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The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe

Stamped For Murder

by Alfred Bester
October 20, 1950

Cast for this first episode of the series

Sidney Greenstreet as Nero Wolfe
Wally Maher as Archie (first and only episode)
Jeanne Bates as Gloria Kent
Howard McNear as Elliot Rodman
Jay Novello as Ben Sanford
Larry Dobkin as Halleck
Herb Vigran as Cross
Bill Johnstone as Inspector Kramer

* This is the script for the second broadcast of this episode (two broadcasts were usually made in one night, one to the east coast and one to the west coast). Various lines from the opening of the episode have been cut. The 'whole' script will be uploaded for comparison later on this month. Two versions of the broadcast also exist. Radio Spirits has the abbreviated version, Streamload has the full version.


1972 Nicarauguan Airmail Stamp series
honoring 12 famous fictional detectives


Dated Death

Archie

My boss is the smartest and the stubbornest, the fattest and the laziest, the cleverest and the craziest, the most extravagant detective in the world...Nero Wolfe.

Sydney Greenstreet

Announcer

It's the adventure of Stamped for Murder, with that brilliant eccentric private detective, orchid fancier and gargantuan gourmet, Nero Wolfe, starring Sidney Greenstreet.

Music

Greenstreet made his movie debut in his sixties, in The Maltese Falcon.

Wolfe

Instructions for this morning, Archie - your notebook please. First, Mr. Sausenbeck. Inform him that the Long Island hen he sent were most unsatisfactory.


Archie

Dinner any day is going to be a problem if we don't pay Sausenbeck's bill.


Wolfe

Then pay it.


Archie

With what? The bank account's empty.


Wolfe

Ridiculous. There were four thousand dollars yesterday.



Orchids

Archie

But you bought that shipment of orchid bulbs from Lionel Gutner. Mr. Wolfe, we need money. You've got to stop eating and drinking beer long enough to earn some.


Wolfe

Pfui. You're an alarmist.


Archie

Will you for the love of heaven stop turning down clients and turn an honest dollar! I've got a couple of prospects right outside the door!


Wolfe

Send them away!


Archie

No sir!


Wolfe

Send them away. Tell them I've gone to Egypt.


Archie

Nothing doing, sir.


FOOTSTEPS

Wolfe

Confound you, Archie, obey orders. Send them away!


OPENING DOOR

Archie

Miss Kent, Mr. Rodman, come in please.


VOICES

Thank you.


Wolfe

Confound you, Archie, you are mutinous.


Archie

Yes, sir, and you're stuck with it. This is Miss Gloria Kent and Mr. Rodman, they arrived as advertised with a pressing problem.


Wolfe

Good morning. You people are here by sufferance only. I shall speak to Mr. Goodwin about it later. Yes, INDEED. I know my pressing problems, Miss Kent. What are yours?


Gloria

Well, it's simply this, Mr. Wolfe. I had some money my mother left me. My father's just spent it, without my permission. I want it back, without a scandal.


Wolfe

Facts, Miss, Kent. How much? How spent?


Gloria

Ten thousand dollars. Father bought a treasure map.


Wolfe

Indeed, from whom?


Gloria

A pair of swindlers named Cross and Halleck. They've driven him crazy, talking about fortunes salvaged from the SS this and the SS that. He..he's got a map, an old letter he studies...he's childish!


Wolfe

Many fortunes have been recovered. Many more await on the sea bottom. How do you know your father's being duped.



Howard McNear as Elliott Rodman

Rodman

Wolfe

Well, I know!

You do, Mr. Rodman?


Rodman

Yes. Cross and Halleck bought some old letters from me, written by my old grandfather from Hawaii. They used them to manufacture the map, and evidence, and that's what they sold to Kent.


1778- Englishman James Cooks discovers the inhabited islands and names them after the Earl of Sandwich.

Gloria

Father thought he was being so clever. He had the paper analyzed. Of course the document research laboratory said the letters were genuine. They were! But something new had been added. (Tearful.) I'd have never known if Mr. Rodman hadn't told me!


Wolfe

You were a party to this swindle, Mr. Rodman?


Rodman

I was not! I never knew what they were up to!


1810 - King Kamehameha unites the Hawaiian islands into one kingdom under his rule.

1820 - First American Protestant Missionaries arrive in Hawaii.

Gloria

Wolfe

Mr. Wolfe, you've got to help me! I can't do anything with father. I can't convince him...even Mr. Rodman can't...


No, Miss Kent, I am sorry, this is not for me.


Gloria

But you must! You...


FOOTSTEPS

Wolfe

Archie, when Miss Kent has finished her disgraceful exhibition show them out.


FOOTSTEPS. DOOR CLOSES

Archie

Oh, aren't you ashamed of yourself walking out like that on that poor kid.


Wolfe

That hysterical gammer, pfui.


Archie

I charge high fees, Archie.


Wolfe

So charge a small fee! Do you want her to starve?



Last Hawaiian King, Kalakaua


Last Hawaiian Queen, Liliuokalani

Archie

Oooh, very well, go back in to them. Get names, addresses, facts. I am not committed to Miss Kent's case, but ...we'll see. Be the tribute I pay for your weakness for a pretty face.


MUSIC

Rodman and Gloria Kent were gone, however, so all I had were the few facts they'd given me before they met Wolfe. I felt guilty about that when he came back into the office and sat down in his specially built chair. He closed his eyes, and I glared at him.

Did you tell me you were going to help this girl just to get her out of the office, or did you mean it?


Wolfe

Mumble


Archie

No, sir, no sir, you made a promise and you're stuck with it.


Wolfe

What did you get from Rodman?


1893 - Liliuokulani's brother dies and she becomes Queen. She is soon deposed by American businessmen who annex Hawaii to the United States in 1898.

Archie

Wolfe

Name, address, occupation. He's a librarian, that's all.

Very careless, Archie. You missed the significant point.


Archie

Such as?



An envelope mailed from Hawaii

Wolfe

How did Rodman discover the letters he sold were being altered by forgery? And used for swindle? How did he locate the duped Mr. Kent?


Archie

Yeah, I guess you're right. I'll ask him next time.


Wolfe

Get Cross and Halleck.


Archie

On my way.


Wolfe

You'll find them at the Hotel Bogard.


Archie

Ha hah. Wrong sir. According to my notes their address is..


A tribute to Humphrey Bogart?

Wolfe

Never mind their address. The Hotel Bogard is the headquarters for successful confidence tricksters. They celebrate their victories there while the money lasts. You will possibly find Cross and Halleck drinking whisky or lunching. Probably both.


Hawaii remains a territory until 1959 when it becomes the 50th state (9 years after this story). Charlie Chan in books and movies lived and worked in the territory of Hawaii.

Archie

I located Cross and Halleck in the hotel bar, and lured them back to our place on 35th street. Wolfe was sitting behind his desk with his hands crossed on his impressive middle, at peace with his lunch and the world when I ushered them in. He sat bolt upright and scorched me with a look.


Archie

Good afternoon, Mr. Wolfe. The tall one's name is Cross, the short one is Halleck. They want to help me invest my money. Gentlemen, Mr. Nero Wolfe.


Halleck

Wha? Who? Nero Wolfe?


Cross

What is this?


Wolfe

Confound you, Archie. How drunk are they?


Archie

Not too drunk for business.


Halleck

Let's get out of here. Come on.


FOOTSTEPS.

Archie

Wait a minute! You want me to keep 'em here, Mr. Wolfe?


Cross

Still ....duck decoy.


Wolfe

Not by violence, Archie. Come back here, gentleman, unless you want seven years in the state penitentiary.


Cross

Unless what?


Halleck

You got nuthin' on us, Wolfe, nuthin.'


Wolfe

I have the Kent case.


Cross

The Kent case!


Halleck

That's a laugh. We're sitting pretty. Sitting pretty.


Wolfe

You are not, sir. You imagine you possess legal immunity. Mr. Kent believes your grotesque balderdash and will not sue for fraud. Miss Kent cannot sue because she is reluctant to accuse her father of wrongfully obtaining her money. Ergo, you think you are invulnerable.


Halleck

Now listen.


Wolfe

But you forget me! I'm a detective with a fee to earn.


Archie

A big fee!


Wolfe

Quiet, Archie. I am determined to get that fee. Therefore, as Miss Kent's agent I can and will bring action against you. I'm indifferent to her tears or her father's disgrace. I am indifferent to anything outside of money. You will return the ten thousand dollars to me at once, sir, or you will be in jail by morning!


Cross

You mean that?


Wolfe

I do, Mr. Cross.


Cross

Halleck, come here.


Halleck

Yeah.


FOOTSTEPS

Wolfe

Come on, hurry!


Cross

FOOTSTEPS Un, okay, Mr. Wolfe. Here. Mr. Wolfe. Halleck and I have decided we don't want to get into any trouble with you. Here's your ten grand.


Wolfe

Ah, let's have it.


Snatch of envelope, rustle of paper

Cross

Give the dough to Mr. Kent, and get the letters and map back for us. You've got a reputation for being tricky, but honest. We trust you.


FOOTSTEPS. Come on, Halleck, let's go.

Halleck

Yeah


DOOR CLOSES

Archie

Ha ha. Well, how about that?


Wolfe

Preposterous.


Archie

No, sure! Take a look. Ten thousand dollars. Genuine coin of the realm.


Wolfe

That man Cross is a fool. Does he imagine I am to be fooled so easily?


Archie

What do you mean? He left the money.


Wolfe

He surrendered too quickly, Archie. Too easily. And that money in the envelope, he was carrying all ready to refund, why?


Archie

Well, maybe he's got a better sucker. I heard him mention a Ben Sanford.


Wolfe

Nonsense. Does he need Kent's forged letters and map to cheat this Ben Sanford. Couldn't he prepare another set?


Archie

I guess you're right. Something's fishy.


Wolfe

In any event its no concern of mine, thank heaven.


Archie

Why not?


Wolfe

I'm not committed to Miss Kent in any way. As a favor to you I undertook to regain her money. I have done that . You may take it back to her, and obtain the forged papers in return.


Archie

But...


Wolfe

Silence, Mr. Goodwin. Go to your red head charmer. Leave me in peace. I intend to spend this afternoon with my new world atlas.


MUSIC

Archie

I left him 3,000 miles up the Amazon with his magnifying glass and drove up to east 69th street. The Kent house was a broken down little brownstone and as I went up the stoop..the door opened and Gloria Kent burst out like a sky rocket.

Hey, Miss Kent! Easy. Easy.


Gloria

Let go of me, let go!


Archie

What's wrong? What's wrong?


Gloria

Wrong? Wrong?!! Nothing's wrong! Nothing at all!


Archie

Well, how about seeing your father?


Gloria

You want to see my father. Come inside!


Archie

Well for the love of heaven...


Gloria

Come inside, Mr. Goodwin. I'll introduce you. He's in a back room. Come right through the living room.


Archie

What else went through this living room, a hurricane?


Gloria

No, Mr. Goodwin. Something else.


DOOR OPENS

There's my father, Mr. Goodwin!


Archie

What in the dev...

QUICK FOOTSTEPS

He's dead. His throat's cut.


Gloria

Father. This is Archie Goodwin from Nero Wolfe's office. He and his boss refused to help while they could. Maybe he can help you now. All I'm good for now is revenge.


Archie

Stop it.


Gloria

Revenge, that's all!


Archie

Stop it and look at me! When did it happen?


Gloria

I don't know.


Archie

When did you find him?


Gloria

Just now.


Archie

Keep looking at me. Who went through this house like a hurricane? You?


Gloria

No.


Archie

Where did you go after you left the office?


Gloria

Document Research. The place that checked the map....


Archie

How long were you there?


Gloria

Until an hour ago. I was with Mr. Rodman.


Archie

Keep looking at me. And then?


Gloria

I had lunch.


Archie

With Rodman?


Gloria

Alone. And then I came home.


Archie

All right. All right. Now listen to me. I want you to go to Mr. Wolfe's house right now. Have you got cab fare?


Gloria

Yes.


Archie

All right, take a cab. I've got to stay here but I'll call Mr. Wolfe and tell him you're on the way. Now, get!


MUSIC

I called Wolfe, told him everything, and he instructed me to advise Inspector Kramer, who arrived with the homicide squad. I gave the Inspector everything while the squad photographed and measured, print dusted and detected. At three thirty Kramer took me back to the house on 35th street for a fight with Wolfe.



Bill Johnstone (ex-Shadow) as Kramer

Kramer

It's a great story, Wolfe, great. Kent buys a phony treasure map. Everybody knows its phony except Kent. But Cross and Halleck try to buy it back and Kent gets himself murdered.


Wolfe

Did you find the map and letters in the house, Inspector?


Kramer

No. No, I didn't.


Wolfe

The killer was after the map.


Kramer

The phony map?


Wolfe

Certainly.


Kramer

Why?


Wolfe

Archie

SNAPS FINGERS

Maybe its not phony!

Kramer

I'd better see the girl now.


Wolfe

Oh, you fancy her for the murder?


Kramer

Well, I'll know after I ask a few questions.


Wolfe

Tonight. She's had a shock, Mr. Kramer. She needs rest.


Kramer

Look, Wolfe, I want her!


Wolfe

Why bother with her when there's no much work to be done?


Kramer

Yeah? Such as?


Wolfe

Cross and Halleck. Find them. And the mystery man they spoke of, Ben Sanford. He's the man you want now, not this poor, overwrought girl.


Kramer

Well, okay. The girl will be here for questioning tonight, though, eh?


Wolfe

Tonight, Mr. Kramer.


Kramer

FOOTSTEPS.

Okay. You'll hear from me later on.


Archie

Heh heh, Well, you buffaloed him out of that, okay. Say, why don't you want her questioned. Is she guilty?


Wolfe

I don't know.


Archie

Well, what did she say when she got here?


Wolfe

She said nothing. She never arrived.


Archie

She never what?


Wolfe

She never arrived.


Archie

Well, then why did you tell Kramer she was resting?


Wolfe

Would he have believed the truth? Pfui. She must be found. More important, we must learn forged letters and forged map produces turmoil.


Archie

Find the killer and you find the map. You said so.


Wolfe

I said the reverse, which is an altogether different statement. Archie, I want a photograph of that map. Get it.


Archie

Oh, sure. Sure. Any particular camera you want me to use?


Wolfe

You'll find the photograph at 200 Vanderbilt Street.


Archie

Are you kidding?


Wolfe

The lab cannot check the authenticity of old papers without photographing them in ultraviolet light, infrared light, and so on. If this document research lab has examined those papers, they will have photographs. Get them!


MUSIC

Archie

He got out of his chair and waddled back to the house elevator. It was four o'clock and time for his regular afternoon session with the orchids. I drove down to the Document Research Laboratory on Vanderbilt and got such a shock that I grabbed the office phone and dialed Wolfe at once.


ROTARY DIAL TONE

PHONE PICK UP

Wolfe

This is Nero Wolfe.


Archie

Mr. Wolfe. Archie here.


Wolfe

What's the matter, are you lost?


Archie

No, sir. No, sir, but I found something.


Wolfe

Photographs?


Archie

No Mr. Wolfe, I don't think you'll ever see any photographs of the Kent map. I don't think any were taken.


Wolfe

Indeed.


Archie

But guess who runs the Document Research Laboratory? No, no, no, no no, don't guess. You probably know. A man named Ben Sanford and he's sitting right here looking at me.


Wolfe

Bring him home with you.


Archie

Home! But it's four in the afternoon!


MUSIC

Sanford

Hey, how about this place? How about it? There must be a million flowers up here.


Archie

LAUGHS

No, not flowers. Orchids only. Mr. Wolfe has ten thousand plants.


Sanford

WHISTLES

Never saw anything like it.


Archie

And you never will again, brother.


Sanford

Hey, what, eh, what kind is that, on the bench?



Odontoglossumgrande

Archie

Oh, that? That's our pride and joy. Odontoglossum Harryanum. Above 'em the Vanbeetersaerana. And the pink ones are the selogiannia panderotas. Now, the large object mulching flower pots is Nero Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe. Ben Sanford.


Wolfe

Good afternoon, sir


Sanford

Hi. I came along to be obliging. I've got nothing to say about anything.


Wolfe

How much have you offered Cross and Halleck for their treasure map?


Sanford

No comment.


Wolfe

Mr. Sanford, I'm going to make some assumptions. I assume that you are not in fact a document expert but an accessory to the fraud of Halleck and Cross.


Sanford

No comment.


Wolfe

That you actually prepare fraudulent maps for those swindlers, and then in the guise of an expert guarantee their authenticity.


Sanford

No comment.


Wolfe

But this you must answer. You did guarantee the authenticity of the map and letters Kent bought. It's on record.


Sanford

All right, I did.


Wolfe

Then will you admit, they were forged.


Sanford

What are you, a comic? No!


Wolfe

You guarantee the value of the Kent map?


Sanford

Yes.


Wolfe

As an expert?


Sanford

Yes.


Wolfe

Then you've convicted yourself of murder.


Sanford

Murder! What is this?


Wolfe

Mr. Kent was murdered, sir. Evidently for the map and letters he bought. But of all persons involved, you alone believe in the value of the map. No one else does. Therefore, you alone would have murdered Kent for the map.


Sanford

For the love of....wait a minute. Wait a minute!


Archie

Heh, heh. Chew it over, brother. Chew it over. Either way he's got you.


Sanford

Okay, okay, you want me to level? Here it is.


Wolfe

Level, Archie?


Archie

Okay, boss. Thief type talk. It means, tell the truth.


Sanford

It's like ya say. The letters were bought from Rodman. I forged the map and evidence on them. I guaranteed them to Kent. A...swindle.


Wolfe

The letters are without value?


Sanford

Oh, sure, they're old. That's all. From 1851. Just tired family gossip, and stuff.


Wolfe

Indeed. There we have the problem again, Archie. Mr. Kent is swindled with a map and letters that are known to be worthless. He alone believes the fantasy of the treasure.


Sanford

There isn't any treasure. Never was.


Wolfe

Yet Cross and Halleck refunded the swindled money so eagerly. It's obvious they want those worthless documents back badly. Someone else wants them back so badly he murders Mr. Kent. Why?


Sanford

I don't know.


Wolfe

Archie, we must find the girl. There's a chance she turned to Mr. Rodman for refuge. I'm sorry, you'll have to go there at once. If the girl isn't there bring Rodman.


BUZZER

OPEN DOOR

Rodman

Yes?


Archie

Hello, Rodman? Remember me? I'm Archie Goodwin, from Nero Wolfe's office.


Rodman

Oh! Yes, of course.


Archie

I've come to get Gloria Kent. There's been a change in plans. Tell her to come out, please.


Rodman

Gloria? She's not here. Why should she be?


Archie

Haven't you heard?


Rodman

Heard what?


Archie

Well, I guess you better come down and see Wolfe.


Rodman

Mr. Goodwin, I'm afraid I can't. I'm rather busy.


Archie

Look, Rodman, maybe you ought to know. Old man Kent was murdered.


Rodman

What?


Archie

Yes, yes just after you and Gloria left us.


Rodman

Kent murdered? We...-oh, this is awful, Mr. Goodwin.


Archie

You want to see Mr. Wolfe now? Get your hat.


Rodman

Murdered?! Oh believe me I never wanted this...I'm going to tell Nero Wolfe the whole mess...every word of it.


Archie

Okay, then come on, let's go.


Rodman

Yes, of course, I'll get my hat, its in the bedroom (FOOTSTEPS) ...Kent...I never dreamed.


Archie

(Whistles briefly.) Come on, Rodman, come on, Rodman. Come on!


Rodman

Muffled gurgling


Archie

What, I didn't hear you.


FOOTSTEPS

OPEN DOOR

CHOKING, GURGLING

Archie

Rodman...Rodman! Good lord, what next! (FOOTSTEPS. DIALING PHONE.

Come on, come on.


Wolfe

This is Nero Wolfe.


Archie

Archie here. We got a tough break.


Wolfe

Yes?


Archie

While I was waiting for Rodman at the front door he went into the bedroom for his hat. The killer was there.


Wolfe

How do you know?


Archie

He cut Rodman's throat.


Wolfe

Tail him!


Archie

The back window was open. It's a ground floor apartment. He was out and gone before I had a chance!


Wolfe

Archie, where were your wits?


Archie

Let me alone! I've had a man murdered twenty feet from me. You think I'm cheering?


Wolfe

Mr. Kramer is here. He has news for us, Archie. He could not locate Cross and Halleck in their apartment. They had not been home all day. A maid informed him that she was waiting for her weekly salary.


Archie

Well, so what?


Wolfe

She was most angry, and peppery, (meaningly) Mr. Kramer informs me.


Archie

Red pepper? (Understandingly)


Wolfe

Exactly.


Archie

Okay, okay maybe I know what you mean. I'll try to deliver the goods this time. Good bye.

MUSIC

I drove down to the apartment house on Gramercy Square where Cross and Halleck lived. Took the elevator up to the tenth floor, found the right door, and slipped in with a passkey.

FOOTSTEPS

Come on out. Come out, wherever you are. I know you're in here. You fooled Kramer pretending to be the maid but you didn't fool Wolfe. You'd better..


BANG!

Archie

Gloria!

BANG! BANG! BANG!

Cut it out! Cut it out, you idiot! Lay off. Archie! Archie you dope! Archie Goodwin from Nero Wolfe's office. Remember me.


SOUNDS OF STRUGGLING

Gloria

Let me go.


Archie

Give me the gun, Gloria, give it to me.

Sighs

Who did you think I was?


Gloria

Halleck.


Archie

Oh, brilliant. So Wolfe figured you out, huh? You are a brave girl. They killed your father. You came up here and waited for them. You were going to kill them right back, huh? Oh, that red-headed temper. And you bluffed Kramer into thinking you were the maid.


Gloria

I had to do something, (TEAR FILLED VOICE) It was the only thing I could think of, to come here and kill them.


Archie

Well, you're coming home with Archie. And just remember one thing. When Wolfe's working for you, don't try to do any thinking. It only gets in Wolfe's way.

MUSIC

I got Gloria Kent back to the house at 7 o'clock. I parked the car, brought her into the office and got the shock of my life. There was a convention on! Wolfe was there, with Inspector Kramer representing the cops. Cross, Halleck and Sanford were there, representing the crooks. When Kramer saw Gloria, he scowled first at her and then at Wolfe.


Kramer

So it was a slick one after all, Wolfe. You didn't have the girl. You had no intention of producing her.


Wolfe

Please, Mr. Kramer, that can wait. There are other matters more important. I dine at eight. That leaves me one hour to solve your murders.


Kramer

Murders? More than one?


Wolfe

Yes, two. Elliott Rodman.


Kramer

But by heaven, Goodwin, if you...


Wolfe

Please Mr Kramer, not now. First, Miss Kent. Good evening, Miss Kent. I presume you have met these gentlemen, Cross, Halleck and Sanford?


Gloria

I....I


Wolfe

I'll take your purse please.


Gloria

Why? I...


Wolfe

Don't think me as naive as Mr. Goodwin, Miss. When you left your home after the murder of your father you took the map and letters with you. They're in your purse now!


Gloria

That's not true.


Wolfe

Archie, purse. thank you. We have here an interesting situation. There exists some old letters and map, forged and fraudulent. They're worth ten thousand dollars and more to Cross and Halleck and worth two murders to a killer. Why? There must be something of great value in the letters.


Kramer

Well, such as?


Wolfe

Something which Mr. Sanford could not see although he worked on the document closely. Yet something which could be made manifest. What is the answer, Miss Kent? You know it!


Gloria

I swear I don't!


Wolfe

Secret writing, Archie. Bring the chafing dish from the dining room.


Archie

Right.


FOOTSTEPS.


Larry Dobkin (left) as Halleck

Halleck

Secret writing.


Sanford

I saw nothing when I worked on those letters.


Wolfe

Naturally, Mr. Sanford, the writing is invisible. But heat is an agent. Makes most forms of secret writing visible.


Archie

FOOTSTEPS.

The chafing dish, boss.


Wolfe

Thank you, Archie. Place it before me and light it.


Archie

Right.


Wolfe

Now I open Miss Kent's purse. From it you see I withdraw these ancient letters which she took from her house after her father's murder.


Gloria

That's not true!


Wolfe

Archie!


Archie

(Whispers) That's enough, Gloria! That's enough. From now on you just listen.


Wolfe

We remove the letters from the envelope and toast them gently. Secret ink vintage 1851 will easily succumb to the agency of heat.


Halleck

Careful! Those envelopes will catch fire!


Cross

They've caught.


Wolfe

Don't be upset Mr. Cross, Mr. Halleck.


Cross

The envelopes!


Wolfe

They will burn safely in the dish. We can concentrate on the writing. Watch closely. I don't want to be accused of trickery.


Cross

You fat fool. The envelopes are everything!


Halleck

Put 'em out, Sanford. Don't sit there. Put 'em out!


Wolfe

Why, Mr. Halleck?


Halleck

Well, the stamps! The missionaries! They're worth a fortune!


Wolfe

The missionary. Of course. You know that. Mr. Cross knows. So does Mr. Sanford, right?


Cross

Yeah, yeah.


Halleck

Of course Sanford knows, you old fool.


FOOTSTEPS. SOUNDS OF HALLECK TRYING TO RESCUE THE ENVEOPES

Wolfe

Mr. Sanford is not alarmed. Why not, sir?


Sanford

I don't know what you're talking about.


Wolfe

Fifty or a hundred thousand dollars is burning before your eyes, Mr. Sanford. Cross and Halleck are burning their fingers putting out the flaming envelopes. And you sit there quite indifferently. Why?


Sanford

Well, I...



Hawaiian 'Missionary' stamp

Wolfe

You know the value of the missionary stamps on the letters you bought from Rodman. But you know these aren't the real letters. Isn't that it?


Cross

Not the real letters?


Sanford

I told you I'm tough to crack, Wolfe. You didn't fool me with those dummies.


Wolfe

Dummies? How do you know? Mr. Cross didn't know. Mr. Halleck didn't know. How did you?


Sanford

Well, I....


Wolfe

I'll tell you, sir. Only one man could know I was framing Miss Kent with a decoy. Only one man could know I prepared these dummy letters and pretended to take them from her purse, and that is the killer. The man who murdered her father and stole the map and letters this morning. You sir, Mr. Sanford.


Halleck

Well, I'll be.


Wolfe

Mr. Kramer.


Kramer

Yeah?


Wolfe

There's your killer. You'll find the missing map and letters on him or concealed in his home or office. You won't need the evidence anyway. Look at his face. He's self-confessed.


Archie

Self confessed, like fun! He was booby trapped.


MUSIC

Wolfe

No, Mr. Kramer. Not a complicated case, really. Very simple. Elmer Rodman sold a packet of old family letters to the swindlers for a small sum. They used the letters to perpetrate their fraud on Miss Kent's father.


Gloria

And the stamps on the letters were valuable?


Wolfe

They were special Hawaiian issue 1851, Miss Kent. Nicknamed Missionaries because missionaries used them for writing home. They're extremely rare stamps worth upwards of 25,000 dollars each.


Kramer

Hey, no wonder they were worth two murders. We found five of them on Sanford.


Wolfe

Excellent. Somewhere or other Rodman discovered the value of the stamps after he sold the letters. In his effort to get them back he communicated his discovery to the swindlers, Cross, Halleck and Sanford.


Archie

So that's why they refunded the money so fast.


Wolfe

Precisely, in an effort to have the sale rescinded. Rodman sought out Kent and tried to convince him of the fraud. Alas, he would not listen to the truth, Mr. Kramer.


Archie

Oh, I get it. While the others were hassling around, Sanford tried to steal a march and quietly resorted to murder.


Wolfe

And there you have it.


Archie

Ha hah, great job, boss, great job. So Gloria not only gets her ten grand back but five times 25 which is about 125000 worth of goodies. Now figuring your rates by the hour that means you've done a gratis job worth about...


Wolfe

Miss Kent, I did not nor will I demand a large fee for what I have done. I will not go back on my word. But I can beg for a favor.


Gloria

I'll only be too happy to...


Wolfe

Wait, wait, I ask something that will not be easy to grant.


Gloria

What is it?


Wolfe

Will you use your red hair, your pretty face, your admirable figure and your ample fortune. to lure Mr. Goodwin away from this house tonight. I would like to enjoy my dinner in peace.


Gloria

That won't be difficult.


Archie

(LAUGHING) Let's have an understanding right now, Gloria. Difficult for you, or for me?



Maui

Goria

Wolfe

I'll be delighted.


Indeed. To spend an evening with Mr. Goodwin, there's only one word for you, Miss Kent. Intrepid!


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