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The Stonor Case

Second Act (continued)

Scene Two

Mr Sherlock Holmes's room in Baker Street

Enter PAGE (BILLY), showing DR WATSON

WATSON: I particularly want to see Mr Holmes.

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

WATSON: Is he very busy just now?

PAGE: Yes, sir, we are very busy. We don't get much time to ourselves these days.

WATSON: Any particular case?

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

WATSON: Well, I'll wait for Mr Holmes.

PAGE: Very good, sir. Here is The Times. There's four for him in the waiting-room now.

WATSON: Any lady among them?

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

WATSON: All right, I'll wait.

Exit PAGE

(WATSON 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-scuttle? Full of them! Black clays, the same as ever. (Takes one out and smells it.) Faugh! Bottle of cocaine,dear, dear! and the violin, the same old violin with one string left.

Enter WORKMAN, with tools

WORKMAN: You sent for me, Mr Sherlock Holmes.

WATSON: I am not Mr Sherlock Holmes.

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

WATSON: What's wrong with it?

WORKMAN: Leaking, sir, this one near the window.

WATSON: Well, go on with your work.

WORKMAN: Yes, sir. (Goes to the bracket.) Hope I won't disturb you, sir?

WATSON (taking up The Times):That's all right. Don't mind me.

WORKMAN: Very untidy man, Mr Holmes, sir.

WATSON: What do you mean by that?

WORKMAN: Well, sir, you can't help noticing it. It's all over the room. I've 'eard say he was as tidy as any when he started, but he learned bad 'abits from a cove what lived with him. Watson was his name.

WORKMAN slips into bedroom

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

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 why––?

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 side whiskers will be found to secure the co-operation of the maids. It may interest you to know that my humble double is courting a cook in Battersea.

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

HOLMES: Chivalrous old Watson! It's a game of life and death, and every card must be played. But in this case I have a hated rival, 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! (Lights a cigarette and 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 tell––!

HOLMES: By the same observation, my dear Watson, which assures me that you have seen the lady this morning. (Picks a hair off WATSON's breast, 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?

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. (Comes L.)

HOLMES: There are one or two small matters.

WATSON: Have you room to consider one other? The case of Miss Enid Stonor.

HOLMES: My dear fellow, if you have any personal interest in it.

WATSON: Yes, I feel keenly about it.

HOLMES (C., taking out note-book): Let us see how I stand. There is the Baxter Square murder—I have put the police on the track. The Clerkenwell Jewel Robbery—that is now clearing. The case of the Duchess of Ferrers—I shall settle it on Tuesday week. The Pope's cameos—His Holiness must wait. The Princess who is about to run from home—let her run. (Rings bell.) I must see one or two who are waiting for me, then I am entirely at your disposal.

Enter PAGE

PAGE: Yes, Mr Holmes.

HOLMES: How many are waiting?

PAGE: Four, sir.

HOLMES: A light morning. Show them in now.

Exit PAGE

WATSON: Well, I'll look in later.

HOLMES: No, no, my dear fellow! Why, good gracious! I have always looked on you as a partner in the firm. Holmes, Watson, Billy & Co. That's our brass plate when we raise one. If you'll sit there I shall soon be free.

Enter PAGE, with a card on tray. MR HOLT LOAMING follows—a rich, dissipated-looking, middle-aged man in astrakhan-collared coat.

(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: Time's money, Mr Holmes, both yours and mine. I'm pretty quick off the mark and you won't mind that. I'm not here on the advice gratis line. Don't you think it. I've got my cheque-book here (takes it out) and there's plenty behind it. I won't grudge you your fees, Mr Holmes. I promise you that.

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

LOAMING: My wife, Mr Holmes—damn her! She's given me the slip. Got back to her own people and they've hid her. There's the law, of course, but she'd get out all kinds of lies about ill-treatment. She's mine, and I'll 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. She's one of those wincing kind of nervous fillies that kick about in the paddock, but give in when once the bridle's on them and they feel the whip. You show me where she is, and I'll do the rest.

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

LOAMING: Well, there's no man in the case, if that's what you're driving at. Lord! if you knew how straight she is, and how she carries on when I have a fling. She's got a cluster of aunts, and she's lyin' low somewhere among them. It's for you to put her up.

HOLMES: I fancy not, Mr Loaming.

LOAMING: Eh, what's that?

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

LOAMING: But, damn it, sir, she's my wife!

HOLMES: That was why.

LOAMING (getting up): Well, it's a rum start, this. Look here, you don't know what you're missing. I'd have gone to five hundred. Here's the cheque.

HOLMES: The case does not attract me. (Ring bells.)

Enter PAGE

Show Mr Loaming out, Billy.

LOAMING: It's the last you'll see of me, Mr Holmes.

HOLMES: Life is full of little consolations.

LOAMING: Damn!

Exit LOAMING and PAGE

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

Re-enter PAGE

Well?

PAGE: Mrs Soames, sir.

Enter MRS SOAMES—needy, gentlewoman type

Ah yes, Mrs Soames, I remember you very well. Husband left you penniless with two children on your hands upon the ninth of last September. Supposed to have gone to America.

MRS SOAMES: Yes, sir. He did go to America.

HOLMES: Indeed?

MRS SOAMES: And he's dead.

HOLMES: How do you know?

MRS SOAMES: This cutting, sir. (Hands envelope to HOLMES.)

HOLMES: Chicago post-mark; red wax seal, pressed down by an obliging gentle man with a scar on his thumb. Dear me! how very interesting. What's this? Chicago Democrat, eMr Josiah Soames of London, England, run over by a street car.' Look at it,Watson. I regard it as conclusive.

WATSON: That the man is dead?

HOLMES: That the man has married again.

WATSON: My dear Holmes!

HOLMES: Four misprints in six lines, Watson! An absurd advertisement at the back. No real paper ever published such stuff. The sub-editor would be shot out of the office. It's a forgery. And who should he take the trouble if he had not a strong reason for stalling off his first wife? Of course he is going to take a second. (To MRS SOAMES.) Go straight out to Chicago, Mrs Soames, and he'll be at your mercy. The police will help you to find him. At least he will have to make you an allowance.

MRS SOAMES: Oh, Mr Holmes! how can I reach Chicago?

HOLMES: Tut, tut! Take this card to my friend Marbrook of the Transatlantic office. He'll see to it. (Ring)

MRS SOAMES: Oh, Mr Holmes—

Enter PAGE

HOLMES: There, there! that will do! Quite so, goodbye.

Exit MRS SOAMES and PAGE

Heroic little woman! Selfish brute of a man.

Re-enter PAGE

Well, Billy?

PAGE: Mr James B. Montague, sir.

Enter MR MONTAGUE

Exit PAGE

HOLMES: Good-morning, Mr Montague. Pray take a chair. What can I do?

MONTAGUE (a furtive-looking man with slimy ways): Anything fresh about the death of my brother, sir? The police said it was murder, and you said it was murder,but we don't get any further do we?

HOLMES: I have not lost sight of it.

MONTAGUE: That man Henderson was a bad man, Mr Holmes, an evil liver and a corruption. Yes, sir, a corruption and a danger. Who knows that passed between them? I've my suspicions—I've 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 him—a 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! You are on the line. Watch him; you'll get him, as safe as judgement.

HOLMES: I'll let you know if anything comes of it. (Rings.)

MONTAGUE (rising): That's right, sir. I'm his brother, sir. It's me that should know. It's never out of my mind.

Enter PAGE

HOLMES: Very good, Mr Montague. Good morning.

Exit MR MONTAGUE and PAGE

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—a very ancient device, Watson.

Re-enter PAGE

Well, any more?

PAGE: Mr Milverton is here, Mr Holmes.

HOLMES: Show him in when I ring.

Exit PAGE

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—the king of the blackmailers—a cunning, ruthless devil. I have traced seventeen suicides to that man's 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.) I am endeavouring 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: Oh! I have no object in secrecy. It is your client's reputation, not mine, which is at stake.

HOLMES: Your reputations! Good Heavens!

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

HOLMES: What are the terms now?

MILVERTON: Steady at seven thousand. No money, no marriage.

HOLMES: My advice to her is to tell the whole story to the Marquis. Then your letter is not worth sixpence. He would condone all.

MILVERTON: Would he, though?

HOLMES: Come, now, what harm is in the letter?

MILVERTON: Sprightly—very sprightly. However, it is purely a matter of business. If you think it is in the best interest of your client that the Marquis should see the letter—why, 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. Look here! (Takes out a pocket book.)

(HOLMES takes a quick step forward.)

No, no, Mr Holmes, you can't seriously think I would carry the letter into your rooms. But there are others. Look at this! This belongs to—well—I withhold the name till tomorrow morning. At that time it will be in the hands of the lady's husband. And all because she will not find a beggarly sum which she could get in an hour by turning her jewels into paste. It is such a pity. What are her advisers about? And here I find you—a man of sense—boggling about terms when a duchess' honour is at stake. You surprise me, Mr Holmes.

HOLMES: The money cannot be found, I tell you. Would it not be better to ask some reasonable sum? It can profit you in no way to push matters to an end.

MILVERTON: There you mistake. I have eight or ten 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 to the 14th? (Rings.)

MILVERTON: But not an hour longer.

Enter PAGE

HOLMES: Very good. Show Mr Milverton out, Billy.

Exit PAGE and MILVERTON

A fumigator would be useful, Watson. Pah!

WATSON: What can you do?

HOLMES: My remedy will be heroic. It is this gentleman's cook who has honoured me. In the intervals of philandering I have made an acquaintance with the lock of his safe. I should not be surprised if there were a burglary upon the 13th, at the Firs, Battersea, and some valuable papers missing. (Rings.)

WATSON: Holmes, you are splendid!

Enter PAGE

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

PAGE: One lady, sir—just come—Miss Enid Stonor, of Stoke Moran.

WATSON: Ah! this is the case.

HOLMES: I'll ring, Billy.

Exit PAGE

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, 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.) Let's see—it's R is it not? Ranter—Romanez—Rylott! That's our man. Fifty-five years of age, killed his khitmutgar in India; once in a madhouse; married money—wife died; distinguished surgeon. Well, Watson, what has the distinguished surgeon been up to now?

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 today. She will henceforward be alone at Stoke Place.

HOLMES: I see.

WATSON: And some circumstances have excited her alarm.

HOLMES: I gather that the amiable stepfather stands to lose in case of 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––!

HOLMES: No, no, Watson! You are making the mistake of putting your normal brain into Rylott's abnormal being. The born criminal is often a monstrous egoist. 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 can't 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, you'll get into trouble if you go about righting the wrong of distressed damsels. It won't do, Watson, it really won't.

Enter ENID

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 a clay soil are indicated. But what is this? You are trembling. Watson, a chair!

ENID (looking around): 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. But 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. Poor old Rodgers, who has been with us for years, is quite broken up. He is to 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 o'clock, to Patterson & 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: 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 Watson's. He knows that Dr Waston is my only friend in London.

HOLMES: But I had been given to understand that Dr Rylott has treated you more kindly of late?

ENID: Yes, he has. Because he knows I have some one to protect me. But even so, there have been moments—

(HOLMES raises her sleeve.)

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 village blacksmith.

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

ENID: I would not dare to tell him. 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. This kindness is from the head, not from the heart. I feel as if he were waiting—waiting—

HOLMES: Waiting for what?

ENID: Waiting for Lieutenant Curtis 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?

ENID: The change was necessary. It is a tumble down old house and much of it is really uninhabitable. My old room is under repair. I go on a visit tomorrow and when I return my room will be ready.

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: What is that? The music?

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

HOLMES (going over and laying his hand on her shoulder): There, there! you've had enough to break any one's nerve. This—music—does 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: 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: I have searched again and again. No, 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. Suggestive—very suggestive. When did you hear the music last?

ENID: Last night.

HOLMES: And your fiancé leaves today?

ENID: He leaves today. 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 do, most unreservedly.

(HOLMES rings bell.)

Enter PAGE

HOLMES: Billy, a gentleman will probably call presently. Keep him in the waiting room and let me know at once.

Exit PAGE

(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 o'clock Charles leaves, and I shall not see him again for months.

HOLMES: Ah! that is a complication. Where is the A.B.C. Stonehouse—Stowell—Stoke—

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. Would you have the goodness to leave your shutter open? The room is, I understand, upon the ground floor? Perhaps you would wait up for my coming?

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

HOLMES: I have taken up your case, Miss Stonor, and this is part of it. Have you any friend in the village?

ENID: Mr Armitage, the grocer, 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 stay 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 away 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 news 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 PAGE

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

HOLMES: Who is he?

PAGE: A very impatient gentleman, sir. It was all I could do to get him to stay in the waiting-room. I had to turn the key on him.

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

PAGE: That's him, miss.

ENID: It is my stepfather. Oh, Mr Holmes, what shall I do? He has surely followed me.

WATSON: If he went to my rooms, my landlady had instructions to send anyone on.

HOLMES: Exactly.

ENID: Oh! I dare not meet him, I dare not.

PAGE: All safe, miss: he can't get out.

ENID: Then I can slip away.

HOLMES: I see no reason why you should stay. Show the lady out, Billy.

PAGE: Yes, Mr Holmes. Don't be alarmed, miss, I'll see you through.

Exit PAGE and ENID

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

HOLMES: There's something of the kind in that drawer at your right.

Enter PAGE

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

HOLMES: Why so?

PAGE: An ugly customer, Mr Holmes.

HOLMES: Tut, tut! Show him up.

Exit PAGE

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

Enter DR RYLOTT

RYLOTT: So, sir, this is pretty treatment. Does this young rascal act on your instructions? Is it your habit to lock up all your visitors?

HOLMES: Not all.

RYLOTT: Not all? Not all? What do you mean, sir?

HOLMES: Only those who seem inclined to be troublesome.

RYLOTT: Insolence! My name, sir,is Dr Grimesby Rylott, of Stoke Moran.

HOLMES: A very pretty place, sir, and obviously good for the lungs.

RYLOTT: I have come here to ask whether you have seen my stepdaughter here, Miss Enid Stonor.

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! I've heard of you, you meddling busybody. Look here, Dr Watson, I 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-headed—

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

RYLOTT: I apologize if I have seemed rude—

HOLMES: Robust—a little robust—nothing more.

RYLOTT (sitting down): 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 how painful my position must be, 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 sad tragedy two years ago—

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.

HOLMES: What! you don't want help?

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

HOLMES: You are perfectly audible.

RYLOTT: I'll have no interference—none! Don't dare to meddle with me. D'you hear, the pair of you? You, Holmes—I'm 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 pleasure, Doctor.

RYLOTT: Insolent rascal! I'll—I'll—(Turns to the grate and picks up the poker.)

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

RYLOTT: You laugh at me? You don't know the man you are dealing with. Perhaps 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 HOLMES's feet.) I am not a safe man to play with, Mr Holmes.

HOLMES: Nor am I a safe man to play with, Dr Rylott. See that! (Bends the poker straight again.) I think we have taken too many liberties with Mrs Hudson's fire-irons. Let me see—what 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. No one has ever crossed my path without being the worst for it. You have your warning.

HOLMES: I'll make a note of it.

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

HOLMES: Don't we seem to be travelling just a little in a circle?

RYLOTT: Well, you can't prevent me from finding out from her.

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

RYLOTT: You cursèd fool! I may teach you both not to meddle with what does not concern you. Keep clear of Stoke Moran, or you'll get a charge of shoot into your hide.

Exit RYLOTT, slamming door

HOLMES: I had a presentiment he would slam the door. Stoke Moran must be less dull than many country villages. Quite a breezy old gentleman, Watson. Well, I must thank you for a very 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 quest are forbidden. What would Miss Morstan say?

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

HOLMES: Well, my dear Watson, it may be our last adventure together, so I welcome you co-operation. I am rather busy now, so I bid you goodbye. You will leave Victoria tonight at eleven fifteen for Stoke Moran. Perhaps you will see me at the station. Perhaps you won't. In any case, eleven fifteen for Stoke Moran. (Shake hands.)


CURTAIN



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