Sherlock Holmes and the Devil's Tallyman

Sherlock Holmes and the Devil's Tallyman

ACT ONE SCENE ONE
Professor McAllister’s sitting room. Interior. Morning.
A clock ticks loudly, and strikes seven. The room is still quite dark. Irene enters, dressed as a boy. She looks cautiously around and enters the room. She walks over to the window and looks it over. She looks down and follows a trail of footprints back to where McAllister’s body lay. She looks back to the window, then at the door.

She walks over to the table between the door and McAllister’s death position. She examines the ground carefully, running her fingers over it, and finds a long loose hair. She holds it up to the light, examines it carefully, then fishes out an envelope and pockets it. She goes over to sideboard, pulls out a handkerchief and carefully runs the andkerchief along it, then checks it.

She walks over to the door, and examines the handle. She looks about the room, and walks over to where the Tallyman stood, running her hand over the floor.

She walks through a side door and emerges a few minutes later, rubbing ash from her fingers in one hand. In the other is a balled up piece of paper and an envelope. She wipes the ashen hand on her trouser leg, straightens out the paper and holds it up. She folds it and places it in her pocket, along with the envelope.

She stands and pulls off her cap, running her fingers through her hair.

IRENE
Impossible. Impossible.

Fade to black. A clock strikes nine.

Fade up up on Irene sat in deep though, her cap on once again. Mrs. Jenkins leads Dr.Watson into the room.

Mrs. JENKINS
I’ll fetch her down presently, Dr. Watson. It’s been quite a to do.

Irene reacts at the sound of Watson’s name.

WATSON
I’m sure.

Mrs. JENKINS
The McAllister’s have not long been in England. Have you been to America?

WATSON
No. No, I’ve not.

Mrs. JENKINS
Mr. Holmes said as you was a well travelled gentlemen when he recommended you. Of course, I took his advice. Whose else was there to take? You’re good friends, I take it?

WATSON
As good as ever there were, although we’ve not spoken much of late. Until this morning I had thought him still residing in the Sussex countryside, to be entirely honest. He keeps bees there. From time to time I see monographs appear in the papers. His apiary is quite famous, apparently.

Mrs. JENKINS
Hm. Not one for writing, is he?

WATSON
The truth to be told, no.

Mrs. JENKINS
Ah well. There’s them as cares and shows it and them as does and don’t. Mr. Jenkins was like that, God bless him and keep him. Never one for flowers or a kind word, but a rock all the same.

WATSON
Quite. Er, the patient ..?

Mrs. JENKINS
Miss Emily’ll be awake presently. Under the circumstances I thought she’d best be left sleeping. If you’ll be so kind as to wait …

Mrs. Jenkins turns to leave.

WATSON
Excuse me …

Mrs. JENKINS
Doctor?

WATSON
This is the sitting room? The only sitting room?

Mrs. JENKINS
It is.

WATSON
But surely … I understand from the newspapers that this is the room in which Professor McAllister and Mr. Norton were murdered?

Mrs. JENKINS
Professor McAllister. Poor Mr. Norton was killed in the hall. Did you not see the bloodstain?

WATSON
I saw some wet carpet … it has been pointed out to me that I often see, but do not observe.

Irene smiles.

Mrs. JENKINS
You can scrub and scrub, but the truth is that blood never washes out. I’ve cleared out as best I could in here, as well, as much as the Police’d allow. The stains were much worse here, and there was damage from the struggle, so you can still make it out, footprints and all. I’d not have thought, from your stories, that such things would be a bother to you.

WATSON
No. No, of course.

Mrs Jenkins sniffs loudly, and exits. Irene rises.

IRENE
Dr. Watson.

WATSON
Good Lord!

IRENE
It’s been a long time.

WATSON
I’ll say! Irene Adler!

IRENE
Norton, Dr. Watson. I married, remember?

WATSON
Yes, yes, you did. Norton! Oh my Lord, it never even occurred to me … your clothes … why did Mrs. Jenkins not-

IRENE
Yes. I’d appreciate it if you kept my presence here quiet. You see ... Very early this morning a grave policeman came and raised me from my bed, and sat me down, and as kindly and as gently as he knew how to told that my husband had been murdered.

WATSON
How horrible for you.

IRENE
As you say. I cried. Who would not? I cried and demanded to be brought here, to see for myself.

WATSON
He would not allow you?

IRENE
He was firm, and kind, and utterly infuriating. So I went meekly to my bed, appropriated these clothes from my houseboy’s wardrobe and walked out past him as he drank tea in my parlour and flirted with my maid. I came in here through the scullery, past the policeman at the front, like a common thief, and have crept about since, looking and thinking. So, again, if you would be so kind as keep my presence here a secret …

WATSON
Of course. But you cannot expect to indefinitely remain here undetected.

IRENE
I have nearly done. Mr. Holmes is not with you?

WATSON
No. No, as you must have overheard, I have little seen him of late. It is a surprise to me that he is here in London again. I had thought him quite retired. He was not mentioned in this morning’s papers. Had he not recommended my practice, I’d be little wiser of his presence now. Young Miss Emily.

IRENE
A weak and consumptive child, by all accounts. She has had quite a shock.

In the distance a bell rings twice.

No doubt you’ll prescribe a tonic and rest. In my experience that seems to be the better part of a doctor’s advice.

WATSON
There is a little more to my profession than that, Mrs. Norton.

IRENE
I’m sorry. I am a little … tired.

WATSON
I am not surprised. I prescribe a tonic and rest.

Irene laughs. Watson reaches into his pocket and pulls out a hip flask.

Or a tonic, at least.

Irene takes the flask.

IRENE
Dr. Watson. Is it your normal custom to ply women with drink of a morning?

WATSON
Under ordinary circumstances, no.

Irene takes a swig, and passes the flask back. He pockets it again.

IRENE
Thank you. I have a problem.

WATSON
Of course. It must be a terrible, terrible time for you. If I can be of any help …

IRENE
Again, thank you. But I will make my own arrangements, and grieve in my own time. And you must not think me cold, Doctor, if now, right now, at this time, I appear unmoved. I loved my husband very much. More fully than I can express with traitor words, at any rate. He was … He was very much unlike myself. He was simple, and I do not belittle him with that. He was honest, and forthright, and decent and he burned, good Doctor, with what he felt. He burned. If it had been I lying with my skull stove in at the foot of that stair, he would be inconsolable, eaten away with his loss. I know it. I know it. And I … I sit here trespassing in stolen clothes complaining that there is something I do not understand.

WATSON
You have quite lost me …

IRENE, gathering herself
Two weeks ago, Professor Euclides McAllister arrived here from America, hired this house and the services of the redoubtable Mrs. Jenkins and immediately sought legal representation. He approached my husband, a partner in a small local legal practice.

WATSON
I had no idea you had both returned to England.

IRENE
Four years ago. And in that time, as we have been quite law-abiding and wholly uninvolved with Princes of Bohemia or other such lowlifes, we have enjoyed a peaceful life. Had enjoyed. I shall be tripping on my tenses for some time, I fear.

WATSON
It doesn’t matter.

IRENE
No. No, perhaps not. Professor McAllister sought advice on an invention he had brought with him from the United States. His computational engine. You have read of it, no doubt? A machine that thinks, or appears to.

WATSON
“ The Devil’s Tallyman.”

IRENE
Or Lucifer’s Abacus, or the Mephistopheles Machine, yes. Your taste in reading material betrays you, Doctor. McAllister made wild claims, that it could solve any mathematical problem laid before it. He wished to raise money on it.

WATSON
He had no patent on it?

IRENE
That was Godfrey’s advice, which McAllister seemed loath to heed, although he allowed Godfrey to hold the plans for it in his office. On his instruction, my husband contacted various embassies and interested parties. Last night, a demonstration was held here, for those parties, including, for some reason, your Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

WATSON
You spoke with Holmes?

IRENE
Barely. He acknowledged me, briefly, but spent the evening with his brother Mycroft, who also attended. I do believe he has been avoiding me. I attended, but left early. I was tired, and afflicted with a headache. This was at perhaps half-past eight. Later – past eleven – I received a telephone message. The demonstration had been a success, and all interested parties had tendered their offers and had left. My husband had drunk more than he had planned, and the Professor wished to speak further with him in any event, and he had decided to stay over. This was … unusual. My husband and I have barely spent a day apart since we were wed. But something had been bothering my poor Godfrey recently, although he would not tell me what.

WATSON
Mycroft Holmes. Only something of great importance would drag him from the comfort of his club and his routine. Do you not know of him?

IRENE
A little.

WATSON
As Holmes is to private detection his brother is to government and intrigue. He sits at the heart of it, advising the great and powerful. He is a formidable man. If he is involved … This machine the Tallyman, this Computational Engine … what was it like?

IRENE
A large, crude wooden box, with a lever at its side, topped with gears and wires, and with a small hatch, or drawer, in its front. Unpreposing, and large, with a speaking tube upon its top. Heavy looking. It looked very heavy.

WATSON
What was its method of operation?

IRENE
Professor McAllister called for a volunteer, at the beginning of the evening, to pose a problem.

WATSON
What manner of problem?

IRENE
The professor asked for someone to pick a phrase, or quotation, of his own choice. A gentleman named Farouk, an agent of an undisclosed power, agreed.

WATSON
Agreed?

IRENE
“ Come, come, will no-one test my machine?” he had asked. I’m not sure any in the room at that point, considered him any differently than had those newspapers you have read – as the creator of a toy, a thinking-man’s lantern show, as a showman. “You sir!” he said. He picked out Farouk. He then took him into the small study adjoining, asking him to transcribe the phrase into a code.

WATSON
Just like that?

IRENE
“ I am not a learned man,” he’d objected. “How am I to do this?” “No one here’s a plumb fool. Substitute letters for numbers, or for other letters, in whatever manner or way takes your fancy,” the Professor answered him, “Just make it logical. There’s pencil and paper for laid out for you to use. My machine looks for patterns and trends and can smash any code you can make, I’ll wager” And Farouk looked thoughtful and went to his small work. Two minutes later, he came out, paper in hand and puffing on a fat cigar. The professor pulled the small lever, upon which the machine started to tick, like a clock, and Farouk was directed to read aloud into the speaking tube.

WATSON
I see.

IRENE
He did, and then after a moment there was a grinding, like gears. ”All right then, ladies and gentlemen!” said the Professor, “We’re just going to have to wait here for my little invention to do its thing! I’ve got a fine dinner waiting for you, so if you’ll care to just follow me into the dining room ..” And like sheep, amused sheep, we did. Soon after, my headache began, and I left.

Mrs. Jenkins enters.

Mrs. JENKINS
Miss Emily is dressing and will be down soon – oh! Who might you be, boy?

WATSON
Mrs. Jenkins! This is … er, this is …

Irene removes her hat and lets her hair fall down.

IRENE
Hello, Mrs. Jenkins. Dr. Watson let me in.

Mrs. JENKINS
No, I would have heard … Why are you dressed ..? No, I won’t pry. God alone knows you’ve had a terrible shock. No, I won’t pry.

She turns to leave.

IRENE
Mrs. Jenkins?

Mrs. Jenkins is trying not to look at Irene.

Mrs. JENKINS
Mrs. Norton?

IRENE
I need to ask you about last night.

Mrs. JENKINS
Last night?

IRENE
From the time I left. In your own words.

Mrs. JENKINS
Well, after you left … Mr. Holmes received a messenger and was called briefly away …

WATSON
A messenger? On what business?

Mrs. JENKINS
Lord knows, Doctor, and I certainly was never one to pry. Some urchin or other. Anyway, then when Mr. Holmes came back, when everybody’s done and finished, all ups and goes back to the study, as the Professor says his toy will have done its calculating. Horrible thing. He wouldn’t let me near it, you know, even to dust it. Anyhow, the Professor pulls a lever on the side of it and there’s a clattering, like a typewriter, and he asks for someone to look in the little slot – there’s a little slot on the front of it, Doctor, like a drawer?

WATSON
So I understand.

Mrs. JENKINS
No one says anything, and Mr. Holmes steps forward and reaches into the drawer and brings out a little card, and hands it to Farouk. “Is that what you’d written, Mr. Farouk?” asks the Professor, but no-one doubts. His face was a picture – nearly white with surprise, it was. Later on I saw him trying to get the Professor alone – he kept reaching for his chequebook and I heard him saying, “I must have it, I must have it!” Foreign blood’s excitable, as Mr. Jenkins was fond to remark. Mr. Holmes almost had to pull him away.

WATSON
I still don’t see what Holmes was doing there. He had retired.

Mrs. JENKINS
He’s been a caller since Professor McAllister arrived. I don’t know their business. It’ not my place-

IRENE
To pry. Yes, yes.

Mrs. JENKINS
Some was impressed with what they seen, some thought it was a waste of time. By eleven only a handful remained. Those who were interested had tendered their offers, and off they went. Only your poor husband, the poor Professor and Mr. Holmes remained, and Mr. Holmes didn’t stay for long. Mr. Norton would have gone, but the Professor insisted. He said he wanted to discuss the theft.

IRENE
The theft?

Mrs. JENKINS
Of the papers from your husband’s office … you didn’t know? It was in the week. A burglar broke in and took the plans for the Tallyman and the petty cash.

WATSON
There was no report in the papers. It cannot have been reported to the Police.

IRENE
It would have been kept very quiet. There would be serious repercussions for my husband’s work if it were discovered that papers were not secure. Not wonder he was distracted.

Mrs. JENKINS
I’ll say. Much more so than the Professor, it seemed to me. Anyway, the Professor then bid me bank the fire here in the sitting room and dismissed me for the night. They had work, he said. They was up another hour, perhaps, I’d guess. I sleep poorly since Mr. Jenkins left me, and I fancy I heard Mr. Norton on the stair just after twelve.

IRENE
How did you know it was him?

Mrs. JENKINS
His cough. Deep, it was. I fell asleep soon after.

IRENE
And … later?

Mrs. JENKINS
Ah yes.

IRENE
It was just at four o’clock, I believe. The … business.

Mrs. JENKINS
Just on four. Well, first I know of it’s a shout, then, moments later, Miss Emily’s scream.

IRENE
Whose shout?

Mrs. JENKINS
What?

IRENE
Who shouted out?

Mrs. JENKINS
It didn’t sound like the Professor. It must have been Mr. Norton. It sounded like Mr. Norton, not like the Professor’s Yankee sing-song.

IRENE
I see.

Mrs. JENKINS
Then a fight, and Miss Emily’s scream! I got onto the landing to see Miss Emily in a faint and in time to see Mr. Norton’s assailant flee out of the wide open front door. Little he was, whip thin. Dark hair. A foreigner. It was me as called the Police.

IRENE
You’ve been very industrious. Very conscientious.

Mrs. JENKINS
I does my very best, always. My references will bear me out.

IRENE
I have no doubt. After the murder, when you cleaned in here –

Mrs. JENKINS
I’ll be blown if I’ll go to bed with blood and dirt settling into the carpet!

IRENE
No, no, please. First - Did you polish the doorknob?

Mrs. JENKINS
Did I polish the doorknob?

IRENE
Yes. Yes. Did you polish it?

Mrs. JENKINS looks at her blankly. A beat, then she supportively
puts her hand on Irene’s shoulder.

Mrs. JENKINS
You poor dear. (to Watson) She’s had such a terrible time, Can’t you do something?

WATSON
I have already prescribed rest and a tonic. Mrs. Jenkins?

Mrs. JENKINS
Dr. Watson?

WATSON
Did you polish the doorknob this morning?

Mrs. JENKINS
I did not, no. I polishes all the fittings Tuesdays, and its only Friday today. If it had been dirty …

IRENE
Thank you. How often do you empty the study waste basket?

Mrs. JENKINS
Regular. I’d say regular.

IRENE
When did you last empty it?

Mrs. JENKINS
Yesterday. In the morning yesterday.

IRENE
And the plant pot that was spilt and broken and the table that was knocked over.
This was very early this morning?

Mrs. JENKINS
It must have been. How did you know?

IRENE
Traces of earth in the carpet.

Mrs. JENKINS
I cleaned that up!

IRENE
You missed a little by gaslight. Please, Mrs. Jenkins, don’t take on so. I know you are an excellent housekeeper. I checked the back of your shelves, and there is not a trace of dust to be found.

Mrs. JENKINS
And that’s what you do when you go in people’s houses, is it ..?

IRENE
What was your opinion of Professor McAllister?

Mrs. JENKINS
You met the man.

IRENE
Only last night, and Godfrey was not in the habit of discussing his personal opinions of his clients. He was meticulous, scrupulously professional.

Mrs. JENKINS
Professor McAlllister was my employer. I’m sure it’s not my place-

WATSON
Mrs. Jenkins! Please …

Mrs. JENKINS
Well, he was colourful. On occasion he’d forget himself and use, well … language. Oaths and curse words, but he’d catch himself and come on so contrite the devil himself would forgive him. He had money, but I don’t see how – he was free as anything with his money. He was given to stories – he’d done this and he’d done that, and, well, to be entirely honest they didn’t always agree with one another. I’d say he was given to exaggeration.

WATSON
I see.

Mrs. JENKINS
And, well … he couldn’t count, couldn’t do arithmetic in his head. I know that. I’d take the household accounts. He was bright as a new coin, he could charm the birds from the trees, but a Professor of Mathematics?

She leans in conspiratorially.

If you want my opinion, Doctor, you’ll get Mr. Holmes in on this. He was a lovely man, and all, but he wasn’t all he seemed, if you ask me, and there’s something funny going on and all …

IRENE, archly
What? You mean apart from a theft and a double murder? Thank you, Mrs. Jenkins.

Mrs. JENKINS
Miss Emily will be ready now, I expect.

She turns to leave, then turns back.

I can send out for more … proper attire. If you’d prefer.

IRENE
Thank you, no.

Mrs. JENKINS
It must be very hard for you. I know it was when I lost Mr. Jenkins, and I daresay you have your reasons. After all, it’s not my place to pry.

Mrs. Jenkins exits.

WATSON
A kind woman. In her way.

IRENE
In her way. I’d like to stay. I’d like to question young Emily, Doctor.

WATSON
What on earth for?

IRENE
You heard Mrs. Jenkins. I’d like to know more about the Professor.

WATSON
He was a character, all right, by the sound of it. An eccentric.

Watson sees her sceptical look.

Oh, come now. The halls of academia are full to overflowing with genius that can barely dress itself.

IRENE
Oh, Doctor Watson. You have written too many stories … All I wish to do is talk with Emily. Just talk.

WATSON
She may be too ill …

Irene patiently looks at Watson.

If she objects, you go. This is business for the police, or for Holmes. I don’t see what we can achieve here.

IRENE
For the Police or for Holmes. Poor Doctor Watson. Holmes has used you as his pet biographer and personal sounding board for too long …

WATSON
What? What are you saying?

IRENE
I have examined this room and the hallway, and I have sat, and thought and thought, and without the frankly histrionic aid of either a Stradivarius or a syringe, I might add. Consider the time frame. How was the Tallyman taken? How was McAllister killed here, in the study, without raising a noise while Norton cried out on the stair?

IRENE indicates the floor.

Bloody handprints on the carpet. Stabbed from the front, he clutched his hands to his chest, then he fell forward. Why did he not call out? A bloodstain, and bloody shoeprints, leading to the opened window, and a tiny blood smear underneath the door handle. No struggle – the Professor died without a fight. The wound was deep, and the blood pooled quickly, very quickly. The killer ran to the door, leaving a handprint on the handle, and he quickly wiped it off, leaving a trace in his haste. The killer ran back to the body. Why would his murderer escape through the window when an open front door presents itself? Then a struggle. Mrs. Jenkins was thorough, but I found dirt fragments where the plant pot spilled from the table that had been knocked over. I knew it was recent.

WATSON
How did you know?

IRENE
A watermark on the table from the plant, where the plant had been carelessly watered and stained the wood. Probably the help. I don’t imagine that Mrs. Jenkins would be so careless. The table is between the door and where the body lay. Look. The carpet is a slightly different shade here. The table is never moved, but has been very recently, and here the dirt. So, to the door, and a quick wipe of the handle, followed by a quick struggle.

WATSON
Your husband, perhaps? Perhaps he tried to defend the Professor here?

IRENE
My dear husband was busy dying in the hall. A blunt instrument that was not found – taken by his murderer. After the scuffle here the killer checked McAllister for a pulse, I’d wager. I wish could have checked Professor McAllister’s neck or wrist for a bloody fingermark … the blood had pooled, and the assailant stepped in it, leaving the footprints as he fled for the window.

WATSON
Fled?

IRENE
The spacing of the prints. A tall man, running fast.

WATSON
You can see all this?

IRENE
As clearly as the fact that the door to your bathroom is to the left hand of your bathroom mirror, you clearly shop for your own toiletries and that despite coming here disturbed from your bed you had a full English breakfast this morning. Unlike your friend Holmes, I will not make you work for the explanation. Your cufflinks are hurriedly mismatched and your face is cut. Your razor, sir, is blunt, and I do not imagine that your wife or help would allow a blunt blade to stand. Despite the fact that I know you to be right handed, there is a slight patch unshaven on your left side – I presume you spoke to someone at your bathroom door this morning when you shaved, forcing a reversal of your normal left-to-right method and leaving, in your haste, a small missed patch. And as for your breakfast – sir, you have egg on your face.

WATSON
You are as bad – or as good – as Holmes.

IRENE
I suspect I shall have to be. And I have found this …

She begins to take out the envelope when the door opens and Mrs. Jenkins
brings in Emily McAllister.

EMILY
Hello. You must be Doctor Watson.

WATSON
Hello, Emily. This is my friend, Mrs. Norton.

IRENE, putting the envelope away
We’ve met.

EMILY
You’re dressed in ever such a queer way, Mrs. Norton.

IRENE
It’s a queer time, Emily.

WATSON
You may leave us, Mrs. Jenkins. I’ll ring should we need you.

Mrs. JENKINS
Of course.

IRENE
Mrs. Jenkins?

Mrs. JENKINS
Yes?

IRENE
Mr. Holmes was a regular caller here. Do you know where he is living?

Mrs. JENKINS
He has rooms.

WATSON
If you’ll be so good to later provide us with the address …

Emily coughs.

If you’d care to take a seat, Emily. Thank you.

Mrs. Jenkins turns and leaves. Emily sits.

EMILY
Thank you for coming, Doctor Watson, but I feel I have wasted your time. I feel so ashamed to actually have fainted. It was the sight of poor Mr. Norton lying there. In the moonlight his blood looked quite, quite black. My father’s blood must have looked the same.

She looks over to the floor.

Poor Poppa. The truth is, I’m not nearly so weak as I seem. Poppa always thought it was a fine trick to have a girl who could swoon on cue, so I played the delicate flower for him. It got us out of some scrapes, I can tell you.

IRENE
You seem very calm.

EMILY
Poppa was always in trouble. I always knew something like this would happen, something very like this. Back home, in the states, we’d go from place to place, selling this or that, always a pig in a poke.

WATSON
I’m sorry … I understood that your father was a Professor of Mathematics?

EMILY
Yeah. Professor of Podunk University, Nowhere. Another fifty bucks he could have been Pope, too. It was all he knew, flim-flam. There was this time in Atlantic City … he was glad to come here. My schooling’s all paid up for a year and then I don’t know what I’ll do, but I’ll be okay. I got my Poppa’s way about me. He left me that.

WATSON
I don’t understand … your father was a scientist … he built the McAllister Calculation Engine …

Emily laughs bitterly.

EMILY
Poppa’d sell you your own teeth and a brush to clean them, too, but he couldn’t wind clocks.

She puts her hand to her mouth.

Oh, Poppa. Oh Poppa. What am I going to do?

IRENE
I need to know what you saw.

EMILY
What?

IRENE
I need … I’m sorry, Emily. I need you tell me what you saw. It’s important.

EMILY
It won’t bring Poppa back.

IRENE
Nor will it bring my Godfrey back. But, by God, I’ll see their killers swing. I’ll see that before I die, I promise you.

EMILY
It was early. Four o’clock, I’m told. I heard movement earlier, but Poppa often stayed up late. But it was like a thump.

IRENE
The front door was jemmied. The house here has no immediate neighbours, and almost seems to have almost been picked for its seclusion.

WATSON
Mrs. Jenkins didn’t hear it? None of the other servants heard it?

EMILY
Only Mrs. Jenkins lives in, and she won’t own it, but she drinks.

IRENE
I know.

WATSON
You know?

IRENE
Show me a woman who reeks of peppermints at nine in the morning and I’ll show you a half empty gin bottle. Go on, Emily.

EMILY
I heard footsteps on the landing. I guess it was Mr. Norton. Then – a shout, and a scuffle, I guess.

WATSON
Your husband must have seen-

IRENE
Ssh! I’m sorry, Doctor. Please, Emily …

EMILY
I know Poppa’s voice. It was Mr. Norton. So I get out of bed and run out onto the landing. It was dark, just the moonlight through the skylight and through the front door, wide open. This big man, all shadows and black hood, beating on Mr. Norton, like a machine, pounding and pounding and pounding …

Irene reacts to this, but says nothing.

I screamed, and fainted. After that …

WATSON
Hooded? A large man?

IRENE
He was known to at least someone in this household, then. He must have been.

WATSON
Because of the hood? It’s not uncommon for burglars to go masked.

IRENE
Perhaps. But he feared identification where his companion did not.

WATSON
The one described by Mrs. Jenkins?

IRENE
It was he who struggled with Professor McAllister’s killer while the large man beat my husband to death, then they fled together.

EMILY
It makes no sense. It makes no sense at all.

IRENE
It will, Emily. I have promised you. Already I have some idea … You’ve confirmed the sequence of events I had imagined. A break-in through the sitting room window at the same time, or just before the front door is jemmied open. The Professor witnesses the break-in here in the sitting room, or finds the burglar, but strangely makes no noise. My husband investigates the sound of the door being jemmied in the hall, and is cudgelled. At the same time Professor McAllister’s killer is checking the noise through that door. He is chased off by the thin man, but beats off his assailant. The two men at the front door flee one way, the other this way.

WATSON
Yes. Yes, that all makes sense. But what happened to the Tallyman? It couldn’t have gone out of the window, and the two at the door cannot have been here long enough to have taken it. By all accounts, it was very large and heavy. Where did it go?

IRENE
That is the mystery. That is the key to the affair. I believe I have an idea

WATSON
Will you not share it?

IRENE
It seems too fantastic. I’ll wait a little while, Doctor. There are still … holes.

There is a knock at the door.

WATSON
Yes?

Mrs. Jenkins leads in Inspector Stamford.

Mrs. JENKINS
I’m very sorry to intrude, but there’s a visitor for Miss Emily.

STAMFORD
Morning, Watson. Terrible business. Terrible.

WATSON
Stamford! Old Stamford!

IRENE
You know one another?

Noticing Irene, Stamford is visibly taken aback.

STAMFORD
Mrs. Jenkins said you had a guest. I’m sorry, we’ve not been introduced?

IRENE
I’m Irene Norton.

STAMFORD
Oh! Mrs. Godfrey Norton. I’m very sorry for your loss … er, your clothes ..?

IRENE
Are irrelevant. You two know one another?

STAMFORD
My younger brother was a dresser under Watson at Barts, and myself and Watson served a short while together at Maiwand. It’s been a long while.

WATSON
It was your little brother who introduced me to Holmes. But for him, my life should have been very different.

STAMFORD
I should say. I half expected to find him about here. I’d heard he was in the area, and he’s known as an inveterate meddler and all. Not that he hasn’t done us all a service from time to time, I hasten to add … Hello, Miss Emily.

EMILY
Hello Inspector.

STAMFORD
I’m sorry to intrude. I have news for you, good news. Well, as good as any news under the circumstances … we have a body in custody.

EMILY
Who?

STAMFORD
A regular little villain, picked up not far from here by one of our boys on the beat. He caught the blighter red handed, bloody knife in his pocket. We have him, by God. We have him.

EMILY
Oh, thank God. Hang him, Inspector. My Poppa had his faults, all in all, but he was all I had.

IRENE
Regular little villain? Little?

STAMFORD
Gutter scum. Just a kid, really. A housebreaker and pickpocket. The arresting officer knew him by sight. He’ll probably lead us to the rest of the gang.

EMILY
Thank you. Thank you.

IRENE
Has he confessed?

STAMFORD
To murder? Funnily enough, Mrs. Norton, no.

IRENE
Then listen to me, Inspector-

STAMFORD
Now, Mrs. Norton, -

IRENE
Listen to me! -

STAMFORD
I’m sure that you’re well intentioned, -

IRENE
You don’t understand -

STAMFORD
but you’ve had a terrible shock and all-

WATSON
Listen to her, Stamford.

Stamford looks at Watson quizzically.

Listen.

IRENE
Not one gang. Two. And the killer of McAllister was a tall man, not the child you have described.

STAMFORD
I don’t see how you can-

WATSON
She knows what she’s talking about, Stamford. Listen to her.

IRENE
Listen and I’ll tell you everything I have discovered and deduced, and then … I’ll need a change of clothes and to talk to your suspect. A criminal he may be, but a murderer he is not. I’ll need to talk to this Farouk, and to the one man who I suspect can answer all our questions – Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Blackout.

ACT ONE SCENE TWO

A spot on Watson.

WATSON
I look back on the events of that time and can only recall bewilderment. Holmes, unkindly, would most probably remark this to be a normal state of affairs for my poor untrained brain, but this instance was quite different. What could have taken him from his retirement? What was his involvement with McAllister? Why was he nowhere to be found? My mind raced with questions. I cannot but wonder how much Mrs. Norton knew, had deduced as we left McAllister’s that morning in search of Holmes.

Often I have been left uninformed of his actions for some greater good, deceived to some greater purpose. He would no doubt compare me to some fine instrument in these matters, to spare my poor ego, but use is use, and I half-believed this to be the case in this matter – that I was a wheel in his grand design. Why else would he have recommended me to McAllister? I think, now, some part of him deliberately sought my involvement, although he would later deny it. He has always used me, and I had allowed him, encouraged him. I always have been his dupe and his biographer, although he has criticised my function even there.

“Criminal Acts, particularly murder,” I remember he once remarked, “are so often viewed through the distorting emotional lens of their violent genesis or sorrowful conclusion that the meat of them, the facts, are entirely forgotten. We must have our facts, Watson. Leave out the fights and melodrama and moonlight chases from you accounts, set them aside for the simple music-hall minds that require them. Give your readers the facts. Criminal detection is of the mind, Watson, of the clear head.”

The facts. The bitter facts.

In all the time that has passed since the events surrounding Holmes and the Devil’s Tallyman, a calculating machine without a soul, my cold horror has grown steadily, seemingly without end. Thought without temperance of soul or conscience. It is an abomination. What of conscience, Holmes? What of conscience?

Two dead. Two dead on that October morning to possess McAllister’s Engine. Two dead, and two more yet to die …

Blackout.

ACT ONE SCENE THREE
Police Interview Room. Interior. Day.

Farouk has hold of Snoozer, as is shaking him roughly.

FAROUK
Talk, God damn you.

SNOOZER
I don’t know nothing!

FAROUK
Where is it?

SNOOZER
Don’t know-

FAROUK
Where is the Tallyman?

SNOOZER
Get your wog hands off me!

FAROUK
Insolent filth!

Snoozer sinks his teeth into Farouk’s arm. Farouk shouts and throws him aside.
He picks up his cane.

I will teach you a lesson …

As he starts to beat Snoozer the door opens, and the Jailer admits Irene and Watson. Irene has changed into a dress.

WATSON
Hey! You!

JAILER
‘ Ey! ‘Ey sir, you can’t do that!

FAROUK
He bit me!

SNOOZER
The fat bastard wouldn’t let me loose!

JAILER
You can’t treat prisoners that way, sir. It ain’t allowed.

SNOOZER
You tell him!

FAROUK
I have full diplomatic immunity.

JAILER
I don’t know about that, sir. But you can’t do that. I wouldn’t have left you alone otherwise.

FAROUK
I paid you.

The Jailer looks uncomfortable.

IRENE
Mr. Farouk.

FAROUK
Mrs. Norton! What are you doing here!

IRENE
I might well ask you the same question.

FAROUK
I am very sorry for your loss.

IRENE, to Jailer
Will you leave us, please?

JAILER
Well, Miss, I don’t think –

WATSON
I will guarantee the boy’s safety.

The Jailer looks uncertain. Watson brings out a five pound note.
The Jailer takes it guiltily and leaves.

(To Farouk) Perhaps you had best leave, as well.

FAROUK
I think … I apologise for my outburst.

SNOOZER
‘ Ere! What are you apologising to him for? I’m the one got the bloody stripes!

WATSON
What is your interest here?

FAROUK
The missing Tallyman … the party I represent is most interested in the said device, and I am, as you would appear to be, making enquiries as to its location …

WATSON
Two men are dead.

IRENE
My husband was one of them.

FAROUK
And this, too, is a consideration. An important consideration.

WATSON
Who do you represent?

FAROUK
Ah. I am not at liberty to divulge that. So sorry.

SNOOZER
Jesus. Where the Christ do you think you’re from?

Farouk glares at Snoozer before flashing him an empty smile.

FAROUK
Many places. Many, many places. I am a citizen of the world.

SNOOZER
He’s a citizen of the bloody loony bin.

FAROUK
This child has stolen the Tallyman.

SNOOZER
I didn’t! There wasn’t nothing there!

WATSON
How did you know the boy had been arrested?

FAROUK
I know many things. It is by way of my job.

He snarls at Snoozer.

I know you were there!

SNOOZER
How do you know, ‘ey? How do you know?

IRENE, quietly
Because he was there.

FAROUK
What?

IRENE
Because, you bastard son of a whore, you were there.

FAROUK
Dear Lady, you are upset …

She grabs the cane from him.

IRENE
Is this the cane you beat my husband to death with? Is it? Do your paymasters know or care that you are a murderer? Will that cost them extra, perhaps?

WATSON
Mrs. Norton!

IRENE
Be quiet, Watson!

FAROUK
How can you think-

IRENE
Who else would go masked, as you did? I was almost certain before I got here.
Now I am sure of it.

FAROUK
Whether you are right or wrong, I have full Diplomatic Immunity. Do you hear me?

IRENE
Bastard! Murderer!

Irene attacks him and Watson pulls her off.

SNOOZER
You’re all mad!

WATSON
Go, Farouk. Get out now!

FAROUK
No! (to Snoozer) Who do you work for? You tell me that!

IRENE
Murderer! Let me go, Watson!

SNOOZER
You heard the lady. Piss off.

FAROUK
What do you think your loyalty will buy you here? I can arrange your death, or worse-

Irene struggles grow weaker.

WATSON
This achieves nothing, Mrs. Norton. This achieves nothing. (sharply, to Farouk.) Get out.

FAROUK, ignoring him
One name and you’ll not see me again. You’ll have to tell the police anyway, else you will hang. A name. A name.

IRENE
Tell him nothing!

FAROUK
A name.

SNOOZER
Fierstein. I said it, all right?

FAROUK, satisfied
Not so hard, eh. Not so hard.

He straightens to go.

(to Irene) It is a complex time and I cannot help that.

She spits in his face. Blanching momentarily, he ignores it.

Have you spoken to your Mr. Holmes? Have you seen him?

WATSON
We have just come from his lodgings, if is any of your business.

FAROUK
I do not think you have seen him. I should very much like to speak to your Mr. Holmes.

WATSON
Get out, by God, or you will discover that the hard of my fists are exempt from your precious diplomatic immunity.

Farouk moves to leave. He stops at the door.

FAROUK
I am truly sorry for your loss. I regret the necessity of my actions.

He leaves.

WATSON
Is it as simple as that? Is it?

IRENE
If it were I would take a pistol and make my own justice. But he killed my husband on McAllister’s stair, and there is another crime here.

WATSON
McAllister himself. Farouk?

IRENE
Not Farouk.

SNOOZER
‘ Ey … what the Christ are you on about? What is going on?

IRENE
I came to talk to you, young man.

SNOOZER
You and half London. I didn’t do nothing, all right? I didn’t kill no-one, not last night, not ever.

IRENE
I know.

SNOOZER
You knows? You tell the peelers. All I’ve had is, “we got you red handed, you’d best own it,” parrot like, over and over. I’m that sick of it.

IRENE
I’ll tell them. You can’t have done it. I know you didn’t kill Professor McAllister.

SNOOZER
What you want with me, then? The name? I work for Fierstein. You heard me say so to the bloody wog.

IRENE
I heard. Fierstein. A tall man. Grey beard. Long hair.

SNOOZER, surprised
You know him, then?

IRENE
No. But I want to hear your story. I need … information. Will you talk to me, Mr. Black?

WATSON
“ Mr. Black?”

IRENE
Ssh! (to Snoozer) Please?

SNOOZER
It was your old man got it?

Irene nods.

Sorry. My old Dad went that way. A bookie caught up with him. You know, like they do when you don’t pony up when you should. Or maybe you don’t. You know why they call me Snoozer?

IRENE
No.

SNOOZER
How old do you think I am, Misses? Go on Mister, how old?

WATSON
Perhaps twelve?

SNOOZER
Fifteen. These days I pick pockets, break houses. I’m good at it. Small, fast. You know. Anyhow, I been around, ‘cause of my Dad. We went all over. Hotels, Guest Houses. I can talk well, right proper when I want to, and we’d check in to swish hotels, he’d go to the bar and keep the night porter talking. That’s what a snoozer is, see? I’d go from room to room, lifting stuff, watches, cash, jewellery, then next morning we’d check out and lie low. It’s two years since dad … well, since dad. But I kept the name. Snoozer.

IRENE
How did you come to break into Professor McAllister’s house?

SNOOZER
The old Jew, Fierstein. He started working out of Jacob’s Wharf a year or so back, some fencing, some smuggling, you know. Slippery bastard. He comes and he goes and he’s smart as the devil – he seems to know when the peelers’re around. Pretty soon he had a finger in every pie, but every now and again he’d steal to order. That’s how I know him. I did some stuff for him, lifted this and that. That big Ruby job off the Strand, that was me, and often plans and papers and stuff, specially recent.

IRENE
Recently? What sort of plans and papers?

SNOOZER
Never knew. Didn’t care. Some lawyer’s office. Anyhow, Wednesday night he finds me out at my lodgings and tells me to drop a note round the house for some guy who’s at a dinner party.

WATSON
Holmes.

SNOOZER
Yeah, Sherlock Holmes. Tall guy, lizard eyes, face like a smacked arse. Flicks me a sixpence and hardly says a word.

WATSON
What did the note say?

SNOOZER
You think I’d look?

Watson critically looks at him.

Envelope was sealed. Later he tells me to meet him behind at the house for just on four this morning – gives me a five pound note and tells me if I show, there’s more, and if I don’t, well, it’ll go hard on me. I took that serious. You ain’t seen the old Jew mad. I have. Vicious, he can be. So I meet him outside, by the bushes.

IRENE
Did you see anyone at the front of the house?

SNOOZER
Didn’t look. Didn’t see no one.

IRENE
No. But they saw you.

SNOOZER
What?

IRENE
No, please. Continue.

SNOOZER
I climbs up and works the window lock, and this is the strange thing. Fierstein told me not to bring my tools, that he’d provide. I always saw that he knew his stuff, did the Jew, but he gives me, well … shit. Rusty. Achisel, not a lockpick. I can open most locks silky smooth, so you’d never even know I’d been. People are stupid, you know? All these lovely gilt locks, all looking lovely, couldn’t stop a fly’s fart. I’d have bars and padlocks, me. Solid and safe.

WATSON
That’s no way to live. You have to trust people, don’t you?

SNOOZER
The people I know is just like me. Me, I like to sleep sound at night. When I ain’t working, that is.

IRENE
So that’s why the lock was forced open crudely. Bad tools.

SNOOZER
So I climbs in with my rusty chisel, and there’s this old geezer sat in the chair. No lights on, just the firelight on him. My heart catches in my throat – I don’t know if he’s moving or if its just the flickering of the light or what and bugger me if I didn’t make enough noise to wake the dead when I got that window open. So I’m just about to climb back out and take my stripes from the Jew when he speaks, quiet but urgent.

IRENE
He spoke to you?

SNOOZER
“ Where is he?” Yank accent. I knew a forger up on Piccadilly, he was one, too. “Where is he? You’re not him.” Suddenly, Fierstein’s at the window behind me … he’s fast and agile for an old cove, and took the drainpipe quick and quiet. “Get out and wait down below for me.” He says.

WATSON
And you did?

SNOOZER
Didn’t I say it was a fool’s errand to cross the Jew? So I gives him back his jemmy and climbs down and waits, and its none too warm neither, for a minute, two minutes, then a shout, noise, I don’t know what.

IRENE
A shout. A pause, A struggle, something smashing, breaking.

SNOOZER
Maybe.

IRENE
And then?

SNOOZER
The Jew at the window. Urgent whisper. “Catch!” Blood on my hands, the chisel all slick with blood. Fierstein says “Run! Run!” but I’m already moving, I’m telling you. “If you lose that, it’ll go the worse for you. Keep it safe. Keep it safe!”

IRENE
And that brings you here. Now.

SNOOZER
You’ll put in a word for me?

IRENE
Yes. Yes, of course.

WATSON
I don’t understand. What have we gained here?

IRENE
Knowledge.

WATSON
Ah. You’re going to pull a Holmes. Excuse me, but is evasion an absolutely necessary part of the detection process?

IRENE
I’m sorry. We’re nearly there, Watson.

WATSON
I don’t see what we can do. I don’t like Farouk any more than you do, but I can’t see what we can do. It seems reasonable to assume that this Fierstein killed McAllister.

IRENE
Farouk and his accomplice saw Fierstein enter the house, and effected entry. Perhaps they feared that the Tallyman was in danger. My husband heard them enter– Godfrey was always a light sleeper – and disturbed them. He struggled with Farouk and was killed. Meanwhile Fierstein, for some unknown reason, stabbed McAllister. He ran to the door, to see there my husband’s assault. Either he was seen and pursued by Farouk’s accomplice, or the accomplice ran for the study in search of the Tallyman. There was a struggle. Seeing the Tallyman gone, and disturbed further by Emily’s scream, Farouk’s friend ran back to the hall and he and Farouk fled through the front door they had jemmied open. Fierstein stopped to check McAllister’s body, then ran to the window and threw the incriminating evidence, the murder weapon, down to young Mr. Black here.

SNOOZER
I hope the bastard swings.

WATSON
So all that remains is to determine McAllister’s connection with Fierstein, and to find the Tallyman. Do you think that this may give you some power over Farouk?

IRENE
There are more questions, and better questions than those, my dear Doctor. And all I want is the truth. We will see what is to be done when we finally have that.

The door opens and Stamford enters with the Jailer.

STAMFORD
Any more trouble on your watch, my lad, and you’ll be off this cosy watch and walking Whitechapel at night till you’re old and grey. Do you hear me?

JAILER
Sir.

STAMFORD
Now then. Mrs. Norton. Dr. Watson. Any luck with Mr. Holmes?

WATSON
There was no sign. His Landlady said he hasn’t been seen since yesterday.

STAMFORD
Most perplexing. Still, I daresay he’ll turn up sooner or later and we’ll sort out this mess without him. Oh, maybe there’ll be more legwork and questions, and a bit less of the clever-clever-I-can-tell-by-the-dirt-on-your-shoes routine, but the truth is, Doctor, Mrs. Norton, that answers don’t just jump out of the empty air.

He turns to Snoozer.

Now, Laddy. You’ve been here a good while now, and you’re tired, I don’t doubt.

SNOOZER
I didn’t touch him.

STAMFORD
So you’ve been saying. Be reasonable now. If it wasn’t you, why, then all I need is a name. Just a name. No, don’t look at the lady. I’m asking you.

IRENE
Fierstein.

STAMFORD
What?

IRENE
He’s already told us, Inspector. And you have to let him go.

STAMFORD
What?

WATSON
Hold on a minute … what good would that do us?

SNOOZER
You’re all bleeding mad.

IRENE
Do you want to get Farouk back, Snoozer? Do you?

SNOOZER
Yeah. Yeah, I do. But I ain’t so stupid as to think that matters any. I didn’t kill anyone.

IRENE
You’re guilty of breaking and entering.

SNOOZER
Yeah, well …

IRENE
You can get those charges dropped, Inspector?

STAMFORD
Confound it all, Mrs. Norton. You’re as bad as Holmes. I will not do such a thing.

WATSON
You ask too much, Mrs. Norton.

IRENE
You’d do it for Holmes!

STAMFORD
Mrs. Norton, you have to understand -

IRENE
You’d do it for Holmes! You foolish, foolish men … because I am a woman you imagine that I do not know what I am doing? And what have you done, Stamford? What have you achieved in your time on this case? I have been forced to scurry around in disguise where Holmes would have simply strode arrogantly in. Do you know what that is like? Do you know what it is like to have to have someone speak for you simply to have an answer your question?

SNOOZER
I knows.

IRENE
Thank you, Snoozer.

WATSON, to Stamford
She’s right, old man. I’ll stand for her, as I’m sure Holmes would, were he here. I’ll stand for her.

Stamford thinks.

STAMFORD
This had better pan out, Watson.

IRENE
You gave Farouk a name. Tell us everything.

SNOOZER
I ain’t a nark!

IRENE
You gave Farouk a name.

SNOOZER
He would have smashed my head in! ‘Sides, I only gave him a name.

IRENE
Fierstein. And how many Fiersteins are there in London? I’ve no doubt Farouk will find him, in time. You can give us the advantage of time. You will answer my questions, please, and you will help us solve the only two questions that remain concerning the Devil’s Tallyman, the only one.

WATSON
There are so many …

IRENE
There are only two ...

STAMFORD
Why did Fierstein kill McAllister? Why did he want the Tallyman?

SNOOZER
Where’s the bloody thing now?

IRENE
No. Who built it, and why?

Fade to black.

INTERVAL

ACT TWO SCENE ONE
Jacob’s Wharf. Interior. Night.

Fierstein is sat at his desk, writing in a ledger. Molly enters.

FIERSTEIN
What do you want?

MOLLY
Charming, I says. “What do you want?” Your manners’d shame a pig.

FIERSTEIN
My manners’re no sourer now than the day we met.

MOLLY
Well, that’s true. Mind you, your purse at least is pretty civil, for a Jew.

FIERSTEIN
Well, I thank you for your kind words. So … what do you want?

MOLLY
He’s here.

FIERSTEIN
So soon. That’s a surprise. Who’d have thought he’d have it in him to find me so quick?

MOLLY
A surprise? What? What’s to be surprised about?

FIERSTEIN
I can afford, from time to time, to be open with my purse because I have made a habit not to be open with my mouth.

MOLLY
He’s right anxious.

FIERSTEIN
I don’t doubt it.

MOLLY
They both are.

FIERSTEIN
Both?

MOLLY
There’s a woman with him.

FIERSTEIN
He brought a woman with him? That’s a surprise, too. Don’t sound like him neither …

MOLLY
I wouldn’t know. You just said a man would come, and he’s here. Want them in here?

FIERSTEIN, rising
No. Let them stew just a little while longer. I want to talk to you.

Fierstein moves towards her.

You’ve been a big help to me, Moll, these last few months. You know people, and that’s a commodity can be sold.

MOLLY
I got a commodity can be sold right here already.

She moves in on him, and he holds her at arms length.

FIERSTEIN
That fades. What I’m offering don’t. I’ll be gone soon enough, Moll. It’s too hot round here for me now, but I can make use of your eyes and ears. What do you say to that? What do you say, Moll?

MOLLY
You’re a queer, cold one Jake. You’ve got your pipe and the river, but for all that … it ain’t about money and it ain’t about women, or little boys, or whatever moves you there. It ain’t about the power, though you’ve worked for that. What moves you?

FIRESTEIN
You’re bright, Moll. Bright as a button. Smart, like.

MOLLY
What? Can’t a woman have brains?

FIERSTEIN
Oh, I know how smart a woman can be – one taught me once, and I learn my lessons. Goodbye Moll.

MOLLY
Is it goodbye?

FIERSTEIN
Soon, I think. Watch out for Jerry Barber. He’s an animal, and when I’m gone he’ll move to take it all.

MOLLY
And he’ll break it all apart.

FIERSTEIN
Smart girl. He’ll do some damage, to be sure. But I’ve built a strong black house, and it’ll stand. Watch your back, Moll, and watch my interests. Do you hear?

She kisses him on the forehead, and leaves. Fierstein moves to the balcony window, looking out.

Irene and Watson enter. Fierstein does not look at them.

The river, the river at sunset, it is beautiful. I look out upon it as the sun goes down, all stained red, and I wonder if there is anything more beautiful in the world. Possibly there is, but I think not. It seems a shame we must sully a sunset as lovely as this with our sordid business. Still …

He turns and sees Watson and Irene. He visibly starts.

You!

WATSON
Do you know us?

FIERSTEIN
I .. What do you want?

WATSON
The Devil’s Tallyman. The murderer of Euclides McAllister.

FIERSTEIN
I was not expecting you.

IRENE
Clearly not. You were expecting, perhaps, Farouk?

FIERSTEIN
I … I …

Irene laughs.

WATSON
Mrs. Norton! This is hardly the time …

IRENE
It is exactly the time. This is rich. This is very rich. I know who you are, and who you work for.

FIERSTEIN
I see. Will you dance awhile longer then, Mrs. Norton.

WATSON
Who does he work for?

IRENE
Is it not obvious, Doctor Watson? (to Fierstein) You are here as an agent of Mycroft Holmes. All this, all of this, has taken place simply to deny Mr. Farouk the Tallyman.

FIERSTEIN
Not simply so, Mrs. Norton …

WATSON
Mycroft … no wonder Holmes has been involved. You devil! No doubt you’ll sell it to Farouk.

IRENE
No, Watson. All this to deny him and to continue to deny him.

WATSON
This is … this is beyond my understanding.

IRENE
I know what happened to the Tallyman.

FIERSTEIN
Do you?

IRENE
Oh yes. I can infer a great deal of information. From your clothes, your stance, from your beard.

She pulls out the envelope and throws it onto the table.
Fierstein opens the envelope and pulls out a hair.

From McAllister’s. Yours.

Fierstein opens the envelope and holds it up to the light.

WATSON
I’ve not seen this before …

IRENE
No. We were disturbed. (to Fierstein) The root is particularly instructive. Don’t you think?

Fierstein snorts laughter, just once

Whose idea was the Tallyman? It all, all of this, begins with that.

Molly enters.

FIERSTEIN
I’m busy, Moll.

MOLLY
There’s someone outside.

FIERSTEIN
There’s someone here.

MOLLY
He’s insistent. Says his name is Farouk. Says it’s important.

WATSON
Farouk!

IRENE
Impossible! He couldn’t have got the information we had so quickly, unless …

WATSON
The Jailer.

IRENE
Yes. Yes, the Jailer.

MOLLY
He’s insistent.

FIERSTEIN
I’m sure he is. (to Irene and Watson) I’ll have some answers for you, if you’ll stand aside and let me do my work.

WATSON
We can’t-

IRENE
We will.

FIERSTEIN
Bring him in, Moll. Bring him in now.

She leaves.

Stand aside there. Please.

Irene and Watson move to one side as Farouk enters. Fierstein moves
back to the window, looking out of it once again.

FAROUK
You! What are you doing here?

IRENE
I could get tired of hearing that …

FIERSTEIN
Forget them. Your business is with me.

FAROUK
Very well. I am Farouk.

FIERSTEIN
I know who you are. I have been expecting you.

FAROUK
How?

FIERSTEIN
Holmes warned me that you would involve yourself.

FAROUK
We – my associate and I – watched you break into Professor McAllister’s home this morning. You. The boy.

FIERSTEIN
How is your associate’s head?

FAROUK
It smarts on one side from the blow you gave him, and on the other from the one he received from me. He should have stopped you.

FIERSTEIN
As you stopped poor Mr. Norton, no doubt.

Farouk looks uncomfortably towards Irene.

So …

FAROUK
You have the Tallyman.

FIERSTEIN
Its whereabouts are not unknown to me.

He picks up a folder from the table.

And here are the plans for the construction of the Engine, appropriated with some difficulty and at some expense.

FAROUK
I must have it. I want it.

FIERSTEIN
Its good to want. Want is the beginning of all ambition.

FAROUK
The parties I represent will be willing to pay very handsomely. Very handsomely.

FIERSTEIN
I have no doubt. If I will not sell?

FAROUK
A joke?

FIERSTEIN
An honest question.

FAROUK
My employers have a long reach and, I regret to say, a vengeful turn of mind. I would not recommend that you test their patience.

FIERSTEIN
A handsome sum. A handsome sum.

FAROUK
You may name the amount. My employers would demand sole ownership of the Computational Engine, of course, but would no doubt make extra payment for the … removal of Professor McAllister. This would have been necessary in any case. They must have it all.

FIERSTEIN
Ah. But I am an honest crook, Farouk. Should I give you that which I have worked so hard to steal for someone else?

FAROUK
Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

FIERSTEIN
Your employer chooses to remain anonymous. Afford mine the same courtesy.

FAROUK
None of this matters. Name the amount.

Fierstein says nothing.

This grows tiresome.

FIERSTEIN
Here is my answer.

Fierstein passes the folder to Farouk.

Take it.

Farouk takes the folder and opens it. He runs his fingers through it.

FAROUK
Ashes. What game is this? What game do you play?

FIERSTEIN
No game. I cannot give you what you want, Farouk.

FAROUK
You dare to toy with me! Cannot? Will not!

FIERSTEIN
Cannot. Will not. Its all the same thing for you, Farouk. You cannot have the Tallyman. You will not have the Tallyman.

FAROUK
You do not know what is at stake here.

FIERSTEIN
I think you should go and tell your employers what has happened here.

FAROUK
Did you not hear what I said? They will take their revenge for this!

FIERSTEIN
If they will, they will. That would be my problem. Now go.

Farouk pulls a pistol, as does Fierstein. Watson and Irene step back.

WATSON
My Lord!

FIERSTEIN
Did you think I would not expect that from you, Farouk? I know your sort.

FAROUK
If anything happens to me … my associate knows I am here, why I am here …
others will come …

FIERSTEIN
But they’re not here, are they? Just you and me …

FAROUK
I have killed for the Tallyman. I will not just walk away.

FIERSTEIN
As have I. You have no choice.

FAROUK
Where is it?

FIERSTEIN
Go.

FAROUK
Where is it! Give it to me!

With a yell Watson launches himself at Farouk. Farouk fires and Fierstein yells out,
clutching his shoulder, dropping his pistol and staggering back onto the balcony.
There is a crack and a splash.

While Farouk and Watson struggle, Irene runs around and looks out of the balcony.
She runs back in a picks up the pistol Fierstein has dropped.

IRENE
Move away from him. Do it!

Warily, they separate.

Kick his pistol away, Watson.

Watson kicks it towards the door. Molly enters.

FAROUK
He … he is gone? Fierstein is gone?

MOLLY
What’s going on? I heard a shot.

IRENE
There’s no sign of him. He’s gone …

MOLLY
Jake? Jake was shot?

She runs over to the balcony and looks out.

FAROUK
I … I did not intend … it was an accident …

MOLLY
He shot Jake? This fat shit shot my Jake?

She covers a sob with her mouth and drifts back to the door.

IRENE
Two in one day, and both accidents. You are a very, very clumsy man.

FAROUK
Madam … Mrs. Norton … I implore you …

WATSON
Mrs. Norton … What are you going to do?

FAROUK
Please …

IRENE
I do not believe I have ever hated anyone before, Mr. Farouk. I do not thank you for the experience.

WATSON
He’s not worth it …

While Irene speaks Molly picks up the dropped pistol.

IRENE
I hear you say that. What does that mean? I shall tell you – It means nothing. He deserves to die and it will not cheapen or degrade me in the very slightest to be the one who sends him to hell. He has killed two men in just one day. Two men! And how many others? How many innocent lives ended, or ruined, for this slug. Two men today … and one of them was my husband!

She fires. The hammer clicks on an empty chamber.
Farouk starts to laugh, and stops as Molly shoots him.

MOLLY
Bastard. Bastard.

Irene drops the pistol and starts to sob uncontrollably. Watson goes to her.

You’d best turn me in. If you’re going to.

WATSON
I don’t think so. Some sort of justice has taken place here. It’s all over, Mrs. Norton. All over now.

IRENE
No. Watson. No … not yet. Not yet …

Fade to black.

ACT TWO SCENE TWO
Professor McAllister’s study. Interior. Night.

Holmes is sat with Emily. They are drinking tea.

EMILY
It’s very good of you to visit with me, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES
It must be very difficult for you. I wanted to assure you that you will be taken care of.

EMILY
Thank you. I appreciate that.

HOLMES
You have packed?

EMILY
My bags are packed, yes.

HOLMES
We shall bury your father the day after tomorrow. You may leave straight after for school.

EMILY
Must I leave immediately?

HOLMES
You would wish to stay? I would have imagined that this place would have unpleasant associations for you.

EMILY
For as long as I can remember, there has been just me and Poppa. And now … this place is all I have of him.

HOLMES
Do you remember your mother?

EMILY
Vaguely. She was always ill, never there, a thin smile and a pair of soft eyes lying in the bedsheets. I remember her funeral better than I remember her, if I’m truthful.

She sobs, just once, and catches herself.

I mustn’t take on so. You’re very kind. Very kind.

A clock strikes ten.

Oh. It’s very late, and I should go to bed. Poppa would say so, if he were here.

HOLMES
These are unusual times.

EMILY
Good night, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES
Good night Emily.

She gets up and goes to the door. Holmes rises.

Emily?

EMILY
Mr.Holmes?

Mrs. JENKINS enters.

HOLMES
I shall be here all night, and I have business to attend to. If you should hear anything, anything at all, do not trouble yourself. It will be all right.

EMILY
Very well, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES
If there is anything you need? At all?

EMILY
I understand.

Emily exits.

HOLMES
Mrs. Jenkins?

Mrs. JENKINS
Visitors, Mr. Holmes.

HOLMES
Yes. I was expecting them.

Mrs. JENKINS
Expecting?

HOLMES
I sent out messages earlier, Mrs. Jenkins.

Mrs. JENKINS
Ah well. I’m sure it’s not my place to pry.

HOLMES
Quite. You may retire now. I shall be here all night-

Mrs. JENKINS
I heard, sir. Not to trouble myself. You know best, I’m sure.

She exits. Irene and Watson enter.

HOLMES
Watson. Mrs. Norton.

Watson enthusiastically shakes Holmes’ hand. He winces.

WATSON
Good God, man! Where have you been? What’s going on?

IRENE
Is your wound bothering you, Mr. Holmes?

Watson looks quizzical.

WATSON
What?

HOLMES
You didn’t tell him?

IRENE
I thought I’d leave it until I could talk to you to your face. Besides, I genuinely thought he’d have figured it out for himself.

Holmes looks at Watson.

His faith in you has always been very touching. He is a simple man, and loyal.

HOLMES
Yes. He has always been a better man than I.

IRENE
And above all, I did not be the one to break his heart

WATSON
What are you two talking about?

HOLMES
I would like to express my most sincere condolences, Mrs. Norton. I am more sorry for your loss than I can say.

IRENE
Spare me the self-indulgence of your regret. I just want to know why.

HOLMES
Well, that is a question ...

WATSON
Wait! Wait!

HOLMES
Watson?

WATSON
What wound?

IRENE
Why, Doctor, the bullet wound to the shoulder he received earlier from Farouk while you fought with him.

WATSON
What?

HOLMES
I am glad to see Farouk did not hurt you, either of you. I was concerned.

IRENE
Farouk is dead. Molly killed him. If she had not, I would have.

HOLMES
Ah. That was not what I had planned. How like Molly to prove so sentimental.

WATSON
You know Molly? How do you know Molly?

HOLMES, ignoring him
Still, Farouk would have reported all that has happened to his superiors. That would suffice. Yes, that will suffice.

WATSON
What? What are you talking about?

HOLMES
Oh Watson. You were always oblivious to even the most obvious of my disguises.
I am – was – Jacob Fierstein.

IRENE
The hair I found. The root … how many people’s beards are held on with spirit gum?

HOLMES
That was not enough to suspect me, surely?

IRENE
The message brought you by Snoozer. An empty sheet of paper, thrown, along with the envelope, into the waste paper basket in the study. It could only have been yours, you see. There was nothing else in the basket but ashes – the ashes left by Farouk, the working paper with which he rendered his phrase into code. Remember Mrs. Jenkins, Watson? She said Farouk came out from the study having lit a cigar, possibly with that very paper. All circumstantial, but all telling.

HOLMES
I see I have been complacent.

IRENE
You have been rather more than that.

WATSON
I cannot believe this … Fierstein just an alias? But that means … my God, Holmes …

HOLMES
Yes, Watson. I killed McAllister.

WATSON
You killed Professor McAllister? My God, this is horrific.

HOLMES
It was not in any way planned, and, as you have no doubt surmised, Mr. McAllister was no Professor.

IRENE
Well … That’s all right then, isn’t it?

HOLMES
Please, Mrs. Norton. After we had fabricated the theft of the Tallyman the plan was to send Mr. McAllister back to the United States with his daughter and a new identity, a new life. He saw Snoozer in – I understand you have made Snoozer’s acquaintance. He is free?

IRENE
He is. Inspector Stamford is furious. But a deal is a deal.

HOLMES
Good. He is a good lad, in his way. Stamford knows nothing?

IRENE
For now, this lies only with us. For now.

WATSON
McAllister, Holmes! What about McAllister?!

HOLMES
We – McAllister and I - were interrupted by Farouk’s rude entry, and McAllister panicked. To save his daughter from harm he would have confessed everything – everything!

IRENE
And then you stabbed him in the chest to silence him, using the chisel young Snoozer Black had used to break in, then ran to the hall door to check, leaving a bloody fingerprint.

HOLMES
I had thought I had wiped it clean.

IRENE
Not thoroughly enough. Time was short, though, and you were under pressure.

HOLMES
I saw a struggle in the hall, and then a man coming towards me, chasing me into this room.

IRENE
And you struggled with him, knocking over a table and spilling and breaking a plant pot.

HOLMES
Yes. Emily screamed from the hall, and my attacker broke away and fled. I then checked McAllister’s body. Dead. I ran to the window, bloody weapon in hand, and threw it down to Snoozer. He ran. I followed.

IRENE
And why did you throw it down to Snoozer?

Holmes says nothing.

To incriminate him. Because it would serve your purpose here for a known housebreaker to stand for the murder of Mr. McAllister. To perpetuate the lie that the Tallyman had been stolen.

WATSON
Excuse me, I’m lost here …. The Tallyman was stolen.

IRENE
Not stolen, Watson. How can you steal something that never existed? All of this, all these deaths, for a hoax perpetrated by Sherlock Holmes.

WATSON
But you saw it? You saw it!

IRENE
I saw a near empty box. The Tallyman was an empty box. It had left virtually no impression upon the carpet on which it lay, despite its apparent weight. Why do you think Mrs. Jenkins was told to leave the fire burning? To burn, to destroy the Tallyman. No doubt hidden in some draw or cupboard in this house are those few pieces of clockwork that would not burn.

WATSON
But Mrs. Jenkins saw it work! A whole room full of people witnessed its operation! It worked!

Watson thinks feverishly.

What was it, the phrase encrypted by Farouk?

HOLMES
“ When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what my right hand doeth. That thine alms may be in secret, and thy father which seeth in secret himself shall reward you openly.”

IRENE
Matthew chapter six, verse three.

HOLMES
Is it? You wrote a list once, Watson, do you remember, of my strengths and weaknesses? Literature and philosophy – nil.

WATSON
I don’t understand. I don’t understand. What is the significance of this? Why is a bible quotation so very important? If McAllister’s Computational Engine is a show, a sham, how was it possible to break Farouk’s code?

IRENE
The message was, is meaningless. And Holmes could decrypt the code because he knew it already. That was the point of the Snoozer’s false message, wasn’t it, to take you away from the table so you could type out the card and place it in the tray, ready to retrieve later? All this to fool Farouk, and just Farouk. McAllister picked him out first, after all. All of it.

WATSON
This makes no sense. This makes no sense at all! Supposing Farouk had used some other code? Or declined to play your game at all?

HOLMES
Then this would have turned into an expensive folly. But I knew what he would do. Make up a code on the spot or use one you already know and believe unbreakable? How could he not do as he did?

WATSON
All this to fool just one man …

HOLMES
No. This is about Farouk’s employers, not Farouk. You see, in an important European court there lies a spy for our Government. All its secrets are ours for the taking, except … except that we cannot use what we know. Not a word. Not without compromising our agent.

IRENE
How very inconvenient.

HOLMES
Rather more than that. But all the information he could provide is disseminated among the upper echelons of that government in the form of ingeniously coded bulletins-

IRENE
And because of your agent you have that code, but to keep him safe, you cannot afford to be seen to break it.

HOLMES
Twice we have been forced to use information from that source, and the code has immediately changed, and suspicion was thrown upon our agent. We cannot risk that again.

IRENE
Unless, of course, you find a way to convince them that you have a way of breaking any code at will.

HOLMES
As you say. I spent six months establishing the identity of Fierstein as my cover. As myself I brought Mr. McAllister in as the creator of the fictional Computational Engine, then arranged its apparent theft. My mission is a success. Farouk’s paymasters believe in the Tallyman, and believe we have it.

WATSON
Who ? Who are Farouk’s paymasters?

IRENE
Now, Watson … That doesn’t matter, does it, Holmes? It could be anyone. Any power who plays the game. So now, I think, for the only question remaining: Why, Holmes? Why?

HOLMES
I have said.

IRENE
You have not said. You have spoken, in your common fashion, of method and plan, of what you have done and how you have done it. You have clarified and explained, in reasonable terms, how and why two men died this day. But why, Holmes, why have you done these things?

HOLMES
Because of the game. Because of the great game. I had retired, and gone away to a small farm, five miles from anywhere. I raised my bees and I studied agriculture and philosophy and whiled away my time patiently, declining offers to pursue this case, or that case, no matter what the reward, and you will be pleased, Watson, to know that my habits ran to nothing more addictive than good tobacco. I had become bored with it all, you see. People’s motives are so simple. They want or they hate and there is so little in between, and you know me as well as any, better than any. I am incomplete. My gifts compensate me for the fact that I am not a whole man. This is unarguably true. I cannot draw satisfaction from emotional life as you have done, Watson, as I see others do. It was never enough for me to see a woman happy or take pleasure in another. I could not do as you had done, Mrs. Norton. Live. Just live. I have not the strength. And the puzzles, the mental challenge of it all palled long ago. There seemed little I could not solve, and the methodology of it all had begun to bore me. You outwitted me, Mrs. Norton. To me, you were always The Woman. If there had been more like you …

IRENE
You become distracted.

HOLMES
So I turned away from the world. I sent away all visitors disappointed, until just under a year ago. My brother, Mycroft Holmes.

WATSON
He offered you a case?

HOLMES
He offered me the world. A world of a shifting complexity I had never dreamed. The list you made of me, Watson. All the pluses, the sciences and disciplines, and the minuses, literature. and history, except where pertaining to sensationalist and the criminal, and politics. The politics, Watson. I could never have guessed. Like a game of chess where the pieces can change from black to white without warning, a shifting kaleidoscope of allegiances and aims and motivations. I described myself as incomplete, but no longer. You remember my violin, Watson?

WATSON
A Stradivarius, which you prided yourself for having obtained so cheaply.

HOLMES
Yes? And?

WATSON
And which you played well, very well. Quite brilliantly on occasion.

HOLMES
You flatter me. But not creatively well. Mechanically well. You have commented yourself that there is nothing of myself to place in the music, merely a cold appreciation of it. Ironic. The Computational Engine was a fiction, but if you would have sought a calculating machine without a soul, a Devil’s Tallyman, you’d have found it - in me. But at last, at last, in these new intrigues of my brother’s I had found an instrument I could truly play. I have never felt so alive.

WATSON
In the name of God, man, what have you become?

HOLMES
Watson, you do not understand the complexities-

WATSON
I understand perfectly. You have explained perfectly. You posed as a criminal. You were a criminal. How much stolen and how many hurt to support that subterfuge, and you have killed a man, and all your explanations will not change that. You have killed one man and you are responsible for the death of another. Dear God, man.

IRENE
My husband. My husband.

HOLMES
All right then, yes. Yes, I have killed a man. I had no choice.

WATSON
You panicked and a man died by your hand.

HOLMES
I had no choice.

WATSON
You panicked and you murdered a man!

HOLMES
I have killed a man, as you have killed.

WATSON
I was a soldier!

HOLMES
You killed for country. I killed for country. Where is the difference?

WATSON
No. No. This is all about your ego, your game. You have said as much. I faced death on a battlefield, alongside my fellows, and it was clean, Holmes, it was clean. Not like this. Not like this!

IRENE
You men!

WATSON
What?

IRENE
On a battlefield or in a darkened room, what does it matter? For country? For country! What country? What is this country you have both killed for? The buildings? The bridges? The trees? The literature? What? What country? I’ll tell you what a country is, what it really consists of, what it is that makes it important, and vital, and worth defending – my poor dead husband, poor foolish Professor McAllister, the poor children you have used or left fatherless. There is right. There is wrong.

WATSON, quietly
You would have killed Farouk, Mrs. Norton.

IRENE
Yes. I would, and would again. It changes nothing.

HOLMES
I have every respect for you, but when we first met you held a Prince of Bohemia to ransom. You are hardly morally spotless, Mrs. Norton.

IRENE
A Prince who had threatened my happiness. And I would not have killed him for that. I would certainly not have slaughtered him for the satisfaction of my ego.

HOLMES
You do not understand what is at stake here-

IRENE
No. Do not attempt to justify your crime as my ignorance. Do not draw specious parallels between us. Do not pretend to morals which you have barely even entertained as a cold intellectual consideration. I understand perfectly. You are in the wrong, and I will see you pay.

She turns to leave.

HOLMES
Wait!

IRENE
What?

HOLMES
If you tell the truth of this … you will doom a good man and undo all that I and my brother have worked so hard for. Your husband and Professor McAllister will have died in vain. I have nothing but respect for you, Mrs. Norton. Now more than I have ever done. Do not destroy everything we would accomplish for the sake of revenge.

IRENE
Revenge? How little you know of me. How deep is your respect for me that you expect me to lie for you?

Holmes says nothing.

If I will not?

HOLMES
Promise me. I will take your word that you will not speak of this.

IRENE
And if I will not?

HOLMES
Your word. Give your word.

IRENE
And if I will not?

Holmes draws a pistol.

WATSON
Good God, man …

HOLMES
Be quiet, Watson!

IRENE
I am leaving.

HOLMES
It was I who paid for this house, for young Emily’s schooling. And I will continue to support her. Give me your word.

IRENE
Do not even attempt … you killed her father. You murdered him. And I made her a promise.

HOLMES
I will have to shoot you. I have no choice.

IRENE
We both have a choice.

She turns to leave. She makes it to the door before Holmes
shoots her three times in the back. Watson leaps to her.

WATSON
Mrs. Norton! Mrs. Norton!

IRENE
Ah, my dear Dr. Watson. Do not grieve for me. Soon I will be with my Godfrey. How strange that I should have missed him so after so short a time … You’re a good man, Doctor, and you have a hard decision to make.

Watson’s face hardens.

Oh! I forgive you. I forgive you …

She dies.

HOLMES
Watson. My Watson.

WATSON
No. Not your Watson. Not now. Not this night.

HOLMES
What will you do, Watson? Will you keep your silence?

WATSON
Or you’ll shoot me as well? Could you do that to me?

HOLMES
You are as dear a friend as ever I have had.

WATSON
That is no answer.

HOLMES
I have no answer for you. Only that question. Will you keep your silence?

WATSON
The great Sherlock Holmes … I have played your faithful duffer in your stories and in your life, borne your little jibes and patronising insults, all in the name of friendship, but no more. No more. Will I keep my silence? Will I? Has your supernatural power of deduction deserted you at last? Has it? She knew my answer. Did you not hear her forgive me? God damn you, Holmes.

HOLMES
Thank you.

WATSON
Don’t you dare. Do not dare! Do you know, there are stories, your stories, that have lain unwritten for discretion, for concern, for a dozen different reasons, but never until now has there been one I could not write for shame.

HOLMES
What have I done, Watson? What have I done?

WATSON
Simply? For the simple purpose of political expediency, and in addition to your other crimes, you have this night shot and killed an innocent woman. That, that is what you have done.

HOLMES
Oh, Watson. You have observed, but you have not seen …

Fade to black.