The Avengers (1961) s04e14 Episode Script

Silent Dust

- Tired? - [Grunts] Exhausted.
- No stamina.
- No comment.
I know just how you feel.
How? How would you know? Serve at river temperature.
Didn't like to chance the weather so I thought I'd be on the safe side.
Got hold of a little rosé, pretty adaptable little wine.
Let's hope it may give you the strength to make the return journey.
Well, I hope it gives me the strength to pull the cork.
Ah! Do you know, in this estuary there used to be all sorts of lovely martlets.
"The temple-haunting martlet.
" Macbeth, Act I, Scene 6.
- Banquo.
- Yes.
Well, now there are no martlets.
Agreed, there are no martlets.
Why should you care? Well, think of the poor bird watchers with their gum boots and disappointed faces.
- Cheers.
- Cheers.
Ah, I like a wine that bites back.
Steed, what about the martlets? I don't know.
That's why I'm here, eavesdropping on a lot of harmless birds.
Eavesdropping? - It's indecent.
- It's wasting time.
Not entirely.
- How do you mean? - Just behind you.
Don't look! - A martlet? - A man.
He's in a tree with a pair of binoculars focused on us.
I have to get back to London.
Find out what he wants.
Oh! Oh, you shouldn't have done that! - You gave me quite a turn.
- You were watching me! Watching you? You're mistaken.
I was watching for the birds.
- Oh? - Yes.
Any particular one? - Yes.
- Tell me.
The black-capped petrel.
- No! - Yes.
- What is your name? - Quince.
Mr Quince, nobody's seen a black-capped petrel in England for 100 years.
You know it and I know it so don't let's play games.
1850 it was, Norfolk.
Let's assume we both know something about birds, shall we? Yes.
I can ask you something you don't know.
- Oh? - Where have all the martlets gone? [Quince laughs] 79% less wrens, 58% less thrushes, eagles, kites, osprey virtually extinct.
Even affects the butterflies.
- Can I help you? - No, I'm fine.
[Dog barking] I've warned you before, Quince.
This is private land.
Now, get out.
It's my fault.
I didn't know.
The master's got a partridge shoot.
Doesn't want you putting them to flight.
- We didn't do any damage.
- Didn't see any partridge, either.
- Are you calling me a liar? - What is it, Mellors? Trespassers, sir.
I was just telling them All right, Mellors, I'll deal with it.
There's a break in the fence.
- Fix it, will you? - Yes, sir.
I must apologise for Mellors.
He means well.
He lacks charm, that's all.
I know you, I've seen you around, but I don't recognise you, Miss.
I ought to keep tabs on trespassers.
I'm Mrs Peel from the British Trust for Ornithology.
This is Mr Quince.
- Looking for anything in particular? - Martlets.
Oh, what's special about them? - There aren't any.
- Really? You can't hunt it or shoot it, I'm not interested.
- I see.
- We'll argue that out one day.
- Do you ride? - A little.
I've got a middleweight bay hunter.
Suit you to a T.
Anytime you want to shake up your liver.
Good day to you.
- Morning, Juggins.
- Aye.
- Thirsty work? - Home brew.
- Er, not for me, thanks.
- 30 miles to the gallon.
Tomorrow night, think you can make it? - What do you think? - Shouldn't take much longer.
Couple of sessions I should think.
I slaughtered a bullock yesterday.
I'll drop the ribs in.
You bloodthirsty villain! Lucky for you I am, isn't it? It's this country air.
At my daughter's wedding I wore a carnation.
Even that gave me hay fever.
- May I put the division up? - Division? Surely not.
Oh, yes, of course.
These things always give me a kick.
Yes, well, little things, you know.
You were saying? I was about to say - [Beeping] - Excuse me.
Yes? Oh, that's terrible! It's terrible, terrible.
Tell them to move Harding across to right-back.
I don't mind whether he likes it or not.
Tell him it's an order.
I'm so sorry.
- Still running the ministry hockey team? - Oh, yes.
They can't find anyone else.
Ridiculous! So I was right.
No martlets, not so much as a feather.
That's how it all began last time.
I don't follow.
Now you understand why I asked you come with me.
Where are we going? Manderley.
- Very nice day for it.
- What? - The hockey match.
- I hope Harding does well at right-back.
I've sure you've made an excellent choice, Minister.
The usual, please.
Nines, please.
Stand still, there's a good fellow.
Thank you.
What happened? - Silent dust.
- What's that? It should have been an organochlorine fertiliser.
Fertiliser? Unfortunately it went wrong.
Instead of renewing, replenishing, it killed.
Best pesticide I ever saw.
[Creaking] Ah.
Oh, it is lifeless, just like dust.
Kill the earth worm and ultimately you kill everything.
Soil, birds, animals - man.
- Fantastic.
- Been like this for nearly ten years now.
- Will it recover? - No one can tell.
- Do we know when it's going to happen? Even has its own early-warning system.
All the birds disappear.
Try that one.
- Um - Peach melba.
That's it! Absolutely delicious, not in the least like fertiliser.
- The whole thing's gone too far.
- It has? Yes, the Egyptians started it all.
Used to douse the Nile with cedar oil.
Now it's a ã6 million industry.
Even started putting smells back, make an old car smell like a new one.
"Make doggy's rubber bone smell meaty.
" - Really? - Should appeal to jaded canine palates.
"Man's faithful friend deserves a fresh slobber.
" Oh, I've got another one.
Jasmine-scented waterproof baby pants.
- Are you pulling my leg? - "Give baby a new start in life.
" If it smells like peaches, people won't believe it does any fertilising.
We had a winner last year.
Smelt like old socks.
- Dr Manfred? - Yes? - I know you're a busy man.
- Get to the point.
- That's what I tell all my salesmen.
- Silent dust.
- What? What did you say? - Silent dust.
I won't talk about it.
That hasn't been mentioned here in years.
You've read the report.
If somebody gets a large quantity of that, we must have your help.
Mr Steed, there isn't an atom or molecule of that unmentionable product in the world today.
Who was working on the project? The man in charge? - Chemist named Prendergast.
- Can I talk to him? - He's not still here.
- What happened? He was sacked.
We couldn't get him out fast enough.
Would personnel have a file on him? Possibly.
I don't want to talk about it anymore.
Prendergast had a daughter, a girl called Clare.
Keep still.
Fine subject you are! I'll bet Picasso doesn't have all this trouble.
[Doorbell rings] Oh, dash! - Miss Prendergast? - Yes.
My name is Steed, John Steed.
I spoke to you earlier.
- Oh, yes.
Come in, Mr Steed.
- Thank you.
- Well, do sit down, won't you? - Thank you.
You said you'd been to the company, spoken to Dr Manfred.
- That's correct.
- Then, why come here? Surely you must have heard it all by now.
There are two sides to every story, I always say.
- Not to this one.
- Oh, really? My father was sacked, humiliated.
Treated like a lab boy.
I should like to see your father.
I'm sure I can help him.
It's too late for that, Mr Steed.
A very still life.
I had no idea.
You remember the cold snap at the end of March? That's what killed him.
That's what finally killed him.
- I'm very sorry.
- So was I, and the two other people that followed the coffin.
They say to err is human, to forgive divine.
Not a lot of divinity in the world, is there, Mr Steed? - If there's anything I can - There is.
I just want to be left in peace.
Dead six months and still they won't leave him alone.
He wanted to help Father.
Help? That's a laugh.
If you hadn't been around, we'd have starved.
What's his name? Steed.
Tell me what you think of the scent.
Mm, it's beautiful.
"The fairest things have fleetest end "Their scent survives their close "The rose's scent is bitterness" "To him that loved the rose.
" - Francis Thompson.
- Quite right.
"Ne'er a rose without a thorn.
" - Herrick.
- 15 all.
Your service.
I grow 'em.
Or rather, I create them.
By crossing, inter-pollinating.
This little beauty took me ten years.
Whimsical Folly out of Bates' Joy and Whimsy Dad.
Whimsi? Oh, of course I know it.
I've seen it at several shows.
You would.
Growing in half the gardens from here to Timbuktu.
My brain child and not a penny piece do I get for it.
- But I thought - Royalties for rose growers? Yes, they've changed that now.
It's too late, though.
Too late for me.
I'd have been a rich man if they'd done it 10, 15 years ago.
Too darned late! Friend of yours? Oh, yes.
Excuse me.
I found out something.
- About the martlets? - Could be.
- I'd like to show you.
- Where is it? You know where I saw you that first morning? - Yes, I remember.
- I'll see you there nearby at the spinney at 10 o'clock tonight.
How how will I find you? [Bird call] [Bird whistle] - Cut off in mid warble? - I haven't heard from him since.
- Do you know what he had to tell you? - He'd have told me.
- Something frightened him off.
- Oh? - Mellors.
- Who's he? The local gamekeeper.
Mellors? Not the gamekeeper! He works for Peter Omrod.
He's the local squire type.
Hunting, shooting, fishing and sitting on every committee.
- Old county family, eh? - Mm.
How is your connection with industrial science? Well oiled.
Check up on a chemist called Prendergast.
Used to work for Fellows Fertilizers.
- I'll see what I can pick up here.
- I'm sure you will.
Pick up something.
He does nothing but sweat and keep biting his stomach.
- Sounds nasty.
- Constantly trying to lie down.
- Raving drunk.
- I beg your pardon? If it's a man, raving drunk.
If it's a horse, raving colic.
- You think so? - All the classic symptoms.
I agree but my vet has some doubts.
Anyway, I've sent for him.
- Mr? - Steed, John Steed.
Well, you did right, then.
Fire the vet.
Don't let the horse lie down.
- Keep him walking.
- I've done that.
- You've nothing to worry about.
- That's very reassuring.
Tell me, do you know a lot about horses? Do a bit of steeplechasing.
I would have thought you were too tall in the saddle.
Oh, I don't know.
Comes in handy.
Pop the old feet down, help the animal over the sticks.
Er, what'll you have to drink, then, eh, Miss? Beryl Snow.
Thank you, I'd love one.
- Well, Miss - [Omrod] Beryl.
- Time we were off.
- Most awfully sorry.
Meeting, you know.
- Some other time? - Soon, I hope.
Charming little filly.
- Double brandy, please.
- They're all on the hunt committee.
Omrod's master of hounds.
Probably some last-minute arrangement.
So that's Omrod? Carrying on the family tradition, eh? Oh, no.
Omrod's new to these parts.
Only been here let's see 14 years.
Not like Miss Snow.
The Snows have been here centuries.
Setting the style.
Well, until recently, that is.
- What happened? - Lost all their money.
Soil turned sour on them, or something like that.
- Where the devil have you been? - Had to slit a sow's throat.
You could hear the squeal three mile away.
- You measured it, no doubt? - Vicar told me.
Scrumpy, anyone? Snowdrop, come on! Put some meat on your bones and some fire in your belly.
Thank you, I can manage without.
By, you should have heard that sow.
It were like music.
That's enough.
Let's get down to business.
- Have we got clearance from the farms? - All that we need.
- Don't want to upset anyone, do we? - Not round here, anyway.
- Beryl, what about the hounds? - Ready and raring to go.
I trust they're in good voice.
That's important.
- Tank 'em up on scrumpy beforehand.
- And they'll all fall asleep.
No, thanks.
What sort of turnout will it be? 100%.
Do you have any last-minute invitations? Yes, I might have.
One or two.
Stop playing.
The hunt can take care of itself.
[Typing] [Man] If I remember correctly, Prendergast didn't have a particular assistant.
- Oh, he was a lone wolf? - Exactly.
- Yes, that describes him very well.
- Did you know him? Oh, he was a star in his own way, you know.
Quite out of my orbit.
What's this photograph? Oh, that's the annual general conference.
Representatives from all branches, subsidiary companies.
It's a wonderful evening: seven-course dinner, corsage for all the ladies, cigarettes for all the men.
- What's wrong? - This man, who is he? Oh, that's Mr Omrod.
Charming man.
- Not that I've met him myself.
- What's he to do with the company? Nothing, nothing.
He's our Oh, what do you call it? One of these farmers who try experimental products.
Er um Agricultural advisor.
[Omrod] It's agreed, then? ã40 million made available in a Zurich bank.
Switzerland, eh? Lovely country for roses.
- Yes, that's fine.
- Beryl? 40 million? Adequate compensation, I'd say, Yes.
- Juggins? - Well, I'll leave the wordifying to you.
I mean, that's not my department.
40 million you say? You reckon that's enough, do you? Oh, yes.
Don't you? Split four ways, you know.
It's still 10 million each.
I've got my eye on an Aberdeen Angus.
I've always wanted to cross one with my Holstein Friesian.
You'll be able to cross an Aberdeen Angus with a cottage loaf.
Aye, and have plenty left over for scrumpy.
More than you'll ever be able to drink.
Fair enough, then.
- And if they don't pay up? - Oh, they will.
After we've destroyed Dorset.
And we'll destroy county after county until they do pay.
If need be, we'll destroy the whole country.
- That's far enough, mister.
- Morning, squire.
Beautiful weather.
Having my morning constitutional.
Road's back that way.
Oh, and mister I almost took you for a poacher just then.
I have orders to shoot poachers.
That'll keep 'em down.
- You're sure he didn't leave a message? - Yes, miss.
Went out right after lunch.
I saw him from that very window.
- Did he say anything about dinner? - Ordered it before he went.
- Good evening, Mrs Peel.
- Mr Omrod.
You still haven't take me up on my invitation.
It's still in my in-tray.
Beautiful three-year-old just waiting to be exercised.
You ever done any hunting, Mrs Peel? - A little.
- Fascinating.
Pit your wits against a master of craftiness and deception.
Point and counterpoint.
Finally cornering him and killing.
It's a wonderful day's sport.
Well, what about it? I'll let you know.
- Boyfriend let her down.
- Who's that? That chap who runs that vintage job, name of Steed.
[Owl hoots] I prefer you clean-shaven.
- Are you all right? - Ooh! It's fleshy but not serious.
I ran into Mr Mellors down the unfriendly end of a 12-bore.
- Don't I get a shot of that Red Eye? - Mm-mm.
This is a dry town, partner.
Are you feeling well enough to stand another shock? Peter Omrod was an advisor with Fellows Fertilizers.
He holds a pilot's licence and he's an expert crop-sprayer.
Don't confuse me with the facts.
You're as sound in mind and limb as ever, so I'll leave you to it.
- I'm meeting Clare Prendergast.
- You may have more success than I did.
Admire the brushstrokes, keep your feet off the mantelpiece.
- I'd like an opinion on this.
- What is it? - It could be silent dust.
- And why are you telling me all this? - You might happen to pass the analyst.
- Inevitably.
Spare a thought for me as I lay here, spent, alone.
- Not quite alone.
- Eh? - You have company.
- Oh? - Mm.
- Where? In that cupboard.
I think I shall retire to the country, lead a contemplative life.
A small cottage and a handyman.
- You're not a country girl, are you? - No, I'm not.
- It's a charming village.
- Glad you like it.
I suppose it's changed a great deal.
Mm, I suppose so.
- You can take a rest now.
- Thank you.
- Are these for sale? - Most of them.
What happened to the fountain? It's not there anymore, is it? Oh, a lorry ran into it.
Council decided to remove it.
- Wasn't safe.
- When was this? - Oh, two years ago.
- Do you do much riding? There's a saying in the village, Mrs Peel.
"No point going up top farm to get to midsummer meadow.
" - What does it mean? - It means come to the point.
If you want to get to the meadow don't go six miles out of your way.
You had the whole of this country to choose from yet you chose this village.
Why? My father not only lost his job, he lost all his friends.
Only one stood by him.
One good friend.
He brought us down here.
- Oh, that one's not for sale.
- No? He's the one good friend.
[Gun clicks] I'm sure you won't mind.
I told your butler not to bother.
- We haven't met, have we? - My name's Steed.
Sorry, oil.
Sorry, buckshot.
- Oh.
- What a nice gun.
Should be.
I've got its brother, only with a walnut stock.
Better use 'em while we can, hadn't we? - What do you mean? - Birds are getting scarcer minute by minute.
- I hadn't heard.
- Oh, you'd better ask your gamekeeper.
Mellors? He mistook me for a partridge.
Seriously ruffled my wing feathers.
Oh, I must speak to him.
- I must tell him to be more - Accurate? Careful.
Ha! Oh, well, at 70 bob 100 cartridges, my poor old father, he'd spin in his grave.
Can I be of any service, Mr Steed? I'm negotiating for some land.
I'd very much like your advice.
Perhaps you'd give me some idea about local prospects.
- Do you intend to farm? - Yes.
- Arable? - Little bit of everything.
Stock, sugar beet, grain.
Forget it.
Save your money and try elsewhere.
Just a bit of friendly advice: the country round here isn't any good for farming.
Lots of problems.
- Soil isn't very rich, you see.
- So that's it? I've been talking to the local suppliers.
That's why you've been buying up this enormous amount of phosphates.
[Door opens] Steed's become a problem.
I warned him but it won't do any good.
Sherry? What's his excuse for snooping around? He says he wants to buy land.
I'll give him some free, for nothing.
- You will? - Aye, six feet of it.
Right, enough talking.
Let's have some action.
A little poleaxing party.
We're a few days away from success.
Tomorrow we destroy Dorset.
Then the prime minister gets our ultimatum.
- We can't afford to take risks.
- And Steed is a very big risk.
Seems such a pity.
He's just the sort of risk I fancied.
I'm not so sure of the girl, either.
Nor me.
Didn't you say she'd been quizzing Clare? - Is Mrs Peel going to the hunt? - I invited her.
Aye, a lot can happen on a hunt.
Wise move to invite Mrs Peel.
Get Steed there too and we can make a clean sweep of it.
Yes, you're right.
It's the best way.
I've got a brand-new cleaver needs christening.
Wonderful blade.
- Honed to a whisker.
- No, Juggins.
- Why not? - Must look like a hunting accident.
- A double one? - Much more original.
- Devil's dyke.
- How do we know they'll accept? - Just leave that to me.
- Tally-ho! Tally-bloomin'-ho! [Muttering] Well! D'ye ken, Emma Peel? And when did you get an invitation? This forenoon.
The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.
Oh, I got the analyst's report.
You were right.
- Silent dust? - Highly concentrated.
One sackful would destroy an area of 40 miles.
[Sharp intake of breath] Got the sandwiches? - After you, Lady Emma.
- Thank you.
What did you think of Clare Prendergast? She's in need of care and protection.
- Pretty dodgy guardian.
- Mm.
A wolf in hunting pink.
[Steed] He'll be in amongst the hounds when it comes to the kill.
And his dressage! Ooh.
Croft? [Emma] Well, his roses bloom but he got the blight.
And what about your friend Miss Snow? She's got a good seat.
He cracks the whip.
- Good hunting.
- Good hunting.
- [Horn sounds] - Mm ah.
Morning, master.
Glad you could make it.
- Hup! - Thanks.
Ah - Mr Steed? - Yes? I wonder if you could help me.
It's my horse.
Anything for you, my dear.
What's wrong? Can't keep him from the trough.
Just seems to want to keep on drinking all the time.
Oh, dear.
Once had an auntie like that.
Ha, ha, ha, ha! - Whoops! - Oh, frightfully athletic! We don't want you left behind, do we, Mrs Peel? What's the matter, then? What's the matter, eh? Ha, ha, ha! [Horse trotting] You haven't got the colic, have you? [Barking] All right, then, Croft.
Spit it out.
[Gasping for air] Come on, boy.
Come on, gee up.
- Everything OK? - Smooth as clockwork.
- What about Snowdrop? - Oh, she won't be a minute.
Well, there'll be no hitches with the helicopter.
- Good.
- Aye, it's a grand day for it.
Not that I've got anything against Dorset.
My brother Jethro used to farm there.
Hurry up, Beryl.
Well, Juggins, celebration tonight.
A magnum of champagne for each of us.
Do you reckon this will bring the government to their knees? - Don't you? - Wouldn't mind betting a fiver on it.
Acre on acre of dead ground? Should do the trick.
[Omrod] It will be the showplace of the nation, - a desert in Dorset.
- Dorset? Thank you for the warning.
Now, put your hands above your heads and turn round.
- She's off across the fields.
- Let's get after her.
You wanted a day's hunting, didn't you? The thrill of the chase and all that.
- Normal hunting calls.
- Aye, first one to her gets the ears.
[Horn sounds] Whoa, whoa! Aargh! Tally-ho! Ooh! No! Are you sure you know how to control one of these things? Absolutely, my dear.
Nothing to worry about.
Just a question of throwing ballast overboard.
What happens when we run out of ballast?