Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Suspense
Show: Mr. Markham, Antique Dealer
Date: May 11 1943

Dramatis Personae
NARRATOR, "The Man in Black"
MARKHAM
JUDITH RAY
RONALD GILBERT
INSPECTOR ROSS
DRIVER
VOICE, of the grandfather clock
OPERATOR

NOTE: Versions of this script aired on SUSPENSE as "The Dealings of Mr. Markham" on 28 June 1945 and 2 November 1958. This transcript includes material from the later broadcasts and a published script in brackets.

MUSIC:

SUSPENSE THEME

NARRATOR:

(OMINOUSLY QUIET) SUSPENSE.

MUSIC:

THEME FILLS A PAUSE, THEN IN BG

NARRATOR:

This is the Man in Black, here again to introduce Columbia's program, SUSPENSE. Heading our starring Hollywood cast this evening is Mr. Paul Lukas, and with him are Miss Heather Angel and Mr. Bramwell Fletcher. A story by John Dickson Carr -- dealing with strange, very strange, happenings in a London curio shop and called, "Mr. Markham, Antique Dealer" -- is tonight's tale of SUSPENSE.

If you've been with us on these Tuesday nights, you will know that SUSPENSE is compounded of mystery and suspicion and dangerous adventure. In this series are tales calculated to intrigue you, to stir your nerves, to offer you a precarious situation and then withhold the solution till the last possible moment. And so, with the performances of Heather Angel, Bramwell Fletcher, and Paul Lukas as "Mr. Markham, Antique Dealer," we again hope to keep you in--

MUSIC:

KNIFE CHORD

NARRATOR:

SUSPENSE!

MUSIC:

FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARKHAM:

(NARRATES) This is the story of a man who commits murder and gets away with it. Does the idea shock you? Do you believe that justice must always be done? But let's be honest with ourselves. You and I needn't be cynics to know that justice is very seldom done. Innocence flinches; guilt is childlike and bland. Innocence is imposed upon; guilt can compass all things, even a successful murder. And I know this because I was the murderer, you say? (CHUCKLES) Oh, no. Inquire at Scotland Yard. I was the victim.

MUSIC:

A GENTLE ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARKHAM:

(NARRATES) In Bond Street, not far from Piccadilly, there used to be an establishment which in a less fashionable part of town would have been called a shop. On the windows, in letters as discreet as a visiting-card, were the words CHARLES MARKHAM, ANTIQUE DEALER. Such a delightful fellow, Markham! Such a character!

Thirty years ago -- yes, as long as that! -- this antique shop was a dingy place, despite deep carpets and crystal chandeliers. It rustled with the ticking of a hundred clocks; it was shadowed by Damascened armor and the loom of tall tapestries. And late one summer night, when the shutters were long-closed on those windows, a four-wheeler drew up before that door in the gaslit street. (FADES OUT)

SOUND:

CLOPPING OF HOOFS SLOWS DOWN AND STOPS ... CAB DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES

JUDITH:

That's all, cabby. You needn't wait.

DRIVER:

Very good, miss. Good night!

JUDITH:

Good night.

DRIVER:

[(TO HORSE) Giddyap!]

SOUND:

HORSE & CAB MOVE OFF AS JUDITH'S FOOTSTEPS WALK TO DOOR ... SHE JANGLES AN OLD-FASHIONED BELL

JUDITH:

(UPSET, PREOCCUPIED, TO HERSELF) He must be here. He must be.

SOUND:

SHE JANGLES BELL AGAIN

JUDITH:

(TO HERSELF) I won't go back to that place. I'll kill myself first.

SOUND:

HEAVY FRONT DOOR OPENS

MARKHAM:

Look here, old man. You needn't-- (SURPRISED) Oh, I beg your pardon!

JUDITH:

And I beg yours. I'm - I'm not the person you were expecting, am I?

MARKHAM:

No, madam. As a matter of fact, I was expecting a police officer.

JUDITH:

(SHARPLY) A police officer?

MARKHAM:

(AMUSED) Oh, merely an old friend who often drops in for a talk and a drink.

JUDITH:

[(RELIEVED) Oh.] You are Mr. Markham, aren't you?

MARKHAM:

Yes, my name is Markham. Can I be of any service to you?

JUDITH:

I want to come in. I - I, er, want to buy a present for somebody.

MARKHAM:

Now, really, madam. This is hardly the time--

JUDITH:

Yes, I - I know it's late, but--

MARKHAM:

It's nearly one o'clock, madam. Surely tomorrow morning will be--

JUDITH:

That'll be too late! This is a special occasion. (GROPING) It's - it's a - a birthday present. That's it. A birthday present. I've got to deliver it before breakfast. And Sir George Lytle says this is the only place in London to buy antiques.

MARKHAM:

Oh, Sir George flatters me.

JUDITH:

Won't you let me come in? Just for five minutes?

MARKHAM:

Well, under the circumstances, madam, I think it might be managed. Now, one moment, while I put some lights on.

JUDITH:

No! Please. That one little light will be enough.

MARKHAM:

But you won't be able to see anything.

JUDITH:

That doesn't matter. I - I'll trust to your judgment.

MARKHAM:

Just as you like. This way, madam.

SOUND:

FRONT DOOR CLOSES ... [THEIR FOOTSTEPS INTO THE SHOP WHERE] WE NOW HEAR THE TICKING OF MANY CLOCKS

JUDITH:

(SHARPLY) What's that? That noise?

MARKHAM:

Oh, you mean the clocks, madam? (CHUCKLES) There are more than a hundred clocks in this room. I'm very fond of them.

JUDITH:

Don't they get on your nerves? Ticking away together like a nightmare? Striking the hours together--?

MARKHAM:

They don't strike together, madam. When the hour approaches, you will hear a musical din that lasts for some time. Might I interest you, perhaps, in a clock?

JUDITH:

No! I hate them.

MARKHAM:

(CHUCKLES) All the same, this grandfather clock might amuse you.

JUDITH:

What about it?

MARKHAM:

Observe the signature. Johannes Carver, Londini, fecit A.D. Seventeen hundred and fifty-two. You could see better, madam, if you raised that veil.

JUDITH; I'll keep my veil down, thanks.

MARKHAM:

Well, just as you please. But look at the clock. I open the glass face, like this. Then I push the [minute] hand forward, like this; and--

SOUND:

A HEAVY, GROANING WHIRR OF WEIGHTS ... THE SINGLE METALLIC STROKE OF ONE

VOICE:

(HARSH, THIN AND TINNY) One o'clock, and all's well! One o'clock, and all's well!

JUDITH:

(FRIGHTENED) What was that voice?

MARKHAM:

Only the clock, madam. Nothing more.

JUDITH: The clock spoke?

MARKHAM:

(CHUCKLES) Clever, isn't it? A device of old John Carver. Anticipating Mr. Edison's gramophone by more than a hundred years. Oh, but you don't like clocks?

JUDITH:

No.

MARKHAM:

May I ask whether the present is for a lady or a gentleman?

JUDITH:

It's, er, for a man.

MARKHAM:

Has he some knowledge of antiques?

JUDITH:

[No!] Yes! I mean--

MARKHAM:

Furniture, perhaps? Porcelain? Bronzes? Tapestries? Weapons?

JUDITH:

(SLOWLY) He might be very much interested in weapons.

MARKHAM:

Then I imagine his name is Mr. Ronald Gilbert.

MUSIC:

A GENTLE ACCENT

MARKHAM:

Now, will you tell me, Miss Ray, why you really came here tonight?

JUDITH:

So you know who I am.

MARKHAM:

Naturally. You're Miss Judith Ray. Why did you come here?

JUDITH:

I wanted to see what sort of a man you actually were.

MARKHAM:

Oh. And have you found out?

JUDITH:

No, but-- (BURSTING OUT) But I won't go back to prison! I won't!

MARKHAM:

As you will. But since this is to be a business conference, Miss Ray -- and I imagine it _

JUDITH:

Yes.

MARKHAM:

Well, then suppose we go into my office here at the back of the shop.

SOUND:

OFFICE DOOR OPENS

MARKHAM:

Will you precede me?

JUDITH:

(STIFFLY) Thank you.

MARKHAM:

Oh, you must excuse the dust covers I've put on the chairs here. I'm leaving for a holiday tomorrow, and the shop will be closed.

SOUND:

OFFICE DOOR CLOSES, SHUTTING OUT THE TICKING CLOCKS

MARKHAM:

When I return next week, Miss Ray, I shall expect the amount requested. In cash, of course.

JUDITH:

(DESPERATELY) But I can't raise two thousand pounds! You ought to know that!

MARKHAM:

Your fiancÚ could raise the money, I imagine.

JUDITH:

Ron? Do you think I'd have Ron know where I've been? Or what I've been?

MARKHAM:

It's better than having his father learn it, surely. Now, sit down, Miss Ray.

JUDITH:

I'd rather stand, thank you.

MARKHAM:

(TOLERANTLY) Now that's a very foolish gesture. But the ladies will do it. They think it gives them dignity and shows their disdain of the poor blackmailer. You see, I make no bones about it. I am a blackmailer.

JUDITH:

You seem rather proud of yourself.

MARKHAM:

Why not? I am the one person in England, perhaps in the world, who has made it a large-scale business.

JUDITH:

(IRONIC) Congratulations.

MARKHAM:

(CHUCKLES) And what is all life but blackmail? The child [-- the little girl --] says, "If you don't give me that, I'll scream." The grown woman says, "If you go on behaving like this, I will leave you." Your sex, Miss Ray, are blackmailers from the cradle.

JUDITH:

You know, Charles Markham, I wonder--

MARKHAM:

Yes?

JUDITH:

I wonder if anybody has ever hurt you very much.

MARKHAM:

Hurt me? What do you mean?

JUDITH:

When you talk about the world, and people in general, your face goes white under the eyes. You pick up that letter opener from the desk--

MARKHAM:

Not a letter opener, please, Miss Ray. A Medici dagger; sixteenth-century work.

JUDITH:

(SOFTLY) It isn't the money that really interests you, is it?

MARKHAM:

I don't understand.

JUDITH:

You hate the world. You just want to torture people -- as you think you've been tortured. Isn't that so?

MARKHAM:

(CHANGING THE SUBJECT) This is a very sharp dagger, Miss Ray. If I throw it down on the desk, it sticks.

SOUND:

SHARP THUD! AS MARKHAM THROWS DOWN DAGGER

MARKHAM:

Like that!

JUDITH:

(INSISTS) Isn't it so, Charles Markham?

MARKHAM:

(CONTROLLING HIMSELF, ICY) My motives, Miss Ray, aren't in question.

JUDITH:

I wonder!

MARKHAM:

Whereas your motives are. Now, let me see. Ten years ago, in Nineteen-Oh-Three, a certain girl called Letty Wilson -- your real name, I believe? -- fell in love with a rather contemptible underworld character named Arthur Acres.

JUDITH:

(FRANTICALLY) Please!

MARKHAM:

No humiliation was too great for her. She worked for him, lied for him, stole for him--

JUDITH:

I was only eighteen! I didn't know what I was doing!

MARKHAM:

Now, this girl, for a very shabby theft, was sentenced to three years' hard labor at Holloway Prison. Five months later she escapes from prison and disappears. All these years afterwards, she appears in the West End as Miss Judith Ray, fashionable milliner.

JUDITH:

Haven't I made up for it? Haven't I?

MARKHAM:

No.

JUDITH:

For one mistake? After ten years?

MARKHAM:

That's the way of the world, my dear. I didn't create it. And I'm forgetting the best part of the comedy. This paragon of virtue next falls in love with Mr. Ronald Gilbert, son of Major-General Sir Edmund Gilbert. Such a respectable family, too!

JUDITH:

(HYSTERICALLY) Stop it! Please!

MARKHAM:

Then shall we say -- two thousand pounds?

JUDITH: Suppose I did raise the money. I don't know how, but -- suppose I did raise it!

MARKHAM:

Well?

JUDITH:

What guarantee would I have that you wouldn't ask for still more money?

MARKHAM:

I probably shall ask for more money, Miss Ray. That's my privilege as a blackmailer.

JUDITH:

Then - then I'm never going to be free of you. Is that it?

MARKHAM:

Frankly, that's it.

JUDITH:

Ah! Unless I kill you, of course. What if I did kill you?

MARKHAM:

(CHUCKLES) People have threatened that before. But they haven't meant it.

JUDITH:

Maybe I mean it.

MARKHAM:

Well! We can easily test you out. There's a sharp knife stuck in the desk in front of you. I am going to get up, and deliberately turn my back on you. (RISES, TURNS AWAY) Like this!

JUDITH:

Be careful, Charles Markham!

MARKHAM:

As a student of human nature, I'm curious. How much will you risk to keep this secret? Have you the courage to kill --- and risk hanging?

JUDITH:

Yes! I think I have!

SOUND:

SHARP JANGLE OF DOOR BELL

JUDITH:

(STARTLED GASP) What was that?

MARKHAM:

(AMUSED) Now, aren't you glad you held back at the last moment, Miss Ray?

JUDITH:

I said, what was that?

MARKHAM:

That, my dear, was the front doorbell. Probably my friend, Inspector Ross, from Wigmore Street Police Station.

SOUND:

[MARKHAM OPENS OFFICE DOOR ... TICKING CLOCKS]

MARKHAM:

(CALLS) Come on in, old man! Make yourself comfortable; I'll be with you in a moment!

SOUND:

[MARKHAM CLOSES OFFICE DOOR ... TICKING CLOCKS OUT]

JUDITH:

(LOW-VOICED) You wanted me to attack you, didn't you?

MARKHAM:

No. I was merely curious. And in any case, Miss Ray, it would be useless to kill me.

JUDITH:

Useless? Why?

MARKHAM:

Because I shouldn't die.

JUDITH: Don't talk rot!

MARKHAM:

Oh, it's quite true. A man in my position must take, er, certain precautions. If you killed me, I should be back to haunt you within half an hour. And I don't happen to be joking.

SOUND:

SHARP RAPPING ON OFFICE DOOR

MARKHAM:

(CHEERFUL, CALLS) Come in!

SOUND:

OFFICE DOOR OPENS ... TICKING CLOCKS

GILBERT:

Now, look here, Markham, I-- (SEES JUDITH, SHOCKED) Good Lord!

JUDITH:

(SURPRISED) Ron!

MARKHAM:

Mr. Ronald Gilbert, as I live.

SOUND:

OFFICE DOOR CLOSES, SHUTTING OUT TICKING CLOCKS

JUDITH:

Ron? What are you doing here? He hasn't got anything against you, has he?

MARKHAM:

(BEAT) Speak up, Mr. Gilbert. Have I?

GILBERT:

(SELF-CONSCIOUS) The fact is, Judith, I - I--

MARKHAM:

(CHUCKLES) Look at him, Miss Ray. See how he changes color, and twists his mustache, and altogether resembles a boy caught in his mother's jam-cupboard. (CONTEMPTUOUS) The perfect picture of a gentleman being a gentleman.

GILBERT:

Look here, Markham. I'm not very clever. You can always make a fool of me when you start talking. So let's stop talking. I've brought the money.

JUDITH:

(SHARPLY) What money?

MARKHAM:

Oh, merely my fee for keeping quiet about you.

JUDITH:

So you went to Ron, too? You told him about it?

MARKHAM:

Naturally. If possible, always sell your wares in two markets.

JUDITH:

How much money?

GILBERT:

Never mind, Judith! I hoped I could do this without your knowing.

JUDITH:

(INSISTS) How much money?

GILBERT:

Three thousand. It's all I could raise.

JUDITH:

Has he--? Has he told you who I am -- and what I've been?

GILBERT:

Look here, Judith! Who the devil cares who you are or what you've been?! I happen to be in love with you. I-- Never mind! Let's get out of here.

JUDITH:

Ron, it's no good! He'll only come back for more money!

GILBERT:

I know that. But what else can we do?

MARKHAM:

Nothing, I'm afraid.

GILBERT:

We're-- (SUDDENLY WARY) What's that knife doing, stuck in the desk?

MARKHAM:

Nothing dangerous, I assure you.

GILBERT:

No?

MARKHAM:

Merely a curio. [Very sharp, of course.] I pick it up, like this; I flip it down like this--

SOUND:

THUD! OF KNIFE POINT IN DESK

MARKHAM:

And pick it up again. Miss Ray was very much interested in the dagger. Now, may I have that envelope with the money, please?

GILBERT:

There you are. [(THROWS HEAVY ENVELOPE ON DESK)] Take it.

MARKHAM:

Thank you. As I explained to Miss Ray, I am leaving tomorrow for a holiday. Hence the general disarray and the dust covers on the chairs. But before my departure I'm glad we could settle this affair, as you would say, like gentlemen.

GILBERT:

(RESTRAINING HIMSELF) Before we clear out of here, Markham, there's just one favor I'd like to ask.

MARKHAM:

Of course, old man! Ask away!

GILBERT:

(SLOWLY) This is your job, I suppose. You can't help being what you are. But never again, as long as you live--

MARKHAM:

Well?

GILBERT: (GRIM) Never even say that word "gentleman."

SOUND:

VICIOUS THUD! OF KNIFE POINT IN DESK

JUDITH:

Be careful, Ron! Look at his face!

MARKHAM:

(FURIOUS, BUT CONTROLLED) Tell me, Mr. Gilbert. How much money is in this envelope?

GILBERT:

You heard what I said. Three thousand pounds.

MARKHAM:

Then take it back, my friend. I find we can't strike a bargain after all.

GILBERT:

What do you mean?

MARKHAM:

Just what I say. Here's your money. You will now oblige me, both you and Miss Ray, by leaving my shop.

GILBERT:

But - what are you going to do?

MARKHAM:

Tomorrow morning, perhaps even tonight, I am going to get in touch with the police. And I shall tell them where they can find Letty Wilson, alias Judith Ray.

GILBERT:

You can't do that, Markham!

JUDITH:

Oh, yes, he can. You've hit him where it hurts!

MARKHAM:

Three thousand pounds, my friend, is not enough compensation for the way you talk. [Three thousand pounds, or thirty, cannot buy you the right to insult me.]

SOUND:

MARKHAM OPENS OFFICE DOOR ... TICKING CLOCKS

MARKHAM:

There is the way through the shop. Shall I escort you to the front door?

GILBERT:

No.

MARKHAM:

Oh. So you prefer to stay here and make a fool of yourself?

GILBERT:

You're not going to tell the police, Markham. I promise you that.

MARKHAM:

And how are you going to stop me?

GILBERT:

With this.

JUDITH:

(SHOCKED) Ron! Put that gun away!

MUSIC:

TENSE, IN BG

GILBERT:

It's a funny thing, Judith. I felt a bit of a fool, you know, bringing this revolver along. But now I've got a use for it. Oh, yes. I've got a use for it.

MUSIC:

OUT

SOUND:

[AS ALL THREE MOVE OUT OF THE OFFICE, THE CONFUSED AND MINGLED TICKING OF THE CLOCKS GROWS LOUDER CULMINATING IN A MUSICAL DIN AS THEY STRIKE QUARTER-PAST DURING THE FOLLOWING ... NOISE PEAKS WITH THE MURDER]

MARKHAM:

(TENSE) Well. Maybe the best thing would be to go into the street now and - call a policeman.

SOUND:

[MARKHAM'S FOOTSTEPS AWAY ... JUDITH AND GILBERT FOLLOW]

GILBERT:

You'll never get to the street, Markham.

MARKHAM:

Are you following me into the shop?

GILBERT:

Yes.

MARKHAM:

So both of you, it appears, came here under false pretenses. You said you wanted to pay me some money--

GILBERT:

The money's still there. But you've lost your chance to get it.

MARKHAM:

--and our dear Judith said she wanted to buy a present for you. I showed her this grandfather clock here, this talking clock--

GILBERT:

Don't go a step beyond that clock, Markham! I warn you!

MARKHAM:

Nonsense, old man. You wouldn't dare shoot.

GILBERT:

Wouldn't I?

MARKHAM:

No. And I'll call your bluff.

JUDITH:

[(CAUTIONS) Ron!]

SOUND:

MARKHAM TAKES A STEP

MARKHAM:

One step.

SOUND:

MARKHAM TAKES ANOTHER STEP

MARKHAM:

Two steps--

SOUND:

[MASKED BY THE NOISY CLOCKS,] THE DULL THUD OF A PISTOL SHOT ... [CLOCKS BEGIN TO SUBSIDE DURING FOLLOWING--]

JUDITH:

Ron!

MARKHAM:

(UNAWARE HE'S BEEN SHOT, BUT GROWING WEAKER) I know your whole silly tribe, my friend. You wouldn't risk it. No, you wouldn't. (CONFUSED, WHISPERS TO HIMSELF) What's happening to me?

GILBERT:

Don't try and grab onto the clock, Markham! It won't save you!

MARKHAM:

(FEVERISH, DYING) You wouldn't risk your life. You wouldn't risk your family position. You - you wouldn't--

SOUND:

CRASH! AS MARKHAM AND GRANDFATHER CLOCK TOPPLE OVER TOGETHER

JUDITH:

(GASPS IN HORROR)

SOUND:

HEAVY, GROANING GRANDFATHER CLOCK MECHANISM WHIRRS BEHIND--

VOICE:

One-fifteen, and all's well!

JUDITH:

(GASPS, UNNERVED)

VOICE:

One-fifteen, and all's well. (SLOWS TO A STOP AS--)

SOUND:

GRANDFATHER CLOCK MECHANISM GRINDS TO A HALT ... ROOMFUL OF TICKING CLOCKS CONTINUES IN BG

JUDITH:

[Oh, Ron, Ron. What have you done?]

GILBERT:

(APPEALINGLY) I had to do it, Judith! Don't you see, I had to do it?

JUDITH:

Did you--? Is he--?

GILBERT:

Oh, yes. Yes, he's done for. I tell you, I had to do it!

JUDITH:

Ssh! [All right, dear. But] keep your voice down.

GILBERT:

Why?

JUDITH:

(WORRIED) That shot sounded like the crack of doom. I wonder if anybody in the street heard it.

GILBERT:

You mean -- the police?

JUDITH:

Yes, Ron. (WILDLY) What in heaven's name are we going to do?

GILBERT:

Steady, steady, [old girl]. We'll find a way out.

JUDITH:

Maybe he's not dead, Ron. Go and look at him.

GILBERT:

He's dead, all right.

JUDITH:

Please, Ron. Go and look at him. (LONG PAUSE AS HE LOOKS) Well?

GILBERT:

Shot through the heart. The bullet went clean through him and smashed the face of the grandfather clock. That's all I can see in this dim light.

JUDITH:

This isn't happening to us! It can't be!

GILBERT:

I've got to think. But it's hard to think. You see, Judith, I'm not in a rage any longer. I'm just --- numb, and a little bit scared.

JUDITH:

You're not going to give yourself up?

GILBERT:

And have this whole thing made public? [No fear!] Not likely.

JUDITH:

(ABRUPTLY) Wait a minute! There may be a way out.

GILBERT:

What way?

JUDITH:

He said he was going for a holiday. Remember?

GILBERT:

Well? Suppose he did?

JUDITH:

That gives us time. It means his absence won't be noticed. The shop will be closed. Nobody will come here for days. And certainly nobody will come here tonight, and--

SOUND:

SHARP JANGLE OF DOORBELL

BIZ:

JUDITH AND GILBERT KEEP THEIR VOICES RELATIVELY LOW DURING THE FOLLOWING, UNTIL [X]

GILBERT:

What's that?

SOUND:

KNOCK ON FRONT DOOR

JUDITH:

(GASPS) The police officer. I forgot the police officer.

GILBERT:

What police officer?

JUDITH:

A friend of Markham's. Inspector Somebody-or-other from Wigmore Street. He's expected here tonight.

GILBERT:

Then we're finished.

JUDITH:

No, Ronny. We're not finished. He can't see anything out there. The shutters are down and the door's covered. Could you--? Could you pick Markham up? And carry him?

GILBERT:

Yes. Yes, I could [manage that]. Why?

JUDITH:

There must be a back way out of this shop. Probably in the office. Hurry, Ron!

GILBERT:

I - I don't like to touch him.

SOUND:

BELL JANGLES AGAIN ... GILBERT STRUGGLES WITH MARKHAM'S BODY DURING FOLLOWING--

JUDITH:

Hurry, Ron! Please!

GILBERT:

(WITH EFFORT) He's as heavy as a sack of meal. He seems to be looking straight at me.

JUDITH:

I know. Everything here seems to have eyes, and to move a little in the shadow. Didn't you see the expression in Markham's eyes, just before you--?

GILBERT:

No. No, I didn't [notice].

JUDITH:

(INCREASINGLY DISTRAUGHT) He seemed to be looking behind us, or beyond us! I don't know how to describe it. And he said something, too, that scared me. He - he said he couldn't die! He he - said--

GILBERT:

Close the door, quick!

SOUND:

OFFICE DOOR CLOSES, SHUTTING OUT THE TICKING CLOCKS

GILBERT:

This police officer, Judith. He can't get into the shop, can he?

JUDITH:

Of course he can! The front door isn't locked.

GILBERT:

That's true. What's wrong with me, Judith? I came in that way myself.

JUDITH:

And there's no time to lock the front door now. Our only hope is through the back way. I thought I'd seen a back door and-- Ah, there it is. (MOVING OFF) Just a minute!

GILBERT:

(SOFTLY, TO HIMSELF) I've killed a man. That means I'm a murderer. A fraction of a second, one tick of a clock in there, and you change from an ordinary happy person into -- what I am. [But I don't feel any different--] (UP) Well, Judith? Well?

JUDITH:

I'm sorry, Ron. The door's locked.

GILBERT:

Isn't there a key?

JUDITH:

No.

GILBERT:

Maybe in his pockets? [Look in his pockets.] On a key-ring?

JUDITH:

There isn't time, Ron. I think I heard the front door open. Our visitor's coming in.

GILBERT:

I've got it! The dust covers!

JUDITH:

What?

GILBERT:

Those white cloth covers that fit over the chairs. Look at them.

JUDITH:

What on earth are you talking about?

GILBERT:

We used to play a game when we were kids. Somebody sits in a big chair, you know. You fit the dust cover over him, and nobody can tell he's sitting there. Don't you see, Judith? That's how we can hide Markham's body.

JUDITH:

It might work -- if there's time.

GILBERT:

There's got to be time. Take the cover off that big wing chair.

JUDITH:

All right. Maybe there's a chance.

SOUND:

JUDITH REMOVES COVER AS GILBERT GRAPPLES WITH MARKHAM'S BODY

GILBERT:

(WITH EFFORT) I'll fit him into it. Arms along the chair-arms. Feet pushed back. Now put the cover back again, and pull it down round his feet.

JUDITH:

Don't let it touch his chest. The blood will show through.

GILBERT:

There. That's got it. You can't see anything now, can you?

JUDITH:

No, but-- Ron?

GILBERT:

Well?

JUDITH:

What did you do with the gun?

GILBERT:

The gun?

JUDITH:

[The revolver.] The gun you shot Markham with.

GILBERT:

Oh, Judith, I put it down on the floor when I picked up his body.

JUDITH:

Out in that other room?

GILBERT:

Yes. Yes, I'm afraid so.

SOUND:

SHARP RAPPING ON OFFICE DOOR

GILBERT:

And it's too late now, Judith. The police are here.

JUDITH:

What are we going to say?

GILBERT:

I don't know. Trust your wits and try and brazen it out. [X]

SOUND:

[RAPPING ON OFFICE DOOR]

GILBERT:

(CALLS) Yes? Come in.

SOUND:

OFFICE DOOR OPENS [SLOWLY WITH A SLIGHT SQUEAK] ... TICKING CLOCKS

JUDITH:

(SUPPRESSES A SCREAM BEHIND--)

MARKHAM:

(POLITELY) Good evening, Miss Ray. And good evening, Mr. Gilbert. [Can I be of any service to you?]

MUSIC:

A GENTLE ACCENT

JUDITH:

(ASTONISHED) Charles Markham? You're Charles Markham!

MARKHAM:

Correct, Miss Ray.

SOUND:

OFFICE DOOR CLOSES, SHUTTING OUT TICKING CLOCKS

MARKHAM:

But why should that surprise you? Why do you look as though you were seeing a ghost?

JUDITH:

Because we are seeing a ghost! If you're Charles Markham, whose body is--?

GILBERT:

Judith! Be careful!

MARKHAM:

"Body," Miss Ray? Did you say body?

GILBERT:

Miss Ray's upset. She doesn't know what she's talking about.

JUDITH:

(GASPS, UNNERVED, QUOTES MARKHAM TO RON) "If you killed me, I should be back to haunt you within half an hour." That's what he said.

GILBERT:

(QUICKLY) I tell you, Miss Ray isn't herself! (STAMMERS) She had bad news today. A relative of hers died. I - I've been trying to make her feel better.

MARKHAM:

Indeed. Did you think it would make her feel better to bring her here?

GILBERT:

I - I don't understand.

MARKHAM:

My dear sir, you are very welcome, but the situation is surely a little odd. I come in here and find you two, looking as guilty as a pair of murderers, in my private office in the middle of the night.

GILBERT:

There's nothing odd about that! I wanted to buy Judith something!

MARKHAM:

At one o'clock in the morning?

GILBERT:

Yes!

JUDITH:

Why not?

MARKHAM:

Well, may I ask how you managed to get in?

GILBERT:

The front door was open. We just walked in.

MARKHAM:

If you wished to buy something, why not stay in the showroom? Why come to my office?

GILBERT:

Hang it all, you don't think we wanted to steal anything, do you?

MARKHAM:

Well, that thought did occur to me. You say there was nobody else here?

JUDITH:

(CAREFULLY) There's nobody here, Mr. Markham. Not a living soul.

MARKHAM:

Then you didn't by any chance meet my brother?

JUDITH:

(SURPRISED, WHISPERS) Your - your brother?

MARKHAM:

(LIGHTLY) Yes. My brother Robert. You couldn't have mistaken him, if you had seen him. He looks so much like me that few people can tell us apart.

JUDITH:

(RELIEVED SIGH) So that's it.

MARKHAM:

Poor Robert often deputizes for me. He's learned to act like me, think like me, and talk like me. But he doesn't like the work very much. Of course you know what my work really is?

GILBERT:

(SUSPICIOUS) Is this part of the game? Are you playing cat-and-mouse with us?

MARKHAM:

Robert is an idealist. He thinks -- poor fellow! -- that my profession is beneath contempt. But he acts the part, and acts it well, because I pay him. And I find it useful to have a double who will run risks for me. (MORE SERIOUS) What have you done with his body?

GILBERT:

We - we haven't done anything with him!

MARKHAM:

If you've killed Robert, my friend, you've committed a totally useless murder.

GILBERT:

You don't see him here, do you?

MARKHAM:

No. But I see his handiwork.

GILBERT:

Meaning what?

MARKHAM:

I've warned him many times about throwing a knife down on a polished desk top. Those scratches on the desk are fresh scratches. (LIGHTLY) Of course, if you give me your word of honor that he's not here--?

GILBERT:

Of course he's not here!

MARKHAM:

Well, in that case, all we can do is sit down and make ourselves comfortable. Will you sit there, Mr. Gilbert? And you, Miss Ray, in that wing chair by the window? (BEAT) What's wrong, Miss Ray? Why don't you sit down?

JUDITH:

Because I - I prefer to stand, thank you.

MARKHAM:

Then perhaps you won't mind if I sit in the wing chair? It's a very comfortable one. My brother always says--

JUDITH:

(AT BREAKING POINT) Don't! Don't sit down there! For the love of-- [God, don't sit down there]!

MARKHAM:

Oh. (CHUCKLES) So that's it.

JUDITH:

(EXHALES, DEFEATED) Yes. That's it.

MARKHAM:

It is rather a thick chair. I press against the dust cover, and blood comes through. I lift the bottom of the dust cover, and--

GILBERT:

What's the use of going on with this? I killed him.

MARKHAM:

(SWIFTLY) You admit that?

GILBERT:

Yes! I admit it! But Judith had nothing to do with this! I swear she hadn't!

MARKHAM:

My telephone, you notice, is against the wall. I shall have to turn my back to you when I ring.

JUDITH:

Ring? Where?

MARKHAM:

Wigmore Street Police Station.

JUDITH:

Oh, no! Give him a chance! Please give him a chance!

SOUND:

RECEIVER UP ... CRADLE RATTLED

MARKHAM:

(INTO PHONE) Hello? Hello, Operator? I want Regent oh-five-eight-six.

OPERATOR:

(FILTER) Yes, sir. Regent oh-five-eight-six.

JUDITH:

I won't let them take you, Ron! I won't!

GILBERT:

It's no good, Judith. I killed a man; I meant to kill him. That's all there is to it.

SOUND:

PHONE RINGS (CALLER'S PERSPECTIVE), IN BG

MARKHAM:

A very sensible attitude, my friend. And if the lady has any idea of flying at me with that knife, just notice what I've got here. A .32 revolver, one chamber fired. Picked up off the floor in that other room, where--

SOUND:

PHONE ANSWERED (CALLER'S PERSPECTIVE)

ROSS:

(FILTER) Hello? Hello? Wigmore Street Police Station.

MARKHAM:

(INTO PHONE) Hello?

JUDITH:

For the last time, Mr. Markham, won't you give him a chance?

MARKHAM:

(LOW) Be quiet, Miss Ray! (INTO PHONE) May I speak to Inspector Ross, please?

ROSS:

(FILTER) Inspector Ross speaking. Isn't that Mr. Markham?

MARKHAM:

(INTO PHONE) Got it in one, Inspector; Charles Markham here. I understood you were going to drop in and see me tonight?

ROSS:

(FILTER) Well, I intended to, Mr. Markham. But I'm afraid I can't make it now.

MARKHAM:

(INTO PHONE) Oh? Why not? Anything wrong?

ROSS:

(FILTER) Only a robbery in Davies Street. But it's likely to be a long job. Sorry I can't get there.

MARKHAM:

(INTO PHONE) [Oh, I see. Well, naturally, business before pleasure.] Well, that's perfectly all right, Inspector, because, actually, I rang up to make sure you wouldn't come here tonight. You see, I've got a lot of work to do; and I'm leaving for Eastbourne early tomorrow morning. Let's make it some other time, shall we?

ROSS:

(FILTER) Oh, glad to, Mr. Markham. (LIGHTLY) No crimes being committed up your way, I suppose?

MARKHAM:

(INTO PHONE) No, Inspector. It's as quiet as the grave. (CHUCKLES) I've never known a more peaceful night. Goodbye.

SOUND:

RECEIVER DOWN

MUSIC:

A GENTLE ACCENT

JUDITH:

(ASTOUNDED) Why did you do that?!

MARKHAM:

Now, please don't excite yourself, Miss Ray. Didn't you hear what I told the Inspector?

JUDITH:

Yes, but-- Is this some more [of your] trickery?

MARKHAM:

Trickery? How can it be?

JUDITH:

I don't know! That's what I'm asking you!

MARKHAM:

I should call it generous, when I let my poor brother's death go unavenged.

JUDITH:

You're not doing this without a reason.

MARKHAM:

Naturally not. But has it occurred to you -- either of you --- that I might not want my business dealings revealed in court?

GILBERT:

What are you driving at?

MARKHAM:

And has it also occurred to you that a man's double -- who looks exactly like him and shares all his secrets -- may become a danger rather than an asset? He knows too much. He wants too much. And so--

JUDITH:

I think I understand! You're glad he's dead!

MARKHAM:

(DRYLY) Not glad, my dear. You shock my brotherly feelings. But definitely relieved.

GILBERT:

Look here, you can't get away with this!

MARKHAM:

(AMUSED) Get away with it, sir? Aren't you forgetting that you are the murderer?

GILBERT:

Then what are you going to do?

MARKHAM:

It's very simple. We three, in an unholy partnership, will dispose of Robert's body. Or would you rather hang?

JUDITH:

He's got us, Ron. There's no other way.

GILBERT:

But how can we dispose of the body? This seems worse than killing him! It's filthy cold-blooded--

MARKHAM:

Practical necessity. And as for disposing of the body, nothing is easier. We shall simply gather [the necessary materials and then]--

[Come, Mr. Gilbert. This is no time for squeamishness. You should be grateful to me for assisting you in the disposal of the evidence of your crime. Shall we get at it?]

MUSIC:

A TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION--

MARKHAM:

(NARRATES) [And so, before the night was over, the body of my brother Charles was consigned to the ebbing tide of the Thames, never to be seen again.

That's right. My brother Charles. Robert Markham did not die that night. I am Robert. I killed Charles.]

And so, as I said before, this is the story of a man who commits murder and gets away with it. Now, Ronald Gilbert looks back across the years and is still firmly convinced of his own guilt. But, of course, Gilbert never shot anybody. I was the man who committed the murder.

SOUND:

[TICKING OF GRANDFATHER CLOCK FADES IN ... A HEAVY, GROANING WHIRR OF WEIGHTS ... THE SINGLE METALLIC STROKE OF ONE

VOICE:

(HARSH, THIN AND TINNY) One o'clock, and all's well! One o'clock, and all's well!

SOUND:

TICKING OF GRANDFATHER CLOCK FADES OUT]

MARKHAM:

(NARRATES) Don't you remember? The bullet that killed my brother is supposed to have passed through his body and smashed the face of the grandfather clock. But that's an impossibility. The face of a grandfather clock is much higher than the heart of a man. You see, two shots were fired at the very same instant. Gilbert missed, and smashed the clockface. I fired from the door of the office -- and did not miss. That was why my brother looked past those two. [He was looking into the barrel of my gun.] I went out by the back door, locked it, and reappeared at the front afterwards.

MUSIC:

AN ACCENT ... THEN OUT

MARKHAM:

(NARRATES) It was not Robert Markham who died. I am Robert Markham. It was Charles who died that night; and I killed him -- to stop forever the wholesale blackmail that was poisoning the lives and blasting the hearts of a thousand half-crazed people.

MUSIC:

RESUMES BEHIND NARRATION--

MARKHAM:

(NARRATES) His records I destroyed. His correspondence I burnt. He is dead and gone. I have assumed his name and identity ever since [-- proud that I'd been of anonymous service to his many victims. (CHUCKLES) Yes]. I committed a murder. And yet, if you sat on a jury, dare you say that you would condemn me?

Come now -- would you?

MUSIC:

FOR A FINISH

NARRATOR:

And so closes "Mr. Markham, Antique Dealer," starring Paul Lukas, with Heather Angel and Bramwell Fletcher, tonight's tale of--

MUSIC:

KNIFE CHORD

NARRATOR:

SUSPENSE!

MUSIC:

"SUSPENSE" THEME ... IN BG, TILL END

NARRATOR:

This is your narrator, the Man in Black, who conveys to you Columbia's invitation to spend this half hour in suspense with us again next Tuesday, when we will have the pleasure of bringing you Mr. Charles Laughton and Miss Elsa Lanchester, who will star in one of the most famous and suspenseful of Agatha Christie's thrillers, "The ABC Murders."

The producer of these broadcasts is William Spier, who with Ted Bliss, the director; Lud Gluskin and Lucien Moraweck, conductor and composer, and John Dickson Carr, the author, collaborated on tonight's SUSPENSE.

ANNOUNCER:

This is CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System.


[ALTERNATE OPENING AND CLOSING NARRATION FROM 1958 BROADCAST]

MARKHAM:

(OPENING NARRATION) I make this deposition of my own free will, with the certain knowledge that Scotland Yard, without my assistance, could never have proven me a murderer -- since the fact of the matter is, I was the murder victim.

MARKHAM:

(CLOSING NARRATION) Had I been my brother's twin in spirit as well as in body, that would have been the end of the matter. But Charles and I differed in this respect -- he had no conscience. I could not forget that young Ronald Gilbert would live his life and go to his grave believing that he was a murderer. I brooded upon this for a long, long time and at last have decided to make this confession, releasing him from his burden and assuming what is rightfully mine -- the sin of fratricide. Further deponent sayeth not.