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The Hound of the Baskervilles
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Mr. Sherlock Holmes
Mr. Sherlock Holmeswho was usually very late in the mornings
save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all
nightwas seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the
hearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left
behind him the night before. It was a finethick piece of wood
bulbous-headedof the sort which is known as a "Penang lawyer."
Just under the head was a broad silver band nearly an inch
across. "To James MortimerM.R.C.S.from his friends of the
C.C.H. was engraved upon it, with the date 1884." It was just
such a stick as the old-fashioned family practitioner used to
Well, Watson, what do you make of it?
Holmes was sitting with his back to meand I had given him no
sign of my occupation.
How did you know what I was doing? I believe you have eyes in
the back of your head.
I have, at least, a well-polished, silver-plated coffee-pot in
front of me,said he. "Buttell meWatsonwhat do you make of
our visitor's stick? Since we have been so unfortunate as to miss
him and have no notion of his errandthis accidental souvenir
becomes of importance. Let me hear you reconstruct the man by an
examination of it."
I think,said Ifollowing as far as I could the methods of my
companionthat Dr. Mortimer is a successful, elderly medical
man, well-esteemed since those who know him give him this mark of
Good!said Holmes. "Excellent!"
I think also that the probability is in favour of his being a
country practitioner who does a great deal of his visiting on
Because this stick, though originally a very handsome one has
been so knocked about that I can hardly imagine a town
practitioner carrying it. The thick-iron ferrule is worn down, so
it is evident that he has done a great amount of walking with
Perfectly sound!said Holmes.
And then again, there is the 'friends of the C.C.H.' I should
guess that to be the Something Hunt, the local hunt to whose
members he has possibly given some surgical assistance, and which
has made him a small presentation in return.
Really, Watson, you excel yourself,said Holmespushing back
his chair and lighting a cigarette. "I am bound to say that in
all the accounts which you have been so good as to give of my own
small achievements you have habitually underrated your own
abilities. It may be that you are not yourself luminousbut you
are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius
have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confessmy dear
fellowthat I am very much in your debt."
He had never said as much beforeand I must admit that his words
gave me keen pleasurefor I had often been piqued by his
indifference to my admiration and to the attempts which I had
made to give publicity to his methods. I was proudtooto think
that I had so far mastered his system as to apply it in a way
which earned his approval. He now took the stick from my hands
and examined it for a few minutes with his naked eyes. Then with
an expression of interest he laid down his cigaretteand
carrying the cane to the windowhe looked over it again with a
Interesting, though elementary,said he as he returned to his
favourite corner of the settee. "There are certainly one or two
indications upon the stick. It gives us the basis for several
Has anything escaped me?I asked with some self-importance. "I
trust that there is nothing of consequence which I have
I am afraid, my dear Watson, that most of your conclusions were
erroneous. When I said that you stimulated me I meant, to be
frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided
towards the truth. Not that you are entirely wrong in this
instance. The man is certainly a country practitioner. And he
walks a good deal.
Then I was right.
To that extent.
But that was all.
No, no, my dear Watson, not all--by no means all. I would
suggest, for example, that a presentation to a doctor is more
likely to come from a hospital than from a hunt, and that when
the initials 'C.C.' are placed before that hospital the words'
Charing Cross' very naturally suggest themselves.
You may be right.
The probability lies in that direction. And if we take this as a
working hypothesis we have a fresh basis from which to start our
construction of this unknown visitor.
Well, then, supposing that 'C.C.H.' does stand for 'Charing
Cross Hospital,' what further inferences may we draw?
Do none suggest themselves? You know my methods. Apply them!
I can only think of the obvious conclusion that the man has
practised in town before going to the country.
I think that we might venture a little farther than this. Look
at it in this light. On what occasion would it be most probable
that such a presentation would be made? When would his friends
unite to give him a pledge of their good will? Obviously at the
moment when Dr. Mortimer withdrew from the service of the
hospital in order to start in practice for himself. We know there
has been a presentation. We believe there has been a change from
a town hospital to a country practice. Is it, then, stretching
our inference too far to say that the presentation was on the
occasion of the change?
It certainly seems probable.
Now, you will observe that he could not have been on the staff
of the hospital, since only a man well-established in a London
practice could hold such a position, and such a one would not
drift into the country. What was he, then? If he was in the
hospital and yet not on the staff he could only have been a
house-surgeon or a house-physician--little more than a senior
student. And he left five years ago--the date is on the stick. So
your grave, middle-aged family practitioner vanishes into thin
air, my dear Watson, and there emerges a young fellow under
thirty, amiable, unambitious, absent-minded, and the possessor of
a favourite dog, which I should describe roughly as being larger
than a terrier and smaller than a mastiff.
I laughed incredulously as Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his
settee and blew little wavering rings of smoke up to the ceiling.
As to the latter part, I have no means of checking you,said I
but at least it is not difficult to find out a few particulars
about the man's age and professional career.From my small
medical shelf I took down the Medical Directory and turned up the
name. There were several Mortimersbut only one who could be our
visitor. I read his record aloud.
Mortimer, James, M.R.C.S., 1882, Grimpen, Dartmoor,
Devon. House-surgeon, from 1882 to 1884, at Charing Cross
Hospital. Winner of the Jackson prize for Comparative Pathology,
with essay entitled 'Is Disease a Reversion?' Corresponding
member of the Swedish Pathological Society. Author of 'Some
Freaks of Atavism' (Lancet 1882). 'Do We Progress?' (Journal of
Psychology, March, 1883). Medical Officer for the parishes of
Grimpen, Thorsley, and High Barrow.
No mention of that local hunt, Watson,said Holmes with a
mischievous smilebut a country doctor, as you very astutely
observed. I think that I am fairly justified in my inferences. As
to the adjectives, I said, if I remember right, amiable,
unambitious, and absent-minded. It is my experience that it is
only an amiable man in this world who receives testimonials, only
an unambitious one who abandons a London career for the country,
and only an absent-minded one who leaves his stick and not his
visiting-card after waiting an hour in your room.
And the dog?
Has been in the habit of carrying this stick behind his master.
Being a heavy stick the dog has held it tightly by the middle,
and the marks of his teeth are very plainly visible. The dog's
jaw, as shown in the space between these marks, is too broad in
my opinion for a terrier and not broad enough for a mastiff. It
may have been--yes, by Jove, it is a curly-haired spaniel.
He had risen and paced the room as he spoke. Now he halted in the
recess of the window. There was such a ring of conviction in his
voice that I glanced up in surprise.
My dear fellow, how can you possibly be so sure of that?
For the very simple reason that I see the dog himself on our
very door-step, and there is the ring of its owner. Don't move, I
beg you, Watson. He is a professional brother of yours, and your
presence may be of assistance to me. Now is the dramatic moment
of fate, Watson, when you hear a step upon the stair which is
walking into your life, and you know not whether for good or ill.
What does Dr. James Mortimer, the man of science, ask of Sherlock
Holmes, the specialist in crime? Come in!
The appearance of our visitor was a surprise to mesince I had
expected a typical country practitioner. He was a very tallthin
manwith a long nose like a beakwhich jutted out between two
keengray eyesset closely together and sparkling brightly from
behind a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. He was clad in a
professional but rather slovenly fashionfor his frock-coat was
dingy and his trousers frayed. Though younghis long back was
already bowedand he walked with a forward thrust of his head
and a general air of peering benevolence. As he entered his eyes
fell upon the stick in Holmes's handand he ran towards it with
an exclamation of joy. "I am so very glad said he. I was not
sure whether I had left it here or in the Shipping Office. I
would not lose that stick for the world."
A presentation, I see,said Holmes.
From Charing Cross Hospital?
From one or two friends there on the occasion of my marriage.
Dear, dear, that's bad!said Holmesshaking his head.
Dr. Mortimer blinked through his glasses in mild astonishment.
Why was it bad?
Only that you have disarranged our little deductions. Your
marriage, you say?
Yes, sir. I married, and so left the hospital, and with it all
hopes of a consulting practice. It was necessary to make a home
of my own.
Come, come, we are not so far wrong, after all,said Holmes.
And now, Dr. James Mortimer ------
Mister, sir, Mister--a humble M.R.C.S.
And a man of precise mind, evidently.
A dabbler in science, Mr. Holmes, a picker up of shells on the
shores of the great unknown ocean. I presume that it is Mr.
Sherlock Holmes whom I am addressing and not ------
No, this is my friend Dr. Watson.
Glad to meet you, sir. I have heard your name mentioned in
connection with that of your friend. You interest me very much,
Mr. Holmes. I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic a skull or
such well-marked supra-orbital development. Would you have any
objection to my running my finger along your parietal fissure? A
cast of your skull, sir, until the original is available, would
be an ornament to any anthropological museum. It is not my
intention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.
Sherlock Holmes waved our strange visitor into a chair. "You are
an enthusiast in your line of thoughtI perceivesiras I am
in mine said he. I observe from your forefinger that you make
your own cigarettes. Have no hesitation in lighting one."
The man drew out paper and tobacco and twirled the one up in the
other with surprising dexterity. He had longquivering fingers
as agile and restless as the antennae of an insect.
Holmes was silentbut his little darting glances showed me the
interest which he took in our curious companion.
I presume, sir,said he at lastthat it was not merely for
the purpose of examining my skull that you have done me the
honour to call here last night and again to-day?
No, sir, no; though I am happy to have had the opportunity of
doing that as well. I came to you, Mr. Holmes, because I
recognized that I am myself an unpractical man and because I am
suddenly confronted with a most serious and extraordinary
problem. Recognizing, as I do, that you are the second highest
expert in Europe ------
Indeed, sir! May I inquire who has the honour to be the first?
asked Holmes with some asperity.
To the man of precisely scientific mind the work of Monsieur
Bertillon must always appeal strongly.
Then had you not better consult him?
I said, sir, to the precisely scientific mind. But as a
practical man of affairs it is acknowledged that you stand alone.
I trust, sir, that I have not inadvertently ------
Just a little,said Holmes. "I thinkDr. Mortimeryou would
do wisely if without more ado you would kindly tell me plainly
what the exact nature of the problem is in which you demand my
The Curse of the Baskervilles
I have in my pocket a manuscript,said Dr. James Mortimer.
I observed it as you entered the room,said Holmes.
It is an old manuscript.
Early eighteenth century, unless it is a forgery.
How can you say that, sir?
You have presented an inch or two of it to my examination all
the time that you have been talking. It would be a poor expert
who could not give the date of a document within a decade or so.
You may possibly have read my little monograph upon the subject.
I put that at 1730.
The exact date is 1742.Dr. Mortimer drew it from his
breast-pocket. "This family paper was committed to my care by Sir
Charles Baskervillewhose sudden and tragic death some three
months ago created so much excitement in Devonshire. I may say
that I was his personal friend as well as his medical attendant.
He was a strong-minded mansirshrewdpracticaland as
unimaginative as I am myself. Yet he took this document very
seriouslyand his mind was prepared for just such an end as did
eventually overtake him."
Holmes stretched out his hand for the manuscript and flattened it
upon his knee.
You will observe, Watson, the alternative use of the long s and
the short. It is one of several indications which enabled me to
fix the date.
I looked over his shoulder at the yellow paper and the faded
script. At the head was written: "Baskerville Hall and below in
large, scrawling figures: 1742."
It appears to be a statement of some sort.
Yes, it is a statement of a certain legend which runs in the
But I understand that it is something more modern and practical
upon which you wish to consult me?
Most modern. A most practical, pressing matter, which must be
decided within twenty-four hours. But the manuscript is short and
is intimately connected with the affair. With your permission I
will read it to you.
Holmes leaned back in his chairplaced his finger-tips together
and closed his eyeswith an air of resignation. Dr. Mortimer
turned the manuscript to the light and read in a highcracking
voice the following curiousold-world narrative:-
Of the origin of the Hound of the Baskervilles there have been
many statements, yet as I come in a direct line from Hugo
Baskerville, and as I had the story from my father, who also had
it from his, I have set it down with all belief that it occurred
even as is here set forth. And I would have you believe, my sons,
that the same Justice which punishes sin may also most graciously
forgive it, and that no ban is so heavy but that by prayer and
repentance it may be removed. Learn then from this story not to
fear the fruits of the past, but rather to be circumspect in the
future, that those foul passions whereby our family has suffered
so grievously may not again be loosed to our undoing.
Know then that in the time of the Great Rebellion (the history
of which by the learned Lord Clarendon I most earnestly commend
to your attention) this Manor of Baskerville was held by Hugo of
that namenor can it be gainsaid that he was a most wild
profaneand godless man. Thisin truthhis neighbours might
have pardonedseeing that saints have never flourished in those
partsbut there was in him a certain wanton and cruel humour
which made his name a byword through the West. It chanced that
this Hugo came to love (ifindeedso dark a passion may be
known under so bright a name) the daughter of a yeoman who held
lands near the Baskerville estate. But the young maidenbeing
discreet and of good reputewould ever avoid himfor she
feared his evil name. So it came to pass that one Michaelmas
this Hugowith five or six of his idle and wicked companions
stole down upon the farm and carried off the maidenher father
and brothers being from homeas he well knew. When they had
brought her to the Hall the maiden was placed in an upper
chamberwhile Hugo and his friends sat down to a long carouse
as was their nightly custom. Nowthe poor lass upstairs was like
to have her wits turned at the singing and shouting and terrible
oaths which came up to her from belowfor they say that the
words used by Hugo Baskervillewhen he was in winewere such as
might blast the man who said them. At last in the stress of her
fear she did that which might have daunted the bravest or most
active manfor by the aid of the growth of ivy which covered
(and still covers) the south wall she came down from under the
eavesand so homeward across the moorthere being three leagues
betwixt the Hall and her father's farm.
It chanced that some little time later Hugo left his guests to
carry food and drink--with other worse things, perchance--to his
captive, and so found the cage empty and the bird escaped. Then,
as it would seem, he became as one that hath a devil, for,
rushing down the stairs into the dining-hall, he sprang upon the
great table, flagons and trenchers flying before him, and he
cried aloud before all the company that he would that very night
render his body and soul to the Powers of Evil if he might but
overtake the wench. And while the revellers stood aghast at the
fury of the man, one more wicked or, it may be, more drunken than
the rest, cried out that they should put the hounds upon her.
Whereat Hugo ran from the house, crying to his grooms that they
should saddle his mare and unkennel the pack, and giving the
hounds a kerchief of the maid's, he swung them to the line, and
so off full cry in the moonlight over the moor.
Nowfor some space the revellers stood agapeunable to
understand all that had been done in such haste. But anon their
bemused wits awoke to the nature of the deed which was like to be
done upon the moorlands. Everything was now in an uproarsome
calling for their pistolssome for their horsesand some for
another flask of wine. But at length some sense came back to
their crazed mindsand the whole of themthirteen in number
took horse and started in pursuit. The moon shone clear above
themand they rode swiftly abreasttaking that course which the
maid must needs have taken if she were to reach her own home.
They had gone a mile or two when they passed one of the night
shepherds upon the moorlands, and they cried to him to know if he
had seen the hunt. And the man, as the story goes, was so crazed
with fear that he could scarce speak, but at last he said that he
had indeed seen the unhappy maiden, with the hounds upon her
track. 'But I have seen more than that,' said he, 'for Hugo
Baskerville passed me upon his black mare, and there ran mute
behind him such a hound of hell as God forbid should ever be at
my heels.' So the drunken squires cursed the shepherd and rode
onward. But soon their skins turned cold, for there came a
galloping across the moor, and the black mare, dabbled with white
froth, went past with trailing bridle and empty saddle. Then the
revellers rode close together, for a great fear was on them, but
they still followed over the moor, though each, had he been
alone, would have been right glad to have turned his horse's
head. Riding slowly in this fashion they came at last upon the
hounds. These, though known for their valour and their breed,
were whimpering in a cluster at the head of a deep dip or goyal,
as we call it, upon the moor, some slinking away and some, with
starting hackles and staring eyes, gazing down the narrow valley
The company had come to a haltmore sober menas you may
guessthan when they started. The most of them would by no means
advancebut three of themthe boldestor it may be the most
drunkenrode forward down the goyal. Nowit opened into a broad
space in which stood two of those great stonesstill to be seen
therewhich were set by certain forgotten peoples in the days of
old. The moon was shining bright upon the clearingand there in
the centre lay the unhappy maid where she had fallendead of
fear and of fatigue. But it was not the sight of her bodynor
yet was it that of the body of Hugo Baskerville lying near her
which raised the hair upon the heads of these three daredevil
roysterersbut it was thatstanding over Hugoand plucking at
his throatthere stood a foul thinga greatblack beast
shaped like a houndyet larger than any hound that ever mortal
eye has rested upon. And even as they looked the thing tore the
throat out of Hugo Baskervilleon whichas it turned its
blazing eyes and dripping jaws upon themthe three shrieked with
fear and rode for dear lifestill screamingacross the moor.
Oneit is saiddied that very night of what he had seenand
the other twain were but broken men for the rest of their days.
Such is the tale, my sons, of the coming of the hound which is
said to have plagued the family so sorely ever since. If I have
set it down it is because that which is clearly known hath less
terror than that which is but hinted at and guessed. Nor can it
be denied that many of the family have been unhappy in their
deaths, which have been sudden, bloody, and mysterious. Yet may
we shelter ourselves in the infinite goodness of Providence,
which would not forever punish the innocent beyond that third or
fourth generation which is threatened in Holy Writ. To that
Providence, my sons, I hereby commend you, and I counsel you by
way of caution to forbear from crossing the moor in those dark
hours when the powers of evil are exalted.
[This from Hugo Baskerville to his sons Rodger and Johnwith
instructions that they say nothing thereof to their sister
When Dr. Mortimer had finished reading this singular narrative he
pushed his spectacles up on his forehead and stared across at Mr.
Sherlock Holmes. The latter yawned and tossed the end of his
cigarette into the fire.
Do you not find it interesting?
To a collector of fairy tales.
Dr. Mortimer drew a folded newspaper out of his pocket.
Now, Mr. Holmes, we will give you something a little more
recent. This is the Devon County Chronicle of May 14th of this
year. It is a short account of the facts elicited at the death of
Sir Charles Baskerville which occurred a few days before that
My friend leaned a little forward and his expression became
intent. Our visitor readjusted his glasses and began:-
The recent sudden death of Sir Charles Baskerville, whose name
has been mentioned as the probable Liberal candidate for
Mid-Devon at the next election, has cast a gloom over the county.
Though Sir Charles had resided at Baskerville Hall for a
comparatively short period his amiability of character and
extreme generosity had won the affection and respect of all who
had been brought into contact with him. In these days of nouveaux
riches it is refreshing to find a case where the scion of an old
county family which has fallen upon evil days is able to make his
own fortune and to bring it back with him to restore the fallen
grandeur of his line. Sir Charles, as is well known, made large
sums of money in South African speculation. More wise than those
who go on until the wheel turns against them, he realized his
gains and returned to England with them. It is only two years
since he took up his residence at Baskerville Hall, and it is
common talk how large were those schemes of reconstruction and
improvement which have been interrupted by his death. Being
himself childless, it was his openly expressed desire that the
whole countryside should, within his own lifetime, profit by his
good fortune, and many will have personal reasons for bewailing
his untimely end. His generous donations to local and county
charities have been frequently chronicled in these columns.
The circumstances connected with the death of Sir Charles
cannot be said to have been entirely cleared up by the inquest
but at least enough has been done to dispose of those rumours to
which local superstition has given rise. There is no reason
whatever to suspect foul playor to imagine that death could be
from any but natural causes. Sir Charles was a widowerand a man
who may be said to have been in some ways of an eccentric habit
of mind. In spite of his considerable wealth he was simple in his
personal tastesand his indoor servants at Baskerville Hall
consisted of a married couple named Barrymorethe husband acting
as butler and the wife as housekeeper. Their evidence
corroborated by that of several friendstends to show that Sir
Charles's health has for some time been impairedand points
especially to some affection of the heartmanifesting itself in
changes of colourbreathlessnessand acute attacks of nervous
depression. Dr. James Mortimerthe friend and medical attendant
of the deceasedhas given evidence to the same effect.
The facts of the case are simple. Sir Charles Baskerville was in
the habit every night before going to bed of walking down the
famous Yew Alley of Baskerville Hall. The evidence of the
Barrymores shows that this had been his custom. On the 4th of May
Sir Charles had declared his intention of starting next day for
London, and had ordered Barrymore to prepare his luggage. That
night he went out as usual for his nocturnal walk, in the course
of which he was in the habit of smoking a cigar. He never
returned. At twelve o'clock Barrymore, finding the hall door
still open, became alarmed, and, lighting a lantern, went in
search of his master. The day had been wet, and Sir Charles's
footmarks were easily traced down the Alley. Half-way down this
walk there is a gate which leads out on to the moor. There were
indications that Sir Charles had stood for some little time here.
He then proceeded down the Alley, and it was at the far end of it
that his body was discovered. One fact which has not been
explained is the statement of Barrymore that his master's
footprints altered their character from the time that he passed
the moor-gate, and that he appeared from thence onward to have
been walking upon his toes. One Murphy, a gipsy horse-dealer, was
on the moor at no great distance at the time, but he appears by
his own confession to have been the worse for drink. He declares
that he heard cries, but is unable to state from what
directionthey came. No signs of violence were to be discovered
upon Sir Charles's person, and though the doctor's evidence
pointed to an almost incredible facial distortion--so great that
Dr. Mortimer refused at first to believe that it was indeed his
friend and patient who lay before him--it was explained that that
is a symptom which is not unusual in cases of dyspnoea and death
from cardiac exhaustion. This explanation was borne out by the
post-mortem examination, which showed long-standing organic
disease, and the coroner's jury returned a verdict in accordance
with the medical evidence. It is well that this is so, for it is
obviously of the utmost importance that Sir Charles's heir should
settle at the Hall and continue the good work which has been so
sadly interrupted. Had the prosaic finding of the coroner not
finally put an end to the romantic stories which have been
whispered in connection with the affair, it might have been
difficult to find a tenant for Baskerville Hall. It is understood
that the next of kin is Mr. Henry Baskerville, if he be still
alive, the son of Sir Charles Baskerville's younger brother. The
young man when last heard of was in America, and inquiries are
being instituted with a view to informing him of his good
Dr. Mortimer refolded his paper and replaced it in his pocket.
Those are the public facts, Mr. Holmes, in connection with the
death of Sir Charles Baskerville.
I must thank you,said Sherlock Holmesfor calling my
attention to a case which certainly presents some features of
interest. I had observed some newspaper comment at the time, but
I was exceedingly preoccupied by that little affair of the
Vatican cameos, and in my anxiety to oblige the Pope I lost touch
with several interesting English cases. This article, you say,
contains all the public facts?
Then let me have the private ones.He leaned backput his
finger-tips togetherand assumed his most impassive and judicial
In doing so,said Dr. Mortimerwho had begun to show signs of
some strong emotionI am telling that which I have not confided
to anyone. My motive for withholding it from the coroner's
inquiry is that a man of science shrinks from placing himself in
the public position of seeming to indorse a popular superstition.
I had the further motive that Baskerville Hall, as the paper
says, would certainly remain untenanted if anything were done to
increase its already rather grim reputation. For both these
reasons I thought that I was justified in telling rather less
than I knew, since no practical good could result from it, but
with you there is no reason why I should not be perfectly frank.
The moor is very sparsely inhabitedand those who live near
each other are thrown very much together. For this reason I saw a
good deal of Sir Charles Baskerville. With the exception of Mr.
Franklandof Lafter Halland Mr. Stapletonthe naturalist
there are no other men of education within many miles. Sir
Charles was a retiring manbut the chance of his illness brought
us togetherand a community of interests in science kept us so.
He had brought back much scientific information from South
Africaand many a charming evening we have spent together
discussing the comparative anatomy of the Bushman and the
Within the last few months it became increasingly plain to me
that Sir Charles's nervous system was strained to the breaking
point. He had taken this legend which I have read you exceedingly
to heart--so much so that, although he would walk in his own
grounds, nothing would induce him to go out upon the moor at
night. Incredible as it may appear to you, Mr. Holmes, he was
honestly convinced that a dreadful fate over hung his family, and
certainly the records which he was able to give of his ancestors
were not encouraging. The idea of some ghastly presence
constantly haunted him, and on more than one occasion he has
asked me whether I had on my medical journeys at night ever seen
any strange creature or heard the baying of a hound. The latter
question he put to me several times, and always with a voice
which vibrated with excitement.
I can well remember driving up to his house in the evening some
three weeks before the fatal event. He chanced to be at his hall
door. I had descended from my gig and was standing in front of
himwhen I saw his eyes fix themselves over my shoulderand
stare past me with an expression of the most dreadful horror. I
whisked round and had just time to catch a glimpse of something
which I took to be a large black calf passing at the head of the
drive. So excited and alarmed was he that I was compelled to go
down to the spot where the animal had been and look around for
it. It was gonehoweverand the incident appeared to make the
worst impression upon his mind. I stayed with him all the
eveningand it was on that occasionto explain the emotion
which he had shownthat he confided to my keeping that narrative
which I read to you when first I came. I mention this small
episode because it assumes some importance in view of the tragedy
which followedbut I was convinced at the time that the matter
was entirely trivial and that his excitement had no
It was at my advice that Sir Charles was about to go to London.
His heart was, I knew, affected, and the constant anxiety in
which he lived, however chimerical the cause of it might be, was
evidently having a serious effect upon his health. I thought that
a few months among the distractions of town would send him back a
new man. Mr. Stapleton, a mutual friend who was much concerned at
his state of health, was of the same opinion. At the last instant
came this terrible catastrophe.
On the night of Sir Charles's death Barrymore the butlerwho
made the discoverysent Perkins the groom on horseback to me
and as I was sitting up late I was able to reach Baskerville Hall
within an hour of the event. I checked and corroborated all the
facts which were mentioned at the inquest. I followed the
footsteps down the Yew AlleyI saw the spot at the moor-gate
where he seemed to have waitedI remarked the change in the
shape of the prints after that pointI noted that there were no
other footsteps save those of Barrymore on the soft graveland
finally I carefully examined the bodywhich had not been touched
until my arrival. Sir Charles lay on his facehis arms outhis
fingers dug into the groundand his features convulsed with some
strong emotion to such an extent that I could hardly have sworn
to his identity. There was certainly no physical injury of any
kind. But one false statement was made by Barrymore at the
inquest. He said that there were no traces upon the ground round
the body. He did not observe any. But I did--some little distance
offbut fresh and clear."
A man's or a woman's?
Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instantand his voice
sank almost to a whisper as he answered:-
Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!
I confess at these words a shudder passed through me. There was a
thrill in the doctor's voice which showed that he was himself
deeply moved by that which he told us. Holmes leaned forward in
his excitement and his eyes had the harddry glitter which shot
from them when he was keenly interested.
You saw this?
As clearly as I see you.
And you said nothing?
What was the use?
How was it that no one else saw it?
The marks were some twenty yards from the body and no one gave
them a thought. I don't suppose I should have done so had I not
known this legend.
There are many sheep-dogs on the moor?
No doubt, but this was no sheep-dog.
You say it was large?
But it had not approached the body?
What sort of night was it?'
Damp and raw."
But not actually raining?
What is the Alley like?
There are two lines of old yew hedge, twelve feet high and
impenetrable. The walk in the centre is about eight feet across.
Is there anything between the hedges and the walk?
Yes, there is a strip of grass about six feet broad on either
I understand that the yew hedge is penetrated at one point by a
Yes, the wicket-gate which leads on to the moor.
Is there any other opening?
So that to reach the Yew Alley one either has to come down it
from the house or else to enter it by the moor-gate?
There is an exit through a summer-house at the far end.
Had Sir Charles reached this?
No; he lay about fifty yards from it.
Now, tell me, Dr. Mortimer--and this is important--the
marks which you saw were on the path and not on the grass?
No marks could show on the grass.
Were they on the same side of the path as the moor-gate?
Yes; they were on the edge of the path on the same side as the
You interest me exceedingly. Another point. Was the wicket-gate
Closed and padlocked.
How high was it?
About four feet high.
Then anyone could have got over it?
And what marks did you see by the wicket-gate?
None in particular.
Good heaven! Did no one examine?
Yes, I examined myself.
And found nothing?
It was all very confused. Sir Charles had evidently stood there
for five or ten minutes.
How do you know that?
Because the ash had twice dropped from his cigar.
Excellent! This is a colleague, Watson, after our own heart. But
He had left his own marks all over that small patch of gravel. I
could discern no others.
Sherlock Holmes struck his hand against his knee with an
If I had only been there!he cried. "It is evidently a case of
extraordinary interestand one which presented immense
opportunities to the scientific expert. That gravel page upon
which I might have read so much has been long ere this smudged by
the rain and defaced by the clogs of curious peasants. OhDr.
MortimerDr. Mortimerto think that you should not have called
me in! You have indeed much to answer for."
I could not call you in, Mr. Holmes, without disclosing these
facts to the world, and I have already given my reasons for not
wishing to do so. Besides, besides --
Why do you hesitate?
There is a realm in which the most acute and most experienced of
detectives is helpless.
You mean that the thing is supernatural?
I did not positively say so.
No, but you evidently think it.
Since the tragedy, Mr. Holmes, there have come to my ears
several incidents which are hard to reconcile with the settled
order of Nature.
I find that before the terrible event occurred several people
had seen a creature upon the moor which corresponds with this
Baskerville demon, and which could not possibly be any animal
known to science. They all agreed that it was a huge creature,
luminous, ghastly, and spectral. I have cross-examined these men,
one of them a hard-headed countryman, one a farrier, and one a
moorland farmer, who all tell the same story of this dreadful
apparition, exactly corresponding to the hell-hound of the
legend. I assure you that there is a reign of terror in the
district, and that it is a hardy man who will cross the moor at
And you, a trained man of science, believe it to be
I do not know what to believe.
Holmes shrugged his shoulders.
I have hitherto confined my investigations to this world,said
he. "In a modest way I have combated evilbut to take on the
Father of Evil himself wouldperhapsbe too ambitious a task.
Yet you must admit that the footmark is material."
The original hound was material enough to tug a man's throat
out, and yet he was diabolical as well.
I see that you have quite gone over to the supernaturalists. But
now, Dr. Mortimer, tell me this. If you hold these views, why
have you come to consult me at all? You tell me in the same
breath that it is useless to investigate Sir Charles's death, and
that you desire me to do it.
I did not say that I desired you to do it.
Then, how can I assist you?
By advising me as to what I should do with Sir Henry
Baskerville, who arrives at Waterloo Station--Dr. Mortimer
looked at his watch--"in exactly one hour and a quarter."
He being the heir?
Yes. On the death of Sir Charles we inquired for this young
gentleman and found that he had been farming in Canada. From the
accounts which have reached us he is an excellent fellow in every
way. I speak not as a medical man but as a trustee and executor
of Sir Charles's will.
There is no other claimant, I presume?
None. The only other kinsman whom we have been able to trace was
Rodger Baskerville, the youngest of three brothers of whom poor
Sir Charles was the elder. The second brother, who died young, is
the father of this lad Henry. The third, Rodger, was the black
sheep of the family. He came of the old masterful Baskerville
strain, and was the very image, they tell me, of the family
picture of old Hugo. He made England too hot to hold him, fled to
Central America, and died there in 1876 of yellow fever. Henry is
the last of the Baskervilles. In one hour and five minutes I meet
him at Waterloo Station. I have had a wire that he arrived at
Southampton this morning. Now, Mr. Holmes, what would you advise
me to do with him?
Why should he not go to the home of his fathers?
It seems natural, does it not? And yet, consider that every
Baskerville who goes there meets with an evil fate. I feel sure
that if Sir Charles could have spoken with me before his death he
would have warned me against bringing this the last of the old
race, and the heir to great wealth, to that deadly place. And yet
it cannot be denied that the prosperity of the whole poor, bleak
country-side depends upon his presence. All the good work which
has been done by Sir Charles will crash to the ground if there is
no tenant of the Hall. I fear lest I should be swayed too much by
my own obvious interest in the matter, and that is why I bring
the case before you and ask for your advice.
Holmes considered for a little time.
Put into plain words, the matter is this,said he. "In your
opinion there is a diabolical agency which makes Dartmoor an
unsafe abode for a Baskerville--that is your opinion?"
At least I might go the length of saying that there is some
evidence that this may be so.
Exactly. But surely, if your supernatural theory be correct, it
could work the young man evil in London as easily as in
Devonshire. A devil with merely local powers like a parish
vestry would be too inconceivable a thing.
You put the matter more flippantly, Mr. Holmes, than you would
probably do if you were brought into personal contact with these
things. Your advice, then, as I understand it, is that the young
man will be as safe in Devonshire as in London. He comes in fifty
minutes. What would you recommend?
I recommend, sir, that you take a cab, call off your spaniel who
is scratching at my front door, and proceed to Waterloo to meet
Sir Henry Baskerville.
And then you will say nothing to him at all until I have made up
my mind about the matter.
How long will it take you to make up your mind?
Twenty-four hours. At ten o'clock to-morrow, Dr. Mortimer, I
will be much obliged to you if you will call upon me here, and it
will be of help to me in my plans for the future if you will
bring Sir Henry Baskerville with you.
I will do so, Mr. Holmes.He scribbled the appointment on his
shirtcuff and hurried off in his strangepeeringabsent-minded
fashion. Holmes stopped him at the head of the stair.
Only one more question, Dr. Mortimer. You say that before Sir
Charles Baskerville's death several people saw this apparition
upon the moor?
Three people did.
Did any see it after?
I have not heard of any.
Thank you. Good morning.
Holmes returned to his seat with that quiet look of inward
satisfaction which meant that he had a congenial task before him.
Going out, Watson?
Unless I can help you.
No, my dear fellow, it is at the hour of action that I turn to
you for aid. But this is splendid, really unique from some points
of view. When you pass Bradley's would you ask him to send up a
pound of the strongest shag tobacco? Thank you. It would be as
well if you could make it convenient not to return before
evening. Then I should be very glad to compare impressions as to
this most interesting problem which has been submitted to us this
I knew that seclusion and solitude were very necessary for my
friend in those hours of intense mental concentration during
which he weighed every particle of evidenceconstructed
alternative theoriesbalanced one against the otherand made up
his mind as to which points were essential and which immaterial.
I therefore spent the day at my club and did not return to Baker
Street until evening. It was nearly nine o'clock when I found
myself in the sitting-room once more.
My first impression as I opened the door was that a fire had
broken outfor the room was so filled with smoke that the light
of the lamp upon the table was blurred by it. As I entered
howevermy fears were set at restfor it was the acrid fumes of
strong coarse tobacco which took me by the throat and set me
coughing. Through the haze I had a vague vision of Holmes in his
dressing-gown coiled up in an armchair with his black clay pipe
between his lips. Several rolls of paper lay around him.
Caught cold, Watson?said he.
No, it's this poisonous atmosphere.
I suppose it is pretty thick, now that you mention it.
Thick! It is intolerable.
Open the window, then! You have been at your club all day, I
My dear Holmes!
Am I right?
Certainly, but how?
He laughed at my bewildered expression.
There is a delightful freshness about you, Watson, which makes
it a pleasure to exercise any small powers which I possess at
your expense. A gentleman goes forth on a showery and miry day.
He returns immaculate in the evening with the gloss still on his
hat and his boots. He has been a fixture therefore all day. He is
not a man with intimate friends. Where, then, could he have been?
Is it not obvious?
Well, it is rather obvious.
The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance
ever observes. Where do you think that I have been?
A fixture also.
On the contrary, I have been to Devonshire.
Exactly. My body has remained in this arm-chair and has, I
regret to observe, consumed in my absence two large pots of
coffee and an incredible amount of tobacco. After you left I sent
down to Stamford's for the Ordnance map of this portion of the
moor, and my spirit has hovered over it all day. I flatter myself
that I could find my way about.
A large scale map, I presume?
Very large.He unrolled one section and held it over his knee.
Here you have the particular district which concerns us. That is
Baskerville Hall in the middle.
With a wood round it?
Exactly. I fancy the Yew Alley, though not marked under that
name, must stretch along this line, with the moor, as you
perceive, upon the right of it. This small clump of buildings
here is the hamlet of Grimpen, where our friend Dr. Mortimer has
his headquarters. Within a radius of five miles there are, as you
see, only a very few scattered dwellings. Here is Lafter Hall,
which was mentioned in the narrative. There is a house indicated
here which may be the residence of the naturalist--Stapleton, if
I remember right, was his name. Here are two moorland
farm-houses, High Tor and Foulmire. Then fourteen miles away the
great convict prison of Princetown. Between and around these
scattered points extends the desolate, lifeless moor. This, then,
is the stage upon which tragedy has been played, and upon which
we may help to play it again.
It must be a wild place.
Yes, the setting is a worthy one. If the devil did desire to
have a hand in the affairs of men ----
Then you are yourself inclining to the supernatural
The devil's agents may be of flesh and blood, may they not?
There are two questions waiting for us at the outset. The one is
whether any crime has been committed at all; the second is, what
is the crime and how was it committed? Of course, if Dr.
Mortimer's surmise should be correct, and we are dealing with
forces outside the ordinary laws of Nature, there is an end of
our investigation. But we are bound to exhaust all other
hypotheses before falling back upon this one. I think we'll shut
that window again, if you don't mind. It is a singular thing, but
I find that a concentrated atmosphere helps a concentration of
thought. I have not pushed it to the length of getting into a box
to think, but that is the logical outcome of my convictions. Have
you turned the case over in your mind?
Yes, I have thought a good deal of it in the course of the day.
What do you make of it?
It is very bewildering.
It has certainly a character of its own. There are points of
distinction about it. That change in the footprints, for example.
What do you make of that?
Mortimer said that the man had walked on tiptoe down that
portion of the alley.
He only repeated what some fool had said at the inquest. Why
should a man walk on tiptoe down the alley?
He was running, Watson--running desperately, running for his
life, running until he burst his heart and fell dead upon his
Running from what?
There lies our problem. There are indications that the man was
crazed with fear before ever he began to run.
How can you say that?
I am presuming that the cause of his fears came to him across
the moor. If that were so, and it seems most probable, only a man
who had lost his wits would have run from the house instead of
towards it. If the gipsy's evidence may be taken as true, he ran
with cries for help in the direction where help was least likely
to be. Then, again, whom was he waiting for that night, and why
was he waiting for him in the Yew Alley rather than in his own
You think that he was waiting for someone?
The man was elderly and infirm. We can understand his taking an
evening stroll, but the ground was damp and the night inclement.
Is it natural that he should stand for five or ten minutes, as
Dr. Mortimer, with more practical sense than I should have given
him credit for, deduced from the cigar ash?
But he went out every evening.
I think it unlikely that he waited at the moor-gate every
evening. On the contrary, the evidence is that he avoided the
moor. That night he waited there. It was the night before he made
his departure for London. The thing takes shape, Watson. It
becomes coherent. Might I ask you to hand me my violin, and we
will postpone all further thought upon this business until we
have had the advantage of meeting Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry
Baskerville in the morning.
Sir Henry Baskerville
Our breakfast-table was cleared earlyand Holmes waited in his
dressing-gown for the promised interview. Our clients were
punctual to their appointmentfor the clock had just struck ten
when Dr. Mortimer was shown upfollowed by the young baronet.
The latter was a smallalertdark-eyed man about thirty years
of agevery sturdily builtwith thick black eyebrows and a
strongpugnacious face. He wore a ruddy-tinted tweed suit and
had the weather-beaten appearance of one who has spent most of
his time in the open airand yet there was something in his
steady eye and the quiet assurance of his bearing which indicated
This is Sir Henry Baskerville,said Dr. Mortimer.
Why, yes,said heand the strange thing is, Mr. Sherlock
Holmes, that if my friend here had not proposed coming round to
you this morning I should have come on my own account. I
understand that you think out little puzzles, and I've had one
this morning which wants more thinking out than I am able to give
Pray take a seat, Sir Henry. Do I understand you to say that you
have yourself had some remarkable experience since you arrived in
Nothing of much importance, Mr. Holmes. Only a joke, as like as
not. It was this letter, if you can call it a letter, which
reached me this morning.
He laid an envelope upon the tableand we all bent over it. It
was of common qualitygrayish in colour. The addressSir Henry
Baskerville, Northumberland Hotel,was printed in rough
characters; the postmark "Charing Cross and the date of posting
the preceding evening.
Who knew that you were going to the Northumberland Hotel?" asked
Holmesglancing keenly across at our visitor.
No one could have known. We only decided after I met Dr.
But Dr. Mortimer was no doubt already stopping there?
No, I had been staying with a friend,said the doctor. "There
was no possible indication that we intended to go to this hotel."
Hum! Someone seems to be very deeply interested in your
movements.Out of the envelope he took a half-sheet of foolscap
paper folded into four. This he opened and spread flat upon the
table. Across the middle of it a single sentence had been formed
by the expedient of pasting printed words upon it. It ran: "As
you value your life or your reason keep away from the moor." The
word "moor" only was printed in ink.
Now,said Sir Henry Baskervilleperhaps you will tell me, Mr.
Holmes, what in thunder is the meaning of that, and who it is
that takes so much interest in my affairs?
What do you make of it, Dr. Mortimer? You must allow that there
is nothing supernatural about this, at any rate?
No, sir, but it might very well come from someone who was
convinced that the business is supernatural.
What business?asked Sir Henry sharply. "It seems to me that
all you gentlemen know a great deal more than I do about my own
You shall share our knowledge before you leave this room, Sir
Henry. I promise you that,said Sherlock Holmes. "We will
confine ourselves for the present with your permission to this
very interesting documentwhich must have been put together and
posted yesterday evening. Have you yesterday's TimesWatson?"
It is here in the corner.
Might I trouble you for it--the inside page, please, with the
leading articles?He glanced swiftly over itrunning his eyes
up and down the columns. "Capital article this on free trade.
Permit me to give you an extract from it. 'You may be cajoled
into imagining that your own special trade or your own industry
will be encouraged by a protective tariffbut it stands to
reason that such legislation must in the long run keep away
wealth from the countrydiminish the value of our importsand
lower the general conditions of life in this island.' What do you
think of thatWatson?" cried Holmes in high gleerubbing his
hands together with satisfaction. "Don't you think that is an
Dr. Mortimer looked at Holmes with an air of professional
interestand Sir Henry Baskerville turned a pair of puzzled dark
eyes upon me.
I don't know much about the tariff and things of that kind,
said he; "but it seems to me we've got a bit off the trail so far
as that note is concerned."
On the contrary, I think we are particularly hot upon the trail,
Sir Henry. Watson here knows more about my methods than you do,
but I fear that even he has not quite grasped the significance of
No, I confess that I see no connection.
And yet, my dear Watson, there is so very close a connection
that the one is extracted out of the other. 'You,' 'your,'
'your,' 'life,' 'reason,' 'value,' 'keep away,' 'from the.' Don't
you see now whence these words have been taken?
By thunder, you're right! Well, if that isn't smart!cried Sir
If any possible doubt remained it is settled by the fact that
'keep away' and 'from the' are cut out in one piece.
Well, now--so it is!
Really, Mr. Holmes, this exceeds anything which I could have
imagined,said Dr. Mortimergazing at my friend in amazement.
I could understand anyone saying that the words were from a
newspaper; but that you should name which, and add that it came
from the leading article, is really one of the most remarkable
things which I have ever known. How did you do it?
I presume, Doctor, that you could tell the skull of a negro from
that of an Esquimau?
Because that is my special hobby. The differences are obvious.
The supra-orbital crest, the facial angle, the maxillary curve,
But this is my special hobby, and the differences are equally
obvious. There is as much difference to my eyes between the
leaded bourgeois type of a Times article and the slovenly print
of an evening half-penny paper as there could be between your
negro and your Esquimau. The detection of types is one of the
most elementary branches of knowledge to the special expert in
crime, though I confess that once when I was very young I
confused the Leeds Mercury with the Western Morning News. But a
Times leader is entirely distinctive, and these words could have
been taken from nothing else. As it was done yesterday the strong
probability was that we should find the words in yesterday's
So far as I can follow you, then, Mr. Holmes,said Sir Henry
Baskervillesomeone cut out this message with a scissors--
Nail-scissors,said Holmes. "You can see that it was a very
short-bladed scissorssince the cutter had to take two snips
over 'keep away.' "
That is so. Someone, then, cut out the message with a pair of
short-bladed scissors, pasted it with paste--
With gum on to the paper. But I want to know why the word 'moor'
should have been written?
Because he could not find it in print. The other words were all
simple and might be found in any issue, but 'moor' would be less
Why, of course, that would explain it. Have you read anything
else in this message, Mr. Holmes?
There are one or two indications, and yet the utmost pains have
been taken to remove all clues. The address, you observe is
printed in rough characters. But the Times is a paper which is
seldom found in any hands but those of the highly educated. We
may take it, therefore, that the letter was composed by an
educated man who wished to pose as an uneducated one, and his
effort to conceal his own writing suggests that that writing
might be known, or come to be known, by you. Again, you will
observe that the words are not gummed on in an accurate line, but
that some are much higher than others. 'Life,' for example is
quite out of its proper place. That may point to carelessness or
it may point to agitation and hurry upon the part of the cutter.
On the whole I incline to the latter view, since the matter was
evidently important, and it is unlikely that the composer of such
a letter would be careless. If he were in a hurry it opens up the
interesting question why he should be in a hurry, since any
letter posted up to early morning would reach Sir Henry before he
would leave his hotel. Did the composer fear an interruption--and
We are coming now rather into the region of guesswork,said Dr.
Say, rather, into the region where we balance probabilities and
choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the
imagination, but we have always some material basis on which to
start our speculation. Now, you would call it a guess, no doubt,
but I am almost certain that this address has been written in a
How in the world can you say that?
If you examine it carefully you will see that both the pen and
the ink have given the writer trouble. The pen has spluttered
twice in a single word, and has run dry three times in a short
address, showing that there was very little ink in the bottle.
Now, a private pen or ink-bottle is seldom allowed to be in such
a state, and the combination of the two must be quite rare. But
you know the hotel ink and the hotel pen, where it is rare to get
anything else. Yes, I have very little hesitation in saying that
could we examine the waste-paper baskets of the hotels around
Charing Cross until we found the remains of the mutilated Times
leader we could lay our hands straight upon the person who sent
this singular message. Halloa! Halloa! What's this?
He was carefully examining the foolscapupon which the words
were pastedholding it only an inch or two from his eyes.
Nothing,said hethrowing it down. "It is a blank half-sheet
of paperwithout even a water-mark upon it. I think we have
drawn as much as we can from this curious letter; and nowSir
Henryhas anything else of interest happened to you since you
have been in London?"
Why, no, Mr. Holmes. I think not.
You have not observed anyone follow or watch you?
I seem to have walked right into the thick of a dime novel,
said our visitor. "Why in thunder should anyone follow or watch
We are coming to that. You have nothing else to report to us
before we go into this matter?
Well, it depends upon what you think worth reporting.
I think anything out of the ordinary routine of life well worth
Sir Henry smiled.
I don't know much of British life yet, for I have spent nearly
all my time in the States and in Canada. But I hope that to lose
one of your boots is not part of the ordinary routine of life
You have lost one of your boots?
My dear sir,cried Dr. Mortimerit is only mislaid. You will
find it when you return to the hotel. What is the use of
troubling Mr. Holmes with trifles of this kind?
Well, he asked me for anything outside the ordinary routine.
Exactly,said Holmeshowever foolish the incident may seem.
You have lost one of your boots, you say?
Well, mislaid it, anyhow. I put them both outside my door last
night, and there was only one in the morning. I could get no
sense out of the chap who cleans them. The worst of it is that I
only bought the pair last night in the Strand, and I have never
had them on.
If you have never worn them, why did you put them out to be
They were tan boots and had never been varnished. That was why I
put them out.
Then I understand that on your arrival in London yesterday you
went out at once and bought a pair of boots?
I did a good deal of shopping. Dr. Mortimer here went round with
me. You see, if I am to be squire down there I must dress the
part, and it may be that I have got a little careless in my ways
out West. Among other things I bought these brown boots--gave six
dollars for them--and had one stolen before ever I had them on my
It seems a singularly useless thing to steal,said Sherlock
Holmes. "I confess that I share Dr. Mortimer's belief that it
will not be long before the missing boot is found."
And, now, gentlemen,said the baronet with decisionit seems
to me that I have spoken quite enough about the little that I
know. It is time that you kept your promise and gave me a full
account of what we are all driving at.
Your request is a very reasonable one,Holmes answered. "Dr.
MortimerI think you could not do better than to tell your story
as you told it to us."
Thus encouragedour scientific friend drew his papers from his
pocketand presented the whole case as he had done upon the
morning before. Sir Henry Baskerville listened with the deepest
attentionand with an occasional exclamation of surprise.
Well, I seem to have come into an inheritance with a vengeance,
said he when the long narrative was finished. "Of courseI've
heard of the hound ever since I was in the nursery. It's the pet
story of the familythough I never thought of taking it
seriously before. But as to my uncle's death--wellit all seems
boiling up in my headand I can't get it clear yet. You don't
seem quite to have made up your mind whether it's a case for a
policeman or a clergyman."
And now there's this affair of the letter to me at the hotel. I
suppose that fits into its place.
It seems to show that someone knows more than we do about what
goes on upon the moor,said Dr. Mortimer.
And also,said Holmesthat someone is not ill-disposed
towards you, since they warn you of danger.
Or it may be that they wish, for their own purposes, to scare me
Well, of course, that is possible also. I am very much indebted
to you, Dr. Mortimer, for introducing me to a problem which
presents several interesting alternatives. But the practical
point which we now have to decide, Sir Henry, is whether it is or
is not advisable for you to go to Baskerville Hall.
Why should I not go?
There seems to be danger.
Do you mean danger from this family fiend or do you mean danger
from human beings?
Well, that is what we have to find out.
Whichever it is, my answer is fixed. There is no devil in hell,
Mr. Holmes, and there is no man upon earth who can prevent me
from going to the home of my own people, and you may take that to
be my final answer.His dark brows knitted and his face flushed
to a dusky red as he spoke. It was evident that the fiery temper
of the Baskervilles was not extinct in this their last
representative. "Meanwhile said he, I have hardly had time to
think over all that you have told me. It's a big thing for a man
to have to understand and to decide at one sitting. I should like
to have a quiet hour by myself to make up my mind. Nowlook
hereMr. Holmesit's half-past eleven now and I am going back
right away to my hotel. Suppose you and your friendDr. Watson
come round and lunch with us at two. I'll be able to tell you
more clearly then how this thing strikes me."
Is that convenient to you, Watson?
Then you may expect us. Shall I have a cab called?
I'd prefer to walk, for this affair has flurried me rather.
I'll join you in a walk, with pleasure,said his companion.
Then we meet again at two o'clock. Au revoir, and good-morning!
We heard the steps of our visitors descend the stair and the bang
of the front door. In an instant Holmes had changed from the
languid dreamer to the man of action.
Your hat and boots, Watson, quick! Not a moment to lose!He
rushed into his room in his dressing-gown and was back again in a
few seconds in a frock-coat. We hurried together down the stairs
and into the street. Dr. Mortimer and Baskerville were still
visible about two hundred yards ahead of us in the direction of
Shall I run on and stop them?
Not for the world, my dear Watson. I am perfectly satisfied with
your company if you will tolerate mine. Our friends are wise, for
it is certainly a very fine morning for a walk.
He quickened his pace until we had decreased the distance which
divided us by about half. Thenstill keeping a hundred yards
behindwe followed into Oxford Street and so down Regent Street.
Once our friends stopped and stared into a shop windowupon
which Holmes did the same. An instant afterwards he gave a little
cry of satisfactionandfollowing the direction of his eager
eyesI saw that a hansom cab with a man inside which had halted
on the other side of the street was now proceeding slowly onward
There's our man, Watson! Come along! We'll have a good look at
him, if we can do no more.
At that instant I was aware of a bushy black beard and a pair of
piercing eyes turned upon us through the side window of the cab.
Instantly the trapdoor at the top flew upsomething was screamed
to the driverand the cab flew madly off down Regent Street.
Holmes looked eagerly round for anotherbut no empty one was in
sight. Then he dashed in wild pursuit amid the stream of the
trafficbut the start was too greatand already the cab was out
There now!said Holmes bitterly as he emerged panting and white
with vexation from the tide of vehicles. "Was ever such bad luck
and such bad managementtoo? WatsonWatsonif you are an
honest man you will record this also and set it against my
Who was the man?
I have not an idea.
Well, it was evident from what we have heard that Baskerville
has been very closely shadowed by someone since he has been in
town. How else could it be known so quickly that it was the
Northumberland Hotel which he had chosen? If they had followed
him the first day I argued that they would follow him also the
second. You may have observed that I twice strolled over to the
window while Dr. Mortimer was reading his legend.
Yes, I remember.
I was looking out for loiterers in the street, but I saw none.
We are dealing with a clever man, Watson. This matter cuts very
deep, and though I have not finally made up my mind whether it is
a benevolent or a malevolent agency which is in touch with us, I
am conscious always of power and design. When our friends left I
at once followed them in the hopes of marking down their
invisible attendant. So wily was he that he had not trusted
himself upon foot, but he had availed himself of a cab so that he
could loiter behind or dash past them and so escape their notice.
His method had the additional advantage that if they were to take
a cab he was all ready to follow them. It has, however, one
It puts him in the power of the cabman.
What a pity we did not get the number!
My dear Watson, clumsy as I have been, you surely do not
seriously imagine that I neglected to get the number? No. 2704 is
our man. But that is no use to us for the moment.
I fail to see how you could have done more.
On observing the cab I should have instantly turned and walked
in the other direction. I should then at my leisure have hired a
second cab and followed the first at a respectful distance, or,
better still, have driven to the Northumberland Hotel and waited
there. When our unknown had followed Baskerville home we should
have had the opportunity of playing his own game upon himself and
seeing where he made for. As it is, by an indiscreet eagerness,
which was taken advantage of with extraordinary quickness and
energy by our opponent, we have betrayed ourselves and lost our
We had been sauntering slowly down Regent Street during this
conversationand Dr. Mortimerwith his companionhad long
vanished in front of us.
There is no object in our following them,said Holmes. "The
shadow has departed and will not return. We must see what further
cards we have in our hands and play them with decision. Could you
swear to that man's face within the cab?"
I could swear only to the beard.
And so could I--from which I gather that in all probability it
was a false one. A clever man upon so delicate an errand has no
use for a beard save to conceal his features. Come in here,
He turned into one of the district messenger officeswhere he
was warmly greeted by the manager.
Ah, Wilson, I see you have not forgotten the little case in
which I had the good fortune to help you?
No, sir, indeed I have not. You saved my good name, and perhaps
My dear fellow, you exaggerate. I have some recollection,
Wilson, that you had among your boys a lad named Cartwright, who
showed some ability during the investigation.
Yes, sir, he is still with us.
Could you ring him up?--thank you! And I should be glad to have
change of this five-pound note.
A lad of fourteenwith a brightkeen facehad obeyed the
summons of the manager. He stood now gazing with great reverence
at the famous detective.
Let me have the Hotel Directory,said Holmes. "Thank you! Now
Cartwrightthere are the names of twenty-three hotels hereall
in the immediate neighbourhood of Charing Cross. Do you see?"
You will visit each of these in turn.
You will begin in each case by giving the outside porter one
shilling. Here are twenty-three shillings.
You will tell him that you want to see the waste-paper of
yesterday. You will say that an important telegram has miscarried
and that you are looking for it. You understand?
But what you are really looking for is the centre page of the
Times with some holes cut in it with scissors. Here is a copy of
the Times. It is this page. You could easily recognize it, could
In each case the outside porter will send for the hall porter,
to whom also you will give a shilling. Here are twenty-three
shillings. You will then learn in possibly twenty cases out of
the twenty-three that the waste of the day before has been burned
or removed. In the three other cases you will be shown a heap of
paper and you will look for this page of the Times among it. The
odds are enormously against your finding it. There are ten
shillings over in case of emergencies. Let me have a report by
wire at Baker Street before evening. And now, Watson, it only
remains for us to find out by wire the identity of the cabman,
No. 2704, and then we will drop into one of the Bond Street
picture galleries and fill in the time until we are due at the
Three Broken Threads
Sherlock Holmes hadin a very remarkable degreethe power of
detaching his mind at will. For two hours the strange business in
which we had been involved appeared to be forgottenand he was
entirely absorbed in the pictures of the modern Belgian masters.
He would talk of nothing but artof which he had the crudest
ideasfrom our leaving the gallery until we found ourselves at
the Northumberland Hotel.
Sir Henry Baskerville is upstairs expecting you,said the
clerk. "He asked me to show you up at once when you came."
Have you any objection to my looking at your register?said
Not in the least.
The book showed that two names had been added after that of
Baskerville. One was Theophilus Johnson and familyof Newcastle;
the other Mrs. Oldmore and maidof High LodgeAlton.
Surely that must be the same Johnson whom I used to know,said
Holmes to the porter. "A lawyeris he notgray-headedand
walks with a limp?"
No, sir; this is Mr. Johnson, the coal-owner, a very active
gentleman, not older than yourself.
Surely you are mistaken about his trade?
No, sir! he has used this hotel for many years, and he is very
well known to us.
Ah, that settles it. Mrs. Oldmore, too; I seem to remember the
name. Excuse my curiosity, but often in calling upon one friend
one finds another.
She is an invalid lady, sir. Her husband was once mayor of
Gloucester. She always comes to us when she is in town.
Thank you; I am afraid I cannot claim her acquaintance. We have
established a most important fact by these questions, Watson,he
continued in a low voice as we went upstairs together. "We know
now that the people who are so interested in our friend have not
settled down in his own hotel. That means that while they areas
we have seenvery anxious to watch himthey are equally anxious
that he should not see them. Nowthis is a most suggestive
What does it suggest?
It suggests--halloa, my dear fellow, what on earth is the
As we came round the top of the stairs we had run up against Sir
Henry Baskerville himself. His face was flushed with angerand
he held an old and dusty boot in one of his hands. So furious was
he that he was hardly articulateand when he did speak it was in
a much broader and more Western dialect than any which we had
heard from him in the morning.
Seems to me they are playing me for a sucker in this hotel,he
cried. "They'll find they've started in to monkey with the wrong
man unless they are careful. By thunderif that chap can't find
my missing boot there will be trouble. I can take a joke with the
bestMr. Holmesbut they've got a bit over the mark this time."
Still looking for your boot?
Yes, sir, and mean to find it.
But, surely, you said that it was a new brown boot?
So it was, sir. And now it's an old black one.
What! you don't mean to say----?
That's just what I do mean to say. I only had three pairs in the
world--the new brown, the old black, and the patent leathers,
which I am wearing. Last night they took one of my brown ones,
and today they have sneaked one of the black. Well, have you got
it? Speak out, man, and don't stand staring!
An agitated German waiter had appeared upon the scene.
No, sir; I have made inquiry all over the hotel, but I can hear
no word of it.
Well, either that boot comes back before sundown or I'll see the
manager and tell him that I go right straight out of this hotel.
It shall be found, sir--I promise you that if you will have a
little patience it will be found.
Mind it is, for it's the last thing of mine that I'll lose in
this den of thieves. Well, well, Mr. Holmes, you'll excuse my
troubling you about such a trifle----
I think it's well worth troubling about.
Why, you look very serious over it.
How do you explain it?
I just don't attempt to explain it. It seems the very maddest,
queerest thing that ever happened to me.
The queerest perhaps----said Holmesthoughtfully.
What do you make of it yourself?
Well, I don't profess to understand it yet. This case of yours
is very complex, Sir Henry. When taken in conjunction with your
uncle's death I am not sure that of all the five hundred cases of
capital importance which I have handled there is one which cuts
so deep. But we hold several threads in our hands, and the odds
are that one or other of them guides us to the truth. We may
waste time in following the wrong one, but sooner or later we
must come upon the right.
We had a pleasant luncheon in which little was said of the
business which had brought us together. It was in the private
sitting-room to which we afterwards repaired that Holmes asked
Baskerville what were his intentions.
To go to Baskerville Hall.
At the end of the week.
On the whole,said HolmesI think that your decision is a
wise one. I have ample evidence that you are being dogged in
London, and amid the millions of this great city it is difficult
to discover who these people are or what their object can be. If
their intentions are evil they might do you a mischief, and we
should be powerless to prevent it. You did not know, Dr.Mortimer,
that you were followed this morning from my house?
Dr. Mortimer started violently.
Followed! By whom?
That, unfortunately, is what I cannot tell you. Have you among
your neighbours or acquaintances on Daftmoor any man with a
black, full beard?
No--or, let me see--why, yes. Barrymore, Sir Charles's butler,
is a man with a full, black beard.
Ha! Where is Barrymore?
He is in charge of the Hall.
We had best ascertain if he is really there, or if by any
possibility he might be in London.
How can you do that?
Give me a telegraph form. 'Is all ready for Sir Henry?' That
will do. Address to Mr. Barrymore, Baskerville Hall. What is the
nearest telegraph-office? Grimpen. Very good, we will send a
second wire to the postmaster, Grimpen: 'Telegram to Mr.
Barrymore to be delivered into his own hand. If absent, please
return wire to Sir Henry Baskerville, Northumberland Hotel. 'That
should let us know before evening whether Barrymore is at his
post in Devonshire or not.
That's so,said Baskerville. "By the wayDr. Mortimerwho is
He is the son of the old caretaker, who is dead. They have
looked after the Hall for four generations now. So far as I know,
he and his wife are as respectable a couple as any in the
At the same time,said Baskervilleit's clear enough that so
long as there are none of the family at the Hall these people
have a mighty fine home and nothing to do.
That is true.
Did Barrymore profit at all by Sir Charles's will?asked
He and his wife had five hundred pounds each.
Ha! Did they know that they would receive this?
Yes; Sir Charles was very fond of talking about the provisions
of his will.
That is very interesting.
I hope,said Dr. Mortimerthat you do not look with
suspicious eyes upon everyone who received a legacy from Sir
Charles, for I also had a thousand pounds left to me.
Indeed! And anyone else?
There were many insignificant sums to individuals, and a large
number of public charities. The residue all went to Sir Henry.
And how much was the residue?
Seven hundred and forty thousand pounds.
Holmes raised his eyebrows in surprise. "I had no idea that so
gigantic a sum was involved said he.
Sir Charles had the reputation of being richbut we did not
know how very rich he was until we came to examine his
securities. The total value of the estate was close on to a
Dear me! It is a stake for which a man might well play a
desperate game. And one more question, Dr. Mortimer. Supposing
that anything happened to our young friend here--you will forgive
the unpleasant hypothesis!--who would inherit the estate?
Since Rodger Baskerville, Sir Charles's younger brother died
unmarried, the estate would descend to the Desmonds, who are
distant cousins. James Desmond is an elderly clergyman in
Thank you. These details are all of great interest. Have you met
Mr. James Desmond?
Yes; he once came down to visit Sir Charles. He is a man of
venerable appearance and of saintly life. I remember that he
refused to accept any settlement from Sir Charles, though he
pressed it upon him.
And this man of simple tastes would be the heir to Sir Charles's
He would be the heir to the estate because that is entailed. He
would also be the heir to the money unless it were willed
otherwise by the present owner, who can, of course, do what he
likes with it.
And have you made your will, Sir Henry?
No, Mr. Holmes, I have not. I've had no time, for it was only
yesterday that I learned how matters stood. But in any case I
feel that the money should go with the title and estate. That was
my poor uncle's idea. How is the owner going to restore the
glories of the Baskervilles if he has not money enough to keep up
the property? House, land, and dollars must go together.
Quite so. Well, Sir Henry, I am of one mind with you as to the
advisability of your going down to Devonshire without delay.
There is only one provision which I must make. You certainly must
not go alone.
Dr. Mortimer returns with me.
But Dr. Mortimer has his practice to attend to, and his house is
miles away from yours. With all the good will in the world he may
be unable to help you. No, Sir Henry, you must take with you
someone, a trusty man, who will be always by your side.
It is possible that you could come yourself, Mr. Holmes?
If matters came to a crisis I should endeavour to be present in
person; but you can understand that, with my extensive consulting
practice and with the constant appeals which reach me from many
quarters, it is impossible for me to be absent from London for an
indefinite time. At the present instant one of the most revered
names in England is being besmirched by a blackmailer, and only I
can stop a disastrous scandal. You will see how impossible it is
for me to go to Dartmoor.
Whom would you recommend, then?
Holmes laid his hand upon my arm.
If my friend would undertake it there is no man who is better
worth having at your side when you are in a tight place. No one
can say so more confidently than I.
The proposition took me completely by surprisebut before I had
time to answerBaskerville seized me by the hand and wrung it
Well, now, that is real kind of you, Dr. Watson,said he. "You
see how it is with meand you know just as much about the matter
as I do. If you will come down to Baskerville Hall and see me
through I'll never forget it."
The promise of adventure had always a fascination for meand I
was complimented by the words of Holmes and by the eagerness with
which the baronet hailed me as a companion.
I will come, with pleasure,said I. "I do not know how I could
employ my time better."
And you will report very carefully to me,said Holmes. "When a
crisis comesas it will doI will direct how you shall act. I
suppose that by Saturday all might be ready?"
Would that suit Dr. Watson?
Then on Saturday, unless you hear to the contrary, we shall meet
at the 10:30 train from Paddington.
We had risen to depart when Baskerville gave a cryof triumph
and diving into one of the corners of the room he drew a brown
boot from under a cabinet.
My missing boot!he cried.
May all our difficulties vanish as easily!said Sherlock
But it is a very singular thing,Dr. Mortimer remarked. "I
searched this room carefully before lunch."
And so did I,said Baskerville. "Every inch of it."
There was certainly no boot in it then.
In that case the waiter must have placed it there while we were
The German was sent for but professed to know nothing of the
matternor could any inquiry clear it up. Another item had been
added to that constant and apparently purposeless series of small
mysteries which had succeeded each other so rapidly. Setting
aside the whole grim story of Sir Charles's deathwe had a line
of inexplicable incidents all within the limits of two days
which included the receipt of the printed letterthe
black-bearded spy in the hansomthe loss of the new brown boot
the loss of the old black bootand now the return of the new
brown boot. Holmes sat in silence in the cab as we drove back to
Baker Streetand I knew from his drawn brows and keen face that
his mindlike my ownwas busy in endeavouring to frame some
scheme into which all these strange and apparently disconnected
episodes could be fitted. All afternoon and late into the evening
he sat lost in tobacco and thought.
Just before dinner two telegrams were handed in. The first ran:-
Have just heard that Barrymore is at the Hall.--BASKERVILLE.
Visited twenty-three hotels as directed, but sorry, to report
unable to trace cut sheet of Times.--CARTWRIGHT.
There go two of my threads, Watson. There is nothing more
stimulating than a case where everything goes against you. We
must cast round for another scent.
We have still the cabman who drove the spy.
Exactly. I have wired to get his name and address from the
Official Registry. I should not be surprised if this were an
answer to my question.
The ring at the bell proved to be something even more
satisfactory than an answerhoweverfor the door opened and a
rough-looking fellow entered who was evidently the man himself.
I got a message from the head office that a gent at this address
had been inquiring for 2,704,said he. "I've driven my cab this
seven years and never a word of complaint. I came here straight
from the Yard to ask you to your face what you had against me."
I have nothing in the world against you, my good man,said
Holmes. "On the contraryI have half a sovereign for you if you
will give me a clear answer to my questions."
Well, I've had a good day and no mistake,said the cabmanwith
a grin. "What was it you wanted to asksir?"
First of all your name and address, in case I want you again.
John Clayton, 3, Turpey Street, the Borough. My cab is out of
Shipley's Yard, near Waterloo Station.
Sherlock Holmes made a note of it.
Now, Clayton, tell me all about the fare who came and watched
this house at ten o'clock this morning and afterwards followed
the two gentlemen down Regent Street.
The man looked surprised and a little embarrassed. "Whythere's
no good my telling you thingsfor you seem to know as much as I
do already said he. The truth is that the gentleman told me
that he was a detective and that I was to say nothing about him
My good fellow, this is a very serious business, and you may
find yourself in a pretty bad position if you try to hide
anything from me. You say that your fare told you that he was a
Yes, he did.
When did he say this?
When he left me.
Did he say anything more?
He mentioned his name.
Holmes cast a swift glance of triumph at me. "Ohhe mentioned
his namedid he? That was imprudent. What was the name that he
His name,said the cabmanwas Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
Never have I seen my friend more completely taken aback than by
the cabman's reply. For an instant he sat in silent amazement.
Then he burst into a hearty laugh.
A touch, Watson--an undeniable touch!said he. "I feel a foil
as quick and supple as my own. He got home upon me very prettily
that time. So his name was Sherlock Holmeswas it?"
Yes, sir, that was the gentleman's name.
Excellent! Tell me where you picked him up and all that
He hailed me at half-past nine in Trafalgar Square. He said that
he was a detective, and he offered me two guineas if I would do
exactly what he wanted all day and ask no questions. I was glad
enough to agree. First we drove down to the Northumberland Hotel
and waited there until two gentlemen came out and took a cab from
the rank. We followed their cab until it pulled up somewhere near
This very door,said Holmes.
Well, I couldn't be sure of that, but I dare say my fare knew
all about it. We pulled up half-way down the street and waited an
hour and a half. Then the two gentlemen passed us, walking, and
we followed down Baker Street and along ----
I know,said Holmes.
Until we got three-quarters down Regent Street. Then my
gentleman threw up the trap, and he cried that I should drive
right away to Waterloo Station as hard as I could go. I whipped
up the mare and we were there under the ten minutes. Then he paid
up his two guineas, like a good one, and away he went into the
station. Only just as he was leaving he turned round and he said:
'It might interest you to know that you have been driving Mr.
Sherlock Holmes.' That's how I come to know the name.
I see. And you saw no more of him?
Not after he went into the station.
And how would you describe Mr. Sherlock Holmes?
The cabman scratched his head. "Wellhe wasn't altogether such
an easy gentleman to describe. I'd put him at forty years of age
and he was of a middle heighttwo or three inches shorter than
yousir. He was dressed like a toffand he had a black beard
cut square at the endand a pale face. I don't know as I could
say more than that."
Colour of his eyes?
No, I can't say that.
Nothing more that you can remember?
No, sir; nothing.
Well, then, here is your half-sovereign. There's another one
waiting for you if you can bring any more information. Good
Good night, sir, and thank you!
John Clayton departed chucklingand Holmes turned to me with a
shrug of his shoulders and a rueful smile.
Snap goes our third thread, and we end where we began,said he.
The cunning rascal! He knew our number, knew that Sir Henry
Baskerville had consulted me, spotted who I was in Regent Street,
conjectured that I had got the number of the cab and would lay my
hands on the driver, and so sent back this audacious message. I
tell you, Watson, this time we have got a foeman who is worthy of
our steel. I've been checkmated in London. I can only wish you
better luck in Devonshire. But I'm not easy in my mind about it.
About sending you. It's an ugly business, Watson, an ugly
dangerous business, and the more I see of it the less I like it.
Yes, my dear fellow, you may laugh, but I give you my word that I
shall be very glad to have you back safe and sound in Baker
Street once more.
Sir Henry Baskerville and Dr. Mortimer were ready upon the
appointed dayand we started as arranged for Devonshire. Mr.
Sherlock Holmes drove with me to the station and gave me his last
parting injunctions and advice.
I will not bias your mind by suggesting theories or suspicions,
Watson,said he; "I wish you simply to report facts in the
fullest possible manner to meand you can leave me to do the
What sort of facts?I asked.
Anything which may seem to have a bearing however indirect upon
the case, and especially the relations between young Baskerville
and his neighbours or any fresh particulars concerning the death
of Sir Charles. I have made some inquiries myself in the last few
days, but the results have, I fear, been negative. One thing only
appears to be certain, and that is that Mr. James Desmond, who is
the next heir, is an elderly gentleman of a very amiable
disposition, so that this persecution does not arise from him. I
really think that we may eliminate him entirely from our
calculations. There remain the people who will actually surround
Sir Henry Baskerville upon the moor.
Would it not be well in the first place to get rid of this
By no means. You could not make a greater mistake. If they are
innocent it would be a cruel injustice, and if they are guilty we
should be giving up all chance of bringing it home to them. No,
no, we will preserve them upon our list of suspects. Then there
is a groom at the Hall, if I remember right. There are two
moorland farmers. There is our friend Dr. Mortimer, whom I
believe to be entirely honest, and there is his wife, of whom we
know nothing. There is this naturalist, Stapleton, and there is
his sister, who is said to be a young lady of attractions. There
is Mr. Frankland, of Lafter Hall, who is also an unknown factor,
and there are one or two other neighbours. These are the folk who
must be your very special study.
I will do my best.
You have arms, I suppose?
Yes, I thought it as well to take them.
Most certainly. Keep your revolver near you night and day, and
never relax your precautions.
Our friends had already secured a first-class carriage and were
waiting for us upon the platform.
No, we have no news of any kind,said Dr. Mortimer in answer to
my friend's questions. "I can swear to one thingand that is
that we have not been shadowed during the last two days. We have
never gone out without keeping a sharp watchand no one could
have escaped our notice."
You have always kept together, I presume?
Except yesterday afternoon. I usually give up one day to pure
amusement when I come to town, so I spent it at the Museum of the
College of Surgeons.
And I went to look at the folk in the park,said Baskerville.
But we had no trouble of any kind.
It was imprudent, all the same,said Holmesshaking his head
and looking very grave. "I begSir Henrythat you will not go
about alone. Some great misfortune will befall you if you do. Did
you get your other boot?"
No, sir, it is gone forever.
Indeed. That is very interesting. Well, good-bye,he added as
the train began to glide down the platform. "Bear in mindSir
Henryone of the phrases in that queer old legend which Dr.
Mortimer has read to usand avoid the moor in those hours of
darkness when the powers of evil are exalted."
I looked back at the platform when we had left it far behindand
saw the tallaustere figure of Holmes standing motionless and
gazing after us.
The journey was a swift and pleasant oneand I spent it in
making the more intimate acquaintance of my two companions and in
playing with Dr. Mortimer's spaniel. In a very few hours the
brown earth had become ruddythe brick had changed to granite
and red cows grazed in well-hedged fields where the lush grasses
and more luxuriant vegetation spoke of a richerif a damper
climate. Young Baskerville stared eagerly out of the windowand
cried aloud with delight as he recognized the familiar features
of the Devon scenery.
I've been over a good part of the world since I left it, Dr.
Watson,said he; "but I have never seen a place to compare with
I never saw a Devonshire man who did not swear by his county,I
It depends upon the breed of men quite as much as on the
county,said Dr. Mortimer. "A glance at our friend here reveals
the rounded head of the Celtwhich carries inside it the Celtic
enthusiasm and power of attachment. Poor Sir Charles's head was
of a very rare typehalf Gaelichalf Ivernian in its
characteristics. But you were very young when you last saw
Baskerville Hallwere you not?"
I was a boy in my 'teens at the time of my father's death, and
had never seen the Hall, for he lived in a little cottage on the
South Coast. Thence I went straight to a friend in America. I
tell you it is all as new to me as it is to Dr. Watson, and I'm
as keen as possible to see the moor.
Are you? Then your wish is easily granted, for there is your
first sight of the moor,said Dr. Mortimerpointing out of the
Over the green squares of the fields and the low curve of a wood
there rose in the distance a greymelancholy hillwith a
strange jagged summitdim and vague in the distancelike some
fantastic landscape in a dream. Baskerville sat for a long time
his eyes fixed upon itand I read upon his eager face how much
it meant to himthis first sight of that strange spot where the
men of his blood had held sway so long and left their mark so
deep. There he satwith his tweed suit and his American accent
in the corner of a prosaic railway-carriageand yet as I looked
at his dark and expressive face I felt more than ever how true a
descendant he was of that long line of high-bloodedfieryand
masterful men. There were pridevalourand strength in his
thick browshis sensitive nostrilsand his large hazel eyes. If
on that forbidding moor a difficult and dangerous quest should
lie before usthis was at least a comrade for whom one might
venture to take a risk with the certainty that he would bravely
The train pulled up at a small wayside station and we all
descended. Outsidebeyond the lowwhite fencea wagonette with
a pair of cobs was waiting. Our coming was evidently a great
eventfor station-master and porters clustered round us to carry
out our luggage. It was a sweetsimple country spotbut I was
surprised to observe that by the gate there stood two soldierly
men in dark uniformswho leaned upon their short rifles and
glanced keenly at us as we passed. The coachmana hard-faced
gnarled little fellowsaluted Sir Henry Baskervilleand in a
few minutes we were flying swiftly down the broadwhite road.
Rolling pasture lands curved upward on either side of usand old
gabled houses peeped out from amid the thick green foliagebut
behind the peaceful and sunlit country-side there rose everdark
against the evening skythe longgloomy curve of the moor
broken by the jagged and sinister hills.
The wagonette swung round into a side roadand we curved upward
through deep lanes worn by centuries of wheelshigh banks on
either sideheavy with dripping moss and fleshy hart's-tongue
ferns. Bronzing bracken and mottled bramble gleamed in the light
of the sinking sun. Still steadily risingwe passed over a
narrow granite bridgeand skirted a noisy stream which gushed
swiftly downfoaming and roaring amid the gray boulders. Both
road and stream wound up through a valley dense with scrub oak
and fir. At every turn Baskerville gave an exclamation of
delightlooking eagerly about him and asking countless
questions. To his eyes all seemed beautifulbut to me a tinge of
melancholy lay upon the country-sidewhich bore so clearly the
mark of the waning year. Yellow leaves carpeted the lanes and
fluttered down upon us as we passed. The rattle of our wheels
died away as we drove through drifts of rotting vegetation--sad
giftsas it seemed to mefor Nature to throw before the
carriage of the returning heir of the Baskervilles.
Halloa!cried Dr. Mortimerwhat is this?
A steep curve of heath-clad landan outlying spur of the moor
lay in front of us. On the summithard and clear like an
equestrian statue upon its pedestalwas a mounted soldierdark
and sternhis rifle poised ready over his forearm. He was
watching the road along which we travelled.
What is this, Perkins?asked Dr. Mortimer.
Our driver half turned in his seat.
There's a convict escaped from Princetown, sir. He's been out
three days now, and the warders watch every road and every
station, but they've had no sight of him yet. The farmers about
here don't like it, sir, and that's a fact.
Well, I understand that they get five pounds if they can give
Yes, sir, but the chance of five pounds is but a poor thing
compared to the chance of having your throat cut. You see, it
isn't like any ordinary convict. This is a man that would stick
Who is he, then?
It is Selden, the Notting Hill murderer.
I remembered the case wellfor it was one in which Holmes had
taken an interest on account of the peculiar ferocity of the
crime and the wanton brutality which had marked all the actions
of the assassin. The commutation of his death sentence had been
due to some doubts as to his complete sanityso atrocious was
his conduct. Our wagonette had topped a rise and in front of us
rose the huge expanse of the moormottled with gnarled and
craggy cairns and tors. A cold wind swept down from it and set us
shivering. Somewhere thereon that desolate plainwas lurking
this fiendish manhiding in a burrow like a wild beasthis
heart full of malignancy against the whole race which had cast
him out. It needed but this to complete the grim suggestiveness
of the barren wastethe chilling windand the darkling sky.
Even Baskerville fell silent and pulled his overcoat more closely
We had left the fertile country behind and beneath us. We looked
back on it nowthe slanting rays of a low sun turning the
streams to threads of gold and glowing on the red earth new
turned by the plough and the broad tangle of the woodlands. The
road in front of us grew bleaker and wilder over huge russet and
olive slopessprinkled with giant boulders. Now and then we
passed a moorland cottagewalled and roofed with stonewith no
creeper to break its harsh outline. Suddenly we looked down into
a cup-like depressionpatched with stunted oaks and firs which
had been twisted and bent by the fury of years of storm. Two
highnarrow towers rose over the trees. The driver pointed with
Baskerville Hall,said he.
Its master had risen and was staring with flushed cheeks and
shining eyes. A few minutes later we had reached the lodge-gates
a maze of fantastic tracery in wrought ironwith weather-bitten
pillars on either sideblotched with lichensand surmounted by
the boars' heads of the Baskervilles. The lodge was a ruin of
black granite and bared ribs of raftersbut facing it was a new
buildinghalf constructedthe first fruit of Sir Charles's
South African gold.
Through the gateway we passed into the avenuewhere the wheels
were again hushed amid the leavesand the old trees shot their
branches in a sombre tunnel over our heads. Baskerville shuddered
as he looked up the longdark drive to where the house glimmered
like a ghost at the farther end.
Was it here?he asked in a low voice.
No, no, the Yew Alley is on the other side.
The young heir glanced round with a gloomy face.
It's no wonder my uncle felt as if trouble were coming on him in
such a place as this,said he. "It's enough to scare any man.
I'll have a row of electric lamps up here inside of six months
and you won't know it againwith a thousand candle-power Swan
and Edison right here in front of the hall door."
The avenue opened into a broad expanse of turfand the house lay
before us. In the fading light I could see that the centre was a
heavy block of building from which a porch projected. The whole
front was draped in ivywith a patch clipped bare here and there
where a window or a coat-of-arms broke through the dark veil.
>From this central block rose the twin towersancient
crenelatedand pierced with many loopholes. To right and left of
the turrets were more modern wings of black granite. A dull light
shone through heavy mullioned windowsand from the high chimneys
which rose from the steephigh-angled roof there sprang a single
black column of smoke.
Welcome, Sir Henry! Welcome to Baskerville Hall!
A tall man had stepped from the shadow of the porch to open the
door of the wagonette. The figure of a woman was silhouetted
against the yellow light of the hall. She came out and helped the
man to hand down our bags.
You don't mind my driving straight home, Sir Henry?said Dr.
Mortimer. "My wife is expecting me."
Surely you will stay and have some dinner?
No, I must go. I shall probably find some work awaiting me. I
would stay to show you over the house, but Barrymore will be a
better guide than I. Good-bye, and never hesitate night or day to
send for me if I can be of service.
The wheels died away down the drive while Sir Henry and I turned
into the halland the door clanged heavily behind us. It was a
fine apartment in which we found ourselveslargeloftyand
heavily raftered with huge balks of age-blackened oak. In the
great old-fashioned fireplace behind the high iron dogs a
log-fire crackled and snapped. Sir Henry and I held out our hands
to itfor we were numb from our long drive. Then we gazed round
us at the highthin window of old stained glassthe oak
panellingthe stags' headsthe coats-of-arms upon the walls
all dim and sombre in the subdued light of the central lamp.
It's just as I imagined it,said Sir Henry. "Is it not the very
picture of an old family home? To think that this should be the
same hall in which for five hundred years my people have lived.
It strikes me solemn to think of it."
I saw his dark face lit up with a boyish enthusiasm as he gazed
about him. The light beat upon him where he stoodbut long
shadows trailed down the walls and hung like a black canopy above
him. Barrymore had returned from taking our luggage to our rooms.
He stood in front of us now with the subdued manner of a
well-trained servant. He was a remarkable-looking mantall
handsomewith a square black beard and paledistinguished
Would you wish dinner to be served at once, sir?
Is it ready?
In a very few minutes, sir. You will find hot water in your
rooms. My wife and I will be happy, Sir Henry, to stay with you
until you have made your fresh arrangements, but you will
understand that under the new conditions this house will require
a considerable staff.
What new conditions?
I only meant, sir, that Sir Charles led a very retired life, and
we were able to look after his wants. You would, naturally, wish
to have more company, and so you will need changes in your
Do you mean that your wife and you wish to leave?
Only when it is quite convenient to you, sir.
But your family have been with us for several generations, have
they not? I should be sorry to begin my life here by breaking an
old family connection.
I seemed to discern some signs of emotion upon the butler's white
I feel that also, sir, and so does my wife. But to tell the
truth, sir, we were both very much attached to Sir Charles, and
his death gave us a shock and made these surroundings very
painful to us. I fear that we shall never again be easy in our
minds at Baskerville Hall.
But what do you intend to do?
I have no doubt, sir, that we shall succeed in establishing
ourselves in some business. Sir Charles's generosity has given us
the means to do so. And now, sir, perhaps I had best show you to
A square balustraded gallery ran round the top of the old hall
approached by a double stair. From this central point two long
corridors extended the whole length of the buildingfrom which
all the bedrooms opened. My own was in the same wing as
Baskerville's and almost next door to it. These rooms appeared to
be much more modern than the central part of the houseand the
bright paper and numerous candles did something to remove the
sombre impression which our arrival had left upon my mind.
But the dining-room which opened out of the hall was a place of
shadow and gloom. It was a long chamber with a step separating
the dais where the family sat from the lower portion reserved for
their dependents. At one end a minstrel's gallery overlooked it.
Black beams shot across above our headswith a smoke-darkened
ceiling beyond them. With rows of flaring torches to light it up
and the colour and rude hilarity of an old-time banquetit might
have softened; but nowwhen two black-clothed gentlemen sat in
the little circle of light thrown by a shaded lampone's voice
became hushed and one's spirit subdued. A dim line of ancestors
in every variety of dressfrom the Elizabethan knight to the
buck of the Regencystared down upon us and daunted us by their
silent company. We talked littleand I for one was glad when the
meal was over and we were able to retire into the modern
billiard-room and smoke a cigarette.
My word, it isn't a very cheerful place,said Sir Henry. "I
suppose one can tone down to itbut I feel a bit out of the
picture at present. I don't wonder that my uncle got a little
jumpy if he lived all alone in such a house as this. Howeverif
it suits youwe will retire early to-nightand perhaps things
may seem more cheerful in the morning."
I drew aside my curtains before I went to bed and looked out from
my window. It opened upon the grassy space which lay in front of
the hall door. Beyondtwo copses of trees moaned and swung in a
rising wind. A half moon broke through the rifts of racing
clouds. In its cold light I saw beyond the trees a broken fringe
of rocksand the longlow curve of the melancholy moor. I
closed the curtainfeeling that my last impression was in
keeping with the rest.
And yet it was not quite the last. I found myself weary and yet
wakefultossing restlessly from side to sideseeking for the
sleep which would not come. Far away a chiming clock struck out
the quarters of the hoursbut otherwise a deathly silence lay
upon the old house. And then suddenlyin the very dead of the
nightthere came a sound to my earsclearresonantand
unmistakable. It was the sob of a womanthe muffledstrangling
gasp of one who is torn by an uncontrollable sorrow. I sat up in
bed and listened intently. The noise could not have been far away
and was certainly in the house. For half an hour I waited with
every nerve on the alertbut there came no other sound save the
chiming clock and the rustle of the ivy on the wall.
The Stapletons of Merripit House
The fresh beauty of the following morning did something to efface
from our minds the grim and gray impression which had been left
upon both of us by our first experience of Baskerville Hall. As
Sir Henry and I sat at breakfast the sunlight flooded in through
the high mullioned windowsthrowing watery patches of colour
from the coats of arms which covered them. The dark panelling
glowed like bronze in the golden raysand it was hard to realize
that this was indeed the chamber which had struck such a gloom
into our souls upon the evening before.
I guess it is ourselves and not the house that we have to
blame!said the baronet. "We were tired with our journey and
chilled by our driveso we took a gray view of the place. Now we
are fresh and wellso it is all cheerful once more."
And yet it was not entirely a question of imagination,I
answered. "Did youfor examplehappen to hear someonea woman
I thinksobbing in the night?"
That is curious, for I did when I was half asleep fancy that I
heard something of the sort. I waited quite a time, but there was
no more of it, so I concluded that it was all a dream.
I heard it distinctly, and I am sure that it was really the sob
of a woman.
We must ask about this right away.He rang the bell and asked
Barrymore whether he could account for our experience. It seemed
to me that the pallid features of the butler turned a shade paler
still as he listened to his master's question.
There are only two women in the house, Sir Henry,he answered.
One is the scullery-maid, who sleeps in the other wing. The
other is my wife, and I can answer for it that the sound could
not have come from her.
And yet he lied as he said itfor it chanced that after
breakfast I met Mrs. Barrymore in the long corridor with the sun
full upon her face. She was a largeimpassiveheavy-featured
woman with a stern set expression of mouth. But her tell-tale
eyes were red and glanced at me from between swollen lids. It was
shethenwho wept in the nightand if she did so her husband
must know it. Yet he had taken the obvious risk of discovery in
declaring that it was not so. Why had he done this? And why did
she weep so bitterly? Already round this pale-facedhandsome
black-bearded man there was gathering an atmosphere of mystery
and of gloom. It was he who had been the first to discover the
body of Sir Charlesand we had only his word for all the
circumstances which led up to the old man's death. Was it
possible that it was Barrymore after all whom we had seen in the
cab in Regent Street? The beard might well have been the same.
The cabman had described a somewhat shorter manbut such an
impression might easily have been erroneous. How could I settle
the point forever? Obviously the first thing to do was to see the
Grimpen postmasterand find whether the test telegram had really
been placed in Barrymore's own hands. Be the answer what it
mightI should at least have something to report to Sherlock
Sir Henry had numerous papers to examine after breakfastso that
the time was propitious for my excursion. It was a pleasant walk
of four miles along the edge of the moorleading me at last to a
small gray hamletin which two larger buildingswhich proved to
be the inn and the house of Dr. Mortimerstood high above the
rest. The postmasterwho was also the village grocerhad a
clear recollection of the telegram.
Certainly, sir,said heI had the telegram delivered to Mr.
Barrymore exactly as directed.
Who delivered it?
My boy here. James, you delivered that telegram to Mr.Barrymore
at the Hall last week, did you not?
Yes, father, I delivered it.
Into his own hands?I asked.
Well, he was up in the loft at the time, so that I could not put
it into his own hands, but I gave it into Mrs. Barrymore's hands,
and she promised to deliver it at once.
Did you see Mr. Barrymore?
No, sir; I tell you he was in the loft.
If you didn't see him, how do you know he was in the loft?
Well, surely his own wife ought to know where he is,said the
postmaster testily. "Didn't he get the telegram? If there is any
mistake it is for Mr. Barrymore himself to complain."
It seemed hopeless to pursue the inquiry any fartherbut it was
clear that in spite of Holmes's ruse we had no proof that
Barrymore had not been in London all the time. Suppose that it
were so--suppose that the same man had been the last who had seen
Sir Charles aliveand the first to dog the new heir when he
returned to England. What then? Was he the agent of others or had
he some sinister design of his own? What interest could he have
in persecuting the Baskerville family? I thought of the strange
warning clipped out of the leading article of the Times. Was that
his work or was it possibly the doing of someone who was bent
upon counteracting his schemes? The only conceivable motive was
that which had been suggested by Sir Henrythat if the family
could be scared away a comfortable and permanent home would be
secured for the Barrymores. But surely such an explanation as
that would be quite inadequate to account for the deep and subtle
scheming which seemed to be weaving an invisible net round the
young baronet. Holmes himself had said that no more complex case
had come to him in all the long series of his sensational
investigations. I prayedas I walked back along the graylonely
roadthat my friend might soon be freed from his preoccupations
and able to come down to take this heavy burden of responsibility
from my shoulders.
Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by the sound of running
feet behind me and by a voice which called me by name. I turned
expecting to see Dr. Mortimerbut to my surprise it was a
stranger who was pursuing me. He was a smallslimclean-shaven
prim-faced manflaxen-haired and lean-jawedbetween thirty and
forty years of agedressed in a gray suit and wearing a straw
hat. A tin box for botanical specimens hung over his shoulder and
he carried a green butterfly-net in one of his hands.
You will, I am sure, excuse my presumption, Dr. Watson, said
heas he came panting up to where I stood. "Here on the moor we
are homely folk and do not wait for formal introductions. You may
possibly have heard my name from our mutual friendMortimer. I
am Stapletonof Merripit House."
Your net and box would have told me as much,said Ifor I
knew that Mr. Stapleton was a naturalist. But how did you know
I have been calling on Mortimer, and he pointed you out to me
from the window of his surgery as you passed. As our road lay the
same way I thought that I would overtake you and introduce
myself. I trust that Sir Henry is none the worse for his
He is very well, thank you.
We were all rather afraid that after the sad death of Sir
Charles the new baronet might refuse to live here. It is asking
much of a wealthy man to come down and bury himself in a place of
this kind, but I need not tell you that it means a very great
deal to the country-side. Sir Henry has, I suppose, no
superstitious fears in the matter?
I do not think that it is likely.
Of course you know the legend of the fiend dog which haunts the
I have heard it.
It is extraordinary how credulous the peasants are about here!
Any number of them are ready to swear that they have seen such a
creature upon the moor.He spoke with a smilebut I seemed to
read in his eyes that he took the matter more seriously. "The
story took a great hold upon the imagination of Sir Charlesand
I have no doubt that it led to his tragic end."
His nerves were so worked up that the appearance of any dog
might have had a fatal effect upon his diseased heart. I fancy
that he really did see something of the kind upon that last night
in the Yew Alley. I feared that some disaster might occur, for I
was very fond of the old man, and I knew that his heart was
How did you know that?
My friend Mortimer told me.
You think, then, that some dog pursued Sir Charles, and that he
died of fright in consequence?
Have you any better explanation?
I have not come to any conclusion.
Has Mr. Sherlock Holmes?
The words took away my breath for an instantbut a glance at the
placid face and steadfast eyes of my companion showed that no
surprise was intended.
It is useless for us to pretend that we do not know you, Dr.
Watson,said he. "The records of your detective have reached us
hereand you could not celebrate him without being known
yourself. When Mortimer told me your name he could not deny your
identity. If you are herethen it follows that Mr. Sherlock
Holmes is interesting himself in the matterand I am naturally
curious to know what view he may take."
I am afraid that I cannot answer that question.
May I ask if he is going to honour us with a visit himself?
He cannot leave town at present. He has other cases which engage
What a pity! He might throw some light on that which is so dark
to us. But as to your own researches, if there is any possible
way in which I can be of service to you I trust that you will
command me. If I had any indication of the nature of your
suspicions or how you propose to investigate the case, I might
perhaps even now give you some aid or advice.
I assure you that I am simply here upon a visit to my friend,
Sir Henry, and that I need no help of any kind.
Excellent!said Stapleton. "You are perfectly right to be wary
and discreet. I am justly reproved for what I feel was an
unjustifiable intrusionand I promise you that I will not
mention the matter again."
We had come to a point where a narrow grassy path struck off from
the road and wound away across the moor. A steep
boulder-sprinkled hill lay upon the right which had in bygone
days been cut into a granite quarry. The face which was turned
towards us formed a dark cliffwith ferns and brambles growing
in its niches. From over a distant rise there floated a gray
plume of smoke.
A moderate walk along this moor-path brings us to Merripit
House,said he. "Perhaps you will spare an hour that I may have
the pleasure of introducing you to my sister."
My first thought was that I should be by Sir Henry's side. But
then I remembered the pile of papers and bills with which his
study table was littered. It was certain that I could not help
with those. And Holmes had expressly said that I should study the
neighbours upon the moor. I accepted Stapleton's invitationand
we turned together down the path.
It is a wonderful place, the moor,said helooking round over
the undulating downslong green rollerswith crests of jagged
granite foaming up into fantastic surges. "You never tire of the
moor. You cannot think the wonderful secrets which it contains.
It is so vastand so barrenand so mysterious."
You know it well, then?
I have only been here two years. The residents would call me a
new comer. We came shortly after Sir Charles settled. But my
tastes led me to explore every part of the country round, and I
should think that there are few men who know it better than I
Is it hard to know?
Very hard. You see, for example, this great plain to the north
here with the queer hills breaking out of it. Do you observe
anything remarkable about that?
It would be a rare place for a gallop.
You would naturally think so and the thought has cost several
their lives before now. You notice those bright green spots
scattered thickly over it?
Yes, they seem more fertile than the rest.
That is the great Grimpen Mire,said he. "A false step yonder
means death to man or beast. Only yesterday I saw one of the moor
ponies wander into it. He never came out. I saw his head for
quite a long time craning out of the bog-holebut it sucked him
down at last. Even in dry seasons it is a danger to cross itbut
after these autumn rains it is an awful place. And yet I can find
my way to the very heart of it and return alive. By Georgethere
is another of those miserable ponies!"
Something brown was rolling and tossing among the green sedges.
Then a longagonizedwrithing neck shot upward and a dreadful
cry echoed over the moor. It turned me cold with horrorbut my
companion's nerves seemed to be stronger than mine.
It's gone!said he. "The mire has him. Two in two daysand
many moreperhapsfor they get in the way of going there in the
dry weatherand never know the difference until the mire has
them in its clutches. It's a bad placethe great Grimpen Mire."
And you say you can penetrate it?
Yes, there are one or two paths which a very active man can
take. I have found them out.
But why should you wish to go into so horrible a place?
Well, you see the hills beyond? They are really islands cut off
on all sides by the impassable mire, which has crawled round them
in the course of years. That is where the rare plants and the
butterflies are, if you have the wit to reach them.
I shall try my luck some day.
He looked at me with a surprised face.
For God's sake put such an idea out of your mind,said he.
Your blood would be upon my head. I assure you that there would
not be the least chance of your coming back alive. It is only by
remembering certain complex landmarks that I am able to do it.
Halloa!I cried. "What is that?"
A longlow moanindescribably sadswept over the moor. It
filled the whole airand yet it was impossible to say whence it
came. From a dull murmur it swelled into a deep roarand then
sank back into a melancholythrobbing murmur once again.
Stapleton looked at me with a curious expression in his face.
Queer place, the moor!said he.
But what is it?
The peasants say it is the Hound of the Baskervilles calling for
its prey. I've heard it once or twice before, but never quite so
I looked roundwith a chill of fear in my heartat the huge
swelling plainmottled with the green patches of rushes. Nothing
stirred over the vast expanse save a pair of ravenswhich
croaked loudly from a tor behind us.
You are an educated man. You don't believe such nonsense as
that?said I. "What do you think is the cause of so strange a
Bogs make queer noises sometimes. It's the mud settling, or the
water rising, or something.
No, no, that was a living voice.
Well, perhaps it was. Did you ever hear a bittern booming?
No, I never did.
It's a very rare bird--practically extinct--in England now, but
all things are possible upon the moor. Yes, I should not be
surprised to learn that what we have heard is the cry of the last
of the bitterns.
It's the weirdest, strangest thing that ever I heard in my
Yes, it's rather an uncanny place altogether. Look at the hillside
yonder. What do you make of those?
The whole steep slope was covered with gray circular rings of
stonea score of them at least.
What are they? Sheep-pens?
No, they are the homes of our worthy ancestors. Prehistoric man
lived thickly on the moor, and as no one in particular has lived
there since, we find all his little arrangements exactly as he
left them. These are his wigwams with the roofs off. You can even
see his hearth and his couch if you have the curiosity to go
But it is quite a town. When was it inhabited?"
Neolithic man--no date.
What did he do?
He grazed his cattle on these slopes, and he learned to dig for
tin when the bronze sword began to supersede the stone axe. Look
at the great trench in the opposite hill. That is his mark. Yes,
you will find some very singular points about the moor, Dr.
Watson. Oh, excuse me an instant! It is surely Cyclopides.
A small fly or moth had fluttered across our pathand in an
instant Stapleton was rushing with extraordinary energy and speed
in pursuit of it. To my dismay the creature flew straight for the
great mireand my acquaintance never paused for an instant
bounding from tuft to tuft behind ithis green net waving in the
air. His gray clothes and jerkyzigzagirregular progress made
him not unlike some huge moth himself. I was standing watching
his pursuit with a mixture of admiration for his extraordinary
activity and fear lest he should lose his footing in the
treacherous mirewhen I heard the sound of stepsand turning
round found a woman near me upon the path. She had come from the
direction in which the plume of smoke indicated the position of
Merripit Housebut the dip of the moor had hid her until she was
I could not doubt that this was the Miss Stapleton of whom I had
been toldsince ladies of any sort must be few upon the moor
and I remembered that I had heard someone describe her as being a
beauty. The woman who approached me was certainly thatand of a
most uncommon type. There could not have been a greater contrast
between brother and sisterfor Stapleton was neutral tinted
with light hair and gray eyeswhile she was darker than any
brunette whom I have seen in England--slimelegantand tall.
She had a proudfinely cut faceso regular that it might have
seemed impassive were it not for the sensitive mouth and the
beautiful darkeager eyes. With her perfect figure and elegant
dress she wasindeeda strange apparition upon a lonely
moorland path. Her eyes were on her brother as I turnedand then
she quickened her pace towards me. I had raised my hat and was
about to make some explanatory remarkwhen her own words turned
all my thoughts into a new channel.
Go back!she said. "Go straight back to Londoninstantly."
I could only stare at her in stupid surprise. Her eyes blazed at
meand she tapped the ground impatiently with her foot.
Why should I go back?I asked.
I cannot explain.She spoke in a loweager voicewith a
curious lisp in her utterance. "But for God's sake do what I ask
you. Go back and never set foot upon the moor again."
But I have only just come.
Man, man!she cried. "Can you not tell when a warning is for
your own good? Go back to London! Start to-night! Get away from
this place at all costs! Hushmy brother is coming! Not a word
of what I have said. Would you mind getting that orchid for me
among the mares-tails yonder? We are very rich in orchids on the
moorthoughof courseyou are rather late to see the beauties
of the place."
Stapleton had abandoned the chase and came back to us breathing
hard and flushed with his exertions.
Halloa, Beryl!said heand it seemed to me that the tone of
his greeting was not altogether a cordial one.
Well, Jack, you are very hot.
Yes, I was chasing a Cyclopides. He is very rare and seldom
found in the late autumn. What a pity that I should have missed
him!He spoke unconcernedlybut his small light eyes glanced
incessantly from the girl to me.
You have introduced yourselves, I can see.
Yes. I was telling Sir Henry that it was rather late for him to
see the true beauties of the moor.
Why, who do you think this is?
I imagine that it must be Sir Henry Baskerville.
No, no,said I. "Only a humble commonerbut his friend. My
name is Dr. Watson."
A flush of vexation passed over her expressive face. "We have
been talking at cross purposes said she.
Whyyou had not very much time for talk her brother remarked
with the same questioning eyes.
I talked as if Dr. Watson were a resident instead of being
merely a visitor said she. It cannot much matter to him
whether it is early or late for the orchids. But you will come
onwill you notand see Merripit House?"
A short walk brought us to ita bleak moorland houseonce the
farm of some grazier in the old prosperous daysbut now put into
repair and turned into a modern dwelling. An orchard surrounded
itbut the treesas is usual upon the moorwere stunted and
nippedand the effect of the whole place was mean and
melancholy. We were admitted by a strange wizenedrusty-coated
old man servantwho seemed in keeping with the house. Inside
howeverthere were large rooms furnished with an elegance in
which I seemed to recognise the taste of the lady. As I looked
from their windows at the interminable granite-flecked moor
rolling unbroken to the farthest horizon I could not but marvel
at what could have brought this highly educated man and this
beautiful woman to live in such a place.
Queer spot to choose, is it not?said he as if in answer to my
thought. "And yet we manage to make ourselves fairly happydo we
Quite happy,said shebut there was no ring of conviction in
I had a school,said Stapleton. "It was in the north country.
The work to a man of my temperament was mechanical and
uninterestingbut the privilege of living with youthof helping
to mould those young minds and of impressing them with one's own
character and idealswas very dear to me. Howeverthe fates
were against us. A serious epidemic broke out in the school and
three of the boys died. It never recovered from the blowand
much of my capital was irretrievably swallowed up. And yetif it
were not for the loss of the charming companionship of the boys
I could rejoice over my own misfortuneforwith my strong
tastes for botany and zoologyI find an unlimited field of work
hereand my sister is as devoted to Nature as I am. All this
Dr. Watsonhas been brought upon your head by your expression as
you surveyed the moor out of our window."
It certainly did cross my mind that it might be a little
dull--less for you, perhaps, than for your sister.
No, no, I am never dull,said shequickly.
We have books, we have our studies, and we have interesting
neighbours. Dr. Mortimer is a most learned man in his own line.
Poor Sir Charles was also an admirable companion. We knew him
well, and miss him more than I can tell. Do you think that I
should intrude if I were to call this afternoon and make the
acquaintance of Sir Henry?
I am sure that he would be delighted.
Then perhaps you would mention that I propose to do so. We may
in our humble way do something to make things more easy for him
until he becomes accustomed to his new surroundings. Will you
come upstairs, Dr. Watson, and inspect my collection of
Lepidoptera? I think it is the most complete one in the
south-west of England. By the time that you have looked through
them lunch will be almost ready.
But I was eager to get back to my charge. The melancholy of the
moorthe death of the unfortunate ponythe weird sound which
had been associated with the grim legend of the Baskervillesall
these things tinged my thoughts with sadness. Then on the top of
these more or less vague impressions there had come the definite
and distinct warning of Miss Stapletondelivered with such
intense earnestness that I could not doubt that some grave and
deep reason lay behind it. I resisted all pressure to stay for
lunchand I set off at once upon my return journeytaking the
grass-grown path by which we had come.
It seemshoweverthat there must have been some short cut for
those who knew itfor before I had reached the road I was
astounded to see Miss Stapleton sitting upon a rock by the side
of the track. Her face was beautifully flushed with her
exertionsand she held her hand to her side.
I have run all the way in order to cut you off, Dr. Watson,
said she. "I had not even time to put on my hat. I must not stop
or my brother may miss me. I wanted to say to you how sorry I am
about the stupid mistake I made in thinking that you were Sir
Henry. Please forget the words I saidwhich have no application
whatever to you."
But I can't forget them, Miss Stapleton,said I. "I am Sir
Henry's friendand his welfare is a very close concern of mine.
Tell me why it was that you were so eager that Sir Henry should
return to London."
A woman's whim, Dr. Watson. When you know me better you will
understand that I cannot always give reasons for what I say or
No, no. I remember the thrill in your voice. I remember the look
in your eyes. Please, please, be frank with me, Miss Stapleton,
for ever since I have been here I have been conscious of shadows
all round me. Life has become like that great Grimpen Mire, with
little green patches everywhere into which one may sink and with
no guide to point the track. Tell me then what it was that you
meant, and I will promise to convey your warning to Sir Henry.
An expression of irresolution passed for an instant over her
facebut her eyes had hardened again when she answered me.
You make too much of it, Dr. Watson,said she. "My brother and
I were very much shocked by the death of Sir Charles. We knew him
very intimatelyfor his favourite walk was over the moor to our
house. He was deeply impressed with the curse which hung over the
familyand when this tragedy came I naturally felt that there
must be some grounds for the fears which he had expressed. I was
distressed therefore when another member of the family came down
to live hereand I felt that he should be warned of the danger
which he will run. That was all which I intended to convey.
But what is the danger?
You know the story of the hound?
I do not believe in such nonsense.
But I do. If you have any influence with Sir Henry, take him
away from a place which has always been fatal to his family. The
world is wide. Why should he wish to live at the place of
Because it is the place of danger. That is Sir Henry's nature. I
fear that unless you can give me some more definite information
than this it would be impossible to get him to move.
I cannot say anything definite, for I do not know anything
I would ask you one more question, Miss Stapleton. If you meant
no more than this when you first spoke to me, why should you not
wish your brother to overhear what you said? There is nothing to
which he, or anyone else, could object.
My brother is very anxious to have the Hall inhabited, for he
thinks it is for the good of the poor folk upon the moor. He
would be very angry if he knew that I have said anything which
might induce Sir Henry to go away. But I have done my duty now
and I will say no more. I must get back, or he will miss me and
suspect that I have seen you. Good-bye!She turned and had
disappeared in a few minutes among the scattered boulderswhile
Iwith my soul full of vague fearspursued my way to
First Report of Dr. Watson
>From this point onward I will follow the course of events by
transcribing my own letters to Mr. Sherlock Holmes which lie
before me on the table. One page is missingbut otherwise they
are exactly as written and show my feelings and suspicions of the
moment more accurately than my memoryclear as it is upon these
tragic eventscan possibly do.
Baskerville HallOctober 13th.
MY DEAR HOLMES--My previous letters and telegrams have kept you
pretty well up to date as to all that has occurred in this most
God-forsaken corner of the world. The longer one stays here the
more does the spirit of the moor sink into one's soulits
vastnessand also its grim charm. When you are once out upon its
bosom you have left all traces of modern England behind you but
on the other hand you are conscious everywhere of the homes and
the work of the prehistoric people. On all sides of you as you
walk are the houses of these forgotten folkwith their graves
and the huge monoliths which are supposed to have marked their
temples. As you look at their gray stone huts against the scarred
hill-sides you leave your own age behind youand if you were to
see a skin-cladhairy man crawl out from the low door fitting a
flint-tipped arrow on to the string of his bowyou would feel
that his presence there was more natural than your own. The
strange thing is that they should have lived so thickly on what
must always have been most unfruitful soil. I am no antiquarian
but I could imagine that they were some unwarlike and harried
race who were forced to accept that which none other would
All thishoweveris foreign to the mission on which you sent me
and will probably be very uninteresting to your severely
practical mind. I can still remember your complete indifference
as to whether the sun moved round the earth or the earth round
the sun. Let methereforereturn to the facts concerning Sir
If you have not had any report within the last few days it is
because up to to-day there was nothing of importance to relate.
Then a very surprising circumstance occurredwhich I shall tell
you in due course. Butfirst of allI must keep you in touch
with some of the other factors in the situation.
One of theseconcerning which I have said littleis the escaped
convict upon the moor. There is strong reason now to believe that
he has got right awaywhich is a considerable relief to the
lonely house holders of this district. A fortnight has passed
since his flightduring which he has not been seen and nothing
has been heard of him. It is surely inconceivable that he could
have held out upon the moor during all that time. Of courseso
far as his concealment goes there is no difficulty at all. Any
one of these stone huts would give him a hiding-place. But there
is nothing to eat unless he were to catch and slaughter one of
the moor sheep. We thinkthereforethat he has goneand the
outlying farmers sleep the better in consequence.
We are four able-bodied men in this householdso that we could
take good care of ourselvesbut I confess that I have had uneasy
moments when I have thought of the Stapletons. They live miles
from any help. There are one maidan old manservantthe sister
and the brotherthe latter not a very strong man. They would be
helpless in the hands of a desperate fellow like this Notting
Hill criminalif he could once effect an entrance. Both Sir
Henry and I were concerned at their situationand it was
suggested that Perkins the groom should go over to sleep there
but Stapleton would not hear of it.
The fact is that our friendthe baronetbegins to display a
considerable interest in our fair neighbour. It is not to be
wondered atfor time hangs heavily in this lonely spot to an
active man like himand she is a very fascinating and beautiful
woman. There is something tropical and exotic about her which
forms a singular contrast to her cool and unemotional brother.
Yet he also gives the idea of hidden fires. He has certainly a
very marked influence over herfor I have seen her continually
glance at him as she talked as if seeking approbation for what
she said. I trust that he is kind to her. There is a dry glitter
in his eyesand a firm set of his thin lipswhich goes with a
positive and possibly a harsh nature. You would find him an
He came over to call upon Baskerville on that first dayand the
very next morning he took us both to show us the spot where the
legend of the wicked Hugo is supposed to have had its origin. It
was an excursion of some miles across the moor to a place which
is so dismal that it might have suggested the story. We found a
short valley between rugged tors which led to an opengrassy
space flecked over with the white cotton grass. In the middle of
it rose two great stonesworn and sharpened at the upper end
until they looked like the huge corroding fangs of some monstrous
beast. In every way it corresponded with the scene of the old
tragedy. Sir Henry was much interested and asked Stapleton more
than once whether he did really believe in the possibility of the
interference of the supernatural in the affairs of men. He spoke
lightlybut it was evident that he was very much in earnest.
Stapleton was guarded in his repliesbut it was easy to see that
he said less than he mightand that he would not express his
whole opinion out of consideration for the feelings of the
baronet. He told us of similar caseswhere families had suffered
from some evil influenceand he left us with the impression that
he shared the popular view upon the matter.
On our way back we stayed for lunch at Merripit Houseand it was
there that Sir Henry made the acquaintance of Miss Stapleton.
>From the first moment that he saw her he appeared to be strongly
attracted by herand I am much mistaken if the feeling was not
mutual. He referred to her again and again on our walk homeand
since then hardly a day has passed that we have not seen
something of the brother and sister. They dine here to-nightand
there is some talk of our going to them next week. One would
imagine that such a match would be very welcome to Stapletonand
yet I have more than once caught a look of the strongest
disapprobation in his face when Sir Henry has been paying some
attention to his sister. He is much attached to herno doubt
and would lead a lonely life without herbut it would seem the
height of selfishness if he were to stand in the way of her
making so brilliant a marriage. Yet I am certain that he does not
wish their intimacy to ripen into loveand I have several times
observed that he has taken pains to prevent them from being
tłte-ů-tłte. By the wayyour instructions to me never to allow
Sir Henry to go out alone will become very much more onerous if a
love affair were to be added to our other difficulties. My
popularity would soon suffer if I were to carry out your orders
to the letter.
The other day--Thursdayto be more exact--Dr. Mortimer lunched
with us. He has been excavating a barrow at Long Downand has
got a prehistoric skull which fills him with great joy. Never was
there such a single-minded enthusiast as he! The Stapletons came
in afterwardsand the good doctor took us all to the Yew Alley
at Sir Henry's requestto show us exactly how everything
occurred upon that fatal night. It is a longdismal walkthe
Yew Alleybetween two high walls of clipped hedgewith a narrow
band of grass upon either side. At the far end is an old
tumble-down summer-house. Half-way down is the moor-gatewhere
the old gentleman left his cigar-ash. It is a white wooden gate
with a latch. Beyond it lies the wide moor. I remembered your
theory of the affair and tried to picture all that had occurred.
As the old man stood there he saw something coming across the
moorsomething which terrified him so that he lost his witsand
ran and ran until he died of sheer horror and exhaustion. There
was the longgloomy tunnel down which he fled. And from what? A
sheep-dog of the moor? Or a spectral houndblacksilentand
monstrous? Was there a human agency in the matter? Did the pale
watchful Barrymore know more than he cared to say? It was all dim
and vaguebut always there is the dark shadow of crime behind
One other neighbour I have met since I wrote last. This is Mr.
Franklandof Lafter Hallwho lives some four miles to the south
of us. He is an elderly manred-facedwhite-hairedand
choleric. His passion is for the British lawand he has spent a
large fortune in litigation. He fights for the mere pleasure of
fighting and is equally ready to take up either side of a
questionso that it is no wonder that he has found it a costly
amusement. Sometimes he will shut up a right of way and defy the
parish to make him open it. At others he will with his own hands
tear down some other man's gate and declare that a path has
existed there from time immemorialdefying the owner to
prosecute him for trespass. He is learned in old manorial and
communal rightsand he applies his knowledge sometimes in favour
of the villagers of Fernworthy and sometimes against themso
that he is periodically either carried in triumph down the
village street or else burned in effigyaccording to his latest
exploit. He is said to have about seven lawsuits upon his hands
at presentwhich will probably swallow up the remainder of his
fortune and so draw his sting and leave him harmless for the
future. Apart from the law he seems a kindlygood-natured
personand I only mention him because you were particular that I
should send some description of the people who surround us. He is
curiously employed at presentforbeing an amateur astronomer
he has an excellent telescopewith which he lies upon the roof
of his own house and sweeps the moor all day in the hope of
catching a glimpse of the escaped convict. If he would confine
his energies to this all would be wellbut there are rumours
that he intends to prosecute Dr. Mortimer for opening a grave
without the consent of the next-of-kinbecause he dug up the
neolithic skull in the barrow on Long Down. He helps to keep our
lives from being monotonous and gives a little comic relief where
it is badly needed.
And nowhaving brought you up to date in the escaped convict
the StapletonsDr. Mortimerand Franklandof Lafter Halllet
me end on that which is most important and tell you more about
the Barrymoresand especially about the surprising development
of last night.
First of all about the test telegramwhich you sent from London
in order to make sure that Barrymore was really here. I have
already explained that the testimony of the postmaster shows that
the test was worthless and that we have no proof one way or the
other. I told Sir Henry how the matter stoodand he at oncein
his downright fashionhad Barrymore up and asked him whether he
had received the telegram himself. Barrymore said that he had.
Did the boy deliver it into your own hands?asked Sir Henry.
Barrymore looked surprisedand considered for a little time.
No,said heI was in the box-room at the time, and my wife
brought it up to me.
Did you answer it yourself?
No; I told my wife what to answer and she went down to write
In the evening he recurred to the subject of his own accord.
I could not quite understand the object of your questions this
morning, Sir Henry,said he. "I trust that they do not mean that
I have done anything to forfeit your confidence?"
Sir Henry had to assure him that it was not so and pacify him by
giving him a considerable part of his old wardrobethe London
outfit having now all arrived.
Mrs. Barrymore is of interest to me. She is a heavysolid
personvery limitedintensely respectableand inclined to be
puritanical. You could hardly conceive a less emotional subject.
Yet I have told you howon the first night hereI heard her
sobbing bitterlyand since then I have more than once observed
traces of tears upon her face. Some deep sorrow gnaws ever at her
heart. Sometimes I wonder if she has a guilty memory which haunts
herand sometimes I suspect Barrymore of being a domestic
tyrant. I have always felt that there was something singular and
questionable in this man's characterbut the adventure of last
night brings all my suspicions to a head.
And yet it may seem a small matter in itself. You are aware that
I am not a very sound sleeperand since I have been on guard in
this house my slumbers have been lighter than ever. Last night
about two in the morningI was aroused by a stealthy step
passing my room. I roseopened my doorand peeped out. A long
black shadow was trailing down the corridor. It was thrown by a
man who walked softly down the passage with a candle held in his
hand. He was in shirt and trouserswith no covering to his feet.
I could merely see the outlinebut his height told me that it
was Barrymore. He walked very slowly and circumspectlyand there
was something indescribably guilty and furtive in his whole
I have told you that the corridor is broken by the balcony which
runs round the hallbut that it is resumed upon the farther
side. I waited until he had passed out of sight and then I
followed him. When I came round the balcony he had reached the
end of the farther corridorand I could see from the glimmer of
light through an open door that he had entered one of the rooms.
Nowall these rooms are unfurnished and unoccupiedso that his
expedition became more mysterious than ever. The light shone
steadily as if he were standing motionless. I crept down the
passage as noiselessly as I could and peeped round the corner of
Barrymore was crouching at the window with the candle held
against the glass. His profile was half turned towards meand
his face seemed to be rigid with expectation as he stared out
into the blackness of the moor. For some minutes he stood
watching intently. Then he gave a deep groan and with an
impatient gesture he put out the light. Instantly I made my way
back to my roomand very shortly came the stealthy steps passing
once more upon their return journey. Long afterwards when I had
fallen into a light sleep I heard a key turn somewhere in a lock
but I could not tell whence the sound came. What it all means I
cannot guessbut there is some secret business going on in this
house of gloom which sooner or later we shall get to the bottom
of. I do not trouble you with my theoriesfor you asked me to
furnish you only with facts. I have had a long talk with Sir
Henry this morningand we have made a plan of campaign founded
upon my observations of last night. I will not speak about it
just nowbut it should make my next report interesting reading.
(Second Report of Dr. Watson)
THE LIGHT UPON THE MOOR
Baskerville HallOct. 15th.
MY DEAR HOLMES--If I was compelled to leave you without much
news during the early days of my mission you must acknowledge
that I am making up for lost timeand that events are now
crowding thick and fast upon us. In my last report I ended upon
my top note with Barrymore at the windowand now I have quite a
budget already which willunless I am much mistaken
considerably surprise you. Things have taken a turn which I could
not have anticipated. In some ways they have within the last
forty-eight hours become much clearer and in some ways they have
become more complicated. But I will tell you all and you shall
judge for yourself.
Before breakfast on the morning following my adventure I went
down the corridor and examined the room in which Barrymore had
been on the night before. The western window through which he had
stared so intently hasI noticedone peculiarity above all
other windows in the house--it commands the nearest outlook on
the moor. There is an opening between two trees which enables one
from this point of view to look right down upon itwhile from
all the other windows it is only a distant glimpse which can be
obtained. It followsthereforethat Barrymoresince only this
window would serve the purposemust have been looking out for
something or somebody upon the moor. The night was very darkso
that I can hardly imagine how he could have hoped to see anyone.
It had struck me that it was possible that some love intrigue was
on foot. That would have accounted for his stealthy movements and
also for the uneasiness of his wife. The man is a
striking-looking fellowvery well equipped to steal the heart of
a country girlso that this theory seemed to have something to
support it. That opening of the door which I had heard after I
had returned to my room might mean that he had gone out to keep
some clandestine appointment. So I reasoned with myself in the
morningand I tell you the direction of my suspicionshowever
much the result may have shown that they were unfounded.
But whatever the true explanation of Barrymore's movements might
beI felt that the responsibility of keeping them to myself
until I could explain them was more than I could bear. I had an
interview with the baronet in his study after breakfastand I
told him all that I had seen. He was less surprised than I had
I knew that Barrymore walked about nights, and I had a mind to
speak to him about it,said he. "Two or three times I have heard
his steps in the passagecoming and goingjust about the hour
Perhaps then he pays a visit every night to that particular
Perhaps he does. If so, we should be able to shadow him, and see
what it is that he is after. I wonder what your friend Holmes
would do, if he were here.
I believe that he would do exactly what you now suggest,said
I. "He would follow Barrymore and see what he did."
Then we shall do it together.
But surely he would hear us.
The man is rather deaf, and in any case we must take our chance
of that. We'll sit up in my room to-night and wait until he
passes.Sir Henry rubbed his hands with pleasureand it was
evident that he hailed the adventure as a relief to his somewhat
quiet life upon the moor.
The baronet has been in communication with the architect who
prepared the plans for Sir Charlesand with a contractor from
Londonso that we may expect great changes to begin here soon.
There have been decorators and furnishers up from Plymouthand
it is evident that our friend has large ideasand means to spare
no pains or expense to restore the grandeur of his family. When
the house is renovated and refurnishedall that he will need
will be a wife to make it complete. Between ourselves there are
pretty clear signs that this will not be wanting if the lady is
willingfor I have seldom seen a man more infatuated with a
woman than he is with our beautiful neighbourMiss Stapleton.
And yet the course of true love does not run quite as smoothly as
one would under the circumstances expect. To-dayfor example
its surface was broken by a very unexpected ripplewhich has
caused our friend considerable perplexity and annoyance.
After the conversation which I have quoted about BarrymoreSir
Henry put on his hat and prepared to go out. As a matter of
course I did the same.
What, are you coming, Watson?he askedlooking at me in a
That depends on whether you are going on the moor,said I.
Yes, I am.
Well, you know what my instructions are. I am sorry to intrude,
but you heard how earnestly Holmes insisted that I should not
leave you, and especially that you should not go alone upon the
Sir Henry put his hand upon my shoulder with a pleasant smile.
My dear fellow,said heHolmes, with all his wisdom, did not
foresee some things which have happened since I have been on the
moor. You understand me? I am sure that you are the last man in
the world who would wish to be a spoil-sport. I must go out
It put me in a most awkward position. I was at a loss what to say
or what to doand before I had made up my mind he picked up his
cane and was gone.
But when I came to think the matter over my conscience reproached
me bitterly for having on any pretext allowed him to go out of my
sight. I imagined what my feelings would be if I had to return to
you and to confess that some misfortune had occurred through my
disregard for your instructions. I assure you my cheeks flushed
at the very thought. It might not even now be too late to
overtake himso I set off at once in the direction of Merripit
I hurried along the road at the top of my speed without seeing
anything of Sir Henryuntil I came to the point where the moor
path branches off. Therefearing that perhaps I had come in the
wrong direction after allI mounted a hill from which I could
command a view--the same hill which is cut into the dark quarry.
Thence I saw him at once. He was on the moor pathabout a
quarter of a mile offand a lady was by his side who could only
be Miss Stapleton. It was clear that there was already an
understanding between them and that they had met by appointment.
They were walking slowly along in deep conversationand I saw
her making quick little movements of her hands as if she were
very earnest in what she was sayingwhile he listened intently
and once or twice shook his head in strong dissent. I stood among
the rocks watching themvery much puzzled as to what I should do
next. To follow them and break into their intimate conversation
seemed to be an outrageand yet my clear duty was never for an
instant to let him out of my sight. To act the spy upon a friend
was a hateful task. StillI could see no better course than to
observe him from the hilland to clear my conscience by
confessing to him afterwards what I had done. It is true that if
any sudden danger had threatened him I was too far away to be of
useand yet I am sure that you will agree with me that the
position was very difficultand that there was nothing more
which I could do.
Our friendSir Henryand the lady had halted on the path and
were standing deeply absorbed in their conversationwhen I was
suddenly aware that I was not the only witness of their
interview. A wisp of green floating in the air caught my eyeand
another glance showed me that it was carried on a stick by a man
who was moving among the broken ground. It was Stapleton with his
butterfly-net. He was very much closer to the pair than I was
and he appeared to be moving in their direction. At this instant
Sir Henry suddenly drew Miss Stapleton to his side. His arm was
round herbut it seemed to me that she was straining away from
him with her face averted. He stooped his head to hersand she
raised one hand as if in protest. Next moment I saw them spring
apart and turn hurriedly round. Stapleton was the cause of the
interruption. He was running wildly towards themhis absurd net
dangling behind him. He gesticulated and almost danced with
excitement in front of the lovers. What the scene meant I could
not imaginebut it seemed to me that Stapleton was abusing Sir
Henrywho offered explanationswhich became more angry as the
other refused to accept them. The lady stood by in haughty
silence. Finally Stapleton turned upon his heel and beckoned in a
peremptory way to his sisterwhoafter an irresolute glance at
Sir Henrywalked off by the side of her brother. The
naturalist's angry gestures showed that the lady was included in
his displeasure. The baronet stood for a minute looking after
themand then he walked slowly back the way that he had come
his head hangingthe very picture of dejection.
What all this meant I could not imaginebut I was deeply ashamed
to have witnessed so intimate a scene without my friend's
knowledge. I ran down the hill therefore and met the baronet at
the bottom. His face was flushed with anger and his brows were
wrinkledlike one who is at his wit's ends what to do.
Halloa, Watson! Where have you dropped from?said he."You don't
mean to say that you came after me in spite of all?"
I explained everything to him: how I had found it impossible to
remain behindhow I had followed himand how I had witnessed
all that had occurred. For an instant his eyes blazed at mebut
my frankness disarmed his angerand he broke at last into a
rather rueful laugh.
You would have thought the middle of that prairie a fairly safe
place for a man to be private,said hebut, by thunder, the
whole countryside seems to have been out to see me do my
wooing--and a mighty poor wooing at that! Where had you engaged a
I was on that hill.
Quite in the back row, eh? But her brother was well up to the
front. Did you see him come out on us?
Yes, I did.
Did he ever strike you as being crazy--this brother of hers?
I can't say that he ever did.
I dare say not. I always thought him sane enough until to-day,
but you can take it from me that either he or I ought to be in a
strait-jacket. What's the matter with me, anyhow? You've lived
near me for some weeks, Watson. Tell me straight, now! Is there
anything that would prevent me from making a good husband to a
woman that I loved?
I should say not.
He can't object to my worldly position, so it must be myself
that he has this down on. What has he against me? I never hurt
man or woman in my life that I know of. And yet he would not so
much as let me touch the tips of her fingers.
Did he say so?
That, and a deal more. I tell you, Watson, I've only known her
these few weeks, but from the first I just felt that she was made
for me, and she, too--she was happy when she was with me, and
that I'll swear. There's a light in a woman's eyes that speaks
louder than words. But he has never let us get together, and it
was only to-day for the first time that I saw a chance of having
a few words with her alone. She was glad to meet me, but when she
did it was not love that she would talk about, and she wouldn't
have let me talk about it either if she could have stopped it.
She kept coming back to it that this was a place of danger, and
that she would never be happy until I had left it. I told her
that since I had seen her I was in no hurry to leave it, and that
if she really wanted me to go, the only way to work it was for
her to arrange to go with me. With that I offered in as many
words to marry her, but before she could answer down came this
brother of hers, running at us with a face on him like a madman.
He was just white with rage, and those light eyes of his were
blazing with fury. What was I doing with the lady? How dared I
offer her attentions which were distasteful to her? Did I think
that because I was a baronet I could do what I liked? If he had
not been her brother I should have known better how to answer
him. As it was I told him that my feelings towards his sister
were such as I was not ashamed of, and that I hoped that she
might honour me by becoming my wife. That seemed to make the
matter no better, so then I lost my temper too, and I answered
him rather more hotly than I should perhaps, considering that she
was standing by. So it ended by his going off with her, as you
saw, and here am I as badly puzzled a man as any in this county.
Just tell me what it all means, Watson, and I'll owe you more
than ever I can hope to pay.
I tried one or two explanationsbutindeedI was completely
puzzled myself. Our friend's titlehis fortunehis agehis
characterand his appearance are all in his favourand I know
nothing against him unless it be this dark fate which runs in his
family. That his advances should be rejected so brusquely without
any reference to the lady's own wishesand that the lady should
accept the situation without protestis very amazing. However
our conjectures were set at rest by a visit from Stapleton
himself that very afternoon. He had come to offer apologies for
his rudeness of the morningand after a long private interview
with Sir Henry in his studythe upshot of their conversation was
that the breach is quite healedand that we are to dine at
Merripit House next Friday as a sign of it.
l don't say now that he isn't a crazy man,said Sir Henry; "I
can't forget the look in his eyes when he ran at me this morning
but I must allow that no man could make a more handsome apology
than he has done."
Did he give any explanation of his conduct?
His sister is everything in his life, he says. That is natural
enough, and I am glad that he should understand her value. They
have always been together, and according to his account he has
been a very lonely man with only her as a companion, so that the
thought of losing her was really terrible to him. He had not
understood, he said, that I was becoming attached to her, but
when he saw with his own eyes that it was really so, and that she
might be taken away from him, it gave him such a shock that for a
time he was not responsible for what he said or did. He was very
sorry for all that had passed, and he recognized how foolish and
how selfish it was that he should imagine that he could hold a
beautiful woman like his sister to himself for her whole life. If
she had to leave him he had rather it was to a neighbour like
myself than to anyone else. But in any case it was a blow to him,
and it would take him some time before he could prepare himself
to meet it. He would withdraw all opposition upon his part if I
would promise for three months to let the matter rest and to be
content with cultivating the lady's friendship during that time
without claiming her love. This I promised, and so the matter
So there is one of our small mysteries cleared up. It is
something to have touched bottom anywhere in this bog in which we
are floundering. We know now why Stapleton looked with disfavour
upon his sister's suitor--even when that suitor was so eligible a
one as Sir Henry. And now I pass on to another thread which I
have extricated out of the tangled skeinthe mystery of the sobs
in the nightof the tear-stained face of Mrs. Barrymoreof the
secret journey of the butler to the western lattice window.
Congratulate memy dear Holmesand tell me that I have not
disappointed you as an agent--that you do not regret the
confidence which you showed in me when you sent me down. All
these things have by one night's work been thoroughly cleared.
I have said "by one night's work but, in truth, it was by two
nights' work, for on the first we drew entirely blank. I sat up
with Sir Henry in his rooms until nearly three o'clock in the
morning, but no sound of any sort did we hear except the chiming
clock upon the stairs. It was a most melancholy vigil, and ended
by each of us falling asleep in our chairs. Fortunately we were
not discouraged, and we determined to try again. The next night
we lowered the lamp, and sat smoking cigarettes without making
the least sound. It was incredible how slowly the hours crawled
by, and yet we were helped through it by the same sort of patient
interest which the hunter must feel as he watches the trap into
which he hopes the game may wander. One struck, and two, and we
had almost for the second time given it up in despair, when in an
instant we both sat bolt upright in our chairs, with all our
weary senses keenly on the alert once more. We had heard the
creak of a step in the passage.
Very stealthily we heard it pass along until it died away in the
distance. Then the baronet gently opened his door and we set out
in pursuit. Already our man had gone round the gallery, and the
corridor was all in darkness. Softly we stole along until we had
come into the other wing. We were just in time to catch a glimpse
of the tall, black-bearded figure, his shoulders rounded, as he
tip-toed down the passage. Then he passed through the same door
as before, and the light of the candle framed it in the darkness
and shot one single yellow beam across the gloom of the corridor.
We shuffled cautiously towards it, trying every plank before we
dared to put our whole weight upon it. We had taken the
precaution of leaving our boots behind us, but, even so, the old
boards snapped and creaked beneath our tread. Sometimes it seemed
impossible that he should fail to hear our approach. However, the
man is fortunately rather deaf, and he was entirely preoccupied
in that which he was doing. When at last we reached the door and
peeped through we found him crouching at the window, candle in
hand, his white, intent face pressed against the pane, exactly as
I had seen him two nights before.
We had arranged no plan of campaign, but the baronet is a man to
whom the most direct way is always the most natural. He walked
into the room, and as he did so Barrymore sprang up from the
window with a sharp hiss of his breath and stood, livid and
trembling, before us. His dark eyes, glaring out of the white
mask of his face, were full of horror and astonishment as he
gazed from Sir Henry to me.
What are you doing hereBarrymore?"
Nothing, sir.His agitation was so great that he could hardly
speakand the shadows sprang up and down from the shaking of his
candle. "It was the windowsir. I go round at night to see that
they are fastened."
On the second floor?
Yes, sir, all the windows.
Look here, Barrymore,said Sir Henrysternly; "we have made up
our minds to have the truth out of youso it will save you
trouble to tell it sooner rather than later. Comenow! No lies!
What were you doing at that window?"
The fellow looked at us in a helpless wayand he wrung his hands
together like one who is in the last extremity of doubt and
I was doing no harm, sir. I was holding a candle to the window.
And why were you holding a candle to the window?
Don't ask me, Sir Henry--don't ask me! I give you my word, sir,
that it is not my secret, and that I cannot tell it. If it
concerned no one but myself I would not try to keep it from you.
A sudden idea occurred to meand I took the candle from the
trembling hand of the butler.
He must have been holding it as a signal,said I. "Let us see
if there is any answer." I held it as he had doneand stared out
into the darkness of the night. Vaguely I could discern the black
bank of the trees and the lighter expanse of the moorfor the
moon was behind the clouds. And then I gave a cry of exultation
for a tiny pin-point of yellow light had suddenly transfixed the
dark veiland glowed steadily in the centre of the black square
framed by the window.
There it is!I cried.
No, no, sir, it is nothing--nothing at all!the butler broke
in; "I assure yousir ----"
Move your light across the window, Watson!cried the baronet.
See, the other moves also! Now, you rascal, do you deny that it
is a signal? Come, speak up! Who is your confederate out yonder,
and what is this conspiracy that is going on?
The man's face became openly defiant.
It is my business, and not yours. I will not tell.
Then you leave my employment right away.
Very good, sir. If I must I must.
And you go in disgrace. By thunder, you may well be ashamed of
yourself. Your family has lived with mine for over a hundred
years under this roof, and here I find you deep in some dark plot
No, no, sir; no, not against you!It was a woman's voiceand
Mrs. Barrymorepaler and more horror-struck than her husband
was standing at the door. Her bulky figure in a shawl and skirt
might have been comic were it not for the intensity of feeling
upon her face.
We have to go, Eliza. This is the end of it. You can pack our
things,said the butler.
Oh, John, John, have I brought you to this? It is my doing, Sir
Henry--all mine. He has done nothing except for my sake and
because I asked him.
Speak out, then! What does it mean?
My unhappy brother is starving on the moor. We cannot let him
perish at our very gates. The light is a signal to him that food
is ready for him, and his light out yonder is to show the spot to
which to bring it.
Then your brother is --
The escaped convict, sir--Selden, the criminal.
That's the truth, sir,said Barrymore. "I said that it was not
my secret and that I could not tell it to you. But now you have
heard itand you will see that if there was a plot it was not
Thisthenwas the explanation of the stealthy expeditions at
night and the light at the window. Sir Henry and I both stared at
the woman in amazement. Was it possible that this stolidly
respectable person was of the same blood as one of the most
notorious criminals in the country?
Yes, sir, my name was Selden, and he is my younger brother. We
humoured him too much when he was a lad, and gave him his own way
in everything until he came to think that the world was made for
his pleasure, and that he could do what he liked in it. Then as
he grew older he met wicked companions, and the devil entered
into him until he broke my mother's heart and dragged our name in
the dirt. From crime to crime he sank lower and lower, until it
is only the mercy of God which has snatched him from the
scaffold; but to me, sir, he was always the little curly-headed
boy that I had nursed and played with, as an elder sister would.
That was why he broke prison, sir. He knew that I was here and
that we could not refuse to help him. When he dragged himself
here one night, weary and starving, with the warders hard at his
heels, what could we do? We took him in and fed him and cared for
him. Then you returned, sir, and my brother thought he would be
safer on the moor than anywhere else until the hue and cry was
over, so he lay in hiding there. But every second night we made
sure if he was still there by putting a light in the window, and
if there was an answer my husband took out some bread and meat to
him. Every day we hoped that he was gone, but as long as he was
there we could not desert him. That is the whole truth, as I am
an honest Christian woman, and you will see that if there is
blame in the matter it does not lie with my husband, but with me,
for whose sake he has done all that he has.
The woman's words came with an intense earnestness which carried
conviction with them.
Is this true, Barrymore?
Yes, Sir Henry. Every word of it.
Well, I cannot blame you for standing by your own wife. Forget
what I have said. Go to your room, you two, and we shall talk
further about this matter in the morning.
When they were gone we looked out of the window again. Sir Henry
had flung it openand the cold night wind beat in upon our
faces. Far away in the black distance there still glowed that one
tiny point of yellow light.
I wonder he dares,said Sir Henry.
It may be so placed as to be only visible from here.
Very likely. How far do you think it is?
Out by the Cleft Tor, I think.
Not more than a mile or two off.
Well, it cannot be far if Barrymore had to carry out the food to
it. And he is waiting, this villain, beside that candle. By
thunder, Watson, I am going out to take that man!
The same thought had crossed my own mind. It was not as if the
Barrymores had taken us into their confidence. Their secret had
been forced from them. The man was a danger to the communityan
unmitigated scoundrel for whom there was neither pity nor excuse.
We were only doing our duty in taking this chance of putting him
back where he could do no harm. With his brutal and violent
natureothers would have to pay the price if we held our hands.
Any nightfor exampleour neighbours the Stapletons might be
attacked by himand it may have been the thought of this which
made Sir Henry so keen upon the adventure.
I will come,said I.
Then get your revolver and put on your boots. The sooner we
start the better, as the fellow may put out his light and be
In five minutes we were outside the doorstarting upon our
expedition. We hurried through the dark shrubberyamid the dull
moaning of the autumn wind and the rustle of the falling leaves.
The night air was heavy with the smell of damp and decay. Now and
again the moon peeped out for an instantbut clouds were driving
over the face of the skyand just as we came out on the moor a
thin rain began to fall. The light still burned steadily in
Are you armed?I asked.
I have a hunting-crop.
We must close in on him rapidly, for he is said to be a
desperate fellow. We shall take him by surprise and have him at
our mercy before he can resist.
I say, Watson,said the baronetwhat would Holmes say to
this? How about that hour of darkness in which the power of evil
As if in answer to his words there rose suddenly out of the vast
gloom of the moor that strange cry which I had already heard upon
the borders of the great Grimpen Mire. It came with the wind
through the silence of the nighta longdeep mutterthen a
rising howland then the sad moan in which it died away. Again
and again it soundedthe whole air throbbing with itstrident
wildand menacing. The baronet caught my sleeve and his face
glimmered white through the darkness.
My God, what's that, Watson?
I don't know. It's a sound they have on the moor. I heard it
It died awayand an absolute silence closed in upon us. We stood
straining our earsbut nothing came.
Watson,said the baronetit was the cry of a hound.
My blood ran cold in my veinsfor there was a break in his voice
which told of the sudden horror which had seized him.
What do they call this sound?he asked.
The folk on the country-side.
Oh, they are ignorant people. Why should you mind what they call
Tell me, Watson. What do they say of it?
I hesitated but could not escape the question.
They say it is the cry of the Hound of the Baskervilles.
He groaned and was silent for a few moments.
A hound it was,he saidat lastbut it seemed to come from
miles away, over yonder, I think.
It was hard to say whence it came.
It rose and fell with the wind. Isn't that the direction of the
great Grimpen Mire?
Yes, it is.
Well, it was up there. Come now, Watson, didn't you think
yourself that it was the cry of a hound? I am not a child. You
need not fear to speak the truth.
Stapleton was with me when I heard it last. He said that it
might be the calling of a strange bird.
No, no, it was a hound. My God, can there be some truth in all
these stories? Is it possible that I am really in danger from so
dark a cause? You don't believe it, do you, Watson?
And yet it was one thing to laugh about it in London, and it is
another to stand out here in the darkness of the moor and to hear
such a cry as that. And my uncle! There was the footprint of the
hound beside him as he lay. It all fits together. I don't think
that I am a coward, Watson, but that sound seemed to freeze my
very blood. Feel my hand!
It was as cold as a block of marble.
You'll be all right to-morrow.
I don't think I'll get that cry out of my head. What do you
advise that we do now?
Shall we turn back?
No, by thunder; we have come out to get our man, and we will do
it. We after the convict, and a hell-hound, as likely as not,
after us. Come on! We'll see it through if all the fiends of the
pit were loose upon the moor.
We stumbled slowly along in the darknesswith the black loom of
the craggy hills around usand the yellow speck of light burning
steadily in front. There is nothing so deceptive as the distance
of a light upon a pitch-dark nightand sometimes the glimmer
seemed to be far away upon the horizon and sometimes it might
have been within a few yards of us. But at last we could see
whence it cameand then we knew that we were indeed very close.
A guttering candle was stuck in a crevice of the rocks which
flanked it on each side so as to keep the wind from it and also
to prevent it from being visiblesave in the direction of
Baskerville Hall. A boulder of granite concealed our approachand
crouching behind it we gazed over it at the signal light. It was
strange to see this single candle burning there in the middle of
the moorwith no sign of life near it--just the one straight
yellow flame and the gleam of the rock on each side of it.
What shall we do now?whispered Sir Henry.
Wait here. He must be near his light. Let us see if we can get a
glimpse of him.
The words were hardly out of my mouth when we both saw him. Over
the rocksin the crevice of which the candle burnedthere was
thrust out an evil yellow facea terrible animal faceall
seamed and scored with vile passions. Foul with mirewith a
bristling beardand hung with matted hairit might well have
belonged to one of those old savages who dwelt in the burrows on
the hillsides. The light beneath him was reflected in his small
cunning eyes which peered fiercely to right and left through the
darknesslike a crafty and savage animal who has heard the steps
of the hunters.
Something had evidently aroused his suspicions. It may have been
that Barrymore had some private signal which we had neglected to
giveor the fellow may have had some other reason for thinking
that all was not wellbut I could read his fears upon his wicked
face. Any instant he might dash out the light and vanish in the
darkness. I sprang forward thereforeand Sir Henry did the same.
At the same moment the convict screamed out a curse at us and
hurled a rock which splintered up against the boulder which had
sheltered us. I caught one glimpse of his shortsquatstronglybuilt
figure as he sprang to his feet and turned to run. At the
same moment by a lucky chance the moon broke through the clouds.
We rushed over the brow of the hilland there was our man
running with great speed down the other sidespringing over the
stones in his way with the activity of a mountain goat. A lucky
long shot of my revolver might have crippled himbut I had
brought it only to defend myself if attackedand not to shoot an
unarmed man who was running away.
We were both swift runners and in fairly good trainingbut we
soon found that we had no chance of over taking him. We saw him
for a long time in the moonlight until he was only a small speck
moving swiftly among the boulders upon the side of a distant
hill. We ran and ran until we were completely blownbut the
space between us grew ever wider. Finally we stopped and sat
panting on two rockswhile we watched him disappearing in the
And it was at this moment that there occurred a most strange and
unexpected thing. We had risen from our rocks and were turning to
go homehaving abandoned the hopeless chase. The moon was low
upon the rightand the jagged pinnacle of a granite tor stood up
against the lower curve of its silver disc. Thereoutlined as
black as an ebony statue on that shining back-groundI saw the
figure of a man upon the tor. Do not think that it was a
delusionHolmes. I assure you that I have never in my life seen
anything more clearly. As far as I could judgethe figure was
that of a tallthin man. He stood with his legs a little
separatedhis arms foldedhis head bowedas if he were
brooding over that enormous wilderness of peat and granite which
lay before him. He might have been the very spirit of that
terrible place. It was not the convict. This man was far from the
place where the latter had disappeared. Besideshe was a much
taller man. With a cry of surprise I pointed him out to the
baronetbut in the instant during which I had turned to grasp
his arm the man was gone. There was the sharp pinnacle of granite
still cutting the lower edge of the moonbut its peak bore no
trace of that silent and motionless figure.
I wished to go in that direction and to search the torbut it
was some distance away. The baronet's nerves were still quivering
from that crywhich recalled the dark story of his familyand
he was not in the mood for fresh adventures. He had not seen this
lonely man upon the tor and could not feel the thrill which his
strange presence and his commanding attitude had given to me. "A
warderno doubt said he. The moor has been thick with them
since this fellow escaped." Wellperhaps his explanation may be
the right onebut I should like to have some further proof of
it. To-day we mean to communicate to the Princetown people where
they should look for their missing manbut it is hard lines that
we have not actually had the triumph of bringing him back as our
own prisoner. Such are the adventures of last nightand you must
acknowledgemy dear Holmesthat I have done you very well in
the matter of a report. Much of what I tell you is no doubt quite
irrelevantbut still I feel that it is best that I should let
you have all the facts and leave you to select for yourself those
which will be of most service to you in helping you to your
conclusions. We are certainly making some progress. So far as the
Barrymores go we have found the motive of their actionsand that
has cleared up the situation very much. But the moor with its
mysteries and its strange inhabitants remains as inscrutable as
ever. Perhaps in my next I may be able to throw some light upon
this also. Best of all would it be if you could come down to us.
In any case you will hear from me again in the course of the next
Extract from the Diary of Dr. Watson
So far I have been able to quote from the reports which I have
forwarded during these early days to Sherlock Holmes. Now
howeverI have arrived at a point in my narrative where I am
compelled to abandon this method and to trust once more to my
recollectionsaided by the diary which I kept at the time. A few
extracts from the latter will carry me on to those scenes which
are indelibly fixed in every detail upon my memory. I proceed
thenfrom the morning which followed our abortive chase of the
convict and our other strange experiences upon the moor.
OCTOBER 16TH.--A dull and foggy day with a drizzle of rain. The
house is banked in with rolling cloudswhich rise now and then
to show the dreary curves of the moorwith thinsilver veins
upon the sides of the hillsand the distant boulders gleaming
where the light strikes upon their wet faces. It is melancholy
outside and in. The baronet is in a black reaction after the
excitements of the night. I am conscious myself of a weight at my
heart and a feeling of impending danger--ever present danger
which is the more terrible because I am unable to define it.
And have I not cause for such a feeling? Consider the long
sequence of incidents which have all pointed to some sinister
influence which is at work around us. There is the death of the
last occupant of the Hallfulfilling so exactly the conditions
of the family legendand there are the repeated reports from
peasants of the appearance of a strange creature upon the moor.
Twice I have with my own ears heard the sound which resembled the
distant baying of a hound. It is incredibleimpossiblethat it
should really be outside the ordinary laws of nature. A spectral
hound which leaves material footmarks and fills the air with its
howling is surely not to be thought of. Stapleton may fall in
with such a superstitionand Mortimer also; but if I have one
quality upon earth it is common-senseand nothing will persuade
me to believe in such a thing. To do so would be to descend to
the level of these poor peasantswho are not content with a mere
fiend dog but must needs describe him with hell-fire shooting
from his mouth and eyes. Holmes would not listen to such fancies
and I am his agent. But facts are factsand I have twice heard
this crying upon the moor. Suppose that there were really some
huge hound loose upon it; that would go far to explain
everything. But where could such a hound lie concealedwhere did
it get its foodwhere did it come fromhow was it that no one
saw it by day? It must be confessed that the natural explanation
offers almost as many difficulties as the other. And always
apart from the houndthere is the fact of the human agency in
Londonthe man in the caband the letter which warned Sir Henry
against the moor. This at least was realbut it might have been
the work of a protecting friend as easily as of an enemy. Where
is that friend or enemy now? Has he remained in Londonor has he
followed us down here? Could he--could he be the stranger whom I
saw upon the tor?
It is true that I have had only the one glance at himand yet
there are some things to which I am ready to swear. He is no one
whom I have seen down hereand I have now met all the
neighbours. The figure was far taller than that of Stapletonfar
thinner than that of Frankland. Barrymore it might possibly have
beenbut we had left him behind usand I am certain that he
could not have followed us. A stranger then is still dogging us
just as a stranger dogged us in London. We have never shaken him
off. If I could lay my hands upon that manthen at last we might
find ourselves at the end of all our difficulties. To this one
purpose I must now devote all my energies.
My first impulse was to tell Sir Henry all my plans. My second
and wisest one is to play my own game and speak as little as
possible to anyone. He is silent and distrait. His nerves have
been strangely shaken by that sound upon the moor. I will say
nothing to add to his anxietiesbut I will take my own steps to
attain my own end.
We had a small scene this morning after breakfast. Barrymore
asked leave to speak with Sir Henryand they were closeted in
his study some little time. Sitting in the billiard-room I more
than once heard the sound of voices raisedand I had a pretty
good idea what the point was which was under discussion. After a
time the baronet opened his door and called for me.
Barrymore considers that he has a grievance,he said. "He
thinks that it was unfair on our part to hunt his brother-in-law
down when heof his own free willhad told us the secret."
The butler was standing very pale but very collected before us.
I may have spoken too warmly, sir,said heand if I have, I
am sure that I beg your pardon. At the same time, I was very much
surprised when I heard you two gentlemen come back this morning
and learned that you had been chasing Selden. The poor fellow has
enough to fight against without my putting more upon his track.
If you had told us of your own free will it would have been a
different thing,said the baronetyou only told us, or rather
your wife only told us, when it was forced from you and you could
not help yourself.
I didn't think you would have taken advantage of it, Sir
Henry--indeed I didn't.
The man is a public danger. There are lonely houses scattered
over the moor, and he is a fellow who would stick at nothing. You
only want to get a glimpse of his face to see that. Look at Mr.
Stapleton's house, for example, with no one but himself to defend
it. There's no safety for anyone until he is under lock and key.
He'll break into no house, sir. I give you my solemn word upon
that. But he will never trouble anyone in this country again. I
assure you, Sir Henry, that in a very few days the necessary
arrangements will have been made and he will be on his way to
South America. For God's sake, sir, I beg of you not to let the
police know that he is still on the moor. They have given up the
chase there, and he can lie quiet until the ship is ready for
him. You can't tell on him without getting my wife and me into
trouble. I beg you, sir, to say nothing to the police.
What do you say, Watson?
I shrugged my shoulders. "If he were safely out of the country it
would relieve the tax-payer of a burden."
But how about the chance of his holding someone up before he
He would not do anything so mad, sir. We have provided him with
all that he can want. To commit a crime would be to show where he
That is true,said Sir Henry. "WellBarrymore --"
God bless you, sir, and thank you from my heart! It would have
killed my poor wife had he been taken again.
I guess we are aiding and abetting a felony, Watson? But, after
what we have heard I don't feel as if I could give the man up, so
there is an end of it. All right, Barrymore, you can go.
With a few broken words of gratitude the man turnedbut he
hesitated and then came back.
You've been so kind to us, sir, that I should like to do the
best I can for you in return. I know something, Sir Henry, and
perhaps I should have said it before, but it was long after the
inquest that I found it out. I've never breathed a word about it
yet to mortal man. It's about poor Sir Charles's death.
The baronet and I were both upon our feet. "Do you know how he
No, sir, I don't know that.
I know why he was at the gate at that hour. It was to meet a
To meet a woman! He?
And the woman's name?
I can't give you the name, sir, but I can give you the initials.
Her initials were L. L.
How do you know this, Barrymore?
Well, Sir Henry, your uncle had a letter that morning. He had
usually a great many letters, for he was a public man and well
known for his kind heart, so that everyone who was in trouble was
glad to turn to him. But that morning, as it chanced, there was
only this one letter, so I took the more notice of it. It was
from Coombe Tracey, and it was addressed in a woman's hand.
Well, sir, I thought no more of the matter, and never would have
done had it not been for my wife. Only a few weeks ago she was
cleaning out Sir Charles's study--it had never been touched since
his death--and she found the ashes of a burned letter in the back
of the grate. The greater part of it was charred to pieces, but
one little slip, the end of a page, hung together, and the
writing could still be read, though it was gray on a black
ground. It seemed to us to be a postscript at the end of the
letter, and it said: 'Please, please, as you are a gentleman,
burn this letter, and be at the gate by ten o clock. Beneath it
were signed the initials L. L.
Have you got that slip?
No, sir, it crumbled all to bits after we moved it.
Had Sir Charles received any other letters in the same writing?
Well, sir, I took no particular notice of his letters. I should
not have noticed this one, only it happened to come alone.
And you have no idea who L. L. is?
No, sir. No more than you have. But I expect if we could lay our
hands upon that lady we should know more about Sir Charles's
I cannot understand, Barrymore, how you came to conceal this
Well, sir, it was immediately after that our own trouble came to
us. And then again, sir, we were both of us very fond of Sir
Charles, as we well might be considering all that he has done for
us. To rake this up couldn't help our poor master, and it's well
to go carefully when there's a lady in the case. Even the best of
You thought it might injure his reputation?
Well, sir, I thought no good could come of it. But now you have
been kind to us, and I feel as if it would be treating you
unfairly not to tell you all that I know about the matter.
Very good, Barrymore; you can go.When the butler had left us
Sir Henry turned to me. "WellWatsonwhat do you think of this
It seems to leave the darkness rather blacker than before.
So I think. But if we can only trace L. L. it should clear up
the whole business. We have gained that much. We know that there
is someone who has the facts if we can only find her. What do you
think we should do?
Let Holmes know all about it at once. It will give him the clue
for which he has been seeking. I am much mistaken if it does not
bring him down.
I went at once to my room and drew up my report of the morning's
conversation for Holmes. It was evident to me that he had been
very busy of latefor the notes which I had from Baker Street
were few and shortwith no comments upon the information which I
had supplied and hardly any reference to my mission. No doubt his
blackmailing case is absorbing all his faculties. And yet this
new factor must surely arrest his attention and renew his
interest. I wish that he were here.
OCTOBER 17th.--All day to-day the rain poured downrustling on
the ivy and dripping from the eaves. I thought of the convict out
upon the bleakcoldshelterless moor. Poor devil! Whatever his
crimeshe has suffered something to atone for them. And then I
thought of that other one--the face in the cabthe figure
against the moon. Was he also out in that deluged--the unseen
watcherthe man of darkness? In the evening I put on my
waterproof and I walked far upon the sodden moorfull of dark
imaginingsthe rain beating upon my face and the wind whistling
about my ears. God help those who wander into the great mire now
for even the firm uplands are becoming a morass. I found the
black tor upon which I had seen the solitary watcherand from
its craggy summit I looked out myself across the melancholy
downs. Rain squalls drifted across their russet faceand the
heavyslate-coloured clouds hung low over the landscape
trailing in gray wreaths down the sides of the fantastic hills.
In the distant hollow on the lefthalf hidden by the mistthe
two thin towers of Baskerville Hall rose above the trees. They
were the only signs of human life which I could seesave only
those prehistoric huts which lay thickly upon the slopes of the
hills. Nowhere was there any trace of that lonely man whom I had
seen on the same spot two nights before.
As I walked back I was overtaken by Dr. Mortimer driving in his
dog-cart over a rough moorland track which led from the outlying
farmhouse of Foulmire. He has been very attentive to usand
hardly a day has passed that he has not called at the Hall to see
how we were getting on. He insisted upon my climbing into his
dog-cartand he gave me a lift homeward. I found him much
troubled over the disappearance of his little spaniel. It had
wandered on to the moor and had never come back. I gave him such
consolation as I mightbut I thought of the pony on the Grimpen
Mireand I do not fancy that he will see his little dog again.
By the way, Mortimer,said I as we jolted along the rough road
I suppose there are few people living within driving distance of
this whom you do not know?
Hardly any, I think.
Can you, then, tell me the name of any woman whose initials are
He thought for a few minutes.
No,said he. "There are a few gipsies and labouring folk for
whom I can't answerbut among the farmers or gentry there is no
one whose initials are those. Wait a bit though he added after
a pause. There is Laura Lyons--her initials are L. L.--but she
lives in Coombe Tracey."
Who is she?I asked.
She is Frankland's daughter.
What! Old Frankland the crank?
Exactly. She married an artist named Lyons, who came sketching
on the moor. He proved to be a blackguard and deserted her. The
fault from what I hear may not have been entirely on one side.
Her father refused to have anything to do with her because she
had married without his consent, and perhaps for one or two other
reasons as well. So, between the old sinner and the young one the
girl has had a pretty bad time.
How does she live?
I fancy old Frankland allows her a pittance, but it cannot be
more, for his own affairs are considerably involved. Whatever she
may have deserved one could not allow her to go hopelessly to the
bad. Her story got about, and several of the people here did
something to enable her to earn an honest living. Stapleton did
for one, and Sir Charles for another. I gave a trifle myself. It
was to set her up in a typewriting business.
He wanted to know the object of my inquiriesbut I managed to
satisfy his curiosity without telling him too muchfor there is
no reason why we should take anyone into our confidence.
To-morrow morning I shall find my way to Coombe Traceyand if I
can see this Mrs. Laura Lyonsof equivocal reputationa long
step will have been made towards clearing one incident in this
chain of mysteries. I am certainly developing the wisdom of the
serpentfor when Mortimer pressed his questions to an
inconvenient extent I asked him casually to what type Frankland's
skull belongedand so heard nothing but craniology for the rest
of our drive. I have not lived for years with Sherlock Holmes for
I have only one other incident to record upon this tempestuous
and melancholy day. This was my conversation with Barrymore just
nowwhich gives me one more strong card which I can play in due
Mortimer had stayed to dinnerand he and the baronet played
ecarté afterwards. The butler brought me my coffee into the
libraryand I took the chance to ask him a few questions.
Well,said Ihas this precious relation of yours departed, or
is he still lurking out yonder?
I don't know, sir. I hope to heaven that he has gone, for he has
brought nothing but trouble here! I've not heard of him since I
left out food for him last, and that was three days ago.
Did you see him then?
No, sir, but the food was gone when next I went that way.
Then he was certainly there?
So you would think, sir, unless it was the other man who took
I sat with my coffee-cup halfway to my lips and stared at
You know that there is another man then?
Yes, sir; there is another man upon the moor.
Have you seen him?
How do you know of him then?
Selden told me of him, sir, a week ago or more. He's in hiding,
too, but he's not a convict as far as I can make out. I don't
like it, Dr. Watson--I tell you straight, sir, that I don't like
it.He spoke with a sudden passion of earnestness.
Now, listen to me, Barrymore! I have no interest in this matter
but that of your master. I have come here with no object except
to help him. Tell me, frankly, what it is that you don't like.
Barrymore hesitated for a momentas if he regretted his
outburstor found it difficult to express his own feelings in
It's all these goings-on, sir,he cried at lastwaving his
hand towards the rain-lashed window which faced the moor."There's
foul play somewhereand there's black villainy brewingto that
I'll swear! Very glad I should besirto see Sir Henry on his
way back to London again!"
But what is it that alarms you?
Look at Sir Charles's death! That was bad enough, for all that
the coroner said. Look at the noises on the moor at night.
There's not a man would cross it after sundown if he was paid for
it. Look at this stranger hiding out yonder, and watching and
waiting! What's he waiting for? What does it mean? It means no
good to anyone of the name of Baskerville, and very glad I shall
be to be quit of it all on the day that Sir Henry's new servants
are ready to take over the Hall.
But about this stranger,said I. "Can you tell me anything
about him? What did Selden say? Did he find out where he hidor
what he was doing?"
He saw him once or twice, but he is a deep one, and gives
nothing away. At first he thought that he was the police, but
soon he found that he had some lay of his own. A kind of
gentleman he was, as far as he could see, but what he was doing
he could not make out.
And where did he say that he lived?
Among the old houses on the hillside--the stone huts where the
old folk used to live.
But how about his food?
Selden found out that he has got a lad who works for him and
brings him all he needs. I daresay he goes to Coombe Tracey for
what he wants.
Very good, Barrymore. We may talk further of this some other
time.When the butler had gone I walked over to the black
windowand I looked through a blurred pane at the driving clouds
and at the tossing outline of the wind-swept trees. It is a wild
night indoorsand what must it be in a stone hut upon the moor.
What passion of hatred can it be which leads a man to lurk in
such a place at such a time! And what deep and earnest purpose
can he have which calls for such a trial! Therein that hut upon
the moorseems to lie the very centre of that problem which has
vexed me so sorely. I swear that another day shall not have
passed before I have done all that man can do to reach the heart
of the mystery.
The Man on the Tor
The extract from my private diary which forms the last chapter
has brought my narrative up to the 18th of Octobera time when
these strange events began to move swiftly towards their terrible
conclusion. The incidents of the next few days are indelibly
graven upon my recollectionand I can tell them without
reference to the notes made at the time. I start then from the
day which succeeded that upon which I had established two facts
of great importancethe one that Mrs. Laura Lyons of Coombe
Tracey had written to Sir Charles Baskerville and made an
appointment with him at the very place and hour that he met his
deaththe other that the lurking man upon the moor was to be
found among the stone huts upon the hill-side. With these two
facts in my possession I felt that either my intelligence or my
courage must be deficient if I could not throw some further light
upon these dark places.
I had no opportunity to tell the baronet what I had learned about
Mrs. Lyons upon the evening beforefor Dr. Mortimer remained
with him at cards until it was very late. At breakfasthowever
I informed him about my discoveryand asked him whether he would
care to accompany me to Coombe Tracey. At first he was very eager
to comebut on second thoughts it seemed to both of us that if I
went alone the results might be better. The more formal we made
the visit the less information we might obtain. I left Sir Henry
behindthereforenot without some prickings of conscienceand
drove off upon my new quest.
When I reached Coombe Tracey I told Perkins to put up the horses
and I made inquiries for the lady whom I had come to interrogate.
I had no difficulty in finding her roomswhich were central and
well appointed. A maid showed me in without ceremonyand as I
entered the sitting-room a ladywho was sitting before a
Remington typewritersprang up with a pleasant smile of welcome.
Her face fellhoweverwhen she saw that I was a strangerand
she sat down again and asked me the object of my visit.
The first impression left by Mrs. Lyons was one of extreme
beauty. Her eyes and hair were of the same rich hazel colourand
her cheeksthough considerably freckledwere flushed with the
exquisite bloom of the brunettethe dainty pink which lurks at
the heart of the sulphur rose. Admiration wasI repeatthe
first impression. But the second was criticism. There was
something subtly wrong with the facesome coarseness of
expressionsome hardnessperhapsof eyesome looseness of lip
which marred its perfect beauty. But theseof courseare
after-thoughts. At the moment I was simply conscious that I was
in the presence of a very handsome womanand that she was asking
me the reasons for my visit. I had not quite understood until
that instant how delicate my mission was.
I have the pleasure,said Iof knowing your father.It was a
clumsy introductionand the lady made me feel it.
There is nothing in common between my father and me,she said.
I owe him nothing, and his friends are not mine. If it were not
for the late Sir Charles Baskerville and some other kind hearts I
might have starved for all that my father cared.
It was about the late Sir Charles Baskerville that I have come
here to see you.
The freckles started out on the lady's face.
What can I tell you about him?she askedand her fingers
played nervously over the stops of her typewriter.
You knew him, did you not?
I have already said that I owe a great deal to his kindness. If
I am able to support myself it is largely due to the interest
which he took in my unhappy situation.
Did you correspond with him?
The lady looked quickly up with an angry gleam in her hazel eyes.
What is the object of these questions?she asked sharply.
The object is to avoid a public scandal. It is better that I
should ask them here than that the matter should pass outside our
She was silent and her face was still very pale. At last she
looked up with something reckless and defiant in her manner.
Well, I'll answer,she said. "What are your questions?"
Did you correspond with Sir Charles?
I certainly wrote to him once or twice to acknowledge his
delicacy and his generosity.
Have you the dates of those letters?
Have you ever met him?
Yes, once or twice, when he came into Coombe Tracey. He was a
very retiring man, and he preferred to do good by stealth.
But if you saw him so seldom and wrote so seldom, how did he
know enough about your affairs to be able to help you, as you say
that he has done?
She met my difficulty with the utmost readiness.
There were several gentlemen who knew my sad history and united
to help me. One was Mr. Stapleton, a neighbour and intimate
friend of Sir Charles's. He was exceedingly kind, and it was
through him that Sir Charles learned about my affairs.
I knew already that Sir Charles Baskerville had made Stapleton
his almoner upon several occasionsso the lady's statement bore
the impress of truth upon it.
Did you ever write to Sir Charles asking him to meet you?I
Mrs. Lyons flushed with anger again.
Really, sir, this is a very extraordinary question.
I am sorry, madam, but I must repeat it.
Then I answer, certainly not.
Not on the very day of Sir Charles's death?
The flush had faded in an instantand a deathly face was before
me. Her dry lips could not speak the "No" which I saw rather than
Surely your memory deceives you,said I. "I could even quote a
passage of your letter. It ran 'Pleasepleaseas you are a
gentlemanburn this letterand be at the gate by ten o'clock.'"
I thought that she had faintedbut she recovered herself by a
Is there no such thing as a gentleman?she gasped.
You do Sir Charles an injustice. He did burn the letter. But
sometimes a letter may be legible even when burned. You
acknowledge now that you wrote it?
Yes, I did write it,she criedpouring out her soul in a
torrent of words. "I did write it. Why should I deny it? I have
no reason to be ashamed of it. I wished him to help me. I
believed that if I had an interview I could gain his helpso I
asked him to meet me."
But why at such an hour?
Because I had only just learned that he was going to London next
day and might be away for months. There were reasons why I could
not get there earlier.
But why a rendezvous in the garden instead of a visit to the
Do you think a woman could go alone at that hour to a bachelor's
Well, what happened when you did get there?
I never went.
No, I swear it to you on all I hold sacred. I never went.
Something intervened to prevent my going.
What was that?
That is a private matter. I cannot tell it.
You acknowledge then that you made an appointment with Sir
Charles at the very hour and place at which he met his death, but
you deny that you kept the appointment.
That is the truth.
Again and again I cross-questioned herbut I could never get
past that point.
Mrs. Lyons,said Ias I rose from this long and inconclusive
interviewyou are taking a very great responsibility and
putting yourself in a very false position by not making an
absolutely clean breast of all that you know. If I have to call
in the aid of the police you will find how seriously you are
compromised. If your position is innocent, why did you in the
first instance deny having written to Sir Charles upon that
Because I feared that some false conclusion might be drawn from
it and that I might find myself involved in a scandal.
And why were you so pressing that Sir Charles should destroy
If you have read the letter you will know.
I did not say that I had read all the letter.
You quoted some of it.
I quoted the postscript. The letter had, as I said, been burned
and it was not all legible. I ask you once again why it was that
you were so pressing that Sir Charles should destroy this letter
which he received on the day of his death.
The matter is a very private one.
The more reason why you should avoid a public investigation.
I will tell you, then. If you have heard anything of my unhappy
history you will know that I made a rash marriage and had reason
to regret it.
I have heard so much.
My life has been one incessant persecution from a husband whom I
abhor. The law is upon his side, and every day I am faced by the
possibility that he may force me to live with him. At the time
that I wrote this letter to Sir Charles I had learned that there
was a prospect of my regaining my freedom if certain expenses
could be met. It meant everything to me--peace of mind,
happiness, self-respect--everything. I knew Sir Charles's
generosity, and I thought that if he heard the story from my own
lips he would help me.
Then how is it that you did not go?
Because I received help in the interval from another source.
Why then, did you not write to Sir Charles and explain this?
So I should have done had I not seen his death in the paper next
The woman's story hung coherently togetherand all my questions
were unable to shake it. I could only check it by finding if she
hadindeedinstituted divorce proceedings against her husband
at or about the time of the tragedy.
It was unlikely that she would dare to say that she had not been
to Baskerville Hall if she really had beenfor a trap would be
necessary to take her thereand could not have returned to
Coombe Tracey until the early hours of the morning. Such an
excursion could not be kept secret. The probability was
thereforethat she was telling the truthorat leasta part
of the truth. I came away baffled and disheartened. Once again I
had reached that dead wall which seemed to be built across every
path by which I tried to get at the object of my mission. And yet
the more I thought of the lady's face and of her manner the more
I felt that something was being held back from me. Why should she
turn so pale? Why should she fight against every admission until
it was forced from her? Why should she have been so reticent at
the time of the tragedy? Surely the explanation of all this could
not be as innocent as she would have me believe. For the moment I
could proceed no farther in that directionbut must turn back to
that other clue which was to be sought for among the stone huts
upon the moor.
And that was a most vague direction. I realized it as I drove
back and noted how hill after hill showed traces of the ancient
people. Barrymore's only indication had been that the stranger
lived in one of these abandoned hutsand many hundreds of them
are scattered throughout the length and breadth of the moor. But
I had my own experience for a guide since it had shown me the man
himself standing upon the summit of the Black Tor. That then
should be the centre of my search. From there I should explore
every hut upon the moor until I lighted upon the right one. If
this man were inside it I should find out from his own lipsat
the point of my revolver if necessarywho he was and why he had
dogged us so long. He might slip away from us in the crowd of
Regent Streetbut it would puzzle him to do so upon the lonely
moor. On the other handif I should find the hut and its tenant
should not be within it I must remain therehowever long the
vigiluntil he returned. Holmes had missed him in London. It
would indeed be a triumph for me if I could run him to earth
where my master had failed.
Luck had been against us again and again in this inquirybut now
at last it came to my aid. And the messenger of good fortune was
none other than Mr. Franklandwho was standinggray whiskered
and red-facedoutside the gate of his gardenwhich opened on to
the high road along which I travelled.
Good-day, Dr. Watson,cried he with unwonted good humouryou
must really give your horses a rest, and come in to have a glass
of wine and to congratulate me.
My feelings towards him were very far from being friendly after
what I had heard of his treatment of his daughterbut I was
anxious to send Perkins and the wagonette homeand the
opportunity was a good one. I alighted and sent a message to Sir
Henry that I should walk over in time for dinner. Then I followed
Frankland into his dining-room.
It is a great day for me, sir--one of the red-letter days of my
life,he cried with many chuckles. "I have brought off a double
event. I mean to teach them in these parts that law is lawand
that there is a man here who does not fear to invoke it. I have
established a right of way through the centre of old Middleton's
parkslap across itsirwithin a hundred yards of his own
front door. What do you think of that? We'll teach these magnates
that they cannot ride rough shod over the rights of the
commonersconfound them! And I've closed the wood where the
Fernworthy folk used to picnic. These infernal people seem to
think that there are no rights of propertyand that they can
swarm where they like with their papers and their bottles. Both
cases decidedDr. Watsonand both in my favour. I haven't had
such a day since I had Sir John Morland for trespassbecause he
shot in his own warren."
How on earth did you do that?
Look it up in the books, sir. It will repay reading--Frankland
v. Morland, Court of Queen's Bench. It cost me 200 pounds, but I
got my verdict.
Did it do you any good?
None, sir, none. I am proud to say that I had no interest in the
matter. I act entirely from a sense of public duty. I have no
doubt, for example, that the Fernworthy people will burn me in
effigy to-night. I told the police last time they did it that
they should stop these disgraceful exhibitions. The County
Constabulary is in a scandalous state, sir, and it has not
afforded me the protection to which I am entitled. The case of
Frankland v. Regina will bring the matter before the attention of
the public. I told them that they would have occasion to regret
their treatment of me, and already my words have come true.
How so?I asked.
The old man put on a very knowing expression.
Because I could tell them what they are dying to know; but
nothing would induce me to help the rascals in any way.
I had been casting round for some excuse by which I could get
away from his gossipbut now I began to wish to hear more of it.
I had seen enough of the contrary nature of the old sinner to
understand that any strong sign of interest would be the surest
way to stop his confidences.
Some poaching case, no doubt?said Iwith an indifferent
Ha, ha, my boy, a very much more important matter than that!
What about the convict on the moor?
I started. "You don't mean that you know where he is?" said I.
I may not know exactly where he is, but I am quite sure that I
could help the police to lay their hands on him. Has it never
struck you that the way to catch that man was to find out where
he got his food, and so trace it to him?
He certainly seemed to be getting uncomfortably near the truth.
No doubt,said I; "but how do you know that he is anywhere upon
I know it because I have seen with my own eyes the messenger who
takes him his food.
My heart sank for Barrymore. It was a serious thing to be in the
power of this spiteful old busybody. But his next remark took a
weight from my mind.
You'll be surprised to hear that his food is taken to him by a
child. I see him every day through my telescope upon the roof. He
passes along the same path at the same hour, and to whom should
he be going except to the convict?
Here was luck indeed! And yet I suppressed all appearance of
interest. A child! Barrymore had said that our unknown was
supplied by a boy. It was on his trackand not upon the
convict'sthat Frankland had stumbled. If I could get his
knowledge it might save me a long and weary hunt. But incredulity
and indifference were evidently my strongest cards.
I should say that it was much more likely that it was the son of
one of the moorland shepherds taking out his father's dinner.
The least appearance of opposition struck fire out of the old
autocrat. His eyes looked malignantly at meand his gray
whiskers bristled like those of an angry cat.
Indeed, sir!said hepointing out over the wide-stretching
moor. "Do you see that Black Tor over yonder? Welldo you see
the low hill beyond with the thornbush upon it? It is the
stoniest part of the whole moor. Is that a place where a shepherd
would be likely to take his station? Your suggestionsiris a
most absurd one."
I meekly answered that I had spoken without knowing all the
facts. My submission pleased him and led him to further
You may be sure, sir, that I have very good grounds before I
come to an opinion. I have seen the boy again and again with his
bundle. Every day, and sometimes twice a day, I have been
able--but wait a moment, Dr. Watson. Do my eyes deceive me, or is
there at the present moment something moving upon that hillside?
It was several miles offbut I could distinctly see a small dark
dot against the dull green and gray.
Come, sir, come!cried Franklandrushing upstairs. "You will
see with your own eyes and judge for yourself."
The telescopea formidable instrument mounted upon a tripod
stood upon the flat leads of the house. Frankland clapped his eye
to it and gave a cry of satisfaction.
Quick, Dr. Watson, quick, before he passes over the hill!
There he wassure enougha small urchin with a little bundle
upon his shouldertoiling slowly up the hill. When he reached
the crest I saw the ragged uncouth figure outlined for an instant
against the cold blue sky. He looked round him with a furtive and
stealthy airas one who dreads pursuit. Then he vanished over
Well! Am I right?
Certainly, there is a boy who seems to have some secret errand.
And what the errand is even a county constable could guess. But
not one word shall they have from me, and I bind you to secrecy
also, Dr. Watson. Not a word! You understand!
Just as you wish.
They have treated me shamefully--shamefully. When the facts come
out in Frankland v. Regina I venture to think that a thrill of
indignation will run through the country. Nothing would induce me
to help the police in any way. For all they cared it might have
been me, instead of my effigy, which these rascals burned at the
stake. Surely you are not going! You will help me to empty the
decanter in honour of this great occasion!
But I resisted all his solicitations and succeeded in dissuading
him from his announced intention of walking home with me. I kept
the road as long as his eye was on meand then I struck off
across the moor and made for the stony hill over which the boy
had disappeared. Everything was working in my favourand I swore
that it should not be through lack of energy or perseverance that
I should miss the chance which fortune had thrown in my way.
The sun was already sinking when I reached the summit of the
hilland the long slopes beneath me were all golden-green on one
side and gray shadow on the other. A haze lay low upon the
farthest sky-lineout of which jutted the fantastic shapes of
Belliver and Vixen Tor. Over the wide expanse there was no sound
and no movement. One great gray birda gull or curlewsoared
aloft in the blue Heaven. He and I seemed to be the only living
things between the huge arch of the sky and the desert beneath
it. The barren scenethe sense of lonelinessand the mystery
and urgency of my task all struck a chill into my heart. The boy
was nowhere to be seen. But down beneath me in a cleft of the
hills there was a circle of the old stone hutsand in the middle
of them there was one which retained sufficient roof to act as a
screen against the weather. My heart leaped within me as I saw
it. This must be the burrow where the stranger lurked. At last my
foot was on the threshold of his hiding place--his secret was
within my grasp.
As I approached the hutwalking as warily as Stapleton would do
when with poised net he drew near the settled butterflyI
satisfied myself that the place had indeed been used as a
habitation. A vague pathway among the boulders led to the
dilapidated opening which served as a door. All was silent
within. The unknown might be lurking thereor he might be
prowling on the moor. My nerves tingled with the sense of
adventure. Throwing aside my cigaretteI closed my hand upon the
butt of my revolver andwalking swiftly up to the doorI looked
in. The place was empty.
But there were ample signs that I had not come upon a false
scent. This was certainly where the man lived. Some blankets
rolled in a waterproof lay upon that very stone slab upon which
neolithic man had once slumbered. The ashes of a fire were heaped
in a rude grate. Beside it lay some cooking utensils and a bucket
half-full of water. A litter of empty tins showed that the place
had been occupied for some timeand I sawas my eyes became
accustomed to the checkered lighta pannikin and a half-full
bottle of spirits standing in the corner. In the middle of the
hut a flat stone served the purpose of a tableand upon this
stood a small cloth bundle--the sameno doubtwhich I had seen
through the telescope upon the shoulder of the boy. It contained
a loaf of breada tinned tongueand two tins of preserved
peaches. As I set it down againafter having examined itmy
heart leaped to see that beneath it there lay a sheet of paper
with writing upon it. I raised itand this was what I read
roughly scrawled in pencil:-
Dr. Watson has gone to Coombe Tracey.
For a minute I stood there with the paper in my hands thinking
out the meaning of this curt message. It was Ithenand not Sir
Henrywho was being dogged by this secret man. He had not
followed me himselfbut he had set an agent--the boy
perhaps--upon my trackand this was his report. Possibly I had
taken no step since I had been upon the moor which had not been
observed and repeated. Always there was this feeling of an unseen
forcea fine net drawn round us with infinite skill and
delicacyholding us so lightly that it was only at some supreme
moment that one realized that one was indeed entangled in its
If there was one report there might be othersso I looked round
the hut in search of them. There was no tracehoweverof
anything of the kindnor could I discover any sign which might
indicate the character or intentions of the man who lived in this
singular placesave that he must be of Spartan habits and cared
little for the comforts of life. When I thought of the heavy
rains and looked at the gaping roof I understood how strong and
immutable must be the purpose which had kept him in that
inhospitable abode. Was he our malignant enemyor was he by
chance our guardian angel? I swore that I would not leave the hut
until I knew.
Outside the sun was sinking low and the west was blazing with
scarlet and gold. Its reflection was shot back in ruddy patches
by the distant pools which lay amid the great Grimpen Mire. There
were the two towers of Baskerville Halland there a distant blur
of smoke which marked the village of Grimpen. Between the two
behind the hillwas the house of the Stapletons. All was sweet
and mellow and peaceful in the golden evening lightand yet as I
looked at them my soul shared none of the peace of nature but
quivered at the vagueness and the terror of that interview which
every instant was bringing nearer. With tingling nervesbut a
fixed purposeI sat in the dark recess of the hut and waited
with sombre patience for the coming of its tenant.
And then at last I heard him. Far away came the sharp clink of a
boot striking upon a stone. Then another and yet anothercoming
nearer and nearer. I shrank back into the darkest cornerand
cocked the pistol in my pocketdetermined not to discover myself
until I had an opportunity of seeing something of the stranger.
There was a long pause which showed that he had stopped. Then
once more the footsteps approached and a shadow fell across the
opening of the hut.
It is a lovely evening, my dear Watson,said a well-known
voice. "I really think that you will be more comfortable outside
Death on the Moor
For a moment or two I sat breathlesshardly able to believe my
ears. Then my senses and my voice came back to mewhile a
crushing weight of responsibility seemed in an instant to be
lifted from my soul. That coldincisiveironical voice could
belong to but one man in all the world.
Come out,said heand please be careful with the revolver.
I stooped under the rude linteland there he sat upon a stone
outsidehis gray eyes dancing with amusement as they fell upon
my astonished features. He was thin and wornbut clear and
alerthis keen face bronzed by the sun and roughened by the
wind. In his tweed suit and cloth cap he looked like any other
tourist upon the moorand he had contrivedwith that cat-like
love of personal cleanliness which was one of his
characteristicsthat his chin should be as smooth and his linen
as perfect as if he were in Baker Street.
I never was more glad to see anyone in my life,said Ias I
wrung him by the hand.
Or more astonished, eh?
Well, I must confess to it.
The surprise was not all on one side, I assure you. I had no
idea that you had found my occasional retreat, still less that
you were inside it, until I was within twenty paces of the door.
My footprint, I presume?
No, Watson; I fear that I could not undertake to recognize your
footprint amid all the footprints of the world. If you seriously
desire to deceive me you must change your tobacconist; for when I
see the stub of a cigarette marked Bradley, Oxford Street, I know
that my friend Watson is in the neighbourhood. You will see it
there beside the path. You threw it down, no doubt, at that
supreme moment when you charged into the empty hut.
I thought as much--and knowing your admirable tenacity I was
convinced that you were sitting in ambush, a weapon within reach,
waiting for the tenant to return. So you actually thought that I
was the criminal?
I did not know who you were, but I was determined to find out.
Excellent, Watson! And how did you localize me? You saw me,
perhaps, on the night of the convict hunt, when I was so
imprudent as to allow the moon to rise behind me?
Yes, I saw you then.
And have no doubt searched all the huts until you came to this
No, your boy had been observed, and that gave me a guide where
The old gentleman with the telescope, no doubt. I could not make
it out when first I saw the light flashing upon the lens.He
rose and peeped into the hut. "HaI see that Cartwright has
brought up some supplies. What's this paper? So you have been to
Coombe Traceyhave you?"
To see Mrs. Laura Lyons?
Well done! Our researches have evidently been running on
parallel lines, and when we unite our results I expect we shall
have a fairly full knowledge of the case.
Well, I am glad from my heart that you are here, for indeed the
responsibility and the mystery were both becoming too much for my
nerves. But how in the name of wonder did you come here, and what
have you been doing? I thought that you were in Baker Street
working out that case of blackmailing.
That was what I wished you to think.
Then you use me, and yet do not trust me!I cried with some
bitterness. "I think that I have deserved better at your hands
My dear fellow, you have been invaluable to me in this as in
many other cases, and I beg that you will forgive me if I have
seemed to play a trick upon you. In truth, it was partly for your
own sake that I did it, and it was my appreciation of the danger
which you ran which led me to come down and examine the matter
for myself. Had I been with Sir Henry and you it is confident
that my point of view would have been the same as yours, and my
presence would have warned our very formidable opponents to be on
their guard. As it is, I have been able to get about as I could
not possibly have done had I been living in the Hall, and I
remain an unknown factor in the business, ready to throw in all
my weight at a critical moment.
But why keep me in the dark?
For you to know could not have helped us, and might possibly
have led to my discovery. You would have wished to tell me
something, or in your kindness you would have brought me out some
comfort or other, and so an unnecessary risk would be run. I
brought Cartwright down with me--you remember the little chap at
the express office--and he has seen after my simple wants: a loaf
of bread and a clean collar. What does man want more? He has
given me an extra pair of eyes upon a very active pair of feet,
and both have been invaluable.
Then my reports have all been wasted!--My voice trembled as I
recalled the pains and the pride with which I had composed them.
Holmes took a bundle of papers from his pocket.
Here are your reports, my dear fellow, and very well thumbed, I
assure you. I made excellent arrangements, and they are only
delayed one day upon their way. I must compliment you exceedingly
upon the zeal and the intelligence which you have shown over an
extraordinarily difficult case.
I was still rather raw over the deception which had been
practised upon mebut the warmth of Holmes's praise drove my
anger from my mind. I felt also in my heart that he was right in
what he said and that it was really best for our purpose that I
should not have known that he was upon the moor.
That's better,said heseeing the shadow rise from my face.
And now tell me the result of your visit to Mrs. Laura Lyons--it
was not difficult for me to guess that it was to see her that you
had gone, for I am already aware that she is the one person in
Coombe Tracey who might be of service to us in the matter. In
fact, if you had not gone to-day it is exceedingly probable that
I should have gone to-morrow.
The sun had set and dusk was settling over the moor. The air had
turned chill and we withdrew into the hut for warmth. There
sitting together in the twilightI told Holmes of my
conversation with the lady. So interested was he that I had to
repeat some of it twice before he was satisfied.
This is most important,said he when I had concluded. "It fills
up a gap which I had been unable to bridgein this most complex
affair. You are awareperhapsthat a close intimacy exists
between this lady and the man Stapleton?"
I did not know of a close intimacy.
There can be no doubt about the matter. They meet, they write,
there is a complete understanding between them. Now, this puts a
very powerful weapon into our hands. If I could only use it to
detach his wife----
I am giving you some information now, in return for all that you
have given me. The lady who has passed here as Miss Stapleton is
in reality his wife.
Good heavens, Holmes! Are you sure of what you say? How could he
have permitted Sir Henry to fall in love with her?
Sir Henry's falling in love could do no harm to anyone except
Sir Henry. He took particular care that Sir Henry did not make
love to her, as you have yourself observed. I repeat that the
lady is his wife and not his sister.
But why this elaborate deception?
Because he foresaw that she would be very much more useful to
him in the character of a free woman.
All my unspoken instinctsmy vague suspicionssuddenly took
shape and centred upon the naturalist. In that impassive
colourless manwith his straw hat and his butterfly-netI
seemed to see something terrible--a creature of infinite patience
and craftwith a smiling face and a murderous heart.
It is he, then, who is our enemy--it is he who dogged us in
So I read the riddle.
And the warning--it must have come from her!
The shape of some monstrous villainyhalf seenhalf guessed
loomed through the darkness which had girt me so long.
But are you sure of this, Holmes? How do you know that the woman
is his wife?
Because he so far forgot himself as to tell you a true piece of
autobiography upon the occasion when he first met you, and I
daresay he has many a time regretted it since. He was once a
schoolmaster in the north of England. Now, there is no one more
easy to trace than a schoolmaster. There are scholastic agencies
by which one may identify any man who has been in the profession.
A little investigation showed me that a school had come to grief
under atrocious circumstances, and that the man who had owned
it--the name was different--had disappeared with his wife. The
descriptions agreed. When I learned that the missing man was
devoted to entomology the identification was complete.
The darkness was risingbut much was still hidden by the
If this woman is in truth his wife, where does Mrs. Laura Lyons
come in?I asked.
That is one of the points upon which your own researches have
shed a light. Your interview with the lady has cleared the
situation very much. I did not know about a projected divorce
between herself and her husband. In that case, regarding
Stapleton as an unmarried man, she counted no doubt upon becoming
And when she is undeceived?
Why, then we may find the lady of service. It must be our first
duty to see her--both of us--to-morrow. Don't you think, Watson,
that you are away from your charge rather long? Your place should
be at Baskerville Hall.
The last red streaks had faded away in the west and night had
settled upon the moor. A few faint stars were gleaming in a
One last question, Holmes,I saidas I rose. "Surely there is
no need of secrecy between you and me. What is the meaning of it
all? What is he after?"
Holmes's voice sank as he answered:---
It is murder, Watson--refined, cold-blooded, deliberate murder.
Do not ask me for particulars. My nets are closing upon him, even
as his are upon Sir Henry, and with your help he is already
almost at my mercy. There is but one danger which can threaten
us. It is that he should strike before we are ready to do so.
Another day--two at the most--and I have my case complete, but
until then guard your charge as closely as ever a fond mother
watched her ailing child. Your mission to-day has justified
itself, and yet I could almost wish that you had not left his
A terrible scream--a prolonged yell of horror and anguish--burst
out of the silence of the moor. That frightful cry turned the
blood to ice in my veins.
Oh, my God!I gasped. "What is it? What does it mean?"
Holmes had sprung to his feetand I saw his darkathletic
outline at the door of the huthis shoulders stoopinghis head
thrust forwardhis face peering into the darkness.
Hush!he whispered. "Hush!"
The cry had been loud on account of its vehemencebut it had
pealed out from somewhere far off on the shadowy plain. Now it
burst upon our earsnearerloudermore urgent than before.
Where is it?Holmes whispered; and I knew from the thrill of
his voice that hethe man of ironwas shaken to the soul."
Where is itWatson?"
There, I think.I pointed into the darkness.
Again the agonized cry swept through the silent nightlouder and
much nearer than ever. And a new sound mingled with ita deep
muttered rumblemusical and yet menacingrising and falling
like the lowconstant murmur of the sea.
The hound!cried Holmes. "ComeWatsoncome! Great heavensif
we are too late!"
He had started running swiftly over the moorand I had followed
at his heels. But now from somewhere among the broken ground
immediately in front of us there came one last despairing yell
and then a dullheavy thud. We halted and listened. Not another
sound broke the heavy silence of the windless night.
I saw Holmes put his hand to his forehead like a man distracted.
He stamped his feet upon the ground.
He has beaten us, Watson. We are too late.
No, no, surely not!
Fool that I was to hold my hand. And you, Watson, see what comes
of abandoning your charge! But, by Heaven, if the worst has
happened, we'll avenge him!
Blindly we ran through the gloomblundering against boulders
forcing our way through gorse bushespanting up hills and
rushing down slopesheading always in the direction whence those
dreadful sounds had come. At every rise Holmes looked eagerly
round himbut the shadows were thick upon the moorand nothing
moved upon its dreary face.
Can you see anything?
But, hark, what is that?
A low moan had fallen upon our ears. There it was again upon our
left! On that side a ridge of rocks ended in a sheer cliff which
overlooked a stone-strewn slope. On its jagged face was
spread-eagled some darkirregular object. As we ran towards it
the vague outline hardened into a definite shape. It was a
prostrate man face downward upon the groundthe head doubled
under him at a horrible anglethe shoulders rounded and the body
hunched together as if in the act of throwing a somersault. So
grotesque was the attitude that I could not for the instant
realise that that moan had been the passing of his soul. Not a
whispernot a rustlerose now from the dark figure over which
we stooped. Holmes laid his hand upon himand held it up again
with an exclamation of horror. The gleam of the match which he
struck shone upon his clotted fingers and upon the ghastly pool
which widened slowly from the crushed skull of the victim. And it
shone upon something else which turned our hearts sick and faint
within us--the body of Sir Henry Baskerville!
There was no chance of either of us forgetting that peculiar
ruddy tweed suit--the very one which he had worn on the first
morning that we had seen him in Baker Street. We caught the one
clear glimpse of itand then the match flickered and went out
even as the hope had gone out of our souls. Holmes groanedand
his face glimmered white through the darkness.
The brute! the brute!I cried with clenched hands. "Oh Holmes
I shall never forgive myself for having left him to his fate."
I am more to blame than you, Watson. In order to have my case
well rounded and complete, I have thrown away the life of my
client. It is the greatest blow which has befallen me in my
career. But how could I know--how could l know--that he would
risk his life alone upon the moor in the face of all my
That we should have heard his screams--my God, those
screams!--and yet have been unable to save him! Where is this
brute of a hound which drove him to his death? It may be lurking
among these rocks at this instant. And Stapleton, where is he? He
shall answer for this deed.
He shall. I will see to that. Uncle and nephew have been
murdered--the one frightened to death by the very sight of a
beast which he thought to be supernatural, the other driven to
his end in his wild flight to escape from it. But now we have to
prove the connection between the man and the beast. Save from
what we heard, we cannot even swear to the existence of the
latter, since Sir Henry has evidently died from the fall. But, by
heavens, cunning as he is, the fellow shall be in my power before
another day is past!
We stood with bitter hearts on either side of the mangled body
overwhelmed by this sudden and irrevocable disaster which had
brought all our long and weary labours to so piteous an end.
Thenas the moon rose we climbed to the top of the rocks over
which our poor friend had fallenand from the summit we gazed
out over the shadowy moorhalf silver and half gloom. Faraway
miles offin the direction of Grimpena single steady yellow
light was shining. It could only come from the lonely abode of
the Stapletons. With a bitter curse I shook my fist at it as I
Why should we not seize him at once?
Our case is not complete. The fellow is wary and cunning to the
last degree. It is not what we know, but what we can prove. If we
make one false move the villain may escape us yet.
What can we do?
There will be plenty for us to do to-morrow. To-night we can
only perform the last offices to our poor friend.
Together we made our way down the precipitous slope and
approached the bodyblack and clear against the silvered stones.
The agony of those contorted limbs struck me with a spasm of pain
and blurred my eyes with tears.
We must send for help, Holmes! We cannot carry him all the way
to the Hall. Good heavens, are you mad?
He had uttered a cry and bent over the body. Now he was dancing
and laughing and wringing my hand. Could this be my stern
self-contained friend? These were hidden firesindeed!
A beard! A beard! The man has a beard!
It is not the baronet--it is--why, it is my neighbour, the
With feverish haste we had turned the body overand that
dripping beard was pointing up to the coldclear moon. There
could be no doubt about the beetling foreheadthe sunken animal
eyes. It was indeed the same face which had glared upon me in the
light of the candle from over the rock--the face of Seldenthe
Then in an instant it was all clear to me. I remembered how the
baronet had told me that he had handed his old wardrobe to
Barrymore. Barrymore had passed it on in order to help Selden in
his escape. Bootsshirtcap--it was all Sir Henry's. The
tragedy was still black enoughbut this man had at least
deserved death by the laws of his country. I told Holmes how the
matter stoodmy heart bubbling over with thankfulness and joy.
Then the clothes have been the poor devil's death,said he. "It
is clear enough that the hound has been laid on from some article
of Sir Henry's--the boot which was abstracted in the hotelin
all probability--and so ran this man down. There is one very
singular thinghowever: How came Seldenin the darknessto
know that the hound was on his trail?"
He heard him.
To hear a hound upon the moor would not work a hard man like
this convict into such a paroxysm of terror that he would risk
recapture by screaming wildly for help. By his cries he must have
run a long way after he knew the animal was on his track. How did
A greater mystery to me is why this hound, presuming that all
our conjectures are correct --
I presume nothing.
Well, then, why this hound should be loose to-night. I suppose
that it does not always run loose upon the moor. Stapleton would
not let it go unless he had reason to think that Sir Henry would
My difficulty is the more formidable of the two, for I think
that we shall very shortly get an explanation of yours, while
mine may remain for ever a mystery. The question now is, what
shall we do with this poor wretch's body? We cannot leave it here
to the foxes and the ravens.
I suggest that we put it in one of the huts until we can
communicate with the police.
Exactly. I have no doubt that you and I could carry it so far.
Halloa, Watson, what's this? It's the man himself, by all that's
wonderful and audacious! Not a word to show yow suspicions--not a
word, or my plans crumble to the ground.
A figure was approaching us over the moorand I saw the dull red
glow of a cigar. The moon shone upon himand I could distinguish
the dapper shape and jaunty walk of the naturalist. He stopped
when he saw usand then came on again.
Why, Dr. Watson, that's not you, is it? You are the last man
that I should have expected to see out on the moor at this time
of night. But, dear me, what's this? Somebody hurt? Not--don't
tell me that it is our friend Sir Henry!He hurried past me and
stooped over the dead man. I heard a sharp intake of his breath
and the cigar fell from his fingers.
Who--who's this?he stammered.
It is Selden, the man who escaped from Princetown.
Stapleton turned a ghastly face upon usbut by a supreme effort
he had overcome his amazement and his disappointment. He looked
sharply from Holmes to me.
Dear me! What a very shocking affair! How did he die?
He appears to have broken his neck by falling over these rocks.
My friend and I were strolling on the moor when we heard a cry.
I heard a cry also. That was what brought me out. I was uneasy
about Sir Henry.
Why about Sir Henry in particular?I could not help asking.
Because I had suggested that he should come over. When he did
not come I was surprised, and I naturally became alarmed for his
safety when I heard cries upon the moor. By the way--his eyes
darted again from my face to Holmes's--"did you hear anything
else besides a cry?"
No,said Holmes; "did you?"
What do you mean, then?
Oh, you know the stories that the peasants tell about a phantom
hound, and so on. It is said to be heard at night upon the moor.
I was wondering if there were any evidence of such a sound
We heard nothing of the kind,said I.
And what is your theory of this poor fellow's death?
I have no doubt that anxiety and exposure have driven him off
his head. He has rushed about the moor in a crazy state and
eventually fallen over here and broken his neck.
That seems the most reasonable theory,said Stapletonand he
gave a sigh which I took to indicate his relief. "What do you
think about itMr. Sherlock Holmes?"
My friend bowed his compliments.
You are quick at identification,said he.
We have been expecting you in these parts since Dr. Watson came
down. You are in time to see a tragedy.
Yes, indeed. I have no doubt that my friend's explanation will
cover the facts. I will take an unpleasant remembrance back to
London with me to-morrow.
Oh, you return to-morrow?
That is my intention.
I hope your visit has cast some light upon those occurrences
which have puzzled us?
Holmes shrugged his shoulders.
One cannot always have the success for which one hopes. An
investigator needs facts, and not legends or rumours. It has not
been a satisfactory case.
My friend spoke in his frankest and most unconcerned manner.
Stapleton still looked hard at him. Then he turned to me.
I would suggest carrying this poor fellow to my house, but it
would give my sister such a fright that I do not feel justified
in doing it. I think that if we put something over his face he
will be safe until morning.
And so it was arranged. Resisting Stapleton's offer of
hospitalityHolmes and I set off to Baskerville Hallleaving
the naturalist to return alone. Looking back we saw the figure
moving slowly away over the broad moorand behind him that one
black smudge on the silvered slope which showed where the man was
lying who had come so horribly to his end.
Fixing the Nets
We're at close grips at last,said Holmes as we walked together
across the moor. "What a nerve the fellow has! How he pulled
himself together in the face of what must have been a paralyzing
shock when he found that the wrong man had fallen a victim to his
plot. I told you in LondonWatsonand I tell you now again
that we have never had a foeman more worthy of our steel."
I am sorry that he has seen you.
And so was I at first. But there was no getting out of it.
What effect do you think it will have upon his plans now that he
knows you are here?
It may cause him to be more cautious, or it may drive him to
desperate measures at once. Like most clever criminals, he may be
too confident in his own cleverness and imagine that he has
completely deceived us.
Why should we not arrest him at once?
My dear Watson, you were born to be a man of action. Your
instinct is always to do something energetic. But supposing, for
argument's sake, that we had him arrested to-night, what on earth
the better off should we be for that? We could prove nothing
against him. There's the devilish cunning of it! If he were
acting through a human agent we could get some evidence, but if
we were to drag this great dog to the light of day it would not
help us in putting a rope round the neck of its master.
Surely we have a case.
Not a shadow of one--only surmise and conjecture. We should be
laughed out of court if we came with such a story and such
There is Sir Charles's death.
Found dead without a mark upon him. You and I know that he died
of sheer fright, and we know also what frightened him; but how
are we to get twelve stolid jurymen to know it? What signs are
there of a hound? Where are the marks of its fangs? Of course we
know that a hound does not bite a dead body and that Sir Charles
was dead before ever the brute overtook him. But we have to prove
all this, and we are not in a position to do it.
Well, then, to-night?
We are not much better off to-night. Again, there was no direct
connection between the hound and the man's death. We never saw
the hound. We heard it; but we could not prove that it was
running upon this man's trail. There is a complete absence of
motive. No, my dear fellow; we must reconcile ourselves to the
fact that we have no case at present, and that it is worth our
while to run any risk in order to establish one.
And how do you propose to do so?
I have great hopes of what Mrs. Laura Lyons may do for us when
the position of affairs is made clear to her. And I have my own
plan as well. Sufficient for to-morrow is the evil thereof; but I
hope before the day is past to have the upper hand at last.
I could draw nothing further from himand he walkedlost in
thoughtas far as the Baskerville gates.
Are you coming up?
Yes; I see no reason for further concealment. But one last word,
Watson. Say nothing of the hound to Sir Henry. Let him think that
Selden's death was as Stapleton would have us believe. He will
have a better nerve for the ordeal which he will have to undergo
to-morrow, when he is engaged, if I remember your report aright,
to dine with these people.
And so am I.
Then you must excuse yourself and he must go alone. That will be
easily arranged. And now, if we are too late for dinner, I think
that we are both ready for our suppers.
Sir Henry was more pleased than surprised to see Sherlock Holmes
for he had for some days been expecting that recent events would
bring him down from London. He did raise his eyebrowshowever
when he found that my friend had neither any luggage nor any
explanations for its absence. Between us we soon supplied his
wantsand then over a belated supper we explained to the baronet
as much of our experience as it seemed desirable that he should
know. But first I had the unpleasant duty of breaking the news to
Barrymore and his wife. To him it may have been an unmitigated
reliefbut she wept bitterly in her apron. To all the world he
was the man of violencehalf animal and half demon; but to her
he always remained the little wilful boy of her own girlhoodthe
child who had clung to her hand. Evil indeed is the man who has
not one woman to mourn him.
I've been moping in the house all day since Watson went off in
the morning,said the baronet. "I guess I should have some
creditfor I have kept my promise. If I hadn't sworn not to go
about alone I might have had a more lively eveningfor I had a
message from Stapleton asking me over there."
I have no doubt that you would have had a more lively evening,
said Holmes drily. "By the wayI don't suppose you appreciate
that we have been mourning over you as having broken your neck?"
Sir Henry opened his eyes. "How was that?"
This poor wretch was dressed in your clothes. I fear your
servant who gave them to him may get into trouble with the
That is unlikely. There was no mark on any of them, as far as I
That's lucky for him--in fact, it's lucky for all of you, since
you are all on the wrong side of the law in this matter. I am not
sure that as a conscientious detective my first duty is not to
arrest the whole household. Watson's reports are most
But how about the case?asked the baronet. "Have you made
anything out of the tangle? I don't know that Watson and I are
much the wiser since we came down."
I think that I shall be in a position to make the situation
rather more clear to you before long. It has been an exceedingly
difficult and most complicated business. There are several points
upon which we still want light--but it is coming all the same.
We've had one experience, as Watson has no doubt told you. We
heard the hound on the moor, so I can swear that it is not all
empty superstition. I had something to do with dogs when I was
out West, and I know one when I hear one. If you can muzzle that
one and put him on a chain I'll be ready to swear you are the
greatest detective of all time.
I think I will muzzle him and chain him all right if you will
give me your help.
Whatever you tell me to do I will do.
Very good; and I will ask you also to do it blindly, without
always asking the reason.
Just as you like.
If you will do this I think the chances are that our little
problem will soon be solved. I have no doubt----
He stopped suddenly and stared fixedly up over my head into the
air. The lamp beat upon his faceand so intent was it and so
still that it might have been that of a clear-cut classical
statuea personification of alertness and expectation.
What is it?we both cried.
I could see as he looked down that he was repressing some
internal emotion. His features were still composedbut his eyes
shone with amused exultation.
Excuse the admiration of a connoisseur,said he as he waved his
hand towards the line of portraits which covered the opposite
wall. "Watson won't allow that I know anything of artbut that
is mere jealousybecause our views upon the subject differ. Now
these are a really very fine series of portraits."
Well, I'm glad to hear you say so,said Sir Henryglancing
with some surprise at my friend. "I don't pretend to know much
about these thingsand I'd be a better judge of a horse or a
steer than of a picture. I didn't know that you found time for
such things. "
I know what is good when I see it, and I see it now. That's a
Kneller, I'll swear, that lady in the blue silk over yonder, and
the stout gentleman with the wig ought to be a Reynolds. They are
all family portraits, I presume?
Do you know the names?
Barrymore has been coaching me in them, and I think I can say my
lessons fairly well.
Who is the gentleman with the telescope?
That is Rear-Admiral Baskerville, who served under Rodney in the
West Indies. The man with the blue coat and the roll of paper is
Sir William Baskerville, who was Chairman of Committees of the
House of Commons under Pitt.
And this Cavalier opposite to me--the one with the black velvet
and the lace?
Ah, you have a right to know about him. That is the cause of all
the mischief, the wicked Hugo, who started the Hound of the
Baskervilles. We're not likely to forget him.
I gazed with interest and some surprise upon the portrait.
Dear me!said Holmeshe seems a quiet, meek-mannered man
enough, but I dare say that there was a lurking devil in his
eyes. I had pictured him as a more robust and ruffianly person.
There's no doubt about the authenticity, for the name and the
date, 1647, are on the back of the canvas.
Holmes said little morebut the picture of the old roysterer
seemed to have a fascination for himand his eyes were
continually fixed upon it during supper. It was not until later
when Sir Henry had gone to his roomthat I was able to follow
the trend of his thoughts. He led me back into the
banqueting-hallhis bedroom candle in his handand he held it
up against the time-stained portrait on the wall.
Do you see anything there?
I looked at the broad plumed hatthe curling love-locksthe
white lace collarand the straightsevere face which was framed
between them. lt was not a brutal countenancebut it was prim
hardand sternwith a firm-setthin-lipped mouthand a coldly
Is it like anyone you know?
There is something of Sir Henry about the jaw.
Just a suggestion, perhaps. But wait an instant!He stood upon
a chairandholding up the light in his left handhe curved
his right arm over the broad hat and round the long ringlets.
Good heavens!I criedin amazement.
The face of Stapleton had sprung out of the canvas.
Ha, you see it now. My eyes have been trained to examine faces
and not their trimmings. It is the first quality of a criminal
investigator that he should see through a disguise.
But this is marvellous. It might be his portrait.
Yes, it is an interesting instance of a throwback, which appears
to be both physical and spiritual. A study of family portraits is
enough to convert a man to the doctrine of reincarnation. The
fellow is a Baskerville--that is evident.
With designs upon the succession.
Exactly. This chance of the picture has supplied us with one of
our most obvious missing links. We have him, Watson, we have him,
and I dare swear that before to-morrow night he will be
fluttering in our net as helpless as one of his own butterflies.
A pin, a cork, and a card, and we add him to the Baker Street
collection!He burst into one of his rare fits of laughter as he
turned away from the picture. I have not heard him laugh often
and it has always boded ill to somebody.
I was up betimes in the morningbut Holmes was afoot earlier
stillfor I saw him as I dressedcoming up the drive.
Yes, we should have a full day to-day,he remarkedand he
rubbed his hands with the joy of action. "The nets are all in
placeand the drag is about to begin. We'll know before the day
is out whether we have caught our biglean-jawed pikeor
whether he has got through the meshes."
Have you been on the moor already?
I have sent a report from Grimpen to Princetown as to the death
of Selden. I think I can promise that none of you will be
troubled in the matter. And I have also communicated with my
faithful Cartwright, who would certainly have pined away at the
door of my hut, as a dog does at his master's grave, if I had not
set his mind at rest about my safety.
What is the next move?
To see Sir Henry. Ah, here he is!
Good morning, Holmes,said the baronet. "You look like a
general who is planning a battle with his chief of the staff."
That is the exact situation. Watson was asking for orders.
And so do I.
Very good. You are engaged, as I understand, to dine with our
friends the Stapletons to-night.
I hope that you will come also. They are very hospitable people,
and I am sure that they would be very glad to see you.
I fear that Watson and I must go to London.
Yes, I think that we should be more useful there at the present
The baronet's face perceptibly lengthened.
I hoped that you were going to see me through this business. The
Hall and the moor are not very pleasant places when one is
My dear fellow, you must trust me implicitly and do exactly what
I tell you. You can tell your friends that we should have been
happy to have come with you, but that urgent business required us
to be in town. We hope very soon to return to Devonshire. Will
you remember to give them that message?
If you insist upon it.
There is no alternative, I assure you.
I saw by the baronet's clouded brow that he was deeply hurt by
what he regarded as our desertion.
When do you desire to go?he asked coldly.
Immediately after breakfast. We will drive in to Coombe Tracey,
but Watson will leave his things as a pledge that he will come
back to you. Watson, you will send a note to Stapleton to tell
him that you regret that you cannot come.
I have a good mind to go to London with you,said the baronet.
Why should I stay here alone?
Because it is your post of duty. Because you gave me your word
that you would do as you were told, and I tell you to stay.
All right, then, I'll stay.
One more direction! I wish you to drive to Merripit House. Send
back your trap, however, and let them know that you intend to
To walk across the moor?
But that is the very thing which you have so often cautioned me
not to do.
This time you may do it with safety. If I had not every
confidence in your nerve and courage I would not suggest it, but
it is essential that you should do it.
Then I will do it.
And as you value your life do not go across the moor in any
direction save along the straight path which leads from Merripit
House to the Grimpen Road, and is your natural way home.
I will do just what you say.
Very good. I should be glad to get away as soon after breakfast
as possible, so as to reach London in the afternoon.
I was much astounded by this programmethough I remembered that
Holmes had said to Stapleton on the night before that his visit
would terminate next day. It had not crossed my mindhowever
that he would wish me to go with himnor could I understand how
we could both be absent at a moment which he himself declared to
be critical. There was nothing for ithoweverbut implicit
obedience; so we bade good-bye to our rueful friendand a couple
of hours afterwards we were at the station of Coombe Tracey and
had dispatched the trap upon its return journey. A small boy was
waiting upon the platform.
Any orders, sir?
You will take this train to town, Cartwright. The moment you
arrive you will send a wire to Sir Henry Baskerville, in my name,
to say that if he finds the pocket-book which I have dropped he
is to send it by registered post to Baker Street.
And ask at the station office if there is a message for me.
The boy returned with a telegramwhich Holmes handed to me. It
ran: "Wire received. Coming down with unsigned warrant. Arrive
That is in answer to mine of this morning. He is the best of the
professionals, I think, and we may need his assistance. Now,
Watson, I think that we cannot employ our time better than by
calling upon your acquaintance, Mrs. Laura Lyons.
His plan of campaign was beginning to be evident. He would use
the baronet in order to convince the Stapletons that we were
really gonewhile we should actually return at the instant when
we were likely to be needed. That telegram from Londonif
mentioned by Sir Henry to the Stapletonsmust remove the last
suspicions from their minds. Already I seemed to see our nets
drawing closer around that lean-jawed pike.
Mrs. Laura Lyons was in her officeand Sherlock Holmes opened
his interview with a frankness and directness which considerably
I am investigating the circumstances which attended the death of
the late Sir Charles Baskerville,said he. "My friend hereDr.
Watsonhas informed me of what you have communicatedand also
of what you have withheld in connection with that matter."
What have I withheld?she asked defiantly.
You have confessed that you asked Sir Charles to be at the gate
at ten o'clock. We know that that was the place and hour of his
death. You have with held what the connection is between these
There is no connection.
In that case the coincidence must indeed be an extraordinary
one. But I think that we shall succeed in establishing a
connection after all. I wish to be perfectly frank with you, Mrs.
Lyons. We regard this case as one of murder, and the evidence may
implicate not only your friend Mr. Stapleton, but his wife as
The lady sprang from her chair.
His wife!she cried.
The fact is no longer a secret. The person who has passed for
his sister is really his wife.
Mrs. Lyons had resumed her seat. Her hands were grasping the arms
of her chairand I saw that the pink nails had turned white with
the pressure of her grip.
His wife!she said again. "His wife! He is not a married man."
Sherlock Holmes shrugged his shoulders.
Prove it to me! Prove it to me! And if you can do so --!The
fierce flash of her eyes said more than any words.
I have come prepared to do so,said Holmesdrawing several
papers from his pocket. "Here is a photograph of the couple taken
in York four years ago. It is indorsed 'Mr. and Mrs. Vandeleur'
but you will have no difficulty in recognizing himand her also
if you know her by sight. Here are three written descriptions by
trustworthy witnesses of Mr. and Mrs. Vandeleurwho at that time
kept St. Oliver's private school. Read them and see if you can
doubt the identity of these people."
She glanced at themand then looked up at us with the setrigid
face of a desperate woman.
Mr. Holmes,she saidthis man had offered me marriage on
condition that I could get a divorce from my husband. He has lied
to me, the villain, in every conceivable way. Not one word of
truth has he ever told me. And why--why? I imagined that all was
for my own sake. But now I see that I was never anything but a
tool in his hands. Why should I preserve faith with him who never
kept any with me? Why should I try to shield him from the
consequences of his own wicked acts? Ask me what you like, and
there is nothing which I shall hold back. One thing I swear to
you, and that is that when I wrote the letter I never dreamed of
any harm to the old gentleman, who had been my kindest friend.
I entirely believe you, madam,said Sherlock Holmes. "The
recital of these events must be very painful to youand perhaps
it will make it easier if I tell you what occurredand you can
check me if I make any material mistake. The sending of this
letter was suggested to you by Stapleton?"
He dictated it.
I presume that the reason he gave was that you would receive
help from Sir Charles for the legal expenses connected with your
And then after you had sent the letter he dissuaded you from
keeping the appointment?
He told me that it would hurt his self-respect that any other
man should find the money for such an object, and that though he
was a poor man himself he would devote his last penny to removing
the obstacles which divided us.
He appears to be a very consistent character. And then you heard
nothing until you read the reports of the death in the paper?
And he made you swear to say nothing about your appointment with
He did. He said that the death was a very mysterious one, and
that I should certainly be suspected if the facts came out. He
frightened me into remaining silent.
Quite so. But you had your suspicions?
She hesitated and looked down.
I knew him,she said. "But if he had kept faith with me I
should always have done so with him."
I think that on the whole you have had a fortunate escape,said
Sherlock Holmes. "You have had him in your power and he knew it
and yet you are alive. You have been walking for some months very
near to the edge of a precipice. We must wish you good-morning
nowMrs. Lyonsand it is probable that you will very shortly
hear from us again."
Our case becomes rounded off, and difficulty after difficulty
thins away in front of us,said Holmes as we stood waiting for
the arrival of the express from town. "I shall soon be in the
position of being able to put into a single connected narrative
one of the most singular and sensational crimes of modern times.
Students of criminology will remember the analogous incidents in
Godnoin Little Russiain the year '66and of course there are
the Anderson murders in North Carolinabut this case possesses
some features which are entirely its own. Even now we have no
clear case against this very wily man. But I shall be very much
surprised if it is not clear enough before we go to bed this
The London express came roaring into the stationand a small
wiry bulldog of a man had sprung from a first-class carriage. We
all three shook handsand I saw at once from the reverential way
in which Lestrade gazed at my companion that he had learned a
good deal since the days when they had first worked together. I
could well remember the scorn which the theories of the reasoner
used then to excite in the practical man.
Anything good?he asked.
The biggest thing for years,said Holmes. "We have two hours
before we need think of starting. I think we might employ it in
getting some dinner and thenLestradewe will take the London
fog out of your throat by giving you a breath of the pure night
air of Dartmoor. Never been there? AhwellI don't suppose you
will forget your first visit."
The Hound of the Baskervilles
One of Sherlock Holmes's defects--ifindeedone may call it a
defect--was that he was exceedingly loath to communicate his full
plans to any other person until the instant of their fulfilment.
Partly it came no doubt from his own masterful naturewhich
loved to dominate and surprise those who were around him. Partly
also from his professional cautionwhich urged him never to take
any chances. The resulthoweverwas very trying for those who
were acting as his agents and assistants. I had often suffered
under itbut never more so than during that long drive in the
darkness. The great ordeal was in front of us; at last we were
about to make our final effortand yet Holmes had said nothing
and I could only surmise what his course of action would be. My
nerves thrilled with anticipation when at last the cold wind upon
our faces and the darkvoid spaces on either side of the narrow
road told me that we were back upon the moor once again. Every
stride of the horses and every turn of the wheels was taking us
nearer to our supreme adventure.
Our conversation was hampered by the presence of the driver of
the hired wagonetteso that we were forced to talk of trivial
matters when our nerves were tense with emotion and anticipation.
It was a relief to meafter that unnatural restraintwhen we at
last passed Frankland's house and knew that we were drawing near
to the Hall and to the scene of action. We did not drive up to
the door but got down near the gate of the avenue. The wagonette
was paid off and ordered to return to Coombe Tracey forthwith
while we started to walk to Merripit House.
Are you armed, Lestrade?
The little detective smiled.
As long as I have my trousers I have a hip-pocket, and as long
as I have my hip-pocket I have something in it.
Good! My friend and I are also ready for emergencies.
You're mighty close about this affair, Mr. Holmes. What's the
A waiting game.
My word, it does not seem a very cheerful place,said the
detective with a shiverglancing round him at the gloomy slopes
of the hill and at the huge lake of fog which lay over the
Grimpen Mire. "I see the lights of a house ahead of us."
That is Merripit House and the end of our journey. I must
request you to walk on tiptoe and not to talk above a whisper.
We moved cautiously along the track as if we were bound for the
housebut Holmes halted us when we were about two hundred yards
This will do,said he. "These rocks upon the right make an
We are to wait here?
Yes, we shall make our little ambush here. Get into this hollow,
Lestrade. You have been inside the house, have you not, Watson?
Can you tell the position of the rooms? What are those latticed
windows at this end?
I think they are the kitchen windows.
And the one beyond, which shines so brightly?
That is certainly the dining-room.
The blinds are up. You know the lie of the land best. Creep
forward quietly and see what they are doing--but for heaven's
sake don't let them know that they are watched!
I tiptoed down the path and stooped behind the low wall which
surrounded the stunted orchard. Creeping in its shadow I reached
a point whence I could look straight through the uncurtained
There were only two men in the roomSir Henry and Stapleton.
They sat with their profiles towards me on either side of the
round table. Both of them were smoking cigarsand coffee and
wine were in front of them. Stapleton was talking with animation
but the baronet looked pale and distrait. Perhaps the thought of
that lonely walk across the ill-omened moor was weighing heavily
upon his mind.
As I watched them Stapleton rose and left the roomwhile Sir
Henry filled his glass again and leaned back in his chair
puffing at his cigar. I heard the creak of a door and the crisp
sound of boots upon gravel. The steps passed along the path on
the other side of the wall under which I crouched. Looking over
I saw the naturalist pause at the door of an out-house in the
corner of the orchard. A key turned in a lockand as he passed
in there was a curious scuffling noise from within. He was only a
minute or so insideand then I heard the key turn once more and
he passed me and re-entered the house. I saw him rejoin his
guestand I crept quietly back to where my companions were
waiting to tell them what I had seen.
You say, Watson, that the lady is not there?Holmes askedwhen
I had finished my report.
Where can she be, then, since there is no light in any other
room except the kitchen?
I cannot think where she is.
I have said that over the great Grimpen Mire there hung a dense
white fog. It was drifting slowly in our directionand banked
itself up like a wall on that side of uslowbut thick and well
defined. The moon shone on itand it looked like a great
shimmering ice-fieldwith the heads of the distant tors as rocks
borne upon its surface. Holmes's face was turned towards itand
he muttered impatiently as he watched its sluggish drift.
It's moving towards us, Watson.
Is that serious?
Very serious, indeed--the one thing upon earth which could have
disarranged my plans. He can't be very long, now. It is already
ten o'clock. Our success and even his life may depend upon his
coming out before the fog is over the path.
The night was clear and fine above us. The stars shone cold and
brightwhile a half-moon bathed the whole scene in a soft
uncertain light. Before us lay the dark bulk of the houseits
serrated roof and bristling chimneys hard outlined against the
silver-spangled sky. Broad bars of golden light from the lower
windows stretched across the orchard and the moor. One of them
was suddenly shut off. The servants had left the kitchen. There
only remained the lamp in the dining-room where the two menthe
murderous host and the unconscious gueststill chatted over
Every minute that white woolly plain which covered one half of
the moor was drifting closer and closer to the house. Already the
first thin wisps of it were curling across the golden square of
the lighted window. The farther wall of the orchard was already
invisibleand the trees were standing out of a swirl of white
vapour. As we watched it the fog-wreaths came crawling round both
corners of the house and rolled slowly into one dense bankon
which the upper floor and the roof floated like a strange ship
upon a shadowy sea. Holmes struck his hand passionately upon the
rock in front of us and stamped his feet in his impatience.
If he isn't out in a quarter of an hour the path will be
covered. In half an hour we won't be able to see our hands in
front of us.
Shall we move farther back upon higher ground?
Yes, I think it would be as well.
So as the fog-bank flowed onward we fell back before it until we
were half a mile from the houseand still that dense white sea
with the moon silvering its upper edgeswept slowly and
We are going too far,said Holmes. "We dare not take the chance
of his being overtaken before he can reach us. At all costs we
must hold our ground where we are." He dropped on his knees and
clapped his ear to the ground. "Thank GodI think that I hear
A sound of quick steps broke the silence of the moor. Crouching
among the stones we stared intently at the silver-tipped bank in
front of us. The steps grew louderand through the fogas
through a curtainthere stepped the man whom we were awaiting.
He looked round him in surprise as he emerged into the clear
starlit night. Then he came swiftly along the pathpassed close
to where we layand went on up the long slope behind us. As he
walked he glanced continually over either shoulderlike a man
who is ill at ease.
Hist!cried Holmesand I heard the sharp click of a cocking
pistol. "Look out! It's coming!"
There was a thincrispcontinuous patter from somewhere in the
heart of that crawling bank. The cloud was within fifty yards of
where we layand we glared at itall threeuncertain what
horror was about to break from the heart of it. I was at Holmes's
elbowand I glanced for an instant at his face. It was pale and
exultanthis eyes shining brightly in the moonlight. But
suddenly they started forward in a rigidfixed stareand his
lips parted in amazement. At the same instant Lestrade gave a
yell of terror and threw himself face downward upon the ground. I
sprang to my feetmy inert hand grasping my pistolmy mind
paralyzed by the dreadful shape which had sprung out upon us from
the shadows of the fog. A hound it wasan enormous coal-black
houndbut not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire
burst from its open mouthits eyes glowed with a smouldering
glareits muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in
flickering flame. Never in the delirious dream of a disordered
brain could anything more savagemore appallingmore hellish be
conceived than that dark form and savage face which broke upon us
out of the wall of fog.
With long bounds the huge black creature was leaping down the
trackfollowing hard upon the footsteps of our friend. So
paralyzed were we by the apparition that we allowed him to pass
before we had recovered our nerve. Then Holmes and I both fired
togetherand the creature gave a hideous howlwhich showed that
one at least had hit him. He did not pausehoweverbut bounded
onward. Far away on the path we saw Sir Henry looking backhis
face white in the moonlighthis hands raised in horrorglaring
helplessly at the frightful thing which was hunting him down.
But that cry of pain from the hound had blown all our fears to
the winds. If he was vulnerable he was mortaland if we could
wound him we could kill him. Never have I seen a man run as
Holmes ran that night. I am reckoned fleet of footbut he
outpaced me as much as I outpaced the little professional. In
front of us as we flew up the track we heard scream after scream
from Sir Henry and the deep roar of the hound. I was in time to
see the beast spring upon its victimhurl him to the groundand
worry at his throat. But the next instant Holmes had emptied five
barrels of his revolver into the creature's flank. With a last
howl of agony and a vicious snap in the airit rolled upon its
backfour feet pawing furiouslyand then fell limp upon its
side. I stoopedpantingand pressed my pistol to the dreadful
shimmering headbut it was useless to press the trigger. The
giant hound was dead.
Sir Henry lay insensible where he had fallen. We tore away his
collarand Holmes breathed a prayer of gratitude when we saw
that there was no sign of a wound and that the rescue had been in
time. Already our friend's eyelids shivered and he made a feeble
effort to move. Lestrade thrust his brandy-flask between the
baronet's teethand two frightened eyes were looking up at us.
My God!he whispered. "What was it? Whatin heaven's namewas
It's dead, whatever it is,said Holmes. "We've laid the family
ghost once and forever."
In mere size and strength it was a terrible creature which was
lying stretched before us. It was not a pure bloodhound and it
was not a pure mastiff; but it appeared to be a combination of
the two--gauntsavageand as large as a small lioness. Even
nowin the stillness of deaththe huge jaws seemed to be
dripping with a bluish flame and the smalldeep-setcruel eyes
were ringed with fire. I placed my hand upon the glowing muzzle
and as I held them up my own fingers smouldered and gleamed in
A cunning preparation of it,said Holmessniffing at the dead
animal. "There is no smell which might have interfered with his
power of scent. We owe you a deep apologySir Henryfor having
exposed you to this fright. I was prepared for a houndbut not
for such a creature as this. And the fog gave us little time to
You have saved my life.
Having first endangered it. Are you strong enough to stand?
Give me another mouthful of that brandy and I shall be ready for
anything. So! Now, if you will help me up. What do you propose to
To leave you here. You are not fit for further adventures
to-night. If you will wait, one or other of us will go back with
you to the Hall.
He tried to stagger to his feet; but he was still ghastly pale
and trembling in every limb. We helped him to a rockwhere he
sat shivering with his face buried in his hands.
We must leave you now,said Holmes. "The rest of our work must
be doneand every moment is of importance. We have our caseand
now we only want our man.
It's a thousand to one against our finding him at the house,he
continued as we retraced our steps swiftly down the path. "Those
shots must have told him that the game was up."
We were some distance off, and this fog may have deadened them.
He followed the hound to call him off--of that you may be
certain. No, no, he's gone by this time! But we'll search the
house and make sure.
The front door was openso we rushed in and hurried from room to
room to the amazement of a doddering old manservantwho met us
in the passage. There was no light save in the dining-roombut
Holmes caught up the lamp and left no corner of the house
unexplored. No sign could we see of the man whom we were chasing.
On the upper floorhoweverone of the bedroom doors was locked.
There's someone in here,cried Lestrade. "I can hear a
movement. Open this door!"
A faint moaning and rustling came from within. Holmes struck the
door just over the lock with the flat of his foot and it flew
open. Pistol in handwe all three rushed into the room.
But there was no sign within it of that desperate and defiant
villain whom we expected to see. Instead we were faced by an
object so strange and so unexpected that we stood for a moment
staring at it in amazement.
The room had been fashioned into a small museumand the walls
were lined by a number of glass-topped cases full of that
collection of butterflies and moths the formation of which had
been the relaxation of this complex and dangerous man. In the
centre of this room there was an upright beamwhich had been
placed at some period as a support for the old worm-eaten baulk
of timber which spanned the roof. To this post a figure was tied
so swathed and muffled in the sheets which had been used to
secure it that one could not for the moment tell whether it was
that of a man or a woman. One towel passed round the throat and
was secured at the back of the pillar. Another covered the lower
part of the faceand over it two dark eyes--eyes full of grief
and shame and a dreadful questioning--stared back at us. In a
minute we had torn off the gagunswathed the bondsand Mrs.
Stapleton sank upon the floor in front of us. As her beautiful
head fell upon her chest I saw the clear red weal of a whiplash
across her neck.
The brute!cried Holmes. "HereLestradeyour brandy-bottle!
Put her in the chair! She has fainted from ill-usage and
She opened her eyes again.
Is he safe?she asked. "Has he escaped?"
He cannot escape us, madam.
No, no, I did not mean my husband. Sir Henry? Is he safe?
And the hound?
It is dead.
She gave a long sigh of satisfaction.
Thank God! Thank God! Oh, this villain! See how he has treated
me!She shot her arms out from her sleevesand we saw with
horror that they were all mottled with bruises. "But this is
nothing--nothing! It is my mind and soul that he has tortured and
defiled. I could endure it allill-usagesolitudea life of
deceptioneverythingas long as I could still cling to the hope
that I had his lovebut now I know that in this also I have been
his dupe and his tool." She broke into passionate sobbing as she
You bear him no good will, madam,said Holmes. "Tell us then
where we shall find him. If you have ever aided him in evilhelp
us now and so atone."
There is but one place where he can have fled,she answered.
There is an old tin mine on an island in the heart of the mire.
It was there that he kept his hound and there also he had made
preparations so that he might have a refuge. That is where he
The fog-bank lay like white wool against the window. Holmes held
the lamp towards it.
See,said he. "No one could find his way into the Grimpen Mire
She laughed and clapped her hands. Her eyes and teeth gleamed
with fierce merriment
He may find his way in, but never out,she cried. "How can he
see the guiding wands to-night? We planted them togetherhe and
Ito mark the pathway through the mire. Ohif I could only have
plucked them out to-day. Then indeed you would have had him at
It was evident to us that all pursuit was in vain until the fog
had lifted. Meanwhile we left Lestrade in possession of the house
while Holmes and I went back with the baronet to Baskerville
Hall. The story of the Stapletons could no longer be withheld
from himbut he took the blow bravely when he learned the truth
about the woman whom he had loved. But the shock of the night's
adventures had shattered his nervesand before morning he lay
delirious in a high feverunder the care of Dr. Mortimer. The
two of them were destined to travel together round the world
before Sir Henry had become once more the halehearty man that
he had been before he became master of that ill-omened estate.
And now I come rapidly to the conclusion of this singular
narrativein which I have tried to make the reader share those
dark fears and vague surmises which clouded our lives so long and
ended in so tragic a manner. On the morning after the death of
the hound the fog had lifted and we were guided by Mrs.Stapleton
to the point where they had found a pathway through the bog. It
helped us to realize the horror of this woman's life when we saw
the eagerness and joy with which she laid us on her husband's
track. We left her standing upon the thin peninsula of firm
peaty soil which tapered out into the widespread bog. From the
end of it a small wand planted here and there showed where the
path zigzagged from tuft to tuft of rushes among those
green-scummed pits and foul quagmires which barred the way to the
stranger. Rank reeds and lushslimy water-plants sent an odour
of decay and a heavy miasmatic vapour onto our faceswhile a
false step plunged us more than once thigh-deep into the dark
quivering mirewhich shook for yards in soft undulations around
our feet. Its tenacious grip plucked at our heels as we walked
and when we sank into it it was as if some malignant hand was
tugging us down into those obscene depthsso grim and purposeful
was the clutch in which it held us. Once only we saw a trace that
someone had passed that perilous way before us. From amid a tuft
of cotton grass which bore it up out of the slime some dark thing
was projecting. Holmes sank to his waist as he stepped from the
path to seize itand had we not been there to drag him out he
could never have set his foot upon firm land again. He held an
old black boot in the air. "MeyersToronto was printed on the
It is worth a mud bath said he. It is our friend Sir Henry's
Thrown there by Stapleton in his flight.
Exactly. He retained it in his hand after using it to set the
hound upon the track. He fled when he knew the game was up, still
clutching it. And he hurled it away at this point of his flight.
We know at least that he came so far in safety.
But more than that we were never destined to knowthough there
was much which we might surmise. There was no chance of finding
footsteps in the mirefor the rising mud oozed swiftly in upon
thembut as we at last reached firmer ground beyond the morass
we all looked eagerly for them. But no slightest sign of them
ever met our eyes. If the earth told a true storythen Stapleton
never reached that island of refuge towards which he struggled
through the fog upon that last night. Somewhere in the heart of
the great Grimpen Miredown in the foul slime of the huge morass
which had sucked him inthis cold and cruel-hearted man is
Many traces we found of him in the bog-girt island where he had
hid his savage ally. A huge driving-wheel and a shaft half-filled
with rubbish showed the position of an abandoned mine. Beside it
were the crumbling remains of the cottages of the minersdriven
away no doubt by the foul reek of the surrounding swamp. In one
of these a staple and chain with a quantity of gnawed bones
showed where the animal had been confined. A skeleton with a
tangle of brown hair adhering to it lay among the debris.
A dog!said Holmes. "By Jovea curly-haired spaniel. Poor
Mortimer will never see his pet again. WellI do not know that
this place contains any secret which we have not already
fathomed. He could hide his houndbut he could not hush its
voiceand hence came those cries which even in daylight were not
pleasant to hear. On an emergency he could keep the hound in the
out-house at Merripitbut it was always a riskand it was only
on the supreme daywhich he regarded as the end of all his
effortsthat he dared do it. This paste in the tin is no doubt
the luminous mixture with which the creature was daubed. It was
suggestedof courseby the story of the family hell-houndand
by the desire to frighten old Sir Charles to death. No wonder the
poor devil of a convict ran and screamedeven as our friend did
and as we ourselves might have donewhen he saw such a creature
bounding through the darkness of the moor upon his track. It was
a cunning deviceforapart from the chance of driving your
victim to his deathwhat peasant would venture to inquire too
closely into such a creature should he get sight of itas many
have doneupon the moor? I said it in LondonWatsonand I say
it again nowthat never yet have we helped to hunt down a more
dangerous man than he who is lying yonder"--he swept his long arm
towards the huge mottled expanse of green-splotched bog which
stretched away until it merged into the russet slopes of the
It was the end of November and Holmes and I satupon a raw and
foggy nighton either side of a blazing fire in our sitting-room
in Baker Street. Since the tragic upshot of our visit to
Devonshire he had been engaged in two affairs of the utmost
importancein the first of which he had exposed the atrocious
conduct of Colonel Upwood in connection with the famous card
scandal of the Nonpareil Clubwhile in the second he had
defended the unfortunate Mme. Montpensier from the charge of
murder which hung over her in connection with the death of her
step-daughterMlle. Carerethe young lady whoas it will be
rememberedwas found six months later alive and married in New
York. My friend was in excellent spirits over the success which
had attended a succession of difficult and important casesso
that I was able to induce him to discuss the details of the
Baskerville mystery. I had waited patiently for the opportunity
for I was aware that he would never permit cases to overlapand
that his clear and logical mind would not be drawn from its
present work to dwell upon memories of the past. Sir Henry and
Dr. Mortimer werehoweverin Londonon their way to that long
voyage which had been recommended for the restoration of his
shattered nerves. They had called upon us that very afternoonso
that it was natural that the subject should come up for
The whole course of events,said Holmesfrom the point of
view of the man who called himself Stapleton was simple and
direct, although to us, who had no means in the beginning of
knowing the motives of his actions and could only learn part of
the facts, it all appeared exceedingly complex. I have had the
advantage of two conversations with Mrs. Stapleton, and the case
has now been so entirely cleared up that I am not aware that
there is anything which has remained a secret to us. You will
find a few notes upon the matter under the heading B in my
indexed list of cases.
Perhaps you would kindly give me a sketch of the course of
events from memory.
Certainly, though I cannot guarantee that I carry all the facts
in my mind. Intense mental concentration has a curious way of
blotting out what has passed. The barrister who has his case at
his fingers' end, and is able to argue with an expert upon his
own subject finds that a week or two of the courts will drive it
all out of his head once more. So each of my cases displaces the
last, and Mlle. Carere has blurred my recollection of Baskerville
Hall. To-morrow some other little problem may be submitted to my
notice which will in turn dispossess the fair French lady and the
infamous Upwood. So far as the case of the Hound goes, however, I
will give you the course of events as nearly as I can, and you
will suggest anything which I may have forgotten.
My inquiries show beyond all question that the family portrait
did not lieand that this fellow was indeed a Baskerville. He
was a son of that Rodger Baskervillethe younger brother of Sir
Charleswho fled with a sinister reputation to South America
where he was said to have died unmarried. He didas a matter of
factmarryand had one childthis fellowwhose real name is
the same as his father's. He married Beryl Garciaone of the
beauties of Costa Ricaandhaving purloined a considerable sum
of public moneyhe changed his name to Vandeleur and fled to
Englandwhere he established a school in the east of Yorkshire.
His reason for attempting this special line of business was that
he had struck up an acquaintance with a consumptive tutor upon
the voyage homeand that he had used this man's ability to make
the undertaking a success. Fraserthe tutordied howeverand
the school which had begun well sank from disrepute into infamy.
The Vandeleurs found it convenient to change their name to
Stapletonand he brought the remains of his fortunehis schemes
for the futureand his taste for entomology to the south of
England. I learned at the British Museum that he was a recognized
authority upon the subjectand that the name of Vandeleur has
been permanently attached to a certain moth which he hadin his
Yorkshire daysbeen the first to describe.
We now come to that portion of his life which has proved to be
of such intense interest to us. The fellow had evidently made
inquiry and found that only two lives intervened between him and
a valuable estate. When he went to Devonshire his plans were, I
believe, exceedingly hazy, but that he meant mischief from the
first is evident from the way in which he took his wife with him
in the character of his sister. The idea of using her as a decoy
was clearly already in his mind, though he may not have been
certain how the details of his plot were to be arranged. He meant
in the end to have the estate, and he was ready to use any tool
or run any risk for that end. His first act was to establish
himself as near to his ancestral home as he could, and his second
was to cultivate a friendship with Sir Charles Baskerville and
with the neighbours.
The baronet himself told him about the family houndand so
prepared the way for his own death. Stapletonas I will continue
to call himknew that the old man's heart was weak and that a
shock would kill him. So much he had learned from Dr. Mortimer.
He had heard also that Sir Charles was superstitious and had
taken this grim legend very seriously. His ingenious mind
instantly suggested a way by which the baronet could be done to
deathand yet it would be hardly possible to bring home the
guilt to the real murderer.
Having conceived the idea he proceeded to carry it out with
considerable finesse. An ordinary schemer would have been content
to work with a savage hound. The use of artificial means to make
the creature diabolical was a flash of genius upon his part. The
dog he bought in London from Ross and Mangles, the dealers in
Fulham Road. It was the strongest and most savage in their
possession. He brought it down by the North Devon line and walked
a great distance over the moor so as to get it home without
exciting any remarks. He had already on his insect hunts learned
to penetrate the Grimpen Mire, and so had found a safe
hiding-place for the creature. Here he kennelled it and waited
But it was some time coming. The old gentleman could not be
decoyed outside of his grounds at night. Several times Stapleton
lurked about with his houndbut without avail. It was during
these fruitless quests that heor rather his allywas seen by
peasantsand that the legend of the demon dog received a new
confirmation. He had hoped that his wife might lure Sir Charles
to his ruinbut here she proved unexpectedly independent. She
would not endeavour to entangle the old gentleman in a
sentimental attachment which might deliver him over to his enemy.
Threats and evenI am sorry to sayblows refused to move her.
She would have nothing to do with itand for a time Stapleton
was at a deadlock.
He found a way out of his difficulties through the chance that
Sir Charles, who had conceived a friendship for him, made him the
minister of his charity in the case of this unfortunate woman,
Mrs. Laura Lyons. By representing himself as a single man he
acquired complete influence over her, and he gave her to
understand that in the event of her obtaining a divorce from her
husband he would marry her. His plans were suddenly brought to a
head by his knowledge that Sir Charles was about to leave the
Hall on the advice of Dr. Mortimer, with whose opinion he himself
pretended to coincide. He must act at once, or his victim might
get beyond his power. He therefore put pressure upon Mrs. Lyons
to write this letter, imploring the old man to give her an
interview on the evening before his departure for London. He
then, by a specious argument, prevented her from going, and so
had the chance for which he had waited.
Driving back in the evening from Coombe Tracey he was in time to
get his houndto treat it with his infernal paintand to bring
the beast round to the gate at which he had reason to expect that
he would find the old gentleman waiting. The dogincited by its
mastersprang over the wicket-gate and pursued the unfortunate
baronetwho fled screaming down the Yew Alley. In that gloomy
tunnel it must indeed have been a dreadful sight to see that huge
black creaturewith its flaming jaws and blazing eyesbounding
after its victim. He fell dead at the end of the alley from heart
disease and terror. The hound had kept upon the grassy border
while the baronet had run down the pathso that no track but the
man's was visible. On seeing him lying still the creature had
probably approached to sniff at himbut finding him dead had
turned away again. It was then that it left the print which was
actually observed by Dr. Mortimer. The hound was called off and
hurried away to its lair in the Grimpen Mireand a mystery was
left which puzzled the authoritiesalarmed the country-sideand
finally brought the case within the scope of our observation.
So much for the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. You perceive
the devilish cunning of it, for really it would be almost
impossible to make a case against the real murderer. His only
accomplice was one who could never give him away, and the
grotesque, inconceivable nature of the device only served to make
it more effective. Both of the women concerned in the case, Mrs.
Stapleton and Mrs. Laura Lyons, were left with a strong suspicion
against Stapleton. Mrs. Stapleton knew that he had designs upon
the old man, and also of the existence of the hound. Mrs. Lyons
knew neither of these things, but had been impressed by the death
occurring at the time of an uncancelled appointment which was
only known to him. However, both of them were under his
influence, and he had nothing to fear from them. The first half
of his task was successfully accomplished but the more difficult
It is possible that Stapleton did not know of the existence of
an heir in Canada. In any case he would very soon learn it from
his friend Dr. Mortimerand he was told by the latter all
details about the arrival of Henry Baskerville. Stapleton's first
idea was that this young stranger from Canada might possibly be
done to death in London without coming down to Devonshire at all.
He distrusted his wife ever since she had refused to help him in
laying a trap for the old manand he dared not leave her long
out of his sight for fear he should lose his influence over her.
It was for this reason that he took her to London with him. They
lodgedI findat the Mexborough Private Hotelin Craven
Streetwhich was actually one of those called upon by my agent
in search of evidence. Here he kept his wife imprisoned in her
room while hedisguised in a beardfollowed Dr. Mortimer to
Baker Street and afterwards to the station and to the
Northumberland Hotel. His wife had some inkling of his plans; but
she had such a fear of her husband--a fear founded upon brutal
ill-treatment--that she dare not write to warn the man whom she
knew to be in danger. If the letter should fall into Stapleton's
hands her own life would not be safe. Eventuallyas we knowshe
adopted the expedient of cutting out the words which would form
the messageand addressing the letter in a disguised hand. It
reached the baronetand gave him the first warning of his
It was very essential for Stapleton to get some article of Sir
Henry's attire so that, in case he was driven to use the dog, he
might always have the means of setting him upon his track. With
characteristic promptness and audacity he set about this at once,
and we cannot doubt that the boots or chamber-maid of the hotel
was well bribed to help him in his design. By chance, however,
the first boot which was procured for him was a new one and,
therefore, useless for his purpose. He then had it returned and
obtained another--a most instructive incident, since it proved
conclusively to my mind that we were dealing with a real hound,
as no other supposition could explain this anxiety to obtain an
old boot and this indifference to a new one. The more outre and
grotesque an incident is the more carefully it deserves to be
examined, and the very point which appears to complicate a case
is, when duly considered and scientifically handled, the one
which is most likely to elucidate it.
Then we had the visit from our friends next morningshadowed
always by Stapleton in the cab. From his knowledge of our rooms
and of my appearanceas well as from his general conductI am
inclined to think that Stapleton's career of crime has been by no
means limited to this single Baskerville affair. It is suggestive
that during the last three years there have been four
considerable burglaries in the West Countryfor none of which
was any criminal ever arrested. The last of theseat Folkestone
Courtin Maywas remarkable for the cold-blooded pistoling of
the pagewho surprised the masked and solitary burglar. I cannot
doubt that Stapleton recruited his waning resources in this
fashionand that for years he has been a desperate and dangerous
We had an example of his readiness of resource that morning when
he got away from us so successfully, and also of his audacity in
sending back my own name to me through the cabman. From that
moment he understood that I had taken over the case in London,
and that therefore there was no chance for him there. He returned
to Dartmoor and awaited the arrival of the baronet.
One moment!said I. "You haveno doubtdescribed the sequence
of events correctlybut there is one point which you have left
unexplained. What became of the hound when its master was in
I have given some attention to this matter and it is undoubtedly
of importance. There can be no question that Stapleton had a
confidant, though it is unlikely that he ever placed himself in
his power by sharing all his plans with him. There was an old
manservant at Merripit House, whose name was Anthony. His
connection with the Stapletons can be traced for several years,
as far back as the schoolmastering days, so that he must have
been aware that his master and mistress were really husband and
wife. This man has disappeared and has escaped from the country.
It is suggestive that Anthony is not a common name in England,
while Antonio is so in all Spanish or Spanish-American countries.
The man, like Mrs. Stapleton herself, spoke good English, but
with a curious lisping accent. I have myself seen this old man
cross the Grimpen Mire by the path which Stapleton had marked
out. It is very probable, therefore, that in the absence of his
master it was he who cared for the hound, though he may never
have known the purpose for which the beast was used.
The Stapletons then went down to Devonshirewhither they were
soon followed by Sir Henry and you. One word now as to how I
stood myself at that time. It may possibly recur to your memory
that when I examined the paper upon which the printed words were
fastened I made a close inspection for the water-mark. In doing
so I held it within a few inches of my eyesand was conscious of
a faint smell of the scent known as white jessamine. There are
seventy-five perfumeswhich it is very necessary that a criminal
expert should be able to distinguish from each otherand cases
have more than once within my own experience depended upon their
prompt recognition. The scent suggested the presence of a lady
and already my thoughts began to turn towards the Stapletons.
Thus I had made certain of the houndand had guessed at the
criminal before ever we went to the west country.
It was my game to watch Stapleton. It was evident, however, that
I could not do this if I were with you, since he would be keenly
on his guard. I deceived everybody, therefore, yourself included,
and I came down secretly when I was supposed to be in London. My
hardships were not so great as you imagined, though such trifling
details must never interfere with the investigation of a case. I
stayed for the most part at Coombe Tracey, and only used the hut
upon the moor when it was necessary to be near the scene of
action. Cartwright had come down with me, and in his disguise as
a country boy he was of great assistance to me. I was dependent
upon him for food and clean linen. When I was watching Stapleton,
Cartwright was frequently watching you, so that I was able to
keep my hand upon all the strings.
I have already told you that your reports reached me rapidly
being forwarded instantly from Baker Street to Coombe Tracey.
They were of great service to meand especially that one
incidentally truthful piece of biography of Stapleton's. I was
able to establish the identity of the man and the woman and knew
at last exactly how I stood. The case had been considerably
complicated through the incident of the escaped convict and the
relations between him and the Barrymores. This also you cleared
up in a very effective waythough I had already come to the same
conclusions from my own observations.
By the time that you discovered me upon the moor I had a
complete knowledge of the whole business, but I had not a case
which could go to a jury. Even Stapleton's attempt upon Sir Henry
that night which ended in the death of the unfortunate convict
did not help us much in proving murder against our man. There
seemed to be no alternative but to catch him red-handed, and to
do so we had to use Sir Henry, alone and apparently unprotected,
as a bait. We did so, and at the cost of a severe shock to our
client we succeeded in completing our case and driving Stapleton
to his destruction. That Sir Henry should have been exposed to
this is, I must confess, a reproach to my management of the case,
but we had no means of foreseeing the terrible and paralyzing
spectacle which the beast presented, nor could we predict the fog
which enabled him to burst upon us at such short notice. We
succeeded in our object at a cost which both the specialist and
Dr. Mortimer assure me will be a temporary one. A long journey
may enable our friend to recover not only from his shattered
nerves but also from his wounded feelings. His love for the lady
was deep and sincere, and to him the saddest part of all this
black business was that he should have been deceived by her.
It only remains to indicate the part which she had played
throughout. There can be no doubt that Stapleton exercised an
influence over her which may have been love or may have been
fearor very possibly bothsince they are by no means
incompatible emotions. It wasat leastabsolutely effective. At
his command she consented to pass as his sisterthough he found
the limits of his power over her when he endeavoured to make her
the direct accessory to murder. She was ready to warn Sir Henry
so far as she could without implicating her husbandand again
and again she tried to do so. Stapleton himself seems to have
been capable of jealousyand when he saw the baronet paying
court to the ladyeven though it was part of his own planstill
he could not help interrupting with a passionate outburst which
revealed the fiery soul which his self-contained manner so
cleverly concealed. By encouraging the intimacy he made it
certain that Sir Henry would frequently come to Merripit House
and that he would sooner or later get the opportunity which he
desired. On the day of the crisishoweverhis wife turned
suddenly against him. She had learned something of the death of
the convictand she knew that the hound was being kept in the
out-house on the evening that Sir Henry was coming to dinner. She
taxed her husband with his intended crimeand a furious scene
followedin which he showed her for the first time that she had
a rival in his love. Her fidelity turned in an instant to bitter
hatred and he saw that she would betray him. He tied her up
thereforethat she might have no chance of warning Sir Henry
and he hopedno doubtthat when the whole countryside put down
the baronet's death to the curse of his familyas they certainly
would dohe could win his wife back to accept an accomplished
fact and to keep silent upon what she knew. In this I fancy that
in any case he made a miscalculationand thatif we had not
been therehis doom would none the less have been sealed. A
woman of Spanish blood does not condone such an injury so
lightly. And nowmy dear Watsonwithout referring to my notes
I cannot give you a more detailed account of this curious case. I
do not know that anything essential has been left unexplained."
He could not hope to frighten Sir Henry to death as he had done
the old uncle with his bogie hound.
The beast was savage and half-starved. If its appearance did not
frighten its victim to death, at least it would paralyze the
resistance which might be offered.
No doubt. There only remains one difficulty. If Stapleton came
into the succession, how could he explain the fact that he, the
heir, had been living unannounced under another name so close to
the property? How could he claim it without causing suspicion and
It is a formidable difficulty, and I fear that you ask too much
when you expect me to solve it. The past and the present are
within the field of my inquiry, but what a man may do in the
future is a hard question to answer. Mrs. Stapleton has heard her
husband discuss the problem on several occasions. There were
three possible courses. He might claim the property from South
America, establish his identity before the British authorities
there and so obtain the fortune without ever coming to England at
all; or he might adopt an elaborate disguise during the short
time that he need be in London; or, again, he might furnish an
accomplice with the proofs and papers, putting him in as heir,
and retaining a claim upon some proportion of his income. We
cannot doubt from what we know of him that he would have found
some way out of the difficulty. And now, my dear Watson, we have
had some weeks of severe work, and for one evening, I think, we
may turn our thoughts into more pleasant channels. I have a box
for 'Les Huguenots.' Have you heard the De Reszkes? Might I
trouble you then to be ready in half an hour, and we can stop at
Marcini's for a little dinner on the way?