Steele At Your Service
Transcribed from the Episode Written by:
Lee H. Grant
Restored Scenes in RED
Thanks, Debra!

It's night as we see the gates leading to a huge estate, upon which sits an enormous mansion. Inside, five people sit at a dining room table as an elderly white haired butler serves them.

At the head of the table, another white haired man declares, "I tell you, Wellington Petroleum is not going to be taken over by anyone!"

A younger man tells him, "Oh, come on. Mention your name on Wall Street these days and everybody laughs."

An older woman who is sitting beside him glares at him balefully. "How DARE you talk to your father that way?" she asks.

"Yes, Harold," another young man admonishes. "Father's still Chairman of the Board."

"That's right, you little nerd," Harold agrees viciously. "Nose up to him as usual."

"Do you hear that hostility?" the younger brother asks his parents. "Don't worry, Father. I'll never vote to sell the family holdings- like Harold." A Hispanic maid wearing a low cut top crosses behind him as he looks to his left, where a big breasted, bleach blonde woman sits. "Right, honey? Isn't that what you keep telling me?"

The blonde looks unhappy. "Honestly, Albert, sometimes you really make me wanna puke." She glances through her eye lashes at Harold, who grins at her slam.

The maid bends over Mr. Wellington's end of the table, giving him a view of her cleavage. Mrs. Wellington is not amused. "Maria- More coffee, please."

Maria curtseys. "Yes, Madam," she says, grinning at Mr. Wellington as she moves away. She meets the butler in the next room and grins at him as they pass.

The butler returns to the dining room. "Pardon me, sir," he says to Wellington. "A phone call."

"Thank you, Hastings." Wellington takes a slip of paper from a silver tray and looks at it as Mrs. Wellington looks angry. Wellington crumples the paper in his hands. "I'll take it in the parlour," he says, getting up slowly. "Please be kind enough to draw my bath. If you malcontents will be kind enough to excuse me," he tells his family, "I'll say goodnight."

The others exchange angry glances.


Later, Wellington is in his room, putting on a robe, when his wife barges into the room. "Phone call indeed!" she says. "You were meeting Maria, weren't you?"

"Really, Katherine!"

"Oh, drop the act, Charles. You can't perform for me," she says, following him into the bath, "but for that little tart of a chambermaid-!"

Charles pauses in the enormous room, looking at the raised, large tub that's filled with water and bubbles. "Good grief, Katherine, can't I at least take a bath without having a major scene?" he asks, moving toward the tub. Something catches his eye. "What?" he asks, then leans down to lift the arm of a man floating in the tub. The man turns over. It's Hastings.

"Oh my God," Katherine cries.


"In the bathtub?" she asks, scandalized.


The limo turns into the gate of the Wellington estate. The gates open for it, and inside, Steele smiles, looking over his sunglasses with gleeful delight. "Ah, conspicuous consumption, huh?" he says, rambling on, not noticing Laura's deepening frown of disapproval. "Something about the sweet smell of success, Laura, the Wellingtons absolutely reek of it."

"I suppose."

He takes off his glasses. "I wonder what this appointment is all about, eh? Likely some multimillion dollar problem Wellington Petroleum wants discreetly cleared up, eh?" he asks as Laura checks her watch. "A feather in our cap, wouldn't you say?"

"I suppose," she says again.

"Well, contain your excitement, Laura," he admonishes sarcastically.

"I was just thinking of my college days."

"Oh, yeah? What about them?"

"Tear gas."

He gives her a look. "Oh, yeah. Of course."

"Courtesy of Wellington Petroleum. A group of us had joined hands in front of a Wellington Refinery to protest an off-shore oil spill which they had caused. Charles Wellington had us gassed and arrested."

"Oh, come now, Laura, that was an obligatory part of the curriculum when you were at college, wasn't it?"

They limo deposits them at the front door, and as they get out, Laura tells Steele, "Wellington Petroleum is an irresponsible, polluting, colossus."

"One oil spill, Laura, anyone can make a mistake."

"They think they're above the law," Laura insists, looking at the house.

"Yes, well, let's not let petty grievances interfere with business, shall we? Eh?" he asks with a grin.

Laura leads the way to the front doors. Steele rings the bell, and the door is opened by a middle aged woman wearing a housekeeper's garb. "Remington Steele," Steele tells her, taking out a business card. "My associate, Laura H-"

"Round back," the woman says shortly in an accented voice before she quickly closes the door in their faces.

Laura and Steele look at each other as they turn toward the back of the house. "It's a glorious day," Steele suggests. "Wellington might be doing some paperwork outside." He dons his sunglasses again. "A confab by the poolside perhaps, eh?" he says, smiling. "You like that?" Laura's still not happy with being there.

There's no one at the pool, so they continue on. "Maybe he's in the game room," Laura suggests snidely. "Stuffing a seagull."

"Seriously, this is the eighties. We're talking serous money here. Heavy duty fees."

They hear something and turn to find the woman from the front door standing in another door. "Psst!" she says. "Psst!" She waves them toward her.

"Probably repainting the foyer," Steele says as he guides Laura toward the entrance.

The woman leads them into the kitchen, where the other servants are gathered. "I am sorry about the back door," the woman tells them. "But we have to be careful."

"Uh huh," Steele nods.

"We?" Laura asks.

The woman indicates a tall, middle aged Italian man wearing a chauffeur's uniform. "Ya. This is Vincenzo, the Wellington's chauffeur." He smiles at them. Next, she indicates a man wearing a chef's uniform and hat. "And Pierre, the chef, Maria, the downstairs maid," Maria smiles and waves. "Kuramatsu the gardener," she says of a wild haired Japanese gentleman. "Und I am Greta Swenson, the housekeeper."

"Ah, yes, and a handsome group you are, too," Steele tells her. "But we're here to see Mr. Wellington."

"I'm afraid I deceived you on the phone, Mr. Steele," Mrs. Swenson apologizes. "We are the ones who need your help."

Steele is shocked, and puts his hands in his pockets. "What?"

"Ya. We want to hire you."

"Why?" Laura asks.

"Somebody killed our bootler," Maria tells him, her accent making her hard to understand.

"What?" Steele asks, confused.

"But-te-ler," Kuramatsu repeats.

"Poor, dear, sweet Hastings," Mrs. Swenson tells them. "They found his body in the master's bathtub."

"The police say it was an accident," Vincenzo says. "That he drowneded after he slipped and- hit his head."

"Yes, well, that seems perfectly clear to me," Steele decides, starting to turn and leave. "Miss Holt, shall we-?"

"Monsieur Wellington, he has the gendarme in his pocket," Pierre says with a sneer.

That hooks Laura, who doesn't move as Steele mutters, "Laura, come on-"

"Wait a minute," she says. "Are you implying one of the Wellingtons murdered this man Hastings?" she asks.

"Correct," Kuramatsu nods.

"Fascinating," Steele declares. "Fascinating stuff indeed. Yes, uh, -Let's go, Laura. This is preposterous. Come on."

She still doesn't move. "Why?" she asks. "Just because it doesn't involve heavy duty fees?" To the servants, she asks, "Were there any witnesses? Any hard evidence?"

"No," Vincenzo admits. "But the night Hastings, died, I was outside. I saw a light in an upstairs window- and I heard two men arguing."

"While I emptied the trash," Pierre adds, "I hear a loud banging sound upstairs." He bangs the spoon in his hand on the table several times.

"Where were the rest of you?" Laura asks.

"Downstairs," Mrs. Swenson answers. "But the Wellingtons were all unaccounted for."

"Look," Steele tells the, "I hate to perforate your little fantasy here, but why would one of the Wellingtons, in heaven's name- deign to kill their poor butler, eh?"

"Because they are pigs!" Pierre declares.

"Hastings was going to retire the next day," Mrs. Swenson informs them. "He was writing his memoirs about the Wellingtons and hoped to sell them."

"Big bucks," Kuramatsu says.

"So you think one of the family killed Hastings to keep the memoirs from being published?" Laura asks.

"Correct," Kuramatsu confirms.

"Hastings room was ransacked AFTER the murder," Mrs. Swenson says.

"Sounds like the killer was looking for the memoirs," Laura tells Steele.

"You will take the case, won't you?" Maria asks.

Laura is about to agree when Steele stops her. "Miss Holt.-" He smiles at Maria. "A moment please." He leads Laura into the anteroom. "Laura, you have oil spills on the brain."

"These people have nowhere else to turn. The Wellingtons have obviously paid for a cover-up."

"Don't be absurd!" he insists quietly. "Laura, this case flies in the face of all traditions. Butlers don't get murdered. They COMMIT murder. Everyone knows that."

"Now who's being absurd?" Steele smiles tightly in the direction of the kitchen as Laura lectures him. "We have motive, means, and opportunity. All we have to do is figure out which one of the Wellingtons has a secret awful enough to kill for." She smiles toward the kitchen as well.

"And how do you propose we go about investigating one of the most exclusive families in the country on their own turf? Eh?" Steele asks. Laura begins to smile at him. "No. No. Hold on just a minute, Laura," he says. She smoothes his lapels. "Don't do that- now stop it."


A man's hand presses a doorbell. Mrs. Swenson opens the door to Steele, who's dressed as a typical English butler, complete with bowler hat and cane. "Rupert Ruggles," he tells her in a proper voice, "to see the Madam about the position of butler."

Mrs. Swenson smiles, then recovers. "Oh, ya. Right this way," she tells him, indicating that he should enter. She leads him into a room where Katherine and the bleach blonde, who is wearing a skimpy tennis outfit, are waiting. "Excuse me, Madam. The butler I told you about. Mr. Ruggles."

"Oh, yes," Katherine says. "How do you do?"

He bows slightly. "My pleasure, ma'am."

"Mrs. Swenson tells me you have impeccable references."

"Thank you, Madam. I try to do my best."

The blonde is looking him over. "I bet you do," she comments. Steele glances at her for a brief moment.

Harold and Charles come into the room. Harold says, "Oh, come on, father, give me a break. I beat you fair and square."

"You won because I didn't have my good racquet," Charles tells him, pouring a drink.

Albert brushes past Steele as Harold says, "Tell him who won, Albert."

Albert drops onto the sofa. "Father didn't have his good racquet," Albert parrots.

"Oh BULL!" Harold declares.

"Boys!" Katherine says.

"I can still beat your backside and don't you forget it," Charles tells Harold. "On or off the court!"

"Charles, Albert, stop it," Katherine says.

"Harold started it."

"Oh, shut up!" Charles tells Albert.

"I'm sorry you had to hear that, Ruggles," Katherine says.

"Hear what, madam?"

"Hmm. I like you already. Everybody, I'd like you to meet Ruggles. Hastings' replacement."

They look at Steele. "Ah, poor Hastings," Charles moans.

"What a tragedy," Harold agrees.

"He was like one of the family," Albert tells Steele.

"I'm sure we'll be in splendid hands with Ruggles," Katherine says. "Swenson, show Ruggles to his quarters. Oh, and prepare two guest rooms in the East Wing, please. We're expecting company."

"Yes, ma'am," Swenson says, and turns to go.

Steele bows slightly about to turn, when Harold says, "Welcome aboard, pal.. Here's hoping that you're a better swimmer than Hastings." Charles glares at Steele, who gives Harold a mildly surprised look before continuing on his way from the room.


Swenson leads Steele to a door. "This is your room," she tells him. "Goodluck."

He unfastens his vest, putting down his suitcase. "Thank you very much," he says, and stops as he's about to enter, when he sees her hesitating. "What is it?"

"Well, it- it's just that we're on a rather- limited budget. You will hurry, won't you?"

"Brilliance can't be rushed, Mrs. Swenson, but I'll try and do my best." He goes into his room.

It's been thoroughly searched, and as he stands there, surveying the mess, someone hits him on the head, knocking him out.


Steele moans, turning over. He sees a woman's legs encased in stocking, wearing gray high heels. He grabs her ankle and knocks her to the floor at his side, then pulls her closer. It's Maria. "Mr. Steele," she sighs. "it's me."

"Maria?" he asks, getting to his feet.

"What happened?" she asks, getting up as well. "I mean, I come in here and I find you like this."

He checks the back of his head. "Oh, you just happened to be in the neighborhood?" he asks.

She grabs him, pressing close. "Oh, Mr. Steele! You must help me. I'm in danger."

"I will. Courage, Maria," he says, grinning slightly. "Courage."

She steps back. "But you don't understand. Hastings, he was blackmailing the Wellingtons."



"How do you know this?"

She looks a little embarrassed. "Because- the night he was murdered?- Hastings and I- we were going to run off together. To Acapulco."

"You and that old man?" Steele asks.

"It was my chance for the big time. Hastings, he makes a lot of money. But now, if the Wellingtons find out I was involved with him-they will kill me too!" She throws herself into his arms again. "Oh, Mr. Steele!"

"Calm down, Maria. Just calm down. There, there. Just tell me where Hastings hid the memoirs and I promise-"

"But I don't KNOW where they are! You must help me. Oh, Mr. Steele, you must help me," she says, moving in close again, wrapping her arms around him. "Please. I will do anything you want."

"Hmm," Steele murmurs, closing his eyes with the young woman in his arms.


"There, there, there, there," he quiets her as she smiles a satisfied smile.


Vincenzo is holding a loving cup trophy, and tells Albert, "I repaired your trophy, sir. I hope you like it."

"Thank you, Vincenzo," Albert says, smiling. The blonde is nearby. "Gosh, it's almost as good as new."

"Oh, Albert," the woman says, putting on a black fur coat, "Don't you think it's about time you threw that piece of junk in the garbage?" Albert glares at her. She preens in the coat. "Well? Huh? Whaddaya think?" she asks Vincenzo as Albert leaves. "Whaddaya think?" she asks again as Steele appears, dressed in butlers togs this time, complete with grey gloves. "Scrumptious, isn't it, Ruggles?"

He doesn't even glance at her. "Stunning, Madam," he says, moving past Vincenzo as she leaves them alone.

Vincenzo catches up to Steele. "Steele. How's it going?" he asks quietly.

"A bit too soon to tell, Vincenzo."

"Hmm. Well, step on it. We are- not made of money." He smiles and leaves.

The doorbell rings and Steele answers it to find Mildred and Laura on the step. He glares at them, silently daring them to say something. "Laura Giles of West Coast Living magazine." Laura tells him.

"Mildred Krebs, photographer's assistant?"

"We're expected," Laura adds.

Katherine comes up behind the door. "Who is it, Ruggles?" she asks.

"A pair of journalists, I'm afraid, Madam," Steele informs her, disapproval dripping from his tone.

"Oh, wonderful! Show them in!"

Steele opens the other door. "This way, please," he tells them.

Mildred points behind them. "Don't forget the luggage."

"Very well, Madam," he says, and goes to get it.

Katherine smiles at her guests. "I'm so glad you called. Your magazine did such a lovely layout on the Vanderhoff home. Sprawling little psuedo-Normandy farmhouse that it is."

Laura smiles. "I'm sure we'll get a lot more out of our stay here."

Steele is loaded down with luggage and camera equipment as he returns to the house.
Katherine tells him, "Ruggles, please show Miss Giles and Miss Krebs to their rooms."
"This way, ladies," Steele informs them. "Straight ahead."
Steele purposely pokes Laura in the rear with a tripod he's carrying. She jumps, and then watches him over her shoulder as they continue walking to the guest quarters.


They enter Laura's room, Steele barely managing to get through the door with everything. "So," Laura comments, looking around the room. "This is how the other half lives. Right there will be fine," she tells him imperiously.

Out of breath, Steele puts the cases on the floor and the camera equipment on the bed. "Laura, . . . next time . . . choose a cover . . . with fewer accessories."

"This seemed a perfect way to play up to the massive Wellington ego."

Mildred enters the room and gasps. "Oh, now I know what you're talking about, Miss Holt," she says, sitting on the bed. "They must have used every duck on the West Coast to stuff these comforters." She looks at Steele. "Oh, hi, Chief."

He is still trying to recover. "Hi."

"How're things goin' down in the trenches?"

"All too well, Mildred, much to my dismay."

"You've got a lead?" Laura asks.

"Several. For one thing, I've checked the murder scene. Hastings would have had to have been a contortionist to accidentally hit his head and drown."

"Then it IS murder," Laura declares.

"A little less zeal, Laura," he cautions. "So far I've taken a blow to the head, had my room trashed, enjoyed a cozy tête-à-tête with Maria the maid who was gonna run off with the late, great Hastings-" he removes one of his gloves.

"You're joking," Mildred says.

"The man had unexpected vigor in several areas," he tells them, removing the other glove. "He was also blackmailing the Wellingtons."

"The motive gets better and better," Laura points out. "I looked into Wellington Petroleum. The company is in deep trouble, vulnerable to a hostile takeover. It's a real mess, because virtually none of the members of the family will vote together."

"I did background checks on the whole family," Mildred tells them. "Nothing unusual- except- for Cindy Wellington. She doesn't show up on the computer at all prior to marrying Albert."

"Hmm. A woman without a past, eh?"

"I'll left a set of her fingerprints and try to put a trace on them," Mildred says.

"As much as I'd love to chat, ladies, I have duties to attend to," Steele reminds them with a frown, his gloves back in place as he straightens his collar.

"Run along, Ruggles," Laura tells him. "This enterprising reporter had plans of her own."

Steele leaves the room.


Charles drives a jeep up to a lookout. Laura is in the passenger seat. "You're right," she tells him. "It's a gorgeous view."

He sits there, looking at her. "From where I'm sitting, it's even prettier."

Laura smiles nervously and gets out of the jeep, retrieving her camera from the back. As she gets ready to snap some pics, she says, "I heard about your butler dying. How awful."

"C'est la vie," he says with a shrug of his shoulders.

Laura looks through the lens. "From what I understand, he hit his head while drawing your bath."

"That's right. Clumsy oaf."

Laura takes some pictures. "I wonder who turned off the water?"


"Your wife told me the water wasn't running when you found Hastings."


"So, I wonder who turned off the water."

"Obviously, he was through with the bath and he slipped."

"Obviously,' Laura agrees, looking through the camera again- this time to focus it on Katherine and Vincenzo in what appears to be a private, intimate moment.. "Silly question, I guess."


Steele takes a glass from the terrace table where Katherine is sitting later. He goes to a table beside the rail, where he sees Cindy run to meet Harold. They kiss and embrace.

"That will be all, Ruggles," Katherine says.

Steele glances at her. "Yes, madam," he intones, watching as Cindy and Harold disappear onto the grounds. He then leaves the terrace, swiping at the table with a rag as he goes.
Suddenly, Albert appears and roughly bumps into Steele, seemingly on purpose. "Watch where you're going, you fool!" Albert admonishes.
Steele apologizes profusely, declaring, "I'm sorry, sir; I'm terribly sorry. I'm so sorry. It won't happen again."
"See that it doesn't!" Albert orders haughtily.
"Yes," he promises as the young man leaves. When the coast is clear and Albert is gone, Steele shows his true feelings, saying aloud, "Twerp."


Steele opens his bedroom door- and finds that it's a mess- again. He enters- only to be hit over the head and fall to the floor.

He wakes to see Pierre standing over him. "Monsieur Steele. Monsieur Steele.
Comment ça va, Monsieur Steele?"

Steele slowly gets up to sit on the bed, groaning.

"I thought you had bought the vineyards, so to speak."

"Merely a down payment. What do you want?"

"I wanted to know- how goes the private dicking?"


"Your work. The private dicking. We are paying you good money, m'sieu, but here I find out flat on your back."

"Well, that's because somebody hit me, Pierre," Steele informs him, a little angry.

"Well, that is your fault, not Pierre's
n'est-ce pas? We shall get credit on our bill for your time off, no?"

"Out," Steele tells him, pointing to the door.

"M'sieu, I am only being reasonable."

Steele goes to the door. "Out."

"All right. I go. Madam told me to tell you, we are having a Texas barbecue this afternoon."

"Thank you very much."

"Your room is a sty," Pierre declares, and leaves.

Steele tries to slam the door behind him, but it comes back and almost hits Steele again.


At the barbecue, a side of beef slowly roasts over an open pit as Steele, wearing a gray cowboy hat, with his butler's uniform, serves the guests. "Catsup? Pickles? Handi-wipes?"

Laura, camera in hand, joins him. She's also wearing a hat and western clothing. "Love the hat," she tells him, keeping her attention focused elsewhere so no one notices them talking.

"I'm not in the mood, Laura," he warns. "Where's Mildred?"

"Checking the report on Cindy," Laura tells him, taking pictures.

Steele hears something behind him, and turns to find Kuramatsu standing beside a flower cart, beckoning him. "Duty calls," he tells Laura and puts the spoon into the pot of baked beans to join the gardener.

Kuramatsu has a broken tennis racquet. "Mr. Wellington's number one racquet. Found it in trash this morning." Steele takes it and looks at it. "Good clue, huh?"

"Uh, huh. Either that, or Wellington had a wicked back hand," Steele agrees, putting the racquet back among the flowers. "Hang onto it."


Steele returns to Laura and the serving line as Mildred appears, dressed as Laura is, holding a plate. "Oh, ye-ha! Pile it on, boy!" Steele puts some beans on her plate. "You're gonna love it," she says quietly. "The fingerprints on Cindy? Rap sheet city, honey. A former Vegas call girl, with a record a mile long."

Laura's shocked. "Albert married and ex-hooker?"

"An ex-hooker who seems to be on better terms with Albert's brother than with Albert," Steele points out.

Laura looks at him as Mildred says, "I'll bet Hastings put that in the memoirs."

"From Charles Wellington's reaction this afternoon," Laura says, "I'm certain he had something to do with the murder."

"Kuramatsu found Charles's battered tennis racquet in the trash," Steele informs Laura.

"Great. But it also appears that Katherine Wellington enjoys her chauffeur's company more than her husband's."

"Katherine and Vincenzo?" Steele says, surprised. He forgets himself and smiles.

Mildred seems disappointed. "Oh, that's disgusting. Everybody has some deep, dark secret." She grins. "I love it."

Steele notices Katherine heading toward them and resumes his pose. "Will that be all, miss?"

"Thanks," Mildred says.

Katherine calls, "What do you think, Miss Giles? Perhaps a picture of our Texas friends taken from up on the hay wagon?"

Laura glances at the wagon. "Good idea." She moves off.

"Pickles, anybody?" Steele asks. "Handi-wipes?"

Laura climbs onto the wagon as Vincenzo holds the horses. She whistles to get the crowd's attention, then lifts the camera. "Okay, everybody!" she calls. "Say 'pork and beans'!" As they comply, someone spooks the horses, and they take off, pulling the wagon- and Laura -behind them.

Steele takes off through the crowd to save her.

Laura tries to stand up, but can't get a hand hold. The hitch on the wagon breaks- and the horses run off. But the wagon tips over, sending hay everywhere. Steele reaches the wagon and pulls a dazed Laura free. "Laura?" he says. "Get up, get up. Easy. Easy."

She pats him on the shoulder as the others join them. "Thank you, Ruggles. That'll be all." He's trying to brush the hay from her hair.

"Thank you, Ruggles," Charles says. "I'll take over from here. Call the paramedics!" he yells.

Katherine moves to help Laura as Steele remains close by. "No," Laura insists. "Please don't bother. I'll be fine."
Steele stands aside, his face showing his obvious concern for Laura's safety.
Mildred, standing beside the wagon tongue, gets his attention and points to the tongue. When he bends down and takes a good look, he realizes it has been cut.
"What do you think?" she asks him.
"I think someone wants us dead," he replies, stating the obvious.


Vincenzo is putting away some saddles when Steele pins him against some bales of hay in the barn. "What say you and I have a talk, mate, eh? My associate almost took her last hayride today, thanks to you!"

"You're crazy!" Vincenzo insists.

"Really? How's Mrs. Wellington lately, eh?" Vincenzo goes still. "Huh? You told her who we were, didn't you?" He releases Vincenzo, but remains alert.

"We- were trying to scare you off, that is all. We- did not want you to find out about us."

"Oh, like Hastings did?"

"Yes, that, -that and-"

"That? That and what? I could build a convincing case against you right now, Vincenzo."

"Harold . . . is my son," the chauffeur confesses.


"All these years," Vincenzo said sadly. "No one knows except Hastings. But I did not kill him, I promise. I swear I did not. I asked him to promise that he'd tell no one."

"Well, he won't now, will he?" Steele calms down a bit. "You and Katherine keep your lips sealed until we're through." He glares. "And stay away from Miss Holt, mate."

Inside the house, Steele sees Charles in the parlour, putting something into a wall safe. He continues to his room, and opens the door. The light is off, but experience tells Steele that he's not alone, and he turns to push the door against the wall.

Someone cries out and something crashes to the floor, breaking. He pulls his would-be assailant from behind the door and tosses him across the bed, then turns on the light. Albert gets up, holding his wrist. "Albert!" Steele says, surprised.

"Ruggles! You attacked me!" the man accuses, coming back around the bed.

Back in character, Steele says, "I beg your pardon, sir, but I believe you attacked ME first." Albert turns to look inside a drawer. "What, may I ask, was the master doing in my quarters?"

"I was looking for something," Albert tells him.

"Hastings' memoirs?"

"Boy, you butlers are all alike," Albert says. "You know everything." Albert turns to confront Steele. "So. I'm gay. So I paid Cindy to marry me to keep up a front."


Albert looks him over. "So what are *you* going to do about it?"

"Little, at the moment. You, uh, didn't happen to find Hastings' memoirs, did you, sir?"

"No. And if you breathe a word about this to anyone, I'll see to it that you never work as a butler again!" he threatens.

Steele pretends fear. "Oh, please, sir, I beg of you, anything but that, sir. Please. Please." Albert leaves. "Thank you, sir. Good day. Bye-bye." Steele expels a breath, tired of playing the groveling toady. He picks up a book from the dresser and kneels to gather up pieces the vase that Albert planned to bean him with. "Oh, dear, dear, dear," he sighs, pulling the waste basket closer. He glances into the waste bin and notices something that gets his attention. Putting down the book, he pulls the tear offs from computer paper from the basket. He examines it, and then smiles as he realizes something.


He goes to Laura's room, but there's no answer when he knocks. "Laura?" She doesn't respond. "Laura!" He tries the door, it's not locked, so he goes inside. The room is dark and he closes the door then turns on the light, smiling.

But upon seeing that the room's been thoroughly searched, his smile vanishes. "Oh no," he says, knowing what's going to happen next. Behind him, someone comes up with one of the silver-metal camera cases and bashes him in the head, sending him to the floor.

He comes to as Mildred and Laura kneel over him, concerned. "You okay, Boss?" Mildred asks.

Laura helps him up. "Mildred, why don't you get a towel and some ice?" she says, helping him to the bed. "Sit down. Sit down."


"Did you see who it was?" Laura asks.

"No. But that's not unusual."

Mildred comes back with the towel and ice. "What a mess," she comments about the room as she administers first aid.

"Anything missing?" Steele asks Laura.

"I think- one of the camera bags."

"It was probably Vincenzo," Mildred speculates, "trying to cover up his affair with Katherine."

"I doubt that. I had a little chat with Vincenzo. And Albert too. Hastings knew that Albert married Cindy to cover up the fact that he wasn't, um, you know, the- marrying kind."

"So," Laura notes, "that's why Cindy can't keep her hands off Harold."

"WHO, incidentally- and Vincenzo admits this himself- is really HIS son, not Charles's."

Mildred gasps at that news. "What a family," she says, laughing.

"What were you doing here?" Laura asks Steele.

"Oh. Eh?" He reaches into his pocket to retrieve the sprocket edges. "Ah, I think I found where Hastings hid the memoirs." He holds up the crinkled bits of paper. "Eh?"

"Of course," Laura realizes. "The household computer."

"Now we're talking my territory," Mildred says with a smile.

"Shame about your camera, Laura, that film would have come in handy. Thank you, Mildred. It's okay."

Laura goes to the armoire and picks up one of her cowboy boots, then pulls a film canister from it. She clears her throat, getting their attention. "An ounce of protection. I think I'll visit a photographer I know," she tells him.

"Okay," Steele agrees. "I think I'm gonna pay a visit to a certain wall safe I know." He hands Mildred the ice pack.

"Take care, Ruggles," Laura says, "With any luck, I'll see to it that you're fired tomorrow."

He clicks his heels, then winces as the pain it causes.


At her photographer friend's, Laura develops the pictures while he looks on, yawning widely. The darkroom is bathed in a red glow. "Couldn't this wait until morning, Laura?" Bernie asks. "I mean, not that I'm complaining, but it was only five months ago that I asked you out- and waited until twelve twenty three tonight to hear back."

"Nothing," Laura says, looking at the picture as she takes it from the solution.

"Well, it's not one of your better shots, I must say," he agrees.

Laura looks into the distance. "Blow Up. David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, M-G-M, 1967. Or was it 1966?" she asks.

Her friend is confused. "What are you mumbling about?"

"A certain friend of mine would be very proud of me right now," she tells him as she leans over close to him. Then tugging at his collar, she smiles seductively.
"Yeah?" Bernie asks.
"I'm gonna need...blow ups."


Mildred rushes into the kitchen, then stops suddenly as she sees that Pierre is standing there, wearing a nightshirt and cap. She gasps. "Mademoiselle," he says. "You two cannot sleep?
Sans sommeil? You are famished. And I will make you something fantastique!" he declares, heading for the double refrigerator.

"No, no, no," Mildred insists. "That's not necessary."

"I insist! For so lovely a vision, I will make something light, something delicious." He opens the fridge.

"A Dagwood!" Mildred says. "I'll help!" She runs to the fridge and practically pushes him aside to start grabbing things out of it and place them on the table. "We need bread, and mayonnaise. Mustard, oh, and ham. Salami! Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles-what's that? Oh, peanut butter. I LOVE peanut butter. Cheese-" she takes a bowl out and opens it. "Ohh. Tuna fish." She shoves it under Pierre's nose. He backs away. "Ohh, I love tuna fish. This is gonna be one hell of a sandwich," she tells him, closing the icebox door.

Pierre wrinkles his nose at her. "Suddenly, I am very sleepy." He glances at the table. "Bonsoir," he tells her, and leaves her to make the sandwich.

Mildred looks after him, then goes to the computer and turns it on.


Steele opens the safe as thunder begins to roll outside the house. He takes out an envelope that contains a cashier's check for $100,000 made out to Winston Hastings, and signed by C.M. Wellington. As he's examining it, the lights come on. He turns to find the Wellingtons there. Charles has a gun in his hand. "All right, Ruggles. You'd better have a good explanation- or you're one dead butler."

Mrs. Swenson and the other servants enter the room. "He has an excellent explanation," she tells them.

"His real name is Remington Steele," Maria adds.

"Private investigator, extraordinaire," Pierre finishes.

"And he is about to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that one of *you* murdered Hastings," Swenson says. "Isn't that right, Mr. Steele?"

A nervous Steele runs a finger around his too tight collar as lighting flashes outside the French doors.


"I'm calling the police," Charles decides, turning toward the phone as Albert lounges on the sofa.

"Not so fast, Wellington," Steele says quickly. "By the time I get through, you may not want to make that phone call. Yes. I will now prove that Hastings death was not an accident, but- murder," he says dramatically.

"Oh," Albert sighs.

"Not so," Katherine says.

"That's preposterous!" Charles declares.

"So it seems to the untrained eye. But to a private investigator-"

"WHO killed him?" Pierre asks.

"A fair question, Pierre." Steele looks at him. "But before I answer that, let's first ask the question- how was Hastings killed?"

"MUST we?" Albert asks.

"Winston Hastings," Steele continues, stalling for time, "Beloved butler to some, insidious blackmailer to his employers. He had written memoirs that cut to the quick of each and every Wellington. Memoirs that revealed secrets so dark, so evil, so heinous, that one of you was driven to murder Hastings!" Steele declares.

Harold shakes his head in disbelief. His mother asks, "You HAVE these memoirs?"

Steele pauses. "Hmm? Another- interesting question. Yes. And I shall produce these memoirs- in a moment."

"If you're bluffing, Steele," Charles warns, "I'll have your license."

"And we'll sue," Pierre says.

Mildred runs into the room, holding a computer printout. "Boss? I found it," she tells him, crossing the room to his side.

Steele is relieved. "Ah. My assistant, Mildred Krebs, just as I expected has the memoirs."

"Oh, Boss, you don't know what I had to go through. Recipes, wine lists, guest lists-"

Steele nods. "Memoirs, Mildred, Memoirs."

"Here," she says, handing the printout to him.

Steele looks at the title page. "My Life With The Wellingtons," he reads aloud. To Mildred, he says, "Catchy little title, isn't it?"

"Hmm," she agrees, standing at his side as he lifts the page to look at the next one.

"The life of a butler is . . ." he pauses, looking sick.

"Well, go on, Mr. Steele," Swenson urges.

Steele looks at the next pages, then whispers to Mildred, "It's only half of a line- 'The life of a butler is'."

"Hastings must have had writers' block," Mildred says sotto voce.

Steele turns to look at her, putting his back to the servants and Wellingtons.

"Well, Steele?" Vincenzo asks.

"The solution is at hand," Steele assures them, holding up the "memoirs", "but before I reveal the murderer, let's go back to the night of the murder."

"You ARE bluffing!" Charles accuses.

Steele confronts him. "Am I? I have been told that you, Charles Wellington, received a message at dinner, supposedly from a business associate. But the truth is, Hastings was arraigning a meeting with you, wasn't he?"

"It's true," Albert declares. "I saw the note!"

"Oh, shut up you pipsqueak!" Charles tells his son.

"Exhibit A," Steele says, holding up the check. "A cashier's check for a hundred thousand dollars, written out to one Winston Hastings. Dated the day of the murder." We see the events occurring as Steele continues. "Charles received a note from Hastings, requesting a meeting. He asked Hastings to draw his bath, a clever excuse to meet, then said he was going to take the phone call. But in fact, he went to get the cashier's check for Hastings." We see Hastings and Charles in Charles' bedroom, smiling as Charles prepares to hand the check over. "Meanwhile, Hastings waited in the bedroom for Charles, counting down the hours until he'd be on his way to fun-filled Acapulco with beautiful Maria and spending his misbegotten fortune. But Hastings didn't have the memoirs. They argued, Hastings refused Charles demands." Hastings goes into the bath as Charles stands there, angry. "But no one refuses Charles Wellington. He grabs his favorite tennis racquet-" we see him pick up the racquet and follow Hastings into the bathroom. "He snuck up behind Hastings,-" Hastings is filling the tub with water and bubble bath. He looks around to see Charles, arm raised to strike, "and delivered a smashing-!"

"NO!" Charles says, and both he and Hastings look at the camera, freezing as the replay ends. "That's not the way it happened," he insists. "Yes, I went to meet Hastings that night. But when I got to my room, I found him on the floor, beside my tennis racquet- I'd been set up. I had to act fast. I threw the racquet into the trash, dumped Hastings' body into the tub, then waited for my wife to turn up to provide an alibi for me. That's the truth!" He lifts his hand. "I swear."

"Precisely," Steele says. "Which brings us to the next important question. Who framed you?" He moves to stand near Mildred.

She whispers, "Boss- what are you doing?"

"I believe it's know as winging it, Mildred." He turns back to the others. "On the night of Hastings' death, who was the one other person who saw Hastings' note to Charles?" he asks, leaning close to Albert. "Hmm? Hmm?" He looks at Albert. "You, Albert. By your own admission. And you framed your father." Charles stares daggers at Albert.

The replay begins again with Charles getting the note. "You knew Hastings was going to meet with your father," he says as we see Albert sneaking a glance at the note. "It was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one racquet. Hastings, because he was blackmailing you. And your father, whose contempt and domination you could no longer abide. You made sure your father was in the parlour so you could get to Hastings first." We watch as Albert watches his father taking the check from the safe, then continues down the hall. Hastings is laying out Charles' robe "You went to your father's room, grabbed his tennis racquet, slipped up to Hastings and delivered a-"

"NO! Wait!" Again, the replay does a freeze with Albert and Hastings looking at the camera. "It's true Hastings was blackmailing me. But I didn't kill him. I wanted to. In fact, when I left the table knowing Hastings was upstairs, all alone, I went to get my gun. But when I entered my room, Hastings was dead on the floor with my broken debating trophy lying next to him. Someone was trying to frame me." He walks over to his father. "I thought it was Father, who never wanted me for his son, so I dragged Hastings into Father's room, smashed his racquet against the floor and tossed it next to the body."

"You ruined a perfectly good racquet," is all Charles has to say.

Albert sits down again as Steele makes a connection. "Which would explain the banging noise Pierre heard the night of the murder."

Maria is becoming frustrated. "Yes, but- who is the killer?"

"We want to know now," Vincenzo says.

"Yes, please, go on m'sieu."

Mildred moves closer to Steele. "Maybe we should call for a cab," she says quietly.

Steele nods. "Umm hmm," he mutters. "It's worth considering." He straightens and hands her the "memoirs". "A murder case is like an onion. To solve the solution, one has to peel away the endless layers of contradiction and confusion. And so the process of elimination brings us to the two people who would stand to gain the most by killing Hastings, and framing Albert. Cindy - Harold."

"You're crazy, Steele!" Harold accuses.

"Am I?" Steele asks as the replay begins yet again, with Charles getting the note from Hastings. Think about it. Here was the perfect chance to get rid of both Hastings AND Albert. Why? Because Hastings knew about Cindy's past and was threatening to destroy her one ambition- to make it in high society. And Harold? Hastings knew your unbridled passion for Cindy, if publicized, could ruin your bid to become President of Wellington Petroleum." We see Cindy and Harold enter Albert's room. "Thus, the two of you raced upstairs, waited for Hastings, and ambushed him." As Hastings passes the room, Harold grabs him and pulls him inside, where Cindy is waiting with the trophy. She's trying to hit Hastings over the head with it. "Pulling him into Albert's room, grabbing Albert's debating trophy and waiting for the right moment to-"

"You're out of your gourd!" Cindy says. Again the replay freezes with everyone looking into the camera.

"We didn't kill Hastings," Harold says.

"Well, we were going to," Cindy admits, "with Harold's old army knife, but-Hastings was already dead."

"In MY bedroom," Harold says. "So, we dragged Hastings into Albert's bedroom."

"And that's when I broke your stupid trophy and made it look like a murder weapon," Cindy tells Albert.

"Exactly as I deduced," Steele says. "Which leaves just one more suspect." Mildred looks nervous. "Katherine Wellington." Thunder crashes, almost drowned by the surprised gasps of the servants.

"Sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Steele," Katherine says, "But at the time of the murder, I was with Mrs. Swenson, planning the barbecue."

Steele looks to Mrs. Swenson. "She's right," Swenson says.

"Of course," Steele says, moving toward Mildred again. "Of course indeed. Which means the murderer is-somebody else," he finishes, putting a hand on Mildred's shoulder. Albert looks up at him.

"Wanna make a run for it, Boss?" Mildred asks.

"Yes indeed," he's muttering as Laura enters. "Ah, my associate, Miss Holt. Yes."

Laura comes to a stop, looking around at everyone. "What's going on?" she asks.

"I was just concluding my summation," he tells her.

"You solved the case?" she asks doubtfully.

"Uh, yes, in a way. I've eliminated all the suspects," he admits.

"That's it, Steele," Charles says. "I'm calling the police."

"In a minute, Wellington!" Steele says. "To review-" There are groans from the family and servants, "the motive for Hastings' murder was---"

"Stocks," Laura finishes.

"Precisely," Steele agrees as she joins him before the fireplace. "Yes, but please, don't allow me to hog the limelight," he says, stepping aside as she waves him off. "Carry on."

"We all know that Wellington Petroleum is in dire financial straights. But few of us knew a corporate takeover was in the works. Engineered by someone on the inside who had access to a vast holding of company shares which he was willing to sell out."

Harold jumps and rushes Albert. "You little rat!" he says, strangling Albert.

"It wasn't Albert," Laura says. The brothers come apart.

"Who is it?" Charles asks. "I'll kill him."

"I'm afraid somebody beat you to it," Laura tells him.

"HASTINGS?!" Steele questions in surprise, then notices the servant's reaction to HIS reaction. He smiles. "Yes, of course. Of course. Please. Proceed, Miss Holt. Proceed."

"Hastings had amassed a sizeable amount of shares over the years, using every eavesdropped conversation in the house to his advantage."

"That swine," Charles says.

"In fact, he'd accumulated enough shares to give someone in the family decisive control of Wellington Petroleum."

"What are you talking about?" Charles asks.

"You, Charles. The night of the murder, you were willing to pay Hastings one hundred thousand dollars for the privilege of buying back his shares."

"That's a lie!" Charles says, then eyes her. "I can't see you ever proving I ever got a single share of stock."

"I can't," she admits. "Because Subuku Limited, a Japanese firm trying to take over your company, had a secret operative among you."

Katherine's shocked. "Who?"

"Please, Miss Holt," Steele says. "Let's not keep them in suspense any longer."

"An M.I.T. graduate and former securities analyst, who, after serving some time for fraud, supposedly retired to the contemplative life of an estate gardener. One Sam Kuramatsu." The other servants all turn to look at Sam.

"Sam?" Albert asks as his family looks at the gardener as well.

Sam looks at Laura. "Prove it," he says, with no trace of an accent.

Laura holds up a blow up of her photograph. "The photograph you thought you'd destroyed." The photo clearly shows Sam talking to two other Japanese men beside a car on the estate.

"I don't get it," Albert says, taking the photo.

"What REALLY happened?" Pierre asks.

"Let's go back to the night of the murder," Laura begins.

Steele jumps up. "Uh-Allow me. I've had experience at this sort of thing." He joins her before the fire. We begin the replay once more, with Charles getting the note. "Charles receives the note from Hastings. Albert sees the note, Charles leaves the room, Hastings leaves soon to be followed by Albert, Cindy, and Harold."

"Where's Kuramatsu?" Mildred asks.

We see him in the kitchen, eating. "In the kitchen," Laura says. "Kuramatsu had made a deal with Hastings to buy his stock." Hastings enters the kitchen, passing by Sam without speaking. "But Charles had just made him a better offer." Hastings is in the hallway, stock certificates in hand. Sam follows him. "Kuramatsu stops Hastings on his way to Charles's bedroom. He tells Hastings he wants to make a counter offer. Hastings agrees." Hastings goes into a room, Sam grabs a silver candlestick and places it against Hastings's throat. They struggle, which we see from a window below as Vincenzo watches. "Kuramatsu kills Hastings in Harold's room. That explains the struggle Vincenzo sees from outside. Kuramatsu then steals the signed stock certificates," he returns the candlestick to its place and disappears, "and rushes off to contact Subuku Limited."

"Simple, isn't it?" Steele says, continuing as we see Cindy and Harold go t his room, then Harold drags Hastings body out and into Albert's room. "Now you know why, when Harold and Cindy arrived to kill Hastings, they found he was already dead. So they framed Albert." They leave Albert's room, Albert comes up to his room. "But Albert, who also wanted to kill Hastings, finds the butler's body-" Albert opens the door of the room, steps back, and then goes in to drag the dead body down the hallway again. "And summons enough courage to frame his father. Albert dumps Hastings in Charles's bedroom and smashes Charles' tennis racquet to complete the frame." It takes Albert three tries to break the racquet.

"A moment later," Laura says, taking up the narrative again, "Charles finds the body and realizes that he has to do something." We see Charles heft Hastings' body into the tub.

"So, he dumps Hastings in the tub to make it look like an accident," Steele concludes.

"Good work, Mr. Steele," Laura praises as the replay finally ends.

"Hmm. You too, Miss Holt"

The lights go out, and Mildred yells, "Kuramatsu's flown the coop!"

Steele and Laura go out into the electrical storm to look for him, splitting up. Steele is standing by a hedge when he hears an electric hedge trimmer. Turning, he sees Kuramatsu coming after him through the hedge. Steele ducks, as Kuramatsu starts hacking at the hedge between them.

Laura runs to the outlet and unplugs the trimmer. Kuramatsu tosses it at Steele, who's suit jacket has been cut open at the top of the shoulder, where the sleeve is sewn in, and takes off.

They chase him to the stables, checking doors. When they find one that's unlocked, they enter cautiously, turning on the light. It's being used as the gardener's shed, since there are several gardening tools around, along with some bales of hay.

The blade of a chainsaw cuts through the wall behind Laura, and she leaps away as the wall comes apart and Kuramatsu appears, closing in on Steele. Laura notices a blower close by her and some kind of fertilizer.

Steele ducks behind the hay, but the chainsaw cuts through them. "Good bye, Mr. Steele," Kuramatsu says, closing in for the kill.

Laura turns on the blower, sending fine dust into Kuramatsu's face. He cries out, tossing the chainsaw aside. Steele knocks him unconscious with a right to the jaw.

Laura joins Steele as he looks at his damaged suit. "My tailor's gonna kill me," he moans.

"Let's call the police," Laura says. They head for the door just as a heavy rain begins to fall.

As they stand in the doorway, Steele tells her, "Suddenly I don't feel that eager about going back to the house."

"We can't stay here," she says.

Steele pulls her into his arms. "Why not?" he asks, kissing her. Laura returns the kiss. When this kiss ends, she looks over his shoulder at the unconscious murderer. "What about him?" she asks.

Steele grins devilishly and moves to the doors, pulling them closed. "What will people think?" Laura asks.

"What else? The butler did," Steele tells her as the doors close.

The End