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The Stonor Case

Third Act (continued)

Scene Two

Enid's Bedroom, Stoke Place

Bed on left. Door facing audience, on right.

Window on left of bed.

(ENID discovered seated near lamp at small table near window. Knock heard at door.)

ENID: Who is there?

RYLOTT (speaking off): It is I.

ENID: What do you want?

RYLOTT: Why is your light still burning?

ENID: I have been reading.

RYLOTT: You are not in bed, then?

ENID: Not yet.

RYLOTT: Then I desire to come in.

ENID: But it is so late.

RYLOTT (rattles door): Come, come, let me in this instant.

ENID: No, no, I cannot!

RYLOTT: Must I break the door in?

ENID: I will open it, I will open it. (Opens door.) Why do you persecute me so?

RYLOTT enters, in his dressing-gown

RYLOTT: Why are you so childish and so suspicious? Your mind has brooded upon your poor sister's death until you have built up these fantastic suspicions against me. Tell me now, Enid — I'm not such a bad sort, you know, if you only deal frankly with me. Tell me, have you any idea of your own about how your sister died? Was that what you went to Mr Holmes about this morning? Couldn't you take me into your confidence as well as him? It is not natural that I should feel hurt when I see you turn to a stranger for advice?

ENID: How my poor sister met her death only your own wicked heart can know. I am as sure that it came to her through you as if I had seen you strike her down. You may kill me, if you like, but I will tell you what I think.

RYLOTT: My dear child, you are overwrought and hysterical. What can have put such wild ideas into your head? After all, I may have a hasty temper — I have often deplored it to you — but what excuse have I ever given you for such monstrous suspicions?

ENID: You think that by a few smooth words you can make me forget all your past looks, your acts. You cannot deceive me. I know the danger, and I face it.

RYLOTT: What, then, is the danger?

ENID: It is near me tonight, whatever it is.

RYLOTT: Why do you think so?

ENID: Why is that Indian watching in the darkness? I opened my window just now, and there he was. Why is he there?

RYLOTT: To prevent you making a public fool of yourself. You are capable of getting loose and making a scandal.

ENID: He is there to keep me in my room, as the sheep is kept in the pen, until it is time for the slaughter.

RYLOTT: Upon my word, I think your brain is unhinged! Now, look here, Enid, be reasonable for a moment. Listen to me. If there is friction between us — and I don't for a moment deny that there is — why is it? You think I mean to hurt you. I could only have one possible motive for hurting you. Why not remove that motive? Then you could no longer work yourself into these terrors. Here is that little legal paper I spoke of. Mrs Staunton could witness it. All I want is your signature. It would be best for you and best for me.

ENID: No, never.

RYLOTT: Never!

ENID: Unless my lawyer advises it.

RYLOTT: Is that final?

ENID: Yes, it is. I will never sign it.

RYLOTT: You little fool! I have done my best for you. It was your last chance.

ENID: Ah! then you do mean murder.

RYLOTT: The last chance of regaining my favour. Get to your bed, and may you wake in a more rational mood tomorrow. You will not be permitted to make a scandal. Ali will be at his post outside, and I shall sit in the hall; so you may reconcile yourself to being quiet. Nothing more to say to me? Very good!

Exit

(When he has gone ENID listens to his departing footsteps. Then she locks the door once again, and looks round her.)

ENID: What is that tapping? Surely I heard tapping! Perhaps it is the pulse within my own brain? Yes! there it is again. Where was it? It is the signal of death? (Looks wildly round the walls.) Ah! it grows louder. It is the window. (Goes towards window.) A man! a man crouching in the darkness. Still tapping. It's not Ali! The face was white. Ah!

The window opens and HOLMES enters

HOLMES: My dear young lady, I trust that I don't intrude. Old-fashioned window-catches are most inefficient.

ENID: Oh, Mr Holmes! I'm so glad to see you! Save me! Mr Holmes, they mean to murder me.

HOLMES: Tut, tut! we mean that they shall do nothing of the sort.

ENID: I had given up all hope of your coming. How did you pass the Indian and the dog?

HOLMES: Well, as to the Indian, we chloroformed him. Watson is busy tying him up in the arbour at the present moment. The dog I was compelled to shoot at an earlier stage of the proceeding.

ENID: You shot Siva!

HOLMES: I might have been forced to shoot his master also. It was after I sent you to your room. He threatened me with a whip.

ENID: You were — you were Peters, the butler.

HOLMES: A rough disguise, but it served. I wanted to be near you. So this is the famous room, is it? dear me! Very much as I had pictured it. You will excuse me for not discovering myself to you, but any cry or agitation upon your part would have betrayed me.

ENID: But your daughter Amelia?

HOLMES: Ah yes, I always take Billy when I can.

ENID: Then you intended to watch over me till night?

HOLMES: Exactly. But the man's brutality caused me to show my hand too soon. However, I have never been far from your window. I gather the matter is pressing.

ENID: He means to murder me.

HOLMES: I was watching him. He is certainly in an ugly humour. He is not in his room at present.

ENID: No, he is in the hall.

HOLMES: So we can talk with safety. What has become of the excellent Watson? (Approaches window.) Come in, Watson, come in!

Enter WATSON from window

How is our Indian fellow-subject?

WATSON: He is coming out of the chloroform; but he can neither move nor speak. Good evening, Miss Stonor, what a night it is.

HOLMES: The wind is good. Its howling will cover all sounds. Just sit in the window, Watson, and see that our rear is safe. With your leave, I will inspect the room a little more closely. Now, my dear young lady, I can see that you are frightened to death, and no wonder. Your courage has been admirable. Sit over here by the fire and all will be well.

ENID: If he should come –– !

HOLMES: In that case answer him. Say that you have gone to bed. (Holds up the lamp.) A most interesting old room — very quaint indeed! Old-fashioned comfort without modern luxury. The passage is, as I understand, immediately outside?

ENID: Yes.

HOLMES: Mr Peters made two attempts to explore the ground, but without avail. By the way, I gather that you tried to send me a message, and that old Rodgers gave it to your stepfather.

ENID: Yes, he did.

HOLMES: He is not to be blames. His master controls him. He had to betray you.

ENID: It was my fault for trusting him.

HOLMES: Well, well, it was an indiscretion, but it didn't matter. Let me see now, on this side is the room under repair. On this other side the genial old gentleman sleeps when he is so innocently employed. Hush! what's that?

ENID: It's his step in the passage.

(HOLMES holds his hat over the light. Knock at door.)

RYLOTT (heard outside door): Enid!

ENID: What is it?

RYLOTT: Are you in bed?

ENID: Yes.

RYLOTT: Are you still of the same mind?

ENID: Yes, I am.

RYLOTT: Very good, then it's finished.

(Pause. They all listen.)

HOLMES (whispering): Has he gone into his room?

ENID: No, he went down the passage to the hall.

HOLMES: Then we must make the most of the time. Might I trouble you, Watson, for the gimlet and the yard-measure? Thank you. The lantern also, thank you! You can screen the lamp, but don't put it out. I am interested in this partition wall. No little surprise, I suppose? No trap-doors and sliding panels? Funny folk, our ancestors, with a quaint taste in practical joking. (Gets on bed and fingers the wall.) No, it seems solid enough. Dear me! and yet you say your sister fastened both door and window. Remarkable! My lens, Watson. A perfectly respectable wall — in fact a commonplace wall. Trap-door in the floor? No, nothing suspicious in the direction. Ancient carpeting — oak wainscot — nothing more. Hullo! hullo! hullo! hullo!

WATSON: What is it?

HOLMES: Why is your bed clamped to the floor?

ENID: I really don't know.

HOLMES: Was the bed in your other room clamped?

ENID: No, I think not.

HOLMES: Very interesting. Most interesting and instructive. And this bell-pull — where does it communicate with?

ENID: It does not work.

HOLMES: But if you want to ring?

ENID: There is another over here.

HOLMES: Then why this one?

ENID: I don't know. There were some changes after we came here.

HOLMES: Quite a burst of activity apparently. It took some strange shapes. (Standing on bed.) You may be interested to know that the bell-rope ends in a brass hook. No wire attachment; it is a dummy. Dear me! how very singular. I see a small screen above it, which covers a ventilator, I suppose?

ENID: Yes, Mr Holmes, there is a ventilator.

HOLMES: Curious fad to ventilate one room into another when one could as well get the open air. Most original man, the architect. Very singular indeed! There is no means of opening the flap from here; it must open on the other side.

WATSON: What do you make of it, Holmes?

HOLMES: Suggestive, my dear Watson, very suggestive. Bear in mind that this opening, concealed by a flap of wood, leads into the room of our cheery Anglo-Indian neighbour. I repeat the adjective, Watson — Anglo-Indian.

WATSON: Well, Holmes?

HOLMES (steps off the bed): The bed is clamped so that it cannot be shifted. He has a dummy bell-pull which leads to the bed. He has a hole above it which opens on his room. He is an Anglo-Indian doctor. Do you make nothing of all this? The music, too? The music, too. What is the music?

WATSON: A signal, Holmes.

HOLMES: A signal! A signal to whom?

WATSON: An accomplice.

HOLMES: Yes, an accomplice who could enter a room with locked doors — an accomplice who could give a death which leaves no trace.

ENID: Hush! he is gone to his room.

(Door heard to close outside.)

Listen! the door is shut.

HOLMES: Turn out that lamp, Watson. Keep your dark lantern handy. We must wait in the dark. I fancy we will not have long to wait.

ENID: I am so frightened.

HOLMES: I wish we could send you away. It is too much for you.

WATSON: Can I do nothing, Holmes?

HOLMES: You can hand me my cane. Hush! What's that? My stick, Watson — quick, be quick! (The music comes again.) Now take the lantern! Have you got it? When I cry, 'Now!' turn it full blaze upon the top of the bell-rope. Do you understand?

WATSON: Rely on me!

HOLMES: Down that bell-rope comes the messenger of death. It can only reach the pillow. Hush! the flap!

(The flap opens, disclosing a small square of light. This light is obscured.)

(Cries sharply.) Now!

(WATSON turns lantern full on to bell-rope. A snake is seen half through the hole. HOLMES lashes at it with a stick. It disappears backwards.)

WATSON: It has gone.

HOLMES: Yes, it has gone, but we know the truth.

(A loud cry is heard.)

WATSON: What is that?

HOLMES: I believe the devil has turned on its master.

(Another cry.)

It is in the passage. (Throws open the door.)

(In the doorway is seen the DOCTOR, in shirt and trousers, the snake round his head and neck.)

RYLOTT: Save me! save me!

RYLOTT rushes in and fall on floor

(WATSON and HOLMES strike at the snake as it writhes across the room.)

WATSON (looking at snake): The brute is dead.

HOLMES (looking at DR RYLOTT): So is the other.

(They both run to support the fainting lady.)

Miss Stonor, there is no more danger for you under this roof.


CURTAIN