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The Stonor Case

Third Act

Scene One

The Hall of the Stoke Moran Manor House

(MRS STAUNTON discovered with a telegram in her hand, reading it.)

Enter ALI from the outside door. He is wrapped up in a dark overcoat, which he discards. Looks about him anxiously.

ALI: Has she come back?

MRS STAUNTON: Yes, quarter of an hour ago; she has gone to her room.

ALI: I lost her at the Pendale Wood, but I thought she was coming home.

MRS STAUNTON: Well, what happened?

ALI: I did all that the master telegraphed. I went to the station and waited. She came alone by the third train. She walked from the station to Fenton. I followed far behind. She met Lieutenant Curtis. For an hour I waited in the hedge; then she left him, but I dared not stir, for it would have gone ill with me had he seen me; so I lost her.

MRS STAUNTON: It will go ill with you if you do not do what the Doctor tells you. But she came. The first thing she asked was whether there was a note or a message for her. Now, who can she be expecting a message from? What friend has she?

ALI: There is that Dr Watson of London.

MRS STAUNTON: Yes, that's true.

ALI: Or there is the man, Armitage, in the village.

MRS STAUNTON: That low busybody!

ALI: He speaks to her when he can. Does master return?

MRS STAUNTON: I have a telegram from him. He comes and brings the butler, and a young girl, too, the butler's daughter. We shall see the last of Mr Rodgers, the doddering old fool! He has lost his wits completely these last days. What has become of him? (Goes to back and calls.) Mr Rodgers! Mr Rodgers!

Enter RODGERS

RODGERS: Well, Mrs Staunton?

MRS STAUNTON: So! you've got your marching orders, Mr Rodgers?

RODGERS: I don't think the master meant it, Mrs Staunton. He was in one of his tempers when he said it.

MRS STAUNTON: Don't make any mistake about that, Mr Rodgers. There's a new man—Mr Peters, by name—and you'll have to hand over tonight.

RODGERS: Tonight! It's all so sudden, Mrs Staunton. Where can I go, and what can I do? I've no home, no friends, and little money. I'm not strong enough now to go out into the world.

MRS STAUNTON: Well, I suspect the Doctor think you are not strong enough to stay here. Look out! here is Miss Enid coming. (Motions to ALI and RODGERS to go.)

They exit

ENID enters R.

Can I get you a cup of tea, miss?

ENID (sitting down): No, thank you.

MRS STAUNTON: Is there nothing I can do?

ENID: Has any message come for me?

MRS STAUNTON: No, miss.

ENID: Very good, you can go.

MRS STAUNTON: I beg your pardon, miss, but I would be glad to know what I have done to offend you?

ENID: I have no wish to discuss it.

MRS STAUNTON: For two years and more, Miss Enid, you have behaved to me like this. I'd like to know the reason.

ENID: The reason is that you are my enemy. The reason is that you have been my sister's enemy. Do you think I do not know—that we both did not know—of your spying and mischief-making? You have been the only woman with us under this dreadful roof. You might have been our comfort and our help. Your own conscience will tell you what you have been.

MRS STAUNTON: I'm surprised at you, miss. What have I ever been except a good servant to my master?

ENID: That will do. I have said more than I intended. (Rise.)

MRS STAUNTON: I beg pardon, miss, but what are you going to do?

ENID: I am going down to the village.

MRS STAUNTON: What for?

ENID: How dare you ask me such a question? What do you mean by it?

MRS STAUNTON: I thought it was something we could do for you.

ENID: It is not.

MRS STAUNTON: Then I am sorry, miss, but it can't be done. The Doctor's orders were that you should not go out again.

ENID: You insolent woman! I am going out now.

MRS STAUNTON: Ali! Ali!

ALI runs in

Get to the door, Ali! It's no use, miss, we must obey our orders. You don't budge from here.

ENID: What is the meaning of it?

MRS STAUNTON: It is not for the likes of us to ask the meaning. The Doctor is a good master and he pays good money; but his servants have to obey him.

ENID: I will go out. (Tries to rush past.)

(MRS STAUNTON seizes her and so does ALI. They push her into the settee.)

Help! Help!

MRS STAUNTON: If you don't like it, you can tell him so. He'll be here very soon. Till he comes we have to hold you.

ENID: Well, leave me alone!

MRS STAUNTON: Will you promise not to make a bolt of it?

ENID: I'll promise nothing.

MRS STAUNTON: Lock the door, Ali.

(ALI crosses and locks the door.)

The other doors are locked as well. You needn't try the windows, for Siva is loose and Ali will be with him in the park. All right, Ali, you can go!

Exit ALI

Now, miss, don't kick against the pricks. That's my advice to you.

Exit

(ENID waits until she has gone; then she rushes across to the writing-table and scribbles a telegram.)

(RODGERS passes at back.)

ENID: Rodgers!

RODGERS: Yes, miss.

ENID: Come here, Rodgers!

(RODGERS come down.)

I want to speak to you. I hear that you are leaving us. I wanted to say how sorry I am.

RODGERS: God bless you, Miss Enid. My heart is sore to part with you. All the kindness I've ever had in this house has been from poor Miss Violet and you.

ENID: Rogers, if ever I have done anything for you, you can repay it now a hundredfold.

RODGERS: Nothing against the master, Miss Enid! Don't ask me to do anything against the master.

ENID: How can you love him!

RODGERS: Love him! No, no, I don't love him, Miss Enid. But I fear him—Oh! I fear him. One glance of his eyes seems to cut me—to piece me like a sword. I wouldn't even listen to anything against him, for I feel it would come round to him, and then—then––!

ENID: Be a man, Rodgers. What can he do to you?

RODGERS: Oh, I couldn't, Miss Enid—don't ask me. What a man! what a man! Has he a child in his room, Miss Enid?

ENID: A child?

RODGERS: What is it he plays music to?

ENID: Ah! you have heard it.

RODGERS: Yes, yes, the music. And who drinks the milk? He drinks no milk.

ENID: What milk?

RODGERS: A jug of milk, Miss Enid. Every morning I take up the jug of milk. Surely it is a child.

ENID: Nonsense, Rodgers, you are raving.

RODGERS: Yes, poor old Rodgers is soft-headed. They all tell me. Mrs Staunton told me; Ali told me. You wouldn't let them put me in an asylum, Miss Enid, would you, now? No, no, you wouldn't let them. That's what master said would happen if ever I crossed him.

ENID: No, no, Rodgers. You are in no danger. It is I—who am in danger.

RODGERS: You, Miss Enid?

ENID: And you can save me.

RODGERS: Oh, Miss Enid, I couldn't—I couldn't! I have no nerve. I couldn't.

ENID: All I want you to do is to take a telegram.

RODGERS: A telegram, Miss Enid?

ENID: They won't let me out, and yet I must send it.

RODGERS: Perhaps they won't let me out.

ENID: You could wait a little and then slip away to the village.

RODGERS: What is the telegram, Miss Enid? Say it slowly. My poor old head is not as clear as it used to be.

ENID: Give it to the clerk.

RODGERS: No, no, I must be sure it is nothing against the master.

ENID: It is my business—only mine. Your master's name is not even mentioned. See—it is to Mr Sherlock Holmes—he is a friend of mine—Baker Street, London. eCome to me as soon as you can. Hurry.' That is all. Dear Rodgers, it means so much to me, please—please take it for me.

RODGERS: So long as it isn't against the master. I can't understand things like I used.

ENID: Oh! do take it, Rodgers! You said yourself that I had always been kind to you. You will take it, won't you? (Holds out telegram to RODGERS.)

RODGERS: Yes, yes, I will take it, Miss Enid. (Takes telegram and puts it in his pocket.)

ENID: Oh! you don't know what a service you are doing. It may save me—it may save my going all the way to town.

RODGERS: Well, well, of course I will take it. What's that?

(Wheels heard outside.)

Enter MRS STAUNTON and ALI

MRS STAUNTON: Quick, Ali! Get the door unlocked. He won't like to be kept waiting.

ENID (to RODGERS): Don't forget! as soon as you can. (Rises.)

MRS STAUNTON: Rodgers, be ready to receive your master. (Follows ENID.)

ENID: I did not ask you to come, Mrs Staunton.

MRS STAUNTON: I have my duty, Miss Enid.

ENID exits, followed by MRS STAUNTON

ALI throws open door and salaams. Enter DR RYLOTT, followed by PETERS, the new butler, who is followed by a young girl, with a big hat-box.

RYLOTT (taking off things and handing to ALI): Where is Miss Enid? Did she return?

ALI: Yes, sir, she is in her room.

RYLOTT: Ah! (To RODGERS.) What! still here?

RODGERS: I had some hopes, sir—

RYLOTT: Get away! Lay the supper! I'll deal with you presently.

Exit RODGERS

You can go also, Ali. Show this young girl to the kitchen. (To PETERS) What is her name?

PETERS: Amelia—the same as her mother's.

RYLOTT: Go to the kitchen, child, and make yourself useful.

Exit ALI, followed by AMELIA

(To PETERS.) Now, my man, we may as well understand each other first as last. I'm a man who stands no nonsense in my own house. I give good pay, but I expect good service. Do you understand?

PETERS: Yes, sir.

RYLOTT: I've had a man for the last two years, but he is old and useless. I want a younger man to keep the place in order. Rodgers will show you the cellar and the other things you should know. You take over from tomorrow morning.

PETERS: Very good, sir. I'm sure, sir, it was very good of you to make me with such an encumbrance as my poor little orphaned Amelia.

RYLOTT: I've taken you not only with a useless encumbrance, but without references and without a character. Why have I done that? Because I expect I shall get better service out of you. Where are you to find a place if you lose this one? Don't you forget it.

PETERS: I won't forget it, sir. I'll do all I can. If I can speak to your late butler, sir, I have no doubt he will soon show me my duties.

RYLOTT: Very good. (Rings bell.)

Enter MRS STAUNTON up R.

Where is Miss Enid now?

MRS STAUNTON: She is in her room, sir.

RYLOTT: Where is Siva?

MRS STAUNTON: Loose in the park, sir.

RYLOTT: By the way, I had best warn you, Peters, not to go out till my dog comes to know you. He's not safe with strangers—not very safe with anyone but myself.

PETERS: I'll remember, sir.

RYLOTT: Warn that girl of yours.

PETERS: Yes, I will.

RYLOTT (to MRS STAUNTON): What have you on the tray?

MRS STAUNTON: Tea for Miss Enid.

RYLOTT: Let her take her tea here. Set it down and tell her. But first of all, tell Rodgers I want him.

MRS STAUNTON (sets tea down): Yes, sir.

Exit

(DR RYLOTT turns towards the fire, lost in thought. PETERS gets near the tea-tray. DR RYLOTT turns round.)

PETERS: Shall I carry in this tray, sir?

RYLOTT: Leave it alone.

PETERS: Very good, sir.

Enter RODGERS

RYLOTT: Rodgers, you will hand your keys over to Peters. When you have done so, come to me in the study.

RODGERS: Yes, sir.

Exit DR RYLOTT

PETERS (after looking round): Well, I'm not so sure that I think much of this place. Maybe you are the lucky one after all. I hope I am not doing you out of your job. I'd chuck it for two pins.

RODGERS: If it wasn't you it would be someone else. Old Rodgers is finished—used up. But he said he wanted to see me in the study. What do you think he wants with me in the study?

PETERS: Maybe to thank you for your service; maybe to make you a parting present.

RODGERS: His eyes were hard as steel. What can he want with me? I get nervous these days, Mr Peters. What was it he told me to do?

PETERS: To hand over the keys.

RODGERS: Yes, yes, the keys. They are here, Mr Peters. That's the cellar key, Mr Peters. Be careful about the cellar. That was the first time he struck me—when I mistook the claret for the burgundy. He's often hasty, but he always kept his hands off till then.

PETERS: Well, beggars can't be choosers, but the more I see of this place the less I fancy it. I'd be off tonight, but it's not so easy these days to get a place if your papers ain't in order. See here, Mr Rodgers, I'd like to know a little more about my duties. The study is there, is it not?

RODGERS: Yes, he is there now waiting—waiting for me.

PETERS: Where is his room?

RODGERS: You see the passage yonder. Well, the first room you come to is the master's room; the next is Miss Enid's; the next is the spare room, but the builders have been at it.

PETERS: I see. Well, now, could you take me along to the master's room and show me any duties I have there?

RODGERS: The master's room? no one ever goes into the master's room. All the time I've been here I've never put my head inside the door.

PETERS (surprised): What! no one at all?

RODGERS: Ali goes. Ali is the Indian valet. But no one else.

PETERS: I wonder you never mistook the door and just walked in.

RODGERS: You could not do that, for the door is locked.

PETERS: Oh! he locks his door, does he? Dear me! None of the keys here any use, I suppose?

RODGERS: Don't think of such a thing! What are you saying? Why should you wish to enter the master's room?

PETERS: I don't want to enter it. The fewer rooms the less work. Why do you suppose he lock the door?

RODGERS: It is not for me, nor for you, to ask why the master does things. He chooses to do so. That is enough for us.

PETERS: Well, Mr Rodgers, if you'll excuse my saying so, this old 'ouse 'as taken some of the spirit out of you. I'm sure I don't wonder. I don't see myself staying here very long. Wasn't there someone died here not so long ago?

RODGERS: I'd rather not talk of that, Mr Peters.

PETERS: A woman died in the room next the doctor's. The cabman was telling me as we drove up.

RODGERS: Don't listen to them, Mr Peters. The master would not like it. Here is Miss Enid, and the Doctor wants me.

Enter ENID

ENID: Rodgers, can I have a word with you?

RODGERS: Very sorry, Miss Enid, the master wants me.

RODGERS exits into study

ENID (to PETERS): Who are you?

PETERS: I am Peters, miss, the new butler.

(ENID sits down beside the tea. PETERS stands still with his eyes upon her.)

ENID: Why do you stand there? Are you a spy set to watch me? Am I to have no one but enemies around me? What have they told you, or what have they paid you, to turn against me? Am I never to have one moment of privacy?

PETERS: I beg pardon, miss, I am sorry if you are in trouble.

ENID: Excuse me if I have spoken bitterly. I have had enough to make me bitter.

PETERS: I'm very sorry, miss. I'm new to the place and don't quite know where I am yet. May I ask, miss, if your name is Enid Stonor?

ENID: Yes, why do you ask?

PETERS: There was a lad at the station with a message for you.

ENID: A message for me! Oh! it is what I want of all things on earth! Why did you not take it?

PETERS: I did take it, miss, it is here. (Hands her a note.)

ENID (tears it open, reads): eFear nothing, and stay where you are. All will be right. Holmes.' Oh! It is a ray of sunshine in the darkness—such darkness. Tell me, Peters, who was this boy?

PETERS: I don't know, miss, just a very ordinary nipper. The Doctor had gone on to the cab. He touched my sleeve and asked me to give you this note in your own hand.

ENID: You said nothing to the Doctor?

PETERS: Well, miss, it seemed to be your business, not his. I just took it, and there it is.

ENID: God bless you for it. (She conceals the note in her bosom.)

PETERS: I'm only a servant, miss, but if I can be of any help to you, you must let me know.

Exit PETERS

(ENID takes the note out of her bosom, reads it again, then hurriedly replaces it as DR RYLOTT and RODGERS enter.)

RYLOTT: Very good. You can go and pack your box.

RODGERS (cringing): Yes, sir. You won't––!

RYLOTT: That's enough! Get away!

Exit RODGERS

(ENID sits at tea-table.)

(Comes over to ENID.) There you are! I must have a word or two with you. What the devil did you mean by slipping off to London the moment my back was turned? And what did you do when you got there?

ENID: I went there on my own business.

RYLOTT: Oh! your own business, was it? Perhaps what you call your own business may prove to be my business also. Who did you see? Come, woman, tell me?

ENID: It was my own business. I am of age and I have my own rights. You have no claim to control me.

RYLOTT: I know exactly where you went. Deny it if you can. You went to the rooms of Mr Sherlock Holmes, where you met Dr Watson, who advised you to go there. Was it not so?

ENID: I will answer no questions. If I did as you say I was within my rights.

RYLOTT: What did you go to consult Mr Holmes about?

(ENID remains silent.)

D'you hear? What did you go about? By God, I'll find a way to make you speak! (Seizes her by the arm.) Come!

Enter PETERS

PETERS: Yes, sir.

RYLOTT: I did not ring for you.

PETERS: I thought you called.

RYLOTT: Get out of this! What do you mean?

PETERS: I beg your pardon, sir.

Exit

RYLOTT: Look here, Enid, let us be sensible. I was too hot just now. But you must realize the situation. It will be best for both of us if you do. Your wisest and safest course is complete submission. If you do what I tell you there need be no friction between us.

ENID: What do you wish me to do?

RYLOTT: Your marriage will complicate the arrangement which was come to at your mother's death. I want you, of your own free will, to bind yourself to respect it. Come, Enid, you would not wish that your happiness should cause loss and even penury to me. I am an elderly man, and accustomed to certain little luxuries. I have had losses, too, which make it the more necessary that I should preserve what is left. If you will sign a little deed it will be best for both of us.

ENID: I have promised to sing nothing until a lawyer has seen it.

RYLOTT: Promised? Promised whom?

ENID: I promised Charles.

RYLOTT: Oh! you did, did you. I always felt that he was plotting against me. But why should lawyers come between you and me, Enid? I beg you—I urge you to do what I ask.

ENID: No, no, I cannot.

RYLOTT: Very good! on your own head be it. Tell me, Enid, what are your suspicions of me?

ENID: I have no suspicions.

RYLOTT: Have I not, on the whole, been kind to you all this winter?

ENID: Yes, you did.

RYLOTT: Then tell me, child, why do you suspect me?

ENID: I don't suspect you.

RYLOTT: Why do you send out messages to get help against me?

ENID: I don't understand you.

RYLOTT: Don't you send out for help? Tell me the truth, child.

ENID: No.

RYLOTT (with a yell): You damned little liar! (Bangs the telegram down before her.) What was this telegram that you gave to Rodgers?

(ENID sinks back, half fainting.)

Ah! you infernal hypocrite. Shall I read it to you? eCome to me as soon as you can. Hurry.' What did you mean by that? What did you mean, I say? What is it you suspect? None of your lies—Out with it.

ENID: Keep your hands off me, you coward! You know that my protector is gone, or you would not dare to treat me so.

RYLOTT: Answer me, then!

ENID: I will answer you! I believe that you murdered my mother by your neglect. I believe that in some way you drove my sister to her grave. Now I am certain that you mean to do the same to me. You're a murderer! a murderer! We were left to your care—helpless girls. You have ill-used us. You have tortured us. Now you have murdered one of us, and you would do the same to me. But if I am on the brink of the grave I will tell you that you are a coward, a monster, a man fit only for the gallows!

RYLOTT: You'll pay for this, you little devil! Get to your room.

ENID: I will—and I will lock myself in until someone comes to my help. I'm not without friends, as you may find.

RYLOTT: You've got some plot against me. What have you been arranging in London? What is it? (Clutches her.)

ENID: Let me go!

RYLOTT: What did you tell them? Answer me, damn you, or I'll screw the arm off you! By God, I'll twist your head off your shoulders if you dare to cross me! (Seizes her by the neck.)

ENID: Help! Help!

Enter PETERS

PETERS: Keep your hands off, Dr Rylott.

RYLOTT: You infernal scoundrel! (Releases ENID)

PETERS: You had best go to your room, young lady. I'll see that you are not molested. Never fear for me. Go right away!

RYLOTT: I'll soon settle you. (Runs to a rack at the side.)

ENID: He'll murder you.

RYLOTT: Go at once, I tell you, go! (Pushes her.)

Exit ENID

(DR RYLOTT gets a whip, opens the hall door, stands near it with his whip.)

RYLOTT: Now then, out you go!

PETERS: I am going. I'd made up my mind it was no place for me. I wonder at a gentleman like you. I won't stand by and see a lady ill-used.

RYLOTT: Come on! (Cracking whip.) Out with you!

PETERS: With your permission, sir, I'll call my little Amelia and put on my hat and coat. Amelia, dear! (Calling.) The box I'll send for in the morning.

Enter AMELIA, who hands PETERS his coat and hat, which he takes

RYLOTT: Come on!

PETERS: Yes, sir. I'm not in service any more, so I'll take the liberty of lighting this cigarette. I'll borrow a match.

(AMELIA lights one for him.)

Thank you, Amelia. Now I think we are ready.

RYLOTT: I think I am ready, too. By George! you'll remember Stoke Moran.

PETERS: Excuse me, sir, but is that a whip?

RYLOTT: You'll soon see what it is.

PETERS: I am afraid I must ask you to put it down.

RYLOTT: Oh, indeed! must you?

PETERS (taking out a revolver): Yes, sir! You'll please put down that whip.

RYLOTT (falling back): You villain!

PETERS: Stand right back, sir. I have no wish to do you a mischief. But I'll take no risks with a man like you. Right back, I say! Thank you, sir.

(Approaches door.) Hurry up, Billy, shift that key! Quick!

Business of key, revolver, and exit PETERS and AMELIA (HOLMES and BILLY)

ALI comes rushing in. DR RYLOTT runs to door.

RYLOTT: The infernal villain! I'll be level with you.

ALI: No, no, sahib. He is gone. What can you do? besides people come—police come.

RYLOTT: You're right. (Puts whip down.) We have another game to play; Ali, you will watch outside Miss Enid's windows.

ALI: Yes, sahib, shall I watch all night?

RYLOTT: All night? No, not all night! You will learn when you may cease your watch.

CURTAIN



To the Next Scene (Act 3, Scene 2)