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

The Diogenes Club Logo

The Speckled Band

Scene 1
The Hall of Stoke Place

MRS STAUNTON is discovered at the back reading a telegram

MRS STAUNTON: Are you there Rodgers?


RODGERS: Well, Mrs. Staunton.

MRS STAUNTON: Iíve had a telegram from the master. He will be here presently. He is bringing the new butler with him so you can hand over to night.

RODGERS: To night, Mrs Staunton. It all seems very sudden.

MRS STAUNTON: Peters will need your room. Thatís his name, Peters. He brings a young girl with him, his daughter. The attic will do for her. That will do Rodgers.

(RODGERS goes into the morning room)

(Enter ENID from the entrance hall)

ENID: Oh, Mrs Staunton.


ENID: Has any message come in my absence?


ENID: Let me know at once if any comes.

(ENID goes into the bedroom wing)

MRS STAUNTON: Yes Miss. A message! A message!

(Enter ALI hurriedly)

(To him) Well?

 ALI: Has she come back? 

 MRS STAUNTON: Yes, she is in her room.

 ALI: I see her meet Curtis Sahib. Then I lose her. 

 MRS. STAUNTON: Well, she has come back. I have heard from the master. She is not to go out any more. He will come soon. Until he does, we must hold her. She asked if there was a message for her. Who can she expect a message from? Ahóstand back, Ali, sheís coming.

(ALI stands at door to servantsí hall.)

(Re-enter ENID, still dressed for walking.)

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

ENID: I am going down to the village. (Crosses towards entrance hall.)

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 was not.

MRS. STAUNTON: Then I am sorry, Miss, but it canít be done. The Doctor didnít like you going to London to-day. His orders are that you should not go out again.

ENID: How dare you? I am going out now.

MRS. STAUNTON: Get to the door, Ali! Itís no use, Miss, we must obey our orders. You donít budge from here.

ENID: What is the meaning of this?

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

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

MRS. STAUNTON: Lock the door, Ali.

(ALI locks the door to the entrance hall.)

The other locks are locked as well. You neednít try the windows, for Siva is loose. All right, Ali, give me the keyóyou can go!

(ALI goes into the servantsí hall.)

Now, Miss, do what the Doctor wishes. Thatís my advice to you.

(She exits into the servantsí hall.)

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

(RODGERS enters from the morning-room.)

ENID: Oh, Rodgersó

RODGERS: Yes, Miss. 

ENID: Come here, Rodgers! 

(RODGERS comes down.)

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

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

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

RODGERS: Nothing against the master, Miss Enid! Donít ask to do anything against the master.

ENID: How can you love him?

RODGERS: Love him! No, no, I donít love him, Miss Enid. But I fear himóoh! I fear him. One glance of his eyes seems to cut me ó to pierce me like a sword. I wouldnít even listen to anything against him, for I feel it would come round to him, and then ó thenó!

ENID: What can he do to you?

RODGERS: Oh, I couldnít, Miss Enidódonít ask me. What a man! what a man! Has he a child in his room, Miss Enid?

ENID: A child?

RODGERS: Yesóthe milkówho drinks the milk? He drinks no milk. Every morning I take up the jug of milk. And the music, who is it he plays the music to?

ENID: Music! You have heard it, too. Iím so frightened. Iím in danger. I know Iím in danger. (Rising.)

RODGERS: In danger, Miss Enid?

ENID: And you can save me.

RODGERS: Oh, Miss Enid, I couldnítóI couldnítóI have no nerve. I couldnít.

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

RODGERS: A telegram, Miss Enid?

ENID: They wonít let me out, and yet I must send it.

RODGERS: Perhaps they wonít let me out.

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

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 businessóonly mine. Your masterís name is not even mentioned. See ó it is to Mr. Sherlock Holmes ó he is a friend of mine ó Baker Street, London. ďCome to me as soon as you can. Please hurry.Ē That is All. Dear Rodgers, it means so much to meópleaseóplease take it for me.

RODGERS: I canít 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, wonít you? (Holds out telegram toRODGERS.)

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

ENID: Oh! you donít know what a service you are doing. It may save meóit may save my going all the way to town.

RODGERS: Well, well, of course I will take it. Whatís that?

(Wheels heard outside.)

(Enter MRS. STAUNTON and ALI.)

MRS. STAUNTON: Quick, Ali! get the door unlocked. He wonít like to be kept waiting. Rodgers, be ready to receive your master.

ENID (to RODGERS): Donít forgetóas soon as you can.

(She goes into the bedroom wing, followed by MRS. STAUNTON.)

(Wheels stop.)

(ALI throws open the hall door and salaams. Enter RYLOTT, followed by HOLMES, disguised as Peters, the new butler, who is followed by BILLY, disguised as a young girl, with a big hat-box.)

RYLOTT: (taking off things and handing them 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, siró

RYLOTT: Get away! Lay the supper! Iíll deal with you presently.

(RODGERS goes into the servantsí hall.)

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

HOLMES: Ameliaóthe same as her motherís. 

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

(ALI goes out, followed by BILLY.)

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

HOLMES: Yes, sir.

RYLOTT: Iíve had a man for some time, 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 to-morrow morning.

HOLMES: Very good, sir. Iím sure, sir, it was very good of you to take me with such an encumbrance as my poor little orphaned Amelia. 

RYLOTT: Iíve 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? Donít you forget it.

HOLMES: I wonít forget, sir. Iíll 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 from the bedroom wing.)

Mrs. Staunton, tell Rodgers I want him. By the way, where is Siva?

MRS. STAUNTON: Loose in the park, sir.

(She goes into the servantsí hall.)

RYLOTT: By the way, I had best warn you, Peters, not to go out till my boar-hound comes to know you. Sheís not safe with strangers ó not very safe with any one but myself.

HOLMES: Iíll remember, sir.

RYLOTT: Warn that girl of yours.

(Enter RODGERS.)

HOLMES: Yes, I will.

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

RODGERS: Yes, sir.

(RYLOTT goes into his study.)

HOLMES (after looking round): Well, Iím not so sure that I think so much of this place. Maybe you are the lucky one after all. I hope I am not doing you out of your job. Iíd chuck it for two pins. If it wasnít for Amelia Iíd chuck it now.

RODGERS: If it wasnít you it would be some one else. Old Rodgers is finishedóused up. But he said he wanted to see me in the study. What do you think he wants with me in the study?

HOLMES: 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?

HOLMES: To hand over the keys. (Taking his overcoat off)

RODGERS: Yes, yes, the keys. (Taking out keys.) They are here, Mr. Peters. Thatís the cellar key, Mr. Peters. Be careful about the cellar. That was the first time he struck me ó when I mistook the claret for the Burgundy. Heís often hasty, but he always kept his hands off till then.

HOLMES: But the more I see of this place the less I fancy it. Iíd be off to-night, but itís not so easy these days to get a place if your papers ainít in order. See here, Mr. Rodgers, Iíd like to know a little more about my duties. The study is there, ainít it?

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

HOLMES: Where is his room?

RODGERS: You see the passage yonder. Well, the first room you come to is the masterís bedroom; the next is Miss Enidís ó

HOLMES: I see. Well, now, could you take me along to the masterís room and show me any duties I have there?

RODGERS: The masterís room? No one ever goes into the masterís room. All the time Iíve been here Iíve never put my head inside the door.

HOLMES (surprised): What? no one at all?

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

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

RODGERS: You couldnít do that for the door is locked.

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

RODGERS: Donít think of such a thing. What are you saying? Why should you wish to enter the masterís room?

HOLMES: I donít want to enter it. The fewer rooms the less work. Why do you suppose he locks 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.

HOLMES: Well Mr. Rodgers if youíll excuse my saying so, this old Ďouse Ďas taken some of the spirit out of you. Iím sure I donít wonder. I donít see myself staying here very long. Wasnít there some one died here not so long ago?

RODGERS: Iíd rather not talk of it, Mr. Peters. 

HOLMES: A woman died in the room next the doctorís. The cabman was telling me as we drove up.

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

(Enter ENID from the bedroom wing)

ENID: Rodgers can I have a word with you? 

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

(RODGERS goes into the study)

ENID (to HOLMES): Are youó?

HOLMES: I am Peters, Miss, the new butler

ENID: Oh! (Sits down beside table and writes)

(HOLMES crosses and stands behind the table. Pause)

Why do you stand there? Are you a spy set to watch me? Am I never to have one moment of privacy?

HOLMES: I beg pardon, Miss.

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

HOLMES: Iím very sorry. Miss. Iím new to the place and donít quite know where I am yet. May I ask Miss if your name is Stonor?

ENID: Yes. Why do you ask?

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

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

HOLMES: I did take it, Miss, it is here. (Hands her a note.) 

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

HOLMES: I donít know, Missójust a very ordinary nipper. The Doctor had gone on to the cab, and the boy touched my sleeve and asked me to give you this note in your own hand.

ENID: You said nothing to the Doctor.

HOLMES: 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.) 

HOLMES: Iím only a servant, Miss, but if I can be of any help to you, you must let me know.

(HOLMES goes into the bedroom wing.)

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

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

RODGERS (cringing): Yes, sir. You wonító

RYLOTT: Thatís enough. Get away!

(RODGERS goes into the servantsí hall.)

(ENID sits at the tea-table.)

(Comes over to ENID.) There you are! I want a word or two with you. What the devil do 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! on 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. You have no claim to control me.

RYLOTT: I know exactly where you went. You went to the rooms of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, where you met Dr. Watson, who had 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 have you been saying about me? What did you go to consult Mr. Holmes about?

(ENID remains silent)

Díyou hear? What did you go about? By God, Iíll find a way to make you speak! (Seizes her by the arm) Come!

(Enter HOLMES)

HOLMES: Yes, sir?

RYLOTT: I did not ring for you.

HOLMES: I thought you called.

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

HOLMES: I beg your pardon, sir.

(He goes into the servants hall)

(RYLOTT goes to the door of the servants hall, looks through, then returns)

RYLOTT: Look here Enid, let us be sensible. I was too hot now. But you must realize the situation. Your wisest and safest course is complete submission. If you do what I tell you, there 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 motherís death. I want you of 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. 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 sign nothing until a lawyer has seen it.

RYLOTT: Promised? Promised whom?

ENID: I promised my fiancée.

RYLOTT: Oh! you did, did you? But why should lawyers come between you and me, Enid? I beg you ó I urge you to do what I ask (Opening out papers before her)

ENID: No, no. I cannot. I will not.

RYLOTT: Very good! Tell me the truth, Enid. I wonít be angry. What are your suspicions of me?

ENID: I have no suspicions.

RYLOTT: Did I not receive your fiancé with civility?

ENID: Yes, you did.

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

ENID: Yes, you have.

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

ENID: I donít suspect you.

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

ENID: I donít understand you.

RYLOTT: Donít you send out for help? Tell me the truth, child.


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 young hypocrite. Shall I read it to you? ďCome to me as soon as you can. Please hurry.Ē What did you mean by that? What did you mean, I say? (Clutching her arm.) None of your lies óout with it.

ENID: Keep your hands off me, you coward!

RYLOTT: Answer meó 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. Youíre a murdereróa murderer! We were left to your careó helpless girls. You have ill-used usóyou have tortured usónow you have murdered one of us, and you would do the same to me. You are a coward, a monster, a man fit only for the gallows!

RYLOTT: Youíll pay for this, you little devil! Get to your room.

ENID: I will. Iím not without friends, as you may find.

RYLOTT: Youíve 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? By God, Iíll twist your head off your shoulders if you cross me! (Seizes her by the neck.)

ENID: Help! Help!

(Enter HOLMES.)

HOLMES: Hands off, Dr. Rylott.

(RYLOTT releases ENID.)

You had best go to your room, young lady. Iíll see that you are not molested. Go at once, I tell you, go.

RYLOTT: You infernal villain. Iíll soon settle you.

(After ENID goes out, he runs to a rack at the side, gets a whip, opens the hall door, stands near it with his whip.)

Now, then, out you go! By George, youíll remember Stoke Moran.

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

RYLOTT: Youíll soon see what it is.

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

RYLOTT: Oh, indeed! must you? (Comes forward to him.)

HOLMES (taking out a revolver): Yes, sir! Youíll please put down that whip.

RYLOTT (falling back): You villain!

HOLMES: Stand right back, sir. Iíll take no risks with a man like you. Right back, I say! Thank you, sir.

RYLOTT: Rodgers! Ali! My gun!

(He runs into his study.)

HOLMES: Hurry up, Billy! No time to lose.

(Enter BILLY, as Amelia, from the servantsí hall.)

BILLY: Yes, Mr. Holmes.

(HOLMES and BILLY go out through the entrance hall.)

(Several shots are heard outside. RYLOTT rushes in from his study with his gun.)

(Enter ALl órunning in from outside.)

ALI: Stop, Sahib, stop!

RYLOTT: What were those shots?

ALI: The new butler, sir. He shoot Siva!

RYLOTT: Shot my dog! By God, Iíll teach him! (Rushes toward door.)

ALI: No, no, Sahib. He gone in darkness. What do you do? People come. Police come.

RYLOTT: Youíre right. (Puts gun down.) We have another game; Ali, you will watch outside Miss Enidís window to-night.

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

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


Scene 2
ENIDíS Bedroom, Stoke Place
ENID is discovered seated near the lamp at a small table near a window.  A knock is heard at the door

ENID: Who is there? 

RYLOTT (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 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 sisterís death until you have built up these fantastic suspicions against me. Tell me now Enid ó Iím 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? Couldnít you take me into your confidence as well as him? Is it 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 temperóI have often deplored it to you ó 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 to-night, 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 your 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 until you come to murder me.

RYLOTT: Upon my word, I think your brain is unhinged. Now, look here, Enid, be reasonable for a moment.

ENID: Whatís that?

RYLOTT: What is it, then?

ENID: I thought I heard a cry.

RYLOTT: Itís the howling of the wind. Listen to me. If there is friction between us ó and I donít for a moment deny that there is ówhy 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 legal paper I spoke of. Mrs. Staunton could witness it. All I want is your signature.

ENID: No, never.

RYLOTT: Never!

ENID: Unless my lawyer advises it.

RYLOTT: Is that final?

ENID (springing up): Yes, it is. I will never sign it.

RYLOTT: Well, 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. Youó (Pause.) Get to your bed and may you wake in a more rational mood to-morrow. 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?

(He goes out.)

(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? Is it 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. Itís not Ali! The face was white. Ah!

(The window opens and HOLMES enters.)

HOLMES: My dear young lady, I trust that I donít intrude. 

ENID: Oh, Mr. Holmes, Iím so glad to see you! Save me! save me! Mr. Holmes, they mean to murder me.

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

ENID: I had given up All hope of your coming.

HOLMES: These old-fashioned window-catches are most inefficient.

ENID: 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 her master also. It was after I sent you to your room. He threatened me with a whip.

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

HOLMES (feeling the walls): 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 take Billy when I can. Billy as messenger is invaluable.

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

HOLMES: Exactly. But the manís 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 to-night.

HOLMES: 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 friend?

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

ENID: How can I thank you for coming?

HOLMES: Youíll find Dr. Watson a useful companion on such an occasion. He has a natural turn for violence ó some survival of his surgical training. The wind is good. Its howling will cover all sounds. Just sit in the window, Watson, and see that our retreat 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, so far, has been admirable. Sit over here by the fire.

ENID: If he should comeó!

HOLMES: In that case answer him. Say that you have gone to bed. (Takes lamp from table.) A most interesting old room ó 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 blamed. His master controls him. He had to betray you. (Placing lamp down.)

ENID: It was my fault.

HOLMES: Well, well, it was an indiscretion, but it didnít matter. Let me see now, on this side is the room under repair. Quite so. Only one door. This leads into the passage?

ENID: Yes.

HOLMES: And that passage to the hall?

ENID: Yes.

HOLMES: Here is where the genial old gentleman sleeps when he is so innocently employed. Where is his door? 

ENID: Down the passage.

HOLMES: Surely I heard himó (A step is heard in the passage.)

ENID: Yes, itís his step.

(HOLMES holds his hat over the light. There is a knock at the door.)

RYLOTT (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.

(Pause. They all listen.)

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

ENID (crossing to door, listening): No, heís gone down the passage again 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 turn up the lamp. I am interested in this partition wall. (Standing on the bed.) 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 wallóin fact, a commonplace wall. Trap-door in the floor? (Kneels at one side of the bed, then the other.) No, nothing suspicious in that direction. Ancient carpeting ó (crossing round bed) ó oak wainscotónothing more. Hullo! (Pulling at bed-post.)

WATSON: Why, what is it?

HOLMES: Why is your bed clamped to the floor?

ENID: I really donít know.

HOLMES: Was the bed in your other room clamped? 

ENID: No, I donít think it was.

HOLMES: Very interesting. Most interesting and instructive. And this bell-pullówhere 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 donít know. There were some changes after we came here.

HOLMES: Quite a burst of activity, apparently. It took some strange shapes. (Standing on the 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. Might I trouble you for your knife? With your permission, Miss Stonor, I will make a slight alteration. (Stands on bed-head and cuts the bell-pull.)

WATSON: Why do you do that, Holmes?

HOLMES: Dangerous, Watson, dangerous. 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 ó Anglo-Indian.

WATSON: Well, Holmes?

HOLMES: 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. What is the music?

WATSON: A signal, Holmes.

HOLMES: A signal! A signal to whom?

WATSON: An accomplice.

HOLMES: Exactly. An accomplice who could enter a room with locked doorsó an accomplice who could give a sure death which leaves no trace. An accomplice who can only be attracted back by music.

ENID: Hush! he is gone to his room. 

(A door is heard to close outside.)

Listen! The door is shut.

HOLMES (as Watson is about to take up lamp): Keep the lamp covered, so that if the ventilator is opened no light will show. He must think the girl is asleep. Keep the dark lantern handy. We must wait in the dark. I fancy we shall not have long to wait.

ENID: I am so frightened.

HOLMES: It is too much for you.

WATSON: Can I do anything, Holmes?

HOLMES: You can hand me my hunting-crop. Hush! Whatís that?

(Flute music is heard.)

My stick, Watsonó quick, be quick! Now take the lantern. Have you got it? When I cry, ďNow!Ē turn it full blaze upon the top of the bell-rope. Do you understand?


HOLMES: Down that bell-rope comes the messenger of death. It guides to the girlís pillow. Hush! the flap!

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

(Cries sharply.) Now!

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

(The flute music stops.)

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 DR. RYLOTT in shirt and trousers, the snake round his head and neck.)

RYLOTT: Save me! save me!

(RYLOTT rushes in and falls on the floor. WATSONstrikes at the snake as it writhes across the room.)

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

HOLMES (looking at 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.


To put this volume back on the shelf, please click here.
The Diogenes Club:  (c) Copyright 1999-2002 The Diogenes Club All Rights Reserved