a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership
Title: That's Murder Author: Lionel Shave * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1600461h.html Language: English Date first posted: March 2016 Most recent update: March 2016 This eBook was produced by: Hamish Darby and Colin Choat Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
GO TO Project Gutenberg Australia HOME PAGE
From Five Proven One Act Plays
The Australasian Publishing Co. Pty. Ltd.
First published 1948
* * *
To the memory of "PAKIE" MACDOUGALL
to whose kindly encouragement these plays owe their being.
EMMELINE SMYTHE, a service maid in a flat building.
MRS. JOHN BAROOMBE, a self-possessed person of 35
MARY ASTONBURY, an attractive brunette.
DETECTIVE-SERGEANT DIGBY, of the Criminal lnvestigation Department
DETECTIVE CALLAGHAN, just as brusque.
* * *
THE TIME. 8.10 one evening in the present.
THE PLACE. The living room of John Barcombe's flat.
THE SCENE. The right wall of JOHN BARCOMBE'S living room is broken by two doors, one R.F. leading to the entrance hall, the other R.B. to the bathroom. The left wall has a door L.F. leading to the bedroom. Half-way back the wall inclines at an angle of 45 degrees for 5 or 6 feet, accommodating a fireplace. In the short return to the back wall is a doorway leading to the kitchen. There is a heavily curtained window in the back wall. A couch, with arm rest, is before the fireplace, back to audience. A refectory table is against the back of the couch and carries a telephone, papers, vase of flowers, etc. An easy chair with a smokers stand by it is down left. There is a table down right with a chair at it facing down. A light chair stands between the two doors right. Against the back wall can be other easy chairs, a side-board, etc., to dress the stage suitably but unnecessary to the action. When the Curtain rises EMMELINE the service maid is sitting in easy chair L. reading. She is thin and gawky, and in her late twenties. Her head is attached to her body by a long thin neck, which appears to be made of rubber and fitted with a universal joint, so freely does it crane in all directions. Her chin is missing and, since she is adenoidal, her mouth is open most of the time. Both her speech and her mental processes are slow in action, due to the adenoids, and it is difficult to know whether some of her remarks are actuated by a childlike naivete or by sheer stupidity. Suddenly there is a peremptory knocking on the entrance door.
* * *
EMMELINE. Come in!
[DIGBY and CALLAGHAN enter.]
DIGBY. Where is he?
[EMMELINE motions vaguely with her hand. The detectives move quickly to the couch and examine the body.]
DIGBY, Humph...He's dead right enough.
EMMELINE Aw yes, he's dead right enough.
DIGBY [coming from couch to join EMMELINE]. Where's the manager of the building?
EMMELINE. In his own quarters, I expect.
DIGBY, Funny he's not here.
EMMELINE. I didn't tell him. He doesn't like this sort of goings on.
DIGBY. I suppose not. When did it happen?
EMMELINE. Just before I telephoned you.
CALLAGHAN. About ten minutes ago that would be.
EMMELINE. Yes, that's right. It was eight o'clock and I was thinking at the time that...
DIGBY. Where were you doing this thinking?
EMMELINE. Just in my head.
DIGBY [curtly]. Yes, but where were you when you were thinking?
EMMELINE [with a faint gleam of intelligence]. Aw! Along in my room at the end of the passage.
DIGBY. And you heard the shot?
DIGBY, Then you rushed straight in here?
EMMELINE. Aw no, I didn't rush.
DIGBY. Well, er, you came straight in here.
EMMELINE. Aw no, I knocked first, him being a gentleman and me being a...
DIGBY. Yes, of course, And receiving no answer you came in ...
DIGBY. And discovered the
[EMMELINE waves her hand towards the body.]
CALLAGHAN [who has examined the body]. Suicide, from all appearances, Sergeant.
DIGBY [to EMMELINE]. Know any reason why Mr...what was his name?
EMMELINE [pointing to Him.]
EMMELINE, Mr. Barcombe.
DIGBY. Know any reason why he should commit suicide?
EMMELINE [rising], Did he?
CALLAGHAN. It looks like it from the position of the wound, and here's the gun on the floor. [He lifts revolver with pencil in the barrel.]
DIGBY [turning to CALLAGAHAN]. I'd handle it carefully, Callaghan, in case of fingerprints.
CALLAGHAN. I'll examine it straight away, Sergeant. [He carries it to the table R. and proceeds to examine it. EMMELINE following him, crossing behind DIGBY unbeknown to him.]
DIGBY. Yes. You'd better. Now, young woman! [He misses EMMELINE then discovers her watching CALLAGHAN'S examination]. Was Mr. Barcombe married or single?
EMMELINE. Well, he was or he wasn't.
DIGBY. Was married, or wasn't, or which?
EMMELINE, A bit of both, as you might say!
DIGBY. Oh, living apart from his wife?
EMMELINE. Yes, a fair distance ..
DIGBY. Divorced, was he?
EMMELINE. No, but that didn't seem to matter.
DIGBY. Another woman in the case, eh?
[EMMELINE nods her head expressively.]
DIGBY. Living here?
EMMELINE. Here? Aw, no! The manager wouldn't like that sort of goings on either!
DIGBY. Do you know where she does live?
EMMELINE. On the floor below.
DIGBY. Oh. Does she know about this?
EMMELINE. She wasn't in when I went down.
DIGBY. You went to tell her, did you?
EMMELINE. I thought I'd better drop her a hint.
DIGBY. Is she usually out at this time in the evening?
EMMELINE. Only with him. But after the row tonight she must have ...
DIGBY. So they quarrelled tonight, eh?
DIGBY. How do you know?
EMMELINE. The next flat's empty and I happened to be in there.
EMMELINE. Aw, well, I—
DIGBY. That suits me, What were they quarrelling about?
EMMELINE. She'd done in twenty pounds on Wolf's Fang in the last race today and he said she was ruining him. She nearly ruined me too. I had a couple of bob each way on it.
DIGBY. Wolf's Fang was as dead as a doornail.
EMMELINE. That's murder, that is!
CALLAGHAN. And SO is this!
EMMELINE. Is it?
DIGBY. Why, what's up Callaghan?
CALLAGHAN. The gun has apparently been wiped after he was shot. [Rises.] Look...the only finger prints on it are smeared.
DIGBY. By heavens, you're right!
CALLAGHAN. Wiped with a soft cloth, too. See the fluff on it. [Facetiously.] Maybe Brightie here gave it a polish up. [He crosses to body.]
EMMELINE. I don't usually do any dusting after tea.
DIGBY. Have another look at him, Callaghan, but don t disturb him.
EMMELINE. Oh, you couldn't disturb him.
CALLAGHAN. Hullo! What's this all about? [He takes a folded piece of notepaper from the dead man.] A note, from the look of it.
DIGBY. Show it to me. Where was it?
CALLAGHAN. In his hand.
DIGBY. Which hand?
CALLAGHAN. His right hand,
DIGBY. And if he shot himself he was right handed. How did the note get there?
EMMELINE. He wasn't paralysed.
CALLAGHAN. Paralysed or not, he certainly couldn't have picked it up after he was shot.
CALLAGHAN. And if he'd been holding it when he shot himself it would have been crumpled up wouldn't it?
EMMELINE. Aw, I suppose so.
DIGBY [showing note to CALLAGHAN]. What do you make of it?
CALLAGHAN. Someone threatening him, by the tone of it.
DIGBY. Apparently! [To EMMELINE.] What's the name of his lady friend?
EMMELINE. Puddin'...that's what he used to call her when he was playful.
DIGBY. But what's her proper name?
EMMELINE. Aw! I suppose it's Astonbury.
CALLAGHAN. Why do you only suppose it?
EMMELINE. Seems a funny name to me. I like Smith for a name myself.
CALLAGHAN. Is your name Smith?
EMMELINE. No! Smythe!
DIGBY. What's her first name?
EMMELINE. Aw, that's not so bad...Mary.
DIGBY. Did you see her leave after they quarrelled tonight?
EMMELINE. No, I left them at it. I've heard them so often lately.
DIGBY. Between the time that you heard the shot and came within sight of the room could anyone have left without you seeing them?
EMMELINE. I wouldn't be surprised.
DIGBY. Where does that door lead?
EMMELINE. The kitchenette.
DIGBY. And that?
EMMELINE. That's the bedroom.
DIGBY. Look it over, Callaghan, and bring out a sheet to cover him.
[CALLAGHAN exits to bedroom.]
DIGBY. What's that other room?
EMMELINE. You know...the bathroom.
DIGBY. Any other exits besides the door?
EMMELINE. The windows.
DIGBY. But this is the third floor, isn't it?
EMMELINE. Yes, that's right. But you can still get out by the windows.
DIGBY [incredulously]. How?
DIGBY. Would you like to jump three storeys?
EMMELINE. Aw no! But I'm not a good jumper.
[CALLAGHAN returns with sheet and proceeds to couch.]
DIGBY [despairingly]. Oh-h-h! Do you know if Barcombe had any other callers this evening?
EMMELINE. He was expecting his wife.
DIGBY. At what time?
EMMELINE. Eight o'clock.
DIGBY. Oh, was he? How do you know? Did he tell you?
EMMELINE. Aw, no. She wrote him a letter.
DIGBY. And you read it?
EMMELINE. Well, you see I was just tidying up and the letter was there.
EMMELINE. On the desk and I thought it might have been something that didn't matter—somebody asking for money or something.
[CALLAGHAN has moved towards the desk on her mention of it.]
DIGBY [without turning]. Have a look for it Callaghan.
EMMELINE [who can see CALLAGHAN]. He's going to.
DIGBY [satirically]. Thanks! And do you know whether she kept the appointment or not?
EMMELINE. She probably didn't.
DIGBY. What makes you think that?
EMMELINE. She said in the letter she'd sooner see him in hell.
CALLAGHAN [who has found the letter on the desk and is reading it]. That's right, too, Sergeant, look.
DIGBY [who has joined CALLAGHAN]. Show me that letter. [He fits the sheet of paper to the note he is holding.] What do you know about that? Off the same sheet as this note you found in his hand. It's simply been torn in half.
CALLAGHAN. But look at the inks, Sergeant. They're different colours.
DIGBY. Yes, one black and the other green, that's queer.
[Sound of knocking.]
EMMELINE. That'll be his wife now.
DIGBY, How do you know?
EMMELINE. The other one doesn't knock.
DIGBY. Let her in. Make sure he's covered, Callaghan and then give the other rooms the once over.
[Exit CALLAGHAN to bathroom.]
EMMELINE. She'll be surprised, won't she?
DIGBY. I don't know that she will. You'd better go down and tell Miss...what's her name?
DIGBY, Tell her she's wanted up here but don't tell her why.
EMMELINE. Going to surprise her, too?
EMMELINE. Aw, don't you know?
[Sound of knocking.]
DIGBY. Come in! Off you go, Miss, and see that you knock when you come back.
EMMELINE. Well, me being a lady an' you being—
DIGBY. Yes, yes, I know.
[EMMELINE admits MRS. BARCOMBE, grimaces behind her back to assure DIGBY of her identity and exits. MRS. BARCOMBE is a self possessed person of 35, once a vaudeville performer. Her blonde hair is probably natural, and, like the rest of her, is slightly over-dressed. Green is the predominant note in her dress. Her treatment at the hands of JOHN BARCOMBE has made her hard.]
DIGBY. Mrs. Barcombe?
MRS. B. [moving towards table]. Yes. Who are you?
DIGBY. Detective Sergeant Digby of the Criminal Investigation Branch.
MRS. B. Oh! Come to collect him, have you?
DIGBY. What do you mean?
MRS. B. It's time he got his deserts.
DIGBY. How's that?
MRS. B. Hasn't he been crooked all his life?
DIGBY. How do you mean...crooked?
MRS. B. He did me out of everything I ever had and I'm not the only one.
DIGBY. Then I daresay you're satisfied now he's dead!
MRS. B. Dead! Murdered!
DIGBY. Who said he was murdered?
MRS. B. He didn't have the pluck to commit suicide.
DIGBY. Maybe you should know.
[CALLAGHAN re-enters from bathroom.]
DIGBY. I suppose it would upset you to...see him.
MRS. B. Not in the least, if he's quite dead.
DIGBY. Come here! Lift that sheet, Callaghan.
[Watching MRS. B. closely.]
[CALLAGHAN lifts the sheet. MRS. BARCOMBE starts but quickly controls herself and moves towards the table again, DIGBY accompanying her.]
DIGBY. A very thorough job, Mrs. Barcombe.
MRS. B. Yes, it saved me the trouble,
CALLAGHAN. In what way?
MRS. B. I came here to shoot him myself. [She opens bag to take out a cigarette case.]
DIGBY. Remember that anything you say may be taken down and used in evidence.
MRS. B. Thank you officer. But I'm not worried.
[She displays interior of her bag.] I had everything ready for him you see.
CALLAGHAN. I'll take care of that. [Takes revolver from bag and examines it.]
MRS. B. Do! I'll have no further use for it.
[She moves to chair left where there is a smoking stand and matches.]
DIGBY [following her up]. No further use?
MRS. B. No, none at all.
CALLAGHAN. This revolver's been fired.
MRS. B. Yes, I've been practising with it.
CALLAGHAN [smelling barrel]. It's been fired recently.
MRS. B. Yes, this afternoon.
MRS. B. This afternoon, I said.
DIGBY [showing her the letter found on BARCOMBE'S desk]. Is this letter in your handwriting?
MRS. B. Yes.
CALLAGHAN. Then you must have written it!
MRS. B. Elementary, my dear detective.
DIGBY [showing her the note found in his hand]. You printed this note too.
MRS. B. No, I didn't. I use nothing but green ink. I've used it for years. Green paper. Green ink. It was part of my publicity when I was in the business.
CALLAGHAN. What business?
MRS. B. The show business, of course.
CALLAGHAN. I thought I recognised you.
MRS. B. The Greene Sisters were very well known.
CALLAGHAN. That's right. I remember you now. [To DIGBY.] Let me see that note, Sergeant...Toni. I thought so.
DIGBY. What is it?
CALLAGHAN. She and her sister were known as Toni and Billi Greene.
DIGBY. So you were the Toni mentioned in this page?
MRS. B. No, Toni was my sister's stage name.
CALLAGHAN. Your sister? Then she's in this too.
MRS. B. No, she's in London.
DIGBY. Oh, is she? Then you used her name on this note?
MRS. B. I didn't use her name and I wouldn't write such a silly thing.
CALLAGHAN. What's silly about it?
MRS. B. Everything. Even Edgar Wallace couldn't have imagined anything so stupidly melodramatic.
DIGBY. It's the same paper as you use. In fact, it's the other half of t he letter you wrote.
MRS. B. I'm not in the habit of writing on half sheets of notepaper. Neither—as you might have noticed—do I use a broad nib.
CALLAGHAN. Then how does it come to be here if you didn't send it?
MRS. B. It could have been torn off the letter I sent, surely.
DIGBY, Yes—by someone who has access to this flat.
MRS. B. [rising and moving to table R. on which she has left her bag]. And uses Black Hyacinth perfume.
DIGBY [following her]. What do you mean?
MRS. B. That note reeks of it.
CALLAGHAN. How do you know?
MRS. B. I've got a nose. Smell it yourself.
CALLAGHAN. How do you know it's Black Hyacinth?
MRS. B. There are some things I know.
DIGBY. Including who shot your husband.
MRS. B. No, I don't know that.
DIGBY. I'm not so sure that you don't. I suggest that you kept your appointment at 8 o'clock and shot him as you intended.
MRS. B. And then came back at twenty minutes past to shoot him again.
DIGBY. No, you came back for the letter you wrote.
MRS. B. And the note I didn't write, as well, I suppose.
DIGBY. Then what did you come for?
MRS. B. I've already told you—to keep my appointment and shoot him if I thought fit.
DIGBY. We say that you did keep your appointment.
CALLAGHAN. And that you did shoot him.
MRS. B. Then you simply have to prove it, haven't you?
CALLAGHAN. We might do that, too!
[ Sound of knocking ]
DIGBY. Just a minute. [To CALLAGHAN.] Cover him up, Callaghan. Mrs. Barcombe, you go into the bedroom until we call you.
MRS. B. Why should I?
DIGBY. Because you're told to.
MRS. B. Oh, very well [she exits to bedroom].
CALLAGHAN. Do you think she did it?
DIGBY. She admits that she was all ready for it.
CALLAGHAN. Where does the other gun come in?
DIGBY. Possibly a blind.
CALLAGHAN. But it's been fired, too.
DIGBY. Oh, I don't know yet...You'd better see who's outside. If it's the Astonbury woman, slip down and give her flat the once—over while I'm talking to her. You'd better take a look at Brightie's room, too.
CALLAGHAN [with a grin]. In case there's someone hiding under her bed?
DIGBY. From us or from her?
[CALLAGHAN admits EMMELINE and MARY ASTONBURY. She is an attractive brunette with a deep musical voice, inclined to huskiness. She is highly strung and emotional. Her dressing is in excellent taste.]
EMMELINE. This is Miss Astonbury.
DIGBY. Come in. Very good Callaghan.
DIGBY [to EMMELINE pointing to bathroom]. Go into the bathroom and wait.
EMMELINE. Who? Me?
DIGBY. Yes, you.
EMMELINE. Aw. [She takes up and drags chair along].
DIGBY. What do you want that for?
EMMELINE [looks hopelessly at bathroom door]. To sit on.
DIGBY. Oh, very well, make yourself quite comfortable.
MARY. You wanted to see me?
DIGBY. Yes. I'm from the Criminal Investigation Branch.
MARY. Criminal Investigation?
DIGBY. Yes. I'm investigating the cause of Mr. Barcombe's ...
[MARY screams...makes for couch. DIGBY restrains her.]
MARY. Oh, don't. I must go to him. He's dead?
DIGBY. What makes you think that?
MARY. Why is that sheet there? He's underneath it, dead! I know!
DIGBY [significantly]. Do you?
MARY. You don't think ...
DIGBY. I'm not here to think but to get the facts.
MARY. Do please let me see him.
DIGBY. You can see him if you want to, but remember that anything you say may be taken down and used in evidence.
MARY. Used in evidence? Then he was, let me see him, please.
[DIGBY draws the sheet...MARY rushes forward, but DIGBY again restrains her.]
DIGBY. You mustn't touch him. You mustn't touch anything.
MARY. Oh, John, why did I do it?
DIGBY. Why did you?
MARY. Why did I? [She takes more control of herself.] I never thought it would end this way.
DIGBY. Sit down quietly and tell me what you quarrelled about and what happened.
MARY. How do you know we quarrelled?
DIGBY. I know a great deal. What was it all about?
MARY. My extravagance, as usual.
DIGBY. And naturally you resented his attitude. By the way, this note, threatening him.
DIGBY. Find anything?
CALLAGHAN. One or two things, including this.
[Produces a bottle of perfume.]
MARY. Have you been in my flat?
CALLAGHAN. I have.
MARY, What for?
CALLAGHAN. To check up on the perfume you use.
MARY. I could have told you. I use Black Hyacinth.
DIGBY [sententiously]. I noticed that when you came in. This note reeks of it, as well.
CALLAGHAN. You use a. fountain pen, don't you?
CALLAGHAN. With a broad nib?
MARY. Yes, I use a broad nib.
CALLAGHAN [produces fountain pen]. This is yours, isn't it?
MARY. It looks like it.
CALLAGHAN. It came from your flat.
MARY. Then I suppose it is mine. It used to be...his.
CALLAGHAN. Have a look at the nib, Sergeant.
DIGBY [examining pen]. Hmm! The sort of nib this note was printed with.
MARY. It wasn't done with my pen.
DIG-BY. We're not saying that it was, but it could have been.
MARY. But there isn't any ink in it.
DIGBY. What's that?
MARY. My fountain pen's been dry for at least three days.
CALLAGHAN. Is that right, Sergeant?
DIGBY. Yes, it's as dry as a bone.
CALLAGHAN. And by the colour of the ink that note was printed within the last few hours.
MARY. You don't suggest that I murdered John, do you?
DIGBY. I'm not suggesting anything. Where have you been for the last half-hour.
MARY. At my manicurist's.
CALLAGHAN. What's her name?
MARY. She's in business as Maxine.
DIGBY. Is she on the telephone?
MARY. Yes, of course!
DIGBY. What number?
MARY [hesitating]. Er...er...
CALLAGHAN. Come on! What number?
MARY. I'm trying to think. Oh, yes. FX 1306.
DIGBY [to CALLAGHAN]. Telephone her, Callaghan.
[CALLAGHAN crosses to telephone. DIGBY moves round to right of table.]
DIGBY. How far is Maxine's from here?
MARY. A couple of blocks.
DIGBY. About four or five minutes' walk, that would be.
MARY. About that.
CALLAGHAN [on telephone]. Is that Maxine's...Has Miss Astonbury been there?...When?...Five minutes ago, did you say?... How long was she there?...Thank you.
DIGBY. Just a minute, Callaghan. Ask them to hold on.
CALLAGHAN. Are you there? Hold on a minute, please. [Authoritatively.] This is an officer of the Criminal Investigation Branch.
DIGBY. What time did you get there?
MARY. I can't remember exactly.
DIGBY. Would it be just after eight o'clock?
MARY. Yes, I should say so.
DIGBY. Barcombe was shot at eight o'clock.
CALLAGHAN [on telephone]. Yes...hold on, please.
MARY. Then I must have been there before eight.
DIGBY. Of course! Ask what time she arrived, Callaghan.
CALLAGHAN. Hullo...do you remember what time Miss. Astonbury arrived?...oh! [To DIGBY.] 'She can't be sure.
DIGBY. Somebody had better be sure.
MARY. John could have told you.
DIGBY. Yes, there's probably a lot he could have told us.
MARY. But he went with me.
DIGBY. What's that?
MARY. He walked around with me.
DIGBY. Does Maxine know that?
MARY. Why, yes, of course.
DIGBY. Check it, Callaghan.
CALLAGHAN. Hullo!...Was Mr. Barcombe with Miss Aston bury when she arrived? Oh...Yes, that will be all. Thanks...He was with her, Sergeant.
DIGBY. He was, was he? That seems to establish a water-tight alibi for you, young lady.
MARY. I didn't shoot John.
DIGBY. Any idea who might have?
MARY. I've no idea...unless...
DIGBY [encouragingly]. Yes...
MARY. It might have been...his wife.
[MRS. BARCOMBE enters in time to hear her.]
MRS. B. But it wasn't, as it happened, or I'd probably have shot you too.
DIGBY. That'll do, Mrs. Barcombe.
MRS. B. What right has she to make insinuations?
CALLAGHAN. Somebody shot him.
MRS. B. Yes...somebody who uses Black Hyacinth perfume.
MARY. I use Black Hyacinth, but I ...
DIGBY. Miss Astonbury has a perfectly sound alibi.
MARY. Thank you, Officer.
DIGBY. If you wish you may go to your flat, but don't leave the building in case we need you again.
MARY. Thank you so much. May I come back...later?
DIGBY. We'll see.
[MARY ASTONBURY turns to leave...but rushes with a sobbing exclamation toward the couch when she is restrained by CALLAGHAN who leads her to the door exit.]
DIGBY. Now, Mrs. Barcombe. [He moves towards her.]
MRS. B. [sweetly]. Yes, Officer?
DIGBY. I can't promise anything, but ...
MRS. B. If I admit to shooting my husband, you'll do your best for me, eh?
DIGBY. Well, I ...
MRS. B. I'm sorry, but I wasn't here.
DIGBY. You've already told us that, but it will take some proving.
CALLAGHAN. You had an appointment at the very hour that he was shot.
MRS. B. And I'd have kept it if the tram I was travelling by hadn't been derailed.
CALLAGHAN. What tram was that?
MRS. B. Burnside Grove.
DIGBY. Where was it derailed?
MRS. B. At Six Ways Junction.
DIGBY. Check that with the Tramway Department, Callaghan.
[CALLAGHAN moves to telephone.]
MRS. B. Well, you could take a lady's word for it.
DIGBY. Humph!...a lady's word!
CALLAGHAN. Tramways Department?...Did you have a derailment on the Burnside Grove line tonight? Oh, you did...what time?...That'll do, thanks.
DIGBY. Is it right?
CALLAGHAN. Yes, quite right.
DIGBY. That still doesn't prove you were on the tram.
MRS. B. How should I have known it was derailed otherwise?
DIGBY. You may have seen it from a car.
MRS. B. Then I suppose I'd better find my tram ticket.
CALLAGHAN. Have you got it?
MRS. B. Surely. [Looks in her bag.] It should be one of these [producing several tram tickets].
DIGBY. I'll take those.
MRS. B. You'll take the numbers, that's all. I'll keep the tickets...just in case.
DIGBY. Clever, aren't you?
[Proceeds to take note of the numbers.]
MRS. B. If this were a time for joking, I'd say the same of you.
CALLAGHAN. We may have the last word yet, Mrs. Barcombe.
MRS. B. I'm afraid you'll have to talk to yourselves. I'm leaving. I have another appointment.
CALLAGHAN. What about it, Sergeant?
DIGBY. We can pick her up if we want her.
MRS. B. My tram-tickets, Sergeant. Thank you.
Now, if you don't mind.
DIGBY. Where do you live?
MRS. B. I suppose you really ought to know [opens bag and produces card]...My card.
DIGBY: All right, you can go.
MRS. B. Thanks awfully! [She moves towards the door where she delivers her parting shot.]...And if you do find the murderess, you might thank her for me.
[Exit MRS. BARCOMBE.]
CALLAGHAN. Well, what the devil do you make of it now?
DIGBY. I don't know what to make of it. [Moving towards refectory table.] We'd better go through his papers. By the way, did you find anything in the maid's room?
CALLAGHAN. Nothing but a pile of novelettes and a picture gallery of film actors.
DIGBY. Film actors, eh?
CALLAGHAN. Yes, all the answers to a maiden's prayer.
DIGBY. Nobody under the bed?
CALLAGHAN. In her room?
[There is a report in the bathroom. DIGBY starts towards the door but thinks better of it. EMMELINE enters and gazes vaguely at both of them.]
EMMELINE. I knocked the chair and broke it.
CALLAGHAN. And what do you want now?
DIGBY. Another chair?
EMMELINE. No, another novelette. I've finished this one.
CALLAGHAN. I hope they caught the villain.
EMMELINE. Aw, yes. They got him. Here, you ought to read it. [Hands it to CALLAGHAN.]
CALLAGHAN. I'd look very nice, sitting here reading this.
EMMELINE. Nobody'd see you and it's a real clever detective story.
DIGBY. Think he'd get a few hints out of it, eh?
EMMELINE. Aw, yes-there's some good bits in it.
CALLAGHAN. I'll say there are [sotto voce]. Get a look at this, Sergeant.
[CALLAGHAN has been turning over the pages, Stops and shows something to DIGBY.]
DIGBY [significantly]. Yes...some very interesting bits.
EMMELINE. Murders and everything.
DIGBY. By the way, have you ever heard of Nemesis?
EMMELINE. Yes—he's in that story.
DIGBY. Is he?
EMMELINE. I couldn't make out why.
DIGBY. Who was he?
EMMELINE. Some Italian by the look of his name.
DIGBY. An Italian, eh? [He 'looks significantly at CALLAGHAN.] What was his other name?
EMMELINE. He didn't have one. That didn't seem right to me for a dago.
DIGBY. It's all right when you know him.
EMMELINE. Do you?
DIGBY. I've heard of him. [He whispers to CALLAGHAN who nods and exits. He then moves towards EMMELINE who has seated herself at table.] I think I will read this. What's it all about?
EMMELINE. Aw, just about a chap that was murdered.
DIGBY [incredulously]. Go on! What for?
EMMELINE. He tried to ruin a poor girl.
DIGBY. Oh, I say, that was too bad. Who shot him? Her father?
EMMELINE. Aw, no, she did.
DIGBY. Oh! I suppose you'd have done the same?
EMMELINE. Aw, no! I wouldn't shoot a chap for that.
DIGBY. Wouldn't you? But you wouldn't shoot anyone, would you?
EMMELINE. I might, you know.
DIGBY. What for?
EMMELINE. Aw, lots of things.
DIGBY. Such as?
EMMELINE. Taking me down for my money, for instance.
[CALLAGHAN enters hurriedly.]
EMMELINE [to CALLAGHAN]. I thought you'd gone home.
DIGBY. Is he amongst them?
CALLAGHAN. As large as life.
DIGBY. Just as I figured! [He moves L.] That's where she got this [tapping on note]. Come here, you! And remember that anything you say may be taken down and used in evidence.
EMMELINE [moving across to centre stage and dragging chair with her]. When?
CALLAGHAN. The first of April, I should say.
DIGBY. Did Barcombe ever borrow money from you?
EMMELINE. Aw, yes.
EMMELINE. All I'd saved up.
CALLAGHAN. How much would that be?
EMMELINE. Over six pounds.
DIGBY. And you didn't get it back. That's too bad.
EMMELINE. Aw, yes, I did. I got it all right. Here it is.
[She takes a roll from her stocking.]
CALLAGHAN. When did you get it?
CALLAGHAN. Lucky for you, wasn't it?
DIGBY. See if he has any more on him, Callaghan.
[CALLAGHAN feels BARCOMBE'S pockets.]
EMMELINE. He won't have any more.
DIGBY. How do you know?
EMMELINE. He told me it was all he had. He still owes me a few bob but he can have that.
CALLAGHAN. He seems to be cleaned out.
DIGBY. I expected he would be. [To EMMELINE] pointing to corner of duster poking out of her blouse, What's that?
EMMELINE. My duster.
DIGBY. What's it doing there?
EMMELINE. Aw, Well, not having much of a figure, I generally keeps it there.
DIGBY. Give it to me. [He whisks it out and sniffs as it passes beneath his nose.] Hullo! Black Hyacinth perfume. Where did that come from?
EMMELINE. Off my brassiere.
DIGBY. But where did you get it From, Barcombe—the same as the money, I suppose?
EMMELINE. No, from Miss Astonbury.
CALLAGHAN. You stole it from her room.
EMMELINE. Aw, no, I just borrowed it.
CALLAGHAN. You printed that note Barcombe was clutching and sprinkled Miss Astonbury's perfume on it.
EMMELINE. How could you tell?
CALLAGHAN. You signed it Toni Nemesis. You read the name "Nemesis" in this story.
DIGBY. And scouting around for a suitable Christian name to put in front of it you remembered the picture of Toni Torini in your room.
CALLAGHAN. Because he's an Italian.
EMMELINE. He's my favourite talkie actor.
DIGBY. Well he's going to talk too much for your good health.
EMMELINE. He's got a lovely voice.
DIGBY. I hope you'll always like it.
CALLAGHAN. The fluff on the revolver came off that duster of hers for a certainty, Sergeant.
DIGBY. I thought you said you didn't wipe the revolver.
EMMELINE. I didn't say that.
CALLAGHAN. But you did!
EMMELINE. No, I just said I didn't usually do any dusting after tea.
DIGBY. Then you did wipe it.
EMMELINE. Aw, yes. I wiped it.
DIGBY. What for?
EMMELINE. In case I left any finger prints on it.
EMMELINE. Tonight, when I was holding it.
DIGBY. So you shot Barcombe—accidentally, of course.
EMMELINE. No, I didn't shoot him accidentally.
DIGBY. I thought as much. Come on now, tell the truth. You shot Barcombe because he wouldn't pay you back the money he owed you.
CALLAGHAN. And you took it out of his pocket after you'd shot him.
DIGBY. Then you wiped the revolver.
CALLAGHAN. And planted the note in his hand.
EMMELINE. Some of it's right and some of it isn't.
DIGBY. It's all right except that you didn't shoot him!
EMMELINE. That's right.
CALLAGHAN. Then you did shoot him?
EMMELINE. Aw, no. He shot himself.
DIGBY. After he paid you the money he owed you.
EMMELINE. Yes, that's right.
DIGBY. You watched him, I suppose.
CALLAGHAN. And he picked up the warning note, that you printed, after he shot himself.
EMMELINE. No. I put it in his hand.
DIGBY. You tell that tall story to the jury.
EMMELINE. Wouldn't they believe it?
CALLAGHAN. Oh, yes. They'd believe it—I don't think.
EMMELINE [producing note from her stocking]. Do you think they'd believe this?
DIGBY. What is it?
EMMELINE. A note I found on his desk along with the money he left for me.
[She hands note to DIGBY who examines it intently.]
CALLAGHAN. Got anything else down your stockings?
EMMELINE. Aw, yes.
CALLAGHAN. What else?
EMMELINE. My legs.
CALLAGHAN. You'll be telling me next that they reach down to the ground.
EMMELINE. Don't be silly! This is still the third storey.
DIGBY [showing note to CALLAGHAN]. It looks from this as if Barcombe did shoot himself after all.
EMMELINE. Aw, yes, he shot himself right enough.
DIGBY. And what the devil does all this nonsense. Mean—Toni Nemesis—a warning note shoved into his hand.
CALLAGHAN. Black Hyacinth perfume.
DIGBY. Wiping off that revolver and all!
EMMELINE. Aw, well, in this story I was saying you ought to read, there were a couple of pretty smart detectives and I thought I'd find out if you'd be as smart as them...somehow I don't think you are.
This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia