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"The Shameful Betrayal of Miss Emily Smith" is the second episode of Series 2 of the BBC Radio 4 series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, written by Bert Coules. It was first broadcast on May 25, 2004. In it, Sherlock Holmes investigates the murder of a schoolteacher.

Plot[]

Sherlock Holmes shows Dr Watson a set of charcoal drawings he has received in the post. They are sketches of a murder scene from Kent, sent to Holmes by a certain Inspector Geoffrey Dawkins, who has requested Holmes' help in solving the crime. The victim was Miss Emily Smith, a village schoolteacher. She was stabbed to death with a chisel in the middle of a snowy field; unusually, the man who found the body swore that Miss Smith's were the only footprints in the snow.

Holmes and Watson travel to Kent and meet Inspector Dawkins. He tells Holmes that he has already apprehended the suspected murderer, a young man named Bert Stevens who performed odd jobs at the school. However, he has only two proofs: that the murder weapon belonged to the man, and that he was seen arguing with Miss Smith not long before her death. They visit Stevens in prison, who says that he had been friends with the teacher. Their disagreement had been over Miss Smith's recent odd behavior; of late, she had appeared worried, and been uncharacteristically secretive. Dawkins accuses Stevens of having made unwanted advances on Smith, and suggests she rebuffed him.

Outside, Dawkins tells Holmes that he has little information on Miss Smith. She was private almost to the point of anonymity, with no family or friends. However, she was well-respected and dedicated to the school, which she had established. Dawkins also theorizes that Stevens had brushed out his tracks, which were then completely covered by later snow flurries. Holmes asks Dawkins about Smith's unusual clothing; a nightgown with a coat thrown over and unbuttoned boots. He also scolds him for letting personal feelings interfere with the investigation. Dawkins admits that he had previously met Miss Smith, and had an unrequited fondness for her.

Dawkins next takes Holmes and Watson to the scene of the crime. From there, he points out the nearby home of Dr Frederick Trantor and his wife, who found Miss Smith's body while walking. Watson notes that it is an imposing house for a village doctor; Dawkins tells him that Dr Trantor married into money. The Trantors tell Holmes that they did not know Miss Smith well, though she had been one of Dr Trantor's patients. They had seen Miss Smith lying in the field on a walk, and Dr Trantor had checked on her, then stayed near the body while his wife fetched help from the village. Neither can think of anyone who would want to harm the schoolteacher.

They next visit Alfred Laurenson, the artist who sketched the crime scene. They learn that Laurenson's house had been broken into the previous night, though nothing had been taken. Laurenson states that he had never met Miss Smith, but Holmes determines that he is lying after noticing some receipts indicating Laurenson exhibited some art at the school several months earlier. However, he does not confront Laurenson. Dawkins suspects Stevens for the burglary as well, but admits that he doesn't have enough evidence to formally charge him with anything, and will have to let him go the next day.

Holmes investigates the schoolhouse, but finds few clues there. They next visit Smith's cottage with Stevens. Dawkins tells Holmes that the door was found unlocked. Holmes find a large trunk, indicating that Miss Smith was intending to leave. However, the trunk was hastily unpacked, and signs of a break-in indicate it was done by someone else to hide signs of her imminent trip. A children's story written by Miss Smith suggests that Miss Smith was planning to elope with a mysterious lover. Holmes also finds opiate traces in glass, indicating that she had been drugged before being killed.

As poppy oil is frequently used in mixing paints, they return to Laurenson, who denies using the medium. Holmes confronts Laurenson about his lie over knowing Smith, pointing out that several of his paintings had been displayed at the school before being recently taken down. Laurenson denies killing her, and reveals that she had been offended when he had asked her to pose in the nude for him. He lied about their interactions because he knew this would make him look suspicious.

Having tied up several loose ends, Holmes is ready to finish off the case. Holmes indicates that the killer had underestimated the amount of drug needed to knock out Miss Smith, and so she had managed to stumble out the cottage in an attempt to reach her doctor before collapsing.

Holmes, Watson and Dawkins return to Dr Trantor, and Holmes accuses him of murdering Miss Smith to cover up an affair they had been having. Trantor feared Miss Smith would reveal their relationship if he broke it off, jeopardizing his position in society and reputation. He therefore persuading her that they were going to elope, and then slipped the opium into a celebratory drink to kill her. However, the dose had been insufficient. Trantor had been shocked to see her lying in the field while walking with his wife. Thinking quickly, he pretended to check on her, then stabbed her in the chest with a chisel he had previously stolen to frame Bert Stevens. Holmes reels off further evidence: fragments of the scalpel he had used to break into Miss Smith's cottage had remained lodged in the window, and also tied him to the break-in at Laurenson's, where Trantor had been looking for the crime scene drawings. Trantor continues to deny his involvement, but Dawkins arrests him for the crime. Holmes allows him to take all credit for solving the case.

However, the case never comes to trial - Bert Stevens murders Trantor in his cell in revenge for Emily's death. His vengeance achieved, he allows Dawkins to arrest him and is sent to prison.

Cast[]

Trivia[]

  • The case was inspired by a reference in "The Adventure of the Priory School": "..."You remember that terrible murderer, Bert Stevens, who wanted us to get him off in ’87? Was there ever a more mild-mannered, Sunday-school young man?"
  • Inspector Dawkins tells Watson he is a fan of his writing for The Strand Magazine, where the original Sherlock Holmes short stories were published.
  • Holmes references his famous line, "I play the game for the game's own sake", originally from "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans".
  • The episode featured Mark Gatiss, who would go on to co-write and portray Mycroft Holmes in BBC's modern-day adaptation, Sherlock.
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