To put this volume back on the shelf, please click here.

The Diogenes Club Logo

The Speckled Band
Act II
Two years elapse between Acts I and II

SCENE I
 DR. RYLOTTíS study at Stoke Place.
The door at one side, a pair of French windows on the other.
It is two years later.

 
 Enter MRS. STAUNTON, showing in ARMITAGE.

MRS. STAUNTON: I canít tell how long the Doctor may be. Itís not long since he went out.

ARMITAGE: Well, Iíll wait for him, however long it is.

MRS. STAUNTON: Itís nothing I could do for you, I suppose.

ARMITAGE: No, it is not.

MRS. STAUNTON: Well, you need not be so short. Perhaps, after youíve seen the Doctor, you may be sorry.

ARMITAGE: Thereís the law of England watching over me, Mrs. Staunton. I advise you not to forget itónor your master either. I fear no man so long as I am doing my duty.

(Enter ENID.)

Ah, Miss Stonor, I am very glad to see you.

ENID (bewildered): Good-day, Mr. Armitage. What brings you up here?

ARMITAGE: I had a little business with the Doctor. But I should be very glad to have a chat with you also.

MRS. STAUNTON: I donít think the Doctor would like it, Miss Enid.

ARMITAGE: A pretty state of things. Isnít this young lady able to speak with whoever she likes? Do you call this a prison, or a private asylum, or what? These are fine doings in a free country.

MRS. STAUNTON: I am sure the Doctor would not like it.

ARMITAGE: Look here, Mrs. Staunton, two is company and three is none. If Iím not afraid of your master, Iím not afraid of YOU. Youíre a bit beyond your station, you are. Get to the other side of that door and leave us alone, or elseó 

MRS. STAUNTON: Or what, Mr. Armitage?

ARMITAGE: As sure as my father was a Methodist Iíll go down to the J.P. and swear out an information that this young lady is under constraint.

MRS. STAUNTON: Ohówell, you need not be so hot about it. Itís nothing to me what you say to Miss Enid. But the Doctor wonít like it. 

(She goes out)

ARMITAGE (looking at the door): You havenít such a thing as a hatpin? (Crossing over to door)

ENID: No.

ARMITAGE: If I were to jab it through that keyhole ó 

ENID: Mr. Armitage please donít.

ARMITAGE: Youíd hear Sister Janeís top note. But weíll speak low for I donít mean she shall hear. First of all Miss Enid are they using you? Are you all right?

ENID: Mr. Armitage I know you mean it all for kindness but I cannot discuss my personal affairs with you. I hardly know you.

ARMITAGE: Only the village grocer. I know all about that. But Iíve taken an interest in you Miss Stonor and Iím not the kind of man that canít leave go his hold. I came here not to see you, but your stepfather.

ENID: Oh, Mr. Armitage, I beg you to go away at once. You have no idea how violent he is if any one thwarts him. Please, please go at once. 

ARMITAGE: Well Miss Stonor your only chance of getting to go is to answer my questions. When my conscience is clear, Iíll go and not before. My conscience tells me that it is my duty to stay here till I have some satisfaction.

ENID (crossing to settee and sitting): What is it, Mr. Armitage. Letís sit down.

ARMITAGE (bringing chair over to settee): Well Iíll tell you. I make it my business to know what is going on in this house. It may be that I like you or it may be that I dislike your stepfather. Or it may be that it is just my nature but so it is Iíve got my own ways of finding out, and I find out.

ENID: What have you found out?

ARMITAGE: Now look here, Miss. Cast your mind back to that inquest two years ago.

ENID: Oh! (Turning away.)

ARMITAGE: Iím sorry if it hurts you, but I must speak plain. When did your sister meet her death? It was shortly after her engagement was it not?

ENID: Yes, it was.

ARMITAGE: Well, youíre engaged now, are you not?

ENID: Yes, I am.

ARMITAGE: Point number one. Well, now, have there not been repairs lately, and are you not forced to sleep in the very room your sister died in?

ENID: Only for a few nights.

ARMITAGE: Point number two. In your evidence you said you heard music in the house at night. Have you never heard music of late?

ENID: Good God! only last night I thought I heard it; and then persuaded myself that it was a dream. But how do you know these things, Mr. Armitage, and what do they mean?

ARMITAGE: Well, I wonít tell you how I know them, and I canít tell you what they mean. But itís devilish, Miss Stonor, devilish! (Rising.) Now Iíve come up to see your stepfather and to tell him, as man to man, that Iíve got my eye on him, and that if anything happens to you it will be a bad dayís work for him.

ENID (rising): Oh, Mr. Armitage, he would beat you within an inch of your life. Mr. Armitage, you cannot think what he is like when the fury is on him. He is terrible.

ARMITAGE: The law will look after me.

ENID: It might avenge you, Mr. Armitage, but it could not protect you.  Besides, there is no possible danger. You know of my engagement to Lieutenant Curtis?

ARMITAGE: I hear he leaves to-morrow.

ENID: That is true. But the next day I am going on a visit to his mother, at Fenton. Indeed, there is no danger.

ARMITAGE: Well, I wonít deny that I am consoled by what you say, but thereís just one condition on which I would leave this house.

ENID: What is that?

ARMITAGE: Well, I remember your friend, Dr. Watson, at the inquest ó and weíve heard of his connection with Mr. Sherlock HOLMES. If youíll promise me that youíll slip away to London to-morrow, see those two gentlemen, and get their advice, Iíll wash my hands of it. I should feel that some one stronger than me Was looking after you.

ENID: Oh, Mr. Armitage, I couldnít.

ARMITAGE (folding his arms): Then I stay here.

ENID: It is Lieutenant Curtisís last day in England.

ARMITAGE: When does he leave?

ENID: In the evening.

ARMITAGE: Well if you go in the morning youíd be back in time.

ENID: But how can I get away?

ARMITAGE: Whoís to stop you? Have you money?

ENID: Yes, I have enough.

ARMITAGE: Then go.

ENID: It is really impossible.

ARMITAGE (sitting): Very good. Then Iíll have it out with Doctor.

ENID (crossing to him): There, there! Iíll promise. Iíll go. I wonít have you hurt Iíll write and arrange it all somehow.

ARMITAGE: Word of honour?

ENID: Yes, yes Iíll write to Dr Watson. Oh do go. This way. (Goes to the French window) If you keep among the laurels you can get to the high road and no one will meet you.

ARMITAGE (going up to the windows. Pause. Returning): That dog about?

ENID: It is with the Doctor. Oh do go! and thank youó Thank you with all my heart.

ARMITAGE: My wife and I can always take you in. Donít you forget it.

(ARMITAGE goes out ENID stands looking after him. As she does so Mrs Staunton enters the room)

MRS STAUNTON: I saw Mr. Armitage going off through the shrubbery (Looks out of window).

ENID: Yes he has gone.

MRS. STAUNTON: But why did he not wait to see the Doctor.

ENID: Heís changed his mind.

MRS STAUNTON: He is the most impertinent busybody in the whole village. Fancy the insolence of him coming up here without a with-your-leave or by-your-leave. What was it he wanted, Miss Enid?

ENID: It is not your place, Mrs. Staunton, to ask such questions. 

MRS. STAUNTON: Oh, indeed! For that matter, Miss Enid, I should not have thought it was your place to have secrets with the village grocer. The Doctor will want to know all about it.

ENID: What my stepfather may do is another matter. I beg, Mrs. Staunton, that you will attend to your own affairs and leave me alone.

MRS. STAUNTON (putting her arms akimbo): High and mighty, indeed! Iím to do all the work of the house, but the grocer can come in and turn me out of the room. If you think I am nobody you may find yourself mistaken some of these days.

ENID: How dare youó (She makes for the door, as RYLOTT enters.)

RYLOTT: Why, ENID, whatís the matter? Any one been upsetting you? Whatís all this, Mrs. Staunton?

ENID: Mrs. Staunton has been rude to me.

RYLOTT: Dear, dear! Hereís a storm in a teacup. Well, now, come and tell me all about it. No one shall bother my little Enid. What would her sailor boy say?

MRS. STAUNTON: Mr. Armitage has been here. He would speak with Miss ENID alone. I didnít think it right. That is why Miss Enid is offended.

RYLOTT: Where is the fellow?

MRS. STAUNTON: He is gone. He went off through the shrubbery.

RYLOTT: Upon my word, he seems to make himself at home. What did he want, ENID?

ENID: He wanted to know how I was.

RYLOTT: This is too funny! You have made a conquest, Enid. You have a rustic admirer.

ENID: I believe he is a true friend who means well to me.

RYLOTT: Astounding! Perhaps it is as well for him that he did not prolong his visit. But now, my dear girl, go to your room until I send for you. I am very sorry that you have been upset, and I will see that such a thing does not happen again. Tut, tut! my little girl shall not be worried. Leave it to me. (Goes up to door with ENID.)

(ENID goes out.)

Well, what is it, then? Why have you upset her?

MRS. STAUNTON: Why has she upset me? Why should I be always the last to be considered?

RYLOTT: Why should you be considered at all?

MRS. STAUNTON: You dare to say that to meóyou that promised me marriage only a year ago. If I was what I should be, then there would be no talk as to who is the mistress of this house. Iíll put up with no more of her tantrums, talking to me as if I were the kitchen-maid. (Turning from him.)

RYLOTT: You forget yourself.

MRS STAUNTON: I forget nothing. I don t forget your promise and it will be a bad day for you if you donít keep it.

RYLOTT: Iíll put you out on the roadside if you dare speak so to me.

MRS STAUNTON: You will, will you? Try it and see. I saved you once. Maybe I could do the other thing if I tried.

RYLOTT: Saved me?

MRS STAUNTON: Yes saved you. If it hadnít been for my evidence at that inquest that fellow Armitage would have taken the Jury with him. Yes he would. Iíve had it from them since.

RYLOTT: Well you only spoke the truth.

MRS STAUNTON: The truth! Do you think I donít know?

RYLOTT: What do you know?

(She is silent and looks hard at him)

What do you know?

(She is still silent)

Donít look at me like that woman. What do you know? 

MRS STAUNTON: I know enough

(Pause)

RYLOTT: Tell me thenóhow did she die?

MRS STAUNTON: Only you know that. I may not know how she died but I know very well ó

RYLOTT (interrupting): You were always fanciful Kate but I know very well that you have only my own interests at heart. Put it out of your head if I have said anything unkind. Donít quarrel with this little fool, or you may interfere with my plans. Just wait a little longer and things will come straight with us. You know that I have a hasty temper but it is soon over.

MRS. STAUNTON: You can always talk me round, and you know it. Now, listen to me, for I am the only friend youíve got. Donít try it again. Youíve got clear once. But a second would be too dangerous.

RYLOTT: They would make no more of the second than of the first. No one in the world can tell. Itís impossible, I tell you. If she marries, half my income is gone.

MRS. STAUNTON: Yes, I know. Couldnít she sign it to you?

RYLOTT: She can be strong enough when she likes. She would never sign it to me. I hinted at it once, and she talked of a lawyer. (Pause.) But if anything should happen to herówell, thereís an end to all our trouble.

MRS. STAUNTON: They must suspect.

RYLOTT: Let them suspect. But they can prove nothing.

MRS. STAUNTON: Not yet.

RYLOTT: On Wednesday she goes a-visiting, and who knows when she may return? No, itís to-morrow or never.

MRS. STAUNTON: Then let it be never.

RYLOTT: And lose half my income without a struggle? No, Kate, itís all or nothing with me now.

MRS. STAUNTON: Well, look out for Armitage.

RYLOTT: What about him?

MRS. STAUNTON: He must have known something before he dared to come here.

RYLOTT: What can he know of our affairs?

MRS. STAUNTON: Thereís Rodgers. You think heís half-witted. So he is. But he may know more and say more than we think. He talks and Armitage talks. Maybe Armitage gets hold of him.

RYLOTT: Weíll soon settle that. (Crossing to bell-pull.) Iíll twist the old rogueís neck if he has dared to play me false. Thereís one thingóhe canít hold anything in if I want it to come out. Did you ever see a snake and a white mouse? You just watch.

(Enter RODGERS.)

Come here, Rodgers.

RODGERS: Yes, sir.

RYLOTT: Stand here, where the light falls on your face, Rodgers. I shall know then if you are telling me the truth.

RODGERS: The truth, sir. Surely I would tell that.

RYLOTT (takes chair from behind settee): Sit there! Donít move! Now look at me. Thatís right. You canít lie to me now. Youíve been down to see Mr. Armitage.

RODGERS: SiróI hopeóthere was no harm in that.

RYLOTT: How often?

RODGERS: Two or three times.

RYLOTT: How often?

RODGERS: Two or threeó

RYLOTT: How often?

RODGERS: When I go to the village I always see him.

MRS STAUNTON: Thatís nearly every day.

RYLOTT: What have you told him about me?

RODGERS: Oh, sir, nothing.

RYLOTT: What have you told him?

RODGERS: Just the news of the house sir.

RYLOTT: What news?

RODGERS: Well, about Miss Enidís engagement, and Siva biting the gardener and the cook giving notice and the like.

RYLOTT: Nothing more than this?

RODGERS: No sir.

RYLOTT: Nothing more about Miss Enid?

RODGERS: No sir.

RYLOTT You swear it?

RODGERS: No, sir, no. I said nothing more.

RYLOTT (springing up catching him by the neck shaking him): You doddering old rascal how came you to say anything at all? I kept you here out of charity and you dare to gossip about my affairs. Iíve had enough of you ó (Throwing him off): Iíll go to London tomorrow and get a younger man. You pack up your things and go. Do you hear?

RODGERS: Wonít you look it over sir? Iím an old man sir. I have no place to go to. Where am I to go?

RYLOTT: You can go to the devil for all I care, or to your friend Armitage the grocer. There is no place for you here. Get out of the room.

RODGERS: Yes sir. You wonít reconsider it?

RYLOTT: Get out. And tell Miss Enid I want her.

RODGERS: Yes, sir.

(RODGERS goes out)

MRS. STAUNTON: You have done wisely. He was not safe. 

RYLOTT: The old devil suited me too in a way. A younger man may give more trouble.

MRS STAUNTON: Youíll soon break him in.

RYLOTT: Yes, I expect I will. (Crossing to her.) Now, make it right with ENID for my sake. You must play the game to the end.

MRS. STAUNTON: Itís all right. Iím ready for her.

(Enter ENID.)

RYLOTT: My dear, Mrs. Staunton is very sorry if she has given you any annoyance. I hope you will accept her apology in the same spirit that it is offered.

MRS. STAUNTON: I meant no harm, Miss Enid, and I was only thinking of the masterís interests. I hope youíll forgive me.

ENID: Certainly, I forgive you, Mrs. Staunton.

RYLOTT: Thereís a good little girl. Now, Mrs. Staunton, you had better leave us.

(MRS. STAUNTON goes out.)

Now, my dear, you must not be vexed with poor Mrs. Staunton, for she is a very hard-working woman and devoted to her duty, though, of course, her manners are often wanting in polish. Come now, dear, say that it is All right.

(ENID sits on settee.)

ENID: I have said that I forgive her.

RYLOTT: You must tell me anything I can do, to make you happier. Of course, you have some one else now, but I would not like you to forget your old stepfather altogether. Until the day when you have to leave me, I wish to do the very best for you.

ENID: You are very kind.

RYLOTT: Can you suggest anything that I can do?

ENID: No, no, there is nothing.

RYLOTT: I was a little too rough last week. I am sorry for that. I should wish your future husband to like me. You will tell him, when you see him, that I have done what I could to make you happy?

ENID: Yes, yes.

RYLOTT: You see him to-morrow?

ENID: Yes.

RYLOTT: And he leaves us to-morrow evening? (Sitting beside her on settee.)

ENID: Yes. 

RYLOTT: You have all my sympathy, dear. But he will soon back again, and then, of course, you will part no more. You will be sorry to hear that old Rodgers has been behaving badly, and that I must get rid of him.

ENID (rising): Rodgers! What has he done?

RYLOTT: He grows more foolish and incompetent every day. I propose to go to London myself tomorrow to get a new butler. Would you send a line in my name to the agents to say that I shall call about two o clock?

ENID: I will do so.

RYLOTT: Thereís a good little girl (Pause.  Crossing to her and placing his hand on her shoulder) Thereís nothing on your mind, is there?

ENID: Oh no.

RYLOTT: Well then run away and get your letter written. I dare bet you have another of your own to write. One a day ó or two a day?ówhat is his Allowance? Well, well, we have All done it at some time.

(Enter ALI with milk jug glass and saucer on a tray)

ALI: I beg pardon Sahib, I go.

RYLOTT: Come in! Come in! Put my milk down on the table.

(ALI does so)

Now my dear please donít forget to write the letter to the agents.

(ENID goes out)

You fool! Why did you not make sure I was alone? 

ALI: I thought no one here but Sahib.

RYLOTT: Well as it happens thereís no harm done (Goes to door and locks it. Pulls down blind of window)

(While he does so ALI opens a cupboard and takes out a square wicker work basket. RYLOTT pours milk into saucer and puts it before basket. Then he cracks his fingers and whistles whileALI plays on an Eastern flute)

CURTAIN

SCENE II
 MR. SHERLOCK HOLMESí room in Baker Street.

 
Enter BILLY, showing in DR. WATSON.

WATSON: I particularly want to see Mr. Holmes.

BILLY: Well, sir, I expect he will be back almost immediately.

WATSON: Is he very busy just now?

BILLY: Yes, sir, we are very busy. We donít get much time to ourselves these days.

WATSON: Any particular case?

BILLY: Quite a number of cases, sir. Two German princes and the Duchess of Ferrers yesterday. The Popeís been bothering us again. Wants us to go to Rome over the cameo robbery. We are very overworked.

WATSON: Well, Iíll wait for Mr. Holmes.

BILLY: Very good, sir. Here is The Times. Thereís four for him in the waiting-room now.

WATSON: Any lady among them?

BILLY: Not what I would call a lady, sir.

WATSON: All right, Iíll wait. (Lights a cigarette and looks around him.) Just the same as ever. There are the old chemicals! Heavens! what have I not endured from those chemicals in the old days? Pistol practice on the wall. Quite so. I wonder if he still keeps tobacco in that Persian slipper? Yes, here it is. And his pipes in the coal-scuttleóblack clays. Full of themóthe same as ever. (Takes one out and smells it.) Faugh! Bottle of cocaineóBilly, Billy!

BILLY: Iíve done my best to break him of it, sir.

WATSON: All right, Billy, you can go.

(BILLY goes out.)

Thereís the old violinóthe same old violin, with one string left. (Sits on settee.)

(Enter SHERLOCK HOLMES, disguised as a workman, with tools.)

HOLMES: You sent for me, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

WATSON: I am not Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES: Beg pardon, sir, it was to mend the gas-bracket.

WATSON: Whatís wrong with it?

HOLMES: Leaking sir.

WATSON: Well go on with your work.

HOLMES: Yes, sir. (Goes to the bracket.) Hope I wonít disturb you sir?

WATSON (taking up The Times): That's all right Donít mind me. 

 HOLMES: Very untidy man Mr. Holmes sir.

 WATSON: What do you mean by that?

HOLMES: Well, sir, you canít help noticing it. Itís all over the room. Iíve Ďeard say he was as tidy as any when he started, but he learned bad Ďabits from a cove what lived with him. Watson was his name.

(Slips into bedroom)

WATSON (rising): You impertinent fellow! How dare you talk in such a fashion? What do you want? (Looks round.) Why! whaí deuce has become of him?

(The workman emerges as SHERLOCK HOLMES, in dressing-gown with hands in pockets)

Good Heavens Holmes! I should never have recognized you.

HOLMES: My dear Watson when you begin to recognize me it will indeed be the beginning of the end. When your eagle eye penetrates my disguise I shall retire to an eligible poultry farm.

WATSON: But whyó?

HOLMES: A case my dear Watson a case! One of those small conundrums which a trustful public occasionally confides to my investigation. To the British workman, Watson, all doors are open. His costume is unostentatious and his habits are sociable. A tool bag is an excellent passport and a tawny moustache will secure the co-operation of the maids. It may interest you to know that my humble double is courting a cook at Battersea. (Strikes match and lights pipe)

WATSON: My dear Holmes! is it fair to the girl?

HOLMES: Chivalrous old Watson! Itís a game of life and death, and every card must be played! But in this case I have a hated rival ó the constable on the adjoining beat ó so when I disappear, all will readjust itself. We walk out on Saturday evenings. Oh! those walks! But the honour of a Duchess is at stake. A mad world, my masters. (Turns to survey Watson.) Well, Watson, what is your news?

WATSON (smiling): Well, Holmes, I came here to tell you what I am sure will please you.

HOLMES: Engaged, Watson, engaged! Your coat, your hat, your gloves, your buttonhole, your smile, your blush! The successful suitor shines from you all over. What I had heard of you or perhaps what I had not heard of you, had already excited my worst suspicions. (Looks fixedly at Watson.) But this is better and better, for I begin to perceive that it is a young lady whom I know and respect.

WATSON: But, Holmes, this is marvellous. The lady is Miss Morstan, whom you have indeed met and admired. But how could you tell ó

HOLMES: By the same observation, my dear Watson, which assures me that you have seen the lady this morning. (Picks a hair off WATSONíSbreast, wraps it round his finger, and glances at it with his lens.) Charming, my dear fellow, charming. There is no mistaking the Titian tint. You lucky fellow! I envy you.

WATSON: Thank you, Holmes. Some of these days I may find myself congratulating you.

HOLMES: No marriage without love, Watson.

WATSON: Then why not love? (Placing his hand on HOLMESíSshoulders.)

HOLMES: Absurd, Watson, absurd! I am not for love, nor love for me. It would disturb my reason, unbalance my faculties. Love is like a flaw in the crystal, sand in the clockwork, iron near the magnet. No, no, I have other work in the world.

WATSON: You have, indeed. Billy says you are very busy just now.

HOLMES: There are one or two small matters.

WATSON: Have you room to consider one otheróthe case of Miss Enid Stonor?

HOLMES: My dear fellow, if you have any personal interest in it. (Sitting on divan.)

WATSON: Yes, I feel keenly about it.

HOLMES (taking out note-book): Let us see how I stand. There is the Baxter Square murder ó I have put the police on the track.  The Clerkenwell Jewel Robbery ó that is now clearing. The case of the Duchess of Ferrersó I have my material. The Popeís cameos. His Holiness must wait. The Princess who is about to run from homeólet her run. I must see one or two who are waiting for me ó (rings bell) ó then I am entirely at your disposal.

(Enter BILLY.)

BILLY: Yes, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES: How many are waiting?

BILLY: Three, sir.

HOLMES: A light morning. Show them in now.

(BILLY goes out.)

WATSON: Well, Iíll look in later.

HOLMES (striking match and lighting pipe): No, no, my dear fellow! I have always looked on you as a partner in the Firm ó Holmes, Watson, Billy & Co. Thatís our brass plate when we raise one. If youíll sit there I shall soon be free.

(Enter BILLY, with a card on tray. .MR  HOLT LOAMING follows, a rich, dissipated-looking, middle-aged man in an astrakhan-collared coat. BILLY goes out.)

(Reading.) Mr. Holt Loaming. I remember the name. A racing man, I believe?

LOAMING: Yes, sir.

HOLMES: Pray take a seat.

(LOAMING draws up near the table.)

What can I do for you?

LOAMING: Timeís money, Mr. Holmes, both yours and mine. Iím pretty quick off the mark, and you wonít mind that. Iím not here on the advice gratis line. Donít you think it. Iíve my Cheque book hereó(takes it out)óand thereís plenty behind it. I wonít grudge you your fee, Mr. Holmes. I promise you that.

HOLMES: Well, Mr. Loaming, let us hear the business.

LOAMING: My wife, Mr. Holmesódamn her!ósheís given me the slip. Got back to her own people and theyíve hid her. Thereís the law, of course, but sheíd get out all kinds of lies about ill-treatment. Sheís mine, and Iíll just take her when I know where to lay my hands on her.

HOLMES: How would you take her?

LOAMING: I just have to walk up to her and beckon. Sheís one of those wincing kind of nervous fillies that kick about in the paddock but give in when once the bridleís on them and they feel the whip. You show me where she is, and Iíll do the rest.

HOLMES: She is with her own people, you say?

LOAMING: Well, thereís no man in the case, if thatís what youíre driving at. Lord! if you knew how straight she is, and how she carries on when I have a fling. Sheís got a cluster of aunts, and sheís lyiní low somewhere among them. Itís for you to put her up.

HOLMES: I fancy not, Mr. Loaming.

LOAMING: Eh? Whatís that?

HOLMES: I rather like to think of her among that cluster of aunts.

LOAMING: But, damn it, sir, sheís my wife.

HOLMES: Thatís why!

LOAMING (getting up): Well, itís a rum start, this. Look here, you donít know what youíre missing. Iíd have gone to five hundred. Hereís the cheque.

HOLMES: The case does not attract me. (Rings bell.)

(Enter BILLY.)

Show Mr. Loaming out, Billy.

LOAMING: Itís the last youíll see of me, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES: Life is full of little consolations.

LOAMING: Damn!

(He takes his hat and goes out with BILLY.)

HOLMES: Iím afraid I shall never be a rich man, Watson.

(Re-enter BILLY.)

Well?

BILLY: Mr. James B. Montague, sir.

(Enter MONTAGUE, as BILLY goes out.)

HOLMES: Good morning, Mr. Montague. Pray take a chair.

(MONTAGUE sits.)

What can I do?

MONTAGUE (a furtive-looking man with slimy ways): Anything fresh about the sudden death of my brother, sir? The police said it was murder, and you said it was murder; but we donít get any further, do we? (Placing hat on floor.)

HOLMES: I have not lost sight of it.

MONTAGUE: That man Henderson was a bad man, Holmes, an evil liver and a corruption. Yes, sir, a corruption a danger. Who knows what passed between them? Iíve suspicionsóIíve always had my suspicions.

HOLMES: So you said. 

MONTAGUE: Have you worked any further on that line, sir? Because, if you tell me from time to time how it is shaping, I may be able to give you a word in season. 

HOLMES: I have my eye on himóa very cunning rascal, as you say. We have not enough to arrest him on, but we work away in the hope.

MONTAGUE: Good, Mr. Holmes, good! Watch him; youíll get him, as safe as Judgment.

HOLMES: Iíll let you know if anything comes of it. (Rings.)

MONTAGUE (rising): Thatís right, sir. Watch Ďim. Iím his brother, sir. Itís me that should know. Itís never out of my mind.

(Enter BILLY.)

HOLMES: Very good, Mr. Montague. Good-morning. 

(MONTAGUE and BILLY go out.)

Curious little murder, Watson; done for most inadequate motive. That was the murderer.

WATSON: Good Heavens!

HOLMES: My case is almost complete. Meanwhile I amuse him and myself by the pretended pursuit of the wrong man ó  an ancient device, Watson. 

(Re-enter BILLY.)

Well, any more?

BILLY: Mr. Milverton is here, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES: Show him in when I ring.

(BILLY goes out.)

I am sorry to delay the business upon which you wished to consult me; but this, I hope, will be the last. You remember Milverton?

WATSON: No.

HOLMES: Ah! it was after your time. The most crawling reptile in London ó the King of the Blackmailers ó a cunning, ruthless devil. I have traced seventeen suicides to that manís influence. It is he who is after the Duchess of Ferrers.

WATSON: The beautiful Duchess, whose re-marriage is announced?

HOLMES: Exactly. He has a letter which he thinks would break off the wedding. (Rings.) It is my task to regain it.

(Enter MILVERTON.)

Well, Mr. Milverton. Pray take a seat.

MILVERTON: Who is this?

HOLMES: My friend, Dr. Watson. Do you mind?

MILVERTON (sitting): Oh! I have no object in secrecy. It is your clientís reputation, not mine, which is at stake.

HOLMES: Your reputation! Good Heavens! (Crossing to fireplace and filling pipe from slipper.)

MILVERTON: Not much to lose there, is there, Mr. Holmes? I canít be hurt. But she can. Hardly a fair fight, is it?

HOLMES: What are the terms now? (Filling pipe.)

MILVERTON: Steady at seven thousand. No moneyóno marriage.

HOLMES: Suppose she tells the whole story to the Marquis? Then your letter is not worth sixpence. He would condone all. Come, now, what harm is in the letter?

MILVERTON: Sprightly ó very sprightly. However, it is purely a matter of business. If you think it is in the best interests of your client that the Marquis should see the letterówhy, you would be very foolish to pay a large sum to regain it.

HOLMES: The lady has no great resources.

MILVERTON: But her marriage is a most suitable time for her friends and relations to make some little effort. I can assure you that this envelope would give more joy than all the tiaras and bracelets in Regent Street.

HOLMES: No, it is impossible!

MILVERTON: Dear me! Dear me! How unfortunate.

HOLMES: It can profit you in no way to push matters to an end.

MILVERTON: There you mistake. I have other cases maturing. If it were known that I had been severe on the Duchess the others would be more open to reason.

HOLMES: Well, well, you give us till noon to-morrow? (Rings.)

MILVERTON: But not an hour longer.

(Enter BILLY.)

HOLMES: We are at your mercy. Surely you wonít treat us too harshly?

MILVERTON: Not a minute longer. (Putting on hat.)

(BILLY and MILVERTON go out.)

Terrible! Terrible! A fumigator would be useful, eh, Watson ó Pah!

WATSON: What can you do?

HOLMES: My dear Watsonówhat have I done? It is this gentlemanís cook who has honoured me. In the intervals of philandering, I have made an acquaintance with the lock on the safe. Mr. Milverton spent last night at his club; when he returns home he will find there has been a little burglary at The Battersea, and his precious letter is missing. (Rings.)

WATSON: Holmes, you are splendid!

(Enter BILLY.)

HOLMES: Tut, tut! (To BILLY.) Well, any more?

BILLY: One lady, sirójust comeóMiss Enid Stonor, of Stoke Moran.

WATSON: Ah! this is the case. (Rising.)

HOLMES: Iíll ring, Billy.

(BILLY goes out.)

Now, Watson! Stonor! Stonor! Surely I associate the name with something?

WATSON: I told you of the case at the time. Sudden mysterious death of a girl at an old house in Stoke Moran, some two years ago.

HOLMES: My dear fellow! it all comes back to me. An inquest was it not, with a string of most stupid and ineffectual witnesses.

WATSON: I was one of them.

HOLMES: Of course ó so you were, so you were. I docketed the evidence. It introduced to my notice a gentleman of singular and most interesting personality. I have a few notes. (Takes down a scrapbook from a row.) Letís seeóitís RóRanteróRoma ó Rylott! Thatís our man. Fifty-five years of age, killed his khitmutgar in India; once in a madhouse, married moneyówife died ó distinguished surgeon. Well, Watson, what has the distinguished surgeon been up to now? (Throwing scrapbook on divan.)

WATSON: Devilry, I fear.

HOLMES: I have the case very clear in my mind.

WATSON: Then you may remember that the death of the lady followed close upon her engagement?

HOLMES: Exactly.

WATSON: Miss Enid Stonor in turn became engaged, about a month ago, to a neighbour, Lieutenant Curtis.

HOLMES: Ah!

WATSON: Unhappily, the young man leaves for the Mediterranean to-day. She will henceforward be alone at Stoke Moran.

HOLMES: I see.

WATSON: And some circumstances have excited her alarm.

HOLMES: I gather that the amiable stepfather stands to lose in case of a marriage.

WATSON: That is so. Of course, supposing that Rylott did the other girl to death, it seems unlikely, on the face of it, that he would try it on again, as two sudden deaths in the house could hardly pass the coroner ó

HOLMES: No, no, Watson! you are making the mistake of putting your normal brain into Rylottís abnormal being. The born criminal is often a monstrous egotist. His mind is unhinged from the beginning. What he wants he must have. Because he thinks a thing, it is right. Because he does a thing, it will escape detection. You canít say a priori that he will take this view or that one. Perhaps we had best have the young lady in. (Rings bell.) My dear fellow, youíll get into trouble if you go about righting the wrongs of distressed damsels. It wonít do, Watson, it really wonít.

(Enter ENID. WATSON gets up and meets her.)

WATSON: How do you do, Miss Enid? This is my friend, Mr. Holmes, of whom I spoke.

(HOLMES shakes hands with ENID.)

HOLMES: How do you do, Miss Stonor? Dear me! you must find a dog-cart a cold conveyance in this weather.

ENID: A dog-cart, Mr. Holmes?

HOLMES: One can hardly fail to observe the tell-tale splashes on the left sleeve. A white horse and clay soil are indicated. But what is this? You are trembling. Do sit down.

ENID (looking round and sitting on settee): Tell me, Mr. Holmes, my stepfather has not been here?

HOLMES: No.

ENID: He saw me in the street. I dashed past him in a cab. he saw me; our eyes met, and he waved me to stop.

HOLMES: Why is your stepfather in London?

ENID: He came up on business.

HOLMES: It would be interesting to know what the business was.

ENID: It was to get a new butler. Rodgers, our old one, leave us, and a new butler is to come at once. I doubt if any servant would come to such a place.

HOLMES: He may certainly find some difficulty. He would, no doubt, apply to an agent.

ENID: At two oíclock, to Patterson and Green, of Cavendish Street.

HOLMES: Exactly. I know them. But this is a digression, is it not? We get back to the fact that he saw you in the street?

ENID: Yes, it was in Pall Mall. I fancy he followed me.

HOLMES: Would he imagine you would come here?

ENID: No, he would think I was going to Dr. Watsonís.  He knows that Dr. Watson is my only friend in London.

HOLMES: What has been Dr. Ryolottís attitude towards you your engagement?

ENID: He has been much kinder, because he knows I have one to protect me. But even so, there are moments ó (Raises her arm.)

HOLMES: Good Heavens!

ENID: He does not realize his own strength. When he is angry he is like a fierce wild beast. Only last week he thrashed the blacksmith.

HOLMES: He is welcome to the blacksmith, but not to my clients. This must not occur again. Does your fiancé know of this?

ENID: I would not dare to tell him. He would do something dreadful. Besides, as I say, my stepfather has, on the whole, been kinder. But there is a look in his eyes, when I turn on him suddenly, that chills me to the bone. His kindness is from his head, not from his heart. I feel as if he were waitingówaitingó

HOLMES: Waiting for what?

ENID: Waiting for my fiancé to leave. Waiting till he has me at his mercy. That room freezes my blood. Often I cannot sleep for horror.

WATSON: What? He has changed your room? (Rising from armchair.)

ENID: My old room is under repair.

WATSON: You sleep, then, in the room where your sister died?

ENID: In the same room. And other things have happened. The music has come again.

HOLMES: The music? Tell me about this music.

ENID: It came before my sisterís death. She spoke of it, and then I heard it myself the night she died. But it has come again. Oh, Mr. Holmes, I am terrified.

HOLMES: There, there! youíve had enough to break any oneís nerve. Thisómusicódoes it seem to be inside the house or outside?

ENID: Indeed, I could not say.

HOLMES: What is it like?

ENID: A sort of soft, droning sound.

HOLMES: Like a flute or pipe?

ENID: Yes. It reminds me of my childhood in India.

HOLMES: AhóIndia?

ENID: And thereís one other thing that puzzles me ó my sisterís dying words ó as she lay in my arms she gasped out two words.

HOLMES: What were they?

ENID: ďBandĒ and ďSpeckled.Ē

HOLMES: Bandóspeckledóand Indian music. You sleep with your door and window fastened?

ENID: Yes, but so did poor Violet. It did not save her, and it may not save me.

HOLMES: Could there be anything in the nature of secret doors or panels?

ENID: No. I have searched again and again. There is nothing.

HOLMES: And nothing peculiar in the room?

ENID: No, I cannot say there is.

HOLMES: I must really drop in and have a look at this most
interesting apartment. Suggestiveóvery suggestive. (Pause) When did you hear this music last?

ENID: Last night.

HOLMES: And your fiancé leaves to-day?

ENID: He leaves to-day. What shall I do?

HOLMES: Well, Miss Stonor, I take up your case. It presents features which commend it to me. You must put yourself into my hands.

ENID: I doóunreservedly. (Rising, and crossing to him.) 

HOLMES (to Watson): It is a question whether we are justified in letting her return at All to Stoke Moran.

ENID: I must return. At five oíclock my fiancé leaves, and I shall not see him again for months.

HOLMES: Ah! that is a complication. Where is the A.B.C.? (Finds it in umbrella stand.) StonehouseóStowellóStokeó

ENID: I know my train, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES: I was looking for mine.

ENID: You are coming down?

HOLMES: I shall not be content until I have seen this room of yours. Yes, that will do. I could get up to you between eleven and twelve, to-night. Would you have the goodness to leave your shutter open? The room is, I understand, upon the ground floor?

ENID: Oh! Mr. Holmes, it is not safe. You cannot think of the danger.

HOLMES: I have taken up your case, Miss Stonor, and this is part of it. Have you any friends in Stoke Moran?

ENID: Mr. Armitage and his wife.

HOLMES: That is most fortunate. Now, listen to me, Miss Stonor. When you have returned home certain circumstances may arise which will ensure your safety. In that case you will at Stoke Place until I come in the evening. On the other hand, things may miscarry, and you may not be safe. In that case I will so manage that a warning will reach you. You will then break from home and take refuge with the Armitages. Is that clear?

ENID: Who will bring me the warning?

HOLMES: I cannot say. But you have my assurance that it will come.

ENID: Then, until it does, I will stay at Stoke Place.

HOLMES: And should any new development occur you could always send me a telegram, could you not?

ENID: Yes, I could do that.

HOLMES: Then it is not goodbye, but au revoir.

(Enter BILLY.)

What is it?

BILLY: Please, Mr. Holmes, a gentleman to see you, at once.

HOLMES: Who is he?

BILLY: A very impatient gentleman, sir. It was all I could do to get him to stay in the waiting-room.

ENID: Is he tall, dark, with a black beard, and a long white scar on his cheek?

BILLY: Thatís him, Miss.

ENID: Oh, Mr. Holmes, what shall I do? He has followed me.

WATSON: If he went to my rooms, my landlady had instructions to send any one on here.

HOLMES: Exactly.

ENID: Oh! I dare not meet him, I dare not. Canít I slip out somehow?

HOLMES: I see no reason why you should stay. Billy, show the lady out by the side passage.

BILLY: Donít be alarmed, Miss, Iíll see you through.

(BILLY and ENID go out.)

WATSON: This fellow is dangerous, Holmes. You may need a weapon.

HOLMES: Thereís something of the kind in that drawer at your right.

(Enter BILLY.)

BILLY: Shall I stay when I show him in, Mr. Holmes?

HOLMES: Why so?

BILLY: An ugly customer, Mr.. Holmes.

HOLMES: Tut, tut! show him up.

(BILLY goes out.)

Well, Watson I must thank you for a most interesting morning. You are certainly the stormy petrel of crime.

(Enter DR RYLOTT)

RYLOTT: This is Mr. Sherlock Holmes I believe.

HOLMES: Your belief is justified.

RYLOTT: I have reason to think that you have taken unsolicited interest in my affairs.

HOLMES: Your name beingó?

RYLOTT: My name, sir, is Grimesby RylottóDoctor Grimesby Rylott, of Stoke Moran. (Throws down card.)

HOLMES: A pretty place, I hear! And obviously good for the lungs.

RYLOTT: Sir, you are trifling with me. I have come here to ask whether you have had a visit from my stepdaughter, Miss Enid Stonor ó

HOLMES: The first law in my profession, Doctor, is never to answer questions.

RYLOTT: Sir, you shall answer me.

HOLMES: We could do with warmer weather.

RYLOTT: I insist upon an answer.

HOLMES: But I hear the crocuses are coming on.

RYLOTT: Curse your crocuses! Iíve heard of you, you meddling busybody. And you, Dr. WatsonóI expected to find you here. What do you mean by interfering with my lawful affairs?

WATSON: So long as they are lawful, Dr. Rylott, no one is likely to interfere with them.

RYLOTT: Now look here, Mr. Holmes, perhaps I may seem to you a little hot-headedó

HOLMES: Dear me, Dr. Rylott, what put that idea into your head?

RYLOTT: I apologize if I have seemed rude ó (Sitting)

HOLMES: Robust ó a little robust ó nothing more.

RYLOTT: I wish to put the matter to you as man to man. You know what girls are, how sudden and unreasonable their prejudices may be. Imagine, sir, how hurt I should feel to be distrusted by one whom I have loved.

HOLMES: You have my deep sympathy, Dr. Rylott.

RYLOTT (pleased): Ah!

HOLMES: You are a most unfortunate man. There was that tragedy two years agoó

RYLOTT: Yes, indeed!

HOLMES: I think I could help you in that matter.

RYLOTT: How so?

HOLMES: As a friend, and without a fee.

RYLOTT: You are very good.

HOLMES: I am very busy, but your case seems so hard that I will put everything aside to assist you.

RYLOTT: In what way, sir?

HOLMES: I will come down at once, examine the room in which the tragedy occurred, and see if such small faculties as I possess can throw any light upon the matter.

RYLOTT: Sir, this is an intolerable liberty. (Rising.)

HOLMES: What! you donít want help?

RYLOTT: It is intolerable, I say. What I ask you to doówhat I order you to do is to leave my affairs alone. Alone, siródo you hear me?

HOLMES: You are perfectly audible.

RYLOTT: Iíll have no interferenceónone! Donít dare to meddle with me. Díyou hear, the pair of you? YouóHolmes, Iím warning you.

HOLMES (looking at his watch): I fear I must end this interview. Time flies when one is chatting. Life has its duties as well as its pleasures, Doctor.

RYLOTT: Insolent rascal! IíllóIílló (Turns to the grate and picks up the poker.)

(WATSON jumps up.)

HOLMES: No, Watson, no! It does need poking, but perhaps you would put on a few coals first.

RYLOTT: You laugh at me? You donít know the man you are dealing with. You think that my strength fails because my hair is turned. I was the strongest man in India once. See that! (Bends the poker and throws it down at HOLMESí feet.) I am not a safe man to play with, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES: Nor am I a safe man to play with, Dr. Rylott. Let me seeówhat were we talking about before the Sandow performance?

RYLOTT: You shall not overcrow me with your insolence! I tell you now, and you, too, Dr. Watson, that you interfere with my affairs to your own danger. You have your warning.

HOLMES: Iíll make a note of it.

RYLOTT: And you refuse to tell me if Miss Stonor has been here?

HOLMES: Donít we seem to be travelling just a little in a circle?

RYLOTT (picking up hat from table): Well, you canít prevent me from finding out from her.

HOLMES: Ah! there I must talk a little seriously to you Grimesby Rylott. You have mentioned this young lady, and I know something of her circumstances. I hold you responsible. My eye is on you sir and the Lord help you ó the Lord help you if any harm befall her. Now leave this room, and take my warning with you.

RYLOTT: You cursed fool! I may teach you both not to meddle with what does not concern you. Keep clear of Stoke Moran!

(RYLOTT goes out slamming the door)

HOLMES: I had a presentiment he would slam the door. 

(WATSON rises)

Stoke Moran must be less dull than many country villages. Quite a breezy old gentleman Watson. Well I must thank you for a pretty problem. What the exact danger may be which destroyed one sister and now threatens the other may be suspected, but cannot yet be defined. That is why I must visit the room.

WATSON: I will come with you Holmes.

HOLMES: My dear fellow you are no longer an unattached knight-errant. Dangerous quests are forbidden. What would Morstan say?

WATSON: She would say that the man who would desert his friend would never make a good husband.

HOLMES: Well, my dear Watson, it may be our last adventure together, so I welcome your co-operation.

WATSON: Well, Iíll be off.

HOLMES: You will leave Victoria to night at eleven fifteen, for Stoke Moran.

WATSON: Good bye ó Iíll see you at the station. 

HOLMES: Perhaps you will.

(WATSON goes)

Perhaps you will! (Rings.)  Perhaps you wonít! (Stands near fire.) 

(Enter BILLY)

BILLY: Yes, sir.

HOLMES: Ever been in love Billy?

BILLY: Not of late years, sir.

HOLMES: Too busy, eh?

BILLY: Yes, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES: Same here. Got my bag there, Billy?

BILLY: Yes, sir. (Puts it on table.)

HOLMES: Put in that revolver.

BILLY: Yes, sir.

HOLMES: And the pipe and pouch.

BILLY (takes it from table): Yes, sir.

HOLMES: Got the dark lantern?

BILLY: Yes, sir.

HOLMES: The lens and the tape?

BILLY: Yes, sir.

HOLMES: Plaster of Paris, for prints?

BILLY: Yes, sir.

HOLMES: Oh, and the cocaine. (Hands it.)

BILLY: Yes, sir. (Throws it down.)

HOLMES: You young villain! youíve broken it. (Takes his ear and turns his head round.) Youíre a clever boy, Billy.

BILLY: Yes, Mr. Holmes.

CURTAIN.

 
 
 
Act
The Diogenes Club:  To go the the next act, please click here.
III


The Diogenes Club:  (c) Copyright 1999-2002 The Diogenes Club All Rights Reserved