Baker Street Wiki
Advertisement
Baker Street Wiki

"The Eyes of Horus" is the second episode of Series 3 of the BBC Radio 4 series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, written by Bert Coules. It was first broadcast on January 2, 2009. In it, Sherlock Holmes must solve how an ancient Egyptian artifact disappeared from a sealed bank vault.

Plot[]

Inspector Lestrade visits Baker Street to tell Holmes of a baffling theft. A valuable ancient Egyptian artifact called the Eye of Horus has been stolen from a secured bank vault in the city. The Eye belongs to Lady Jean Mallory, who had deposited the object in her safety-deposit box three months ago for safekeeping, shortly after her husband's death. The box had been undisturbed until she had returned to collect it that morning, and found the box empty.

Lestrade tells Holmes that the vault is exceptionally secure, with no entrances apart from the main door. There were no signs of tampering visible on the vault, the safety box, or the casket that held the eye. Accessing the jewel would have required four keys: two are held by Lady Mallory, while the others were in the possession of the bank's manager, Mr Lofting, and his under manager, Terence Wilson, who accompanied her on both her visits. Mr Lofting is eager to resolve the case, as news of the theft would devastate the bank. Furthermore, Lestrade tells Holmes that if they don't recover the Eye quickly, the theft could become an international incident. The Eye's twin is in the Queen's personal collection in Buckingham Palace, and both were intended to be displayed at a state banquet for the new Egyptian ambassador the next night. As a result, the prime minister himself has requested Holmes' assistance. Lestrade finds it odd that a thief would target such a distinctive object, but Holmes tells him it could fetch a fortune from a collector.

Holmes visits the vault with Watson and Lestrade, and confirms the vault's apparent impenetrability. Furthermore, there is no way to tell when the theft occurred. A new development occurs when they learn them that Mr Wilson has disappeared. Moreover, Wilson had until recently been heavily indebted, but then suddenly came into a large sum of money. Lestrade assumes Wilson must have stolen the Eye himself. However, Holmes points out that the vault cannot be accessed without two keys 10 feet apart being turned simultaneously. Mr Lofting adds that access to the vaults is carefully controlled; Wilson couldn't have entered without being seen, let alone brought in an accomplice. Undeterred, Lestrade insists that the police will soon find Wilson.

Holmes and Watson visits Lady Mallory. She appears delighted to see them, and tells Holmes she would have called him in if the government hadn't done so first. A servant brings in the box that held the eye, which shows no signs of tampering. Holmes asks Lady Mallory how the Eye came into her possession. She explains that the pair were found by her late husband's grandfather in Egypt. He gave one to the Queen, and kept the other for the family's Egyptian collection. The Eye was one of the few pieces of the collection she still retained; the rest had been disposed of a while ago. Holmes tells Lady Mallory that he will have news soon, though he cannot guarantee it will be good.

After leaving Lady Mallory's, Watson chides Holmes for being indelicate towards the noblewoman, given the recent death of her husband. Holmes asks Watson if he has any ideas how the crime was done. Watson replies it seems very complicated, but Holmes responds that one should always reject the complex in favor of the simple. To Watson's surprise, Holmes stops the carriage at a small pawn shop and gets out alone, sending Watson on to Baker Street alone.

Inside the shop, Holmes confronts the pawnbroker, whose illicit transactions he has been monitoring for some time. He accuses him of supplying names of his desperate clients to shady moneylenders, and of referring clients to those moneylenders in turn. Holmes threatens to turn him in to Scotland Yard unless he agrees to provide him with some information. His information allows Holmes to locate Wilson at a boardinghouse run by Mrs. Margaret Hartnell. He arrives just after she has chased off a thug who was also looking for the banker. Wilson agrees to go with Holmes to Baker Street for protection, where he recounts his predicament to Holmes and Watson. He admits he is being pursued by agents of an unscrupulous moneylender named Solomon Rosen, whom he had borrowed a significant sum from. Although Wilson had already repaid his loans, Rosen wanted information on which of Wilson's clients were in financial difficulties. He blackmailed Wilson by threatening to expose his dealings with him, and secretly had him tailed by a pair of thugs. When Wilson had gone to the police to report the theft of the Eye, Rosen had assumed he was reporting the blackmail, and ordered his thugs to kill Wilson. The banker had been in hiding since. Holmes advises Wilson to turn himself in to the police for his safety. Wilson is hesitant, as the police believe he stole the Eye, but Holmes assures Wilson that he he has already determined who the actual culprit behind the disappearance, and how it was taken. At Scotland Yard, Lestrade is pleased to take Wilson into custody, and demonstrates skepticism towards Wilson's innocence. Holmes tells Lestrade to treat Wilson well, as he could help Lestrade bring down the Rosen gang.

The following day, Holmes gathers all the players at the bank for a reconstruction of what occurred three months ago. As a stand-in for the Eye, Holmes uses a gold snuff-box, which he places in a cigar-box that he seals with rubber bands. He announces he will take the role of Lady Mallory, while Lofting and Wilson will fill in for themselves. He has Lofting and Wilson open the vault, and the group follow him in. Holmes points out that the box has been in full view the whole time. He also notes that because of an injury Wilson sustained, he was unable to fulfill his usual duty of logging the actions, and it was taken over by Lofting. Holmes and Wilson confirm the contents of the box, and secure it in the safety-deposit drawer. Satisfied, Holmes asks Lady Mallory if his performance was accurate, then directs Inspector Lestrade to unlock the drawer. Lestrade takes the box out, and confirms the bands have not been tampered with. However, when he opens it the snuff-box has disappeared.

Upstairs in Lofting's office, the manager and Lestrade insist Holmes tell them how the trick was done. Holmes tells them the Eye was never stolen. In fact, it had never been in the box at all. The casket she had deposited three months previously had been empty; Lady Mallory had simply bribed Wilson into confirming the eye's presence. Lestrade is shocked, but Lady Mallory insists that she has committed no crime, and dismisses Lestrade's threats of misdemeanor indictments. When Wilson protests, she contends that her bribe saved Wilson from Rosen, but refuses to say any more. Inspector Lestrade moves to take Lady Mallory into custody, but she asks to speak to Holmes alone, which Lestrade accepts. Lady Mallory explains that she had only hoped to avoid scandal. Holmes tells her she should have faked a more commonplace crime, as the apparent impossibility of the theft ironically made it much easier to solve.

Back at Baker Street, Holmes tells Watson that he had suspected Lady Mallory since the visit to her home. Much of the furniture and decor had been recently replaced, and that the serving staff were mostly newly hired. Watson realizes these as the signs of a household being built up again after a period of poverty. Lady Mallory's late husband had likely been deeply in debt, forcing Lady Mallory to surreptitiously sell the Eye to cover his debts. The one thing Holmes doesn't understand is how she discovered that Wilson was also in debt; however, Watson suggests the Mallorys may have also had previous dealings with Rosen. Holmes predicts Rosen's arrest will burnish Lestrade's career immensely. The international incident is avoided thanks to Mycroft's help, who manages to convince the parties to cancel the planned display. As for Mr Wilson, who was fired for his role in the scandal, Holmes helps him get a job as the manager of a local district messenger office.

Cast[]

  • Colette O'Neil as Lady Jean Mallory
  • Stephen Thorne as Inspector Lestrade
  • Stephen Critchlow as Mr Lofting
  • Jonathan Tafler as Terence Wilson
  • Janice Acquah as Margaret Hartnell
  • Malcolm Tierney as Sergeant
  • Paul Rider as Constable

Trivia[]

  • The case was inspired by a reference in The Hound of the Baskervilles: Holmes is "warmly greeted" by a district messenger office manager, prompting the exchange "'Ah, Wilson, I see you have not forgotten the little case in which I had the good fortune to help you?' 'No, sir, indeed I have not. You saved my good name, and perhaps my life.'"
Advertisement