The Unexpurgated Sherlock Holmes by Bob Bishop
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This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent
In the darkness, we hear the voice of Dr WATSON:
WATSON: After the miraculous return of my friend and colleague, Mr
Sherlock Holmes, from his apparent demise in Switzerland, we set up
home together once more in our old lodgings in Mrs Hudson's rooms in
Baker Street. It was so like old times, that for some considerable
period, I failed to notice several subtle changes in the manner and
habits of my old friend. Gradually, however, I came to perceive that
those lost years of which he never spoke had left an indelible
mark upon him. He was less mercurial of spirit, less prone to
brooding, and most happily less dependant upon his old
addictions to morphine and cocaine. He would constantly surprise me
with new twists to his personality, and, in truth, I began to realise
that I scarcely knew the man at all. There was one case in particular
which even shattered my image of him as a confirmed misogynist. In my
notes, I referred to it as The Case of the Stolen Suspender
Lights up on:
Scene One: The Consulting Rooms of Sherlock Holmes, 221b Baker St.
DR WATSON is seated at the breakfast table, eating some hot buttered
toast. A lean man in an ill-fitting Ulster and sporting a deer-stalker
hat is pacing up and down. This man is INSPECTOR LESTRADE of Scotland
LESTRADE: The question is, my dear Watson, what is going on?
WATSON: What indeed?
LESTRADE: Someone is making a monkey out of the official police.
WATSON: Jolly good. Are you sure you wouldn't like a slice of
LESTRADE: How is it done, that's what I want to know?
WATSON: Toasting fork, I think.
LESTRADE: And who is behind it?
WATSON: Mrs Hudson.
LESTRADE: Mrs Hudson?
WATSON: Oh yes she makes all our toast. She's a dab hand at
LESTRADE: Toast? What are you talking about? Have you been listening
to a word I have been saying?
WATSON: Of course I have.
LESTRADE: So what's the answer?
WATSON: Dunno. What's the question?
LESTRADE strikes the top of the table in frustration. A slice of
toast leaps into the air to be neatly caught and eaten by WATSON.
SHERLOCK HOLMES enters the room.
LESTRADE: Ah! There you are at last, Holmes!
HOLMES: Inspector Lestrade! What a surprise! What an honourwhat
are you wearing?
LESTRADE: This is the very latest thing, Mr. Holmes. All the best
detectives are wearing these togs.
HOLMES: And some of the second-best, also, apparently. Well, well,
Inspector, won't you sit down? I had no idea the Yard rose so early.
I trust Dr Watson has been entertaining you?
LESTRADE: After his fashion.
WATSON: Oh, I say!
HOLMES: I presume your presence here indicates that the police are
baffled over some ingenious felony? Or have you merely dropped in for
breakfast? Butter our guest some toast, Watson.
WATSON: He doesn't want any toast.
LESTRADE: I don't want any toast.
HOLMES: To business, then. Fire away. I hope it's something
LESTRADE: Organised crime, Mr Holmes; theft on a large scale.
HOLMES: How large?
LESTRADE: The Podmore Rubies, the Lullington-Smith Tiara
HOLMES: The Ravenstone Diamonds
LESTRADE: You know?
HOLMES: I read the papers.
LESTRADE: Then you'll help?
HOLMES: No. We have a full case load at the moment, don't we,
WATSON: Do we?
HOLMES: Perhaps you would like my advice?
LESTRADE: Anything, Mr Holmes, anything.
HOLMES: Obtain some lighter footwear, for yourself and for your
LESTRADE: I beg your pardon?
HOLMES: On every occasion in the past when I have deemed to assist
you, I have had my task rendered doubly difficult by the number of
regulation size elevens that have got there before me and rampaged all
over the evidence. Employ some men with smaller feet or preferably
no feet at all and I may consider helping you out again in the
LESTRADE: Is that what you call advice?
HOLMES: It is very good advice, Lestrade. Take it to heart.
LESTRADE: It is a calculated insult! How dare you! How dare you
speak in those condescending terms to a professional detective?
Youyouamateur meddler! You and your fat, poncy, toast-guzzling
WATSON: I say! Steady on!
LESTRADE: You think I need your help? Let me tell you, I could solve
this case stark naked, standing on my head, with both my hands tied
behind my back!
HOLMES: What an appealing picture.
LESTRADE: I came to you out of pity yes, pity for an old
friend on his uppers who could do with a helping hand. Well, you can
forget it! Forget it! Scotland Yard can manage without your
assistance, matey! We shall have this little number tied up before
you've finished your Post Toasties. Good day to you, Mr Holmes.
LESTRADE sweeps off, L
WATSON: You were splendid, Holmes, Splendid! That was really telling
him. He called me a fat ponce!
WATSON: Well, I'd better finish my breakfast so that we can get
WATSON: On that huge case-load you told Lestrade about. I was a
little surprised, actually, because I thought we were a bit on the
slack side. It's jolly good to know we have a full case load.
HOLMES: We don't.
WATSON: We don't?
WATSON: Anything at all?
WATSON: Well, why didn't we take Lestrade's case, then?
HOLMES: It failed to interest me, Watson, it failed to interest me.
Why should I concern myself with run-of-the-mill thefts? I will be
honest with you; I have not found a case to really tax my intellect
since that scuffle at the Reichenbach Falls. In James Moriarty I had
an opponent worthy of my skills; now he is gone, whence will come such
another? I am bored, Watson. You will find a needle in that drawer. Be
so kind as to hand it to me.
WATSON: Oh no! Not the needle! Not the cocaine again! I have begged
you, Holmes, as your colleague, as your friend, as your
physician.Don't do it, old man, don't do it. I won't let
HOLMES: Stop blathering, Watson I only want to sew up my
WATSON: Your jacket?
HOLMES: There is a small hole in the pocket lining. All my pencils
keep dropping through.
WATSON: Oh, that sort of needle! Oh, that's all right, then.
HOLMES begins to repair his lining, whilst WATSON crunches on more
You ought to get Mrs Hudson to do that.
WATSON: Wellshe's a woman.
HOLMES: You old dinosaur, Watson! Anything a woman can do, so can a
WATSON: Almost anything.
HOLMES: Yes. Almost anything.
WATSON: (Looking at the paper) I see we are in for an early winter.
WATSON: The correspondents from Barking and Hove have noticed
squirrels hoarding their nuts already.
HOLMES: Is that so? Under the circumstances, then, you were wise to
go back to your long winter underwear this morning.
WATSON: You still astound me at times, Holmes. How on earth could
you have deduced that?
HOLMES: Not difficult really, Watson you have forgotten to put
on your trousers.
WATSON gets up from behind the table. He has, indeed, forgotten his
WATSON: Good Lord! Ipray excuse me, Holmes.
WATSON hurries from the room. HOLMES smiles, and carries on sewing.
Eventually he snaps off the thread, and places the needle down on an
upright chair. He goes over to the mantelpiece and begins to load his
pipe with tobacco from his Turkish slipper. MRS HUDSON enters to clear
the breakfast things.
HOLMES: Are you still fooling about over there without your
HUDSON: No, Mr Holmes, I'm clearing the breakfast table.
HOLMES: Oh, it's you, Mrs Hudson. I thought you were Dr Watson. He
is becoming very absent-minded of late.
HUDSON: I know. I just met 'im on the landing. 'Ee'll forget
something important one of these days, see if he don't. Will you
an' the doctor be wantin' lunch today, sir?
HOLMES: I'm not sure, Mrs H. It all depends upon what might or
might not arrive with the morning's post.
HUDSON: Well, there's always a little something for you an' the
doctor in my pot, you know that. Will there be anything further for
HOLMES: No, no. Please carry on.
MRS HUDSON bustles out with the tray. There is a loud crash from
HUDSON: (Off) Oh, Dr Watson!
WATSON enters, betrousered.
WATSON: I just bumped into Mrs Hudson.
HOLMES: I heard.
WATSON: I'll just take another squint at the Times.
HOLMES: Do that.
WATSON reads. HOLMES picks up his violin and plays a few notes.
You know, Watson, they don't make fiddles like these any more.
WATSON: The new ones are probably in tune.
HOLMES: This one used to belong to a one-legged sea captain who used
to play it out on deck on starry nights to charm the mermaids.
WATSON: I'll buy it: how did you work that out?
HOLMES: He was my grandfather. This is my only memento of him.
WATSON: Shame he didn't leave you his wooden leg instead.
HOLMES: Is that a snide comment on my playing?
WATSON: No, no.
HOLMES: (Putting down the fiddle) Oh, this is intolerable! Why is
there no excitement in my life? Why does nothing happen any more?
Suddenly the door is thrown open, and AMELIA PRUDE enters rapidly.
She is a striking young woman. She throws herself at WATSON, who is
nearest the door.
AMELIA: Mr Holmes! Mr Holmes! You must help me!
HOLMES: Gladly when you have finished with Dr Watson.
AMELIA: Dr Watson?
HOLMES: What appears to be the matter? Something must surely be
seriously amiss to explain your precipitous and unannounced entry?
AMELIA: Oh, Mr Holmes, I don't know which way to turn.
HOLMES: Pray calm yourself, and take a seat.
AMELIA sits on the spare chair, and rises again immediately, with a
HOLMES: That's where I left my needle. Watson would you?
WATSON plucks the needle from the back of ALELIA's skirt.
WATSON: Got it! (Holds it up) You really ought to be more careful,
HOLMES: I apologise profusely.
WATSON: Would you like a plaster on it?
AMELIA: No thank you. It was just a shock.
AMELIA examines the chair closely before sitting again, gingerly.
HOLMES: Perhaps we could begin again? Won't you tell us who you
AMELIA: It may surprise you, Mr Holmes, to know that I am a Prude.
WATSON: Are you?
HOLMES: One of the Norfolk Prudes?
HOLMES: An ancient and honourable family.
AMELIA: Quite. We came over with the Conqueror, you know.
WATSON: How was the trip?
HOLMES: William the Conqueror, Watson.
AMELIA: I am consulting you, Mr Holmes, because I have heard that
you know how to be discrete
HOLMES gestures modestly and nods
Then I may tell you that over the centuries our family has amassed
some quite valuable pieces of jewellery
AMELIA: Many of the pieces have great sentimental value, also.
HOLMES: I can imagine. But pray get to the point.
AMELIA: Well, I had just retired to bed last evening when I heard a
slight sound by my window. I was alert in seconds, my eyes straining
to penetrate the darkness
AMELIA: After a while I was able to make out a shadowy figure. It
was a man! In my boudoir!
WATSON: An intruder!
HOLMES: What was he doing?
AMELIA: He was going through my drawers.
HOLMES: Do you have them with you?
AMELIA passes HOLMES a pair of drawers she had concealed about her
person. HOLMES studies them, then passes them to Watson.
HOLMES: Put these on the table, Watson.
WATSON: Will they fit?
HOLMES: On top of the table.
WATSON: Oh, right.
HOLMES: Have you any idea what he was looking for?
AMELIA: Yes, Mr Holmes.
HOLMES: What was it?
AMELIA whispers in his ear.
WATSON: Well, Holmes, what was the scoundrel after?
HOLMES: Her suspenders.
WATSON: HER SUSPENDERS??!!
WATSON: Really Holmes! Are you pulling my leg?
HOLMES: If you would excuse me, one moment?
AMELIA: Of course.
HOLMES takes WATSON aside and speaks to him in a low voice:
HOLMES: What are suspenders, Watson?
WATSON: You don't know?
HOLMES: Would I be asking?
WATSON: Well, they're sort of little dangly things that ladies
have hanging from their corsets.
WATSON: Why what?
HOLMES: Why do they have little dangly things hanging from their
WATSON: Gosh, Holmes, you are green!
HOLMES: Just tell me!
WATSON: They clip them to the tops of their stockings.
HOLMES: Whatever for?
WATSON: To hold them up, of course! How did you think ladies'
stockings were kept up?
HOLMES: I didn't think about it. Well, Watson, you are a fund of
obscure knowledge. What would I do without you?
HOLMES claps WATSON on the back and returns to AMELIA
HOLMES: Sorry about that. Urgent business.
AMELIA: Of course.
HOLMES: Well now. You believe that your intruder was searching
through your underclothes in order obtain those little dangly things
that hold up your stockings?
AMELIA: My suspenders, yes. Do we have to keep saying it?
HOLMES: How can you be certain that that is what he was after? It
seems an unlikely prize.
AMELIA: This was no ordinary set ofsuspenders. The clips were
solid gold, encrusted with diamonds. I had them made up from jewels
left me by my grand-mamma, so that I could always keep them close to
HOLMES: I see. Pray continue your most interesting narrative. What
did you do when you saw your intruder?
AMELIA: I screamed. Very loudly. Quick as a flash, the man turned
and leaped out of the window. By the time I got over to look out, he
was nowhere to be seen.
HOLMES: Did he escape with anything?
AMELIA: Yes, Mr Holmes one of my gold suspender clips.
WATSON: The cad!
HOLMES: Can you describe the missing clip exactly?
AMELIA: I can do better than that, Mr Holmes: I can show you the
other one of the pair. Look
AMELIA stands and raises her skirts to show the suspender clip on
her right leg. (Or her left, if more convenient all round.)
WATSON: My word, yes. That's a beauty!
HOLMES: Yes, Watson and look at the gold suspender clip.
HOLMES has whipped out his magnifying glass for a better look.
AMELIA lowers her skirts.
What do you think, Watson? Should we take the case?
WATSON: I'm in!
HOLMES: Very well, Miss Prude. Dr Watson and I will be glad to help
Is there anything else you would like to show us?
AMELIA: Yes, Mr Holmes. This morning, in the light of day, I
discovered that my intruder had dropped something in his rush to
AMELIA: A cuff link. I have it here.
AMELIA passes HOLMES a cuff-link from her purse.
HOLMES: Thank you. This cuff-link is most instructive.
AMELIA: Is it a clue?
HOLMES: Oh, yes. Well, I think we shall soon have our hands upon
your jewels. If you would like to return to your carriage, we shall
call upon you in Norfolk later today; as soon, in fact, as we have put
a few things together.
AMELIA: I am so grateful. Here is my card.
HOLMES: Thank you.
HOLMES rings a small bell. MRS HUDSON enters at once, almost as
though she had been listening at the door.
HUDSON: Did you ring?
HOLMES: Yes, Mrs Hudson.
HUDSON: I thought you did.
HOLMES: Our visitor is ready to leave. Please show her to her
carriage. Goodbye, Miss Prude,
AMELIA: Goodbye, Mr Holmes. Dr Watson.
HUDSON: This way, Miss. Mind your step on the stairs I bin
Exeunt AMELIA and MRS HUDSON. There is a cry, and a series of bumps
as might be caused by a person falling down a flight of stairs.
HOLMES: Well, there goes Miss Prude.
WATSON: And we're going to help her?
HOLMES: No. Mrs Hudson will dust her down.
WATSON: To recover her jewels, I mean.
HOLMES: Yes, we are.
WATSON: I thought we weren't going to concern ourselves with
HOLMES: That's what you think this is?
WATSON: Isn't it?
HOLMES: No. What did you make of our visitor, then, Watson?
HOLMES: No doubt. But what is she up to?
WATSON: Up to?
HOLMES: She is playing with us! Playing with us, like a kitten with
a couple of mice!
WATSON: Is she?
HOLMES: Well, she will find that her mice have teeth! Suspender
clips, indeed! Did she think I was born yesterday?
WATSON: I must have missed something.
HOLMES: As usual, you missed everything. First, she is no miss.
HOLMES: There was the mark of a wedding ring on the third finger of
her left hand. Then there were her knickers
WATSON: Her knickers? Oh I say, Holmes..!
HOLMES: Not the ones she was wearing the ones she produced as
WATSON: These? What about them?
HOLMES: You don't think they're on the large side?
WATSON: Gosh, yes! Not hers, then?
HOLMES: Absolutely not. Then there was the matter of the suspender
WATSON: Quite an array. Worth a fortune.
HOLMES: How difficult is it to remove a suspender clip?
WATSON: Well, I've never actually tried, Holmes. But it would be
tricky. They're sewn onI should think.
HOLMES: So what thief would take the trouble to cut off a single
clip, when he could have stuffed the whole garment in his pocket and
made off with both?
WATSON: Yes. That is jolly odd, now you mention it.
HOLMES: And oddest of allthis. (Passes WATSON the cuff-link)
WATSON: The cuff link.
HOLMES: The cuff-link the thief conveniently dropped. A silver
letter "M." Where have we seen such a link before?
WATSON: Beats me.
HOLMES: Professor Moriarty had just such a pair!
WATSON: But he's deadisn't he?
HOLMES: Oh yes.
WATSON: Then what
HOLMES: His cuff-links can live on after him, can they not?
WATSON: I suppose so. Isn't that a bit of a coincidence, though?
HOLMES: Too much of one. This cuff-link is bait, Watson.
WATSON: And we're about to swallow it, are we?
HOLMES: How could we not?
WATSON: I was afraid so.
HOLMES: Where is that visiting card?
WATSON: You've got it.
HOLMES: "Amelia Prude, Prude Hall, Slingham, Norfolk." It seems
we shall be getting some country air in our lungs.
MRS HUDSON returns
Did you show the young lady to her carriage, Mrs Hudson?
HUDSON: Yes. Hansom.
HOLMES: Thank you.
HUDSON: No it was a hansom, not a carriage.
HOLMES: Was it indeed? Interesting. It seems the doctor and I will
not be in for lunch after all, Mrs Hudson.
HOLMES: We're going to Slingham, in Norfolk.
HUDSON: Serve you right if you break 'em. (Exit)
HOLMES: Strange woman. Come along, Watson. Bring your medical kit
and your revolver; I fear we may have need of both.
WATSON: So, the game's afoot, eh, Holmes?
HOLMES: Yes, Watson: the game's afoot!
[end of extract]
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