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DailyStep English. Online English Audio: learn English listening, learn to speak English. If you choose to view this episode, you'll see what I mean. The Speckled Band is without doubt one of the standout episodes from the fantastic Granada series. It's difficult watching this episode not to get drawn into the plot, which has to be one of the best Conan Doyle wrote, which of us doesn't possess a phobia or at least an unease when it comes to snakes. I won't go into the specifics of the death, just in case, but it must be one of the most cruel, horrific deaths that Conan Doyle wrote, it really is the stuff of nightmares.
As always we are treated to some fantastic production values, everything is very slick, impeccable period detail, some lovely costumes, it really is a pleasure to watch. The episode was expertly cast, Jeremy Kemp was perfectly cast as Dr Grimesby Roylott, his appearance somehow fitted the character, as did the velvet voiced Rosalyn Landor who beautifully portrayed Helen Stoner.
I don't know why I find this one of the more enjoyable cases of Sherlock Holmes. Maybe it's because it's really so simple -- the motives, the characters, the mystery and its solution. Maybe it's the hilarious way Dr. What the hell is a jack-in-office? Maybe it's the snake -- "a swamp adder, the deadliest snake in India. First of all, there is no such snake. None called a swamp adder, at any rate. Second, here is a snake who drinks MILK from a saucer.
Third, the snake is trained to do tricks that none has ever learned before. I mean, think of it. Snakes don't actually DO anything except lay around the house. They don't roll over or sit up and beg. Have you ever known a snake to do anything but act like a brain-damaged piece of garden hose?
You have not. Fourth, the snake has learned to return to his home when he hears a whistle. But snakes have spent so many eons underground that they've lost their ears and are deaf. No -- this is SOME snake, trust me. You wouldn't want to arouse "its snakish nature," as Holmes puts it. I've always like Jeremy Kemp too, and he's fine here as the villain. What a versatile actor he is. Watch him as an aristocratic German flier in "The Blue Max" -- all restraint and reserve.
Or in that spoof of Nazi movies where his role is comedic. Rosalyn Landor is the lady in distress and she's very comely and vulnerable. I like that in a woman. Any normal snake would enjoy even the prospect of biting her, as would any normal man. This ranks high among the fifty-some stories that Conan-Doyle penned. In one of the best Holmes short stories, this TV episode hold true to most of the writing as Holmes and Dr Watson find a sinister scheme that could save the life of their beautiful woman client. But they will need to act fast because time is of the essence in this wonderful episode.
The story centers around Julia Stoner who is living with an eccentric step-father, Doctor Roylott, in a manor needing repair outside of London. Just recently Julia's sister had died an unusual death after a few nights of hearing strange whistling noises in her room.
Now with repairs being made on the manor, Roylott tells Julia that she will have to move into her sister's old room. The first night in the room she hears the whistling noise that scared her sister. Julia seeks the help of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes will get to the house and notice things that only he is capable of understanding.
Add the background of Dr Roylott while in India and Holmes will know that the beautiful young woman is in extreme danger. All we can do is hope that Holmes, along with Dr Watson, is able to prevent another death. One of the better stories and one of the better acting episode of the collection. Jeremy Brett is again wonderful as he plays Holmes, with all his facial tics, to near perfection.
Entertaining episode to watch. Prismark10 28 January I did think the adaptation although trying to do something different, had a murder plan that falls apart easily for being nonsense. A whistle and a saucer of milk indeed. Of course the source material is at fault. Helen Stoner is the young lady in distress who turns to Sherlock Holmes. Her stepfather Dr Grimesby Roylott is a bit of a brute. He is a man who spent years in the army in India.
He then married Helen's wealthy mother who later died. A few years earlier, her older sister Julia also died unexpectedly. At the time Julia was expecting to get married. Full of them — the same as ever. Takes one out and smells it. Bottle of cocaine — Billy, Billy! It's all over the room. Watson was his name. How dare you talk in such a fashion? What do you want? Looks round.
What’s the Mystery/Problem Here?
When your eagle eye penetrates my disguise I shall retire to an eligible poultry farm. One of those small conundrums which a trustful public occasionally confides to my investigation. To the British workman, Watson, all doors are open. His costume is unostentatious and his habits are sociable. A tool bag is an excellent passport and a tawny moustache will secure the co-operation of the maids. It may interest you to know that my humble double is courting a cook at Battersea. Strikes match and lights pipe.
It's a game of life and death, and every card must be played! But in this case I have a hated rival — the constable on the adjoining beat — so when I disappear, all will readjust itself. We walk out on Saturday evenings. But the honour of a Duchess is at stake. A mad world, my masters. Turns to survey Watson. Well, Watson, what is your news?
Your coat, your hat, your gloves, your buttonhole, your smile, your blush! The successful suitor shines from you all over. What I had heard of you or perhaps what I had not heard of you, had already excited my worst suspicions. Looks fixedly at Watson. But this is better and better, for I begin to perceive that it is a young lady whom I know and respect. The lady is Miss Morstan, whom you have indeed met and admired. But how could you tell —. Charming, my dear fellow, charming. There is no mistaking the Titian tint. You lucky fellow! I envy you.
I am not for love, nor love for me. It would disturb my reason, unbalance my faculties. Love is like a flaw in the crystal, sand in the clockwork, iron near the magnet. No, no, I have other work in the world. There is the Baxter Square murder — I have put the police on the track. The Clerkenwell Jewel Robbery — that is now clearing. The case of the Duchess of Ferrers — I have my material. The Pope's cameos. His Holiness must wait. The Princess who is about to run from home — let her run. I must see one or two who are waiting for me — rings bell — then I am entirely at your disposal.
That's our brass plate when we raise one. If you'll sit there I shall soon be free. BILLY goes out. Holmes, both yours and mine. I'm pretty quick off the mark, and you won't mind that. I'm not here on the advice gratis line. Don't you think it. I've my Cheque book here — takes it out — and there's plenty behind it.
I won't grudge you your fee, Mr. I promise you that. Holmes — damn her! Got back to her own people and they've hid her. There's the law, of course, but she'd get out all kinds of lies about ill-treatment. She's mine, and I'll just take her when I know where to lay my hands on her. She's one of those wincing kind of nervous fillies that kick about in the paddock but give in when once the bridle's on them and they feel the whip.
You show me where she is, and I'll do the rest. She's got a cluster of aunts, and she's lyin' low somewhere among them. It's for you to put her up. Look here, you don't know what you're missing. I'd have gone to five hundred. Here's the cheque. The police said it was murder, and you said it was murder; but we don't get any further, do we?
Placing hat on floor. Yes, sir, a corruption a danger. Who knows what passed between them? I've suspicions — I've always had my suspicions. Because, if you tell me from time to time how it is shaping, I may be able to give you a word in season. We have not enough to arrest him on, but we work away in the hope. I'm his brother, sir. It's me that should know. It's never out of my mind. Meanwhile I amuse him and myself by the pretended pursuit of the wrong man — an ancient device, Watson. I am sorry to delay the business upon which you wished to consult me; but this, I hope, will be the last.
You remember Milverton? The most crawling reptile in London — the King of the Blackmailers — a cunning, ruthless devil. I have traced seventeen suicides to that man's influence. It is he who is after the Duchess of Ferrers. He has a letter which he thinks would break off the wedding. It is my task to regain it. I have no object in secrecy. It is your client's reputation, not mine, which is at stake. I can't be hurt. But she can. Hardly a fair fight, is it? Then your letter is not worth sixpence. He would condone all. Come, now, what harm is in the letter? However, it is purely a matter of business.
If you think it is in the best interests of your client that the Marquis should see the letter — why, you would be very foolish to pay a large sum to regain it. I can assure you that this envelope would give more joy than all the tiaras and bracelets in Regent Street. I have other cases maturing. If it were known that I had been severe on the Duchess the others would be more open to reason. It is this gentleman's cook who has honoured me.
In the intervals of philandering, I have made an acquaintance with the lock on the safe. Milverton spent last night at his club; when he returns home he will find there has been a little burglary at The Battersea, and his precious letter is missing.
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Sudden mysterious death of a girl at an old house in Stoke Moran, some two years ago. An inquest was it not, with a string of most stupid and ineffectual witnesses. I docketed the evidence. It introduced to my notice a gentleman of singular and most interesting personality. I have a few notes. Takes down a scrapbook from a row. Let's see — it's R — Ranter — Roma — Rylott!
That's our man. Fifty-five years of age, killed his khitmutgar in India; once in a madhouse, married money — wife died — distinguished surgeon. Well, Watson, what has the distinguished surgeon been up to now? Throwing scrapbook on divan. She will henceforward be alone at Stoke Moran.
Of course, supposing that Rylott did the other girl to death, it seems unlikely, on the face of it, that he would try it on again, as two sudden deaths in the house could hardly pass the coroner—. The born criminal is often a monstrous egotist. His mind is unhinged from the beginning.
What he wants he must have. Because he thinks a thing, it is right. Because he does a thing, it will escape detection. You can't say a priori that he will take this view or that one. Perhaps we had best have the young lady in. Rings bell. My dear fellow, you'll get into trouble if you go about righting the wrongs of distressed damsels. It won't do, Watson, it really won't. A white horse and clay soil are indicated. But what is this? You are trembling.
Do sit down. Holmes, my stepfather has not been here? ENID: He saw me in the street. I dashed past him in a cab. ENID: It was to get a new butler. Rodgers, our old one, leave us, and a new butler is to come at once. I doubt if any servant would come to such a place. I know them. But this is a digression, is it not? We get back to the fact that he saw you in the street?
He knows that Dr. Watson is my only friend in London. But even so, there are moments— Raises her arm. ENID: He does not realize his own strength. When he is angry he is like a fierce wild beast. Only last week he thrashed the blacksmith. This must not occur again. ENID: I would not dare to tell him. He would do something dreadful. Besides, as I say, my stepfather has, on the whole, been kinder. But there is a look in his eyes, when I turn on him suddenly, that chills me to the bone. His kindness is from his head, not from his heart.
I feel as if he were waiting — waiting —. Waiting till he has me at his mercy. That room freezes my blood. Often I cannot sleep for horror. ENID: It came before my sister's death. She spoke of it, and then I heard it myself the night she died. But it has come again. Oh, Mr. Holmes, I am terrified. This — music — does it seem to be inside the house or outside?
ENID: And there's one other thing that puzzles me — my sister's dying words — as she lay in my arms she gasped out two words. Suggestive — very suggestive. Pause When did you hear this music last? It presents features which commend it to me. You must put yourself into my hands. Where is the A. Finds it in umbrella stand. Stonehouse — Stowell — Stoke —. Yes, that will do. I could get up to you between eleven and twelve, to-night. Would you have the goodness to leave your shutter open? The room is, I understand, upon the ground floor?
Have you any friends in Stoke Moran? Now, listen to me, Miss Stonor. When you have returned home certain circumstances may arise which will ensure your safety. In that case you will at Stoke Place until I come in the evening. On the other hand, things may miscarry, and you may not be safe. In that case I will so manage that a warning will reach you.
You will then break from home and take refuge with the Armitages. Is that clear? It was all I could do to get him to stay in the waiting-room. Well, Watson I must thank you for a most interesting morning. You are certainly the stormy petrel of crime. Throws down card. I have come here to ask whether you have had a visit from my stepdaughter, Miss Enid Stonor—.
I've heard of you, you meddling busybody. And you, Dr. Watson — I expected to find you here. What do you mean by interfering with my lawful affairs? You know what girls are, how sudden and unreasonable their prejudices may be. Imagine, sir, how hurt I should feel to be distrusted by one whom I have loved. HOLMES: I will come down at once, examine the room in which the tragedy occurred, and see if such small faculties as I possess can throw any light upon the matter. What I ask you to do — what I order you to do is to leave my affairs alone.
Alone, sir — do you hear me? Don't dare to meddle with me. D'you hear, the pair of you? You — Holmes, I'm warning you. Time flies when one is chatting. Life has its duties as well as its pleasures, Doctor. You don't know the man you are dealing with. You think that my strength fails because my hair is turned.
I was the strongest man in India once. See that! I am not a safe man to play with, Mr. Let me see — what were we talking about before the Sandow performance? I tell you now, and you, too, Dr. Watson, that you interfere with my affairs to your own danger. You have your warning. You have mentioned this young lady, and I know something of her circumstances.
I hold you responsible. My eye is on you sir and the Lord help you — the Lord help you if any harm befall her. Now leave this room, and take my warning with you. I may teach you both not to meddle with what does not concern you. Keep clear of Stoke Moran! Stoke Moran must be less dull than many country villages. Quite a breezy old gentleman Watson. Well I must thank you for a pretty problem. What the exact danger may be which destroyed one sister and now threatens the other may be suspected, but cannot yet be defined.
That is why I must visit the room. Dangerous quests are forbidden. What would Morstan say? Takes his ear and turns his head round. You're a clever boy, Billy. He will be here presently. He is bringing the new butler with him so you can hand over to night. That's his name, Peters. He brings a young girl with him, his daughter. The attic will do for her. That will do Rodgers. I have heard from the master. She is not to go out any more. He will come soon. Until he does, we must hold her. She asked if there was a message for her.
Who can she expect a message from? Ah — stand back, Ali, she's coming. The Doctor didn't like you going to London to-day. His orders are that you should not go out again. It's no use, Miss, we must obey our orders. You don't budge from here. The Doctor is a good master, but his servants have to obey him. The other locks are locked as well. You needn't try the windows, for Siva is loose. All right, Ali, give me the key — you can go! ENID waits until she has gone; then she rushes across to the writing-table and scribbles a telegram.
My heart is sore to part with you. All the kindness I've ever had in this house has from poor Miss Violet and you. No, no, I don't love him, Miss Enid. But I fear him — oh! I fear him. One glance of his eyes seems to cut me — to pierce me like a sword. I wouldn't even listen to anything against him, for I feel it would come round to him, and then — then—!
What a man! Has he a child in his room, Miss Enid? He drinks no milk. Every morning I take up the jug of milk. And the music, who is it he plays the music to? ENID: Music! You have heard it, too. I'm so frightened. I'm in danger. I know I'm in danger. Say it slowly. My poor old head is not as clear as it used to be. ENID: It is my business — only mine. Your master's name is not even mentioned. See — it is to Mr. Sherlock Holmes — he is a friend of mine — Baker Street, London. Please hurry. Dear Rodgers, it means so much to me — please — please take it for me.
ENID: Oh! You said yourself that I had always been kind to you. You will take it, won't you? It may save me — it may save my going all the way to town. He won't like to be kept waiting. Rodgers, be ready to receive your master. ALI throws open the hall door and salaams. Now, my man, we may as well understand each other first as last. I'm a man who stands no nonsense in my own house. I give good pay, but I exact good service.
Plot Summary of the Adventure of the Speckled Band
Do you understand? I want a younger man to keep the place in order. Rodgers will show you the cellar and the other things you should know. You take over from to-morrow morning.
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I'm sure, sir, it was very good of you to take me with such an encumbrance as my poor little orphaned Amelia. Why have I done that? Because I expect I shall get better service out of you. Where are you to find a place if you lose this one? Don't you forget it. I'll do all I can. If I can speak to your late butler, sir, I have no doubt he will soon show me my duties. She's not safe with strangers — not very safe with any one but myself. When you have done so, come to me in the study.
Maybe you are the lucky one after all. I hope I am not doing you out of your job. I'd chuck it for two pins. If it wasn't for Amelia I'd chuck it now. Old Rodgers is finished — used up. But he said he wanted to see me in the study. What do you think he wants with me in the study? What can he want with me? I get nervous these days, Mr. What was it he told me to do? Taking out keys.
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They are here, Mr. That's the cellar key, Mr. Be careful about the cellar. That was the first time he struck me — when I mistook the claret for the Burgundy. He's often hasty, but he always kept his hands off till then. I'd be off to-night, but it's not so easy these days to get a place if your papers ain't in order. See here, Mr. Rodgers, I'd like to know a little more about my duties. The study is there, ain't it?
Well, the first room you come to is the master's bedroom; the next is Miss Enid's—. Well, now, could you take me along to the master's room and show me any duties I have there? No one ever goes into the master's room. All the time I've been here I've never put my head inside the door. What are you saying? Why should you wish to enter the master's room?
The fewer rooms the less work. Why do you suppose he locks the door?
He chooses to do so. That is enough for us. I'm sure I don't wonder. I don't see myself staying here very long. Wasn't there some one died here not so long ago? The master would not like it. Here is Miss Enid and the Doctor wants me. I'm new to the place and don't quite know where I am yet.
May I ask Miss if your name is Stonor? ENID rising : A message for me! Why did you not take it? All will be right. Tell me, Peters, who was this boy? The Doctor had gone on to the cab, and the boy touched my sleeve and asked me to give you this note in your own hand. Comes over to ENID.