THE ADVENTURE OF THE Giant Rat of Sumatra
by Richard Nathan
Lights come up on SHERLOCK HOLMES and DR. WATSON. It is important that the set have something behind which someone using a prop can hide. It could be a table with a tablecloth going down to the floor, or it could be a large chair with cushions, or anything else that could hide someone.
From off-stage, we hear the voice of MRS. HUDSON.
Someone to see you, Mr. Holmes.
Send him up, Mrs. Hudson.
A new client, Holmes?
I never speculate when evidence
is about to present itself, Watson.
Enter MR. HENRY NEWCOMB.
Thank you for seeing me, Mr. Holmes.
My name is Henry Newcomb.
Have you come about the rat?
Really, Holmes! I thought you just said
you never speculate.
Not until the evidence presents itself. Mr.
Newcomb has presented us with
abundant evidence of his involvement
with a rat.
Surely, Watson, as a medical man, you
immediately noticed the marks of an
animal bite on Mr. Newcombís right
hand. They are fading, but they are
there for anyone to see.
But how did you know they are from
The shape of a ratís mouth and the spacing
of its teeth are quite distinctive from
other animals, Watson. Although I
admit this rat must be unusually large.
You said there was abundant evidence.
I see not one, not two, but three grey
hairs on Mr. Newcombís clothing.
Hair that is too coarse to come from
a human, but just right for a rat.
Forgive me for being indelicate, Mr.
Newcomb, but I couldnít help noticing
that you smell of cheese, as though you
were accosted to keeping cheese in
your pockets to feed a rodent. Am I
correct, Mr. Newcomb?
Absolutely correct, Mr. Holmes. I want
you to find my rat. He is extremely
Tell us your story.
Iím an entertainer, Mr. Holmes. I
perform with animals, but my most
amazing animal is Staccato the Rat. He
is a genius among rodents, Mr. Holmes.
Remarkably intelligent and easy to train.
Yet he bit you.
An accident, Mr. Holmes. When I was feeding
him his favorite cheese.
How did you obtain this rat?
From a sailor aboard the Matilda Briggs,
who brought him back from Sumatra. Thatís
why I call him Staccato, the Giant Rat of
At this point, the prop person who is hiding behind the piece of furniture raises a prop RAT so that itís vicious-looking head peeps out over the top of the furniture. Then the head goes back down.
How long has the rat been missing?
Just a day, Mr. Holmes. Someone must
have stolen him, Mr. Holmes. I always keep
Staccatoís cage tightly locked. But when
I went to feed him last night, the cage was
The ratís head pops up again and then pops down.
Has anyone made any recent offers to
purchase your rat, Mr. Newcomb?
Yes, just last week a man told me he would
pay me twenty pounds to purchase Staccato.
I said he was not for sale at any price.
The ratís head pops up and down again. This time Watson notices it.
I say! Holmes!!!
Not now, Watson. Describe the man who made
He was quite tall, thin, with a very large
head and receding hairline. His eyes were
set deep in his head. They had a
Professor Moriarty! Iíd stake my life on it!
The rats head pops up and down. Only Watson notices.
Not now, Watson!
Who is Professor Moriarty? Does he have an
Only in the sense that his associates
act like beasts. Moriarty is the Napoleon
But what would he want with Staccato?
I believe you said your rat was very clever.
Moriarty would like nothing more than to
steal the crown jewels of from the Tower of
London. No human thief could reach them,
but a trained ratÖ
The ratís head pops up again. This time Watson rushes over and grabs it. He pulls up the rat and struggles with it.
Holmes! Look what I have! You are always
telling me I fail to observe things, but I
observed this when you did not! I found
found the Giant Rat of Sumatra.
Watson, if you had been truly observant,
you would have remembered that I said
the rat hairs on Mr. Newcombís clothing
were gray. The rat you are holding is black.
That is not the Giant Rat of Sumatra. I fear
you are holding a London sewer rat, although
one of unusual size. From the look of him,
Iíd wager he has been in my cocaine. Rats and
cocaine do not mix, Watson. Iím afraid you
have a problem on your hands.
Watson struggles with the rat.
Come, Mr. Newcomb. We must go at once
to the Tower of London. I am sure that with
a little cheese, we will be able to recover
your GRAY Giant Rat of Sumatra!
Holmes and Watson leave. Watson is left struggling with the rat.
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© 2008 by Richard Nathan. All rights reserved
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