The Copper Beeches
Watson is residing at 221B Baker Street
There’s mention of the King of Bohemia, Mary Sutherland, a twisted lip and the noble bachelor cases.
The client in this case is Violet Hunter. She has some questions about a governess role that has been offered to her. The drama first started at her employment agency where she was offered £100 year for tutoring a six old boy; there was a proviso of also catering to any particular whims asked by the employers (!). One such stipulation was given at the interview: Mr. Rucastle wanted Miss Hunter to cut her luxurious auburn hair shorter. She absolutely refused and Mr. Rucastle upped her annual income to £120. Aside from learning that Mr. Rucastle has an adult daughter from a previous marriage; Miss Hunter can add no more. She had decided that Mr. Rucastle is a kind man with a lunatic wife and he is trying to comply with her bizarre wishes (how she came to this conclusion I really don’t know).
Holmes smells something deep and vicious. He travels to Winchester in response to Miss Hunter’s urgent telegram. Once there, Holmes and Watson learn a number of things: there are some secluded rooms which are clearly off limits to Violet.
One whim of the couple’s is to repeatedly have Violet wear an electric blue gown, sit in front of a particular window and stay there for hours on end. On one occasion, Violet managed to see the quarry of this particular activity: a young man was seen on the road outside the window. She was instructed to wave him away and she complied.
There is an addition to the family: Carlo, the Rucastle’s mastiff. Apparently they regularly half-starve the animal in order to make him a more efficient guard dog.
Holmes makes a plan. One night the Rucastles will be away; Violet is to lock the house servants in the cellar. Watson and Holmes head to the mysterious room and found that the captive has gone, taken away by Mr. Rucastle, who smelled a rat. Mr. Rucastle then confronts the group and promises revenge. He bolts from the room; shortly the baying of a dog, along with a strangled cry is heard. The half-mad dog, instead of protecting Mr. Rucastle, has attacked him. The group rushes down and Watson shoots the dog dead. Will the villain survive his gruesome attack?
We learn that money is at the bottom of all these strange and illegal goings-on; very similar to The Speckled Band.
"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” The Copper Beeches starring Jeremy Brett
The opening scene shows a man trespassing through what we know is The Copper Beeches. Rucastle is aware of the interloper. He sends Carlo after the man.
The first scene with Holmes and Watson has Holmes belittling Watson’s description of the canon. Watson, played by David Burke, gets hot under the collar.
Holmes thinks that he’s hits his zenith when he receives a note from Violet Hunter. Miss Hunter arrives and tells of the first interview with Rucastle. (Joss Acklund is perfect, of course, for this role. With his character in the room, I would have run screaming from it). Of course, we learn that Rucastle himself presumably isn’t a pervert, he’s just twisted.
Once Violet has left 221B with intentions of taking the position, Holmes informs Watson that he would never allow any sister of his to take that job.
In this version, we learn that the “darling” charge of Violet’s has flaming red hair……he presents Violet with a dead bird.
Rucastle introduces Violet to Carlo: are there any other animals?? Cheetah, baboon??? Shades of another story here.
Holmes decides to travel to Hampshire, while on the train Jeremy Brett recites the terrors of country living vs. city life (excellent scene).
Later, when Violet is confronted about finding the room, Rucastle threatens her with Carlo.
Violet has had enough and so the plan is set in place. In this version, the stranger shows up as Holmes and Watson are approaching the house. The man breaks into the secret rooms and a strange young lady screams. Everyone converges on the rooms, including Rucastle, back from his excursion. Rucastle locks the trio in, Watson shoots the lock out. Rucastle gets Carlo with the expected results. Watson again saves the day by bringing the dog down.
Mrs. Toller tells the story behind the mystery. Mrs. Toller was in with the stranger’s: Fowler, plan to rescue Alice, Rucastle’s daughter.
We learn that Rucastle ended up a broken man.
With Watson reciting the finished narrative from a publication, Holmes looks pained but when pressed, gives accolades to Watson’s writings.
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