Microphone Plays‎ > ‎

Casting the Runes

Escape

Casting the Runes

Nov 19 1947



CAST:

ANNOUNCER

2ND ANNOUNCER


EDWARD DUNNING

ALFRED SMYTHE

PASSENGER (2 lines)

KARSWELL

ATTENDANT (5 lines)

DOCTOR (3 lines)

VOICE (1 line)

HENRY HARRINGTON

PURSER (3 lines)




MUSIC: UNEASY INTRODUCTION ... THEN OUT


ANNOUNCER: Had a hard day at the office? Back ache from bending over a hot stove all day? Want to get away from it all? 


2ND ANNOUNCER: We offer you -- ESCAPE!


MUSIC: THEME ... MUSSORGSKY'S "NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN" ... THEN EERIE, IN BG


ANNOUNCER: It is midnight and you are alone. Suddenly the room is plunged into darkness. You sit frozen with terror -- because something is there behind you. Something you feared would come. Something from which you must escape.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN OUT


2ND ANNOUNCER: ESCAPE! -- produced and directed by William N. Robson and carefully plotted to free you from the four walls of today for a half-hour of high adventure.


MUSIC: UNEASY ACCENT ... THEN OUT BEHIND--


ANNOUNCER: Tonight we escape to London and a world made strange and terrifying by the workings of an ancient barbaric curse, as Montague R. James tells it in his weird story "Casting the Runes."


MUSIC: INTRODUCTION ... THEN OUT WITH--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) My name is Edward Dunning. I'm a scientist. I'm used to dealing with facts, not fairy tales. I'm regarded as Britain's leading authority on medieval life and as such I've studied much of the ancient fears and barbaric superstitions of those times. I should have been the first to scoff at any suggestion that the ancient powers of evil -- the black magic of Teutonic days -- could be believed and practiced in the twentieth century. A few weeks ago I should have laughed had you told me that a curse -- a hex -- could kill a man. Today, I cannot laugh. It has happened to a man I know of. And now -- it's happening to me.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) My first presentiment of danger came on that day a few weeks ago when I dropped in to see Alfred Smythe, Secretary of the National Science Association and found him in a state of irritation.


SMYTHE: Blast it all, Dunning, I almost wish you hadn't been so brutally honest in your report on that Karswell paper.


DUNNING: Why? What's the trouble?


SMYTHE: Oh, he's such a frightful fellow. He's raising a terrible row.


DUNNING: You mean -- Karswell himself?


SMYTHE: Yes. It's bad enough a vicious charlatan like that calling himself a scientist, but now he's taking all his vindictiveness out on me.


DUNNING: (CHUCKLES) Well, sorry, old chap. It's really me he'd like to get at.


SMYTHE: As a matter of fact, that's just what his last letter was about. He wants to know what "supposed authority" wrote the report rejecting his paper.


DUNNING: You didn't give him my name?


SMYTHE: Heavens, no. As a matter of fact, Dunning, I haven't, and I won't, and for a very special reason. Call it silly, call it crazy, call it what you will -- I have an uncanny feeling about that man Karswell.


DUNNING: Hm? Why?


SMYTHE: Do you know anything about him?


DUNNING: Nothing. I've never seen him. I only know that he wrote a paper called "The Truth of Alchemy"; it was hopeless.


SMYTHE: Precisely. And why was it hopeless?


DUNNING: Well, besides being abominably written, it was supposed to prove that alchemy, black magic, and such rot actually exists. I think the man really believes it.


SMYTHE: Undoubtedly he does, and that's what I mean. He lives in an isolated old house in Warwickshire. He's rarely seen elsewhere and in his whole career he's written only two things: this paper, and a history of witchcraft published ten years ago.


DUNNING: Yes, of course. I remember now. So that's the man.


SMYTHE: Yes, and that book was even worse than this paper. The man has a warped mind. I'm sure he's tried every unhealthy experiment in alchemy, witchcraft, and black magic. There's no telling to what lengths of vindictiveness a man like that might go.


DUNNING: Well, does sound a bit queer, but--


SMYTHE: It's not queer, Dunning. Evil.


DUNNING: (AMUSED) Oh, come. A man has a right to believe what he likes. And he has a right to be angry with me. Here I've glibly scoffed at the man's life's work.


SMYTHE: Well, perhaps I'm being overly suspicious and imaginative, but I think there's more than anger involved here, Edward.


DUNNING: Mm?


SMYTHE: This may sound fantastic to you, but-- Well, John Harrington wrote the report condemning that witchcraft book of Karswell's ten years ago. Three months later, Harrington was dead.


DUNNING: Hm. But, Alfred -- what's the connection?


SMYTHE: Harrington died under very peculiar circumstances. He was walking home alone late one night and suddenly he screamed, broke into a run, lost his hat and stick, and climbed up a tree. A dead branch gave way; he fell and broke his neck. No one's ever been able to explain why it happened.


DUNNING: (CHUCKLES) Come now, Alfred. Surely you're not suggesting that this--


SMYTHE: Oh, I don't know what I'm suggesting. I only know that after he reviewed Karswell's book, John Harrington didn't have a moment's peace. Now you've written an unfavorable review of this paper. If I were you, I should keep that fact well-hidden.


DUNNING: (LAUGHS) Oh, Alfred! Why, that's ridiculous! (LAUGHS) 


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) Yes, I laughed at Alfred Smythe's fears. How could I have known then that I was to feel the same terror, the same agonized fear, which gripped the heart of John Harrington as he crouched, panting, on the branch of a tree, with another moment or two of life, while beneath him, the thing came closer, and closer?


MUSIC: UP FOR AN ACCENT ... THEN OUT BEHIND NARRATION--


SOUND: TRAIN INTERIOR BACKGROUND FADES IN BEHIND--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I'd almost forgotten the incident when a few nights later I was riding home on the late train. I was half-drowsing in my seat, barely keeping awake by looking idly at the car's card personals. The man directly opposite me must have been doing the same, because suddenly I heard him say:


PASSENGER: 'Ere now, what can that one be advertisin'?


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I followed his eyes to the window beside my head. What I saw brought me bolt upright in my seat.


PASSENGER: (READS) "In memory of John 'Arrington. Died September eighteenth, Nineteen Thirty-Seven by falling from a tree. Three months were allowed." (TO DUNNING) Blimey, what would you say that means, sir?


DUNNING: (UNEASY) Well, I-- I don't know.


SOUND: TRAIN INTERIOR BACKGROUND OUT WITH--


MUSIC: MELANCHOLY ... IN AND BEHIND--


DUNNING: (NARRATES, SLOWLY) But I did know. Smythe had been right. The affair with Karswell was not over, but only begun. I asked the conductor about the card, but he was as puzzled as I was. He had never seen it before. The card must have been put there expressly for me. That meant that Karswell knew it was I who had reviewed his paper. How had he found out?


MUSIC: UP FOR BRIEF ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I got the answer the next day. I was in the Select Manuscript Department of the British Museum doing some research in the quiet, almost deserted room. I had been working steadily for an hour, oblivious to my surroundings, when suddenly, just at my shoulder, I heard a voice.


MUSIC: CUTS


KARSWELL: (FILTER) Edward Dunning, you are allowed three months.


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I swung around in my seat. There was no one within twenty feet of me. I sat for a moment, shaken, and then I stooped to pick up the papers I had brushed to the floor. I straightened up -- to find a stout, elderly gentleman standing in front of me.


KARSWELL: (POLITE) Excuse me, sir.


DUNNING: (STARTLED) Yes?


KARSWELL: May I give you this paper? I think it should be yours.


DUNNING: Oh. Yes, so it is. I thought I had them all.


KARSWELL: This one seemed to have slid across the floor.


DUNNING: Thank you very much.


KARSWELL: (QUIETLY PLEASED) Not at all, sir. (MOVING OFF) Good afternoon.


DUNNING: (NARRATES) He walked slowly away and out of the door, a kindly stout old gentleman. But there was something about him that made me feel strange. I went over to the attendant.


ATTENDANT: Er, yes, Mr. Dunning?


DUNNING: Did you notice that gentleman I was just speaking to?


ATTENDANT: Oh, yes, of course.


DUNNING: Er, can you tell me his name?


ATTENDANT: Why, that's Mr. Karswell. As a matter of fact, he was asking about you only the other day.


DUNNING: Asking about me?


ATTENDANT: Well, he asked who were the great authorities on medieval science. And of course I told him you were the only one in the country.


DUNNING: Oh. I see.


ATTENDANT: Would you like to meet him, Mr. Dunning? I'll see if I can--


DUNNING: (INTERRUPTS NERVOUSLY) Er, uh, no! (QUIETLY POLITE) No, thank you.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) It was as simple as that. Now Karswell knew. What would be his next move? What was I to expect? I reached home at dusk, and trouble stood on my doorstep in the long face and stooped form of my family doctor.


DOCTOR: I had to upset your household arrangements, I'm sorry to say, Dunning. I've had to send both your servants to hospital.


DUNNING: But - what happened?


DOCTOR: Er, something like ptomaine poisoning, I should think. It's nothing serious.


DUNNING: Well, what could have caused it?


DOCTOR: Well, that's the rather odd thing. They tell me they bought some shellfish from a hawker and had it for lunch. I've made inquiries, but I can't find that a hawker called at any other house on this street.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES, SLOWLY) Was this the next move? If so, it had succeeded. I was alone in the house and my nervousness increased as darkness closed in and the hours advanced toward midnight. I went to bed, but almost immediately I thought I heard something: my study door opening downstairs. I went out and leaned over the bannister. There was nothing moving, nothing visible. There was only a sudden surprising gust of warm air playing about my legs.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES, SLOWLY) I went back into my room and locked the door. Suddenly the lights went out.


MUSIC: CUTS


DUNNING: (NARRATES) No doubt it was only a blown fuse. But the chills were playing up and down my spine. I went over to the bed and reached for my watch under the pillow. I suppose I wanted to find out the time; I don't know why. (SLOWLY) But, fumbling on the pillow, my hand touched something far different from a watch. It was like a mouth, with sharp teeth and hair around it; not human at all!


MUSIC: BIG ACCENT ... THEN OUT BEHIND--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I fled from my bedroom and spent a long and miserable night locked in the spare room, my ear to the door. But nothing came. I was not disturbed again. In the morning, I searched the house and found nothing unusual. But the mark of fear must have been stamped on my face, for Smythe noticed it next day.


SMYTHE: Dunning, you look as if you hadn't slept for weeks. Is anything wrong?


DUNNING: I - I don't know, Alfred. I-- Yes. There is. Karswell knows.


SMYTHE: How?


DUNNING: They told him at the museum.


SMYTHE: Of course! We should have thought of that. Has anything happened yet?


DUNNING: I don't know. It's too fantastic. It's probably my mind; hypnotic suggestion or something, but-- Like that man Harrington, I have three months left.


SMYTHE: (SHOCKED) Edward!


DUNNING: Must have been hearing things. I'm all on edge. I don't know what to think.


SMYTHE: John Harrington had a brother Henry. Perhaps I'd better get you in touch with him. He might know more about this man Karswell.


DUNNING: (EAGER) Yes, yes, do it -- and quickly. Three months is not a lot of time.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) It was arranged. That night, I found myself walking down the dark street that led from the railway station to the Harrington home. It must have been along this same street that John Harrington had walked that last night, where he had broke and run. It must have been one of these trees bordering the lonely road in which he had spent his last horrible moments.


SOUND: DUNNING'S FOOTSTEPS ON STREET ... FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG


DUNNING: (NARRATES) The way was dark and there was no living soul in sight. And suddenly complete terror gripped me. Somehow I knew that I was being followed. At first I only felt it and then I heard it.


SOUND: A SECOND SET OF FOOTSTEPS -- THUMPING AND AWKWARDLY PACED, LIKE A LARGE LIMPING BEAST -- JOINS DUNNING'S ... THEN BOTH INCREASE IN SPEED BEHIND--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I walked steadily on for a moment, my stomach like ice. It was getting louder, coming closer. Unconsciously, my step quickened. I could barely control myself. I wanted to scream and run. The thing came closer, closer! (BLOODCURDLING SCREAM)


MUSIC: TOPS EVERYTHING ... A HUGE ACCENT, THEN OUT


SOUND: DUNNING'S RUNNING FOOTSTEPS ON STREET ... IN BG


DUNNING: (NARRATES, RAPIDLY) I confess, I broke and ran -- ran madly for my life. I was at a little side street. I turned down it, doubling back toward the railway station. I thought I would never make it. But finally bright lights loomed before my eyes and I think that I have never been so grateful for human companionship.


SOUND: DUNNING'S RUNNING FOOTSTEPS SLOW TO A WALK


VOICE: (PLEASANT) There's no need to run, sir. The eight-forty won't be along for another five minutes.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I felt - very foolish. I couldn't bring myself to walk back down that street to Harrington's. I could only take the train home, furtively, and call Harrington next morning to beg his forgiveness. He seemed very understanding and asked no questions. Undoubtedly Smythe had told him something about me. At any rate, he agreed to visit me at a place two nights later, and when he arrived and was made welcome, he began to talk about his brother. 


HARRINGTON: Yes, Mr. Dunning, John was in a very bad state for weeks before the accident. Er, if that's what it was. The principal thing seemed to be the notion that he was being followed; it became an obsession.


DUNNING: Yes, I know. I don't think his death was an accident.


HARRINGTON: Then -- perhaps you can explain it?


DUNNING: No. But I have one clue. Your brother reviewed a book very severely not long before he died. Er, just lately, I happened to cross the path of the man who wrote that book.


HARRINGTON: And his name, of course, is Karswell.


DUNNING: That's right.


HARRINGTON: Then, as far as I'm concerned, that does it. Before he died, John was beginning to feel, much against his will, that Karswell was at the bottom of his trouble.


DUNNING: Why?


HARRINGTON: Well, it doesn't make sense.


DUNNING: None of this does. But tell me.


HARRINGTON: My brother liked music. He went to all the concerts in town and he made a hobby of collecting the programs. One night, about three months before his death, he brought one home and showed it to me. "I nearly missed this one," he said. It seems he'd lost his, and was hunting for it under his seat, when a neighbor -- a rather stout elderly gentleman -- offered to give John his.


DUNNING: The kind gentleman was Mr. Karswell?


HARRINGTON: Undoubtedly. I started to leaf through the program and noticed on the second page some rather curious letters carefully written there in black and red ink. Neither of us could make much of it, except that the letters seemed to be Runic. 


DUNNING: (THOUGHTFUL) Runes. Runes -- of course!


HARRINGTON: Well, John thought it might be important and debated whether he shouldn't try to return the program to the stout gentleman. But just then the door blew open and a gust of air -- of strangely warm air -- blew into the room. In a flash, it took the program and blew it straight into the fire.


DUNNING: Yes, your brother was right. He should have returned it.


HARRINGTON: Well, there was nothing to be done then.


DUNNING: Well, perhaps not. But do you know what Runic letters mean?


HARRINGTON: Well, they're old pre-Druid script, I believe -- the kind of writing the barbaric tribes used long before the Romans invaded Britain.


DUNNING: Yes, that's right. "Casting the Runes" they used to call it in the old days. "Casting the Runes."


HARRINGTON: What do you mean?


DUNNING: Well, it was a curse -- uh, a hex. In primitive England, people thought by "casting the Runes" -- that is, handing a person a piece of paper with certain Runic letters on it -- that it could put that person out of the way, destroy him. It's an old superstition. And the only way to lift the curse was to return the paper to the one who gave it to you -- to give it back, without his knowing it.


HARRINGTON: I - I don't believe that kind of nonsense.


DUNNING: (WEAK CHUCKLE) Neither do I.


HARRINGTON: Then what was it that killed John?


DUNNING: I don't know. Perhaps his fear of the Runes. Perhaps brooding about it, becoming neurotic, thinking he saw things and heard things and - (UNEASY) - touched things that weren't there. Perhaps his own mind drove him to death.


HARRINGTON: And what's the difference -- once you're dead?


DUNNING: No difference at all.


HARRINGTON: (CONSIDERS) "Casting the Runes." (DISMISSIVE) Oh, it's rubbish.


DUNNING: Yes, of course, but-- (BEAT, REALIZES) Good heavens.


HARRINGTON: What is it?


DUNNING: I just remembered. That day -- at the British Museum -- he cast the Runes on me!


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


SOUND: RUSTLE OF PORTFOLIO AND PAPERS IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I went swiftly to the writing table, Harrington close behind me. My portfolio was there, full of the scribbled notes I'd been working on that day in the museum, and as I took it in my shaking hands and began leafing desperately through them, one strip of thin light paper slipped and fluttered toward the open window with uncanny quickness. But Harrington was even quicker and slammed the window shut just in time.


SOUND: BANG! OF WINDOW SHUT


HARRINGTON: Got it!


DUNNING: Oh, thank heavens! If it were lost or destroyed, like your brother's--


HARRINGTON: Then you wouldn't be able to return it to Mr. Karswell.


SOUND: RUSTLE OF PAPER


HARRINGTON: (HUSHED) Yes! Look at it! It's identical with the one John got.


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I looked at the flimsy paper. The characters, carefully traced in red and black, were Runes, all right -- that ancient language used by the aborigines of prehistoric Britain. I couldn't decipher them. But as Harrington and I stood looking into each other's eyes, each of us could read the other's thoughts. Science or not, twentieth century or not, this sheet of foolscap spells death for its possessor.


HARRINGTON: It spells death -- for you.


DUNNING: It must be returned.


HARRINGTON: Yes. I know.


DUNNING: It must go back in such a way that he doesn't know he's received it. That means we can't simply mail it.


HARRINGTON: No. We can't.


DUNNING: We must do it personally. (TROUBLED) That'll take doing.


HARRINGTON: He knows you by sight, doesn't he?


DUNNING: Yes.


HARRINGTON: You must shave your beard. It'll alter your appearance. He might strike any time.


DUNNING: I have three months. That's what the warning said.


HARRINGTON: We've got to make good on this, Dunning. I've searched ten years for my brother's murderer -- and now he must not escape.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I dare not go near Karswell. So Harrington volunteered to keep a watch on him, to let me know when our chance came to return the Runes -- if it was ever to come. (BEAT) It was only a night or two after Harrington was there that I arrived home and found a calendar had come in the mail. When I examined it, I found everything after November nineteenth had been torn out. The next night, I had another envelope in the mail. This time it was a woodcut, an illustration torn out of a book, showing a dark moonlit road and a man walking on it. And right behind him came a huge dark shape, some awful demon creature. Under it were written some lines from "The Ancient Mariner" and, as I sat alone and read them aloud, I felt that now-familiar gust of warm air playing about my legs.

(READS)

The man walks on,

And turns no more his head,

Because he knows a frightful fiend

Doth close behind him tread.


MUSIC: SOMBER TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND NARRATION, WITH MINOR ACCENTS AT [X]--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) Now I knew the face of my terror, and it was with me always. Walking down the dark street at night, I heard its footsteps behind me. In my lonely house at midnight it roamed the halls. Like the Ancient Mariner and John Harrington, I never turned to look. I couldn't. My nerves were going and I could do nothing but wait. [X] The days, the weeks, slipped by, and still Harrington had no plan. I checked off the days on the calendar Karswell had sent. Now there were eight days remaining, then six, then three, two. One. [X] It was the evening of the eighteenth. My last day on Earth was to begin at midnight. [X] I was sitting alone in my living room, bathed in perspiration, fighting to keep my nerves in check. Suddenly I felt that warm gust of air. [X] I listened.


SOUND: FOOTSTEPS APPROACH ... THEN IN BG


DUNNING: (NARRATES) There were soft footsteps. A shadow seemed to cross the hall door. And then the footsteps blended into a loud banging.


SOUND: FOOTSTEPS OUT ... KNOCK ON DOOR


DUNNING: (EXPLODES IN TERROR) No! No! Not yet! I've still got one day more! Not yet! (BLOODCURDLING INDECIPHERABLE YELLING)


SOUND: DOOR OPENS ... HARRINGTON'S HURRIED STEPS IN AND DOOR SHUTS BEHIND--


HARRINGTON: (REASSURING) Dunning! Dunning, it's me!


DUNNING: (SHAKEN) Oh--! Oh, thank heaven. Harrington--


HARRINGTON: What's the matter, man? What is it?


DUNNING: It's you. You were knocking on the door. Your footsteps.


HARRINGTON: Yes, of course.


DUNNING: Oh, thank heaven. I - I thought--


HARRINGTON: Now, look, man, you've got to pull yourself together. It's tonight we have our chance.


DUNNING: What - chance?


HARRINGTON: Karswell leaves Victoria Station by boat train tonight at ten. I'll get on with him there. You take the car I've brought and drive to Croydon. Get on the train there. And be sure to bring the paper.


DUNNING: Yes. Yes, I have it.


HARRINGTON: You've shaved already. Good. Everything depends on his not recognizing you.


DUNNING: Harrington -- suppose he changes his mind. Suppose he doesn't take that trip. My time runs out tomorrow.


HARRINGTON: He'll be there. And you'll do it. You'll do it well. You've got to.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I stood on the platform at Croydon, my mind in a daze. I thought the train would never come, but it did. I saw Harrington at the window. He stared coolly at me. Of course there was to be no sign of recognition. 


SOUND: IDLING TRAIN INTERIOR BACKGROUND


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I entered the coach and slowly made my way down the aisle to the compartment where Harrington sat. Opposite him, staring full into my face, was Karswell. He looked up as I sat down. His eyes were heavy-lidded; his face bland. It was impossible to tell whether he knew.


SOUND: TRAIN STARTS ... CONTINUES IN BG


DUNNING: (NARRATES) The train started. The next stop was Dover, the end of the line. My last chance. It was time to cast the Runes.


MUSIC: BRIEF TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


SOUND: MOVING TRAIN BACKGROUND


DUNNING: (NARRATES) It was a strange ride: Karswell and I seated face-to-face, staring into each other's eyes; Harrington off to the side, pulling at his face with twitching fingers. If I could have only had a few whispered moments with him to plan our strategy, but that was impossible. The moments dragged torturously. No one moved. Then, suddenly, Karswell leaned forward.


KARSWELL: I beg your pardon, sir. Haven't we met?


DUNNING: (WORKING CLASS ACCENT) Eh? Met? Well, I don't think so, sir. Not unless you're in the plumbin' business.


KARSWELL: (AMUSED) Plumbing? No. Hardly.


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I hadn't planned it that way: the words, the accent, just seemed to come by themselves. And Karswell sat back, an enigmatic expression on his face. I wished desperately to know what he was thinking. Then suddenly he got up and went out into the corridor. This was my chance! I was about to slip over to his bags to see if there were a way to secrete the Runes within them, when I caught Harrington's eye and read a warning in them. Karswell, from the corridor, was watching, waiting to see if we recognized each other. I muttered a prayer of thanks I hadn't moved. 


Karswell came back and took his seat. As he did so, wild, exultant hope surged up in my throat, for something slipped off his seat and dropped noiselessly to the floor. It was his ticket-case and he didn't see it! It was a small cardboard ticket-case with a pocket on the cover. If I could just get to it and slip that tiny piece of paper into that pocket. For fifteen agonizing minutes I sat there and stared at it. If only Karswell would go out, but he sat stolidly staring straight ahead. We were coming into the outskirts of Dover, the train slowing down. Suddenly Harrington stood up, reached up to the rack above Karswell to get his coat and bag. I stared at him blankly for a moment, surprised by his sudden clumsiness. And then I realized what he was up to. The bag, the coat, a briefcase, all came tumbling down upon Karswell.


SOUND: THUMP-THUMP-THUMP! OF TUMBLING BAG, COAT, BRIEFCASE 


KARSWELL: What the devil?!


HARRINGTON: Oh, I say, I'm sorry. I'm terribly sorry.


KARSWELL: (EXPLODES) You clumsy fool! You might have injured me! What were you trying to do?


SOUND: ANGRY KARSWELL AND APOLOGETIC HARRINGTON CONVERSE INDECIPHERABLY BEHIND DUNNING'S NARRATION--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) It was my only chance. Karswell stood, facing Harrington. I reached down, got the ticket-case, and my fumbling fingers slid the paper into the pocket. He turned sharply to me and I extended the case toward him. (TO KARSWELL, WORKING CLASS ACCENT) Uh, excuse me, sir. Is this yours?


KARSWELL: (CURT) Yes. It's my ticket-case. Where'd you find it?


DUNNING: (WORKING CLASS ACCENT) Here on the floor. Must have dropped off when--


KARSWELL: Yes. I'm much obliged to you, sir.


DUNNING: (WORKING CLASS ACCENT) Not at all. Not at all.


MUSIC: IN AND BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) He looked at me fiercely, his rage at Harrington still twisting his face into a devil's mask. Then he glanced briefly into the ticket-case -- and put it into his pocket.


MUSIC: BRIEF HOPEFUL TRANSITION ... THEN OUT


SOUND: PIER BACKGROUND


DUNNING: (NARRATES) On the railway pier at Dover, Harrington and I followed a few steps behind Karswell. I felt like I might faint. Karswell went straight to the gangway of the boat and there the purser stopped him.


PURSER: Excuse me, sir, does your friend have a ticket?


KARSWELL: My friend? What the devil do you mean? I'm traveling alone.


PURSER: Why, that's funny. I could have sworn there was another gentleman right there beside ye, walkin' just at your elbow.


KARSWELL: Well, there isn't. And I suggest you see an oculist.


PURSER: Oh, I - I didn't see, I just felt-- Sorry, sir. Must have been your rugs. My mistake.


SOUND: BOAT WHISTLE BLOWS


HARRINGTON: (LOW) Come on, Dunning. Our job's done.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND DUNNING--


DUNNING: (NARRATES) I didn't sleep that night. I lay awake and listened. But there were no footsteps, no warm gusts of air, nothing to disturb me. All day I felt remarkably free, although this was to have been my last day on Earth. But only just now, when Harrington came in, could I really relax.


HARRINGTON: Oh, Dunning, have you seen the afternoon paper yet?


DUNNING: Why, no, not yet.


HARRINGTON: Well, here. Look at it.


SOUND: RUSTLE OF NEWSPAPER


HARRINGTON: On the second page. There.


DUNNING: (BEAT, READS) "Abbeville, France. An English traveler, examining the front of St Wulfram's Cathedral today was struck on the head and killed instantly by a stone falling from the scaffolding. A note of mystery was added by the fact that although the cathedral was undergoing repairs, no workman was on the scaffolding at the time of the accident. The traveler was identified by papers found on him as a Mr. Karswell of Warwickshire."


SOUND: RUSTLE OF NEWSPAPER CLOSED


HARRINGTON: (NONCOMMITTAL) Er, of course, it could have been an accident.


DUNNING: (THOUGHTFUL) Yes. Yes, it could have been.


MUSIC: CURTAIN


2ND ANNOUNCER: ESCAPE is produced and directed by William N. Robson and tonight brought you "Casting the Runes" by Montague R. James, adapted for radio by Irving Ravetch and John Dunkel, with John McIntire as Edward Dunning, Ian Wolfe as Harrington, and Bill Conrad as Karswell. The special musical score was conceived and conducted by Cy Feuer.


MUSIC: UNEASY ACCENT ... THEN IN BG


2ND ANNOUNCER: Next week--


ANNOUNCER: You are trapped in a hidden valley, high in the Andes, walled in by sheer rock precipices, and surrounding you -- closing in on you -- is a band of blind men who want your eyes.


MUSIC: CLOSING THEME ... THEN IN BG, UNTIL END


ANNOUNCER: Next week, we escape with H. G. Wells' gripping story "The Country of the Blind." Good night then, until this same time next week, when we again offer you ESCAPE. This is CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Comments