Below we present the complete text of ‘Of Dogs and Death’; episode 1 of The Visitor from the Gloria Scott.
- SOUND:  (MUSIC) OPENING THEME. LET IT FINISH.
- NARRATOR: The details related in the following audio drama were first uncovered in documents found in the attic of a tenement house in London in late 1985. They were the property of a well-to-do gentleman who had lived at the end of the nineteenth century — a doctor and soldier who had been invalided back to England after a tour in Afghanistan, later married, and had received the documents as a bequest. The contents of this property amounted to some sixty manuscripts of varying sizes, upon the pages of which were recorded, in a spidery hand, a good number of tales both fantastic and macabre. We do not make any claims regarding the veracity of this material — since there is much it contains that is frankly unbelievable. Nonetheless, its author most certainly believed that what was recorded was true, and we now make it available to you so you may attach your own verdict to it.
- ELDER SHERLOCK HOLMES: As much as it pains me to admit this of so honest and amiable a man as my biographer, he was never one to let the truth get in the way of the telling of a good story. On my instructions he was persuaded to, and actively endeavored to, obscure a great many things about my life that have, of necessity, remained carefully guarded until now. For example, it is true that I lived at 221B (TWO TWO ONE B) Baker Street throughout the late nineteenth century, and it is also true that I was a consulting detective. However, the true facts of the cases I investigated have, for the most part, been substantially embroidered, where they have not, in fact, been falsified altogether. I should like to say at this point that I accept a full apportionment of blame for this sorry state of affairs. I have, even in those recollections I penned myself, hidden much of the truth deliberately from the public eye. In my defense, let me just say that the truth — by which I mean the whole truth — if it were revealed in a less enlightened age, would likely have given rise to a panic within the general populace and a wholesale embrace of the worst excesses of superstition. This was a lesson I learned the hard way. As it happens, the case of “The Gloria Scott,” as it came to be known, was the very first case upon which I ever embarked.
In 1880 I was studying organic chemistry at the university and, due to an accident involving a bull terrier which had taken an unhealthy interest in my ankle, found myself laid up in the infirmary for ten days. The miserable beast’s owner was beside himself with remorse and felt compelled to sit at my bedside apologizing over and over for the better part of a week.
The man’s incessant chatter seemed designed to distract me from every fruitful avenue of thought that my enforced convalescence might have availed me. Despite the frustration this caused, there was something disarmingly likeable about the young chap and by the end of the term we were fast friends. (CONTINUES OVER)
- ELDER SHERLOCK HOLMES: (CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS) Oh, do not look at me like that. I am quite capable of making friends you know! Admittedly he was the only friend I made while at the university, but a friendship it was, and its existence should go some way to putting to rest these rumors that I am friendless and less than salubrious company.
Anyway, returning to the case at hand, at the end of the university term my “friend,” one Victor Trevor, invited me to visit his country home, “Donnithorpe,” and stay with him and his father.
SCENE 1: INT. THE PARLOR AT THE TREVOR ESTATE (MR TREVOR, YOUNG HOLMES, ELDER HOLMES)
- SOUND:  (WALLA) COUNTRY NOISES (BIRDS, A FARM ANIMAL OR TWO) — ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- SOUND:  DOOR OPENS — LET IT FINISH
- MR TREVOR (SNR): (VERY HEARTILY) Ah, welcome young man. You must be Victor’s friend, young Mr Holmes.
- YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES: Uh, yes, thank you.
- MR TREVOR: Come in. Come in. Don’t stand in the doorway like a hat stand. May I offer you some tea? Never drink the stuff myself, but there it is. (BEAT) I can’t think where Victor’s got to. I sent him out to pick you up an hour ago.
- YOUNG HOLMES: I didn’t realize someone was coming to meet me, it would have saved me some trouble. I walked over from the station. We must have missed one another.
- MR TREVOR: You didn’t come by the road I’ll be bound, not given the state of your boots. Besides, Victor would never have missed you on that narrow track. (BEAT) You didn’t lug that bag of yours across those hills did you?
- YOUNG HOLMES: (DEFIANTLY) As a matter of fact, I did. The day looked rather wonderful and I thought the walk might be fun.
- MR TREVOR: Well, I’ll be blowed. That’s a good fifteen miles as the crow flies. And you’d have had to cross the bog down where the creek passes through that last little valley on the Hudson property. I’ll wager you didn’t enjoy that greatly.
- YOUNG HOLMES: You’d be right, sir. I made the mistake of thinking I’d shave some time off the trip by cutting overland.
- MR TREVOR: “Short cuts make for long delays” as they say in these parts. You’re not from the country, are you, lad?
- YOUNG HOLMES: No, I’m not.
- MR TREVOR: I can tell. (BEAT) Confound it! Where is that boy?
- YOUNG HOLMES: I’m quite happy to wait for him in the parlor, sir, if you want to get back to your ledger.
- MR TREVOR: What? Yes… now how did you…?
- YOUNG HOLMES: Your sleeve. The ledger wasn’t quite dry when you leaned on it and some of the numbers have come off on your sleeve.
- MR TREVOR: Aaah. Victor said you were a clever one. I hope some of that studiousness rubs off on him. He’s been up at the university for a year and a half now and I’m damned if I can see any difference it’s made to him.
- SOUND:  JINGLE OF BELL. CLIP CLOP OF HORSE AND TRAP DRAWING UP IN THE YARD — ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- MR TREVOR: Ah, that sounds like him now. I’ll leave you at this point, my boy. I hope you have a very fine stay.
- YOUNG HOLMES: Thank you, sir.
- ELDER HOLMES: From the first I was concerned that accepting this invitation had been a mistake. Between the inanities of Victor’s conversation, his incessant demands that we engage in “a spot of tennis,” and that damnable dog of his always trotting at his heels and taking a bite out of anything less dull witted or watchful than itself, I was almost beside myself with boredom. Still, the weather was fine, and I enjoyed the fresh air and exercise, and Victor’s father kept as fine a table as one could wish. All in all I was inclined to conclude that Victor’s company was not too great a price to pay for a (EMPHASIZING) short holiday. And then it happened…
- MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) SUSPENSFUL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH
SCENE 2: INT. HOLMES’ BEDROOM ON THE TREVOR ESTATE (YOUNG HOLMES, VICTOR)
- SOUND:  (WALLA) NIGHT TIME. CRICKETS CHIRPING. A DOG BARKING WILDLY IN THE DISTANCE — ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- YOUNG HOLMES: Confound that animal! Does it have to spoil our nights as well as our days?
- SOUND:  WINDOW SILL SLIDING UP —LET IT FINISH
- YOUNG HOLMES: Quiet, you barbaric hound! If you don’t cease that vexatious yapping I will be forced to come down there and remove your capacity to engender offspring.
- SOUND:  PAINED YELP OF DOG FOLLOWED BY SILENCE — LET IT FINISH
- SOUND:  ANOTHER WINDOW SILL SLIDING UP — LET IT FINISH
- VICTOR TREVOR: Steady on, old man. That was a bit ripe, don’t you think! What did you throw at him?
- YOUNG HOLMES: (SUDDENLY SERIOUS) Quiet, Victor. I threw nothing at your dog. Something’s wrong.
- SOUND:  SILENCE — EVEN THE CRICKETS HAVE GONE QUIET
- YOUNG HOLMES: (BEAT) Something’s very wrong. Grab a gown and a lantern, and meet me downstairs. This bears some investigating.
- MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) SUSPENSFUL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH
SCENE 3: EXT. THE BOG ON THE NEIGHBORING HUDSON PROPERTY — NIGHT (ELDER HOLMES, YOUNG HOLMES, VICTOR, MARTHA)
- SOUND:  (WALLA) NIGHT TIME. CRICKETS CHIRPING. AN OCCASIONAL OWL’S HOOT
- SOUND:  SQUELCHING THROUGH MUD — CONTINUE UNDER UNTIL 40
- ELDER HOLMES: Needless to say my investigation took us to the very same bog that I had been forced to wade through on my arrival at Victor’s Donnithorpe estate. A willow overhung the foul-smelling sludge, but it wasn’t the only thing to be found hanging there. Impaled on one of the branches was Victor’s beloved pet, sliced and gutted like a hog in a meat-packing warehouse.
- VICTOR: (WAILS) No! Emerson! What have they done to you?
- ELDER HOLMES: I have to admit that I have never understood grief — I can’t seem to relate to people’s attachments: to things, to animals, even to one another. I have no insight. Frankly, as I looked at this grown man wracked with loss I wanted to laugh, but I have had enough experience of life among my fellows to stifle such urges. As it happens, I was feeling rather elated. This was the first real challenge that had presented itself to my mind since I had left London. And the more I looked, the more excited I came to feel. In the lantern light I could clearly see the tracks of the dog in the mud of the bog, just as my own and Victor’s were also clearly visible. Nothing heavier than a lizard could have crossed that stinking morass to hoist that dog into the tree without leaving any tracks — and yet — none were present but our own.
- MARTHA HUDSON: ’ere, ’oo’s that on our manor? I’ve got twin barrels ’ere and I ain’t afraid ter use ’em, neither.
- ELDER HOLMES: This was my first encounter with Martha. Martha, who, later, due to another of my biographer’s attempts at misinformation, would be cast as my housekeeper and landlady of many years — a deeply unflattering portrayal of someone so integral to my life and work. Still, it did the job in the end. No one ever guessed who she really was: Mrs H indeed!
- MARTHA: Did you ’ear me, long shanks? And what’s ’e blathering about? (BEAT) Eh? Is that Master Victor…?
What’s going on ’ere? Oh my Lord, that’s Emerson ’anging in that tree.
- YOUNG HOLMES: You’ve a remarkable grasp of the obvious, miss…
- MARTHA: (SUSPICIOUS AND A LITTLE BIT AFRAID) ’ere, I don’t know you, so don’t you move a step closer. What’s going on ’ere?
- YOUNG HOLMES: Why don’t you tell us?
- MARTHA: (MORE SUSPICIOUS) Well, you two clearly didn’t do this. (INDICATING VICTOR) ’e’s too broken up and, though you’d’ve done it in a heartbeat I’d wager, still there’s not a drop of blood on you… And where’s the tracks? Nothin’d move through this bog that didn’t sink a foot deep.
- ELDER HOLMES: My estimation of the girl immediately rose. Behind her rough mode of speech lay a surprisingly quick intellect and there was a ready courage to her as well, backed up though it was by her “twin barrels.”
- MARTHA: (KINDLY) Mr Victor? (PAUSE) Mr Victor? C’mon, lad. You can’t be stayin’ out here all night. You need to be gettin’ indoors.
- YOUNG HOLMES: And what brought you out? It hardly seems a clement evening, or an agreeable location, for a young woman to be taking a night stroll.
- MARTHA: Make fun of me, will ya? Who’re you to be asking questions in the dark? This is my land, this is. And we’ve ’ad trouble with poachers before. I’ve got every right to be ’ere… and a lot more right than some.
- YOUNG HOLMES: True enough. I take it we can leave… Emerson… here until morning?
- MARTHA: (UNCERTAINLY) Uh… I guess that’d be alright.
- YOUNG HOLMES: Victor! Pull yourself together. There’s a young woman here who needs an escort back to her cottage and there is clearly something malevolent in the vicinity this night. We shouldn’t leave her sister unguarded either.
- MARTHA: ’ow’d you know about my sister?
- YOUNG HOLMES: The bracelet around your wrist. You don’t appear to be wearing anything else in the way of adornment so the bracelet must be special to you. It has the letters I.H. engraved in a floral pattern, unlikely to be a man’s initials. Your mother perhaps, but no, you’ve been brought up to be sensible and unsentimental. You’re wearing it for someone who’s still alive. My guess is a sister. Was I right?
- MARTHA: Ooh, we are pleased with ourselves, aren’t we?
- VICTOR: What? But Emerson… we can’t just…
- YOUNG HOLMES: We can and we will. Things are far too serious to allow a girl to wander these hills on her own, however armed she might be.
- VICTOR: (PULLING HIMSELF TOGETHER) Yes. Yes of course. It’s Miss Hudson isn’t it? From Chiswell Cottage?
- MARTHA: Yes, sir, it is.
- VICTOR: (SNIFFLING ONCE) Then let’s be getting on.
- ELDER HOLMES: And that was how we left it that night. We returned Martha to her cottage where, as I rightly surmised, she lived with her sister, and made our way back to Donnithorpe. The poor man kept mumbling to himself over and over…
- VICTOR: Who’d hurt such a loveable dog? Who’d do it? Who’d want to hurt my dog?
- ELDER HOLMES: I’m sorry to say that as far as I could see, the list of suspects would be difficult to narrow down. If my own experience was anything to go by then everyone who had ever met the damnable creature — with the possible exception of its grief-stricken owner himself — was a suspect.
- MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) OMINOUS SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 4: EXT. CHISWELL COTTAGE ON THE NEIGHBORING HUDSON PROPERTY — MORNING (YOUNG HOLMES, MARTHA)
- SOUND:  (WALLA) COUNTRY NOISES (BIRDS, A FARM ANIMAL OR TWO) — ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- SOUND:  KNOCKING ON DOOR FOLLOWED BY DOOR OPENING — LET IT FINISH
- MARTHA: (SUSPICIOUS) ’oo is it?
- YOUNG HOLMES: Ah, Miss Hudson. We meet again.
- MARTHA: You’d be the gentleman I threatened with Old Bessie last night.
- YOUNG HOLMES: “Old Bessie”?
- MARTHA: My Da’s old shotgun.
- YOUNG HOLMES: Ah. Just so.
- MARTHA: Well? Who you be? And what you be wanting?
- YOUNG HOLMES: Oh very well. It’s always such a relief to dispense with the niceties. It was Mr Trevor who insisted I come up here and ask permission to cross your land anyway. (TAKES A BREATH) My name is Sherlock Holmes and I am here for the dog.
- MARTHA: The dog?
- YOUNG HOLMES: You’re not really going to make me repeat everything I say, are you? This conversation has been tiresome enough already.
- MARTHA: Ooh! You’re a fine one, aren’t you? Go on then, get your damned mutt out of my tree and be off with you… and take that ghost with you while you’re about it.
- YOUNG HOLMES: That what?
- MARTHA: (MOCKINGLY) You’re not really going to ask me to repeat everything I say, are you?
- YOUNG HOLMES: (AHEM) No, but I’ll settle for an explanation of that last statement.
- MARTHA: Well, “when you’ve ruled out everything that’s possible, whatever is left, ’owever impossible, ’as to be the truth.” That dog was the victim of an ’aunting… but I think you know that already.
- YOUNG HOLMES: And what makes you think that?
- MARTHA: That’s an obsidian ring on your finger, that is. And you ’ave sage poking out of your pockets or I’m a march ’are. I suspect the chain around your neck is silver ’n all, and putting it all together I’m willing to guess that the bulge in your waistcoat pocket is… a bag of salt?
- YOUNG HOLMES: Beans actually, the salt’s in my breast pocket.
- MARTHA: All good ghost remedies, Mr ’olmes.
- YOUNG HOLMES: So the folklorists say.
- MARTHA: But unlikely to do yer much good ’ere, is it?
- YOUNG HOLMES: Why not?
- MARTHA: You don’t know where yer ghost is, or what it wants. ’ard to get rid of under those circumstances, I’d say.
- YOUNG HOLMES: And you’d be right. But I’m not your average folklorist any more than you are your average farmer’s daughter.
- MARTHA: Now ’oo’s bein’ cryptic?
- YOUNG HOLMES: There’s a salt circle by the window on your porch. Catching spirits, were we?
- MARTHA: You don’t miss much, do you? Yes, we ’ad a mischief makin’ visitor botherin’ us a few night’s back. Just a wee sprite, but a nuisance. Salt’s the best kind of trap for the unnatural that I know.
- YOUNG HOLMES: Yes it is. Nothing magical or “unnatural,” once enclosed, can pass the barrier it creates. Did you catch your pest?
- MARTHA: Yes, and the mornin’s light dispelled it. Nothin’ like sunlight for dealin’ with what’s been trapped in a salt circle.
- YOUNG HOLMES: At least until the sun goes down. Has it come back?
- MARTHA: No. It’s gone in search of easier pickin’s, I reckon. I doubt it’ll be back. ’n’ if it is, I know how to deal with it.
- YOUNG HOLMES: Yes, I think you do. (BEAT) (AS IF STRUCK BY A NEW THOUGHT) Would you care to accompany me in the examination of the dead animal by daylight, Miss Hudson?
- MARTHA: Since it’s on my land, I’d be a fool to stay behind. And you certainly need some watching. No mistake.
- MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH
SCENE 5: EXT. THE BOG ON THE NEIGHBORING HUDSON PROPERTY. MORNING (VICTOR, YOUNG HOLMES, MARTHA, MR TREVOR, ELDER HOLMES)
- SOUND:  FADE IN SQUELCHING OF BOOTS THROUGH MUD FOR A FEW STEPS — LET IT FINISH
- VICTOR: (AT A DISTANCE) Are you alright there, Holmes?
- YOUNG HOLMES: (IGNORING VICTOR AND ADDRESSING MARTHA) Well, what do you make of it?
- MARTHA: It’s not much different to last night.
- YOUNG HOLMES: Nothing strikes you as a little off?
- MARTHA: Everything about this strikes me as off, Mr ’olmes. Was there something in particular you ’ad in mind?
- YOUNG HOLMES: The cuts, Miss Hudson. They are as straight and clean as a surgeon’s scalpel might make.
- MARTHA: So?
- YOUNG HOLMES: How many ghosts have you come across that can carry cold iron?
- MARTHA: Oh! Why none of course. Silver and cold iron’s something the dead can’t abide.
- YOUNG HOLMES: Exactly! (BEAT) And what’s this?
- MARTHA: ’ere, that looks like letters. Carved into the right side of its belly. What’s it say?
- YOUNG HOLMES: It’s a name: Gloria Scott. Does it mean anything to you?
- MARTHA: Not a thing? Should it?
- YOUNG HOLMES: It reminds me of something but I can’t quite… (CALLING TO VICTOR) Victor? Mr Trevor? Does the name “Gloria Scott” mean anything to either of you?
- MR TREVOR: (AT A DISTANCE, GROWING SUDDENLY ANGRY) What? Is this some kind of joke? If it is I’ll have you know I do not find it funny in any way!
- YOUNG HOLMES: It is no joke, Mr Trevor. Far from it in fact. The animal has the words “Gloria Scott” carved into its belly.
- MR TREVOR: (NOW VERY ANGRY INDEED) Now see here! I don’t know what you’re playing at but I want you out of my house. It wouldn’t surprise me if you were behind this whole thing. Nothing like this happened before you arrived… and you had no love for that dog. Just what’s your game?
- VICTOR: (SHOCKED) Father, please!
- YOUNG HOLMES: (BEMUSED) It’s no game, Mr Trevor, I assure you. But if you know something about the importance of that name I suggest you share it right away.
- MR TREVOR: (ALMOST FEARFUL) I’m having none of this. You get out of my house… and don’t you come back.
- YOUNG HOLMES: But Mr Trevor…
- MR TREVOR: Get out! You hear me? Get out!
- ELDER HOLMES: And so I left Donnithorpe. Victor was most apologetic. He took pains to separate himself from his father’s attitude, saying he had no idea what had gotten into the man. I did not see Martha again, nor did I have time to ascertain what she may have thought of the whole affair before I returned to London. It surprised me how much my attention returned to her over the next few weeks. Our acquaintance could hardly have been called warm — in fact her hostility had been rather obvious to me in our brief encounters to that point — but I nonetheless felt an odd kinship for the fierce intellect that hid behind her graceless mode of speech. As for myself, I returned to my experiments at the university and while there took the liberty of tracking down what references there were to the name “Gloria Scott.”
As it happens, I had a little luck in that regard. A convict transport ship named the “Gloria Scott” underwent mutiny and was sunk in a storm on November 6, 1855. It was this event which had registered in my memory while at Donnithorpe. I had encountered the tale of the mutiny while conducting some research in the records of the Admiralty the previous year. It had made a singular impression upon me, having been marked by an unusual degree of violence and cruelty. There were even rumors to the effect that some of the officers had been eaten by the mutineers.
Having solved at least that much of the mystery, I put the affair from my thoughts and contented myself with my researches in biological chemistry for the following seven weeks. But then the letter arrived…
- MUSIC:  (BRIDGE) OMINOUS SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH
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