Poison Pen (1939) Movie Script

A halfpenny gobstopper
please, Mr Griffin.
Where is the halfpenny?
- Here.
Here we are.
- Thank you.
And don't choke yourself.
- I won't.
Hello, where are you off to?
Miss Rider. I'm sorry.
Oh, look.
Never mind. Come along,
we'll buy another one.
Morning, Miss Rider.
- Good morning, Mr Griffin.
We had a tragedy
with a lollipop outside.
Here you are.
Oh, thank you, Miss Rider.
Two halfpenny gobstoppers
please, Mr Griffin.
Here we are.
Thank you, Miss Rider.
Morning, Miss Rider.
You spoil those children.
Good morning, Mrs Griffin.
A nice day, Mrs Scaife. Miss Reynolds.
Here is my list, Mrs Griffin.
And a farthing change.
Don't you go booking up all
the dances before I get there.
First come, first served, Mr Griffin.
Three dozen eggs. Custard powder. Sugar.
My husband will be up at the
vicarage with them this afternoon.
My brother is so grateful for your
offer to look after the buffet tonight.
It's a pleasure, Miss.
Anything to oblige you and the vicar.
- Thank you.
See you tonight.
Mary, my dear.
You are coming tonight, aren't you?
- But of course.
I'm so glad. Church dances aren't the
same without the Squire and his lady.
My dear, we wouldn't
miss it for anything.
Well, Badham. See you
tonight at the dance.
Yes, sir. I be on the door, sir.
Sold all your tickets?
- Yes, sir. Every one, sir.
There you are, Mrs Suggs.
Thirsty weather, eh Josh?
- What weather ain't?
Going to the dance, Josh?
- Aye.
Will you save one for me?
And me.
What, you Mr Dee?
Why, I be only 87.
And as spry as a colt.
Don't be silly, Peter.
- Why silly?
Because the answer is always
no and I hate having to say it.
Then why not say "yes" for a change?
You know perfectly well.
David is in Australia.
The other side of the world.
But people do come back
from Australia you know.
I don't believe that absence
makes the heart grow fonder.
Don't you?
Supposing he doesn't come back?
- Her will.
In just one year.
- That's what he says.
I'd bet ..
- I shouldn't.
You will lose.
May I have the next dance, father?
If it's a waltz, my dear.
- If it is a waltz mother, shall us?
If it is a waltz Peter,
your mother is booked.
Good for you, dad.
Don't be so damned patronising, my boy.
Let me tell you your mother and I once
won a dancing prize in this very hall.
Yes, but it was a spot prize, my dear.
Well anyway, I danced with your
mother before you were born.
I hope so, father.
- What?
Sounds as if you're enjoying yourselves.
No, I'm not. Ann has
turned me down again.
I have no sympathy for you, Peter.
Ann is far too young to
think of getting married.
Aunt Mary, I don't believe
you will ever let me grow up.
Come on, Daddy.
- But this isn't a waltz.
Ann, dear. I promised Mrs Griffin
you would help with the buffet.
- And Peter.
A little friend of mine hasn't
had a dance all evening.
Why, certainly.
Why don't you two dance?
What, me dance? That would be a good'un.
I only come here to oblige the vicar.
And me, my dear.
Aye, and so you can show off that
there wedding dress of yours again.
It's wearing nicely.
You made it so well.
You ought to be dressmaking
up in London.
You be content to stay
where you are, my dear.
Mr Cashelton wants to
dance with you, Connie.
Good evening, Fateley.
How is Ann?
- Good evening.
Mr Cashelton hopes you
will save him a dance.
My missus don't dance
with anyone excepting me.
I'm afraid I am not allowed.
Oh yes. Come along.
Getting on alright these days?
- Not too badly for, a foreigner.
A foreigner?
Most villages are the same, Mr Peter.
If you're not born locally, you are a
foreigner. And you have to live it down.
That's funny. I never thought of that.
These modern dances are much too slow.
Much too slow.
The table looks nice, Mrs Scaife.
Do you think there will be
enough to go round?
Whatever. I should think there is
enough for our next dance as well.
Oh! Look at that for a cake.
And it will eat as good as it looks.
You must give me the
recipe for your icing.
It always looks so delicious.
Oh dear. She has brought the baby.
I suppose she had nowhere to leave it.
Poor soul.
We must see what we can do.
I wonder why Miss Rider never married.
If she had wanted to
marry she would have.
She is not the marrying kind.
We've all had our chances.
This is her life. The village
and looking after the vicar.
And Miss Ann.
Sorry Miss Rider.
But we didn't want to miss it.
No, of course not. You have a good time.
I'll take the baby.
- Thank you, Miss.
Thank you, Miss Rider.
Mrs Griffin, has your husband
brought the fruit yet?
Not yes, Miss Rider. He'll be along when
he's made up his orders at the shop.
That's apples, oranges
and bananas. Good.
If I don't buck up, I'll be late.
A bit of luck for some poor girl's feet.
- That's enough from you, young man.
You boys are alright for dancing with.
But when it comes to sitting out.
It's experience that counts.
- I don't doubt they prefer sitting out.
Alright, I'm coming.
[ Buzzer ]
Yes? Hilldale.
Hilldale 145 wanted for Australia.
Wait a minute, London. Here, Len.
There is a call for
Miss Ann from Australia.
Australia? From Australia?
Can you hear them?
- You can.
- Yes, London?
Run and tell Ann I've put
it through to the vicarage.
Yes, London? I'll ring you
when Miss Rider is available.
Wait until I tell the missus
about this. And Miss Reynolds.
And Miss Ann.
Oh, aye.
Hello, David darling.
Just a moment, Miss.
Miss Rider waiting.
Hold on a moment.
What's all this? Can't you
see what's on the door?
Let them hear. They wouldn't believe me.
- No, it's against regulations.
There, I knew it was a hoax.
Oh, is it? Here.
Well I never.
- Shush. They'll hear you.
It is.
That's Mr David's voice.
Well, that is something my
old man never said to me.
That's enough.
He is coming here.
They are going to be married.
Aunt Mary. Aunt Mary.
Ann dear, whatever is it?
Darling I am so happy. It is David.
- David?
Yes, David. He has got special
leave. He is coming home.
He telephoned me on his way to
the boat. He could wait to cable.
He wants us to get married
the moment he arrives.
Oh dear, oh dear. You young people.
Always in such a terrible hurry.
You remember the old proverb,
don't you? Marry in haste ..
And think yourself jolly lucky.
Oh, I am so happy.
Of course, dear.
- Let's go and find daddy.
Wait and see his face when I see him.
Daddy. Daddy.
What's the excitement?
- Oh, Peter.
Father, David wants to know if you will
marry us when he comes in 6 weeks' time.
What's this? Marry you
in 6 weeks? But why?
Well, will you?
Of course, my dear. Whenever
you like. But good heavens ..
Congratulations, Ann.
- Thank you.
Well I ..
- Thank you.
So I am sacked, am I?
- Uhuh.
But I am still having this dance.
He spins you like a teetotem.
A lovely dress.
But I looked at her face and I
thought, why take all the trouble?
She gave me three dances.
- And vicar danced the waltz.
All the way from Australia.
Proposing on the telephone.
It ain't natural.
Gertie married a foreigner.
And look at her.
Only married six weeks and
she stopped his fist five times.
I wonder how that Peter
Cashelton will take it.
That will be his nose out of joint.
And I can't say I'm sorry at that.
I never quite knew whether
I liked that young man.
Miss Reynolds.
Your Len enjoyed himself
at the dance Mrs Griffin.
Len is a one with the girls, he is.
Dancing with Sucal Hurrin too.
Sam never let Sucal dance, surely?
He wouldn't kind me.
Not if it's dancing he
objects to, I dare say.
I'd put up a better show
than him anyway.
Yes you did, Len.
Is the post here yet, Mrs Griffin?
The post?
Oh .. what funny writing.
For the vicarage too.
One for you, Miss.
A catalogue it looks like.
Thank you, Harbord. You can clear.
Two for you, Miss Ann.
And two for you, sir.
It's from David.
- A bill and a catalogue.
Why is it I never have any
money when the sales are on.
Think. As David wrote this he never knew
he'd be on the way home when I got it.
I think I will read it later.
What is it?
- It's this.
Something about David.
It is awful.
Whoever could do a thing
like that? How horrible.
You mustn't take any notice of it, dear.
- No, of course not.
The proper place for
things like this is ..
That's that.
If you're wise, you won't
give it another thought.
No, Daddy.
But it's disgraceful.
Shouldn't we tell the police?
We don't want a scandal.
It must have been someone
who knew about David and me.
Someone in the village.
- But everyone is so fond of you, dear.
To think that one of the villagers ..
- Quick! The postmark.
Oh, never mind, auntie.
Did it hurt very much?
Shall I get some butter?
- Nonsense. It doesn't hurt a bit.
Tally ho. Tally ho!
Go for your ride my dear, and
let's forget that horrible thing.
Come on, Ann.
After all, the only harm it has done is
to the poor misguided soul who wrote it.
Hello, Peter.
I know what you have been doing.
I can tell by that worried
expression on your face.
You have been reckoning up exactly how
many minutes there are in six weeks.
Come on.
John, you are worried.
Yes I am.
Is it about that letter?
Don't worry about it anymore, John.
It is all over now.
But .. is it?
Why, what do you mean?
Mary, the person who wrote
that letter to Ann isn't normal.
He can't be.
Not mad perhaps, but ..
A borderline case, as it were.
- I'm frightened, Mary.
Frightened to think
what a mind like that ..
Can do to the peace and
happiness of our little village ..
With no other weapon than a pen.
A pen dipped in poison.
You don't mean there
might be more letters?
I pray not, but ..
I am worried.
Why don't you burn the letter?
Like you promised.
What have I done for you
to thinks such things?
The whole village be
whispering what you done.
It's lies, lies. And you know it.
- If it be lies, why it be written here?
It is mischief.
- This mischief don't give his name.
But I'll find him.
- Sam!
And when I do I'll tear
him limb from limb.
Because of the evil of your doing.
Sam, Sam!
Far be it from me to poke my
nose in where it ain't wanted.
But how can I advise
you if I haven't read it?
Oh, alright.
Read it.
Well, I never.
Oh my goodness. Did you?
- Of course not.
How can you suggest such a thing,
Florrie Reynolds? I only saw him twice.
Once on market day, once on Thursday as
my husband went to Tipton for the darts.
When he came in.
- For a cup of tea?
Nothing happened.
- Of course not.
You won't say nothing, Florrie?
- As if I would.
But if he did come to your house
when your husband was out ..
No-one could prove nothing.
And the children was there,
if they was asleep.
Morning, Sucal.
- Morning, Polly.
It would be difficult to explain to
your husband if he found out though.
I'm dead afraid he gets hold
of one of these before I do.
Who do you suppose is writing them?
- I know who is writing them.
- Who?
That foreigner.
Connie Fateley.
That wouldn't surprise me.
How did you find out?
Because on the night Mr Derwent
came in for his cup of tea.
Who should call with a frock she was
shortening for young Alice, but her.
As if she couldn't have come at
daytime like any respectable body.
Oh, it's Mrs Moore and Mrs Gently.
How about this, Sucal?
Good morning, ladies.
- Morning.
Oh, isn't it soft, Mr Griffin.
It's nice lining but it's threepence
a yard more than the other.
I tell you what I'll do.
You take this now, and Sam can pay
me when he's in work again, eh?
But Mr Griffin, I ..
- Not another word now.
You'll see.
Good morning.
- Morning.
Four three-halfpennies
please, Mrs Griffin.
Thank you.
Going to write some letters?
Why shouldn't I?
Why shouldn't you?
I just wanted to know.
What did I tell you? She is the one.
Who writes the poison letters.
Mrs Scaife, I'm surprised at you.
Well, you needn't be.
You've not had one of the lying scrawls
that turn your stomach as you read it.
And makes you afraid to look
your neighbours in the face.
I have.
My husband got one.
He hit me.
- There.
I got one.
Ha. Just to say your house
was dirty, That's nothing.
Your old man is used to that.
Well ..
- Look at poor Sucal.
Look what they have done to her.
No, don't ..
- Why blame it onto Connie?
It's plain enough to anyone with eyes.
Sewing as she does for well-nigh
everybody in the village.
Getting into all our houses.
- That's right. She does too.
I've seen the way she sits stitching.
Never saying nothing.
That's so she won't miss nothing.
Have you noticed how she never
breathes a word about anybody?
Not an honest bit of scandal.
Month in and month out.
That is her cunning.
- Aye, she is cunning.
But we can be too.
Can't we?
What did I tell you?
- We'll catch her red-handed.
Quick. Let's get the others.
We'll show Connie Fateley.
They be certain it is Connie, Miss.
But that is absurd.
- Not the way they tell it.
Stop her, Miss. Stop her.
Now listen, Sucal. I don't for a moment
believe Connie is at the bottom of this.
But I will speak to the vicar.
In the meantime, you must make Sam see
how foolish his suspicions of you are.
He won't listen to me, Miss.
- He will.
You must tell him about the baby.
You should have done so before.
He has been so terrible, Miss. I ..
I couldn't.
We must try and get him some work.
He has got nothing to occupy his
mind so he just sits and broods.
You be right there, Miss.
The more frightened he see you look, the
more he'll think you've reason to be.
It's worth a fight, isn't it.
Oh yes, Miss.
- It's up to you then.
And if any more letters come, tell
him not to read them but burn them.
You and Sam should be the happiest pair
in the village. You were, you know.
We were that, Miss.
- And will be again.
Goodnight, Sucal.
- Goodnight.
And I'll see the vicar. There's too much
trouble caused by this stupid gossip.
And he will put a stop to
this Connie Fateley business.
God bless him, Miss Mary.
I suppose she is coming.
This is the one she uses.
My Alice has watched her.
It's nearest her house.
She can sneak here without being seen.
Mother, mother. She has
gone to the High Street box.
The cunning little sneak.
- Quick. We can just do it.
What I say is the
police ought to be told.
If Connie Fateley has
been writing them lies ..
She should be put behind bars.
I'm hoping they is lies, Albert.
There you are. Fifteen years
we've been happily married.
Well, married anyway.
And now you go believing lies
written by someone anonymous.
I don't believe in nothing I
don't see with my own eyes.
But I don't say I shan't be watching.
What, me carrying on
with my own barmaid?
Why, she's got a face like a horse.
Oh, have I?
Well let me tell you, Albert Suggs.
Looks ain't everything to some people.
That's something he
ought to be grateful for.
What I says is ..
There is no smoke without fire.
Goodnight, Josh.
- Goodnight.
I wonder if we are in time.
What's all this, a mother's meeting?
A bit early aren't you, Mr Price?
- Am I?
Oh .. let's have a look.
Aye, it wants a minute yet.
Maybe someone will be along
wanting to catch the post.
Well, I ain't stopping them.
Good evening.
Let me go!
It's them letters.
- We want to see them.
But it is only one, to my uncle.
Open the box, Mr Price.
Who's giving the orders?
Time for collection, Josh Price.
It's to my uncle, I tell you.
My uncle in Cardiff.
My uncle I tell you.
My uncle in Cardiff.
Asking him to take me away from here.
She wrote those poison letters.
It is not true.
You will find it on the top.
"David Evans" it is addressed to.
You will see.
- Aye, we'll see.
It ought to be on top, Mr Price.
There will be several of them on top.
Come on Josh, let's see.
Open it up.
Now we shall see, now.
"Mr David Evans". She be right.
Wait a minute.
Oh, it's them!
- It's the writing.
But it is not my writing.
I never put them in that box.
I never did.
Who did then, us?
We know what to do with her. Duck her.
Stop it at once.
Go and get my husband.
- Yes, Mrs Griffin.
You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
It's all very well for you.
You haven't been written to.
Who is to say she won't?
They've caught Connie Fateley at the
pillar box posting some of them letters.
Len Griffin, your wife says come
and help or they'll murder her.
Come on. What are we waiting for?
You call yourselves men and women.
Why, you're nothing
but a pack of wolves.
Go on, get hold of her.
Leave the girl alone!
She's done no harm.
She wrote the letters.
- Show them, Josh Price.
We don't want to see the dirty things.
- What will you do with them letters?
These are the property of the person
or persons to whom they be addressed.
But you're not going to deliver them?
- What?
Yes. You will get yours in the morning.
But what do you want the vicar to do?
- He must do something.
And as a Justice of the Peace
as well as a church warden.
I've got to see that he does it.
- Yes, dear.
This anonymous letter business
is spreading like a plague.
It is contagious.
Everybody is getting them.
I haven't had one yet.
- Well I have.
You might be interested to know ..
That I am accused of having amatory
relations with my gardener's daughter.
Really, darling? Which one?
I'm not saying it's true mind you, but
I've heard some funny tales about him.
The Colonel?
Him and his gardener's daughter.
Military gentlemen is
partial to them sort.
Black and blond and bouncy.
Connie Fateley.
Now please, please.
So last night wasn't enough
for you, you little Jezebel?
Do you realize that next Sunday
David will actually be here.
It is my last Sunday alone.
You know what I mean, darling.
Look at those vicious harpies.
They are going to hear something
from me they'll never hear in church.
I didn't.
Wait until we get you away
from here after the service.
Miss Scaife, Miss Reynolds
and the rest of you.
You are a lot of nasty, narrow,
psalm-singing once-a-week Christians.
No-one has a right to call me ..
Everyone has a right to
call you what you are.
When you maliciously
attack a harmless girl ..
With less justification
than to attack me.
Aunt Mary, why not let father ..
- Because they're my own sex.
It is common knowledge that ..
- Common knowledge?
Common gossip and idle talk.
Come along, Connie.
We'll go into church.
I'm in agreement with every
word you say, Colonel.
I intend speaking to them
about it during the sermon.
Do. And don't mince matters.
We'd better go in there. Come on, Peter.
- No. I'll hang around for Ann.
Well, see you at lunch.
- Yes, yes. Of course.
Wait here.
You really must assert yourself
about Connie Fateley.
Those women are driving
the poor little soul insane.
I've given them a good piece of my mind.
- Mary, my dear.
Just a minute Badham, please.
- Oh. Very good, sir.
I've already determined
to speak to them.
I am taking "Thou shalt not
bear false witness" as my text.
"Love thy neighbour as thyself."
Couldn't you find something a little
stronger, John? They deserve it.
Lucky for them, you aren't
allowed to preach, Mary.
That's a great pity, John.
- Where is Connie now?
She is out there. You speak
to her. I will leave you.
Come in, Connie.
What's this?
It's an altar cloth I've worked for you.
Thank you, my dear.
With all the sewing you have to do it's
nice of to do something for the church.
Thank you.
Now you come along inside.
Sit in my sister's pew. After service ..
- Vicar, I can't go in.
Wherever I go they are waiting
for me. I hardly dare go out.
- I never wrote them.
I swear it.
How can I prove it?
- Time will prove it.
And how long is that going to be?
What can I do? What can I do?
[ Door knocks ]
Sam Hurrin wants to see
you terrible bad, sir.
I'll see him after service.
I told him to wait sir, but
he looks so turbulent ..
Just as if he'd seen the
old shocker himself.
Very well.
Now you go quietly into church.
The service will help you.
How can It help? When all the time I'll
be thinking afterwards, afterwards ..
Afterwards, you will walk
home with my sister and me.
Well, Sam?
- Morning, sir.
Well, what is it?
Lookee here, sir.
Is it another of those letters?
- Aye, it be that.
When did you get it?
- Last night. Last post.
Just as my missus convinced me there was
nought in the talk about her and that ..
Why did you open it?
About her and that ..
- And whom?
That's what I didn't know.
But now.
You read that.
Len Griffin.
Sam, you shouldn't take any notice.
- That ain't so easy.
Don't you see you are playing into the
writer's hands by believing these lies.
You shouldn't read them, but burn them.
Aye .. and leave her to make
a fool of me behind my back.
Don't be so ridiculous. Len Griffin
is a decent honest tradesman.
He's old enough to be Sucal's father.
- Aye, but that be no hindrance.
Not to them so minded.
I am afraid you are a
very stupid fellow, Sam.
Ask Mr Griffin to come here, will you.
- Yes, sir.
You'd better hold the
2-minute bell until I tell you.
Very good, sir.
And Badham, ask Mr Price to
play a voluntary until I am ready.
I am going to teach you
not to slander people.
Len Griffin, sir.
In you go, but don't be keeping him.
Griffin, I've asked you here to tell
you one of those horrible letters ..
Has been received accusing you
of paying attentions to Sucal Hurrin.
Me, sir? Me and Sucal?
Why, the thing is laughable, sir.
She'd as soon jump in
the pond as look at me.
Why, I've been a bit spry
in my time, sir. But ..
Not with married ones.
Sucal Hurrin.
Why, Sam would kill a
bloke for looking at her.
Thank you, Griffin.
I am glad to hear from your own
lips what I already knew to be true.
Me and Sucal?
That's a good'un, sir.
Griffin, I want you to
forget this interview.
Yes, sir.
- By the way, take this with you.
I'd like you to act as an extra
Sidesman for me this morning.
Oh, thank you, sir.
Mrs Griffin will be proper tickled
when she sees me with this, sir.
Well, Sam?
There do appear to be a mistake, sir.
A mistake in some poor
creature's disordered mind.
I'd like to lay my hands
on them just once though.
And then you'd be in trouble.
Now Sam, go back to Sucal.
Let your wife see that you
believe in her as you always did.
I will that.
And I be proper glad I came, sir.
Thank you.
Sir. It's getting very late, sir.
- Alright, Badham. I'm coming.
[ Bell ringing ]
Who be ringing that bell?
Sir, it's Connie Fateley.
She's hanged herself in the belfry.
Call Dr Sloan, quickly.
- Yes, sir.
There be nothing we can do, sir.
Alright, vicar.
Will you please all be seated.
Before we humble ourselves in the
presence of God's everlasting pity.
I have to tell you some tragic news.
In this church.
Our sister Connie Fateley.
Has just taken her life.
Driven to despair by evil
and scandalous tongues.
I pray that those whose consciences
convict them will repent.
And ask God's pardon for this ..
Dreadful crime.
As your parish priest ..
It is my duty to hold you responsible
for the death of this innocent soul.
And as a penance for her death.
I beg you to stamp out this evil.
Resolving neither to speak scandal ..
Nor listen to it.
Can the wicked man turneth away from
his wickedness which he hath committed?
And doeth that which is lawful and
right, he shall save his soul alive.
Let us pray.
Almighty and most merciful Father.
Almighty and most merciful Father.
We have erred, and strayed
from Thy ways like lost sheep.
It is horrible the way the
newspapers have taken it up.
If this goes on we will all be in the
news with reporters on everybody's step.
How do you mean, "if this goes on"?
Surely, after poor Connie's
death, whoever it is will ..
I'm afraid whoever it is likely gloating
over the sensation they have caused.
But there be no more letters.
- It wasn't Connie.
Of that I am certain.
Mary, there is someone amongst
us with the cunning of a fiend.
Oh do come on, aunt Mary.
- There is plenty of time, Gwen.
But if the car breaks down? What will
David think if we don't get to meet him.
Ann dear, the car won't break
down and we will be there in time.
You got David's old room ready?
- Of course.
Goodbye, Daddy.
- Goodbye, dear.
Here it is.
You see, we nearly did miss it.
- I hope David didn't.
- Hello, darling.
Oh, you haven't changed a bit.
Let me look at you.
You have.
- Oh, darling.
You are prettier.
- Darling.
Let me help you.
Is your father happy about us?
- Of course.
And Mary?
- Everybody.
Why, David.
- Hello.
Welcome home.
- Thanks.
Do you want a porter?
- I'll manage.
We've got the car outside.
Hello, David.
Good morning.
- Good morning, Ann.
What a lovely day.
Shall we go for a ride before breakfast?
Yes. I'd love to.
- Well, hurry up and get dressed.
Alright, darling.
[ Door knocks ]
Your tea, Mr David.
Yes. Come in, Harbord.
Thanks. It's a lovely morning, isn't it.
Going to be rain soon.
Yes. By this morning's post.
Yes, my dear Cashelton.
Like everyone else I've opened it.
Oh. Entirely about my scandalous
conduct of parochial affairs.
Yes, I quite agree. It will mean a lot
more publicity, calling in the police.
We must do it now the
letters have started again.
If only in justice for
poor Connie Fateley.
Alright. Get on to them right away.
Thank you. Goodbye.
Good morning, sir.
Good morning, David.
Nothing wrong, I hope.
- I'm afraid there is.
I didn't tell you before.
I hoped it was all over.
This village of ours is ..
Someone is sending anonymous letters ..
So that's what it is. I got
one myself this morning.
Now, where did I put it?
Anyway it was full of the most advanced
language. Very naughty indeed.
All about Ann's goings-on
with Peter Cashelton.
Here it is. I thought it was
some kind of a practical joke.
I only wish it were, David.
But it is becoming a tragedy.
There's already been
a suicide in the village.
But surely nobody pays any attention
to illiterate scrawls like this?
Unfortunately they do.
Mud has a nasty habit of sticking.
May I have that letter?
What is the idea behind it all?
It seems so senseless.
Inhibitions and repressions.
Two words which covered
a multitude of sins.
Sort of an advance form of
drawing on walls, I suppose.
Something like that.
Morning, John.
Morning, David. Sleep well?
- Yes thanks.
Mary, they have started again.
David and I have both
had one this morning.
David's is about Ann and Peter.
Cashelton is getting on to the police.
- I think that is wise.
You see, David.
The devilish part of these letters
is the knowledge behind them.
There is nearly always a grain
of truth in whatever is written.
So people swallow the whole story.
You don't suggest there's anything
in what I got this morning?
But you see what I mean.
Peter has been here a great deal.
That's only natural.
Ann is a very attractive girl.
Yes, of course.
He is very fond of her no
doubt, as we all are. But ..
Come on. Me and the horses
are fed up with waiting for you.
Sorry, dear.
Don't be late for breakfast.
- No fear.
That was fun.
- Hmm.
We ought to go back now, darling.
- Alright.
It's Peter.
Hello there.
Hello, David.
- Nice to see you, Peter.
Come from the backwoods
to claim your bride, eh?
I thought you'd ditch
me this morning, Ann.
Well I ..
- Come on, Ann. I'm hungry.
I'll be dropping in the vicarage
sometime tomorrow to say goodbye.
Well, come now Peter
and have some breakfast.
Thank you very much. I will.
- Come on, Angel. Come on.
Here she is, Miss.
How are you, Mrs Kemp?
Miss Rider. I hope you don't I'm making
a nuisance of myself but I'm so worried.
Why, what is it?
- Well, it's ..
It is kind of awkward, Miss.
That is to say, I ..
Yes, go on.
It is Mr Kemp, Miss.
He has always been a good husband to me.
I meant to say .. well, you know, Miss.
But lately, he has been
somewhat different. You know.
I don't think I quite understand.
Well Miss, he's started sleeping
down the other end of the bed.
Well, I think that is
very easily remedied.
Why don't you sew a cable stitch across
the foot, right through to the mattress?
Cut it when you want to change
the sheets and .. sew it up again.
That would be worser, Miss.
Like as not, Bert would
go and sleep on the floor.
Ah yes, of course.
I think I must ask the vicar
to have a talk to Master Bert.
No, Miss. He'd only have it out on me.
Well, I don't see ..
Was that all you wanted to say?
- No, Miss. It ain't.
I am that worried, I am.
The police is after him.
- The police?
Oh, he ain't done nothing wrong, Miss.
It's about these here letters.
Not those dreadful poison things?
They was up at the house teatime.
What did they want with your husband?
What .. possibly?
They asked him, he'd
just got back to his tea.
They says:
"What's in them letters that you've
been posting lately", they says.
And my Bert says, "what letters"?
And I could see he was
took off his feet, like.
And they says: "It's no use you
saying you haven't posted none".
"You've been seen."
"Who was that one to you posted on
your way to work this morning"?
Come. Don't cry.
Oh, Miss Rider.
Tell me what happened.
My Bert has been going
with another woman.
My dear girl, how do you know?
He had to tell them.
It all came out.
Whatever shall I do?
Whatever shall I do?
There, there. Now, who is the creature?
Her name is Anna.
She is dairying at Mrs Tregowan's
over at Mapledean.
Mrs Tregowan. So that's alright.
I can easily get her to have
the little hussy moved.
Thank you, Miss Rider.
That's alright.
I will help you all I can.
Was that all the police wanted to know?
It seems they are watching
people and questioning them.
But what with one thing and
another, I was took so bad ..
That I didn't hardly
know what was going on.
Oh, Miss Rider.
I be terribly afraid I'll be put in
the same fix as poor Sucal Hurrin.
Why, what do you mean?
Sam is getting more and more letters.
About her and Griffin.
And now he says he won't have
anything more to do with her.
So it seems you've been doing
a bit of letter-writing too, Kemp.
Have you seen that black-haired bit
over at Mapledean lately, eh Bert?
Give us a pint.
- Haven't seen much of you lately, Sam.
What were you all laughing
at when I came in?
And what made you stop so sudden?
We was talking about Bert Kemp's
fancy bit over at Mapledean.
Len Griffin do say it be
the talk of the place.
Len Griffin has no cause to talk.
What do you know about Len Griffin?
Nothing, Sam.
Come on, out with it. Why don't
you say what be common talk?
Being it said that Len Griffin
be carrying on with my missus?
Well, being it said so?
No, Sam. No.
Now Sam, there's no
need behaving like that.
Go on, pour up.
But Ann.
I can't leave at a moment's notice.
You must be reasonable.
You must understand.
But you promised we'd
marry as soon as I returned.
Yes, and I meant it.
And I still do. Only ..
Only you see how things are here.
That's why I want you to leave now.
No, David. Aunt Mary and father need me.
But if we were married
you would have to leave.
But we are not.
And I do think we ought to wait.
I suppose there isn't any other reason?
Any other reason? What do you mean?
I suppose you do feel
the same as you did?
You know I do. How can you ask?
Because I can't understand why you
insist on staying here but not marrying.
Is it something else?
Do you mean Peter?
Is that what you are getting at?
- I never even mentioned his name.
Then it is Peter.
That's what you are trying to say.
Well, I .. I am not the only one.
You mean .. you have heard things?
It is not a matter of hearing things.
I ask you why you insist
on remaining here ..
When you can leave this
dreadful place for London.
David, you're keeping something from me.
They have been writing to you, too?.
You have had a letter.
Have you?
You have.
Very well then.
I have.
So this is how you trust me.
Why didn't you tell me?
I thought nothing of it.
- You thought nothing of it?
You soaked it up like blotting paper!
Hello, you two.
Anything wrong?
- No, nothing.
David has been trying to persuade
me to walk out on you and father.
And I've refused. That's all.
I must say we should feel it
very badly just now, David.
I quite understand how you feel but ..
You must see how we feel it too.
Is everything arranged
for the dinner tonight?
Heavens, what an evening it is going to
be. The Scotland Yard people are coming.
The Inspector and that funny
little handwriting expert.
And the Casheltons of course.
You will be amused, David.
Well, I am afraid I must
ask you to excuse me.
You see, I've got some rather important
papers to go through which can't wait.
I will get some food
down in the village.
Well, of course, if you are busy.
I will make your excuses to the vicar.
By the way, aunt Mary.
You might explain that the
Casheltons do not include Peter!
Thank you.
But give me a good
honest murder any day.
I thought the police were supposed
to have no imagination.
Don't believe it, ma'am.
A policeman is affected by whatever
job he is on like any other artist.
How do you think I felt last night
watching that pillar box up on High Tor?
In all that rain?
- Soaked to the underpants.
I beg your pardon, Miss. I am so sorry.
- That's alright, Inspector.
I know what underpants are.
Why put a pillar box in
such an exposed position?
Just the sort of box the
woman would use.
Why do you say "the woman"?
That's where I come in.
We have established the
fact that it is a woman.
I'm glad something has been discovered.
I'd say she was forty-ish.
Well educated, unhappily married.
Or a widow.
I would be interested to know how
you arrived at these conclusions.
Age: on account of the
character of the handwriting.
Although sometimes
she writes left-handed.
Yes, but the characteristics
are always there.
That's something nobody ever loses.
A dot over the "I".
A cross on the "T".
It is like a criminal having his
name tattooed on his forehead.
And ..
The "unhappily married"?
Because of the things ..
Well, shall I say, the subject
matter of the letters.
Will all that help you to catch her?
This isn't my first experience
of anonymous letters.
Sometimes they drop it when they get
to know the police are interested.
But when it gets to be a
mania, as it has in this case ..
The person invariably ends up in prison.
Or the asylum.
- Yes, quite.
You see, people of this type imagine
themselves immune from disaster.
A state of thought that
breed carelessness.
A tendency to overlook detail.
And the woman in this
case is no exception.
In what way?
The poor creature goes to extraordinary
lengths to disguise her handwriting.
Change her notepaper.
But she always uses
the same type of nib.
Dates her letters with Roman numerals.
Uses a foreign way of writing figures.
For example.
She always makes a crossed seven.
And so sooner or later we shall get her.
I can't understand what
pleasure she gets out of it.
She must know perfectly well she'll get
a crushing sentence when we catch her.
And we shall.
I'd give her life.
With Connie Fateley's photograph
hung up on all four walls of her cell.
[ Door knocks ]
I must see the vicar and Miss Rider.
Where are they?
We've got company.
- Oh, but I must.
But you mustn't go in there.
Miss Rider. And Mr Rider.
Oh please help me. Do something.
What is it?
- It's Sam Hurrin.
He is out to murder my Len.
- Murder?
He has just left The Lion. Mad drunk.
And swears he'll get
his gun and kill Len.
Oh, Mr Rider.
You are late, Sam.
What are you doing?
Give me the gun. Give it to me!
No, Sam. No!
Think. We have a baby coming.
And whose baby be it?
- Sam.
I know he meant it. I know he did.
What's all this about Sam Hurrin, eh?
Fred. Don't let him get me.
I've done nothing.
He's mad and he'll kill me
and I haven't done nothing.
Oh, don't take on so.
He won't do you no harm, boy.
Why, Sam will be home
sleeping it off by this time.
He'd had enough alright.
Fair staggering, he was.
Here, let me take you home, Len.
You've nothing to worry about.
That be good advice, Len.
- He won't come here no more.
You've got nothing to worry about, Len.
Look out!
Len Griffin.
Speak to me, Len.
Len, speak to me.
Don't leave me, my dear.
Don't leave me.
I didn't do anything .. wrong, Meg.
Still alone?
Yes. Nobody back yet. You've been quick.
Yes, I only took Mrs Cashelton
to her door.
She wanted me to stop but I
said I must get back to you.
That was nice of you, Ann.
Just you and I together
as we've always been.
Why isn't father back? Do you
think something has happened?
How awful if Mrs Griffin were right.
Just a hysterical woman.
I do hope John took his coat.
Just think.
Only a little while ago
this village was so happy.
People's only concern their little
everyday worries and simple problems.
And now all this.
When I think of the hell
that woman must live in.
With the weight of that bell
rope on her conscience, I ..
God, I could almost pity her.
How do you know she needs pity?
Perhaps she's a different sort of woman.
Strong minded, ruthless.
Even a little mad.
Instead of thinking of pity perhaps she
is rejoicing in her own secret way.
And those letters may be the beginning
of something worse for someone.
Some one person that she hates.
Or loves.
It's father.
We were too late.
- Is Griffin ..?
I'm afraid there is very little hope.
- And Sam Hurrin?
Where are you going?
To see what I can do
for those poor women.
This afternoon, David asked me
to go away. To leave this place.
But I refused.
I think I was wrong.
Perhaps you were, Ann.
Perhaps that would be for the best.
Forgive me.
Take me away.
Oh, take me away.
I pray that something may be done to
remove this scourge from our village.
These post boxes are to be
watched night and day.
Anyone posting a letter in any
of these boxes is to be listed.
And their letters to be checked up on.
Quite clear?
- Quite clear, sir.
Good. That's all.
Just a formality, Colonel.
- Of course.
Now let me see, I did post some
letters. Two, I think. Yes, two.
The addresses?
- The club one, and ..
Henry Styvesant, bulk
merchant, the other.
Right, thank you. And you Mrs Cashelton?
Oh no, Inspector. None.
I think you are mistaken.
There is still one letter to be
accounted from the pillar box.
But I wrote none, so it wasn't mine.
Now, ma'am, you were
seen to visit the box.
Caught you out, have they?
Maybe you posted a
letter for somebody else?
Oh yes. Yes, of course. How silly of me.
Miss Rider asked me to post one for her.
I see.
Mr James Pender.
7 Belgrave Square, London?
I'm afraid I didn't look at the address.
Thank you, Mrs Cashelton.
I must apologise for troubling you but
we have to check up on everyone.
So you started on us.
You never can tell, you know.
Our next call is the vicarage.
Thank you, Colonel.
- Goodbye.
Goodbye, Mrs Cashelton. Thank
you so much for all your help.
- Goodbye.
Goodbye, Daddy.
Goodbye, darling.
Write as soon as you arrive.
Your aunt knows the train you're on?
Yes, sir. She will be at
the station to meet us.
I'll take good care of her, sir.
Try and make aunt Marry understand
why we are going, Daddy.
Don't worry, dear.
She's a bit upset now but ..
She'll be at the wedding alright.
Goodbye, Daddy darling.
Goodbye, sir.
- Goodbye, children.
They've gone.
Two rather unhappy people I'm afraid.
I do think you might have seen them off.
It was very inconsiderate of David.
He knows how fond I am of Ann and ..
To have whisked her off like that.
I hope you will change your mind
about going to the wedding anyway.
[ Telephone ]
What's that?
Oh yes. It is for me.
It is Mrs Cashelton.
The Inspector had a list and that little
handwriting creature was with him.
Look here, Mary.
I know it will sound rather
terrible to you but ..
I am in an awful hole.
Yes, it is about a man.
A man I knew rather well years ago.
I met him again in town
some months back.
You see, and since they we
have been corresponding.
His name is on the Inspector's list.
Mary, I didn't dare own to
it in front of my husband.
So I said that ..
No. Of course I don't mind.
I had better take the address.
Yes, I have got it.
No, Of course I won't.
Goodbye, dear.
Harbord, I think we must expect a
call from the police this evening.
There now. And they
will stay to supper ..
No. It will be purely an official visit.
They will probably ask questions.
Ask questions, Miss? What about?
Posting letters. Now ..
Those I gave you to post.
Who were they to?
I don't know, Miss. I never looked.
Now Harbord, think.
- But ..
But I didn't think to look, Miss.
- Come Harbord, you're not blind.
You must remember the one to Australia.
Yes, Miss.
And one to Nottingham
and one to Norwich.
One to Australia, one
to Nottingham. And ..
And one to Norwich.
Australia, Nottingham and Norwich.
- That's right.
I'm that glad you told me, Miss.
I'd have looked a proper thick-head
standing there and not remembering.
That sounds like them now.
- Shall I ..?
I don't intend to see them, Harbord.
I can't be bothered with their nonsense.
I see, Miss.
- Tell them I am out.
Say I've gone over to Mapledean for the
charity fete, and I may stop the night.
I'll tell them, Miss. And I'll tell
them to be off with their silly bother.
No, Harbord. Don't be
rude whatever you do.
No, Miss.
Mr Rider, please?
- He's in the church.
Choir practice.
Tell Mr Rider with my compliments
I must see him at once.
But I mustn't do that, sir.
- I'm sorry.
I am afraid I must insist.
- Of course. Yes, sir.
Come this way.
Will you wait in here, sir.
- Thank you.
A lovely old room, this.
A real collector's piece.
Look at that writing desk.
You have a look.
It's worth something, this is.
A beautiful piece of carving.
Colclough. Come here.
I've seen a writing-desk before.
- Come here, man.
What do you make of that?
Looks like a capital "F".
Now what do you make of it.
A crossed 7.
Wait a minute.
Not the same nib, though.
They are all new.
They have been changed recently.
Look here.
Good evening, Inspector.
Mr Reece.
- Good evening, sir.
This is an unexpected pleasure.
May I offer you some refreshment?
No thank you, sir. I am afraid
we are here on business.
Oh. Well, won't you sit down?
Thank you.
Let me see now. One to
my insurance company.
That's right, sir.
The Lord Bishop.
And my solicitor.
Mr Glennister, Lincoln's Inn Fields.
And one other, sir.
Oh yes. Yes of course. To my brother.
Thank you.
And now may I see Miss Rider?
- Certainly, Inspector.
A lovely room you've got here, sir.
I'm a great admirer of
Jacobean stuff myself.
A nice old desk that, too.
Harbord, ask Miss Mary
to come in, will you.
Miss Mary ain't at home, sir.
Where is she then?
Gone over to Mapledean
about the charity fete.
Oh? She said nothing to me about it.
My sister is on the committee.
I'm afraid you will have to call again.
If he wants to know about
Miss Mary's letters, sir ..
I can tell him.
- How did you know that ..?
Go on then. Tell the Inspector.
Australia, Nottingham and Norwich.
You seem to have
got that off pretty pat.
Alright Harbord. That will do nicely.
Satisfied, Inspector?
There were letters to Australia and
Nottingham but none to Norwich, sir.
Poor Harbord is getting old.
You'll have to come back tomorrow.
Very good, sir.
I'll be here at 9 o'clock.
- Do.
Come to breakfast.
By the way, sir.
I wonder if I could have a specimen
of your sister's handwriting.
My sister's handwriting?
What on earth for?
Just routine, sir.
Oh, I see.
Well, I don't know if there is
any of her writing about.
Perhaps tomorrow.
I think this belongs to your sister.
May I have it?
I'm afraid not, Inspector.
It's my sister's housekeeping
book and in daily use.
Nevertheless, I should like
to have it sir, if you please.
I can't allow you to have it.
I am sorry, Inspector.
You must get my sister's permission.
Very well, sir.
That will be all for the present.
See you tomorrow morning, sir.
- Yes.
Goodnight, sir.
- Goodnight.
You rang, sir?
Harbord, when did Miss Mary go out?
Miss Mary told me to ..
When did Miss Mary go out?
She didn't go out, sir.
- Didn't?
Were you told to say that she was out?
Yes, sir.
Ask Miss Mary to come to me, please.
You want me, John?
Why didn't you see Inspector Colclough?
I don't like him.
Why should he poke
his nose into my affairs?
But Mary, they are doing it to everyone.
They are checking up on all letters.
I told Harbord to tell them ..
- Yes, yes. I know.
Whom do you know in Norwich, Mary?
Perhaps the police know.
They are so clever.
Where is your housekeeping book?
It was on this desk.
I've no idea.
But it was here. I saw it myself.
What have you done with it?
I've burnt it.
Burnt it?
It was full.
- It wasn't half full.
Mary, I implore you. You frighten me.
Tell me what was in that letter to
Norwich and who it was you wrote to.
Mary, what has happened to you?
You've never been like this before.
I don't understand you.
No .. you don't understand.
None of you do.
You are all so silly.
Mary, what is it?
All my life I've lived
with you in this village.
I'm a good sister to you and
have helped you, haven't I?
Yes, you have indeed.
- So helpful, so patient.
Watching over other people.
Helping them to live.
So much in the background always
that they hardly noticed me.
Every house in this village.
I know every back yard even.
And I help the women with their children
year after year, but they're never mine.
They are never mine.
They grow up and I've lost them.
I don't matter to them anymore.
I never really did because
they were never mine.
I have nothing to care for.
I have never had a child of
my own to love and look after.
I never will have.
Always this .. aching emptiness.
Mary, my poor dear. I never thought ..
Great God.
Stop talking of your God! God this
and God that. I'm sick of it. Sick!
Spending my life taking
slops to senile old fools.
Delivering pies driven to dotage.
Year in and year out of this purgatory.
Making other people's messy
little lives worth living.
Yes. I wrote the letters.
I wrote them.
But why did you do that? Why?
Because of Ann.
Ann was all I had.
I couldn't give her up.
Could I?
You must see I couldn't give her up.
She was my child.
I thought and thought
how I could keep her.
I thought all day and
all night sometimes.
At last it came to me.
The letters.
And how, but I was clever.
You would have suspected
if I had only written to Ann.
And then I knew so much.
So much about the others.
And then that lovely feeling of power.
I wasn't in the background any
longer though they didn't know it.
I was ordering and disordering
their lives just as I liked.
And so I wrote more and more and more.
Connie Fateley.
Len Griffin.
You murdered them.
Murdered them?
Don't look at me like that.
I have not murdered anyone I tell you.
Leave me alone.
Leave me alone!
[ Doorbell ]
Mr Rider.
They are waiting for you, for evensong.
I'll be over in a minute.
- Yes, sir.
I'll tell them.
I thought I heard the bell, sir.
Yes. I answered it myself.
You are late for service,
ain't you, sir?
Harbord, see that Miss Mary
doesn't go out before I come back.
Yes, sir.
I will.
And on that evidence sir,
I ask for a warrant for her arrest.
Inspector, this is ghastly.
Couldn't some other
J.P. sign the warrant?
I am their friend.
- Sorry, sir.
I'm afraid not.
Pretend I never said it? No.
Leave me alone. I'll go away from here.
I didn't write her a letter.
It's those women. It's those women.
Leave me alone.
Leave me alone!
Leave me alone!
[ Doorbell ]
[ Doorbell ]
Miss Mary Rider?
She is in her room, sir.
- Where is her room?
Oh, I can't tell you.
- I have a warrant for her arrest.
[ Mary laughing. Loud. ]
Open this door!
0pen it in the name of the law!
[ Mary laughing. Loud. ]
Unto God's gracious mercy
and protection we commit you.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face to shine
upon you and be gracious unto you.
The Lord lifts up the light of His
countenance upon you and give you peace.
Now and forever more.