knows it!
PRINCE: Oh — family! … Rich, I take it.
LARRABEE: Rich isn’t quite the word. They’re something else.
PRINCE: You don’t mean —
(LARRABEE moves nearer PRINCE and whispers a name in his ear.)
My Gawd! Which of ‘em?
LARRABEE (shakes head): I don’t tell you that.
PRINCE: Well, we are a-movin’ among the swells now, ain’t we? But this ‘ere girl — the sister o’ the one that died — ’ow did you manage to get ‘er into it?
MADGE: I picked her up, of course, and sympathized and consoled. I invited her to stay with me at my house in London. Jimmy came over and took this place — and when I brought her along a week later it was all ready — and a private desk safe for the letters and jewellery.
LARRABEE (turning): Yes — combination lock and all … Everything worked smooth until a couple of weeks ago, when we began to hear from a firm of London solicitors, some veiled proposals were made—which showed that the time was coming. They wanted the things out of the way. Suddenly all negotiations on their side stopped. The next thing for me to do was to threaten. I wanted the letters for this, but when I went to get them — I found that in some way the girl had managed to change the lock on us. The numbers were wrong — and we couldn’t frighten or starve her into opening the thing.
PRINCE: Oh — I see it now. You’ve got the stuff in there! (Indicating safe.)
LARRABEE: That’s what I’m telling you! It’s in there, and we can’t get it out! She’s juggled the lock.
PRINCE (going at once to safe): Oh, well, it won’t take long ta rectify that triflin’ error. (Stops.) But wot gets me is the w’y they broke off with their offers that way — can you make head or tail of that?
LARRABEE: Yes. (Goes nearer to PRINCE.) It’s simple enough.
(PRINCE turns to him for explanation.)
They’ve given it up themselves, and have got in Sherlock Holmes on the case.
PRINCE (suddenly starting): Wot’s that! (Pause.) Is ‘Olmes in this?
LARRABEE: That’s what they told me!
MADGE: But what can he do, Sid? We haven’t —
PRINCE: ‘Ere, don’t stand talking about that — I’ll get the box open. (Goes to piano in front of LARRABEE.) You send a telegram, that’s all I want! (Tears page out of his note-book and writes hurriedly The other two watch him, LARRABEE a little suspiciously. Silence for a few moments while he writes.) Where’s your nearest telegraph office?
MADGE: Round the corner. (Going to above piano.)
PRINCE (down to LARRABEE and giving him the telegram he has written): Run for it! Mind what I say — run for it.
(LARRABEE is looking at him hard.)
That’s to Alf Bassick. He’s Professor Moriarty’s confidential man. Moriarty is king of ‘em all in London. He runs everything that’s shady — an’ ‘Olmes ‘as been settin’ lines all round ‘im for months — and he didn’t know it — an’ now he’s beginnin’ to find out that ‘Olmes is trackin’ ‘im down — and there’s the devil to pay. ‘E wants any cases ‘Olmes is on — it’s a dead fight between ‘em! ‘E’ll take the case just to get at ‘Olmes! ‘E’ll kill ‘im before ‘e’s finished with ‘im, you can lay all you’ve got on it.
LARRABEE: What are you telling him?
PRINCE: Nothing whatever, except I’ve got a job on as I wants to see ‘im about in the mornin’ … Read it yourself.
(LARRABEE looks at what PRINCE has written.)
But don’t take all night over it! You cawn’t tell wot might ‘appen. (Crosses to safe.)
MADGE: Go on, Jim!
(LARRABEE crosses, MADGE following him.)
LARRABEE (to MADGE near archway): Keep your eyes open.
MADGE (to LARRABEE): Don’t you worry!
(LARRABEE goes out.)
(MADGE is looking after him. Quick sound of door closing. PRINCE drops down to work — real work now — at desk. Short pause. MADGE stands watching PRINCE a moment. She moves over to near piano and picks up a book carelessly, which she glances at with perfect nonchalance. After a time she speaks without taking eyes from book.)
I’ve heard of this Professor Moriarty.
PRINCE: If you ‘aven’t you must’ve been out in the woods.
MADGE: You say he’s king of them all.
PRINCE (working): Bloomin’ Hemperor — that’s wot I call ‘im.
MADGE: He must be a good many different things.
PRINCE: You might see it that way if you looked around an’ didn’t breathe too ‘ard!
MADGE: What does he do?
PRINCE: I’ll tell you one thing he does! (Turns to her and rests a moment from work) He sits at ‘ome — quiet and easy — an runs nearly every big operation that’s on. All the clever boys are under him one way or another — an’ he ‘olds them in ‘is ‘and without moving a muscle! An’ if there’s a slip and the police get wind of it there ain’t never any ‘old on ‘im. They can’t touch him. And wot’s more, they wouldn’t want to if they could.
MADGE: Why not?
PRINCE: Because they’ve tried it — that’s w’y — an’ the men as did try it was found shortly after a-floatin’ in the river — that is, if they was found at all! The moment a man’s marked there ain’t a street that’s safe for ‘im! No — nor yet an alley. (Resumes drilling.)
MADGE (after pause): What’s the idea of telling him about this? He might not want —
PRINCE (turning to her,): I tell yer, ‘e’ll come into anything that gives ‘im a chance at ‘Olmes — he wants ter trap ‘im — that’s wot is an just what he’ll do (Resumes work)
(PRINCE works rapidly, drill going in suddenly as if he had one hole sunk. He tries a few tools in it and quickly starts another hole with drills. MADGE starts forward at business of drill.)
MADGE (recovering to careless): Have you got it, Sid?
PRINCE: Not yet — but I’ll be there soon. (Works.) I know where I am now.
(Sound of door closing outside. Enter LARRABEE hurriedly. He is breathless from running.)
LARRABEE: Well, Sid. How goes it?
PRINCE (working): So-so.
LARRABEE: Now about this Professor Moriarty? (Gets chair from near piano and sits behind PRINCE.)
PRINCE (working): Ask ‘er.
MADGE: It’s all right, Jim. It was the proper thing to do.
(Music. Melodramatic, very pp. Hardly audible.)
(MADGE and LARRABEE move near PRINCE, looking over him eagerly. He quickly introduces small punch and hammers rapidly; sound of bolts, etc., falling inside lock as if loosened. Eagerness of all three increases with final sound of loose iron work inside lock, and PRINCE at once pulls open the iron doors. All three give a quick look within. MADGE and LARRABEE start back with subdued exclamation. PRINCE looks in more carefully, then turns to them. Pause. LARRABEE in moving back pushes chair along with him. Pause. Music stops.)
MADGE (turning to LARRABEE): Gone!
LARRABEE (to MADGE): She’s taken ‘em out.
PRINCE (rising to his feet): What do you mean?
LARRABEE: The girl!
(MADGE stops and goes quickly to safe in front of PRINCEand dropping down feels carefully about inside. Others watch her closely. PRINCE gives back a little for her.)
(NOTE. — Their dialogue since opening of safe has dropped to low excited tones, almost whispers, as they would if it were a robbery. Force of habit in their intense excitement.)
MADGE (rises and turns to LARRABEE): She’s got them!
PRINCE: ‘Ow can you tell as she ‘asn’t done the trick already?
LARRABEE (quick turn on PRINCE): What’s that?
PRINCE: She wants to get even, you say.
MADGE: Yes! yes!
PRINCE: Well, then, if she’s got the thing out of the box there — ain’t it quite likely she’s sent ‘em along to the girl as ‘e wants to marry. (Brief pause.)
MADGE: No! She hasn’t had the chance.
LARRABEE: She couldn’t get them out of this room. We’ve Watched her too close for that.
MADGE: Wait! (Turns and looks rapidly about piano, etc.)
(LARRABEE hurriedly looks about under cushions.)
LARRABEE: Here! (Strides towards archway.) I’ll get her down She’ll tell us where they are or strangle for it! (Turns hurriedly) Wait here! When I get her in, don’t give her time to think!
(LARRABEE goes out. PRINCE comes to the end of the piano looking off after LARRABEE.)
(Music. Very pp.)
(Brief pause. MADGE glances nervously.)
PRINCE: Wot’s he goin’ to do?
MADGE: There’s only one thing, Sid. We’ve got to get it out of her or the whole two years’ work is wasted.
(Muffled cry of pain from ALICE in distance. Pause.)
PRINCE (glances off anxiously): Look ‘ere, I don’t so much fancy this sort of thing. (Goes to safe and collects tools.)
MADGE: Don’t you worry, we’ll attend to it!
(Sound of LARRABEE approaching outside and speaking angrily Nearer and nearer. Footsteps heard just before entrance. LARRABEE drags ALICE FAULKNER on, jerking her across him.)
LARRABEE (as he brings ALICE on): Now, we’ll see whether you will or not! (Pause for an instant.)
(NOTE. — This scene should be played well up stage.)
(Coming down.) Now tell her what we want.
ALICE (low voice — slight shake of head): You needn’t tell me, I know well enough.
MADGE (drawing nearer to ALICE with quiet cat-like glide. Smiling) Oh no dear you don’t know. It isn’t anything about locks, or keys, or numbers this time. (Points slowly to the open safe.) We want to know what you’ve done with them!
(Pause. ALICE looks at MADGE calmly. No defiance or suffering in her expression.)
(Comes closer and speaks with set teeth.) Do you hear! We want to know what you’ve done with them.
ALICE (low voice—but clear and distinct): You will not know from me.
LARRABEE (sudden violence, yet subdued, as if not wishing servants to overhear): We will know from you — and we’ll know before — (As if to cross MADGE to ALICE.)
MADGE (motioning him): Wait, Jim! (Moves down with him a little.)
LARRABEE (to MADGE, violently): I tell you, they’re in this room — she couldn’t have got them out — and I’m going to make her — (As if to seize ALICE.)
MADGE (detaining him): No! Let me speak to her first!
(LARRABEE after an instant’s sullen pause, turns and walks up stage. Watches from above sullenly. MADGE turns to ALICEagain.)
Don’t you think, dear, it’s about time to remember that you owe us a little consideration? Wasn’t it something, just a little something, that we found you friendless and ill in Homburg and befriended you?
ALICE: It was only to rob me.
MADGE: Wasn’t it something that we brought you and your mother across to England with us — that we kept you here — in our own home — and supported and cared for you —
ALICE: So that you could rob me.
MADGE: My dear child — you have nothing of value. That package of letters wouldn’t bring you sixpence.
ALICE: Then why do you want it? Why do you persecute me and starve me to get it? (Pause — MADGE looking at her cruelly.) All your friendship to me and my mother was a pretence — a sham. It was only to get what you wanted away from me when the time came.
MADGE: Why, we have no idea of such a thing!
ALICE (turning slightly on MADGE): I don’t believe you.
LARRABEE (who has controlled himself with difficulty): Well, believe me, then.
(ALICE turns to him, frightened but calm. No forced expressions of pain and despair anywhere in the scene.)
(Moves towards her.) You’re going to tell us what you’ve done with that package before you leave this room to-night!
(MADGE backs away a step or two.)
ALICE: Not if you kill me.
LARRABEE (seizing ALICE violently by the arms or wrists at back of her): It isn’t killing that’s going to do it — it’s something else.
(Music melodramatic and pathetic.)
(LARRABEE gets ALICE’S arms behind her, and holds her as if wrenching or twisting them from behind. She gives slight cry of pain. MADGE comes to her. PRINCE looks away during following — appearing not to like the scene but not moving.)
MADGE (sharp hard voice): Tell us where it is! Tell us and he’ll stop.
LARRABEE (a little behind — business of gripping as if wrenching her arms): Out with it!
ALICE (suppressed cry or moan): Oh!
(NOTE. — ALICE has little expression of pain on her face. The idea is to be game.)
MADGE: Where is it?
LARRABEE: Speak quick now! I’ll give you a turn next time that’ll take it out of you.
MADGE (low voice): Be careful, Jimmie!
LARRABEE (angry): Is this any time to be careful? I tell you we’ve got to get it out of her — and we’ll do it too! (Business.) Will you tell? (Business.) Will you tell? (Business.) Will you —
(Loud ringing of door bell in distant part of house.)
(NOTE. — This must on no account be close at hand.)
(After bell music stops.)
PRINCE (quick turn on ring. Short sharp whisper as he starts up): Lookout!
(All stand listening an instant. ALICE, however, heard nothing, as the pain has made her faint, though not unconscious. LARRABEEpushes ALICE into chair facing fire-place. He then hides her. MADGE goes quickly and cautiously draws picture from a small concealed window. LARRABEE stands near ALICEclose up to her. Steps heard outside. LARRABEE turns quickly, hearing steps. Make these steps distinct—slow—not loud.)
LARRABEE (speaking off): Here!
(Enter FORMAN. He stands waiting.)
Don’t go to that door; see who it is.
(FORMAN simply waits — no surprise on his face. MADGEturning and speaking in low but clear voice. LARRABEE stands so that FORMAN will not see ALICE.)
MADGE (standing on ottoman): Tall, slim man in a long coat — soft hat — smooth face — carries … an ebony cane — (Short, quick exclamation from PRINCE.)
PRINCE (breaks in with quick exclamation under breath.MADGE stopped by PRINCE’S exclamation): Sherlock ‘Olmes! He’s ‘ere!
(Pause. PRINCE quickly conceals his satchel above safe — also closing door of safe. Music melodramatic, very pp.)
LARRABEE (moving towards piano, turns out lamp): We won’t answer the bell.
PRINCE (turning from tools, etc., and stopping him quickly): Now that won’t do, ye know! Looks crooked at the start!
LARRABEE: You’re right! We’ll have him in — and come the easy innocent. (He turns up the lamp again.)
MADGE: There’s the girl!
PRINCE (at piano): Get her away — quick!
(ALICE is beginning to notice what goes on in a dreamy way.)
LARRABEE: Take her up the back stairway!
(MADGE takes ALICE quickly and forces her to door as they speak.)
MADGE (stopping to speak to LARRABEE and speaking out very distinctly): She’s in poor health and can’t see anyone —you understand.
LARRABEE: Yes! yes! Lock her in the room — and stay by the door.
(MADGE and ALICE quickly go out. LARRABEEcloses door at once and stands an instant, uncertain. Then he goes to and opens lid of box on wall seat, and gets a loaded club — an ugly looking weapon — and shoves it into PRINCE’S hand.)
You get out there! (Indicating.) Keep quiet there till he gets in the house — then come round to the front.
PRINCE: I come round to the front after ‘e’s in the ‘ouse — that plain.
LARRABEE: Be ready for ‘im when he comes out! If he’s got the things in spite of us, I’ll give you two sharp whistles! If you don’t hear it, let him pass.
PRINCE: But if I do ‘ear the two whistles—?
LARRABEE: Then let ‘im have it.
(PRINCE gets off at window, which he closes at once. LARRABEEmoves rapidly, kicking door of desk shut as he passes. Stands at piano, leaning on it carelessly. Turns to FORMAN.)
Go on, answer the bell.
(FORMAN bows slightly and goes. LARRABEE strolls about trying to get into an assumption of coolness. Picks up book off piano. Sound of heavy door closing outside. Brief pause. Enter SHERLOCKHOLMES, hat and stick in hand — wearing a long coat or ulster, and gloves. He lingers in the archway, apparently seem nothing in particular, and slowly drawing off gloves. Then moves to the wall seat close at hand and sits.)
(After quite a time LARRABEE turns, throws book on piano, and saunters towards HOLMES in rather an ostentatious manner.)
Mr. Holmes, I believe.
HOLMES (rises and turning to LARRABEE as if mildly surprised.) Yes, sir.
LARRABEE: Who did you wish to see, Mr. Holmes?
HOLMES (looking steadily at LARRABEE an instant. Speaks very quietly): Thank you so much — I sent my card — by the butler.
LARRABEE (stands motionless an instant — after an instant pause): Oh—very well.
(Long pause. Enter FORMAN down stairs. LARRABEEmoves up near piano and turns to hear what FORMAN says.)
FORMAN (to HOLMES): Miss Faulkner begs Mr. Holmes to excuse her. She is not well enough to see anyone this evening.
(HOLMES takes out note-book and pencil and writes a word or two on a card or leaf of the book. Tears it out of book. Pulls out watch and glances at it. Hands the card to FORMAN, taking off coat first.)
HOLMES: Hand Miss Faulkner this — and say that I have —
LARRABEE: I beg your pardon, Mr. Holmes, but it’s quite useless — really.
HOLMES: Oh — I’m so sorry to hear it.
(HOLMES turns quietly to LARRABEE and looks at him. LARRABEE is a trifle affected by HOLMES’quiet scrutiny.)
LARRABEE: Yes — Miss Faulkner is — I regret to say — quite an invalid. She is unable to see anyone — her health is so poor.
HOLMES: Did it ever occur to you that she might be confined to the house too much?
(An instant’s pause.)
LARRABEE (suddenly in low threatening tone, but not too violent): How does that concern you?
HOLMES (easily): It doesn’t … I simply made the suggestion.
(The two look at one another an instant. HOLMES turns quietly to FORMAN.)
That’s all. (Motions him slightly.) Go on. Take it up. (FORMANgoes out up stairway. After a moment LARRABEE turns, breaking into hearty laughter.)
LARRABEE: Ha! ha! This is really too good. (Strolling about laughing.) Why, of course he can take up your card — or your note — or whatever it is, if you wish it so much; I was only trying to save You the trouble.
HOLMES (who has been watching him through foregoing speech): Thanks — hardly any trouble at all to send a card. (Seats himself in an easy languid way — picks up Punch.)
LARRABEE (endeavours to be easy, careless and patronizing) Do you know, Mr. Holmes, you interest me very much.
HOLMES (easily): Ah!
LARRABEE: Upon my word, yes! We’ve all heard of your wonderful methods. (Coming towards HOLMES.) Your marvellous insight — your ingenuity in picking up and following clues — an the astonishing manner in which you gain information from the most trifling details … Now, I dare say — in this brief moment or two you’ve discovered any number of things about me.
HOLMES: Nothing of consequence, Mr. Chetwood — I have scarcely more than asked myself why you rushed off and sent that telegram in such a frightened hurry — what possible excuse you could have had for gulping down that tumbler of raw brandy at the “Lion’s Head” on the way back — why your friend with the auburn hair left so suddenly by the terrace window — and what there can possibly be about the safe in the lower part of that desk to cause you such painful anxiety.
(Pause. LARRABEE standing motionless looking atHOLMES. HOLMES picks up paper and reads.)
LARRABEE: Ha! ha! very good! Very good indeed! If those things were only true now, I’d be wonderfully impressed. It would absolutely —
(He breaks off as FORMAN enters — coming down stairs. He quietly crosses to LARRABEE, who is watching him, and extends salver with a note upon it. HOLMES is looking over paper languidly. LARRABEE takes note. FORMAN retires.)
You’ll excuse me, I trust.
(HOLMES remains silent, glancing over paper and looking quietly at FORMAN. LARRABEE reads the note hastily.)
(First a second’s thought after reading, as he sees that HOLMESis not observing him — then speaking.) Ah — it’s from — er — Faulkner! Well really! She begs to be allowed to see — Mr. Holmes. She absolutely implores it! (HOLMES looks slowly up as though scarcely interested.) Well, I suppose I shall have to give way. (Turns to FORMAN.) Judson!
LARRABEE (emphasizing words in italics): Ask Miss Faulkner to come down to the drawing-room. Say that Mr. Holmes is waiting to see her.
FORMAN: Yes, sir. (Bows and goes out upstairs.)
LARRABEE (trying to get on the free and easy style again): It’s quite remarkable, upon my soul! May I ask — (turns toward HOLMES) — if it’s not an impertinent question, what message you sent up that could have so aroused Miss Faulkner’s desire to come down?
HOLMES (looking up at LARRABEE innocently): Merely that if she wasn’t down here in five minutes I’d go up.
LARRABEE (slightly knocked): Oh, that was it!
HOLMES: Quite so. (Rises and takes his watch out.) And unless I am greatly mistaken I hear the young lady on the stairs. In which case she has a minute and a half to spare. (Moving by piano — taking opportunity to look at keys, music, etc.)
(Enter MADGE LARRABEE downstairs as if not quite strong. She has made her face pale, and steadies herself a little by columns, side of arch, furniture, etc., as she comes on, but not overdoing this. She gives the impression of a person a little weak, but endeavouring not to let it be seen.)
LARRABEE (advancing to MADGE): Alice — or — that is, Miss Faulkner, let me introduce Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
(HOLMES is near piano. MADGE goes a step to him with extended hand. HOLMES meets MADGE and takes her hand in the utmost confidence.)
MADGE: Mr. Holmes! (Coming toward him with extended hand.)
HOLMES (meeting MADGE): Miss Faulkner!
MADGE: I’m really most charmed to meet you — although it does look as if you had made me come down in spite of myself, doesn’t it? But it isn’t so at all, Mr. Holmes. I was more than anxious to come, only the doctor has forbidden me seeing anyone — but when Cousin Freddie said I might come, of course that fixed the responsibility on him, so I have a perfectly clear conscience.
HOLMES: I thank you very much for consenting to see me, Miss Faulkner, but regret that you were put to the trouble of making such a very rapid change of dress.
(MADGE slightest possible start, and recover at once.)
MADGE: Ye — yes! I did hurry a trifle, I confess. (Crosses toward LARRABEE.) Mr. Holmes is quite living up to his reputation, isn’t he, Freddie?
LARRABEE: Yes … But he didn’t quite live up to it a moment ago.
MADGE: Oh, didn’t he! I’m so sorry. (Sits on seat at foot of piano.)
LARRABEE: No. He’s been telling me the most astonishing things.
MADGE: And they weren’t true?
LARRABEE: Well hardly! (HOLMES sits in arm-chair.) He wanted to know what there was about the safe in the lower part that desk that caused me such horrible anxiety! Ha! ha! ha!
MADGE (above LARRABEE’S laugh — to HOLMES): Why, this isn’t anything. (To LARRABEE.) Is there?
LARRABEE: That’s just it! Ha! ha! ha! (With a quick motion swings back the doors) There’s a safe there, but nothing in it.
(MADGE joins him in laughter.)
MADGE (as she laughs): Really Mr. Holmes, that’s too grotesque, ha! ha!
(HOLMES, seated in arm-chair among the cushions, regards MADGEand LARRABEE with a peculiar whimsical look.)
LARRABEE (laughing): Perhaps you’ll do better next time! (Closes safe door.)
MADGE: Yes, next time — (HOLMES is looking at them.) You might try on me, Mr. Holmes. (Looking playfully at HOLMES, greatly enjoying the lark.)
LARRABEE: Yes, what do you think of her?
HOLMES: It is very easy to discern one thing about Miss Faulkner— and that is, that she is particularly fond of the piano that her touch is exquisite, her expression wonderful, and her technique extraordinary. While she likes light music very well, she is extremely fond of some of the great masters, among whom are Chopin, Liszt. She plays a great deal indeed; I see it is her chief diversion — which makes it all the more remarkable that she has not touched the piano for three days.
MADGE (turning to LARRABEE —a trifle disconcerted by HOLMES’S last words, but nearly hiding it with success): Why that’s quite surprising, isn’t it?
LARRABEE: Certainly better than he did for me.
HOLMES (rising..): I am glad to somewhat repair my shattered reputation, and as a reward, will Miss Faulkner be so good as to play me something of which I am particularly fond?
MADGE: I shall be delighted — if I can. (Looks questioningly at HOLMES.)
HOLMES: If you can! Something tells me that Chopin’s Prelude Number Fifteen is at your finger ends.
MADGE: Oh yes! (Rising and forgetting her illness, and going to keyboard — crossing in front of piano): I can give you that.
HOLMES: It will please me so much.
MADGE (stopping suddenly as she is about to sit at piano): But tell me, Mr. Holmes, how did you know so much about my playing — my expression — technique?
HOLMES: Your hands.
MADGE: And my preference for the composers you mentioned?
HOLMES: Your music-rack.
MADGE: How simple! But you said I hadn’t played for three days. How did—
HOLMES: The keys.
MADGE: The keys?
HOLMES: A light layer of dust.
MADGE: Dust! Oh dear! (Quick business with handkerchief on keyboard.) I never knew Terèse to forget before. (ToHOLMES.) You must think us very untidy, I’m sure.
HOLMES: Quite the reverse. I see from many things that you are not untidy in the least, and therefore I am compelled to conclude that the failure of Térêse is due to something else.
MADGE (a little under breath — and hesitatingly —yet compelled by HOLMES’ pointed statement to ask): Wh—what?
HOLMES: To some unusual excitement or disturbance that has recently taken place in this house.
MADGE (after an instant’s pause): You’re doing very well, Mr. Holmes, and you deserve your Chopin. (Sits, makes preparation to play rather hurriedly in order to change the subject.)
(LARRABEE looks toward safe, far from easy in his mind, and leans on piano, giving HOLMES a glance as he turns to MADGE. MADGE strikes a few preliminary chords during above business and soon begins to play the composition spoken of. Shortly after the music begins, and while LARRABEE is looking to front or elsewhere, HOLMES reaches quietly back and pulls the bell crank. No sound of bell heard, the music supposed to make it inaudible. He then sinks into seat just at bell. After a short time FORMANenters and stands waiting just in the archway. LARRABEE does not see FORMAN at first, but happening to turn discovers him standing there and speaks a warning word to MADGE under his breath. MADGE, hearing LARRABEE speak, looks up and sees FORMAN. She stops playing in the midst of a bar — a hesitating stop. Looks at FORMAN a moment.)
MADGE: What are you doing here, Judson?
(Brief pause because FORMAN seems surprised.)
FORMAN: I came to see what was wanted, ma’am.
MADGE: What was wanted?
LARRABEE: Nobody asked you to come here.
FORMAN: I beg pardon, sir. I answered the bell.
LARRABEE (becoming savage): What bell?
FORMAN: The drawing-room bell, sir.
LARRABEE (threateningly): What do you mean, you blockhead!
FORMAN: I’m quite sure it rang, sir.
LARRABEE (loud voice): Well, I tell you it did not ring!
(Pause. The LARRABEES look angrily at FORMAN.)
HOLMES (quietly — after slight pause — clear incisive voice.): Your butler is right Mr. Chetwood — the bell did ring.
(Brief pause. LARRABEE and MADGE looking at HOLMES.)
LARRABEE: How do you know?
HOLMES: I rang it.
LARRABEE (roughly): What do you want?
(HOLMES rises, takes card from case or pocket.)
HOLMES: I want to send my card to Miss Faulkner. (Gives card to FORMAN.)
(FORMAN stands apparently paralysed.)
LARRABEE (angrily — approaching HOLMES): What right have you to ring for servants and give orders in my house?
HOLMES (turning on LARRABEE): What right have you to prevent my cards from reaching their destination — and how does it happen that you and this woman are resorting to trickery and deceit to prevent me from seeing Alice Faulkner? (The situation is held an instant and then he turns quietly to FORMAN.) Through some trifling oversight, Judson, neither of the cards I handed you have been delivered. See that this error — does not occur again.
(FORMAN stands, apparently uncertain what to do.)
FORMAN: My orders, sir —
HOLMES (quick — sharp): Ah! you have orders! (A sudden sharp glance at LARRABEE and back in an instant.)
FORMAN: I can’t say, sir, as I —
HOLMES (quickly breaking in): You were told not to deliver my card!
LARRABEE (step or two up): What business is this of yours, I’d like to know?
HOLMES: I shall satisfy your curiosity on that point in a very short time.
LARRABEE: Yes — and you’ll find out in a very short time that it isn’t safe to meddle with me! It wouldn’t be any trouble at all for me to throw you out into the street.
HOLMES (sauntering easily towards him—shaking finger ominously): Possibly not — but trouble would swiftly follow such an experiment on your part.
LARRABEE: It’s a cursed lucky thing for you I’m not armed.
HOLMES: Yes — well, when Miss Faulkner comes down you can go and arm yourself.
LARRABEE: Arm myself! I’ll call the police! And what’s more, I’ll do it now.
(HOLMES steps down and faces LARRABEE)
HOLMES: You will not do it now. You will remain where you are until the lady I came here to see has entered this room.
LARRABEE: What makes you so sure of that?
HOLMES (in his face) Because you will infinitely prefer to avoid an investigation of your very suspicious conduct Mr. James Larrabee —
(A sharp start from both LARRABEE and MADGEon hearing HOLMES address the former by his proper name.)
— an investigation that shall certainly take place if you or your wife presume further to interfere with my business (Turns to FORMAN.) As for you, my man—it gives me great pleasure recall the features of an old acquaintance. Your recent connection with the signing of another man’s name to a small piece of paper has made your presence at Bow Street much desired. You either deliver that card to Miss Faulkner at once — or you sleep in the police station to night. It is a matter of small consequence to me which you do. (Turns and strolls near fire, picking book from mantelpiece—and sits)
(FORMAN stands motionless but torn with conflicting fears)
FORMAN (finally in a low painful voice—whispers hoarse): Shall I go sir?
(MADGE moves to near LARRABEE, at piano.)
LARRABEE: Go on. Take up the card — it makes no difference to me.
MADGE (quick sharp aside to LARRABEE): If she comes down can’t he get them away from her?
LARRABEE (to MADGE) If he does Sid Prince is waiting for him outside.
(FORMAN appearing to be greatly relieved, turns and goes out up stairs with HOLMES’ card.)
(Pathetic music, very pp.)
(A pause—no one moves.)
(Enter ALICE FAULKNER. She comes down a little — very weak — looking at LARRABEE, then seeing HOLMES for first time.)
HOLMES (on seeing ALICE, rises and puts book on mantel. After a brief pause, turns and comes down to LARRABEE): A short time since you displayed an acute anxiety to leave the room. Pray do not let me detain you or your wife — any longer.
(The LARRABEES do not move. After a brief pause,HOLMES shrugs shoulders slightly and goes over to ALICE. HOLMES and ALICE regard each other a moment.)
ALICE: This is Mr. Holmes?
ALICE: You wished to see me?
HOLMES: Very much indeed, Miss Faulkner, but I am sorry to see — (placing chair near her) — you are far from well.
ALICE (a step. LARRABEE gives a quick glance across at her, threateningly, and a gesture of warning, but keeping it down): Oh no — (Stops as she catches LARRABEE’S angry glance.)
HOLMES (pausing as he is about to place chair, and looking at her): No? (Lets go of his chair.) I beg your pardon — but — (Goes to her and takes her hand delicately — looks at red marks on her wrist. Looking up at her.) What does this mean?
ALICE (shrinking a little. Sees LARRABEE’S cruel glance): Oh— nothing.
(HOLMES looks steadily at her an instant.)
ALICE (shaking head): No!
HOLMES: And the — (pointing lightly) — mark here on your neck. Plainly showing the clutch of a man’s fingers? (Indicating a place on her neck where more marks appear.) Does that mean nothing also?
(Pause. ALICE turns slightly away without answering.)
(Looking straight before him to front.) It occurs to me that I would like to have an explanation of this … Possibly —(turns slowly towards LARRABEE) — you can furnish one, Mr. Larrabee?
LARRABEE (doggedly): How should I know?
HOLMES: It seems to have occurred in your house.
LARRABEE (advancing a little, becoming violently angry): What if it did? You’d better understand that it isn’t healthy for you or anyone else to interfere with my business.
HOLMES (quickly—incisively): Ah! Then it is your business. We have that much at least.
(LARRABEE stops suddenly and holds himself in.)
(Turning to ALICE.) Pray be seated, Miss Faulkner. (Placing chair as if not near enough.)
(ALICE hesitates an instant — then decides to remain standing for the present. LARRABEE stands watching and listening to interview between HOLMES and ALICE.)
ALICE: I don’t know who you are, Mr. Holmes, or why you are here.
HOLMES: I shall be very glad to explain. So far as the question of my identity is concerned, you have my name and address as well as the announcement of my profession upon the card, which I observe you still hold clasped tightly in the fingers of your left hand.
(ALICE at once looks at the card in her hand.)
ALICE (a look at him): A — detective! (Sits on ottoman, looking at HOLMES.)
HOLMES (draws near her and sits): Quite so. And my business is this. I have been consulted as to the possibility of obtaining from you certain letters and other things which are supposed to be in your possession, and which — I need not tell you — are the source of the greatest anxiety.
ALICE (her manner changing and no longer timid and shrinking): It is quite true I have such letters, Mr. Holmes, but it will be impossible to get them from me; others — have tried — and failed.
HOLMES: What others have or have not done, while possibly instructive in certain directions, can in no way affect my conduct, Miss Faulkner. I have come to you frankly and directly, to beg you to pity and forgive.
ALICE: There are some things, Mr. Holmes, beyond pity — beyond forgiveness.
HOLMES: But there are other things that are not. (ALICElooks at him.) I am able to assure you of the sincere penitence — the deep regret — of the one who inflicted the injury, and of his earnest desire to make — any reparation in his power.
ALICE: How can reparation be made to the dead?
HOLMES: How indeed! And for that very reason, whatever injury you yourself may be able to inflict by means of these things can be no reparation — no satisfaction — no indemnity to the one no longer here. You will be acting for the living — not the dead. For your own satisfaction, Miss Faulkner, your own gratification, your own revenge!
(ALICE starts slightly at the idea suggested and rises. Pause. HOLMES rises, moves his chair back a little, standing with his hand on it.)
ALICE (stands a moment, very quiet low voice): I know — from this and from other things that have happened — that a — a marriage is — contemplated.
HOLMES: It is quite true.
ALICE: I cannot give up what I intend to do, Mr. Holmes. There are other things beside revenge — there is punishment. If I am not able to communicate with the family — to which this man proposes to ally himself — in time to prevent such a thing — the punishment will come later — but you may be perfectly sure it will come. (HOLMES is about to speak. She motions him not to speak.) There is nothing more to say!
(HOLMES gives a signal.)
(She looks at HOLMES an instant.) Good night, Mr. Holmes. (She turns and starts to go.)
HOLMES: But my dear Miss Faulkner, before you —
(A confused noise of shouting and terrified screams from below followed by sounds of people running up a stairway and through the halls.)
HOLMES: What’s that?
(All stop and listen. Noise louder. Enter FORMAN, breathless and white. At same time smoke pours in through archway.)
FORMAN (gasping): Mr. Chetwood! Mr. Chetwood!
MADGE and LARRABEE: What is it?
(HOLMES keeps his eyes sharply on ALICE. ALICEstands back alarmed.)
FORMAN: The lamp — in the kitchen, sir! It fell off the table — an’ everything down there is blazin’, sir.
MADGE: The house — is on fire! (She gives a glance towards safe, forgetting that the package is gone— but instantly recovers.)
(LARRABEE hurriedly goes out, MADGE after him.FORMAN disappears. Noise of people running downstairs, etc. ALICE, on cue “Blazin’, sir,” gives a scream and looks quickly at chair, at the same time making an involuntary start toward it. She stops upon seeing HOLMES and stands. Noises grow less and die away outside and below.)
HOLMES: Don’t alarm yourself, Miss Faulkner — (slight shake of head) —there is no fire.
ALICE (shows by tone that she fears something): No fire! (Stands, dreading what may come.)
HOLMES: The smoke was all arranged for by me. (Slight pause)
ALICE: Arranged for? (Looks at HOLMES.)
(HOLMES quickly moves to large upholstered chair which ALICE glanced at and made start towards a moment since.)
What does it mean, Mr. Holmes?
(HOLMES feels rapidly over chair. Rips away upholstery. ALICEattempts
to stop him — but is too late, and backs to piano almost in a fainting
condition. HOLMES stands erect with a package in
HOLMES: That I wanted this package of letters, Miss Faulkner.
(ALICE stands looking at HOLMES speechless — motionless —meets HOLMES’ gaze for a moment, and then covers her face with her hands, and very slight motion of convulsive sob or two. HOLMES with a quick motion steps quickly in a business-like way to the seat where his coat, hat and cane are, and picks up coat, throwing it over his arm as if to go at once. As he is about to take his hat, he catches sight of ALICE’S face and stops dead where he is.)
(Music. Very pp. Scarcely audible.)
(HOLMES stands looking at her, motionless. She soon looks up at him again, brushing hand across face as if to clear away any sign of crying. The tableau of the two looking at one another is held a moment or two. HOLMES’ eyes leave her face and he looks down an instant. After a moment he lays his coat, hat and cane back on seat. Pauses an instant. Turns toward her.)
HOLMES (low voice. Brief pause): I won’t take them, Miss Faulkner. (He looks down an instant. Her eyes are upon his face steadily.) As you— (still looking down) — as you —very likely conjecture, the alarm of fire was only to make you betray their hiding-place — which you did … and I — availed myself of that betrayal — as you see. But now that I witness your great distress — I find that I cannot keep them — unless — (looking up at her )— you can possibly — change your mind and let me have them — of your own free will … (He looks at her a moment. She shakes her head very slightly.) I hardly supposed you could. (Looks down a moment. Looks up.) I will therefore — return it to you. (Very slight pause, and he is about to start toward her as if to hand her the Package.)
(Sound of quick footsteps outside. Enter LARRABEE, with a revolver in his hand, followed by MADGE.)
LARRABEE: So! You’ve got them, have you? And now, I suppose we’re going to see you walk out of the house with them. (Handles revolver with meaning.)
(HOLMES looks quietly at LARRABEE an instant.)
HOLMES: On the contrary, you’re going to see me return them to their rightful owner.
LARRABEE (with revolver) Yes — I think that’ll be the safest thing for Mr. Sherlock Holmes to do.
(HOLMES stops dead and looks at LARRABEE and walks quietly down facing him)
HOLMES: You flatter yourself Mr. Larrabee. The reason I did not leave the house with this package of papers is not because of you, or what you may do — or say — or think — or feel! It is on account of this young lady! I care that for your cheap bravado (Looks at revolver and smiles) Really? (He looks quietly in LARRABEE’S eyes an instant, then turns and goes to ALICE.) Miss Faulkner permit me to place this in your hands (Gives her the package.)
(ALICE takes the package with sudden eagerness—then turns and keeps her eyes steadily on HOLMES)
Should you ever change your mind and be so generous, forgiving as to wish to return these letters to the one who wrote them, you have my address. In any event, rest assured there will be no more cruelty, no more persecution in this house. You are perfectly safe with your property now — for I shall so arrange that your faintest cry of distress will be heard! And if that cry is heard — it will be a very unfortunate thing for those who are responsible. Good night Miss Faulkner (Pause—turns toLARRABEE and MADGE. Coming to them) As for you sir and you, madam, I beg you to understand that you continue your persecution of that young lady at your peril
(ALICE looks at HOLMES an instant, uncertain what to do. He makes a slight motion indicating her to go. ALICE, after slight pause crosses in front of HOLMES and goes out LARRABEE makes slight move towards ALICE, but is checked by a look from HOLMES. HOLMES waits motionless eyes on ALICE until exit. Then he looks after her for a moment. Then turns and takes his coat and hat. Looks at them an instant.)
Good evening— (Walks out and the sound of heavy door closing is heard outside)
(Pause LARRABEE and MADGE stand whereHOLMES left them. Sound of window opening SIDPRINCE hurries in at window)
PRINCE (sharp but subdued): Well! ‘E didn’t get it, did ‘e?
(LARRABEE shakes head. PRINCE looks at him, puzzled, and then turns towards MADGE.)
Well — wot is it? Wot’s the pay if ‘e didn’t?
MADGE: He gave it to her.
PRINCE: What! — ‘e found it?
(MADGE indicates “Yes” by slight movement.)
An’ gave it to the girl?
(MADGE repeats slight affirmative motion.)
Well ‘ere — I say! Wot are you waiting for? Now’s the chance — before she ‘ides it again! (Starting as if to go.)
MADGE (stopping PRINCE): No! Wait! (Glances round nervously.)
PRINCE: Wot’s the matter! (Going to LARRABEE.) Do you want to lose it?
LARRABEE: No! you’re right! It’s all a cursed bluff! (Starting as if to go.)
MADGE (meeting them, as if to stop them): No, no, Jim!
LARRABEE: I tell you we will! Now’s our chance to get a hold of it! (Pushing her aside.)
PRINCE: Well, I should say so!
(Three knocks are heard just as PRINCE and LARRABEEreach archway. A distant sound of three heavy blows, as if struck from underneath up against the floor, reverberates through the house. All stop motionless.)
(Music, melodramatic agitato, very pp. till Curtain.)
LARRABEE (in a low voice): What’s that?
MADGE: Someone at the door.
LARRABEE (low voice): No — it was on that side!
(PRINCE glances round alarmed. MADGE rings bell. Enter FORMAN All stand easily as if nothing out of the usual.)
MADGE: I think someone knocked, Judson.
(FORMAN at once goes out quietly but quickly. Sound of door outside closing again. FORMAN re-enters.)
FORMAN: I beg pardon, ma’am, there’s no one at the door.
MADGE: That’s all.
PRINCE (speaks almost in a whisper from above the piano) ‘E‘s got us watched! Wot we want to do is to leave it alone an the Hemperor ‘ave it!
MADGE (low voice — taking a step or two toward PRINCE): Do you mean — Professor Moriarty?
PRINCE: That’s ‘oo I mean. Once let ‘im get at it and ‘e’ll settle it with ‘Olmes pretty quick (Turns to LARRABEE). Meet me at Leary’s — nine sharp — in the morning. Don’t you worry a minute. I tell you the Professor’ll get at ‘im before to-morrow night! ‘E don’t wait long either! An’ w’en he strikes — it means death. (He goes out at window)
(Brief pause. After PRINCE goes MADGE looks after him. LARRABEE, with a despairing look on his face, leans on chair — looks round puzzled. His eyes meet MADGE’Sas lights fade away.)