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A Passage to Benares


A Passage to Benares

Sep 23 1942



POGGIOLI, American psychologist (PAH-gee-oh-lee)

LOWE, British banker




HIRA DASS, elderly, world-weary Indian (HY ra DAHS)


CHIEF VICKERS, British accent

JUDGE (1 line)


NOTE: This transcript includes material adapted from the original short story in brackets.


NARRATOR: The Columbia network takes pleasure in bringing you-- 




NARRATOR: SUSPENSE, Columbia's parade of outstanding thrillers -- produced by William Spier, and scored by Bernard Herrmann -- notable melodramas from stage and screen, fiction and radio, presented each week to bring you to the edge of your chair, to keep you in-- 


NARRATOR: --suspense!


NARRATOR: Tonight's story, by the noted American author T. S. Stribling, deals with a crime of murder on an exotic and atmospheric island with ragged beggars who slept in a Hindu temple and awoke with gold in their pockets and a dead girl lying near them, and with a strange and mystical entrance into the life of hereafter, which was the experience of an American psychologist. For your suspenseful listening, we invite you to join us for -- "A Passage to Benares."


NARRATOR: In Port of Spain, in Trinidad, at half-past five in the morning, Mr. Henry Poggioli, an American psychologist, stirred uneasily, became conscious of a splitting headache, opened his eyes in bewilderment, and then -- with a shock -- saw where he was. He got up, arranged his clothing. He tried, with his neat, psychological mind, to recapture his dream, to bottle up again the little smoking wisps that still floated about within his aching head. By seven o'clock, he had found his way back to the house of Mr. Lowe, his host in Port of Spain.


NARRATOR: Lowe was already about his coffee, with an interested spoon poised above the morning paper.


LOWE: Ah, there you are! Good morning, Poggioli. I say, you're quiet; didn't hear you get up at all. Have some breakfast?

POGGIOLI: No, thanks. I've been out for a breath of air. What's the news today?

LOWE: Well, the new governor will arrive in Trinidad on the twelfth, and, uh, uh-- (PAPER RUSTLES) Hello! Another native's killed his wife. Tell me, Poggioli -- as a psychologist, why do coolies kill their wives?

POGGIOLI: (AMUSED) Oh, for various reasons, I imagine. Let's hear some of the facts.

LOWE: Oh, I say, this is a coincidence. Really putting on a show for you, Poggioli, on your first visit to Trinidad.


LOWE: Well, you - you remember that wedding procession you and I watched last evening down at the Hindu temple?

POGGIOLI: The temple? Oh, of course. The cream-colored little bride with the breastplate and the linked gold coins and the anklets and all the finery. 

LOWE: Mm hm.

POGGIOLI: And the bridegroom-- What'd you say his name was? Boodman Lal?

LOWE: Yes. Well, do you know what's happened? Boodman Lal is in jail this morning and his cream-colored little bride is dead, with her throat cut.

POGGIOLI: No! Do they think he did it?

LOWE: No doubt of it. That's why he's in jail now. He always seemed like a sensible fellow, too. One of our best patrons -- which only proves my contention, Poggioli. A bridegroom of only six or eight hours killing his wife without any reason at all.

POGGIOLI: Oh, there's usually some reason for murder.

LOWE: Maybe. But I say, old boy, you're missing the point completely.


LOWE: Well, suppose you actually had gone and slept in the temple there last night. You wanted to, you know -- remember? And I said, "No white man ever stays all night in a coolie temple." Do you remember?

POGGIOLI: (SLIGHTLY SELF-CONSCIOUS) Yes, I remember. You said it simply isn't done.

LOWE: Well, if you had, Poggioli, I say-- (CHUCKLES) That would have been a pretty kettle, wouldn't it?


LOWE: Well, I'm afraid I'll be mixed up in this. Both Mr. Lal and his uncle, Hira Dass, are clients of mine. Old Hira Dass has upwards of five million dollars in my bank.

POGGIOLI: Hira Dass? Didn't you tell me he built that temple where the murder took place?

LOWE: Yes. It's what the Hindus call a temple and rest house. Hira Dass gives rice and tea to any traveler who comes in for the night. It's an Indian custom to help mendicant pilgrims. A rich Indian will build a temple and rest house just as you Americans erect libraries.

POGGIOLI: Ah. What does it say there about the murder, Lowe?

LOWE: Uh-- (READS) "Boodman Lal, nephew of the famous Mr. Hira Dass, was arrested early this morning at his home for the alleged murder of his wife, whom he married yesterday. The body was found at six o'clock this morning in the temple where the wedding ceremony took place. The temple attendants gave the alarm. The victim's head was severed completely from her body and all her jewelry was gone. Five coolie beggars who were asleep in the temple when the body was discovered were arrested. They all claimed ignorance of the crime, but a search of their persons revealed that each beggar had a piece of the bride's jewelry and a coin from her necklace. Mr. Boodman Lal and his wife were seen to enter the temple at about eleven last night for the Hindu rite of purification. Mr. Lal, who is a prominent curio dealer, declines to say anything further."

POGGIOLI: (BEAT) Doesn't tell you very much, does it?

LOWE: No, not much.

POGGIOLI: What do you make of those beggars?

LOWE: Oh, that's simple enough. Those devils laid in wait inside the temple until the husband went out and left his wife, then they murdered her and divided the spoil.

POGGIOLI: Ah, but she had enough bangles and geegaws to give a dozen to each man.

LOWE: (THOUGHTFUL) Yes. Yes, you're quite right, Poggioli. That's a fact.

POGGIOLI: And why should they continue sleeping in the temple after they'd killed her -- if they did murder her?

LOWE: Well, why shouldn't they? They knew they'd be suspected, and they couldn't get off the island without capture, so they thought they might as well lie down again and go back to sleep.

POGGIOLI: Mm, you may be right, Lowe, but that doesn't look like the solution to me.

LOWE: Well, I'm satisfied that's how it occurred.

POGGIOLI: You mean the beggars killed her?

LOWE: Mm hm.

POGGIOLI: Well, I don't think so. I rather fancy that the actual murderer took the girl's jewelry and went about the temple thrusting a bangle and a coin in the pockets of each of the sleeping beggars to lay a false scent.

LOWE: (CHUCKLES) Come now! That's - that's laying it on a bit too thick, Poggioli!

POGGIOLI: My dear Lowe, that's the only possible explanation for the coins in the beggars' pockets.

LOWE: (IMPRESSED) I say, old boy. You've had lots of experience in these things. Come along with me and we'll go up and see Mr. Hira Dass and see if we can't help his nephew.

POGGIOLI: I'll be glad to. But we'll go to the temple first. Then we'll call on Mr. Hira Dass.



LOWE: Well, here we are. In spite of the police guard at the door, the temple doesn't look sinister in the daylight.

POGGIOLI: Yeah, it just looks dirty. (MOVING OFF) Well, let's go in and question the beggars.


POGGIOLI: Excuse me, um-- Did any of you fellows hear noises in this temple last night?

1ST BEGGAR: Oh, much sleep, sahib; no noise. Police-y-man punch us 'wake this morning; make sit still here.

POGGIOLI: What's your name?

1ST BEGGAR: Chuder Chand, sahib.

POGGIOLI: When did you go to sleep last night?

1ST BEGGAR: When I ate rice and tea, sahib.

POGGIOLI: Mm hm. Do you remember seeing Boodman Lal and his wife enter this building last night?

1ST BEGGAR: Yes; remember, sahib.

POGGIOLI: Did you see them go out?

1ST BEGGAR: No, sahib. No one remember go out.

POGGIOLI: You were all asleep then, huh?

1ST BEGGAR: All asleep, sahib.


POGGIOLI: Did you have any dreams during your sleep, hear any noises?

1ST BEGGAR: I dream bad dream, sahib. 


1ST BEGGAR: When police-y-man punch me 'wake this morning, I think dream is come true.

2ND BEGGAR: And me, sahib.

3RD BEGGAR: Me, too.

POGGIOLI: Did you all have bad dreams?

1ST BEGGAR: Yes, all have bad dreams.


POGGIOLI: [What did you dream, Chuder Chand?

1ST BEGGAR: Dream me a big fat pig, but still I starved, sahib.

POGGIOLI: And you?

2ND BEGGAR: That I be mashed under a great bowl of rice, sahib, but hungry.

POGGIOLI: And you?

3RD BEGGAR: Sahib, I dreamed I was Siva, and I held the world in my hands and bit it and it tasted bitter, like the rind of a mammy apple. And I said to Vishnu, "Let me be a dog in the streets, rather than taste the bitterness of this world."]

LOWE: Look here, Poggioli, I don't see where this is getting us. I do think we ought to be getting on to old Hira Dass's house.

POGGIOLI: Lowe, I think we can now entirely discard the theory that the beggars murdered the girl.

LOWE: On what grounds? They told you nothing except that they all had bad dreams.

POGGIOLI: That's the reason. They all had wild, fantastic dreams. That suggests that they were given some sort of opiate in their rice or tea last night. It's quite improbable that five ignorant coolies would have wit enough to concoct such a piece of evidence as that.

LOWE: Hmm. That's a fact, but I don't believe a Trinidad court would admit such evidence.

POGGIOLI: We're not looking for legal evidence; we're after some indication of the real criminal. Now I suggest that we get on to the house of Hira Dass.



HIRA DASS: Please come in, gentleman. I've been expecting you. Please be seated.

POGGIOLI: Thank you.

LOWE: Thank you.

HIRA DASS: A most mysterious murder, and the life of my poor nephew will depend upon your exertions, gentlemen. Tell me, what do you think of the beggars that were found in the temple with the bangles and coins?

POGGIOLI: Well, I'm afraid my judgment of the beggars will disappoint you, Mr. Hira Dass. 


POGGIOLI: My theory is that they're innocent of the crime.

HIRA DASS: Really? Why do you say that?

POGGIOLI: Because they told me of dreams they had, and all their dreams were very nearly identical.

HIRA DASS: You are not English, sir. No Englishman would have thought of that.

POGGIOLI: No, I'm American, with a backlash sprinkling of Italian. My name's Poggioli.

HIRA DASS: What is your profession, Mr. Poggioli? You are a detective?

POGGIOLI: No, Mr. Dass. I'm a psychologist.

HIRA DASS: Ah. Your soul is at least groping after knowledge. However, it gropes as a blind-worm, Mr. Poggioli, and we must find the criminal who committed this crime and thus restore my nephew Boodman Lal to liberty. You can imagine what a blow this has been to me after I arranged this marriage for my nephew.

POGGIOLI: (SURPRISED) You did? Arranged a marriage for a nephew who is in his thirties?

HIRA DASS: Yes, Mr. Poggioli. I wanted him to avoid the pitfalls into which I fell.


HIRA DASS: He was unmarried, and he'd already begun to add dollars to dollars. I did the same thing, and now look at me -- an empty old man in a foreign land. What good is this house where men of my own kind can't come and sit with me, and when I have no grandchildren to romp and play? No, I have piled up dollars and pounds. I - I've eaten the world, Mr. Poggioli, and found it bitter. Now here I am, an outcast.

POGGIOLI: Then why don't you go back to India, Mr. Hira Dass?

HIRA DASS: Why, Mr. Poggioli, my mind is half English. If I should return to Benares, I'd walk about thinking what the temples cost, how much was the value of the stones set in the eyes of Krishna's image. (POINTEDLY) If I would ever be one with my own people again, Mr. Poggioli, I must leave this Western mind and body here in Trinidad.

POGGIOLI: That's, um, very interesting, and moving -- but, uh, we were discussing your nephew, Boodman Lal. [I think I have a theory which may liberate him.

HIRA DASS: And what is that?

POGGIOLI: As I have explained to you, I believe the beggars in the temple were given a sleeping potion. I suspect the temple attendant doped the rice and later murdered your nephew's wife.

HIRA DASS: (THOUGHTFUL) That is good Gooka. I employ him. He is a miserably poor man, Mr. Poggioli, so I cannot believe he committed this murder.

POGGIOLI: Pardon me, but I don't follow your reasoning. If he is poor he would have a strong motive for the robbery.

HIRA DASS: That's true, but a very poor man would never have dropped the ten pieces of gold into the pockets of the beggars to lay a false scent. The man who did this deed must have been a well-to-do person accustomed to using money to forward his purposes.

POGGIOLI: But, Mr. Hira Dass, that swings suspicion back to your nephew.]

HIRA DASS: Wait. In searching for the criminal, I would suggest you look for a moneyed man. Let me tell you my suspicions, and you can work out the details.

POGGIOLI: What are they?

HIRA DASS: I went down to the temple this morning to have the body of my poor murdered niece brought here to my villa for burial. I talked to the five beggars and they told me there was a sixth sleeper in the temple last night.

LOWE: Was there, indeed?

HIRA DASS: Yes, Mr. Lowe -- a white man.

LOWE: A white man?

HIRA DASS: Yes, Mr. Lowe. All five of the coolies and my man Gooka told me it was true.

POGGIOLI: (TOO QUICKLY) But, Mr. Hira Dass, decapitation is not an American mode of murder!

HIRA DASS: American?

POGGIOLI: (NERVOUSLY) I - I was speaking generally. I mean a white man's method of murder.

HIRA DASS: Ah. That is indicative in itself. I meant to call your attention to that point. It shows the white man was a highly educated man, who had studied the mental habits of other peoples than his own, so he was enabled to give the crime an extraordinary resemblance to a Hindu crime. 

POGGIOLI: But what motive could a white man have?

HIRA DASS: Possibly, robbery, Mr. Poggioli. (POINTEDLY) Or if he were a very intellectual man, he might have murdered the poor child by, er, way of experiment. [I read not long ago in an American paper of two youths who committed such a crime.]

LOWE: (SURPRISED) A murder for experiment?

HIRA DASS: (INSINUATING) Yes, Mr. Lowe, to record the psychological reaction.

POGGIOLI: (FLUSTERED) Why, I can't entertain such a theory as that, Mr. Hira Dass.

LOWE: Oh, no, it's too far-fetched.

HIRA DASS: However, it is worth investigating, is it not?

POGGIOLI: (GRUDGINGLY) Yes, yes, but I'll begin my investigations with the man Gooka.

HIRA DASS: By all means, Mr. Poggioli. And in your investigations, gentlemen, hire any assistants you may need, draw on me for any amount. I want my nephew exonerated, and above all things I want the real criminal apprehended and brought to the gallows.



LOWE: Well, what do you think of that, Poggioli? A white man in that temple! (DISMISSIVE) Ah, sounds like pure fiction to me, to shield Boodman Lal. You know, these fellows hang together like thieves. Say, it's a jolly good thing we didn't decide to sleep in the temple last night, isn't it?

POGGIOLI: You know, in my opinion, Lowe, the actual criminal is Boodman Lal.

LOWE: Ah. Same here. I thought so ever since I first saw the account in the paper. Somehow these fellows'll chop their wives to pieces for no reason at all.

POGGIOLI: Lowe, what do you know about Boodman Lal?

LOWE: Well, he was born here and has always been a figure because of his rich uncle.

POGGIOLI: Lived here all his life?

LOWE: Uh huh. Except when he was in Oxford for six years.

POGGIOLI: Oh, he's an Oxford man, eh?

LOWE: Yes, yes.

POGGIOLI: Well, there you are. That's the trouble.

LOWE: I don't understand. What do you mean, Poggioli?

POGGIOLI: No doubt he fell in love with some English girl. But when old Hira Dass chose a Hindu child for his wife, Boodman couldn't refuse marriage. No man's going to quarrel with a five million dollar legacy. And then he chose this ghastly method of getting rid of the child bride.

LOWE: I daresay you're right. I feel sure Boodman Lal killed the girl. By George, I'm getting tired of walking. There's a cab. Let's hop it and ride the rest of the way. (CALLS) Hey, cabbie! Cab!



LOWE: (BEAT, TO POGGIOLI) Well, aren't you coming?

POGGIOLI: (STIFFLY) You know, I don't feel that I can conscientiously continue this investigation, trying to clear a person whom I have every reason to believe guilty.

LOWE: But, man, don't leave me like this. At least come as far as police headquarters with me and explain your theory about Gooka the temple keeper, and the rice.

POGGIOLI: Well, I - I thought I'd go back to your cottage and pack my things.

LOWE: (ASTONISHED) Pack your things? Why, your boat doesn't sail until Friday!

POGGIOLI: Yes, I know, but there's a daily service to Curacao. It struck me to go there for--

LOWE: Oh, no -- come! You can't run off like that, just when I've stirred up an interesting murder mystery for you to unravel. Why, Poggioli, you ought to appreciate my efforts as a host more than that.

POGGIOLI: (RELUCTANTLY) Well, all right, then. (TO CABBIE) To the police station.




LOWE: Chief Vickers, this is my friend, Mr. Poggioli. Mr. Poggioli, Mr. Vickers is chief of Trinidad's police force.

VICKERS: How do you do?

POGGIOLI: How do you do?

LOWE: Chief Vickers, I've asked Mr. Poggioli's counsel in the Boodman Lal murder case. He's already developed a theory as to who is the actual murderer of Mrs. Boodman Lal.

VICKERS: (DRY) So have I.

LOWE: Now in this matter, Chief Vickers, I want to be perfectly frank with you. I'll admit we're in this case in the employ of Mr. Hira Dass, and are making an effort to clear his nephew Boodman Lal. We felt confident you'd use the skill of the police department of Port of Spain to work out a theory clearing Boodman Lal just as readily as you would to convict him.

VICKERS: (STERN) Our department usually devotes its time to conviction and not to clearing criminals.

LOWE: Yes, yes, I - I know that, but if our theory will point out the actual murderer--

VICKERS: (UNENTHUSIASTIC) What is your theory?

LOWE: Mr. Poggioli's deduction is based on the dreams of the men who were found in the temple.

VICKERS: (SKEPTICAL) So Mr. Poggioli's deduction is based on dreams.

POGGIOLI: It would be a remarkable coincidence, Mr. Vickers, if five men had lurid dreams simultaneously without some physical cause. It suggests strongly that their tea or rice was doped. Now, if you find out what soporific was used, then have your men search the sales records of the drug stores in the city to see who has lately bought such a drug, you will find the murderer.

VICKERS: (NONCOMMITTAL) Uh huh. (BEAT, POLITE) How do you like Trinidad, Mr. Poggioli?

POGGIOLI: (MYSTIFIED) I like it very much indeed.

VICKERS: You've just arrived, haven't you?


VICKERS: In what university do you teach, back in the States?

POGGIOLI: Ohio State.

VICKERS: A chair of criminal psychology in an ordinary state university?

POGGIOLI: I'm not a professor, I'm simply a docent. And I haven't specialized on criminal psychology; I - I quiz on general psychology.

VICKERS: You're not teaching now?

POGGIOLI: No, this is my sabbatical year.

VICKERS: You look young to have taught in the university six years, but then you Americans start young in your land of specialists. Now you, Mr. Poggioli-- I suppose you're wrapped up heart and soul in your psychology?


VICKERS: You'd, uh, do anything in the world to advance yourself in the science?

POGGIOLI: I rather think so.

VICKERS: Especially keen on original research work?

LOWE: (LAUGHS) That's what he is, Chief Vickers. Do you know what he asked me to do yesterday afternoon? (CHUCKLES)

VICKERS: No, what, Mr. Lowe?

POGGIOLI: Oh, I don't think we ought to burden Mr. Vickers with our household anecdotes.

VICKERS: Oh, but I'm really curious. Just what did Mr. Poggioli ask you to do yesterday afternoon, Mr. Lowe?

LOWE: (HESITANT) Oh, well, really nothing. Nothing at all. It was just a little psychological experiment he wanted to do.

VICKERS: And did he do it?

LOWE: Oh, no, no, no. I wouldn't hear of it.

VICKERS: Oh? As unconventional as that?

POGGIOLI: Oh, it was really nothing. Nothing at all.

VICKERS: I think I could guess your anecdote if I tried, gentlemen. About a half an hour ago I received a telephone message from my man stationed at the temple to keep a lookout for you and Mr. Poggioli.

LOWE: A lookout for us?

VICKERS: Yes. Because one of the coolies under arrest told him that Mr. Poggioli slept in the temple last night.

LOWE: Oh, but that's not true! That's exactly what he didn't do. He suggested it to me, but I said no. You remember, Poggioli? You--? (BEAT, REALIZES, SLOWLY) You didn't do it, did you, Poggioli? (NO ANSWER) Did you?

VICKERS: You see he did.

POGGIOLI: (APOLOGETIC) Gentlemen, I - I had a perfectly valid and important reason for sleeping in the temple last night and so I - I can only ask your sympathetic attention to what I'm about to say.


POGGIOLI: You remember, Lowe, you and I were down there watching a wedding procession. Well, just as the music stopped and the procession entered the building, suddenly it seemed to me as if-- As if they'd vanished.

VICKERS: Naturally, they'd gone into the building.

POGGIOLI: No, no, I don't mean that. I'm afraid you won't understand what I do mean -- that the whole procession had ceased to exist, melted into nothingness. You see, that's really the idea on which the Hindus base their notion of heaven -- oblivion, nothingness.

VICKERS: Yes, I've heard that before.

POGGIOLI: Well, our medieval Gothic architecture was a conception of our Western heaven; and I thought perhaps the Indian architecture had somehow caught the motif of the Indian religion; you know, suggested Nirvana. That's what amazed and intrigued me. That's why I wanted to sleep in the place. I wanted to see if I could further my shred of impression. Does that make any sense to you, Mr. Vickers?

VICKERS: We're not interested why you went, Mr. Poggioli. We know a murder took place in the temple.

POGGIOLI: (SLOWLY) You-- You don't-- You can't think that I committed a horrible murder -- as an experiment?

VICKERS: You intellectual chaps do some pretty weird things, Mr. Poggioli. Why, only the other day, I was reading about two young intellectuals--

POGGIOLI: Good Lord!

VICKERS: Yes. These fellows I read about also tried to turn an honest penny by their murder. I don't suppose you happened to notice yesterday that the little bride, Maila Ran, was almost covered with gold bangles and coins.

POGGIOLI: Of course I noticed it. But I had nothing whatever to do with her. I - I did sleep in the temple, but--

VICKERS: By the way, you say you slept on a rug just as the coolies did?

POGGIOLI: Why, yes, I did.

VICKERS: And you didn't wake up either, Mr. Poggioli?


VICKERS: Then did the child's murderer happen to put a coin and a bangle in your pockets, just as he did the other sleepers in the temple?

POGGIOLI: I don't know. I - I haven't looked in my pockets since then.

VICKERS: Then please do so now, Mr. Poggioli.


VICKERS: You don't happen to have any more, do you?

POGGIOLI: No. I've already been through all my pockets and I haven't any more.

VICKERS: Well, that's something. Of course, you might have expected just such a questioning as this and provided yourself with these two pieces of gold, but I doubt it. Somehow, I don't believe that you're an experienced enough man to think of such a thing. However, we shall see. I suppose you have no objection, Mr. Poggioli, to my accompanying you over to have a little search of your baggage in Mr. Lowe's cottage.


VICKERS: Now then, Mr. Poggioli, be so kind as to open your trunk.



VICKERS: (SATISFIED) Mm hm! Just as I thought! A trunk tray full of bangles and coins. 


VICKERS: I'll say one thing for you, though, Mr. Poggioli -- your nerve almost got you by!

POGGIOLI: (DEVASTATED) But you - you can't believe that I did it. (NO RESPONSE) Lowe, you don't believe I did this, do you?

LOWE: (AT A LOSS) I - I don't-- In your trunk, Poggioli--

POGGIOLI: If I did it, I was sleepwalking! My God, to think that it's possible that right here in my own trunk--

VICKERS: Well, we might as well start back, I suppose. This is all.

LOWE: I - I'll go back with you, Poggioli. I'll see you through. Somehow I can't-- I won't believe you did it.

POGGIOLI: (QUIETLY) Thanks. Thanks.

LOWE: You know, Poggioli, you set out to clear Boodman Lal and-- Well, dash it all, it looks as if you have.

VICKERS: No, he didn't. Boodman Lal was out of jail at least an hour before you fellows came into police headquarters to see me.

LOWE: Out? You mean that you turned him loose?


LOWE: How's that, Chief Vickers?

VICKERS: Because, Mr. Lowe, he didn't go to the temple at all with his wife last night. He went down to Queen's Park Hotel and played billiards till one o'clock. He called up a few friends and proved that easily enough.

LOWE: My word, that leaves nobody but--

VICKERS: Yes. Poggioli.

POGGIOLI: (WEAKLY) I don't know anything about it. If I did commit the murder, I was asleep. I don't know anything about it; that's all I can say. I don't know anything about it.

VICKERS: Perhaps a rest in jail will help restore your memory. Well, we'll see.

LOWE: Come now, Poggioli, old man. Don't be too downhearted. I promise you I'll do everything I can.


JUDGE: In the case against Henry Poggioli, having been duly tried by a jury of your peers, you have been found guilty and by the powers invested in me, I herewith sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you are dead.


POGGIOLI: To recall a lost dream is the most tantalizing task ever a human brain was driven to. But if I lie still long enough on this bunk, perhaps I can recapture the dream I had in the temple that night.

Yes, yes.

It seems to me that the image [of the Buddha] on the altar moved, and suddenly the [temple] dome overhead was opened and left me staring upward into a vast abyss -- for I was alone in endless space, where all creatures and all matter that had ever been or ever would be, were wrapped up in me -- Poggioli. [And I began struggling desperately against nothingness.]

That was my dream.

[All five of the coolies had much the same dream; grandiloquence and power accompanied by great unhappiness.] That's an odd thing. Six men dreaming the same dream in different terms. There must be a physical cause for such a phenomenon.

Of course!

I've got it!

(CALLS) Vickers! Lowe! I have it! I've solved it! Get me out of here! 

I know who killed the girl!


TURNKEY: What is it, my friend?

POGGIOLI: I know who murdered the bride. Old Hira Dass did it. Now listen-- Listen-- Go tell Vickers to take the gold he found in my trunk and develop all the fingerprints on it. He'll find Hira Dass's prints! Also, tell him to follow out that opiate clue I gave him. He'll find Hira Dass sent a man to put the gold in my trunk. See if they don't find brass or steel filings in my room where the scoundrel sat and filed a new key. 

TURNKEY: But they've already done that long ago.

POGGIOLI: They have? But-- 

TURNKEY: Certainly. And old Hira Dass confessed everything, though why a rich old man like him should have murdered a pretty child is more than I can see. 

POGGIOLI: But why did he pick on me as a scapegoat?

TURNKEY: Oh, he explained that to the police. He said he picked out a white man so the police would make a thorough investigation and be sure to catch him. [In fact, he said, sir, that he had willed that you should come and sleep in the temple that night.]


TURNKEY: Aye, but what I can't see is why the old boy wanted to be caught and hanged. Why didn't he commit suicide?

POGGIOLI: Why? I know why. Because, according to his religion, in that case, his soul would have returned in the form of some beast. He wanted to be slain because he expects to be reborn instantly in Benares with little Maila Ran as his bride instead of his nephew's. He hopes to be a great man with wife and children -- all the things he was not, here in Trinidad.

TURNKEY: Yes, yes. You must be right.

POGGIOLI: (ANNOYED) Why didn't you come and tell me of old Hira Dass's confession the moment it occurred? What do you mean, keeping me here when you know I'm an innocent man? Why didn't you tell me before this?!

TURNKEY: (SIMPLY) Because I couldn't. Old Hira Dass didn't confess until a month and ten days after you were hanged.


NARRATOR: So ends "A Passage to Benares," T. S. Stribling's tale of mysterious death and death mysterious. This was tonight's story of--


NARRATOR: --SUSPENSE. ... SUSPENSE is produced by William Spier, and John Dietz was our guest director this evening. Tonight's radio drama was written by Carroll Case and scored by Bernard Herrmann. Paul Stewart was Poggioli, Berry Kroeger was Mr. Hira Dass, and Horace Braham played Mr. Lowe. Others in the cast were Alan Hewitt and Guy Repp. Next week at this time, Columbia will bring you another selected story from the world's great literature of thrills, another study in -- SUSPENSE. This is Berry Kroeger and this is - the Columbia Broadcasting System.