THE CASE OF RICOLETTI OF THE
AND HIS ABOMINABLE WIFE
by Richard Nathan
Lights come up on SHERLOCK HOLMES and DR. WATSON in their parlor located at 221-B Baker Street. Watson looks at a space on the “fourth wall” (i.e., out toward the audience), then looks at Holmes, then looks at the space on the wall, shaking his head sadly.
I may not think as highly of the unfairer
sex as you do, Watson, but I always thought
your late wife was a fine human being.
How did you….
It wasn’t hard to tell what you were
thinking when you looked at that
photo of your late wife, then frowned
at me with that disapproving air,
and then gazed at the photo again. I
do sympathize with your loss, Watson.
I honestly do.
But you admit you don’t think highly
of women, as a rule.
True, but your wife was an exception to
Why are you such a misogynist, Holmes?
Experience, Watson. Experiences such
as the case of Ricoletti of the club foot
and his abominable wife.
I seem to recall you mentioned that case
once before. It was one of your earliest,
Indeed it was. I had just begun my
practice as a consulting detective, when
Ricoletti came to my door.
Mr. Sherlock Holmes? I have a heard you
have remarkable powers of observation and
deduction. What can you deduce about me?
You own a printing press. You run a
successful business, but you are unsatisfied
with your workers.
How did you know that?
You have small amounts of ink on the tips of
each of your ten fingers. Most men with
ink on their hands would only have it on one
or two fingers, from writing with a pen, but a
man with ink on all ten fingers must work with a
with a printing press, probably as a typesetter.
You dress too well to be a mere typesetter, so
I deduce that you own the press - but you have
been taking over the work that should be done by
| your employees - hence the dissatisfaction.
Very good, Mr. Holmes, but there are two
things about me that you did not observe!
And what would those be?
First, I have a club foot!
Yes, you do.
Ha! It is easy to see after I point it out
to you! And second, I have an abominable
How unfortunate for you.
This is why I came to see you. I have
heard you help out unfortunate people.
I am the most unfortunate man in all of
I just told you! I have a club foot and an
abominable wife! Weren’t you listening to
I fail to see what I can do about either
You could kill her. I would pay you a
great deal of money.
My dear Mr. ….
My dear Mr. Ricoletti. I am a detective. I
solve crimes. I don’t commit them.
If you knew my wife, you would make an
That seems highly improbable.
She is waiting outside in the hallway. Let
me bring her in!
Ricoletti rushes out to the hallway as quickly as his club foot and his cane will allow, and a moment later he rushes back in with his beautiful young wife ROSE.
how do you do? I have
never had the pleasure of meeting a
Oh. You’ve heard of my practice?
No, not a word. But I could not help
noticing the many newspaper clippings
concerning criminal activities in London
that you have collected. You obviously
work out of your home, so you cannot be
a policeman. Therefore, you must be a
Yes, I also could not help but notice
the tobacco you smoke. I can tell by
the odor in the room that it is one of
the less expensive brands. I believe
that must mean your practice is not
doing well at the moment, though I
am certain it will improve in time.
How much would you be willing to pay
me for that job, Mr. Ricoletti?
A hundred pounds.
Antonio! What can you want Mr. Holmes
to do for you that I cannot do myself?
You know I would do anything for you!
Perhaps not anything.
Anything that does not involve travel.
Antonio knows I hate to travel. But
short of that, I would do anything for
him. I devote my life to him.
It is true. She will not leave me alone!
She follows me everywhere.
Everywhere in London. As long as
he stays in London, he will find me
by his side, sharing every moment of
his life with him.
Is that how you plan to drive him away?
I wouldn’t dream of driving him away.
Then why keep reminding him that
you will not follow him out of London?
Furthermore, a woman as skilled as you
are at the art of observation must be aware
of the effect your presence is having on him.
is - why are you so intent on
driving him away? I can only assume you want
him to leave so that you may have access to his
printing press - most probably for a counterfeiting
Indeed. Perhaps you noticed that one of my
clippings has to do with the counterfeit pounds that
have been turning up in London lately. No
doubt printed by your collaborators whenever
you manage to drive Mr. Ricoletti away from
You have no proof of this absurd accusation.
Not now, but I am certain that if I were to
search your residence, I would find the plates
you use to commit your crimes.
Rose draws a gun from her purse.
You know too much to live, Mr. Holmes.
Ricoletti uses his cane to knock the gun from her hand. She drops the gun and Holmes retrieves it.
Thank you, Ricoletti. Scotland Yard
will be happy to take your abominable wife
off your hands.
How can I ever repay you, Mr. Holmes?
Money would do nicely. Apparently, I need to
start using a finer grade of tobacco.
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© 2008 by Richard Nathan. All rights reserved
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