Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): Season 7, Episode 13 - The Silk Petticoat - full transcript

In the early 19th century, Sir Humphrey J. Orford informs his fiancée, Elisa Minden, that twenty years previously he was married but that his wife died at the age of 19. Orford is something of a scholar and while visiting his study, Elisa finds a lady's silk petticoat that is obviously under repair and a gruesome painting. She is immediately frightened and wonders if she has discovered a hidden side to Orford's personality. As she explores her new home and learns more about her husband-to-be, she discovers that his first wife was unfaithful and that Orford had arranged for her lover to be hanged. On their wedding day, she makes an incredible discovery.

Good evening,

I’m serving the sentence
for slander,

something I said about
our sponsor I believe,

the warden thinks I’m making a
tale for my kite,

he's not terribly bright,

and now while I make my escape,

you less fortunate must
stay and face the music.


Some of the names on tombstones
are really funny look at that,

Jeremiah Mutton,

is as dead as mutton too,

if you weren't looking so grim I think
I’d laugh outright,

look at that one.

I didn't bring you here
to see that.

I know you didn't, you're being very
mysterious, why did you bring me here?

I wanted you to
see something else,

Flora, wife of,

Humphrey Orford,

died November 1793 age 19,

your wife?

oh Humphrey you never told me
you've been married before.

She died 20 years ago.

But we're going to have our wedding in
this church,

so close to her grave it seems.

-I’m sorry if it upsets you.
-But the inscription,

she was your wife,

why didn't you have some kind
remembrance of her carved on the stone?

She was vicious she was unfaithful she
was a liar,

to let her be buried here at all was a
gesture of kindness on my pride.

Humphrey, must we be married in this

Darling we've already sent
out the invitations we're,

being married on Wednesday, we
can't change the church now.

So close to her grave,

I feel she could
almost reach up and touch me.

Ah good evening mrs Boyd, mr Orford at

-No dr Lyndon he isn't.
-My daughter here?

No they've gone to the
church to see about the music,

for their wedding
but they'll be back soon.

-Are your lodgeing comfortable? -Yes thank
you quite comfortable,

much too comfortable in fact,
you know a country doctor,

cannot afford to live so luxuriously.

Mr Orford chose them himself, they're
only a few minutes away.

Oh my daughter's enchanted to be in

She'll find the house strange at first
but in time she'll get used to it.

I hope we haven't kept you waiting.

No, no I’ve only just arrived,

Humphrey the house looks
exactly as I remembered it.

Yes I never redecorated it.

why should I living here alone?

but we're
going to change all that aren't we?

you can start anytime you like.

There's a lot to do,
I’ve never seen the rooms upstairs.

You never asked my dear,

you can see the
bedrooms now if you like.

What's your study that interests
me most, the place where you write.

Oh the study is listed with papers and

I feel quite ashamed to let anyone see
it now,

let's wait till mrs Boyd can make it
look presentable,

-a glass of sherry doctor? -Thank you.

A study should be littered with books
and papers,

I want to see it exactly as it is when
you're working in it,

do you mind Humphrey?

Not at all,

come with me please I,
hope you won't find it too shocking,

when mrs Boyd tide is my
study I usually find my,

most important papers in
the waste paper basket,

so I keep the place locked,

I warned you the place is something of a

over here are the books I have collected in,

connection with my work on
the early Christian martyrs,

these I suppose are my choicest

this is the life of saint Sebastian
according to said Ambrose,

and this is the actor sanctorum of saint

attributed quite wrong leaders and
Ambrose too,

Sebastian’s missionary zeal upset the
emperor Diocletian,

who had him tied to a stake and shot at
by the royal arches,

Sebastian’s agony was exquisite,

in that condition the victim's
pain becomes pleasure so,

that those who inflicted can hardly
be called torturers or, even sinners.

What is this doing here?

What is it my dear?

It's a silk petticoat,

there's a needle and thread
in it somebody's been mending it.

Well it probably belongs to mrs Boyd
she must have been in here cleaning.

But it's a party petticoat it couldn't
belong to mrs Boyle.

Why don't you ask her my dear,

perhaps she was mending it for someone else,

as I was saying in that condition pain
becomes pleasure,

those who inflicted might be called
cathartic agents since their,

instruments of so-called torture are
really instruments of purification,

whatever is it Elisa?

Could I go home father?

-Don't you feel well my dear.
-I feel fake.

You come downstairs, I’II get you
something to drink.

I’d rather not, rather go back to our
lodgings they're just across the square,

-the fresh air might...
-Must have something.

I’II get you some brandy.

Elisa my dear, what is this, what is it?

Why would anyone want to live with such
a horrifying painting?

Well I suppose it must signify something
to him.

But I don't know what is happening to me,

-suddenly I’m terrified of that man.
-Of Humphrey?

don't be absurd my dear.

This room,

is so strange,

when you talked about saint

when he spoke about torture,

he seemed to revel in it,

did you see his face?
he was a different man,

something evil here,

some evil presence.

You're thinking
ridiculous things Humphrey’s a fine man,

man should be proud of.

Instruments of torture,

that are really instruments of,

pleasure and purification?

I’m the frightened papa, I tell you.

You feeling better?

Well Humphrey I think we better be going,

uh Lisa should be lying down,

may I see you in the
morning at the solicitors?

I’II call you at nine o'clock when
everything's ready,

all it requires is our signatures and
then back for the ceremony.


I know this is a gloomy old place to
live in but,

if you like we leave for Italy immediately
after the wedding, do you like that?

You're very kind to me, thank you, I do
appreciate it.

If you'll excuse me a moment I’II see
you at the door.

Pa, did you know that he'd been married

-Of course my dear. -Did you know his first

I heard about her that's all.

Something I had not told you,

I’m in Humphrey’s debt,

very deeply too.

-And I marry him.
-He'll settle my debt,

and there's another thing
we have to remember,

it hasn't been anyone
straining for your hand.

-You've forgotten Phillip. -Why'd you bring up Philip all
the time?

you haven't heard from him for months.

I understand,

I’II marry Humphrey.

You'll never regret it my dear.

Oh miss Minden,

mr Orford is out.
-I know, it doesn't matter,

-it was you I came to see.

Mr Orford has told me that I may
redecorate the house exactly as I please,

I thought I’d go over the rooms one by

I’d like to start with his study.

But ma'am,
mr Orford always keeps the study door locked.

-But you have a key. -No ma'am,

I do not have a key.

But you must know where it is kept.

No. ma'am I do not.

Mrs Boyd,

we're going to be spending a great deal
of time in each other's company, aren't we?

Yes ma'am I hope so.

Well then we mustn't
have any secrets from each other, must we?

No ma'am we mustn't,
the truth of the matter is,

that mr Orford doesn't even
let me clean the study.

-Not even to clean it?
-No ma'am,

well then let's start with the other
rooms upstairs, shall we?

I would like your advice, you know the
house so much better than I do.

Well as mr Orford is not here, you know,
ever since the first mrs Olford died,

this house has become gloomier,

and gloomier, it's a pleasure to think
that someone is coming to brighten it up.

I wish we could have just a little bit
of the study, I have so many ideas about it.

I’ve never been in that room.

-Not since mrs Orford died.

But mr Orford said,

-why haven't you been in there?
-More than once I’ve had the key in the lock,

but somehow I
couldn't bring myself to turn it.

Well let's do it together now.

shall we?

Oh madame...

Please mrs Boyd.

If I do let you in,

you won't tell him
,will you?

No, of course not.

He doesn't even know I know where the
key is heading,

well promise me that you'll never tell.

I promise.


that's what it is.

Mrs Boyd,

you said you hadn't been in
here for years, didn't you?

Well no one ever comes in here.

-Then how did your petticoat get in here?
-My petticoat?

When we were here before I noticed
a silk petticoat on that chair,

-mr Orford said it was yours.
-Mine ma'am?

but I told you I’ve never been in here
since his first wife died,

no one has,

mr Strafford wouldn't allow it.

Mrs Boyd I need your help, will you help me please?

tell me about the first mrs Orford who
was she?

There's no mystery about her,

she was a daughter of mr Orford's game
keeper, wasn't a lady of quality at all,

-no so pretty.
-Were they very much in love?

Well a month after they were married he
found her with a lover,

please that's what I’ve heard.

Did she die in this house?

-Yes ma'am. -Of what?

Of terror,

or hatred.

And the man the lover?

what happened to

There he is.


you're making mr Boyd,

if there's anything you
want to find out why don't you ask me,

I know so much
more than the servants,

now tell me,

what would you like to know
about the man in that painting?

-I’m sorry, I shouldn't have come here. -No
no your curiosity is quite natural.

Humphrey please...

I found him together in this house though
I had him arrested for a house breaking,

and as I happened to be justice of the peace,

the jury found the wretch guilty
and he was hanged,

until he was quite quite dead.

I’ve got the seated chest all ready
for the camper to lay your dress away.

I don't want to see it.

Oh madame you mustn't be unhappy,

-mr Orford has his peculiarities...
-But then what man is perfect?

-I’m afraid of her.
-She's made him what he is,

you must, you must make him something
better something different.

Come in.

A gentleman want to see your madame,
is a lieutenant,

Philip Haven and he says he's
your cousin and came from India.

I only arrived in London this morning and
heard the news about your marriage.

I’m so glad to see you Philip, this is my
cousin Phillip Haven,

-he has just returned from three years
in India -I introduced myself.

Of course, I’ve never seen you in
regimentals before, you look so handsome.

Never take them off young man?

if you do,
you might look just like any other young man.

How long will you be stinging here Phillip?

Two months, that's all.

-Well we are going to Italy tomorrow but when
we return I hope... -Elisa,

don't you think you should be changing?

Oh let's have a glass of wine at least
with Philip first.

I must prepare for our journey tomorrow
if you'll excuse me,

it's nice to have met a cousin of my

Your husband seems to think I’ve called
at the wrong moment.

Of course not, now we must have a glass of
champagne you must drink to my happiness.

No please, don't, I better go,

I can wish you happiness
without a glass of champagne.

But you've only just arrived,

you must tell me all about
India and about your life in the army,

you hardly roped me at all.

Well I I was ill with malaria in March,

it was two months before I got better,

that's why they let me come home I
wasn't due until September.

-And you loves the army don't you? -Yes and
I I love India,

so a lot of the country,

it'll be good to go back,

well goodbye Elisa.

-But we will see you when we return won't
we? -Perhaps

Promise me you will come and see us.

I’II try it.

I wish you will.


Well my dear,

let's drink a toast to our

your cousin's visit this
afternoon was rather unexpected, wasn't it?


he heard about our marriage
and he wanted to wish us both happiness.

-But very thoughtful of him.
-When you get to know him better I’m sure you will like him.

I think
that's extremely unlikely,

but you, you like him, you're
fond of him shall we say.

He's my cousin after all.

-And is he fond of you?
-He used to be.

-Was he in love with you? -We were so young...

And were you in love with him?

I suppose
I was,

but that's all passed now.

He was whispering to you in the hall,

as he was going when you kissed him, he was
whispering to you.

Why would he whisper?

-You were arranging to meet him when
we get back. -Humphrey please.

-Why are you lying to me? -I’m not lying to you,

I asked him to visit us
when we returned from Italy.

You think I want to start
another marriage with liars?

-If anyone is lying it is you.
-Two hours ago you swore a solemn oath.

I’ve had some experience of a wife who
betrayed that oath,

I shouldn't want it to happen again.

-Papa. -Yes? -Papa, would you come upstairs

Well, what's matter my dear?

go home half an hour ago
but Humphrey is locked,

in his study and
he won't answer.

-Get the key my dear. -There's only one key
and it's gone.

Humphrey, Humphrey...

Pa there is something terrible wrong.

-I’m sure.
-Humphrey, Humphrey.

He's dead,

-he's been stabbed. -Who could have done it
with the door locked?

Yes, but the door was locked from the



it's that petticoat.

It's my Flora,

she's still alive,

she must have stabbed
him with the paper knife,

oh, you poor, poor thing,

all these years
he's kept her locked up here.

Why doesn't you say something?

The woman's lost her reason.

-And it was her petticaot.

Why didn't she call for help all these years,
why did she cry out?

He sought her that,

it cut out her tongue.

This seems to be the end of my attempted

as for our story however,

there is a bit more shortly after
the scene you have just witnessed,

the police enter the picture,

but because of the circumstances,

justice was tempered with mercy,

if tonight's story seemed a bit strong for you,

perhaps you would like to escape,

into the delightful make-believe
of one of our commercials,

after which I,

representing grim reality shall return.

I don't understand,

there must be something in the atmosphere
that makes otherwise strong ropes,

and ladders shatter under my weight,

next week if I escape in

we shall have another story, until then,
good night.