The Speckled Hide – Episode 1 – The Runaway


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Below we present the complete text of ‘The Runaway’, episode 1 of The Speckled Hide.

Gaslamp Mystery - GM003 - The Speckled Hide

Gaslamp Mystery – GM003 – The Speckled Hide

ACT 1

SCENE 1: INT. — PUBLIC BAR OF THE CRITERION HOTEL — MORNING (ELDER HOLMES, STAMFORD, YOUNG HOLMES, MARTHA, HELEN)

  1. MUSIC: [1] OPENING THEME — LET IT FINISH.
  2. ELDER HOLMES: As I look back over my life at the many and varied adventures I have undertaken, I am constantly amazed at how much it was possible to keep out of the public eye — especially after my biographer and friend, Dr John Watson, through Mr Conan Doyle, began popularizing the wholly fictitious tales about my life that the two of them concocted. In the end the fictitious nature of those stories did provide me with the smokescreen I required but I always worried that the subterfuge would ultimately fail. It is my fond hope that you, dear reader, living long after the true events have been forgotten, will belong to an age that is ready for the real truth. It is a sad thing, as I commented to Stamford on that long ago day in 1881, that our mastery of science has brought us no closer to understanding the many ancient and non-scientific dangers that continue to plague humanity. … I can only say that we continue to court such ignorance at our own very grave peril.
  3. SOUND: [5] (WALLA) PATRONS HAVING A FRIENDLY DRINK IN THE STAMFORD BAR — ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  4. MR STAMFORD: Gracious, Holmes. Is it typical for you to deal with such matters?
  5. YOUNG HOLMES: More or less, Stamford old boy. Sometimes things are a lot more pedestrian. As a consulting detective it is not always poltergeists, hauntings, and exorcisms… but it would probably surprise you to discover just how often it turns out to be something with a supernatural origin.
  6. STAMFORD: Well, Holmes, I’m incredibly grateful. To finally have that thing put to rest is a weight off my mind. The servants will be resting easy as well without that what-you-may-call-it throwing things around the kitchen and tumbling things out of the pantry.
  7. YOUNG HOLMES: It was a little matter really. A minor poltergeist. But I dare say it would have grown stronger if we had left it unchecked.
  8. STAMFORD: Regardless, I’m awfully grateful. I hope that this will be sufficient to cover your costs and expenses.
  9. SOUND: [10] SOUND OF PAPER CHANGING HANDS — LET IT FINISH.
  10. YOUNG HOLMES: Quite sufficient. Thank you.
  11. STAMFORD: I hear you’re doing quite well for yourself these days, Holmes… Why are you still in that horrible little room in Soho?
  12. YOUNG HOLMES: It’s true that I am finding regular employment these days as a consulting detective, but it is not sufficient, yet, to change my place of residence.
    Mycroft, my brother, as you may remember, is still furious with me for refusing to enter government service and, as the trustee of our parents’ estate, has cut me off.
  13. STAMFORD: But surely, Holmes, you could afford to share lodgings with someone.
  14. YOUNG HOLMES: Now, Stamford, who do you propose would be willing to share lodgings with me? I am, as you know, reputed to be singularly difficult to abide even in limited social encounters.
  15. STAMFORD: It’s funny you should ask, but a friend of mine, a military doctor, has been invalided back from the Anglo-Afghan war. He wishes to remain in London, but his finances do not allow him to take lodgings alone. Shared lodgings would suit him very well, and he has some “eccentricities” of his own, if it comes to it.
  16. YOUNG HOLMES: Oh? Very well, arrange a meeting.
  17. SOUND: [11] COMMOTION AND UPSET IN THE BAR — LET IT FINISH.
  18. MARTHA HUDSON: Seriously, in this day ’n age you’d’ve thought they’d stop trying to keep us out. ’tis a public bar after all.
  19. YOUNG HOLMES: Hello, Martha. I take it you’ve been keeping well the last day or two?
  20. MARTHA: Passably, Mr ’olmes. I take it from the paper in yer pocket that the exorcism went well?
  21. STAMFORD: Good Lord, man, I thought you were discreet. Does all London know of my doings?
  22. YOUNG HOLMES: Oh, do be sensible, Stamford. I didn’t tell Miss Hudson anything… you did.
  23. STAMFORD: (INCREDULOUS) I did? Don’t talk rot, man. If you are going to break confidences the least you could do is show some remorse when caught out.
  24. MARTHA: Oh, I am sorry, sir, but Mr ’olmes is right. It was you ’oo told me, just not with words.
  25. STAMFORD: (CONFUSED) I beg your pardon?
  26. MARTHA: I’m familiar with the work Mr ’olmes likes to involve ’imself in and seeing you sittin’ ’ere all disheveled so to speak, with candlewax on yer coat-sleeves and chalk still clingin’ to yer fingers, I assumed ’is most recent job was an exorcism. Given your reaction, I’d say my guess was right.
  27. YOUNG HOLMES: Oh, don’t look so pleased with yourself, Martha, and do sit down. People who hover always put me in a mood.
  28. STAMFORD: Oh Lord, yes. Where are my manners? Please join us.
  29. YOUNG HOLMES: And your nervous-looking friend? (RESIGNED) You’d best ask her to come sit with us as well.
  30. MARTHA: (ASIDE TO STAMFORD) ’e really doesn’t like bein’ shown up. (LOUDLY) Miss? Would you join us please?
  31. YOUNG HOLMES: And what have you brought me this time, Miss Hudson? No, wait. Let me guess…
  32. MARTHA: (TO NO ONE IN PARTICULAR) ’ere we go. Can’t allow ’imself to be outdone by the likes o’ me, can ’e? (TO HOLMES) Go on then. Tell us about ’er.
  33. HELEN STONER: Miss Hudson?
  34. MARTHA: It’s alright, deary. Mr ’olmes is just goin’ to show off fer a minute. We’ll attend to your business soon enough.
  35. YOUNG HOLMES: And on that note… our young guest is clearly wealthy. This year’s fashions and expensive jewellery. But not accustomed to the city I’d wager. She’s come to London from the country. Too young to be here unaccompanied, but the fact that she is in the clothes she was wearing yesterday suggests she is, nonetheless, on her own. A runaway, I’d wager.
    (TO HELEN) What is it that brings you to London, my dear? An unsympathetic guardian? An unwanted betrothal?
  36. HELEN: (ANGRY) Murder, Mr Holmes. I believe my sister was murdered and I would like you to investigate.
  37. YOUNG HOLMES: Miss Stoner, what makes you think your sister was murdered?
  38. HELEN: I didn’t give you my name.
  39. YOUNG HOLMES: Actually you did. Your surname is on the clasp about your throat and your sister died just over a year ago in circumstances that were irregular, according to the papers.
  40. HELEN: The papers stated my sister’s death was from natural causes.
  41. YOUNG HOLMES: True, but they described an illness of unknown origin that took her life in less than twenty-four hours.
  42. HELEN: You have a singular memory, Mr Holmes.
  43. YOUNG HOLMES: What makes you think it was murder?
  44. HELEN: My legal guardian, and the trustee of my estate, Dr Roylott, required my sister to move into his home one week prior to her twenty-first birthday.
  45. YOUNG HOLMES: At which time she would have become the beneficiary of her portion of the estate Roylott kept in trust?
  46. HELEN: Yes. Only she died during her stay with him.
  47. YOUNG HOLMES: And now?
  48. HELEN: Mr Holmes?
  49. YOUNG HOLMES: Forgive me, Miss Stoner, but your sister died over a year ago. What has rekindled your suspicions at this point in time?
  50. HELEN: Ah. I see. (BEAT) I received a letter from Dr Roylott, requiring that I come and spend the week leading up to my twenty-first birthday in his home as well.
  51. YOUNG HOLMES: And you suspect he will take the opportunity to… kill you, Miss Stoner?
  52. HELEN: I know it sounds silly by the light of day but…
  53. YOUNG HOLMES: Does your guardian stand to gain anything if you and your sister should pre-decease him?
  54. HELEN: Yes. The balance of the estate would fall to him.
  55. YOUNG HOLMES: I see. And what is it you would like me to do, Miss Stoner?
  56. HELEN: I would like you to investigate my sister’s death. I would like you to bring Dr Roylott to justice.
  57. YOUNG HOLMES: And how do you propose to pay for my services? You do not appear to be terribly financial at this point.
  58. HELEN: But I will be, once I come into my inheritance. Supposing I survive the week.
  59. HELEN: Well, Miss Stoner, I’m very sorry but I don’t see anything to interest me here.
  60. HELEN: But Mr Holmes…
  61. MARTHA: Mr ’olmes, please?
  62. YOUNG HOLMES: No. This is clearly a very pedestrian matter. Miss Stoner has let the unfortunate death of her sister play upon her imagination to the point that she has become a runaway. I do not think this is a business into which I should care to become entangled.
    (TO HELEN) My only advice to you, Miss, is that you get yourself home as soon as you are able. A week from now you will know one way or the other.
  63. HELEN: (ANGRY) And if you are mistaken and I die?
  64. YOUNG HOLMES: Then I will mourn your loss and bring your killer to justice. With time I am sure I will learn to live with my mistake. Good day!
  65. HELEN: (OUTRAGED) Good day, Mr Holmes!
  66. SOUND: [12] RETREATING FEMALE FEET — LET IT FINISH.
  67. MARTHA: I’m not done with you, Mr ’olmes. We’ll be ’avin words ’n shortly.
  68. YOUNG HOLMES: I look forward to it as ever, Miss Hudson.
  69. MARTHA: I’d best get after ’er. Hmmpf!
  70. SOUND: [12] FURTHER RETREATING FEMALE FEET — LET IT FINISH.
  71. MARTHA: (AT A DISTANCE FADING) Miss Stoner, please wait…
  72. STAMFORD: You could have been a little more sympathetic to the young woman, Holmes.
  73. YOUNG HOLMES: Don’t be ridiculous, Stamford. People don’t come to me looking for sympathy. They come to me looking for truth. It’s hardly a good use of my time to indulge people’s desires for sympathy. She got what she needed. A simple dose of truth. And I didn’t even charge her for it.
    (BEAT) Now about this chap looking for shared lodgings. What did you say his name was?
  74. STAMFORD: Watson. John Watson.
  75. MUSIC: [3] (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 2: INT. — HOLMES’ SOHO ROOM — THAT EVENING (YOUNG HOLMES, DR ROYLOTT)

  1. SOUND: [13] LOUD AND IMPATIENT KNOCKING ON DOOR — LET IT FINISH.
  2. YOUNG HOLMES: Dash it all. Consulting hours are between 9.00 and 11.00 each Tuesday and Thursday, not midnight! Come back in the morning.
  3. SOUND: [13] RENEWED IMPATIENT BANGING ON DOOR — LET IT FINISH.
  4. DR ROYLOTT: (SHOUTING THROUGH THE LOCKED DOOR) Open this door immediately or I will break it down.
  5. YOUNG HOLMES: I should warn you then, that I have a loaded pistol on this side of the door and no compunction about handing a corpse over to the police if forced to it.
  6. DR ROYLOTT: I have no fear of the police, sir. I have it on good authority that you are aware of the location of my ward, Miss Helen Stoner, and if you do not open this door this instant I will break it down, pistol be damned!
  7. YOUNG HOLMES: In that case…
  8. SOUND: [14] LOCK BEING THROWN OPEN — LET IT FINISH.
  9. YOUNG HOLMES: …there we are. What can I do for you, sir?
  10. DR ROYLOTT: (SPLUTTERING) What can you? For a start you can produce my ward.
  11. YOUNG HOLMES: I take it you believe I have… kidnapped her?
  12. DR ROYLOTT: Of course! Now produce her at once?
  13. YOUNG HOLMES: Sir, I am a consulting detective not a kidnapper. Now if you are inclined to engage me to recover your missing person…
  14. DR ROYLOTT: I know very well who you are, sir! And…
  15. YOUNG HOLMES: Very good. Then you know I do not do charity work. If you wish my help you will need to sign a contract.
  16. DR ROYLOTT: I’m warning you, Mr Holmes. See that poker by your hearth?
  17. SOUND: [15] METAL SCREECHING AS POKER IS BENT IN HALF — LET IT FINISH.
  18. DR ROYLOTT: If you don’t wish to end up the shape of that poker, you’ll start being a deal more cooperative.
  19. YOUNG HOLMES: Dr Roylott! And it is Dr Roylott, I presume. If you are hoping to intimidate me, you have chosen the wrong man.
    London is a very large city and should you wish to locate your ward it is going to take you some considerable time. I do not believe you have a lot of time, sir, and if you wish my help you will need to produce a retainer and sign this contract! …And I am adding the cost of the poker to it, by the way.
  20. DR ROYLOTT: This is extortion…
  21. YOUNG HOLMES: Of a sort. Yes!
  22. DR ROYLOTT: I see. You’re not a man easily cowed, are you? Alright, I suppose I can respect that. Give me the contract!
  23. SOUND: [16] SCRATCHING OF PEN ON PAPER. RUSTLE OF NOTES CHANGING HANDS – LET IT FINISH.
  24. DR ROYLOTT: There. I take it you’ll help me find her now.
  25. YOUNG HOLMES: Most assuredly. As you surmised I am fully aware of her location and will take you to her.
  26. DR ROYLOTT: Hmmpf. Good!
  27. YOUNG HOLMES: You should also be aware that your ward has engaged my services.
  28. DR ROYLOTT: What? When?
  29. YOUNG HOLMES: Just this morning actually. She wishes an investigation to be made regarding the death of her sister.
  30. DR ROYLOTT: Mr Holmes, I am not going to stand by and let you…
  31. YOUNG HOLMES: Oh, do calm down and let’s be off. Do you wish to see your ward or not?
  32. MUSIC: [3] (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH.

ACT 2

SCENE 3: INT. — CARRIAGE APPROACHING THE ROYLOTT ESTATE — THE FOLLOWING DAY (MARTHA, HOLMES, HELEN)

  1. SOUND: [6] (WALLA) CLIP-CLOP OF HORSES PULLING A CARRIAGE — ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. MARTHA: Alright, Mr ’olmes, enough with the smug looks. What changed your mind about Miss Stoner’s circumstances?
  3. YOUNG HOLMES: What makes you think my mind has been changed, Miss Hudson? Perhaps I simply thought it a lovely day for a trip to the country.
  4. MARTHA: You can’t abide the country! ’n you ne’er do anything without reason.
  5. YOUNG HOLMES: True enough.
  6. MARTHA: Oh no you don’t! I’m sick o’ seein’ ’ow pleased with yerself you are. Tell us exactly what changed yer mind or I’m going to swat you on the nose right ’ere and now.
  7. YOUNG HOLMES: You know, that’s just what I did to Miss Stoner’s guardian… metaphorically speaking. He’s a rather unpleasant sort, isn’t he?
  8. MARTHA: Well that almost goes without saying. Dr Roylott was in the most towerin’ o’ rages when ’e arrived with you last night… ’n when you said you’d be the one to bring Miss Stoner to ’is estate… and that you’d be stayin’ until she reached ’er majority as part o’ the investigation, I thought ’e’d up ’n die of apoplexy.
  9. YOUNG HOLMES: Yes. I did rather enjoy that moment.
  10. HELEN: Mr Holmes, you mustn’t underestimate my guardian. I believe him to be a most dangerous man. And you have made a bitter enemy of him regardless of how meek he appeared at the end.
  11. YOUNG HOLMES: Please, calm yourself, Miss Stoner. I don’t underestimate anybody.
  12. MARTHA: (STIFLING A LAUGH OF DERISION) Hmmpf!
  13. YOUNG HOLMES: (IGNORING MARTHA) Your guardian’s performance at my lodgings and his behavior afterwards have given me reason to reconsider my first assessment of your case.
  14. HELEN: I assumed something must have.
  15. YOUNG HOLMES: You’re quite afraid of him, aren’t you?
  16. HELEN: Yes, Mr Holmes. Yes, I am.
  17. YOUNG HOLMES: I couldn’t help noticing that pendant you have around your neck. Martha, do you recognize it?
  18. MARTHA: Oh my. I certainly do. They’re fairly rare, aren’t they?
  19. HELEN: This old thing? My nanny gave it to me when I was a child. What is it to you?
  20. MARTHA: Gypsies wear ’em for good luck. They’re supposed to be able to dispel ’ighly potent magicks.
  21. HELEN: Really? I never realized that my nanny went in for such superstition.
  22. YOUNG HOLMES: Then think nothing of it… though I would hide it away against your skin if I were you… rather than display it in the open.
  23. MARTHA: Returnin’ to Dr Roylott, Mr ’olmes, an unpleasant manner is ’ardly the makin’ of a killer.
  24. YOUNG HOLMES: And if it had just been his manner that offended me I would likely have disregarded the matter entirely, but it was not. He took my fire iron and bent it like a pretzel.
  25. HELEN: He what?
  26. MARTHA: (LIGHT DAWNING) Ohhhh! Now I see what caught yer attention. You think there’s somethin’ unnatural goin’ on.
  27. YOUNG HOLMES: I do! And I believe Miss Stoner’s sister may have thought so as well. In fact it shouldn’t surprise me if Dr Roylott is behind all of it. I am of a mind that he will attempt to kill all three of us before this affair is concluded.
  28. HELEN: (GASPS IN SHOCK) Oh!
  29. MARTHA: Well, there’s no need to sound so excited at the prospect, Mr ’olmes. It’s indecent.
  30. YOUNG HOLMES: Oh very well. It’s time we composed ourselves anyway, I believe we are about to arrive at our destination.
  31. HELEN: Good grief, Mr Holmes. Is that a snakeskin hanging over the gate? It’s enormous.
  32. HOLMES: It’s at least thirty feet long if it’s an inch and at least two feet around — a huge speckled hide. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
  33. MARTHA: You’re not about to quote Shakespeare at us again, are you?
  34. YOUNG HOLMES: I could, but it rather takes the fun out of it when you pre-empt me like that.
  35. MARTHA: Maybe fer you, Mr ’olmes. It does yer soul good t’ have the wind taken out o’ yer sails once in a while.
  36. MUSIC: [3] (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 4: INT. — THE ROYLOTT ESTATE — MOMENTS LATER (DR ROYLOTT, YOUNG HOLMES)

  1. DR ROYLOTT: [CUE] Welcome to my home. I will be plain. With the exception of my ward, Miss Stoner, I do not want you here. Nonetheless, the members of my domestic staff are at your service and will endeavor to treat you as honored guests. In the interests of maintaining my privacy I must ask you to please refrain from entering my private library, study, and cellars.
  2. YOUNG HOLMES: Dr Roylott, I have been engaged by your ward to conduct an investigation into the death one year ago in this house of Miss Stoner’s sister. I insist that you give us access to the entire house.
  3. DR ROYLOTT: You may insist all that you wish, Mr Holmes. This is my house and I have invited you here under sufferance. I am only entertaining this farce in so far as I have nothing to hide and wish your “investigation” to be over with as soon as possible. I will not, however, countenance any infringement of my privacy. Is that understood?
  4. YOUNG HOLMES: Hmpf. Perfectly, sir.
  5. DR ROYLOTT: Now, I must also warn you to avoid the grounds. I spent some time in India and have populated the grounds with some of the local fauna. They are not particularly dangerous unless you surprise them. However, they are wild and, like any cornered animal, will fight to protect themselves from a perceived threat.
  6. YOUNG HOLMES: I thought I detected a baboon or two in the trees as we entered.
  7. DR ROYLOTT: Yes, and there is a wolf, a number of snakes, and a few other animals besides. Do not say you were not warned.
    Now, Miss Stoner, I will lead you to your room. And, yes, it is the one in which your sister stayed. I wish you to see that there is nothing to fear in this house and that you have done me a great injury by your ridiculous mistrust.
  8. YOUNG HOLMES: I dare say. My associate, Miss Hudson, and I will accompany you as we need to make investigation of the room.
  9. DR ROYLOTT: (INTENSELY ANNOYED) As you wish!
  10. MUSIC: [3] (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH.

The Speckled Hide

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