The valley of Fear written by Arthur Conan Doyle (Oxford Playscript)
Summary Act I
The scene sets in a train compartment. The compartment is filled with miners, some local people and two police officers. John McMurdo enters the train compartment, looking for a seat. Finding a space near Willaby brothers, he requests them to let him sit with them but they spread themselves so he can’t sit down. He finds a space opposite Mike Scanlan and Cormac so he sits down with them. He takes out a letter from his pocket and concisely looks at it. Then, suddenly, he takes out his revolver to check if it is loaded or not. This causes the scowrers and other passengers to look at him. Scanlan interrogates him about where he has come from. McMurdo briefly introduces himself. McMurdo surprises the scowrers by informing them that he is a member of the “Ancient Order Of Freemen”.They shake their hands in a particular way. Scanlan asks McMurdo why he left Chicago but he flares up and doesn’t tell the proper reason. Scanlan and Cormac suggest McMurdo see Boss McGinty.
The scowrers get off the train and two police officers move to the seats vacated by Scanlan and Cormac. They persuade him to stay away from criminals living in Vermissa valley but he responds in an unfriendly manner. He tells them to mind their own business and he doesn’t need their advice.
Jacob Shafter and his daughter Ettie Shafter are innocent and harmless people living in Vermissa Valley. They hate scowrers but unfortunately, can’t do anything against them. Baldwin, a ruthless scowrer is pressurizing Ettie to go for a walk with him. She is hesitant to go as he is a cruel gangster. This is the lodge where McMurdo going to stay for some time. Jacob Shafter is quite unhappy that he can’t do anything to stop Baldwin from entering his house.
Ettie and her father, Shafter are busy preparing dinner for the lodgers. Meanwhile, Baldwin is there convincing Ettie to go for a walk with him. She politely tells him that she is busy with domestic chores. Baldwin finally pressurizing her to go with him on coming Friday. Jacob Shafter is dejected that he can’t do anything to stop Baldwin from harassing his daughter. Shafter leaves for grocery shopping and McMurdo enters carrying his bag. He is bewitched by Ettie’s beauty.
Sherlock Holmes and Watson are present at 221 b Baker Street. He has received a ciphered message from an informant( Fred Porlock) who apparently works for Professor Moriarty, the scientific killer but spies for Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes and Watson are talking about Professor Moriarty. Holmes calls him a master criminal who does every crime with a master touch and never gets caught. Holmes receives a ciphered message from Fred Porlock. He with the help of Watson try to decipher it. The message is a book cipher, so both Holmes and Fred have a common book. They check “Whitaker’s Almanac” and put their theory to the test. They get to the required page and decode the message. The message indicates that Douglas of Birlstone is in danger. Suddenly inspector McDonald comes with news that Mr Douglas of Birlstone Manor was horribly murdered this morning.
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