The Blind Banker
(based on The Adventure of the Dancing Men)
|In the National Antiquities Museum, an ancient Chinese clay tea set has been arranged on a tray. Oriental flute music is playing gently. A young Chinese woman, Soo Lin Yao, takes a large pinch of tea leaves from a bowl and sprinkles them into a teapot before pouring water on top of them. A group of children and a few adults are watching her demonstration.
SOO LIN: The great artisans say the more the teapot is used, the more beautiful it becomes.
(She has deliberately overfilled the pot so that when she picks up the lid and gently presses it down into place, water spills out over the sides of the pot. Now she picks up a small jug and pours more liquid over the top of the pot.)
SOO LIN: The pot is seasoned by repeatedly pouring tea over the surface. The deposit left on the clay creates this beautiful patina over time.
(She holds up the wet teapot to show her audience how the pot is shining.)
SOO LIN: For some pots, the clay has been burnished by tea made over four hundred years ago.Some time later, the visitors have left and Soo Lin is gently drying and dusting off the tea set with a brush.
TANNOY ANNOUNCEMENT: This museum will be closing in ten minutes.
(A young English male employee, Andy Galbraith, walks over. He stands behind her and watches as she carefully packs the tea set into a box.)
Andy (in a joking tone): Four hundred years old, and they’re lettin’ you use it to make yourself a brew!
SOO LIN (not turning around): Some things aren’t supposed to sit behind glass. They’re made to be touched; to be handled.
(She turns and looks at him. Andy – who clearly has a massive crush on her – looks back at her all doe-eyed. She turns back to the box and frowns.)
SOO LIN: These pots need attention. (She holds up a dry-looking pot with no shine on it.) The clay is cracking.
ANDY: Well, I can’t see how a tiny splash of tea’s gonna help.
(He grins nervously.)
SOO LIN: Sometimes you have to look hard at something to see its value.
(She puts the teapot down as Andy steels himself to say something. Just as he opens his mouth she lifts up another pot to show him.)
SOO LIN: See? This one shines a little brighter.
(Andy braces himself.)
ANDY: I don’t suppose … um, I mean, I don’t suppose that you … you wanna have a drink? (He grimaces.) Not tea, obviously. Um, in a pub, with me, tonight … umm.
(Soo Lin puts the pot down, still not looking at him.)
SOO LIN: You wouldn’t like me all that much.
ANDY: Couldn’t I maybe decide that for myself?
(She hesitates, but then briefly glances towards him.)
SOO LIN: I can’t. I’m sorry. Please stop asking.
(She closes the box.)A little later, the main entrance doors to the museum are closed for the night and most of the lights are turned off. Down in the basement archive, Soo Lin is in one of the stacks, presumably putting her equipment away. There’s a noise nearby.
SOO LIN (calling out): Is that Security?
(There’s no response, and after an anxious pause she walks out of the stacks and looks around.)
SOO LIN: Hello?
(To her right, a tall and narrow object is covered with a white sheet which billows in a breeze. She nervously walks closer to the object, then hesitantly takes hold of the sheet and pulls it down. Whatever she sees underneath makes her face fill with horror and fear.)
|“I’m not much of a story-teller,” said our visitor, nervously clasping and unclasping his great, strong hands. “You’ll just ask me anything that I don’t make clear. I’ll begin at the time of my marriage last year; but I want to say first of all that, though I’m not a rich man, my people have been at Ridling Thorpe for a matter of five centuries, and there is no better known family in the County of Norfolk. Last year I came up to London for the Jubilee, and I stopped at a boarding-house in Russell Square, because Parker, the vicar of our parish, was staying in it. There was an American young lady there—Patrick was the name—Elsie Patrick. In some way we became friends, until before my month was up I was as much in love as a man could be. We were quietly married at a registry office, and we returned to Norfolk a wedded
couple. You’ll think it very mad, Mr. Holmes, that a man of a good old family should marry a wife in this fashion, knowing nothing of her past or of her people; but if you saw her and knew her it would help you to understand.“
She was very straight about it, was Elsie. I can’t say that she did not give me every chance of getting out of it if I wished to do so. ‘I have had some very disagreeable associations in my life,’ said she; ‘I wish to forget all about them. I would rather never allude to the past, for it is very painful to me. If you take me, Hilton, you will take a woman who has nothing that she need be personally ashamed of; but you will have to be content with my word for it, and to allow me to be silent as to all that passed up to the time when I became yours.
If these conditions are too hard, then go back to Norfolk and leave me to the lonely life in which you found me.’ It was only the day before our wedding that she said those very words to me. I told her that I was content to take her on her own terms, and I have been as good as my word.“
Well, we have been married now for a year, and very happy we have been. But about a month ago, at the end of June, I saw for the first time signs of trouble. One day my wife received a letter from America. I saw the American stamp. She turned deadly white, read the letter, and threw it into the fire. She made no allusion to it afterwards, and I made none, for a promise is a promise; but she has never known an easy hour from that moment. There is always a look of fear upon her face—a look as if she were waiting and expecting. She would do better to trust me. She would find that I was her best friend. But until she speaks I can say nothing. Mind you, she is a truthful woman, Mr. Holmes, and whatever trouble there may have been in her past life it has been no fault of hers. I am only a simple Norfolk squire, but there is not a man in England who ranks his family honour more highly than I do. She knows it well, and she knew it well before she married me. She would never bring any stain upon it—of that I am sure.“
Well, now I come to the queer part of my story. About a week ago—it was the Tuesday of last week—I found on one of the window-sills a number of absurd little dancing figures, like these upon the paper. They were scrawled with chalk. I thought that it was the stable-boy who had drawn them, but the lad swore he knew nothing about it. Anyhow, they had come there during the night. I had them washed out, and I only mentioned the matter to my wife afterwards. To my surprise she took it very seriously, and begged me if any more came to let her see them.
None did come for a week, and then yesterday morning I found this paper lying on the sun-dial in the garden. I showed it to Elsie, and down she dropped in a dead faint. Since then she has looked like a woman in a dream, half dazed, and with terror always lurking in her eyes. It was then that I wrote and sent the paper to you, Mr. Holmes. It was not a thing that I could take to the police, for they would have laughed at me, but you will tell me what to do. I am not a rich man; but if there is any danger threatening my little woman I would spend my last copper to shield her.” (TDM)
|The episode twists the details of the story a little bit around. The romance behind a friendly English man and a foreign woman with secrets is still alluded to, but in this case, the woman is too smart to involve him in her live, knowing full well that her past is about to catch up with her. The principle of leaving a cipher for her is still there, though.
|SUPERMARKET. John Watson is standing at one of two self-service checkouts, scanning items from his basket. A short queue has formed behind him. John scans another item.
AUTOMATED VOICE: Unexpected item in bagging area. Please try again.221B BAKER STREET. In the living room of the flat, Sherlock Holmes is under attack from a heavily robed figure, his face and head almost completely shrouded in a variety of scarves. As the attacker slashes at him with a curved sword, Sherlock backs up carefully and
ducks this way and that to avoid the blows. The man backs Sherlock up as far as the sofa and takes another swing at him. Ducking under the sword, Sherlock drops onto the sofa in a sitting position. The attacker lifts his sword above his head with both hands and Sherlock raises a leg, kicking hard at the man’s chest and shoving him backwards. As the man stumbles back across the room, Sherlock gets to his
feet and takes an all-important moment to straighten his jacket before charging across the room towards the man.In the supermarket, John holds a lettuce in a plastic bag and moves it slowly across the scanner in an attempt to get it to read the barcode.
AUTOMATED VOICE: Item not scanned. Please try again.
(John straightens up, staring at the device in exasperation.)
JOHN: D’you think you could keep your voice down?In the flat, the attacker has his sword held horizontally in both hands and is pushing Sherlock backwards into the kitchen. With a tight grip on the man’s wrists, Sherlock falls back onto the kitchen table and the man follows him down, trying to press the edge of the blade into Sherlock’s throat. Grimacing with the effort, Sherlock pushes the man’s right wrist upwards to keep the blade from cutting him. The point of the sword begins to dig into the table to Sherlock’s right. Sherlock raises his left leg and knees the man in the side several times and, as this begins to weaken the man’s grip, Sherlock forces himself upwards again. The sword tip gouges a long
slash across the top of the table.In the supermarket, John has at last got everything scanned and has inserted his credit or debit card into the chip-and-PIN machine. He types in his PIN and waits.
AUTOMATED VOICE: Card not authorised. Please use an alternative method of payment.
JOHN: Yes, all right! I’ve got it!
AUTOMATED VOICE: Card not authorised. Please use an alternative method of payment.
(The man in the queue behind him has already picked up his own basket in expectation of getting to the scanner soon. John reaches towards his back pocket but apparently realises that he has no other way of paying.)
JOHN: Got nothing.
(He points at the machine.)
JOHN: Right, keep it. Keep that.
(As the man behind him looks on in surprise, John angrily walks away, abandoning his shopping and quite possibly his card as well.)In the flat, Sherlock is on his feet again and the fight has moved back into the living room. The attacker takes another swing at Sherlock who ducks underneath the sword and then quickly straightens up, pointing directly over the man’s shoulder.
(The man has already half turned in that direction with the swing of his sword and is also perhaps momentary distracted by their reflections in the mirror over the fireplace behind him. Sherlock takes advantage and swings a powerful uppercut to the man’s chin, and the man drops unconscious into Sherlock’s armchair. Sherlock straightens up and immediately checks his reflection in the mirror,
straightening his jacket and cuffs and then dusting himself down. He looks down at the man with disdain, as if indignant that he messed his suit up.)Some time later Sherlock is sitting in his armchair calmly reading a book. There is no sign of the attacker. John walks up the stairs and into the living room, stopping just inside the room and looking around as if he suspects that something has happened in his absence, but he can’t tell what.
SHERLOCK (not looking up): You took your time.
JOHN: Yeah, I didn’t get the shopping.
SHERLOCK (looking over the top of his book indignantly): What? Why not?
JOHN (tetchily): Because I had a row, in the shop, with a chip-and-PIN machine.
SHERLOCK (lowering his book a little): You … you had a row with a machine?
JOHN: Sort of. It sat there and I shouted abuse. Have you got cash?
(Sherlock holds back his amused smile and nods towards the kitchen.)
SHERLOCK: Take my card.
(John walks towards the kitchen where Sherlock’s wallet is lying on the table, but before he gets there he turns back to his flatmate indignantly.)
JOHN: You could always go yourself, you know. You’ve been sitting there all morning. You’ve not even moved since I left.
|Note: One aspect in canon is that Holmes is always interested in new inventions and scientific research, while Watson is fairly satisfied with his level of knowledge, he barely keeps up with the newest developments in medicine. This is alluded here, too, with John being much less comfortable with technical gadgets than Sherlock is.
Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman. (A Study in Pink, The Science of Deduction)
Note: Since I suspect that many people nowadays don’t know what a singlestick player exactly is (I certainly didn’t), here a video:
|(Sherlock briefly flashes back in his mind to the fight as he ducks under a swing from the attacker’s sword. He tries to look nonchalant as he turns the page of his book while John picks up the wallet from the table and rummages through it for a suitable payment card.)
JOHN: And what happened about that case you were offered – the Jaria Diamond?
SHERLOCK: Not interested.
(Using a piece of paper as a bookmark he shuts the book with a loud snap, and only then realises that the attacker’s sword is still lying underneath his chair in plain view. He quickly slams a foot down onto the end and slides his foot and the sword further back to
get the weapon out of sight.)
SHERLOCK (firmly): I sent them a message.
(Flashback to his uppercut that ended the fight.)
(John has now found a card he can use, but pauses to bend over to look more closely at the new long narrow gouge in the top of the table. He sighs and runs his finger along the cut, rubbing at it in case it’s just a mark that can be removed.)
JOHN (in an exasperated whisper): Ugh, Holmes.
(Looking across to his flatmate, he tuts pointedly. Sherlock shakes his head innocently. John turns and leaves the room, trotting down the stairs as Sherlock smirks.)Later, John staggers up the stairs carrying several bags of shopping.
JOHN (sarcastically): Don’t worry about me. I can manage.
(Sherlock, who is now sitting at the dining table with his hands folded in front of his mouth as he looks at a laptop screen, barely glances across to John, who sighs heavily as he carries the bags into the kitchen and dumps them onto the table. Sherlock is engrossed in reading an e-mail from someone called Sebastian Wilkes. The full e-mail isn’t shown but what text can be seen reveals that Sherlock and Sebastian haven’t seen each other for a long time. Sebastian has heard that Sherlock is now a consultant – or a consulting detective – and tells him that “There’s been an ‘incident’ at the bank” which he hopes that Sherlock may be able to sort out. He asks
him to drop by and says that he’ll be relying on Sherlock’s discretion. John turns around from the kitchen table and frowns as he realises which piece of equipment Sherlock is looking at.)
JOHN: Is that my computer?
SHERLOCK (starting to type): Of course.
SHERLOCK: Mine was in the bedroom.
JOHN: What, and you couldn’t be bothered to get up?
(Sherlock doesn’t reply.)
JOHN (indignantly): It’s password protected!
SHERLOCK (still typing): In a manner of speaking. Took me less than a minute to guess yours. (He glances up at John.) Not exactly Fort Knox.
JOHN (annoyed): Right, thank you.
(He reaches over and slams the lid down as Sherlock pulls his fingers out of the way just in time. John then takes the laptop across the room and puts it down on the floor beside his armchair as he sits down. Sherlock clasps his hands in the prayer position in front of his mouth as he props his elbows on the table and looks thoughtful. John picks up a small pile of letters from the table beside his chair and frowns.)
(He flicks through the letters, at least one of which appears to be a red bill which needs urgent paying. He shakes his head in resignation.)
JOHN: Need to get a job.
SHERLOCK: Oh, dull.
(He seems to be lost in thought. John puts the letters back onto the table and looks across at his friend for a moment, but then glances at the bills again and awkwardly sits forward.)
JOHN: Listen, um … if you’d be able to lend me some …
(He stops as he realises that Sherlock appears to be a world of his own.)
JOHN: Sherlock, are you listening?
SHERLOCK (without looking round): I need to go to the bank.
(He gets up and heads towards the stairs, taking his coat from the hook on the door as he goes. John frowns, then jumps up and hurries to join him.)
Note: While there are some cases involving jewels in canon, this diamond isn’t mentioned. Too bad, it’s certainly a missed opportunity for a nice reference. Jharia (spelled with “h”) is a coal mining region in India, though.
|I wonder about Sherlock in this scene…he certainly dislikes Sebastian, so why is he ready to help him? Because the case is so interesting? Or because of the opportunity to “show off” John?
|TOWER 42, OLD BROAD STREET. Sherlock leads John through revolving glass doors which lead into Shad Sanderson Bank. John stares at the impressive foyer as he follows his friend.
JOHN: Yes, when you said we were going to the bank …
(He gets onto an escalator behind Sherlock as the detective observes everything around him, especially the security systems which have to have cards swiped across electronic readers in order to open glass barrier gates. The boys reach the top of the escalator and Sherlock walks over to the reception desk and addresses one of the receptionists.)
SHERLOCK: Sherlock Holmes.A little later the boys have been shown into Sebastian Wilkes’ office and now he walks in and grins at Sherlock.
SEBASTIAN: Sherlock Holmes.
(They shake hands, Sebastian clasping Sherlock’s hand in both of his own.)
SEBASTIAN: Howdy, buddy. How long’s it been? Eight years since I last clapped eyes on you?
(Sherlock looks back at him with only marginally disguised dislike. Sebastian turns to look at John.)
SHERLOCK: This is my friend, John Watson.
SEBASTIAN (latching on to the emphasised word): Friend?
(They shake hands, Sebastian looking at John curiously.)
(He throws a brief look at Sherlock as if saying, ‘Didn’t think you had a friend!’ Grinning unpleasantly, he scratches his neck momentarily and Sherlock’s gaze falls on his wristwatch. As Sebastian turns away, John purses his lips as if he has taken an
instant dislike to the man; either that or he’s regretting correcting Sherlock.)
SEBASTIAN: Well, grab a pew. D’you need anything? Coffee, water?
(Sherlock shakes his head.)
SEBASTIAN: No? (To his secretary) We’re all sorted here, thanks.
(As the secretary leaves the room, Sebastian sits down at his desk and the other two sit side by side opposite him.)
SHERLOCK: So, you’re doing well. You’ve been abroad a lot.
SEBASTIAN: Well, some.
SHERLOCK: Flying all the way round the world twice in a month?
(John frowns in confusion but Sebastian just laughs and points at Sherlock.)
SEBASTIAN: Right. You’re doing that thing.
(He looks at John.)
|SEBASTIAN: We were at uni together. This guy here had a trick he used to do.
SHERLOCK (quietly): It’s not a trick.
SEBASTIAN (to John): He could look at you and tell you your whole life story.
JOHN: Yes, I’ve seen him do it.
SEBASTIAN: Put the wind up everybody. We hated him.
(Sherlock turns his head away and looks down, his face momentarily filling with pain.)
SEBASTIAN: You’d come down to breakfast in the Formal Hall and this freak would know you’d been shagging the previous night.
SHERLOCK (quietly): I simply observed.
SEBASTIAN: Go on, enlighten me. Two trips a month, flying all the way around the world – you’re quite right. How could you tell?
(Sherlock opens his mouth but Sebastian continues speaking.)
SEBASTIAN (smugly): You’re gonna tell me there was, um, a stain on my tie from some special kind of ketchup you can only buy in Manhattan.
SHERLOCK: No, I …
SEBASTIAN (talking over him): Maybe it was the mud on my shoes!
(Sherlock simply looks back at him for a moment before speaking.)
SHERLOCK: I was just chatting with your secretary outside. She told me.
(John frowns round at him, confused by such an ‘ordinary’ explanation. Sebastian laughs humourlessly and Sherlock smiles back at him with an equal lack of humour. Sebastian claps his hands together, then becomes more serious.)
SEBASTIAN: I’m glad you could make it over. We’ve had a break-in.
(He leads them across the trading floor towards another door.)
SEBASTIAN: Sir William’s office – the bank’s former Chairman. The room’s been left here like a sort of memorial. Someone broke in late last night.
JOHN: What did they steal?
SEBASTIAN: Nothing. Just left a little message.
(He holds his security card against the reader by the door to unlock it. Hanging on the plain white wall behind the large desk is a framed painted portrait of a man in a suit – presumably the late Sir William Shad himself. On the wall to the left of the portrait
someone has sprayed what looks like a graffiti ‘tag’ in yellow paint. The tag looks vaguely like a number 8 but with the top of the number left open, and above it is an almost horizontal straight line. And across the eyes of the portrait another almost horizontal straight line has been sprayed. Perhaps because of the texture of the paper or perhaps because the ‘artist’ oversprayed the line, the
yellow paint has run trails down the painting. Sebastian leads the way towards the desk and then steps aside to allow Sherlock a clear view of the wall. John moves to stand on the other side of Sebastian, who looks at Sherlock expectantly as the detective stares in fixed concentration at the graffiti.)(Later they’re back in Sebastian’s office and he is showing the boys the security footage of the office from the previous night.)SEBASTIAN: Sixty seconds apart.
(He flicks back and forth between the still taken at 23:34:01 which shows the paint on the wall and on the portrait, and a minute earlier – 23:33:01 – when the wall and portrait were still clean.)
SEBASTIAN: So, someone came up here in the middle of the night, splashed paint around, then left within a minute.
SHERLOCK: How many ways into that office?
SEBASTIAN: Well, that’s where this gets really interesting.
|I was never a very sociable fellow, Watson, always rather fond of moping in my rooms and working out my own little methods of thought, so that I never mixed much with the men of my year. Bar fencing and boxing I had few athletic tastes, and then my line of study was quite distinct from that of the other fellows, so that we had no points of contact at all. (The Gloria Scott)
|Back in the reception area, Sebastian shows them a screen on a computer which has a layout of the trading floor and its surrounding offices. Each indicated door has a light against it showing its security status.
SEBASTIAN: Every door that opens in this bank, it gets logged right here. Every walk-in cupboard, every toilet.
SHERLOCK: That door didn’t open last night.
SEBASTIAN: There’s a hole in our security. Find it and we’ll pay you – five figures.
(He reaches into the breast pocket of his jacket and takes out a cheque.)
SEBASTIAN: This is an advance. Tell me how he got in, there’s a bigger one on its way.
SHERLOCK: I don’t need an incentive, Sebastian.
(He walks away. John watches him go, then turns to Sebastian.)
JOHN: He’s, uh, he’s kidding you, obviously.
(He holds his hand out.)
JOHN: Sh-shall I look after that for him?
(Sebastian hands him the cheque.)
(He looks at the figure on the cheque and shakes his head in disbelief that that’s only the advance.)Sherlock has returned to Sir William’s office and is taking photographs of the graffiti on his mobile phone. Once he has taken several pictures he turns around, the symbols still floating in front of his mind’s eye. He looks to his right where the floor-to-ceiling windows show an impressive view of the nearby Swiss Re Tower, better known as ‘The Gherkin’. Frowning and looking away in thought for a
moment, he then walks over to the windows and pulls up the blinds which are covering what is revealed to be a door onto a small balcony. Opening the door he goes out onto the balcony and looks at the spectacular view over London before looking down at the very long drop to the ground hundreds of feet below. Sherlock looks along the balcony and bites his lip thoughtfully before heading back inside.Shortly afterwards, Sherlock is dancing. On the trading floor he has ducked down behind a desk and now rises slowly upright, staring in concentration at the glass doorway to Sir William’s office. He then ducks sideways and hurries across the floor, to the bemusement of the traders. Sherlock continues to scamper around the floor, frequently scurrying sideways and ducking down behind desks before popping up again and peering at the doorway. He dances across the floor again and twirls around a column [please note how our super-strong Sherlock knocks it sideways!] before backing towards an office on the other side of the floor. Stopping in that doorway, he wiggles about, his eyes still fixed on Sir William’s office, then turns and goes into the office and heads to the other side of the desk. Standing directly behind the chair of whoever works in that room, he sees that he has a clear view of the top
of the painting and the new yellow slash across the portrait’s eyes. He dances sideways across the room before coming back to his previous position, confirming that this is the only place on the trading floor where the damaged portrait can be seen. Looking around the room for some identification, he eventually goes to the door where two signs are attached to the outside, one showing that this is
the office of the Hong Kong Desk Head, and the sign above it giving the name of that person – Edward Van Coon. He slides the top sign out of its holder and heads off.Not long afterwards, Sherlock is leading John back towards the escalators.
JOHN: Two trips around the world this month. You didn’t ask his secretary; you said that just to irritate him.
(Sherlock smiles but doesn’t respond.)
JOHN: How did you know?
SHERLOCK: Did you see his watch?
(Brief flashback to Sherlock looking at Sebastian’s wrist as he scratched his neck.)
JOHN: His watch?
SHERLOCK: The time was right but the date was wrong. Said two days ago. Crossed the dateline twice but he didn’t alter it.
JOHN: Within a month? How’d you get that part?
SHERLOCK: New Breitling.
(Flashback close-up on the watch showing its brand name: Breitling Chronometre Crosswind.)
SHERLOCK: Only came out this February.
JOHN: Okay. So d’you think we should sniff around here for a bit longer?
SHERLOCK: Got everything I need to know already, thanks.
SHERLOCK: That graffiti was a message for someone at the bank working on the trading floors. We find the intended recipient and …
(He deliberately trails off, allowing John to finish the sentence.)
JOHN: … they’ll lead us to the person who sent it.
JOHN: Well, there’s three hundred people up there. Who was it meant for?
SHERLOCK: Pillars and the screens. Very few places you can see that graffiti from. That narrows the field considerably. And of course the message was left at eleven thirty-four last night. That tells us a lot.
JOHN: Does it?
(Sherlock continues talking as he and John go through the revolving doors and out onto the street.)
SHERLOCK: Traders come to work at all hours. Some trade with Hong Kong in the middle of the night. That message was intended for someone who came in at midnight.
(He holds up the name card to show John.)
SHERLOCK: Not many Van Coons in the phonebook.
(He spots what he immediately needs and calls out loudly.)
|“Let me say right here, Mr. Holmes,” he began, “that money is nothing to me in this case. You can burn it if it’s any use in lighting you to the truth. This woman is innocent and this woman has to be cleared, and it’s up to you to do it. Name your figure!”“My professional charges are upon a fixed scale,” said Holmes coldly. “I do not vary them, save when I remit them altogether.”
“Well, if dollars make no difference to you, think of the reputation. If you pull this off every paper in England and America will be booming you. You’ll be the talk of two continents.”
“Thank you, Mr. Gibson, I do not think that I am in need of booming. It may surprise you to know that I prefer to work anonymously, and that it is the problem itself which attracts me. But we are wasting time. Let us get down to the facts.” (The Problem of Thor Bridge)
Note: There are a number of similar quotes in canon, but I think this one puts the point across the best. Holmes is not in it for money or fame, it is about the riddle in itself. The same is true for Sherlock.
|After a taxi ride, they are outside a block of flats and Sherlock presses the door buzzer marked ‘Van Coon’. Releasing it, he looks into the security camera above the buzzers, waits a couple of seconds, then presses the buzzer again. There’s no response.
JOHN: So what do we do now? Sit here and wait for him to come back?
(Sherlock has looked at the number of buzzers on the wall and steps back to look up the front of the building, presumably calculating the layout of the flats inside. He comes back to the wall and looks at John triumphantly.)
SHERLOCK: Just moved in.
SHERLOCK: The floor above. New label.
(He points to another buzzer which has a handwritten label saying, ‘Wintle’.)
JOHN: Could have just replaced it.
(Sherlock presses that buzzer, then looks at John again.)
SHERLOCK: No-one ever does that.
(A woman’s voice comes over the intercom.)
MS WINTLE: Hello?
(Sherlock turns to the camera and smiles, putting on a ‘I’m just a normal harmless human being’ voice.)SHERLOCK: Hi! Um, I live in the flat just below you. I-I don’t think we’ve met.
(He grins prettily into the camera.)
MS WINTLE: No, well, uh, I’ve just moved in.(Sherlock turns to throw a brief ‘told you so’ glance at John, then turns back to the camera.)
SHERLOCK: Actually, I’ve just locked my keys in my flat.
(He grimaces and bites his lip plaintively.)
MS WINTLE: D’you want me to buzz you in?SHERLOCK: Yeah. And can I use your balcony?
MS WINTLE: What?
Not long afterwards, Sherlock has flirted his way into the lucky Ms Wintle’s flat and is standing on her balcony. He looks over it to the ground several floors below, and once again Season 2 viewers stifle a sob. Luckily for him, the top floor which he is on has
balconies which only run halfway across the front of the flat whereas the floor below has full-width balconies. He climbs over the side of Ms Wintle’s balcony and drops down onto the one outside Van Coon’s flat. Taking another look over the edge, he turns and reaches for the handle of the door and finds that it is unlocked, which is a jolly good thing or he’d still be sitting there now waiting for Lestrade to turn up with many many colleagues who would want to take photographs of him stranded out there. He goes inside and walks across the very elegantly decorated living room. This is clearly the apartment of a wealthy man, with white leather furniture, shiny black tables and minimal clutter. He looks at everything as he goes through the room, and glances at a pile of books on a table. He walks through the kitchen, looking at the work surface before opening the fridge to reveal that it’s full of nothing other than bottles of champagne. The front door to the flat buzzes.
JOHN (from the other side of the door): Sherlock.(Sherlock moves into the hall.)
JOHN (from outside): Sherlock, are you okay?(Sherlock opens the door to the small bathroom and glances inside at the few items on the shelf opposite. He shuts the door and walks to a larger door which is closed. He tries it and finds that it’s locked.)
JOHN (from outside): Yeah, any time you feel like letting me in.
(Sherlock turns side-on and shoulder-charges the door and it bursts open. He walks inside and finds a man in a suit and overcoat lying on his back on the bed, dead. There is a pistol on the floor, and the man has a small bullet hole in his right temple.)Later, the police have been called and a photographer is taking pictures of Van Coon’s body lying on the bed. A forensics officer is dusting for fingerprints on the nearby mirror, and distant voices suggest that other forensics officers are elsewhere in the flat. Sherlock has taken his coat off and is in the bedroom putting on a pair of latex gloves. John stands beside him.
JOHN: D’you think he’d lost a lot of money? I mean, suicide is pretty common among City boys.
SHERLOCK: We don’t know that it was suicide.
JOHN: Come on. The door was locked from the inside; you had to climb down the balcony.
(Sherlock has squatted down by a suitcase on the floor near the bed and has opened the lid and is looking at the contents.)
SHERLOCK: Been away three days, judging by the laundry.
(He sees that there’s a deep indentation in the clothing inside the case, then straightens up and looks at John.)
SHERLOCK: Look at the case. There was something tightly packed inside it.
JOHN: Thanks – I’ll take your word for it.
JOHN: Yeah, I’m not desperate to root around some bloke’s dirty underwear.
SHERLOCK (walking to the foot of the bed): Those symbols at the bank – the graffiti. Why were they put there?
JOHN: What, some sort of code?
(Having looked closely at Van Coon’s legs – or possibly his shoes – he moves up and carefully opens the man’s jacket to look at his inside pockets.)
SHERLOCK: Why were they painted? If you want to communicate, why not use e-mail?
JOHN: Well, maybe he wasn’t answering.
SHERLOCK: Oh good. You follow.
(Sherlock throws him a look before moving on to examine Van Coon’s hands.)
SHERLOCK: What kind of a message would everyone try to avoid?
(John frowns in confusion.)
SHERLOCK: What about this morning – those letters you were looking at?
(Sherlock gently prises Van Coon’s mouth open and pulls out a small black origami flower from inside. Air hisses out from the dead man’s lungs.)
SHERLOCK: Yes. He was being threatened.
MAN’s VOICE (outside the bedroom): Bag this up, will you …
JOHN (looking closely at the paper flower as Sherlock lifts an evidence bag to put the flower into it): Not by the gas board.
MAN’s VOICE: … and see if you can get prints off this glass.
(The man – a plain clothed police officer who looks very young – walks into the bedroom. Sherlock turns and walks towards him.)
SHERLOCK: Ah, Sergeant. We haven’t met.
(He offers his hand to shake. The young man puts his hands on his hips.)
MAN: Yeah, I know who you are; and I’d prefer it if you didn’t tamper with any of the evidence.
(Lowering his hand, Sherlock gives the evidence bag to the officer and turns his best stroppy look on him.)SHERLOCK: I’ve phoned Lestrade. Is he on his way?MAN: He’s busy. I’m in charge. And it’s not Sergeant; it’s Detective Inspector. Dimmock.
(Sherlock looks at him in surprise, then turns and shares his surprised look with John. Dimmock walks out of the room. The boys follow him into the
living room and he hands the bag to one of the forensics team.)
DIMMOCK: We’re obviously looking at a suicide.
JOHN: That does seem the only explanation of all the facts.
(Sherlock takes his gloves off and turns back to him.)SHERLOCK: Wrong. It’s one possible explanation of some of the facts.
(He turns to Dimmock.)
SHERLOCK: You’ve got a solution that you like, but you’re choosing to ignore anything you see that doesn’t comply with it.
SHERLOCK: The wound was on the right side of his head.
SHERLOCK: Van Coon was left-handed.
(He goes into an elaborate mime as he demonstrates his point, pretending to try and point a gun to his right temple with his left hand.)
SHERLOCK: Requires quite a bit of contortion.
SHERLOCK (sarcastically): Oh, I’m amazed you didn’t notice. All you have to do is look around this flat.
(He points to the table beside the sofa.)
SHERLOCK: Coffee table on the left-hand side; coffee mug handle pointing to the left. Power sockets: habitually used the ones on the left …
(Close-up of a double socket on the wall with a plug only in the left-hand socket.)
SHERLOCK: Pen and paper on the left-hand side of the phone because he picked it up with his right and took down messages with his left. D’you want me to go on?
JOHN (tiredly): No, I think you’ve covered it.
SHERLOCK: Oh, I might as well; I’m almost at the bottom of the list.
(John nods as if to say, ‘Yeah, I thought you might.’)SHERLOCK (pointing towards the kitchen): There’s a knife on the breadboard with butter on the right side of the blade because he used it with his left.
(He turns to Dimmock with an impatient look on his face.)
SHERLOCK: It’s highly unlikely that a left-handed man would shoot himself in the right side of his head.[Says the man whose flatmate is left-handed but shoots with his right hand …]
SHERLOCK: Conclusion: someone broke in here and murdered him. Only explanation of all the facts.
DIMMOCK: But the gun: why …
SHERLOCK (interrupting): He was waiting for the killer. He’d been threatened.
(He walks away and starts to put on his scarf, coat and gloves.)
JOHN: Today at the bank. Sort of a warning.
SHERLOCK: He fired a shot when his attacker came in.
DIMMOCK: And the bullet?
SHERLOCK: Went through the open window.
DIMMOCK: Oh, come on! What are the chances of that?!
SHERLOCK: Wait until you get the ballistics report. The bullet in his brain wasn’t fired from his gun. I guarantee it.
DIMMOCK: But if his door was locked from the inside, how did the killer get in?
SHERLOCK (condescendingly, as he dramatically slams his hand into his glove): Good! You’re finally asking the right questions.
(He turns and flounces out. John looks round at Dimmock and then points apologetically towards the departing drama queen before following him.)
|The old hall, oak-panelled and high-windowed, had been turned into a court of investigation. Holmes sat in a great, old-fashioned chair, his inexorable eyes gleaming out of his haggard face. I could read in them a set purpose to devote his life to this quest until the client whom he had failed to save should at last be avenged. The trim Inspector Martin, the old, grey-headed country doctor, myself, and a stolid
village policeman made up the rest of that strange company.
The two women told their story clearly enough. They had been aroused from their sleep by the sound of an explosion, which had been followed a minute later by a second one. They slept in adjoining rooms, and Mrs. King had rushed in to Saunders. Together they had descended the stairs. The door of the study was open and a candle was burning upon the table. Their master lay upon his face in the centre of the room.
He was quite dead. Near the window his wife was crouching, her head leaning against the wall. She was horribly wounded, and the side of her face was red with blood. She breathed heavily, but was incapable of saying anything. The passage, as well as the room, was full of smoke and the smell of powder. The window was certainly shut and fastened upon the inside. Both women were positive upon the point.
They had at once sent for the doctor and for the constable. Then, with the aid of the groom and the stable-boy, they had conveyed their injured mistress to her room. Both she and her husband had occupied the bed. She was clad in her dress—he in his dressing-gown, over his night clothes. Nothing had been moved in the study. So far as they knew there had never been any quarrel between husband and wife. They had always looked upon them as a very united couple.
These were the main points of the servants’ evidence. In answer to Inspector Martin they were clear that every door was fastened upon the inside, and that no one could have escaped from the house. In answer to Holmes they both remembered that they were conscious of the smell of powder from the moment that they ran out of their rooms upon the top floor.
“I commend that fact very carefully to your attention,” said Holmes to his professional colleague. “And now I think that we are in a position to undertake a thorough examination of the room.”
The study proved to be a small chamber, lined on three sides with books, and with a writing-table facing an ordinary window, which looked out upon the garden. Our first attention was given to the body of the unfortunate squire, whose huge frame lay stretched across the room. His disordered dress showed that he had been hastily aroused from sleep. The bullet had been fired at him from the front, and had remained in his body after penetrating the heart. His death had certainly been instantaneous and painless. There was no powder-marking either upon
his dressing-gown or on his hands. According to the country surgeon the lady had stains upon her face, but none upon her hand.
“The absence of the latter means nothing, though its presence may mean everything,” said Holmes. “Unless the powder from a badly-fitting cartridge happens to spurt backwards, one may fire many shots without leaving a sign. I would suggest that Mr. Cubitt’s body may now be removed. I suppose, doctor, you have not recovered the bullet which wounded the lady?”
“A serious operation will be necessary before that can be done. But there are still four cartridges in the revolver. Two have been fired and two wounds inflicted, so that each bullet can be accounted for.”
“So it would seem,” said Holmes. “Perhaps you can account also for the bullet which has so obviously struck the edge of the window?”
He had turned suddenly, and his long, thin finger was pointing to a hole which had been drilled right through the lower window-sash about an inch above the bottom.
“By George!” cried the inspector. “How ever did you see that?”
“Because I looked for it.”
“Wonderful!” said the country doctor. “You are certainly right, sir. Then a third shot has been fired, and therefore a third person must have been present. But who could that have been and how could he have got away?”
“That is the problem which we are now about to solve,” said Sherlock Holmes. “You remember, Inspector Martin, when the servants said that on leaving their room they were at once conscious of a smell of powder I remarked that the point was an extremely important one?”
“Yes, sir; but I confess I did not quite follow you.”
“It suggested that at the time of the firing the window as well as the door of the room had been open. Otherwise the fumes of powder could not have been blown so rapidly through the house. A draught in the room was necessary for that. Both door and window were only open for a very short time, however.”
“How do you prove that?”
“Because the candle has not guttered.”
“Capital!” cried the inspector. “Capital!”
“Feeling sure that the window had been open at the time of the tragedy I conceived that there might have been a third person in the affair, who stood outside this opening and fired through it. Any shot directed at this person might hit the sash. I looked, and there, sure enough, was the bullet mark!”
“But how came the window to be shut and fastened?”
“The woman’s first instinct would be to shut and fasten the window. But, halloa! what is this?”
It was a lady’s hand-bag which stood upon the study table—a trim little hand-bag of crocodile-skin and silver. Holmes opened it and turned the contents out. There were twenty fifty-pound notes of the Bank of England, held together by an india-rubber band—nothing else.
“This must be preserved, for it will figure in the trial,” said Holmes, as he handed the bag with its contents to the inspector. “It is now necessary that we should try to throw some light upon this third bullet, which has clearly, from the splintering of the wood, been fired from inside the room. I should like to see Mrs. King, the cook, again. You said, Mrs. King, that you were awakened by a loud explosion. When you said that, did you mean that it seemed to you to be louder than the second one?”
“Well, sir, it wakened me from my sleep, and so it is hard to judge. But it did seem very loud.”
“You don’t think that it might have been two shots fired almost at the same instant?”
“I am sure I couldn’t say, sir.”
“I believe that it was undoubtedly so. I rather think, Inspector Martin, that we have now exhausted all that this room can teach us. If you will kindly step round with me, we shall see what fresh evidence the garden has to offer.”
A flower-bed extended up to the study window, and we all broke into an exclamation as we approached it. The flowers were trampled down, and the soft soil was imprinted all over with footmarks. Large, masculine feet they were, with peculiarly long, sharp toes. Holmes hunted about among the grass and leaves like a retriever after a wounded bird. Then, with a cry of satisfaction, he bent forward and picked up a little brazen cylinder.
“I thought so,” said he; “the revolver had an ejector, and here is the third cartridge. I really think, Inspector Martin, that our case is almost complete.”
The country inspector’s face had shown his intense amazement at the rapid and masterful progress of Holmes’s investigation. At first he had shown some disposition to assert his own position; but now he was overcome with admiration and ready to follow without question wherever Holmes led.
“Whom do you suspect?” he asked.
“I’ll go into that later. There are several points in this problem which I have not been able to explain to you yet. Now that I have got so far I had best proceed on my own lines, and then clear the whole matter up once and for all.”
“Just as you wish, Mr. Holmes, so long as we get our man.” (TDM)
“I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” (Scandal in Bohemia, I)
“But that is mere speculation,” said I.
“It is more than that. It is the only hypothesis which covers the facts.” (The Sign of the Four, The Episode of the Barrel)
|This is a typical case, in which the modern police methods make a difference. Since there is something like ballistics nowadays, the police will figure out eventually that the bullet went through the window. Sherlock is just faster in reaching the conclusion.
|RESTAURANT. Sebastian is having lunch with some clients or work colleagues.
SEBASTIAN (laughing): … and he’s left trying to sort of cut his hair with a fork, which of course can never be done!
(Sherlock and John walk over to the table.)SHERLOCK: It was a threat. That’s what the graffiti meant.
SEBASTIAN: I’m kind of in a meeting. Can you make an appointment with my secretary?
SHERLOCK: I don’t think this can wait. Sorry, Sebastian. One of your traders – someone who worked in your office – was killed.
JOHN: Van Coon. The police are at his flat.
SEBASTIAN (shocked): Killed?
SHERLOCK (sarcastically): Sorry to interfere with everyone’s digestion. Still wanna make an appointment? Would, maybe, nine o’clock at Scotland Yard suit?
(Sebastian puts his glass of water down and nervously runs his finger inside his shirt collar.)Shortly afterwards, Sebastian and the boys have relocated to the toilets in the restaurant. Sebastian is washing his hands.
SEBASTIAN: Harrow; Oxford. Very bright guy. Worked in Asia for a while, so …
JOHN: … you gave him the Hong Kong accounts.
SEBASTIAN (drying his hands on a towel): Lost five mill in a single morning; made it all back a week later. Nerves of steel, Eddie had.
JOHN: Who’d wanna kill him?
SEBASTIAN: We all make enemies.
JOHN: You don’t all end up with a bullet through your temple.
(Sebastian’s phone beeps a text alert.)
SEBASTIAN: Not usually. ’Scuse me.
(He gets his phone out and looks at the message.)SEBASTIAN: It’s my Chairman. The police have been on to him. Apparently they’re telling him it was a suicide.
SHERLOCK: Well, they’ve got it wrong, Sebastian. He was murdered.
SEBASTIAN: Well, I’m afraid they don’t see it like that.
SHERLOCK (sternly): Seb.
SEBASTIAN: … and neither does my boss. I hired you to do a job. Don’t get side-tracked.
(He walks away.)
JOHN: I thought bankers were all supposed to be heartless bastards(!)
EARL’S COURT. NIGHT TIME. An overweight bald man in his early forties is running frantically down the street, a hard backed book clasped in one hand. He looks repeatedly behind him as he runs. Reaching his front door, he whimpers as he fumbles with his door keys and finally gets the door open. Running upstairs, he unlocks the door to his flat and hurries inside, slamming the door and pushing a bolt across. He scurries up the flight of stairs leading to the main flat, throwing his book onto a pile of other books strewn all the way up the stairs, and runs into his living room. He stops in the middle of the room and then turns around, his face covered with sweat and his face full of terror at the sight which greets him.NATIONAL ANTIQUITIES MUSEUM. The museum’s Director walks across to Andy, who is sitting at a table cleaning an ancient pot.
DIRECTOR: I need you to get over to Crispians.
(She shows him a catalogue.)
DIRECTOR: Two Ming vases up for auction – Chenghua. Will you appraise them?
ANDY: Er, er, Soo Lin should go. She’s the expert.
DIRECTOR: Soo Lin has resigned her job. I need you.(She walks away. Andy turns and looks sadly at Soo Lin’s table behind him.)Later, he is standing outside the front door to Soo Lin’s flat. Her doorbell has a handwritten name tag above it, showing her name – Soo Lin Yao – with a flower drawn in place of the dot over the ‘i’ and a couple of other flowers in the right hand corners. Andy presses the doorbell, then steps back and looks up to the first floor windows of the flat which is above a shop called The Lucky Cat. The shop and flat are clearly located in London’s Chinatown. When nobody answers his ring, he rummages in his pockets, takes out an envelope and pen and scribbles a note on the envelope before bending down to the letterbox and pushing it through. He walks away.
|There are different opinions if John waits until Sebastian is away before voicing his opinion about bankers or not. To me it sounds like the door closed after he said it, so he might have deliberately chosen the moment, when Sebastian would still be able to hear him, but would have looked foolish if he turned around to react.
|In a doctor’s surgery, Doctor Sarah Sawyer is reading John’s printed Curriculum Vitae. She looks up at John sitting opposite her.
SARAH: Just locum work.
JOHN: No, that’s fine.
SARAH: You’re, um … well, you’re a bit over-qualified.
JOHN (smiling): Er, I could always do with the money.
SARAH: Well, we’ve got two away on holiday this week, and one’s just left to have a baby. Might be a bit mundane for you.
JOHN: Er, no; mundane is good sometimes. Mundane works.
SARAH (softly): It says here you were a soldier.
JOHN: And a doctor.
(He smiles at her again. Sarah looks down. She clearly fancies him.)
SARAH: Anything else you can do?
JOHN: I learned the clarinet at school.
SARAH: Oh! (She laughs.) Well, I look forward to it!(John laughs. She smiles flirtatiously at him)
|“What was I, an army surgeon with a weak leg and a weaker banking-account, that I should dare to think of such things?” (The Sign of the Four, The Statement of the Case)
|The Blind Banker often gets flak for being the worst episode of the series, but one aspect I really like about it, is the fact, that it expands on John a little bit. Unlike other Watsons he has his own job and relationships which are not directly related to Sherlock.
|221B. Sherlock has printed out the photographs of the graffiti near and across Sir William’s portrait and has stuck them around the mirror above the fireplace. He is sitting on one of the dining chairs with his back to the dining table. He has his fingers steepled under his chin and is staring at the photos as various symbols in different languages flash in front of his mind’s eye. John walks in from the landing and drops his jacket onto his chair.
SHERLOCK (without looking round): I said, “Could you pass me a pen?”
(John looks around the living room as if expecting that Sherlock is talking to someone else.)
JOHN: What? When?
SHERLOCK: ’Bout an hour ago.
JOHN: Didn’t notice I’d gone out, then.
(He picks up a pen from the table beside his chair and, without even looking at Sherlock, tosses the pen in his direction. Sherlock lifts his left hand and catches it without looking away from the photographs on the wall. John walks over to the mirror to look more closely at the photos.)
JOHN: Yeah, I went to see about a job at that surgery.
SHERLOCK: How was it?
JOHN (absently): It’s great. She’s great.
JOHN (looking round to him): The job.
JOHN: … It.
(Sherlock looks at him suspiciously for a moment, then jerks his head to his right.)
SHERLOCK: Here, have a look.
(He walks over to the table and looks at the web page on the open computer. The lead article on the ‘Online News’ page is headlined, “Ghostly killer leaves a mystery for police”. Next to it is a photograph of the bald man, and the article reads: An intruder who can walk through walls murdered a man in his London apartment last night. Brian Lukis, 41, a freelance journalist from Earl’s Court was found shot in his fourth floor flat but all his doors and windows were locked and there were no apparent signs of a break in. A police spokesman said they are still uncertain how the assailant broke in…)
JOHN: The intruder who can walk through walls.
SHERLOCK: Happened last night. Journalist shot dead in his flat; doors locked, windows bolted from the inside – exactly the same as Van Coon.
JOHN (straightening up and looking at his flatmate): God. You think …
SHERLOCK: He’s killed another one.
NEW SCOTLAND YARD. D.I. Dimmock sits at his desk and folds his arms in exasperation as Sherlock stands on the other side of the desk and types onto a laptop.
SHERLOCK: Brian Lukis, freelance journalist. Murdered in his flat …
(He turns the laptop around to show Dimmock the web page which John was looking at earlier.)SHERLOCK: … doors locked from the inside.
JOHN: You’ve gotta admit, it’s similar.
(Dimmock scowls at the computer.)
JOHN: Both men killed by someone who can … (he hesitates momentarily as if unable to believe what he’s about to say, but perseveres onwards) … walk through solid walls.
SHERLOCK: Inspector, do you seriously believe that Eddie Van Coon was just another City suicide?
(Dimmock squirms, not meeting his eyes. Sherlock looks up, exasperated, and sighs pointedly.)SHERLOCK: You have seen the ballistics report, I suppose?
DIMMOCK (nodding): Mmm.
SHERLOCK: And the shot that killed him: was it fired from his own gun?
DIMMOCK (reluctantly): No.
SHERLOCK: No. So this investigation might move a bit quicker if you were to take my word as gospel.(Dimmock looks back at him silently. Sherlock leans forward over the desk and speaks quietly but intensely into his face.)
SHERLOCK: I’ve just handed you a murder enquiry. (Louder, nodding towards the picture of Lukis on the computer) Five minutes in his flat.LUKIS’ FLAT. Sherlock ducks under the police tape at the bottom of the stairs inside the door of the flat. He goes upstairs, followed by Dimmock and John. Looking around at everything as he goes, he walks into the living room. There’s an open empty suitcase on the floor. Nearby on the carpet is a black origami flower, similar to the one that Sherlock pulled from Van Coon’s mouth. There are books everywhere on the desk and on bookshelves and scattered about on the floor. Several open newspapers are also lying on the floor. He walks over to the kitchen area and looks through the window at the nearby rooftops of lower buildings. Pushing the net curtain back for a better look, he smirks.)
SHERLOCK: Four floors up. That’s why they think they’re safe. Put a chain across the door and bolt it shut; think they’re impregnable.
(He walks into the middle of the room again.)SHERLOCK: They don’t reckon for one second that there’s another way in.
(He turns back towards the stairs and sees a skylight above the landing.)
DIMMOCK: I don’t understand.
SHERLOCK (going out onto the landing): You’re dealing with a killer who can climb.
(He hops up on something – maybe a step stool or a box – to get closer to the skylight which is high up on the angled roof.)
DIMMOCK: What are you doing?
SHERLOCK: He clings to the walls like an insect.
(He unhooks the latch and pushes the window upwards.)
SHERLOCK (softly): That’s how he got in.
SHERLOCK: Climbed up the side of the walls, ran along the roof, dropped in through this skylight.
DIMMOCK: You’re not serious! Like Spiderman?(!)SHERLOCK: He scaled six floors of a Docklands apartment building, jumped the balcony to kill Van Coon.
DIMMOCK (laughing in disbelief): Oh, ho-hold on!SHERLOCK: And of course that’s how he got into the bank. He ran along the window ledge and onto the terrace.
(He steps down onto the landing and looks around again.)
SHERLOCK: We have to find out what connects these two men.
(His eyes fall on the pile of books scattered up the side of the staircase. Jumping down a few stairs he picks up one particular book which has fallen open at its front page which shows that it has been borrowed from West Kensington Library. Slamming the book shut, he takes it with him as he heads off down the stairs.)After a taxi journey Sherlock and John are once again on an escalator, this time inside West Kensington Library. Sherlock finds his way to the aisle where Lukis’ book came from.
SHERLOCK: Date stamped on the book is the same day that he died.
(Checking the reference number stuck to the bottom of the book’s spine, he goes to the correct place along the shelves and starts pulling out books and examining them. John, probably just for something to do, pulls out some books on a nearby shelf on the other side of the aisle and immediately gets lucky.)
(Sherlock turns and sees John staring into the gap left by the books he removed. Stepping over to him, he reaches to the shelf and pulls out so many books with one hand. Pulling out another huge handful of books with his other hand, he reveals that spray painted on the back of the shelf are the same two symbols that were sprayed across Sir William Shad’s office.)221B. Photographs of the shelf have been added to the earlier photos stuck around the mirror in the living room. The boys are standing at the fireplace looking at the pictures.
SHERLOCK: So, the killer goes to the bank, leaves a threatening cipher for Van Coon; Van Coon panics, returns to his apartment, locks himself in.
(Flashback of a terrified Eddie Van Coon turning the key in the inside lock of his front door and fastening the safety chain before hurrying towards his bedroom.)
SHERLOCK: Hours later, he dies.
JOHN: The killer finds Lukis at the library; he writes the cipher on the shelf where he knows it’ll be seen; Lukis goes home.
SHERLOCK: Late that night, he dies too.
JOHN (softly): Why did they die, Sherlock?
(Sherlock runs his fingers over the line painted across Sir William’s face.)
SHERLOCK: Only the cipher can tell us.
(He thoughtfully taps his finger against the photo as his expression sharpens. Apparently he has had an idea.)TRAFALGAR SQUARE. The boys are walking through the centre of the square, heading towards the National Gallery.
SHERLOCK: The world’s run on codes and ciphers, John. From the million-pound security system at the bank, to the PIN machine you took exception to, cryptography inhabits our every waking moment.
JOHN: Yes, okay, but …
SHERLOCK: … but it’s all computer-generated: electronic codes, electronic ciphering methods. This is different. It’s an ancient device. Modern code-breaking methods won’t unravel it.
JOHN: Where are we headed?
SHERLOCK: I need to ask some advice.
JOHN: What?! Sorry?!
(Sherlock throws him a black look as John smiles in disbelief.)
SHERLOCK: You heard me perfectly. I’m not saying it again.
JOHN: You need advice?
SHERLOCK: On painting, yes. I need to talk to an expert.
(He leads John towards the entrance to the National Gallery …
… and straight around it to the rear of the building where a young man has spray-stencilled onto a solid grey metal door the image of a policeman holding a rifle in his hands. The image has a pig’s snout in place of a human nose. A large canvas bag is at the man’s feet and he is holding spray cans in both hands. With one of the cans he has sprayed his tag, “RAZ”, below the image and he is now adding the finishing touches to his ‘artwork’. He continues spraying, unperturbed, as Sherlock and John approach.)
RAZ: Part of a new exhibition.
SHERLOCK (disinterestedly): Interesting.
RAZ: I call it Urban Bloodlust Frenzy.
RAZ (still spraying): I’ve got two minutes before a Community Support Officer comes round that corner.(He looks round to Sherlock.)
RAZ: Can we do this while I’m workin’?
(Sherlock has taken his phone from his coat pocket and now holds it out towards Raz, who turns around and tosses one of the spray cans at John. John instinctively catches it, and looks at Sherlock and Raz in bewilderment. Raz takes Sherlock’s phone and scrolls through the photographs of the yellow ciphers from Sir William’s office and the library.)
SHERLOCK: Know the author?
RAZ: Recognise the paint. It’s like Michigan; hardcore propellant. I’d say zinc.
SHERLOCK: What about the symbols: d’you recognise them?
RAZ (squinting at the pictures): Not even sure it’s a proper language.
SHERLOCK: Two men have been murdered, Raz. Deciphering this is the key to finding out who killed them.
RAZ: What, and this is all you’ve got to go on? It’s hardly much, now, is it?
SHERLOCK: Are you gonna help us or not?
RAZ: I’ll ask around.
SHERLOCK: Somebody must know something about it.
VOICE (offscreen): Oi!
(The three of them look round and see two Community Support Officers hurrying towards them. Sherlock instantly grabs his phone from Raz and runs off in the opposite direction while Raz drops his spray can, kicks his bag towards John and also scarpers. John meekly turns towards the officers.)
COMMUNITY OFFICER: What the hell do you think you’re doing? This gallery is a listed public building.
JOHN: No, no, wait, wait. It’s not me who painted that.
(He holds up the spray can.)
JOHN: I was just holding this for …
(He turns and seems to realise for the first time that he has been abandoned. He sighs quietly. The officer kicks open the bag to reveal more spray cans inside, then looks at John pointedly.)
COMMUNITY OFFICER: Bit of an enthusiast, are we?(John looks blankly at him and then stares at the graffiti on the door, apparently wondering how he’s going to explain his way out of this.)NATIONAL ANTIQUITIES MUSEUM. Andy is pestering the museum’s Director about Soo Lin’s abrupt departure.
ANDY: She was right in the middle of an important piece of restoration. Why would she suddenly resign?DIRECTOR: Family problems. She said so in her letter.
ANDY: But she doesn’t have a family. She came to this country on her own.
DIRECTOR: Andy …
ANDY: Look, those teapots, those ceramics: they’ve become her obsession. She’s been working on restoring them for weeks. I-I can’t believe that she would just abandon them.
(The Director looks at him pointedly.)
DIRECTOR: Perhaps she was getting a bit of unwanted attention.
(She walks away. Andy looks round awkwardly at other colleagues in the room who have been listening in but who now abruptly turn away again.)
|I get the concept of leaving threatening messages in places, where the victims believe they are safe. This must have a terrifying impact. And naturally the criminals use a cipher, so that only the intended person can read them. But who empties a whole shelve when he is in a library? Or conveniently removes the sheet from the right statue?
|221B. Sherlock is standing at the fireplace again. The mirror is now almost completely covered because he has added several sheets of paper with various ciphers and pictograms on them. He has his head lowered and is consulting a book. A slamming door announces John’s return to the flat but since John immediately walks into the living room, I can only assume that he slammed the kitchen door shut as he
walked past it – presumably the only way he can think of to signify that not only is he home but he is Mad As Hell.
SHERLOCK (without turning round or looking up): You’ve been a while.
(John walks a few more paces into the room, his shoulders rigid and his fists clenched. He stops, blinking as he fights to hold onto his anger, then turns to Sherlock.)
JOHN (tightly): Yeah, well, you know how it is. Custody sergeants don’t really like to be hurried, do they?
(He starts pacing, an angry half-smile half-grimace on his face.)
JOHN: Just formalities: fingerprints, charge sheet; and I’ve gotta be in Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
SHERLOCK (absently, having clearly not heard a word): What?
JOHN (angrily): Me, Sherlock, in court on Tuesday. (He puts on a rough London accent.) They’re givin’ me an ASBO!
SHERLOCK (still not paying any attention): Good. Fine.
JOHN (tightly): You wanna tell your little pal he’s welcome to go and own up any time.
SHERLOCK (slamming his book shut): This symbol: I still can’t place it.
(Turning and putting the book down, he walks over to John who has just started to take his jacket off, and pulls the jacket back onto his shoulders.)
SHERLOCK: No, I need you to go to the police station …
JOHN (indignantly, as Sherlock turns him around and steers him towards the door): Oy, oy, oy!
SHERLOCK: … ask about the journalist.
JOHN (exasperated): Oh, Jesus!
SHERLOCK (grabbing his own coat from the back of the door): His personal effects will have been impounded. Get hold of his diary, or something that will tell us his movements.
(They go downstairs and out onto the street.)
SHERLOCK: Gonna go and see Van Coon’s P.A. If we retrace their steps, somewhere they’ll coincide.
(He walks off down the street. John sees a taxi coming around the corner and hails it. As it pulls over to the kerb he sees an Oriental-looking woman with dark hair and wearing dark sunglasses standing on the other side of the road and taking a photograph. Her camera is aimed in his direction. He bends to the taxi driver’s window.)
JOHN: Scotland Yard.
TAXI DRIVER: Right.
(John gets into the back of the taxi and glances round to the other side of the road as he sits down. There’s no sign of the woman.)
|SHAD SANDERSON BANK. Sherlock is in Van Coon’s office standing beside his personal assistant, Amanda, who is looking at an online calendar.
AMANDA: Flew back from Dalian Friday. Looks like he had back-to-back meetings with the sales team.
SHERLOCK: Can you print me up a copy?
SHERLOCK: What about the day he died? Can you tell me where he was?
AMANDA (looking at the screen): Sorry. Bit of a gap.(The calendar shows no entries for Monday the 22nd. Sherlock looks away, frustrated. Amanda also realises something.)
AMANDA: I have all his receipts.NEW SCOTLAND YARD. Dimmock is standing at a desk and rummaging through a box of Brian Lukis’ possessions. John stands at the other side.
DIMMOCK: Your friend …
JOHN: Listen: whatever you say, I’m behind you one hundred percent.
DIMMOCK: … he’s an arrogant sod.
JOHN: Well, that was mild! People say a lot worse than that.
(Dimmock hands him a diary.)
DIMMOCK: This is what you wanted, isn’t it? The journalist’s diary?
(John takes the diary and flicks through it, opening it at a page which has been bookmarked with a boarding pass to Dalian DLC [Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport] to London LHR [London Heathrow Airport] on Zhuang Airlines.)SHAD SANDERSON BANK. Amanda has spread out Van Coon’s receipts on her desk.
SHERLOCK: What kind of a boss was he, Amanda? Appreciative?
AMANDA: Um, no. That’s not a word I’d use. The only things Eddie appreciated had a big price tag.(Sherlock kneels down on the floor to give himself easier access to the receipts. As he is taking his gloves off he sees a pump-action bottle of luxury hand lotion at the back of the desk.)
SHERLOCK: Like that hand cream. He bought that for you, didn’t he?
(Fiddling nervously with a pin in her hair, Amanda looks at him in surprise. Sherlock shuffles through the paperwork and picks up a receipt from a licensed taxi. Dated 22 March 2010 and timed at 10:35, the receipt is for £18.50. He hands it up to Amanda.)
SHERLOCK: Look at this one. Got a taxi from home on the day he died. Eighteen pounds fifty.
AMANDA: That would get him to the office.
SHERLOCK: Not rush hour; check the time. Mid-morning. Eighteen would get him as far as …
AMANDA: The West End. I remember him saying.(Sherlock has now found a London Underground ticket with the same date on it and issued at “Picadilly” [which is mis-spelled]. He hands that up to Amanda.)
SHERLOCK: Underground. Printed at one in Piccadilly.
AMANDA: So he got a Tube back to the office. Why would he get a taxi into town and then the Tube back?
SHERLOCK (still going through the receipts): Because he was delivering something heavy. Didn’t want to lug a package up the escalator.
SHERLOCK: To somewhere near Piccadilly Station. Dropped the package, delivered it and then …
(He finds another receipt and stands up as he looks at it. It’s from the Piazza Espresso Bar Italiano.)SHERLOCK: … stopped on his way. He got peckish.LONDON STREETS. Some time later Sherlock has found the espresso bar and is talking to himself out loud as he walks past it.
SHERLOCK: So you bought your lunch from here en route to the station, but where were you headed from? Where did the taxi drop you …?
(He has been spinning around as he walks and now bumps into someone approaching from behind who is also distracted and not looking where he’s going. It’s John, who is engrossed in looking down at Lukis’ diary. Sherlock grunts as they collide. John looks surprised to see him there.)
SHERLOCK (quick fire): Eddie Van Coon brought a package here the day he died – whatever was hidden inside that case. I’ve managed to piece together a picture using scraps of information …
JOHN: Sherlock …
SHERLOCK: … credit card bills, receipts. He flew back from China, then he came here.
JOHN: Sherlock …
SHERLOCK: Somewhere in this street; somewhere near. I don’t know where, but …
JOHN (pointing to the other side of the road): That shop over there.
(Sherlock looks at the shop, then looks back to John, frowning.)
SHERLOCK: How can you tell?
JOHN: Lukis’ diary. (He shows Sherlock the entry.) He was here too. He wrote down the address.
(He turns and heads towards the shop.)
(He follows after his friend.)CHINATOWN. The boys walk into a touristy shop which consists largely of decorative cats which are sitting up on their hind legs with one front paw raised. Some of the paws are waving back and forth. John greets the female Chinese shop keeper politely.
(They look around at all the items on display. The shop keeper lifts one of the cats from the desk.)SHOP KEEPER: You want lucky cat?
JOHN: No, thanks. No.
(Sherlock looks round at him and smirks.)
SHOP KEEPER: Ten pound. Ten pound!
(He smiles awkwardly.)
SHOP KEEPER: I think your wife, she will like!
JOHN: No, thank you.
(He walks over to one of the tables which has small ceramic painted handle-less cups on it. Sherlock is examining a rack displaying clay statues. John picks up one of the cups and turns it over to look at the price tag. His hand begins to tremble as he sees the
Chinese symbol stuck on the underside. It’s the same sort-of upside down eight with a line above it which was painted beside Sir William’s portrait and on the library shelf.)
(Sherlock, who has picked up one of the statues, puts it back on the shelf and comes over to him.)JOHN: The label there.
SHERLOCK: Yes, I see it.
JOHN: Exactly the same as the cipher.
(Clearing his throat awkwardly, he puts the cup back. Sherlock lifts his head as it all starts to make sense to him.)Shortly afterwards they have left the shop and are walking down the street.
SHERLOCK: It’s an ancient number system! Hangzhou.
(The symbols from that system are flashing in his mind’s eye as he walks.)
SHERLOCK: These days, only street traders use it. Those were numbers written on the wall at the bank and at the library.
(He walks over to a greengrocer’s which has some of its wares on display outside the shop. The various boxes have handwritten signs on them giving the names of the vegetables in both Chinese and English, and underneath is the cost of that particular item in both Hangzhou and English. He picks up various signs, checking the symbols.)
SHERLOCK: Numbers written in an ancient Chinese dialect.
(John has spotted a sign with the upside down eight and slash above it and its English equivalent beneath.)
JOHN: It’s a fifteen! What we thought was the artist’s tag – it’s a number fifteen.
SHERLOCK: And the blindfold – the horizontal line? That was a number as well.
(He shows John a price tag which has the almost-horizontal line at the top, and “£1” written underneath.)
SHERLOCK (grinning triumphantly): The Chinese number one, John.
JOHN: We’ve found it!
(Sherlock turns and walks away. As John smiles and turns to follow him, he sees the same woman who was taking a photograph outside 221 standing nearby. Still wearing her dark sunglasses, she again has her camera raised and pointed towards him as she takes a picture. Someone walks across her, obscuring his view of her for a moment, and by the time the person has passed, she has vanished. John frowns, then follows after his friend.)
|I may have remarked before that Holmes had, when he liked, a peculiarly ingratiating way with women, and that he very readily established terms of confidence with them. In half the time which he had named he had captured the housekeeper’s goodwill, and was chatting with her as if he had known her for years. (The Golden Pince-Nez)
|I won’t go into the discussion about Asian stereotypes, but one aspects a lot of people unfairly complain about is the lucky cat, since this actually a Japanese and not a Chinese thing. Well, it might be, but that doesn’t mean that Chinese Shops in Chinatown don’t sell them to the tourists. Most of them sell everything which looks vaguely Asian and might find a buyer. Plus, China is not less prone to assimilating aspects of other cultures than other countries are.
|Shortly afterwards, they’re staking out the tourist shop, which we now see is The Lucky Cat, the shop which Andy Galbraith was standing near when he tried Soo Lin’s doorbell. Sitting at a table in the window of the restaurant opposite the shop, Sherlock is writing the two Hangzhou numbers and their English equivalents onto a paper napkin. John sits opposite him, also writing notes.
JOHN: Two men travel back from China. Both head straight for the Lucky Cat emporium. What did they see?
SHERLOCK: It’s not what they saw; it’s what they both brought back in those suitcases.
JOHN: And you don’t mean duty free.
(A waitress brings over a plate of food and puts it down in front of John.)
JOHN: Thank you.
SHERLOCK: Think about what Sebastian told us; about Van Coon – about how he stayed afloat in the market.
JOHN: Lost five million …
SHERLOCK: … made it back in a week.
SHERLOCK: That’s how he made such easy money.
JOHN: He was a smuggler. Mmm.
(He takes a mouthful of food.)
SHERLOCK: A guy like him – it would have been perfect.
(Cutaway flashback of Van Coon paying a taxi driver just outside the Lucky Cat and then carrying his case towards the shop.)
SHERLOCK: Business man …
SHERLOCK: … making frequent trips to Asia. And Lukis was the same …
(Cutaway flashback of Lukis carrying his suitcase into the Lucky Cat and lifting it onto the desk.)SHERLOCK: … a journalist writing about China.
SHERLOCK: Both of them smuggled stuff out, and the Lucky Cat was their drop-off.
JOHN: But why did they die? I mean, it doesn’t make sense. If they both turn up at the shop and deliver the goods, why would someone threaten them and kill them after the event, after they’d finished the job?
(Sherlock sits back thoughtfully for a few seconds, then smiles as he realises the answer.)
SHERLOCK: What if one of them was light-fingered?JOHN: How d’you mean?
SHERLOCK: Stole something; something from the hoard.
JOHN: And the killer doesn’t know which of them took it, so he threatens them both. Right.
(Sherlock looks out of the window towards the shop, then looks up to the windows above it. Looking down to the ground floor level again, his gaze sharpens.)
SHERLOCK: Remind me …
(He focuses on a Yellow Pages phone directory sealed in a plastic wrapper which has been left outside the door to the flat beside the Lucky Cat.)
SHERLOCK: … when was the last time that it rained?(Without waiting for a reply, he stands up and leaves the restaurant. John, who has probably managed only two mouthfuls of his meal, sits back in exasperation but then dutifully gets up and follows.)Over the road, Sherlock bends down to the Yellow Pages. The plastic wrapper still has drops of water on it, and the top of it has broken open a little. Sherlock runs his fingers over the top of the wet exposed pages of the directory.
SHERLOCK: It’s been here since Monday.
(He straightens up and presses Soo Lin’s doorbell. He only waits a couple of seconds, then looks to his right and heads off in that direction. There’s an alleyway beside the flat and the boys walk down the alley.)
SHERLOCK: No-one’s been in that flat for at least three days.
JOHN: Could’ve gone on holiday.
SHERLOCK: D’you leave your windows open when you go on holiday?
(He has reached the rear of the building and looks up to see a cantilevered metal fire escape above his head. Taking a short run at it, he jumps up and grabs the end, pulling it down towards him until it touches the ground, then runs up the steps towards the open window of the flat. As he reaches the top, the ladder swings back to the horizontal position behind him.)
(Realising that he’s far too much of a short-arse to be able to pull the ladder down again, he turns and runs back along the alley to the front of the building.)
|That’s the point which makes the episode so problematic for me. That Soo Lin just happens to live beside the Lucky Cat is too much of a coincidence for me.
|(Sherlock climbs in through the window into the kitchen, then cries out in muffled alarm as he almost knocks a vase of flowers off the table beside the window. Catching it before it hits the floor, he looks down and sees a wet patch on the rug in the precise place where the vase would have hit if it had reached the floor. Straightening up, he calls out of the open window, unaware that John is no longer there.)
SHERLOCK: Someone else has been here.
(Putting the vase back onto the table, he looks around, talking too quietly for John to hear even if he was still nearby.)
SHERLOCK: Somebody else broke into the flat and knocked over the vase just like I did.
(He looks round the kitchen, then bends down to the washing machine and opens it. Taking out an item of Soo Lin’s unmentionables, he sniffs it and grimaces. Downstairs, John rings on the doorbell. Sherlock puts the item back into the washing machine and pushes the door closed, then reaches for a tea towel hanging up nearby.)
JOHN (from outside): D’you think maybe you could let me in this time?
(Sherlock feels the tea towel, apparently finds that it’s dry, and moves onwards. Downstairs, John bends down to the letterbox, pushes it open and calls through the gap.)
JOHN: Can you not keep doing this, please?
(Sherlock has taken a pint of milk from the fridge and has taken off the lid and now sniffs the contents. Putting the bottle back into the fridge, he calls out.)
SHERLOCK: I’m not the first.
(With the everyday noise of the street all around him, John can’t hear what he’s saying. He bends down and puts his ear to the letterbox which he’s still holding open.)
SHERLOCK (louder): Somebody’s been in here before me!
JOHN: What are you saying?
(Sherlock has taken his pocket magnifier from his coat and looks down to where a foot has rucked up the rug, leaving an impression of the intruder’s shoe.)
SHERLOCK (not as loudly): Size eight feet.
(He pushes through the beaded curtain between the kitchen and the bedroom/living room, still examining the rug.)
SHERLOCK (now talking more to himself than to John): Small, but … athletic.
(He straightens up, looking thoughtful. Outside, John lets go of the letterbox and straightens up, sighing in exasperation.)
JOHN: I’m wasting my breath.
(He walks a couple of paces away from the door, glaring around in annoyance, then turns back and rings the doorbell again. Inside, Sherlock has picked up a framed photograph of two young Chinese children – a boy and a girl. A fresh handprint is on the glass where someone has pressed their fingers against the image of the girl. Sherlock is holding his magnifier over the fingerprints as he gently runs his gloved fingers along them to gauge the size.)
SHERLOCK (softly): Small, strong hands.
(Closing the magnifier, he puts the photograph down again.)
SHERLOCK: Our acrobat.
(He frowns, looking round.)
SHERLOCK: But why didn’t he close the window when he left …?
(He stops as he realises the truth and rolls his eyes at himself.)
SHERLOCK: Oh, stupid. Stupid. Obvious. He’s still here.
(He looks around the room and sees an ornately decorated free-standing folding screen shielding the bed. Putting his magnifier into his pocket, he walks carefully towards it and then grabs the edge of the screen and pulls it back. Two stuffed toys stare back at him in startled terror from the bedside table. Before he has a chance to apologise to them, someone quickly wraps a long white silk scarf around his neck from behind and bundles him to the floor on his back, strangling him. Sherlock grabs at the scarf, trying to relieve the pressure on his neck but the assailant – dressed all in black – continues to throttle him. Downstairs, John bends to the letterbox and flips it open again.)
JOHN: Any time you want to include me.
SHERLOCK (faintly, as he struggles against his attacker): John! John!
(Downstairs, John has straightened up again and shakes his head in frustration.)
JOHN (pacing in irritation): “No, I’m Sherlock Holmes and I always work alone because no-one else can compete with …”
(He storms back to the letterbox, flips it open and shouts through it.)
JOHN: “… my MASSIVE INTELLECT!”
(He drops the letterbox again. Upstairs, Sherlock is starting to lose consciousness. As his struggles become weaker and his hands fall clear of the scarf, the attacker releases his grip. Downstairs, John rings angrily on the doorbell again. Upstairs, as Sherlock lies still on the floor, his eyes half closed, the assailant shoves something into Sherlock’s coat pocket, then gets up and runs off. Sherlock chokes and coughs, tugging the scarf from around his neck and rolling onto his front before getting up onto his hands and knees. As the attacker disappears through the beaded curtain into the kitchen, Sherlock groans and pulls his own scarf loose, gasping as he gets his breath back. Downstairs, John looks at his watch in irritation and shakes his head, apparently considering just leaving. Upstairs, breathing a little better, Sherlock sits up on his heels, rummages in his coat pocket and pulls out a black origami paper flower. He looks at it for a moment, then stumbles to his feet, wobbling for a moment before pulling himself together and heading for the stairs.)
(A few moments later he opens the front door downstairs. John makes an exasperated sound and glares at him. When Sherlock speaks, his voice is croaky.)
SHERLOCK: The, uh, milk’s gone off and the washing’s starting to smell. Somebody left here in a hurry three days ago.
SHERLOCK (nodding, his voice still rough): Soo Lin Yao. We have to find her.
(He looks down and bends to pick something off the floor.)
JOHN: But how, exactly?
(Sherlock picks up a folded envelope. On the back of it is written:SOO LIN
Please ring me
tell me you’re
Andy(He unfolds the envelope and looks at the front of it. Printed in the bottom right hand corner is:NATIONAL ANTIQUITIES MUSEUMSHERLOCK (croakily): Maybe we could start with this.
(He walks out, closing the door behind him, and heads off down the road, John following him.)
JOHN: You’ve gone all croaky. Are you getting a cold?
SHERLOCK (coughing): I’m fine.
|He held down the lamp to the floor, and as he did so I saw for the second time that night a startled, surprised look come over his face. For myself, as I followed his gaze my skin was cold under my clothes. The floor was covered thickly with the prints of a naked foot,—clear, well defined, perfectly formed, but scarce half the size of those of an ordinary man. “Holmes,” I said, in a whisper, “a child has done the horrid thing.”He had recovered his self-possession in an instant. “I was staggered for the moment,” he said, “but the thing is quite natural. My memory failed me, or I should have been able to foretell it. There is nothing more to be learned here. Let us go down.”
“What is your theory, then, as to those footmarks?” I asked, eagerly, when we had regained the lower room once more.“
My dear Watson, try a little analysis yourself,” said he, with a touch of impatience. “You know my methods. Apply them, and it will be instructive to compare results.”
“I cannot conceive anything which will cover the facts,” I answered.
“It will be clear enough to you soon,” he said, in an off-hand way. “I think that there is nothing else of importance here, but I will look.”
He whipped out his lens and a tape measure, and hurried about the room on his knees, measuring, comparing, examining, with his long thin nose only a few inches from the planks, and his beady eyes gleaming and deep-set like those of a bird. (The Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes Gives a Demonstration)
|The concept of the small killer who can climb and can therefore reach his victims at places where they feel safe is definitely from “The Sign of the Four”, even though the circumstances of the crime is different.
|NATIONAL ANTIQUITIES MUSEUM. Sherlock is pacing around a display area as he interviews Andy.
SHERLOCK: When was the last time that you saw her?
ANDY: Three days ago, um, here at the museum.(Sherlock focuses briefly on a glass case showing some of the clay teapots. Most of them are dull but one is shiny.)
ANDY: This morning they told me she’d resigned just like that.
(Sherlock looks at another case containing some jade figurines, and then at a piece of artwork.)
ANDY: Just left her work unfinished.
SHERLOCK (turning to him): What was the last thing that she did on her final afternoon?
Andy has brought the boys to the basement archive, and now turns the lights on as he leads them in.
ANDY: She does this demonstration for the tourists – a-a tea ceremony. So she would have packed up her things and just put them in here.
(He leads them to the open stack and starts turning a handle at the end to widen the gap. John goes to stand behind him and looks into the stack but Sherlock has noticed something more interesting in the shadows further along the room. He walks closer to it. On a stand is a life-sized sculpture of a nude woman … and yellow paint has been spray painted across the front of it. An almost horizontal straight line goes across the eyes, and over the body has been sprayed the open upside down eight with the almost horizontal line above it. Andy and John turn and see what he has found.)
[And nobody ever comments on the fact that this graffiti spells out ‘1’ and ‘15’ rather than ‘15’ and ‘1’ like the other two bits of graffiti.]Outside the museum, night has fallen as Sherlock and John come out.
SHERLOCK: We have to get to Soo Lin Yao.
JOHN: If she’s still alive.
(The boys turn as Raz runs over to join them.)
JOHN: Oh, look who it is.
RAZ (to Sherlock): Found something you’ll like.
(He trots off and Sherlock immediately follows. John heads off after them a little more slowly.)
Shortly afterwards the three of them are walking across Hungerford Bridge, heading towards the south side of the river.
JOHN: Tuesday morning, all you’ve gotta do is turn up and say the bag was yours.
SHERLOCK: Forget about your court date.
(They continue onwards, unaware that the Chinese woman with the dark sunglasses is watching them.)
SOUTH BANK SKATE PARK. Raz leads the other two across the under-croft. A boy has just done some kind of clever jump on his pushbike.
GIRL: Dude, that was rad!
SHERLOCK: If you wanna hide a tree in the middle of a forest, this is the best place to do it, wouldn’t you say? People would just walk straight past, not knowing, unable to decipher the message.
(Raz points to a particular area on the heavily-graffitied walls.)
RAZ: There. I spotted it earlier.
(Amongst all the other paint there are slashes of the yellow paint forming Chinese symbols. Some of them are already partially painted over by other artists’ tags and pictures.)
SHERLOCK: They have been in here. (To Raz) And that’s the exact same paint?
SHERLOCK: John, if we’re going to decipher this code, we’re gonna need to look for more evidence.
The two of them split up and begin searching. Sherlock walks along the end of a railway line and finds an abandoned spray can on the tracks. Squatting down to pick it up, he puts the end of his flashlight into his mouth and runs a thumb over the yellow paint on the nozzle, then sniffs the nozzle.
John walks through an underpass, looking closely at the graffiti and posters on the walls as he goes.
Sherlock is now walking past a wall which has many posters glued to it. One of the posters attracts his attention and he tears off the bottom corner of it and takes it with him as he continues onwards.
John is now out on the railway lines. His flashlight picks out splashes of yellow paint on the sleepers and on the rails, then he raises his light to a brick wall, possibly the wall of a maintenance shed, which is about fifteen feet wide. He steps back, his mouth
open in surprise as he begins to realise that the entire wall is covered with large yellow Chinese symbols.
Later he has finally tracked down Sherlock who is currently looking at the side of a parked rail freight container.
JOHN (trotting towards him): Answer your phone! I’ve been calling you! I’ve found it.
(He turns around again and the two of them run off into the night side by side, Sherlock’s coat billowing behind him.)
Back at the wall, John leads Sherlock towards it, but his mouth drops open in surprise again, but this time for a different reason. The entire wall is now blank.
JOHN: It’s been painted over!
(Sherlock shines his flashlight around the area as John continues to stare at the wall in disbelief.)
JOHN: I don’t understand. It-it was here … (he stumbles backwards) … ten minutes ago. I saw it. A whole load of graffiti!
SHERLOCK: Somebody doesn’t want me to see it.
(He turns and grabs the sides of John’s head in both hands.)
JOHN: Hey, Sherlock, what are you doing …?SHERLOCK: Shh, John, concentrate. I need you to concentrate. Close your eyes.
JOHN: No, what? Why? Why?
(Sherlock lowers his hands to hold John by the upper arms.)
JOHN: What are you doing?!
(Sherlock starts to slowly spin them around on the spot, staring intently into John’s eyes.)
SHERLOCK: I need you to maximise your visual memory. Try to picture what you saw. Can you picture it?
SHERLOCK: Can you remember it?
JOHN: Yes, definitely.
SHERLOCK: Can you remember the pattern?
SHERLOCK: How much can you remember it?
JOHN: Well, don’t worry …
SHERLOCK (still spinning them): Because the average human memory on visual matters is only sixty-two percent accurate.
JOHN: Yeah, well, don’t worry – I remember all of it.
SHERLOCK (disbelievingly): Really?
JOHN: Yeah, well at least I would … (he pulls himself free) … if I can get to my pockets!
(He rummages in his jacket pocket.)
JOHN: I took a photograph.
(He takes out his phone and pulls up a flash photo he has taken of the wall which shows all the symbols clearly. He gives the phone to Sherlock, who takes it and looks embarrassed as John sighs and turns away.)
221B. The photograph has been blown up into small sections and then printed out and all the pictures are stuck on the mirror. The numerical value of each symbol has been written against it. Sherlock is standing at the fireplace looking at the pictures closely and has spotted a pattern.
SHERLOCK: Always in pairs, John.
(John is sitting at the dining table with his back to the fireplace and his head propped in his hands. Sherlock’s voice wakes him up. He blinks and turns his head, squinting round at his friend.)
SHERLOCK: Numbers come with partners.
JOHN (gazing around the flat blankly): God, I need to sleep.
SHERLOCK: Why did he paint it so near the tracks?
JOHN (tiredly): No idea.
SHERLOCK: Thousands of people pass by there every day.
JOHN (propping his head in his hand again): Just twenty minutes.
SHERLOCK (realising something): Of course.
(He’s looking at a photo of the full wall, and now smiles triumphantly.)
SHERLOCK: Of course! He wants information. He’s trying to communicate with his people in the underworld. Whatever was stolen, he
wants it back.
(He runs his finger over the symbols.)
SHERLOCK: Somewhere here in the code.
(He pulls three photographs off the wall and turns towards the door.)
SHERLOCK: We can’t crack this without Soo Lin Yao.
JOHN: Oh, good(!)
(Tiredly, he gets up to follow.)
|“I think that I can help you to pass an hour in an interesting and profitable manner,” said Holmes, drawing his chair up to the table and spreading out in front of him the various papers upon which were recorded the antics of the dancing men. “As to you, friend Watson, I owe you every atonement for having allowed your natural curiosity to remain so long unsatisfied. To you, inspector, the whole incident may appeal as a remarkable professional study. I must tell you first of all the interesting circumstances connected with the previous consultations which Mr. Hilton Cubitt has had with me in Baker Street.”
He then shortly recapitulated the facts which have already been recorded.
“I have here in front of me these singular productions, at which one might smile had they not proved themselves to be the fore-runners of so terrible a tragedy. I am fairly familiar with all forms of secret writings, and am myself the author of a trifling monograph upon the subject, in which I analyze one hundred and sixty separate ciphers; but I confess that this is entirely new to me. The
object of those who invented the system has apparently been to conceal that these characters convey a message, and to give the idea that they are the mere random sketches of children.“
Having once recognised, however, that the symbols stood for letters, and having applied the rules which guide us in all forms of secret writings, the solution was easy enough. The first message submitted to me was so short that it was impossible for me to do more than to say with some confidence that the symbol
stood for E. As you are aware, E is the most common letter in the English alphabet, and it predominates to so marked an extent that even in a short sentence one would expect to find it most often. Out of fifteen symbols in the first message four were the same, so it was reasonable to set this down as E. It is true that in some cases the figure was bearing a flag and in some cases not, but it was probable from the way in which the flags were distributed that they were used to break the sentence up into words. I accepted this as a hypothesis, and noted that E was represented by
“But now came the real difficulty of the inquiry. The order of the English letters after E is by no means well marked, and any preponderance which may be shown in an average of a printed sheet may be reversed in a single short sentence. Speaking roughly, T, A, O, I, N, S, H, R, D, and L are the numerical order in which letters occur; but T, A, O, and I are very nearly abreast of each other, and it would be an endless task to try each combination until a meaning was arrived at. I, therefore, waited for fresh material. In my second interview with Mr. Hilton Cubitt he was able to give me two other short sentences and one message, which appeared—since there was no flag—to be a single word. Here are the symbols. Now, in the single word I have already got the two E’s coming second and fourth in a word of five letters. It might be ‘sever,’ or ‘lever,’ or ‘never.’ There can be no question that the latter as a reply to an appeal is far the most probable, and the circumstances pointed to its being a reply written by the lady. Accepting it as correct, we are now able to say that the symbols
stand respectively for N, V, and R.“Even now I was in considerable difficulty, but a happy thought put me in possession of several other letters. It occurred to me that if these appeals came, as I expected, from someone who had been intimate with the lady in her early life, a combination which contained two
E’s with three letters between might very well stand for the name ‘ELSIE.’ On examination I found that such a combination formed the termination of the message which was three times repeated. It was certainly some appeal to ‘Elsie.’ In this way I had got my L, S, and I.
But what appeal could it be? There were only four letters in the word which preceded ‘Elsie,’ and it ended in E. Surely the word must be ‘COME.’ I tried all other four letters ending in E, but could find none to fit the case. So now I was in possession of C, O, and M, and I was in a position to attack the first message once more, dividing it into words and putting dots for each symbol which was still unknown. So treated it worked out in this fashion:
.M .ERE ..E SL.NE.
“Now the first letter can only be A, which is a most useful discovery, since it occurs no fewer than three times in this short sentence, and the H is also apparent in the second word. Now it becomes:—
AM HERE A.E SLANE.
Or, filling in the obvious vacancies in the name:—
AM HERE ABE SLANEY.
I had so many letters now that I could proceed with considerable confidence to the second message, which worked out in this fashion:—
Here I could only make sense by putting T and G for the missing letters, and supposing that the name was that of some house or inn at which
the writer was staying.”
Inspector Martin and I had listened with the utmost interest to the full and clear account of how my friend had produced results which had
led to so complete a command over our difficulties.
“What did you do then, sir?” asked the inspector.
“I had every reason to suppose that this Abe Slaney was an American, since Abe is an American contraction, and since a letter from America
had been the starting-point of all the trouble. I had also every cause to think that there was some criminal secret in the matter. The lady’s allusions to her past and her refusal to take her husband into her confidence both pointed in that direction. I therefore cabled to my friend, Wilson Hargreave, of the New York Police Bureau, who has more than once made use of my knowledge of London crime. I asked him
whether the name of Abe Slaney was known to him. Here is his reply: ‘The most dangerous crook in Chicago.’ On the very evening upon which I had his answer Hilton Cubitt sent me the last message from Slaney. Working with known letters it took this form:—
ELSIE .RE.ARE TO MEET THY GO.
The addition of a P and a D completed a message which showed me that the rascal was proceeding from persuasion to threats, and my knowledge of the crooks of Chicago prepared me to find that he might very rapidly put his words into action. I at once came to Norfolk with my friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, but, unhappily, only in time to find that the worst had already occurred.” (The Dancing Men)
|Despite the episode being based on The Dancing Men, it’s more the purpose of the code which is adapted (children scribble everyone would overlook become graffiti), but no really the method of solution. In the original, Holmes figures it out by putting the most common letters on the signs. Here he figures out that the signs stand for numbers, which are written in pairs. But, to be honest, a simple “sign for letter” system would be too easy nowadays to work as a valid code. The book code from Valley of Fear works way better, because you can’t solve it without the right book.
|NATIONAL ANTIQUITIES MUSEUM. The boys are back with Andy in the same display room they met him in earlier.
SHERLOCK: Two men who travelled back from China were murdered, and their killer left them messages in the Hangzhou numerals.
JOHN: Soo Lin Yao’s in danger. Now, that cipher – it was just the same pattern as the others. He means to kill her as well.
ANDY: Look, I’ve tried everywhere: um, friends, colleagues. I-I don’t know where she’s gone. I mean, she could be a thousand miles away.
(Sherlock has turned his head away in exasperation, but now his gaze focuses on the nearby glass case displaying the teapots.)
JOHN: What are you looking at?
SHERLOCK (pointing at the case as he walks towards it): Tell me more about those teapots.ANDY: Th-the pots were her obsession. Um, they need urgent work. If-if they dry out, then the clay can start to crumble. Apparently you have to just keep making tea in them.
(Sherlock bends down to look more closely at the shelf.)
SHERLOCK: Yesterday, only one of those pots was shining. Now there are two.Later, elsewhere in the museum, fingers reach through the gaps in a large grating at the bottom of a wall and carefully push the grating outwards. Moments after that, a shadow moves across the dimly lit display room, and a hand reaches into the glass case to take out one of the not-shiny teapots. The shadow moves away again. Not long afterwards, Soo Lin is in an almost-dark restoration room,
pouring tea into the teapot on the desk in front of her. She picks up the lid and carefully strokes it around the rim as, behind her, a very recognisable curly-headed silhouette appears on the other side of a window in the door. Unaware of this, she picks up the teapot and pours some of the liquid into a pair of cups. Pouring more of the tea into the tray on which the cups are standing, she swills the teapot around to cover the outside with the drips. A figure steps up beside her.
SHERLOCK: Fancy a biscuit with that?
(Before he finishes the sentence she gasps in fright and turns towards him, the teapot dropping from her terrified fingers. Sherlock reacts instantly and bends his knees to reach down and catch the teapot before it hits the floor. He looks up at her.)
SHERLOCK: Centuries old. Don’t wanna break that.(He slowly straightens up and hands the teapot back to her. As she takes it, he reaches out and flicks a switch on the desk, turning on the lights underneath the surface. He smiles slightly at her.)
John has now arrived and he and Soo Lin sit on stools on opposite sides of the table. Sherlock stands at the end of the table.
SOO LIN: You saw the cipher. Then you know he is coming for me.
SHERLOCK: You’ve been clever to avoid him so far.
SOO LIN: I had to finish … to finish this work. It’s only a matter of time. I know he will find me.
SHERLOCK: Who is he? Have you met him before?SOO LIN (nodding): When I was a girl, living back in China. I recognise his … ‘signature’.
SHERLOCK: The cipher.
SOO LIN: Only he would do this. Zhi Zhu.
JOHN: Zhi Zhu?
SHERLOCK: The Spider.
|“Enough and more than enough,” remarked Sherlock Holmes gravely. “I have every sympathy with you, madam, and should strongly urge you to have some confidence in the common sense of our jurisdiction and to take the police voluntarily into your complete confidence. It may be that I am myself at fault for not following up the hint which you conveyed to me through my friend, Dr. Watson; but, at that time I had every reason to believe that you were directly concerned in the crime. Now I am assured that this is not so. At the same time, there is much that is unexplained, and I should strongly recommend that you ask Mr. Douglas to tell us his own story.”
Mrs. Douglas gave a cry of astonishment at Holmes’s words. The detectives and I must have echoed it, when we were aware of a man who seemed to have emerged from the wall, who advanced now from the gloom of the corner in which he had appeared. Mrs. Douglas turned, and in an instant her arms were round him. Barker had seized his outstretched hand.
“It’s best this way, Jack,” his wife repeated; “I am sure that it is best.”
“Indeed, yes, Mr. Douglas,” said Sherlock Holmes, “I am sure that you will find it best.”
The man stood blinking at us with the dazed look of one who comes from the dark into the light. It was a remarkable face, bold gray eyes, a strong, short-clipped, grizzled moustache, a square, projecting chin, and a humorous mouth. He took a good look at us all, and then to my amazement he advanced to me and handed me a bundle of paper.
“I’ve heard of you,” said he in a voice which was not quite English and not quite American, but was altogether mellow and pleasing. “You are the historian of this bunch. Well, Dr. Watson, you’ve never had such a story as that pass through your hands before, and I’ll lay my last dollar on that. Tell it your own way; but there are the facts, and you can’t miss the public so long as you have those. I’ve been
cooped up two days, and I’ve spent the daylight hours—as much daylight as I could get in that rat trap—in putting the thing into words. You’re welcome to them—you and your public. There’s the story of the Valley of Fear.” (The Valley of Fear, The Solution)
|To clarify, the parallel to “The Valley of Fear” lies in the concept of someone hiding in a hidden room in his own house (or workplace in this case), only leaving by nightlight. The aspect with the criminal organization which marks its members is also from the novel.
|(Putting her right foot up on her opposite knee, Soo Lin unlaces her shoe and takes it off. On the underside of her heel is a black
tattoo of a lotus flower inside a circle.)
SOO LIN: You know this mark?
SHERLOCK: Yes. It’s the mark of a Tong.
SHERLOCK: Ancient crime syndicate based in China.(John nods his understanding and turns back to Soo Lin.)
SOO LIN: Every foot soldier bears the mark; everyone who hauls for them.
(She looks up at him. His eyes widen.)
JOHN: Y-you mean you were a smuggler?
(She lowers her gaze again and puts her shoe back on.)
SOO LIN: I was fifteen. My parents were dead. I had no livelihood; no way of surviving day to day except to work for the bosses.
SHERLOCK: Who are they?
SOO LIN: They are called the Black Lotus. By the time I was sixteen, I was taking thousands of pounds’ worth of drugs across the border into Hong Kong. But I managed to leave that life behind me. I came to England.
(She smiles a little.)
SOO LIN: They gave me a job here. Everything was good; a new life.
SHERLOCK: Then he came looking for you.
SOO LIN: Yes.
(Upset, she swallows before continuing tearfully.)SOO LIN: I had hoped after five years maybe they would have forgotten me, but they never really let you leave. A small community like ours – they are never very far away.
(She wipes tears from her face.)
SOO LIN: He came to my flat. He asked me to help him to track down something that was stolen.
JOHN: And you’ve no idea what it was?
SOO LIN: I refused to help.
JOHN (leaning forward): So you knew him well when you were living back in China?
SOO LIN: Oh yes.
(She looks up at Sherlock.)
SOO LIN: He’s my brother.
(Elsewhere, the hands of what is presumably a woman wearing black nail varnish open a box and fold back the tissue paper covering the
contents. The box contains sheets of black paper. The hands take out the top sheet and lay it on the table.)
SOO LIN: Two orphans. We had no choice. We could work for the Black Lotus, or starve on the streets like beggars.
(The hands have folded the sheet of paper a few times, pressing down to set the folds, and now open the sheet out flat again. They fold
one of the corners up, then turn the paper around to start folding up the opposite corner.)
SOO LIN: My brother has become their puppet, in the power of the one they call Shan – the Black Lotus general.
(The hands continue folding the paper.)
SOO LIN: I turned my brother away. He said I had betrayed him. Next day I came to work and the cipher was waiting.
(The hands have nearly completed their work and the paper is now folded into an intricate shape.)(In the museum, Sherlock lays the photographs on the table.)
SHERLOCK: Can you decipher these?
(Soo Lin leans forward and points to the mark beside Sir William’s portrait.)
SOO LIN: These are numbers.
SHERLOCK: Yes, I know.
SOO LIN (pointing to another photograph): Here: the line across the man’s eyes – it’s the Chinese number one.
SHERLOCK (pointing to the first photo): And this one is fifteen. But what’s the code?
SOO LIN: All the smugglers know it. It’s based upon a book …(Just then almost all the lights go out. Soo Lin looks up in dread. Sherlock straightens up and looks around sharply.)SOO LIN (softly, her face full of terror): He’s here. Zhi Zhu. He has found me.(And Sherlock’s off, racing across the room. John calls to him softly but urgently.)JOHN: Sh-Sherlock. Sherlock, wait!(Sherlock charges out of the room. John turns to Soo Lin and grabs her hand.)JOHN: Come here.(He pulls her across the room towards another room, or possibly a cupboard – it’s not clear which.)
JOHN: Get in. Get in!
(Sherlock races across a large open foyer with a staircase at each end and a balcony surrounding the floor above. He stops in the middle of the foyer and looks around. From his right, a figure runs across the balcony and fires a pistol at him. Sherlock turns and
runs in the opposite direction, flinging himself to the floor and sliding along it to take shelter behind a statue on a low plinth. The figure fires a couple more times as Sherlock scrambles behind the plinth. In the restoration room, John looks up at the sound of
gunfire, then turns to Soo Lin.)
JOHN: I have to go and help. Bolt the door after me.(He hurries off. Soo Lin’s face fills with dread. John makes his way cautiously out into the foyer, then ducks and runs for cover as more gunshots ring out. The figure runs back across the balcony and disappears from view. Sherlock comes out from behind the plinth and hares across the foyer and up the stairs. John peers out from behind a column at the other end of the foyer as Sherlock reaches the top of the stairs and tears around the corner. He pelts into another display room and the gunman runs out of cover behind him and fires towards him again. Sherlock ducks behind a display cabinet displaying some ancient skulls as the figure fires again.)
SHERLOCK (calling out): Careful!
(The gunman fires again.)
SHERLOCK (calling out): Some of those skulls are over two hundred thousand years old! Have a bit of respect!
(He pauses for a couple of seconds, breathing heavily. There are no more gunshots.)
SHERLOCK: Thank you(!)
(There’s no more sound from the gunman. After a moment Sherlock frowns, then carefully peers through the glass of the case.)
(In the restoration room, Soo Lin looks up anxiously. A drum beat begins to sound. [Again, I’m not sure whether she actually hears this or if it’s dramatic background music, but she closes her eyes in despair at the same moment. Upstairs, Sherlock also looks around as if he can hear the drumming and on the landing, John looks around too. As the drumming stops,] Soo Lin takes a shaky breath and slowly
begins to crawl out of her hiding place. On the desk, paperwork is fluttering in a slight breeze. Soo Lin crawls to the edge of the table and peers over the top of it before slowly standing up. Behind her, a Chinese man a little older than her silently walks up and stops just behind her, staring at her intently. As if sensing him, she turns slowly around, and then gazes at him with affection as she recognises him. She softly greets him by name.)
SOO LIN: 亮 [Liang.]
(She hesitates for a moment.)
SOO LIN: 大哥 [Big brother.]
(She reaches out and cups his face with her hand.)SOO LIN: 请你 [Please …]
(As John continues to search for his friend, a single gunshot rings out in the distance. He turns towards the sound, his face filling with appalled horror as he realises where the shot has come from.)
JOHN: Oh my God.
(He races back to the stairs and runs down them, across the foyer and back to the restoration room. Entering the room, he slows down and looks around cautiously for any sign of the gunman. Carefully making his way across the room, he stops and then groans in despair and guilt at the sight which greets him. Soo Lin lies dead on the table, her outstretched arm revealing a black origami lotus flower in her upturned hand.)
|“It was at that instant that the idea came to me. I was fairly dazzled by the brilliance of it. The man’s sleeve had slipped up and there was the branded mark of the lodge upon his forearm. See here!”
The man whom we had known as Douglas turned up his own coat and cuff to show a brown triangle within a circle exactly like that which we had seen upon the dead man. (The Valley of Fear, The Solution)
“I’ll chance that,” said he. “First of all, I want you gentlemen to understand that I have known this lady since she was a child. There were seven of us in a gang in Chicago, and Elsie’s father was the boss of the Joint. He was a clever man, was old Patrick. It was he who invented that writing, which would pass as a child’s scrawl unless you just happened to have the key to it. Well, Elsie learned some of our ways; but she couldn’t stand the business, and she had a bit of honest money of her own, so she gave us all the slip and got away to London. She had been engaged to me, and she would have married me, I believe, if I had taken over another profession; but she would have nothing to do with anything on the cross. It was only after her marriage to this Englishman that I was able to find out where she was. I wrote to her, but got no answer. After that I came over, and, as letters were no use, I put my messages where she could read them. (The Dancing Men)
Holmes bent over this grotesque frieze for some minutes, and then suddenly sprang to his feet with an exclamation of surprise and dismay.
His face was haggard with anxiety.
“We have let this affair go far enough,” said he. “Is there a train to North Walsham to-night?”
I turned up the time-table. The last had just gone.
“Then we shall breakfast early and take the very first in the morning,” said Holmes. “Our presence is most urgently needed. Ah! here is our expected cablegram. One moment, Mrs. Hudson; there may be an answer. No, that is quite as I expected. This message makes it even more essential that we should not lose an hour in letting Hilton Cubitt know how matters stand, for it is a singular and a dangerous web in which our simple Norfolk squire is entangled.”
So, indeed, it proved, and as I come to the dark conclusion of a story which had seemed to me to be only childish and bizarre I experience once again the dismay and horror with which I was filled. Would that I had some brighter ending to communicate to my readers, but these are the chronicles of fact, and I must follow to their dark crisis the strange chain of events which for some days made Ridling Thorpe Manor a household word through the length and breadth of England.
We had hardly alighted at North Walsham, and mentioned the name of our destination, when the station-master hurried towards us. “I suppose that you are the detectives from London?” said he.
A look of annoyance passed over Holmes’s face.
“What makes you think such a thing?”
“Because Inspector Martin from Norwich has just passed through. But maybe you are the surgeons. She’s not dead—or wasn’t by last accounts. You may be in time to save her yet—though it be for the gallows.”
Holmes’s brow was dark with anxiety.
“We are going to Ridling Thorpe Manor,” said he, “but we have heard nothing of what has passed there.”
“It’s a terrible business,” said the station-master. “They are shot, both Mr. Hilton Cubitt and his wife. She shot him and then herself—so the servants say. He’s dead and her life is despaired of. Dear, dear, one of the oldest families in the County of Norfolk, and one of the most honoured.” (TDM)
|Okay, I admit that I was first upset about Soo Lin dying, not just because I really liked her, but also because it seems such a big mistake to make for Sherlock and John. But then, Holmes and Watson didn’t rescue all his clients either, there is more than one instance in which someone they want to protect dies despite their efforts. And The Dancing Man is one of those stories. The creators of the Granada Series
once pointed out that it has a really sad ending. There are two people, who have done nothing wrong and were deeply in love with each other, and in the end, he dies and she has to life on in despair. The Blind Banker is similar sad, because Soo Lin fought so hard for a better life and a future, but was never be able to fully escape her past, and the earnest young man, who was honestly in love with her, has now to life on with the knowledge that she was killed at the very same place he works every day.
|NEW SCOTLAND YARD. John and Sherlock are standing a short distance away from Dimmock who has his back to them and is rummaging through
paperwork on a desk as if trying to ignore them.
JOHN: How many murders is it gonna take before you start believing that this maniac’s out there?(Dimmock turns and walks in between them, heading for another desk. John turns round and follows him.)JOHN: A young girl was gunned down tonight. That’s three victims in three days. You’re supposed to be finding him.(Sherlock walks across in front of John to get nearer to Dimmock. John steps back and walks a few paces away in exasperation.)SHERLOCK: Brian Lukis and Eddie Van Coon were working for a gang of international smugglers – a gang called the Black Lotus operating here
in London right under your nose.(He has leaned closer to Dimmock to emphasise his last point. Dimmock finally looks round to him.)DIMMOCK: Can you prove that?(Sherlock straightens up thoughtfully.)
ST BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL. In the canteen, mortician/morgue assistant Molly Hooper is looking at the choices in the self-service
SHERLOCK: What are you thinking: pork or the pasta?(She turns in surprise at his voice beside her.)MOLLY: Oh, it’s you!SHERLOCK: This place is never going to trouble Egon Ronay, is it?(He smiles at her, then nods to the display.)SHERLOCK: I’d stick with the pasta. Don’t wanna be doing roast pork – not if you’re slicing up cadavers.(Again he smiles at her. She grins nervously.)MOLLY: What are you having?SHERLOCK: Don’t eat when I’m working. Digesting slows me down.
MOLLY: So you’re working here tonight?
SHERLOCK: Need to examine some bodies.
SHERLOCK: Eddie Van Coon and Brian Lukis.
MOLLY (looking at the clipboard she’s holding): They’re on my list.
(Sherlock turns puppy-dog eyes on her.)
SHERLOCK: Could you wheel them out again for me?MOLLY (apologetically): Well … the paperwork’s already gone through.
(Sherlock raises his eyes, frowns as if noticing something, and points at her hair.)
SHERLOCK: You’ve … changed your hair.
MOLLY (nervously): What?
SHERLOCK: The-the style: it’s usually parted in the middle.
MOLLY: Yes, well …
SHERLOCK: Mmm, it’s good; it, um, suits you better this way.
(Once again he wheels out the smile. She returns it, looking both flattered and flustered, then turns away to the display. Instantly Sherlock’s smile drops and he looks impatiently at his watch.)MORGUE. Later, two body bags are lying on adjacent tables. Molly, wearing latex gloves, unzips one of the bags and pulls the sides apart to reveal the face of Brian Lukis. Sherlock leads Dimmock into the room.
SHERLOCK: We’re just interested in the feet.
MOLLY (frowning): The feet?
SHERLOCK: Yes. D’you mind if we have a look at them?
(Smiling at her, he leads Dimmock to the other end of the body bag. Molly follows him and unzips the bag at that end, pulling the sides back to reveal the bottom of Lukis’ feet. On the bottom of the right heel is a tattoo identical to the one which Soo Lin showed the boys earlier. Sherlock straightens up, a smug expression on his face, and walks over to the other table.)
SHERLOCK: Now Van Coon.
(Molly and Dimmock follow him to the second table and she unzips the other body bag. Van Coon has an identical tattoo on his right heel. Dimmock sighs silently.)
DIMMOCK (awkwardly): So …
SHERLOCK: So either these two men just happened to visit the same Chinese tattoo parlour or I’m telling the truth.
DIMMOCK (sighing in resignation): What do you want?
SHERLOCK: I want every book from Lukis’ apartment and Van Coon’s.
DIMMOCK: Their books?
|“But why not eat?”“Because the faculties become refined when you starve them. Why, surely, as a doctor, my dear Watson, you must admit that what your digestion gains in the way of blood supply is so much lost to the brain. I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix. Therefore, it is the brain I must consider.” (The Mazarin Stone)
|The scene between Sherlock and Molly originally confused me, because in all the other episodes up to ASIB, he doesn’t seem to notice her affection at all, and yet he takes advantage of it in TBB. But then it hit me that he is most likely aware that flattery will get him what he wants, and that he might tried the same tactic even if the woman in question hadn’t been Molly. Sadly he just makes her crush even worse. (BTW, later on she keeps wearing her hair that way).
This is also so far the only instance in the show in which the police is really dumbed down for the sake of the plot. It’s unbelievable that nobody would notice both victims having the same tattoo, especially since there are prior indications that the cases are connected somehow.
|221B. The boys walk into the living room, taking off their coats. John sits down in his chair; Sherlock remains standing.
SHERLOCK: Not just a criminal organisation; it’s a cult. Her brother was corrupted by one of its leaders.
JOHN: Soo Lin said the name.
SHERLOCK: Yes, Shan; General Shan.
JOHN: We’re still no closer to finding them.
SHERLOCK: Wrong. We’ve got almost all we need to know. She gave us most of the missing pieces.
(He looks at John, waiting for him to agree. When John says nothing, he impatiently explains.)
SHERLOCK: Why did he need to visit his sister? Why did he need her expertise?
JOHN: She worked at the museum.
JOHN (finally catching up): An expert in antiquities. Mmm, of course. I see.
SHERLOCK: Valuable antiquities, John. Ancient Chinese relics purchased on the black market. China’s home to a thousand treasures hidden after Mao’s revolution.
JOHN: And the Black Lotus is selling them.
(Sherlock tilts his head as he has an idea.)Not long afterwards, he is sitting at the dining table surfing Crispians’ website for recent auctions, focusing on the auctions of Chinese and other Asian works of art. John is leaning over his shoulder to look at the screen.
SHERLOCK (to himself as he skims through the list): Check for the dates …
(He points to a particular auction lot – two Chinese Ming vases.)
SHERLOCK: Here, John.
SHERLOCK: Arrived from China four days ago.
(He runs his finger down the details and looks at the Sale Information at the bottom which includes the statement “Source – Anonymous”.)
SHERLOCK: Anonymous. Vendor doesn’t give his name. Two undiscovered treasures from the East.
JOHN: One in Lukis’ suitcase and one in Van Coon’s.(Sherlock moves to the Quest search site and types into the search bar, narrating as he does so, although he actually types the word “Chinese” first.)
SHERLOCK: … antiquities sold at auction.
(The results list comes up.)
SHERLOCK: Look, here’s another one.
SHERLOCK: Arrived from China a month ago: Chinese ceramic statue, sold four hundred thousand.[As in, it sold for £400,000.]
JOHN (consulting Lukis’ diary as he spots another entry on the screen): Ah, look: a month before that – a Chinese painting, half a million.
SHERLOCK: All of them from an anonymous source. They’re stealing them back in China and one by one they’re feeding them into Britain.
(He looks at Lukis’ diary again and then at the printout of Van Coon’s calendar.)
JOHN: And every single auction coincides with Lukis or Van Coon travelling to China.
SHERLOCK: So what if one of them got greedy when they were in China? What if one of them stole something?
JOHN: That’s why Zhi Zhu’s come.
(Mrs Hudson knocks on the open door of the living room.)
MRS HUDSON: Ooh-ooh!
(The boys turn to her.)
MRS HUDSON: Sorry. Are we collecting for charity, Sherlock?
MRS HUDSON: A young man’s outside with crates of books.
Shortly afterwards, two uniformed police officers are carrying in yet another of the many plastic crates which have been dumped in the living room.
SHERLOCK: So, the numbers are references.
JOHN: To books.
SHERLOCK: To specific pages and specific words on those pages.
JOHN: Right, so … fifteen and one: that means …
SHERLOCK: Turn to page fifteen and it’s the first word you read.
JOHN: Okay. So what’s the message?
SHERLOCK (snarkily): Depends on the book. That’s the cunning of the book code. Has to be one that they both owned.
(John looks round despairingly at the many many crates in the room, each either labelled “Van Coon” or “Lukis”.)
JOHN: Okay, right. Well, this shouldn’t take too long, should it?(!)
(He goes over to the nearest crate and flips open the lid, sighing tiredly as he sees the amount of books inside. Sherlock opens another crate and starts taking books out, looking at the cover of each one. John takes a handful from his crate and carries them over to the dining table and sits down. Dimmock walks in and holds up an evidence bag to Sherlock.)DIMMOCK: We found these, at the museum.
(He shows the bag to John. It contains the photographs of the cipher which Sherlock had been showing to Soo Lin.)
DIMMOCK: Is this your writing?
JOHN (taking the bag): Uh, we hoped Soo Lin could decipher it for us. Ta.
(Dimmock nods and turns back to Sherlock, who is still unloading his crate.)
DIMMOCK: Anything else I can do? To assist you, I mean?
SHERLOCK (without looking up): Some silence right now would be marvellous.
(Dimmock stares at him, then looks across to John, who shakes his head apologetically. Biting his lip Dimmock turns and leaves the room.)
(Sherlock takes out a book from a crate and realises that he’s already got one like it from another crate. He puts them side by side – hard backed copies of Iain Banks’ “Transition”. Opening one of them to page fifteen, he looks at the first word on the page and then narrates the word in exasperated disappointment.)
(Slamming the book closed, he puts both versions on top of the pile on the desk.)
(Sherlock goes back to rummaging through crates as John puts his pile onto the floor and goes back to get more from a crate. Time moves on and later Sherlock finds two more identical books, “Freakonomics”, from the two men’s collections. He flicks to page fifteen, which is the beginning of a chapter headed “What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?” Moving down to the first word of the
chapter, he reads it and then looks up in frustration.)
(Again he dumps the two books on John’s pile. Time moves on again and now it’s day time. Sherlock has removed his jacket and John has taken his cardigan off but they’re still in the same positions we last saw them. Again time moves on and now the day light is even brighter outside. Books are scattered everywhere over the table and the floor and some of the crates have been shifted about. As Sherlock runs his fingers through his hair and then looks around at the crates and sighs, an alarm goes off on John’s watch. He looks at it and then out of the window as if to confirm that it really is the morning. He sighs tiredly and buries his head in his hands.)
DOCTORS’ SURGERY. The receptionist looks up apologetically at the first person in a queue of patients waiting to speak to her.
RECEPTIONIST: I’m sorry to keep you waiting.(Someone in the queue sighs pointedly.)RECEPTIONIST: But we haven’t got anything now ’til next Thursday.
(The woman at the front of the queue turns aside with an exasperated look on her face.)
WOMAN’s VOICE (offscreen): This is taking ages.
RECEPTIONIST: Er, sorry.
(Sarah Sawyer has been walking through the waiting room but now turns back and comes over to the reception.)
WOMAN’s VOICE (offscreen): What’s the point of making an appointment if they can’t even stick to it?SARAH (to the receptionist): Um, what’s going on?RECEPTIONIST (quietly): That new doctor you hired – he hasn’t buzzed the intercom for ages.
SARAH: Let me go and have a word.
RECEPTIONIST: Yeah, thanks.
SARAH (to the queue as she walks away): ’Scuse me.
RECEPTIONIST (to the queue): Sorry.
WOMAN’s VOICE (offscreen): What did she just say?(Sarah goes to John’s consulting room and knocks on the door.)
(She waits a few seconds but gets no reply.)
(When there’s still no reply, she opens the door and looks inside. John is sitting behind the desk, his head propped up on one fist, and is fast asleep and snoring gently.)
Much later, he comes out of his consulting room putting his coat on and walks over to Sarah who is standing behind the reception desk. He clears his throat awkwardly.
JOHN: Um, looks like I’m done. I thought I had some more to see.
SARAH: Oh, I did one or two of yours.
JOHN: One or two?
SARAH: Well, maybe five or six.
JOHN: I’m sorry. That’s not very professional.
SARAH: No. No, not really.
JOHN: I had, um, a bit of a late one.
SARAH: Oh, right.
JOHN: Anyway, see you.
(He turns to walk away.)
SARAH: So, um, what were you doing to keep you up so late?
JOHN (turning back to her): Uh, I was, er, attending a sort of book event.
SARAH: Oh. Oh, she likes books, does she, your … your girlfriend?
(She looks down fake-nonchalantly.)
JOHN: Mmm? No, it wasn’t a date.
SARAH (too quickly): Good. (She rapidly tries to cover.) I mean, um …
JOHN: And I don’t have one tonight.
(They smile at each other, John looking down almost in disbelief as if thinking, ‘Oh good grief, I’ve just pulled!’)
221B. Sherlock is still working on the crates but now tries a different tack.
SHERLOCK: A book that everybody would own.
(He turns to his bookcase and pulls down the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the Holy Bible and a third book which we can’t see the title of. Putting them on top of the nearest crate, he opens the dictionary to the correct page.)
SHERLOCK: Fifteen. Entry one.
(The word is “add”. He moves on to the last book he took down where the chapter is about Syphilis and the first word on page 15 is “nostrils”. Putting that aside and flicking to page 15 of the Bible, partway through the Book of Genesis, the first word is “I”. As he closes the book, and John’s bedroom door slams shut, he props his elbows on the crate and runs his fingers through his hair, ruffling it up. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the imminent arrival of his flatmate, who now walks into the room having changed into clean clothes.)
SHERLOCK: I need to get some air. We’re going out tonight.
JOHN: Actually, I’ve, er, got a date.
(He smiles smugly.)
JOHN: It’s where two people who like each other go out and have fun.
SHERLOCK: That’s what I was suggesting.
JOHN: No it wasn’t … at least I hope not.
SHERLOCK (looking sulky): Where are you taking her?
JOHN: Er, cinema.
SHERLOCK: Oh, dull, boring, predictable.
(He has taken a piece of paper from his trouser pocket as he walks across to John, and lowers his head to hide a smug smile before handing it to him.)
SHERLOCK: Why don’t you try this?
(John takes it and looks at the piece of paper, which is the strip of poster that Sherlock tore off the wall during the search for the yellow paint. The poster advertises the Yellow Dragon Circus and gives the telephone number of the Box Office.)
SHERLOCK: In London for one night only.
(John chuckles, then offers the paper back to Sherlock.)
JOHN: Thanks, but I don’t come to you for dating advice.
|Again Holmes flattened out the paper upon his unused plate. I rose and, leaning over him, stared down at the curious inscription, which ran as follows:534 C2 13 127 36 31 4 17 21 41 DOUGLAS 109 293 5 37 BIRLSTONE 26 BIRLSTONE 9 47 171“What do you make of it, Holmes?”“It is obviously an attempt to convey secret information.”“But what is the use of a cipher message without the cipher?”“In this instance, none at all.”
“Why do you say ‘in this instance’?”
“Because there are many ciphers which I would read as easily as I do the apocrypha of the agony column: such crude devices amuse the intelligence without fatiguing it. But this is different. It is clearly a reference to the words in a page of some book. Until I am told which page and which book I am powerless.”
“But why ‘Douglas’ and ‘Birlstone’?”
“Clearly because those are words which were not contained in the page in question.”
“Then why has he not indicated the book?”
“Your native shrewdness, my dear Watson, that innate cunning which is the delight of your friends, would surely prevent you from inclosing cipher and message in the same envelope. Should it miscarry, you are undone. As it is, both have to go wrong before any harm comes from it. Our second post is now overdue, and I shall be surprised if it does not bring us either a further letter of explanation, or, as is more probable, the very volume to which these figures refer.”
“No doubt,” said I. “Of course.” I had picked up the original cipher message and was bending my brows over it. “It’s pretty maddening to think that an important secret may lie here on this slip of paper, and that it is beyond human power to penetrate it.”
Sherlock Holmes had pushed away his untasted breakfast and lit the unsavoury pipe which was the companion of his deepest meditations. “I wonder!” said he, leaning back and staring at the ceiling. “Perhaps there are points which have escaped your Machiavellian intellect. Let us consider the problem in the light of pure reason. This man’s reference is to a book. That is our point of departure.”
“A somewhat vague one.”
“Let us see then if we can narrow it down. As I focus my mind upon it, it seems rather less impenetrable. What indications have we as to this book?”
“Well, well, it is surely not quite so bad as that. The cipher message begins with a large 534, does it not? We may take it as a working hypothesis that 534 is the particular page to which the cipher refers. So our book has already become a large book which is surely something gained. What other indications have we as to the nature of this large book? The next sign is C2. What do you make of that, Watson?”
“Chapter the second, no doubt.”
“Hardly that, Watson. You will, I am sure, agree with me that if the page be given, the number of the chapter is immaterial. Also that if page 534 finds us only in the second chapter, the length of the first one must have been really intolerable.”
“Column!” I cried.
“Brilliant, Watson. […]If it is not column, then I am very much deceived. So now, you see, we begin to visualize a large book printed in double columns which are each of a considerable length, since one of the words is numbered in the document as the two hundred and ninety-third. Have we reached the limits of what reason can supply?”
“I fear that we have.”
“Surely you do yourself an injustice. One more coruscation, my dear Watson—yet another brain-wave! Had the volume been an unusual one, he would have sent it to me. Instead of that, he had intended, before his plans were nipped, to send me the clue in this envelope. He says so in his note. This would seem to indicate that the book is one which he thought I would have no difficulty in finding for myself. He had it—and he imagined that I would have it, too. In short, Watson, it is a very common book.”
“What you say certainly sounds plausible.”
“So we have contracted our field of search to a large book, printed in double columns and in common use.”
“The Bible!” I cried triumphantly.
“Good, Watson, good! But not, if I may say so, quite good enough! Even if I accepted the compliment for myself I could hardly name any volume which would be less likely to lie at the elbow of one of Moriarty’s associates. Besides, the editions of Holy Writ are so numerous that he could hardly suppose that two copies would have the same pagination. This is clearly a book which is standardized. He knows for certain that his page 534 will exactly agree with my page 534.”
“But very few books would correspond with that.”
“Exactly. Therein lies our salvation. Our search is narrowed down to standardized books which anyone may be supposed to possess.”
“There are difficulties, Watson. The vocabulary of Bradshaw is nervous and terse, but limited. The selection of words would hardly lend itself to the sending of general messages. We will eliminate Bradshaw. The dictionary is, I fear, inadmissible for the same reason. What then is left?”
“Excellent, Watson! I am very much mistaken if you have not touched the spot. An almanac! Let us consider the claims of Whitaker’s Almanac. It is in common use. It has the requisite number of pages. It is in double column. Though reserved in its earlier vocabulary, it becomes, if I remember right, quite garrulous towards the end.” He picked the volume from his desk. “Here is page 534, column two, a substantial block of print dealing, I perceive, with the trade and resources of British India. Jot down the words, Watson! Number thirteen is ‘Mahratta.’ Not, I fear, a very auspicious beginning. Number one hundred and twenty-seven is ‘Government’; which at least makes sense, though somewhat irrelevant to ourselves and Professor Moriarty. Now let us try again. What does the Mahratta government do? Alas! the next word is ‘pig’s-bristles.’ We are undone, my good Watson! It is finished!”
He had spoken in jesting vein, but the twitching of his bushy eyebrows bespoke his disappointment and irritation. I sat helpless and unhappy, staring into the fire. A long silence was broken by a sudden exclamation from Holmes, who dashed at a cupboard, from which he emerged with a second yellow-covered volume in his hand.
“We pay the price, Watson, for being too up-to-date!” he cried. “We are before our time, and suffer the usual penalties. Being the seventh of January, we have very properly laid in the new almanac. It is more than likely that Porlock took his message from the old one. No doubt he would have told us so had his letter of explanation been written. Now let us see what page 534 has in store for us. Number thirteen is ‘There,’ which is much more promising. Number one hundred and twenty-seven is ‘is’—‘There is’”—Holmes’s eyes were gleaming with excitement, and his thin, nervous fingers twitched as he counted the words—“‘danger.’ Ha! Ha! Capital! Put that down, Watson. ‘There is danger – may – come – very – soon – one.’ Then we have the name ‘Douglas’ – rich- country – now – at – Birlstone – House – Birlstone – confidence – is – pressing.’ There, Watson! What do you think of pure reason and its fruit? If the greengrocer had such a thing as a laurel wreath, I should send Billy round for it.”
I was staring at the strange message which I had scrawled, as he deciphered it, upon a sheet of foolscap on my knee.
“What a queer, scrambling way of expressing his meaning!” said I.
“On the contrary, he has done quite remarkably well,” said Holmes. “When you search a single column for words with which to express your meaning, you can hardly expect to get everything you want. You are bound to leave something to the intelligence of your correspondent. The purport is perfectly clear. Some deviltry is intended against one Douglas, whoever he may be, residing as stated, a rich country gentleman. He is sure—‘confidence’ was as near as he could get to ‘confident’—that it is pressing. There is our result—and a very workmanlike little bit of analysis it was! (The Valley of Fear, The Warning)
|Well, obviously it was way easier to figure out which book was needed to solve the code in The Valley of Fear. Still, it’s basically the same concept. “Bradshaw” is by the way referring to the English catographer, who also published regularly railway plans during the time Sherlock was active (the book is mentioned again in The Copper Beeches, when Watson looks up a train to Winchester). It is therefore somewhat fitting that in the episode the solution turns up to be a city guide.
|EVENING. John and Sarah are walking up the slope towards a building.
SARAH: It’s years since anyone took me to the circus.
JOHN (chuckling nervously): Right, yes! Well, it’s … a friend recommended it to me. He phoned up.
SARAH: Ah. What are they, a touring company or something?
JOHN: I don’t know much about it.(They pause and look at a number of large red Chinese lanterns strung outside the hall.)
SARAH: I think they’re probably from China!
JOHN: Yes, I think … I think so, yes. (Quietly) There’s a coincidence(!)(They go inside to the Box Office where the manager is giving a customer her tickets.)
CUSTOMER: That’s wonderful. Thank you very much.
(The customer turns and walks up the nearby stairs and John goes over to the office.)
JOHN: Hi. I have, er, two tickets reserved for tonight.
MANAGER: And what’s the name?
JOHN (taking his wallet from his jacket): Er, Holmes.(The manager rifles through the reservations, then turns back to him with an envelope.)
MANAGER: Actually, I have three in that name.
JOHN: No, I don’t think so. We only booked two.
SHERLOCK (offscreen): And then I phoned back and got one for myself as well.
(John looks up in disbelief and turns as Sherlock walks over to them, looking at Sarah. He offers her his hand.)
SHERLOCK: I’m Sherlock.
(Sarah glances at John momentarily, then turns back to the new arrival and shakes his hand a little nervously. John turns away in exasperation.)
SARAH: Er, hi.
(He gives her his fake smile, then instantly turns and walks away.)Not long afterwards the boys are standing a few steps up the stairs as people make their way past them. Sarah isn’t with them – presumably she has nipped off to the loo. The boys keep their voices down as they talk.
JOHN: You couldn’t let me have just one night off?SHERLOCK: Yellow Dragon Circus, in London for one day. It fits. The Tong sent an assassin to England …
JOHN: … dressed as a tightrope walker. Come on, Sherlock, behave!
SHERLOCK: We’re looking for a killer who can climb, who can shin up a rope. Where else would you find that level of dexterity? Exit visas are scarce in China. They need a pretty good reason to get out of that country. Now, all I need to do is have a quick look round the place…
JOHN: Fine. You do that; I’m gonna take Sarah for a pint.
SHERLOCK (sternly): I need your help.
JOHN: I do have a couple of other things on my mind this evening!
SHERLOCK: Like what?
(John blinks, staring at him in disbelief.)
JOHN: You are kidding.
SHERLOCK: What’s so important?
JOHN: Sherlock, I’m right in the middle of a date. D’you want me to chase some killer while I’m trying to …
(He breaks off.)
JOHN (losing his patience and talking much louder): … while I’m trying to get off with Sarah!
(And inevitably Sarah comes around the corner at that moment. John turns to her and smiles awkwardly.)
(Rolling his eyes, Sherlock turns and heads up the stairs.)
JOHN (to Sarah): Ready?
(They follow Sherlock up the stairs.)
In the performance area there’s a stage on one side of the large hall and the curtains are closed. However, it seems that the stage is not going to be used: a circle of candles has been laid out in the middle of the floor, about thirty feet in diameter. The room is dimly lit. The patrons are gathering around the circle but there are no seats. Apparently the number of tickets has been limited and there’s room for everyone to stand around the circle with a clear view. Sarah and John stand side by side while Sherlock stands behind them with his back to them, looking all around the room and peering up to the ceiling. John talks quietly over his shoulder to his
flatmate, turning his head away from Sarah so that she can’t hear.
JOHN: You said circus. This is not a circus. Look at the size of this crowd. Sherlock, this is … (he grimaces with distaste) … art.
SHERLOCK (quietly over his shoulder): This is not their day job.
JOHN: No, sorry, I forgot. They’re not a circus; they’re a gang of international smugglers.
(The performance begins with someone tapping out a rhythm on a tiny hand drum. Sherlock turns to face the same way as his companions and John looks over his shoulder at him. Sherlock quirks an eyebrow at him. An ornately costumed Chinese woman with a heavily painted face – traditionally known as the Opera Singer – walks into the centre of the circle and looks imperiously out at the audience before
raising a hand in the air. The drummer finishes his riff. The Opera Singer walks across the circle to a large object covered with a cloth which she now pulls back to reveal an antique-looking crossbow on a stand. She picks up a long thick wooden arrow with white feathers at one end and a vicious metal point at the other and shows it to the audience before fitting it into place in the crossbow.
Straightening up, she pulls a single small white feather from her headdress and again shows it to the audience. On the rear of the crossbow is a small metal cup and she gently drops the feather into it. Instantly the arrow is released and whizzes across the room.
Sherlock’s head whips around to follow its flight while John and Sarah are still gasping at the sound of the arrow’s release. By the time they look round a moment later, the arrow is embedded in a large painted board on the other side of the circle. Sarah turns to John and laughs, dramatically putting her hand over her heart.)
(Instrumental music begins, and the audience applauds as a new character enters the circle, wearing chainmail and an ornate head mask.
He holds his arms out to the sides and two men come over and start to attach heavy chains and straps to him, strapping his now-folded
arms in front of him and then backing him up against the board and starting to chain him to it.)
SHERLOCK (softly): Classic Chinese escapology act.(John and Sarah turn to him.)
SHERLOCK: The crossbow’s on a delicate string. The warrior has to escape his bonds before it fires.
(The Opera Singer loads another arrow into the crossbow. The men attach more padlocks and chains and one of them pulls a chain tight, yanking the warrior’s head back against the board. The warrior cries out. The men loop the chains through solid rings attached to the board and secure the warrior, who cries out again. Once they’ve finished, they step away. The music begins building in intensity and
cymbals crash unexpectedly. Sarah jumps, clutching at John’s arm.)
SARAH: Oh, Gawd! I’m sorry!
(She laughs in embarrassment, taking his arm with her other hand as well. John laughs with her, then smiles delightedly as she lets go with her more distant hand but continues to hold onto his arm with the other. The Opera Singer picks up a small knife and displays it to the audience.)
SHERLOCK (softly): She splits the sandbag; the sand pours out; gradually the weight lowers into the bowl.(The Opera Singer does just what Sherlock predicted – she reaches up to a small sandbag hanging on a long cable and stabs the knife into the bottom of the sack. Sand begins to pour out, and the warrior repeatedly cries out with effort as he tugs at his chains. The sandbag’s cable is looped over a pulley and a metal ball is attached to the other end. As the sand continues to pour out of the bag the weight lowers towards the bowl at the back of the crossbow. The warrior gets one hand free. John is watching the weight lower, and Sarah now looks nervously at it as it crosses paths with the sandbag on its way up. They turn to look at the warrior as he gets his other hand free and starts tugging at the chains around his neck. The weight is now only a few feet above the bowl and Sarah clings tightly to John’s arm, grimacing. The warrior cries out again as he pulls at his chains and the weight gets ever closer. As it almost reaches the lip of the bowl the warrior loosens the chains around his neck and struggles to free himself.)
(The weight touches the bowl and the arrow streaks across the room. With a split second to spare, the warrior pulls free of the chains and ducks down and the arrow thuds into the board. The warrior cries out triumphantly as the audience begins to applaud. Sarah gasps in relief.)
SARAH: Thank God.
JOHN: My God!
(The warrior stands up and takes the applause. Still clapping, John looks over his shoulder, but Sherlock has vanished. John looks around the hall but can’t see him anywhere.)
(Sherlock has made his way onto the stage, which is being used as the performers’ dressing room. There’s a dressing table with mirrors, free-standing clothes rails and many other items all around. He looks at everything and notices that it’s almost as if another warrior is standing nearby – except that the chainmail and mask are hanging on a stand.)
(In the performance area, the Opera Singer raises a hand to halt the audience’s applause.)
OPERA SINGER: Ladies and gentlemen, from the distant moonlight shores of the Yangtze River, we present for your pleasure the deadly Chinese bird-spider.
(As she walks away, a masked acrobat descends from the ceiling, rolling through the air as the broad red band wrapped around his waist unravels. The audience applauds and he stops a couple of feet above the ground, holding his body parallel to the floor.)
JOHN (to Sarah): Did you see that?!
(Descending to the floor, the acrobat removes the band from around his waist and splits it, revealing that it’s made up of two strips of material which he now wraps around his arms and then runs around the circle before taking his weight on the bands, lifting into the air and flying around in a circle several feet above the ground, the red bands soaring out behind him. Sarah and John – and presumably the rest of the audience – stare up open-mouthed.)
(On the stage, Sherlock goes over to the curtains and parts them slightly to look out at the performance. He looks with interest at the acrobat as he floats around.)
SHERLOCK (softly): Well, well.
(To the right of the stage, a door opens. Sherlock runs to take cover, pushing through the middle of the clothes on the clothes rail and then quickly spreading the items out again as the Opera Singer comes onto the stage. She goes over to the dressing table and picks up a mobile phone, checking it, but looks round sharply as one of the hangars on the rail falls to the floor. Sherlock ducks down. The Opera Singer heads towards the rail and Sherlock crouches even lower but she continues on and leaves the stage. Sherlock looks down and sees a bag on the floor near his feet. Flipping it open, he finds several spray cans inside. He picks up one of them and sees that it is labelled “Michigan”. A yellow band is across the bottom of the can denoting the colour of the paint.)
SHERLOCK (softly, in a sing-song voice): Found you.(Standing up, he pushes through the clothes on the rail and walks over to the mirrors on the dressing table, shaking up the can as he goes. He bends down and sprays a single almost-horizontal yellow line across one of the mirrors. As he looks at it, the warrior’s costume behind him starts to move. Frowning, he turns around and realises that the costume is no longer on a stand and now has a man
inside it. The man charges forward, lashing out at him repeatedly with a large knife. Sherlock ducks backwards to avoid the blows as the warrior presses forward.)
(Outside, John and Sarah are still watching the acrobat. On the other side of the circle, the closed curtains on the stage begin to billow in one particular place. John frowns at the curtains for a moment but is then distracted back to the acrobat.)
(On the stage, Sherlock uses the can he’s holding as a bit of a weapon, using it to block a blow from the warrior, ducking below the next swing of the man’s knife, then clouting the can across the man’s elbow. The warrior responds by kicking him hard in the stomach.)
(Outside, the acrobat does a dramatic roll down the bands. The audience applauds. Unnoticed, the curtains billow even more.)
(The warrior grabs Sherlock by the throat but drops his knife in the process. Sherlock lashes the man’s hand away from the neck and then sprays the can directly into his masked face before bundling into him and shoving him away firmly. The warrior falls onto his back but uses his momentum to raise his legs and then roll forward and flip to his feet again. He takes a flying leap at Sherlock, spinning as he goes and his feet hit him in the chest. Sherlock is propelled backwards through the curtains, straight over the edge of the stage and onto the floor a few feet below. Crashing onto his back, he struggles to get upright again but is too winded and can’t move much as the warrior comes flying out of the curtains and onto the floor in front of him. John is on the move straightaway, running towards the warrior as he raises a knife and prepares to plunge it downwards. John charges straight into him, pushing him back against the edge of the stage but the warrior lashes out with one foot, sending John stumbling across the room.)
(Nearby, as the audience flees, the acrobat takes off his mask, takes one look at the fight and decides he wants no part of it, running off. Only one person is heading towards the fight and that’s Sarah, who has found a sturdy broom from somewhere and comes
charging across the hall while John is still stumbling across the floor trying to catch his balance and the warrior heads towards Sherlock who is still lying on the floor winded – and the warrior now has a wide-bladed sword in one hand. As he raises the sword above his head, his concentration focussed on delivering the killing blow to the man at his feet, Sarah races across the floor and slams the handle end of the broom over the top of the warrior’s head. He cries out in pain and before he can react or retaliate she swings the broom sideways and smashes it across his ribs. She instantly delivers a second blow to the same area and he falls to the ground, grunting and almost unconscious.)
(As Sarah straightens up, breathless, Sherlock finally sits up and leans forward to the warrior’s right foot, pulling off his shoe to reveal a Tong tattoo on his heel. John has finally managed to turn around, though he’s almost doubled over in pain and is still trying to catch his breath. As Sherlock scrambles to his feet John grabs Sarah’s hand and starts to pull her towards the exit.)
JOHN (almost voicelessly): Come on.
(Sherlock races off ahead of them.)
SHERLOCK: Come on! Let’s go!
NEW SCOTLAND YARD. D.I. Dimmock storms into the office, followed by the boys and a rather bewildered Sarah. Dimmock is clearly not in a good mood.
DIMMOCK: I sent a couple of cars. The old hall is totally deserted.
SHERLOCK: Look, I saw the mark at the circus – that tattoo that we saw on the two bodies: the mark of the Tong.
(Dimmock has reached his desk and has turned to face the others.)
JOHN: Lukis and Van Coon were part of a-a smuggling operation. Now, one of them stole something when they were in China; something
SHERLOCK: These circus performers were gang members sent here to get it back.
DIMMOCK: Get what back?
(Sherlock bites his lip, looking away angrily.)
JOHN (hesitantly): We don’t know.
DIMMOCK: You don’t know.
(Sherlock still won’t meet his eyes.)
DIMMOCK: Mr. Holmes …
(He sits down.)
DIMMOCK: I’ve done everything you asked. Lestrade, he seems to think your advice is worth something.(Sherlock lifts his head and gives a faint but proud smile.)
DIMMOCK: I gave the order for a raid. Please tell me I’ll have something to show for it – other than a massive bill for overtime.
221B. Sherlock leads John and Sarah into the living room and immediately stares at the pictures over the fireplace as he takes his coat off.
JOHN: They’ll be back in China by tomorrow.
SHERLOCK: No, they won’t leave without what they came for. We need to find their hide-out; the rendezvous.
(He walks closer to the photos, staring at them intently. John also gazes at the pictures while Sarah hovers nearby, forgotten by the pair of them. Sherlock runs his fingers over the main picture of the painted brick wall.)
SHERLOCK: Somewhere in this message it must tell us.
(He and John fall silent. Sarah looks at them for a moment, then realises that she is surplus to requirements.)
SARAH: Well, I think perhaps I should leave you to it.
JOHN: No, no, you don’t have to go … (he looks round at Sherlock) … does she? (He turns back to Sarah.) You can stay.
SHERLOCK (simultaneously): Yes, it would be better to study if you left now.
(He looks round pointedly at Sarah, while John throws a dark look at him before turning back to her.)
JOHN: He’s kidding. Please stay if you’d like.
(Sarah looks nervously towards Sherlock, who has already turned back to the photographs. She smiles awkwardly and tries a friendly approach.)
SARAH: Is it just me, or is anyone else starving?SHERLOCK (sighing and closing his eyes in exasperation): Ooh, God.
Shortly afterwards, John opens the fridge to find it almost empty apart from a couple of bottles, a can, and what might well be an eyeball lying on a shelf. He sighs.
(In the living room, Sherlock has sat down at the dining table which is covered with photos, notes and drawings of various pictograms. As he rummages through them, Sarah stands nearby, looking at all the pictures stuck to the mirror.)
SARAH: So this is what you do, you and John. You solve puzzles for a living.
SHERLOCK (tetchily, not looking round): Consulting detective.
(In the kitchen, John is searching through cupboards. He twists the lid off a jar of pickled onions, sniffs the contents and recoils at the smell.)
(He puts the lid back on and continues his search.)
(Sarah has walked over to Sherlock and is looking over his shoulder. She points to the paper he’s looking at.)
SARAH: What are these squiggles?
(Sherlock looks up, his face set as if he’s trying very hard not to kill her.)
SHERLOCK (still not looking round): They’re numbers. An ancient Chinese dialect.
SARAH: Oh, right! Yeah, well, of course I should have known that(!)
(In the kitchen John has found a small bag of Wotsits [a brand of cheese puffs] and is emptying them into a bowl. Mrs Hudson comes to the door and speaks quietly.)
MRS HUDSON: Ooh-ooh!
(John looks up and his face fills with grateful delight as she comes in carrying a tray covered with a tea towel.)
MRS HUDSON (whispering): I’ve done punch, and a bowl of nibbles.
(She puts the tray on the table and takes off the tea towel to reveal a jug of punch with slices of fruit floating on top, two glasses, a bowl of crisps and another bowl presumably containing some dip.)
JOHN (softly): Mrs Hudson, you’re a saint!
MRS HUDSON (whispering): If it was Monday, I’d have been to the supermarket!
JOHN (whispering): No; thank you! Thank you!
(Back in the living room, Sherlock is just about to commit murder as Sarah picks up the photograph of the brick wall which Dimmock had brought back sealed in an evidence bag. He glares at her in utter fury and turns his head away, his teeth bared.)
SARAH (oblivious to his rage): So these numbers – it’s a cipher.
SHERLOCK (tightly): Exactly.
SARAH: And each pair of numbers is a word.(Sherlock’s head lifts up slowly.)
SHERLOCK: How did you know that?
(For the first time he turns and meets her eyes.)SARAH: Well, two words have already been translated, here.
(She puts the picture down on the desk and points. Sherlock takes the photo from her and stares at it.)SHERLOCK: John.
(He looks round from the kitchen table.)
SHERLOCK (standing up): John, look at this.
(He takes the photo out of the evidence bag as John comes out of the kitchen.)
SHERLOCK: Soo Lin at the museum – she started to translate the code for us. We didn’t see it!
(Written in fine pen, a word has been written across each of the first two sets of symbols on the photograph. Sherlock reads them out.)
SHERLOCK: “NINE” “MILL”.
JOHN (squinting at the photo): Does that mean ‘millions’?
SHERLOCK (thoughtfully): Nine million quid. For what?
(He turns and goes over to where he dumped his coat and scarf.)
SHERLOCK: We need to know the end of this sentence.
JOHN: Where are you going?
SHERLOCK (putting his coat on): To the museum; to the restoration room.
(He grimaces in exasperation at himself.)
SHERLOCK: Oh, we must have been staring right at it!
JOHN: At-at what?
SHERLOCK: The book, John. The book – the key to cracking the cipher!
(He brandishes the photo at John.)
SHERLOCK: Soo Lin used it to do this! Whilst we were running around the gallery, she started to translate the code. It must be on her desk.
(And he’s gone, hurrying out the door.)
|Out on Baker Street, a man and woman are walking along the road. Obviously tourists, they are consulting the London A-Z and looking
around. Sherlock bursts out of the door of 221B, running towards the kerb to hail a passing black cab.
(As he sweeps past the tourists, he brushes past hard enough to break the man’s hold on the book, which falls to the ground. The man yells at him indignantly in German.)
TOURIST: Hey, du! Siehst du nicht wo du hingehst? [Hey, you! Why don’t you look where you’re going?](Sherlock turns back and picks up the book, handing it back to the man.
)SHERLOCK: Entschuldigen Sie bitte. [Forgive me, please.]
TOURIST (snarkily, snatching the book back): Ja, danke(!) [Yeah, thanks(!)](He turns away, putting his arm around his wife and still bitching.)
TOURIST: Und dann sagen die, dass die Engländer höflich sind! [And they say the English are polite!](Sherlock turns and raises his arm to the cab again but it has already driven past. He grunts in exasperation and walks down the road, looking over his shoulder to check traffic coming from behind him. After a few yards, he stop and turns back again, grunting angrily a second time as no cabs magically materialise for him. Looking up and down the road, he sees a Chinese couple, possibly father and
daughter, standing at the corner over the road and consulting an A-Z as they too try to work out their route. Sherlock’s eyes narrow, and he flashes back in his mind to walking across Lukis’ living room and looking at a pile of books and papers on a table. The London A-Z was the top book on the pile. He flashes back further into the past and remembers seeing a pile of books in Van Coon’s living room. The third book down on the pile was the London A-Z. Then he remembers turning around from the crates in his own living room and staring at his bookcase.)
SHERLOCK (in flashback): A book that everybody would own.
(His memories move on to him smiling at Soo Lin after he handed her the teapot in the restoration room. On the table was a London A-Z.)
(In the present, Sherlock’s mouth opens in startled realisation and he breaks into a run, chasing back towards the German couple.)
SHERLOCK (shouting): Please, wait! Bitte! [Please!]
Note: For the record, the German in this scene is very awkward. Whoever wrote this part is definitely not a German speaker, nor is the actor (though he does a better job with the pronunciation than it’s usual in foreign media). The translation is not exactly wrong, but it’s worded in a way, a Brit would use. With a German speaker, the dialogue would go more like this:
“Hey! Pass auf, wo du hingehst!”
(and the “wo du hingehst” is actually a little bit too much, a simple “Pass auf!” (Pay attention!) would sound more natural.
“Danke sehr!” (Thank you very much)…spoken in the right tone, this is everything but polite in German.
“Und da heißt es, dass Engländer höflich sind!”(And they say the English are polite)
|(The tourists turn back and frown in confusion as he hurries toward them.)
MALE TOURIST: Was wollt er? Was will er? [The first sentence makes no sense at all, but the second sentence translates to:} What does he want?](Sherlock runs up to them and snatches the A-Z from the man’s hands and turns away, looking down at the book.)
TOURIST: Hey, du! Was macht du? [Hey, you! What are you doing?]
SHERLOCK (turning back to him momentarily): Minute! [Wait a minute!]
TOURIST (angrily): Gib mir doch mein Buch zurück! [Give me my book back!]
(Ignoring him, Sherlock turns his back on the couple again and opens the book. Waving his hand in exasperation at the crazy Englander, the man puts his arm around his wife and they walk away.)Upstairs, John and Sarah have relocated to the kitchen. John is sitting at the side table and Sarah is standing nearby.
SARAH: Yeah! No, absolutely. I mean, well, a quiet night in’s just-just what the doctor ordered.
JOHN (softly): Ha-ha-ha(!)
SARAH: Er, I mean, I’d love to go out of an evening and wrestle a few Chinese gangsters, you know, generally, but a girl can get too much.
(John has been giggling silently as she speaks and now he nods in agreement.)
JOHN: No, okay.
(They smile at each other, then she looks away, laughing in embarrassment.)
JOHN: Hmm. Um, shall we get a takeaway?
(John nods and gets up to find a menu.)On the street, Sherlock is flicking through the pages of the A-Z.
SHERLOCK: Page fifteen, entry one. Page fifteen, entry one …
(He has turned to the correct page and looks at the first entry on that index page. It reads “Deadmans Lane NW9”. Sherlock lifts his head.)
SHERLOCK: Dead man. You were threatening to kill them.
(He flashes back to the message sprayed across Sir William’s office, across the library shelf and the statue in the library.)
SHERLOCK: It’s the first cipher.
(He takes the photograph of the message sprayed on the brick wall out of his coat pocket and unfolds it. With the first two words already translated, he looks at the third pair of symbols and then starts flicking to the correct page in the book.)
SHERLOCK: Thirty-seven, nine; thirty-seven, nine …[Okay, now your transcriber is getting peeved, because in close-ups of the photo, both now and earlier, it clearly shows that the next pair is numbered “36 37”.]
(The appropriate entry on that page reads “Fore St EC2”. Sherlock gets out a pen and writes “FOR” over the relevant symbols on the photo.)
SHERLOCK: Nine mill … for …
In the kitchen, Sarah has sat down on the seat that John vacated and is taking her jacket off. John has picked up the jug of punch and is filling the glasses. Someone knocks on the front door downstairs.
JOHN: Ooh, blimey, that was quick. I’ll just pop down.
(He hands her one of the glasses as he walks towards the kitchen door.)
SARAH: Do you want me to lay the table?
(John looks round at the kitchen table which is covered with Sherlock’s paperwork and experiments.)JOHN: Um, eat off trays?
On the street, Sherlock is still translating the symbols.
SHERLOCK: Sixty, thirty-five.
[The photo says “70 95”. How the hell he ever managed to translate the damned thing correctly is a mystery to me!]
(On the relevant page, the appropriate entry reads “Jade Cl. E16”.)
SHERLOCK: Jade. (He writes on the photograph as he says the word again.) Jade.
John opens the front door and smiles at the man standing on the doorstep, who is wearing a jacket with the hood pulled up.
JOHN: Sorry to keep you. (Rummaging in his trouser pocket) How much d’you want?
CHINESE MAN: Do you have it?
JOHN (looking around blankly): What?
CHINESE MAN: Do you have the treasure?
JOHN: I don’t understand.
(The man coshes John around the left side of his head with a pistol. John falls to the floor.)
On the street, Sherlock turns to the page for the final word. Finding the correct entry, he writes “TRAMWAY” onto the photograph and then reads the whole message aloud.
SHERLOCK: “NINE MILL FOR JADE PIN DRAGON DEN BLACK … (he raises his head and stares ahead of him) … TRAMWAY.”
In the kitchen of the flat there’s no sign of Sarah. The overhead suspended neon light is swaying gently back and forth. Two trays are on the table, each containing a clean plate, cutlery and a glass of punch. Downstairs, the front door slams and Sherlock’s voice can be heard.
SHERLOCK: John! John! I’ve got it!
(He runs in through the kitchen door, sees nobody there and runs into the living room, brandishing the A-Z.)
SHERLOCK: The cipher! The book! It’s the London A to Z that they’re using…
(He trails off before he can finish the last word, staring in shock as he sees that yellow paint has been sprayed across the living room windows. On the left-hand window is the sort-of upside down eight with an almost horizontal line across it. On the right-hand window is the single almost horizontal slash. Together they spell out “DEAD MAN”. There is no sign of John or Sarah. Sherlock stares at
the paint in horror.)
|The first sentence is a Grammar disaster, combining a plural verb with a singular subject. The second part isn’t much better, in this case, because the sentence is too short to sound natural.
“Was will er denn jetzt?” (What does he want now?) would be better.
“Hey, was treibst du da?” (Hey, what are you doing) or ideally “Was soll das?” (What’s the meaning of this) would be better, and the “Hey, du” sounds
really aggressive in German and isn’t something an educated person would use.
“Minute!” is utter nonsense…”Warten sie bitte!” (Please wait), would be correct).
“Gib mir mein Buch zurück!” (Give me my book back)..the “doch” sounds really odd…even more likely a German would simply say “Gib’s
wieder her!” (Give it back!)
|John regains consciousness sitting on a chair somewhere dark. A fire is burning in a dustbin behind him. He slowly raises his head. There is a bleeding cut on his left temple. As he grimaces in pain, the voice of the Opera Singer comes out of the dim tunnel in front of him.
OPERA SINGER: “A book is like a magic garden carried in your pocket.”
(Wincing, John turns his head to the left and sees Sarah sitting on another chair with a gag in her mouth. She looks round to him, terrified. Ahead of them is the Chinese woman who he saw photographing him and who was watching him and Sherlock on Hungerford Bridge. Despite the darkness she is still wearing her dark sunglasses. She walks towards him and we now see that they are in an abandoned tunnel. There are two Chinese men standing behind the approaching woman, and a couple of other fires are burning to illuminate the
area. A few feet ahead of where John and Sarah are tied to their chairs by their hands and feet is a large object covered with cloth. The woman raises her sunglasses to the top of her head and looks down at John.)
OPERA SINGER: Chinese proverb, Mr. Holmes.
(John looks at her, startled.)
JOHN: I … I’m not Sherlock Holmes.
OPERA SINGER (smiling humourlessly): Forgive me if I do not take your word for it.
(She reaches down and pulls his jacket open, rummaging in the inside pocket.)
JOHN: Ow. Ow.
(She takes out his wallet, opens it and takes something out of it.)
OPERA SINGER: Debit card, name of S. Holmes.(Flashback to Sherlock sitting in the living room after John’s return without the shopping.)
SHERLOCK (in flashback): Take my card.
JOHN: Yes; that’s not actually mine. He lent that to me.
OPERA SINGER (looking in the wallet again): A cheque for five thousand pounds made out in the name of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
(Flashback to John taking the cheque from Sebastian.)
JOHN: Yeah, he gave me that to look after.
OPERA SINGER (finding something else in the wallet): Tickets from the theatre, collected by you, name of Holmes.
JOHN: Yes, okay …
(Flashback to John and Sarah at the Box Office of the theatre.)
MANAGER (in flashback): What’s the name?
JOHN (in flashback): Uh, Holmes.
[Hang on: if they were watching the boys, why didn’t they then hear Sherlock introduce himself to Sarah?]JOHN: I realise what this looks like, but I’m not him.
OPERA SINGER: We heard it from your own mouth.
OPERA SINGER: “I am Sherlock Holmes and I always work alone …”
(Flashback to John outside Soo Lin’s flat as he stormed back to the door and shouted through the letterbox.)
JOHN (in flashback): “… because no-one else can compete with my MASSIVE INTELLECT!”
(John stares ahead of himself in disbelief.)
JOHN: Did I really say that?
(He chuckles weakly, then lowers his head in pain.)JOHN: I s’ppose there’s no use me trying to persuade you I was doing an impression.
(Before he can finish the sentence, the woman raises a small pistol and points it at his head. John cringes away from it, blowing out a panicked breath. The woman grins.)
OPERA SINGER: I am Shan.
(John stares up at her.)
JOHN: You’re … you’re Shan.
OPERA SINGER/SHAN: Three times we tried to kill you and your companion, Mr. Holmes. What does it tell you when an assassin cannot shoot straight?
(She lifts her other hand and cocks the pistol. John cringes back, turning his head away and whispering, “Don’t, don’t,” as he struggles against his bonds. Shan looks down at him and her expression becomes ominous. John breathes out heavily as her finger
tightens on the trigger. John stares into the barrel of the gun, his face full of terror as she pulls the trigger all the way. The gun clicks. John grunts in shock, and Shan smiles smugly.)
SHAN: It tells you that they’re not really trying.
(John breathes heavily, trying to get control of himself.)
221B. Sherlock hurries over to the bookcase.
(As if he has lost control of his usual razor-sharp brain in his fear for his friend, he stares at the books on the shelf for a few moments as he tries to find what he wants.)
SHERLOCK (faintly, under his breath): Oh, Christ.(Finally he finds and pulls out a folding map of London. Turning back to the dining table, he unfolds the map and spreads it out, running his finger over it until he stabs it down.)
(He turns and heads out of the door.)TRAMWAY TUNNEL. Shan slides a clip into the pistol and then cocks it again before pointing it at John’s head a second time. John cringes away from it.
SHAN: Not blank bullets now.
[They weren’t blank bullets before, lady; that gun was empty.]
JOHN (breathily): Okay.
SHAN: If we wanted to kill you, Mr. Holmes, we would have done it by now. We just wanted to make you inquisitive.
(She looks at him sternly.)
SHAN: Do you have it?
JOHN: Do I have what?
SHAN: The treasure.
JOHN: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
SHAN (turning away): I would prefer to make certain.
(She looks at her men, one of whom now pulls the cover off the large object to reveal the crossbow which was used at the circus. An arrow is already loaded in it. John stares at it and sighs deeply. Shan turns back to him.)
SHAN: Everything in the West has its price; and the price for her life …
(John turns and stares at Sarah.)
SHAN: … information.
(The two men walk over and pick up Sarah’s chair. She cries out repeatedly through her gag as they carry her towards the crossbow.)
JOHN (anguished, under his breath): Sorry. I’m sorry.
(The men set the chair down on the other side of the crossbow, putting Sarah facing the arrow tip and directly in line with it. She stares at it, crying and tugging in vain at the ropes tying her to the chair. Shan glares down at John.)
SHAN: Where’s the hairpin?
JOHN (tugging at his own bonds in spite of the pistol aimed at him): What?
SHAN: The Empress pin valued at nine million sterling. We already had a buyer in the West; and then one of our people was greedy. He took it, brought it back to London and you, Mr. Holmes, have been searching.
JOHN: Please. Please, listen to me. I’m not … I’m not Sherlock Holmes. You have to believe me. I haven’t found whatever it is you’re looking for.
SHAN (loudly): I need a volunteer from the audience!JOHN (desperately): No, please. Please.
SHAN (walking towards Sarah): Ah, thank you, lady. Yes, you’ll do very nicely.
(Sarah wails through her gag, tugging desperately at her ropes. Shan smiles, takes out a knife and reaches up to the sandbag suspended over a pulley hanging from the ceiling. She stabs the knife into the bag and sand begins to pour out. Sarah continues to wail as John sighs out an appalled breath and stares up at the bag in horror.)
Sherlock is in the back of a taxi, looking around anxiously as the cab progresses through the streets.
Shan smiles and looks around at her audience.
SHAN: Ladies and gentlemen. From the distant moonlit shores of NW1, we present for your pleasure Sherlock Holmes’ pretty companion in a death-defying act.
(Shan has walked over to Sarah and now places a black origami lotus flower on her lap.)
SHAN: You’ve seen the act before. How dull for you. You know how it ends.
JOHN (frantically): I’m not Sherlock Holmes!
SHAN: I don’t believe you.
SHERLOCK: You should, you know.
(Shan spins around as a familiar silhouette appears at the far end of the tunnel.)
SHERLOCK: Sherlock Holmes is nothing at all like him.
(Shan raises her pistol, cocks it [again] and aims it towards him. He immediately dodges to the side of the tunnel, disappearing into the shadows. One of Shan’s thugs starts to hurry towards the end of the tunnel.)
SHERLOCK’s VOICE (from the darkness, as John sighs out a half-relieved, half-exasperated breath): How would you describe me, John? Resourceful? Dynamic? Enigmatic?
JOHN (tetchily): Late?
SHERLOCK’s VOICE (from the darkness): That’s a semi-automatic. If you fire it, the bullet will travel at over a thousand metres per second.
SHAN (still aiming her pistol towards the shadows): Well?
SHERLOCK’s VOICE (from the darkness): Well …
(The thug has reached a large storage container standing at the side of the tunnel. Sherlock runs out from behind it and thwacks the man across the stomach with a metal pipe. The man grunts and collapses to the ground. Sherlock immediately ducks back into the shadows.)
SHERLOCK’s VOICE (quick fire, from the darkness): … the radius curvature of these walls is nearly four metres. If you miss, the bullet will ricochet. Could hit anyone. Might even bounce off the tunnel and hit you.
(He bursts out of the darkness and runs to the nearby burning dustbin, kicking it over. John flinches at the loud crash and Shan’s eyes widen as she realises that it’s now even more impossible to see that area of the tunnel. John peers into the darkness, trying to see how close his friend is. Sherlock reappears just behind Sarah and squats down behind her, starting to untie her bonds. However, the
other man – who turns out to be Liang, Soo Lin’s brother – runs over to him and loops a long red scarf around his throat a couple of times. Sherlock cries out and stands up, tugging at the part of the scarf around his neck as Liang pulls it tight. As they struggle, Sarah looks at them for a moment and then turns back to stare at the arrowhead pointed directly at her. She lifts her gaze to the sandbag, which is just passing the counterbalanced weight on its way down towards the metal cup on the crossbow.)(Behind her, Sherlock has shaken off Liang for a moment and again crouches to Sarah’s bonds. Liang hurries forward and swings another loop of the scarf around Sherlock’s neck and again starts pulling him away.)
(As the men continue to struggle, John realises that Sherlock isn’t going to get free in time. He struggles to stand, which is almost impossible with his hands tied in front of him and attached tightly to the underside of the chair, and his ankles tied to the legs of the chair. Nevertheless he manages to stumble forward a couple of paces, half-carrying and half-dragging the chair with him, before he loses his balance and falls onto his side.)
(Liang swings yet another loop of the scarf around Sherlock’s neck. Sarah gazes up at the descending metal ball as the men behind her continue to struggle and John thrashes on the floor. Her eyes drop to the arrowhead again as the ball continues relentlessly downwards. Her eyes full of tears, her gaze locks onto her imminent death and all hope begins to fade from her expression.)
(Flailing and groaning with the effort, John manages to squirm around on the floor and finally gets one foot free enough to kick it upwards and connect with a part of the crossbow. The crossbow shifts position, twisting slightly to the left just as the ball connects
with the cup. The arrow is fired and soars across the tunnel … and buries itself in Liang’s stomach. He grunts, then straightens up, his face full of shock. He groans breathily for a moment, then slowly topples to the floor.)
(Gasping for breath, Sherlock stands up and looks around. Distant running footsteps can be heard – General Shan is leaving the building. He looks in the direction of the sound as if considering following, but Sarah’s anguished muffled sobs distract him and he
unloops the red scarf from around his neck and then drops to his knees beside her.)
SHERLOCK (soothingly): It’s all right.
(On the floor, John groans as he struggles to get up onto his elbows. Sherlock unties Sarah’s gag and takes it from her mouth.)
SHERLOCK (softly): You’re gonna be all right. It’s over now. It’s over.
(Stroking his hands comfortingly down her arms, he then bends down to untie the ropes. She begins to sob as John looks up at her from the floor. He smiles wearily.)
JOHN: Don’t worry. Next date won’t be like this.
(She continues to sob as Sherlock straightens up and stands behind her, putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder. He looks down the tunnel wistfully.)
|Honestly, why does Sara not try to turn over her chair herself? Is it bolted to the floor or what?
|Later, the police have arrived to clear up the mess. Dimmock is waiting beside a police car just outside the tunnel as John puts his arm around Sarah’s shoulders [she’s wearing a shock blanket, John; she’s fine] and walks her away. Sherlock is just behind them and stops to talk to the inspector.
SHERLOCK: We’ll just slip off. No need to mention us in your report.
DIMMOCK: Mr. Holmes …
SHERLOCK: I have high hopes for you, Inspector. A glittering career.
DIMMOCK: I go where you point me.
SHERLOCK (walking away): Exactly.
(Dimmock turns and watches him leave. He smiles ruefully.)MORNING. 221B. In the kitchen, John is sitting at the table while Sherlock stands next to him and pours him a mug of tea from a teapot.)
(He is looking at the translated message.)
JOHN: So, “Nine mill” …
SHERLOCK (pouring himself a mug of tea): Million.
JOHN: Million, yes; “Nine million for jade pin. Dragon den, black Tramway.”
SHERLOCK: An instruction to all their London operatives.
SHERLOCK: A message; what they were trying to reclaim.
JOHN: What, a jade pin?
SHERLOCK: Worth nine million pounds. Bring it to the Tramway, their London hideout.
JOHN: Hang on: a hairpin worth nine million pounds?SHERLOCK: Apparently.
JOHN: Why so much?
SHERLOCK: Depends who owned it.
SHAD SANDERSON BANK. The boys are walking towards the entrance to the bank.
SHERLOCK: Two operatives based in London. They travel over to Dalian to smuggle those vases. One of them helps himself to something: a little hairpin.
JOHN: Worth nine million pounds.
SHERLOCK: Eddie Van Coon was the thief. He stole the treasure when he was in China.
JOHN: How d’you know it was Van Coon, not Lukis? Even the killer didn’t know that.
SHERLOCK (going through the revolving doors): Because of the soap.
(He looks round smugly at John, who stops and stares back at him blankly for a moment before following him into the bank.)Upstairs, Van Coon’s P.A. Amanda is sitting at her desk. She squirts a bit of hand lotion from the pump-action bottle on the desk and rubs it into her hands. Her phone rings and she picks it up and answers it.
SHERLOCK’s VOICE (over the phone): He bought you a present.
AMANDA: Oh. Hello.
SHERLOCK’s VOICE (over the phone): A little gift when he came back from China.
AMANDA: How do you know that?
SHERLOCK (from behind her): You weren’t just his P.A., were you?
(She turns in surprise as he walks around to the side of the desk, switching off his phone and putting it back into his pocket.)
AMANDA (switching off her own phone and putting it down): Someone’s been gossiping.
AMANDA: Then I don’t understand. Why …?SHERLOCK (interrupting): Scented hand soap in his apartment.
(Brief flashback to Sherlock looking into Van Coon’s bathroom and seeing a pump-action bottle of luxury hand wash on the shelf.)
SHERLOCK: Three hundred millilitres of it. Bottle almost finished.
AMANDA (frowning in confusion): Sorry?
SHERLOCK: I don’t think Eddie Van Coon was the type of chap to buy himself hand soap – not unless he had a lady coming over. And it’s the same brand as that hand cream there on your desk.
(Amanda momentarily looks down awkwardly.
AMANDA: Look, it wasn’t serious between us. It was over in a flash. It couldn’t last – he was my boss.
SHERLOCK: What happened? Why did you end it?AMANDA (sadly): I thought he didn’t appreciate me. Took me for granted. Stood me up once too often – we’d plan to go away for the weekend and then he’d just leave; fly off to China at a moment’s notice.
SHERLOCK: And he brought you a present from abroad to say sorry.
|Holmes smiled and clapped Lestrade upon the shoulder.
“Instead of being ruined, my good sir, you will find that your reputation has been enormously enhanced. Just make a few alterations in that report which you were writing, and they will understand how hard it is to throw dust in the eyes of Inspector Lestrade.”
“And you don’t want your name to appear?”
“Not at all. The work is its own reward. Perhaps I shall get the credit also at some distant day when I permit my zealous historian to lay out his foolscap once more—eh, Watson? Well, now, let us see where this rat has been lurking.” (The Norwood Builder)
“[…]But you must put yourself under my orders. You are welcome to all the official credit, but you must act on the line that I point out. Is that agreed?” (The Sign of the Four, A Break in the Chain)
|(His gaze is focussed on a small green jade hairpin in her hair.)
SHERLOCK: Can I … just have a look at it?
(He holds his hand out.)
In Sebastian’s office, Seb is signing a cheque for £20,000. He looks up at John who is standing on the other side of the desk.
SEBASTIAN: He really climbed up onto the balcony?(He puts the cheque into an envelope.)
JOHN: Nail a plank across the window and all your problems are over.
(Looking peeved, Sebastian holds the envelope out to John.)
Outside, Amanda is holding her hair in place with one hand while she takes out the pin with the other.
AMANDA: Said he bought it in a street market.
(She puts the pin into Sherlock’s outstretched hand.)SHERLOCK: Oh, I don’t think that’s true. I think he pinched it.
AMANDA (chuckling ruefully): Yeah, that’s Eddie.
SHERLOCK: Didn’t know its value; just thought it would suit you.
AMANDA: Oh? What’s it worth?
SHERLOCK (slowly): Nine … million … pounds.(Amanda’s face fills with shock.)
AMANDA: Oh my God!
(She stumbles to her feet and staggers backwards as Sherlock grins.)
AMANDA: Oh my G…
(She turns and runs away.)
AMANDA (high-pitched and hysterical): Nine million!(In Sebastian’s office, John turns his head at the sound of her voice, then turns back and nods to Sebastian before leaving the room.)NEXT MORNING (or possibly the day after that). Sherlock, wearing a dressing gown over his shirt and trousers, is sitting at the dining table while John sits opposite him. Sherlock is looking at the front page of the Sunday Express, where the headline reads, “Who wants to be a million-hair”. He folds the paper in half, puts it down and picks up another newspaper.
JOHN: Over a thousand years old and it’s sitting on her bedside table every night.
SHERLOCK: He didn’t know its value; didn’t know why they were chasing him.
JOHN: Hmm. Should’ve just got her a lucky cat.(Sherlock smiles at him briefly, then looks away.)SHERLOCK: Hmm.
(His gaze becomes distant. John looks at him closely.)
JOHN: You mind, don’t you?
SHERLOCK (looking at him): What?
JOHN: That she escaped – General Shan. It’s not enough that we got her two henchmen.
SHERLOCK: It must be a vast network, John; thousands of operatives. You and I, we barely scratched the surface.
JOHN: You cracked the code, though, Sherlock; and maybe Dimmock can track down all of them now that he knows it.
SHERLOCK: No. No. I cracked this code; all the smugglers have to do is pick up another book.
(He opens his newspaper and lifts it, beginning to read. John’s eyes drift over to the window, and he frowns and looks closely as a young man in a hooded jacket and wearing a cap walks over to a tall black box on the other side of the road which dispenses parking permits. Putting a bag on the ground, the young man looks around in all directions to make sure he’s not being watched, then lifts a spray can in his right hand and sprays his tag on the back of the box. John watches as the ‘artist’ finishes the tag, picks up his bag and hurries away. As Sherlock, oblivious to this, continues to read his paper, John looks thoughtful, and a police car sirens its way down the road.)
|“And yet the motives of women are so inscrutable. You remember the woman at Margate whom I suspected for the same reason. No powder on her
nose—that proved to be the correct solution. How can you build on such a quicksand? Their most trivial action may mean volumes, or their most extraordinary conduct may depend upon a hairpin or a curling-tongs.” (The Second Stain)
|In a room somewhere, Shan is sitting at a desk and talking to someone over a computer. Her live image is being transmitted to the other person but the space on the screen which should be showing the face of whoever she’s talking to is marked “No image available.” There is also a text box on the screen which shows that the person to whom she’s talking is indicated simply as “M”. Shan sounds very humble
as she speaks.
SHAN: Without you – without your assistance – we would not have found passage into London. You have my thanks.
(The other person’s response appears typed on the screen:
M: GRATITUDE IS MEANINGLESS
M: IT IS ONLY THE EXPECTATION OF FURTHER FAVOURS
The computer beeps to indicate that the message has finished.)
SHAN: We did not anticipate … we did not know this man would come – this Sherlock Holmes.
(Her face fills with concern.)
SHAN: And now your safety is compromised.
(The computer beeps and new text appears:
M: THEY CANNOT TRACE THIS BACK TO ME
The computer beeps.)
SHAN (sincerely): I will not reveal your identity.
(The computer beeps.)
M: I AM CERTAIN.
(The computer beeps. Unseen by Shan, the red light of a rifle’s laser sight appears in the centre of her forehead. The screen fades to black. A single gunshot rings out as a bullet smashes through the window opposite en route to its target.)
|“He can keep, anyhow,” said he. “You’ve got us side-tracked with your interesting anecdotes, Mr. Holmes. What really counts is your remark that there is some connection between the professor and the crime. That you get from the warning received through the man Porlock. Can we for our present practical needs get any further than that?”
“We may form some conception as to the motives of the crime. It is, as I gather from your original remarks, an inexplicable, or at least an unexplained, murder. Now, presuming that the source of the crime is as we suspect it to be, there might be two different motives. In the first place, I may tell you that Moriarty rules with a rod of iron over his people. His discipline is tremendous. There is only one punishment in his code. It is death. Now we might suppose that this murdered man—this Douglas whose approaching fate was known by one of the arch-criminal’s subordinates—had in some way betrayed the chief. His punishment followed, and would be known to all—if only to put the fear of death into them.” (The Valley of Fear, Sherlock Holmes Discourses)
|And that concludes The Blind Banker. It is very noticeable that there are less references to canon than in any other episode, and only one more or less direct quote. But I actually think that reworking the aspects of “The Dancing Men” in a modern story works fairly well…the sad love story, the threatening messages, the concept of a crime organisation using “scribbles” to communicate, the bullet which goes through the window, all core aspects are there.