A happy and hope-filled Victorian train station is the perfect setting to celebrate Christmas on the Appreciation. This scene from “The Blackheath Poisonings” is just the ticket. Beautiful romantic Isabel Collard (Christine Kavanagh) has finally been acquitted of murder. Her brother-in-law Robert Dangerfield is now helping her plot a new future in India.
[Isabel and Robert are hurrying through the train station]
Isabel: Yes, Robert, I’m quite clear. When I disembark at Bombay I shall be met by the senior Indian servant….
Robert: ….the Head Bearer… [hands porter pushing the luggage some change]
Isabel: …of your friend Mr. George Dollivan Coates. The Head Bearer will escort me to Mr. Coates….
Robert: Coates Sahib or Coates Huzoor…
Isabel: …will escort me to his estate near Mysore where Coates Sahib who is in need of a wife…
Isabel: ….his own having recently deceased will do me the honor of marrying me.
Admin: Rush, rush, rush! They waste no time getting her on the train. Dangerfield is very elegantly dressed in a long coat with fur collar, a smart topper, and an absolutely gorgeous cane with an ivory (poor elephant) carved handle. He now has little in common with the shabbily dressed man who appeared in the first episode. He has grown considerably during his murder-filled tenure in the Collard-Vandervent toy firm.
RF: Oh yes, Mr. Malahide has some great wardrobe in that scene, and he wears it wonderfully. Those former
creditors of Dangerfield’s who were mashing him up against walls and dunning him for cash would hardly recognize him! He’s also very practical in terms of helping Isabel get away. You’d think he might have had to arrange more than one hurried departure in his life.
Admin: He’s a former cad, and maybe not 100% former at that, so I’m sure he’s had considerable experience in the art.
Admin: I like how Dangerfield gives her some quick lessons in colonial India’s culture. It isn’t servant; it is “head bearer.” And you should say “sahib” or “huzoor” rather than “mister”. He almost barks (but in a nice firm way) the phrases at her which further emphasizes how assertive and in control he has become.
RF: It’s just too bad he only has time for a quick lesson. But yeah, it’s a nice reminder that he’s very familiar with colonial India. Hmmm… didn’t he run away there himself, after he dumped Charlotte the first time? 😉
Admin: That’s right, he did. So he is their resident expert in beating hasty retreats to India.
[Robert helps her into the train; closes door; Isabel leans out]
Robert: I wish I was coming with you, but as you know….
Isabel: We have not been friends Mr. Dangerfield, but you have done me a great service in disposing of me.
Robert: In arranging your future. [hands her the ticket]
Admin: The tension immediately eases once she is safely inside the carriage. Poor Robert. He looks so wistful and dreamy at the thought of possibly going back to India. “But as you know….” Yes, he is now married to the very formidable Charlotte Dangerfield, née Collard, and is fully established in the family firm. But, he is genuinely pleased to do Isabel a good turn and help her towards what will hopefully be a happy future.
RF: Yeah, Robert is only semi-joking when he says he’d like to go along with Isabel; his expression is humorously sardonic, yet somewhat resigned to his fate. As you say, Charlotte is quite formidable and would be unlikely to take his running away very well. In a way, he’s helping Isabel to do what he knows he can’t do himself.
Admin: It doesn’t hurt to have Isabel securely in place, happily married to his old chum, just in case life in the family firm ever gets too suffocating. But, I hope he stays with Charlotte, she worked hard to get what she wanted.
RF: He’d have more fun with Isabel in India, more potential for wealth if he stays with Charlotte. Decisions, decisions!
Isabel: I wish you luck with the family, Robert, and the firm. You’ll certainly need it.
Admin: I love his little bark of laughter. He is taking it all in very good humor, but you can tell from his expression that he’s got his task cut out for him. The positive aspect is that he really does enjoy a good challenge, so he at least has that to look forward to.
RF: Well, I think Robert is more than a match in cunning for the rest of the Collard-Vandervents, plus he’s got lots of motivation. 😉 And lots of time on his hands to plan it all out. I also like the way he glances around a bit, just to check if anyone’s paying attention to the two of them.
Admin: You never know, Charlotte might be having him tailed. 😉
RF: It would explain why she always seemed to be one step ahead of him.
Isabel: I was sure Paul would be here. I wanted to tell him how much….
[Paul is there, but hasn’t made it to the train yet] Don’t take him into the firm, I beg you. He deserves to live
Robert: [Removes hat, kisses her hand] As you do!
[Robert waves goodbye; Paul dashes by as the train is leaving to speak with Isabel]
Admin: Here we also see how much more kind-hearted Dangerfield has become. His expression shows genuine understanding at Isabel’s concern for young Paul. I think he agrees that Paul deserves the right to forge his own future as a writer far away from the family business. He is also quick to remind Isabel that she also deserves a happy future. I really do hope he has chosen well in arranging a marriage for her.RF: Yeah, Isabel and Robert started out sparring with each other (with some romantic tension thrown in), but he’s obviously decided that she’s one of the Collard-Vandervents worth saving. I don’t think he’d go to this amount of effort for any of the others. He started out as a cad, but he’s actually behaving in quite a gentlemanly and considerate fashion towards Isabel. I also think she should’ve just said “to heck with it” and bodily dragged Robert in through the window before the train left! He wouldn’t have minded a return trip to India, I’m sure. 😉
Admin: I wouldn’t have blamed Isabel for a second if she had. I don’t think there is much chance Coates Sahib is anywhere near as dashing as Dangerfield.
Admin: I really love this scene. It isn’t so much about escaping the past as it is about forging a better future. 2016 has been a tumultuous year to say the least, so a little extra humanity and optimism would be perfect right about now. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
RF: It was a nice little oasis of optimism in a story about a family that was, quite frankly, pretty reprehensible in a lot of ways. And it was really good to see Robert, the (mostly) former cad, doing something good for someone else for a change – which as you say, is an impulse that seems to be lacking these days. Seconded on a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. 🙂