Chapter 1 Mr. Sherlock Holmes Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornin
Mr. Sherlock Holmes
Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the
mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was
up all night, was 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 fine, thick piece of wood,
bulbous-headed, of the sort which is known as a "Penang law-
yer." Just under the head was a broad silver band nearly an inch
across. "To James Mortimer, M.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
carry -- dignified, solid, and reassuring.
"Well, Watson, what do you make of it?"
Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and 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. "But, tell me, Watson, what do you make
of our visitor's stick? Since we have been so unfortunate as to
miss him and have no notion of his errand, this accidental
souvenir becomes of importance. Let me hear you reconstruct
the man by an examination of it."
"I think," said I, following as far as I could the methods of
my companion, "that Dr. Mortimer is a successful, elderly
medical man, well-esteemed since those who know him give
him this mark of their appreciation."
"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 it."
"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 Holmes, pushing
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 luminous, but
you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing
genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my
dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt."
He had never said as much before, and I must admit that his
words gave me keen pleasure, for 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 proud, too, to 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 cigarette, and
carrying the cane to the window, he 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
"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 in-
stance. 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
"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 ohe 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-surpeon 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 Mortimers, but 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 Compara-
tive Pathology, with essay entitled 'Is Disease a Reversion?'
Corresponding member of the Swedish Pathological Soci-
ety. 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
"No mention of that local hunt, Watson," said Holmes with a
mischievous smile, "but 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, unambi-
tious, 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
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 me, since I
had expected a typical country practitioner. He was a very tall,
thin man, with a long nose like a beak, which jutted out between
two keen, gray eyes, set closely together and sparkling brightly
from behind a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. He was clad in a
professional but rather slovenly fashion, for his frock-coat was
dingy and his trousers frayed. Though young, his long back was
already bowed, and 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 hand, and 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
"Dear, dear, that's bad!" said Holmes, shaking 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
Sherlock Holmes waved our strange visitor into a chair. "You
are an enthusiast in your line of thought, I perceive, sir, as 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 long, quivering fin-
gers as agile and restless as the antennae of an insect.
Holmes was silent, but his little darting glances showed me
the interest which he took in our curious companion.
"I presume, sir," said he at last, "that 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 prob-
lem. 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 Mon-
sieur 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 think, Dr. Mortimer, you
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 assistance."
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 Baskerville, whose 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 man, sir, shrewd, practical,
and as unimaginative as I am myself. Yet he took this document
very seriously, and 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 chair, placed his finger-tips to-
gether, and closed his eyes, with an air of resignation. Dr.
Mortimer turned the manuscript to the light and read in a high,
cracking voice the following curious, old-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 Basker-
ville was held by Hugo of that name, nor can it be gainsaid
that he was a most wild, profane, and godless man. This, in
truth, his neighbours might have pardoned, seeing that saints
have never flourished in those parts, but there was in him a
certain wanton and cruel humour which made his name a by-
word through the West. It chanced that this Hugo came to
love (if, indeed, so 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 maiden, being
discreet and of good repute, would ever avoid him, for she
feared his evil name. So it came to pass that one Michaelmas
this Hugo, with five or six of his idle and wicked compan-
ions, stole down upon the farm and carried off the maiden,
her father and brothers being from home, as he well knew.
When they had brought her to the Hall the maiden was
placed in an upper chamber, while Hugo and his friends sat
down to a long carouse, as was their nightly custom. Now,
the poor lass upstairs was like to have her wits turned at the
singing and shouting and terrible oaths which came up to
her from below, for they say that the words used by Hugo
Baskerville, when he was in wine, were 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 man, for by the aid of the growth of ivy which
covered (and still covers) the south wall she came down
from under the eaves, and so homeward across the moor,
there being three leagues betwixt the Hall and her father's
"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
"Now, for some space the revellers stood agape, unable
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 uproar, some calling for their pistols, some for
their horses, and some for another flask of wine. But at
length some sense came back to their crazed minds, and the
whole of them, thirteen in number, took horse and started in
pursuit. The moon shone clear above them, and they rode
swiftly abreast, taking 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 whim-
pering 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 before them.
"The company had come to a halt, more sober men, as
you may guess, than when they started. The most of them
would by no means advance, but three of them, the boldest,
or it may be the most drunken, rode forward down the
goyal. Now, it opened into a broad space in which stood two
of those great stones, still to be seen there, which were set
by certain forgotten peoples in the days of old. The moon
was shining bright upon the clearing, and there in the centre
lay the unhappy maid where she had fallen, dead of fear and
of fatigue. But it was not the sight of her body, nor yet was
it that of the body of Hugo Baskerviile lying near her,
which raised the hair upon the heads of these three dare-
devil roysterers, but it was that, standing over Hugo, and
plucking at his throat, there stood a foul thing, a great,
black beast, shaped like a hound, yet larger than any hound
that ever mortal eye has rested upon. And even as they
looked the thing tore the throat out of Hugo Baskerville, on
which, as it turned its blazing eyes and dripping jaws upon
them, the three shrieked with fear and rode for dear life,
still screaming, across the moor. One, it is said, died that
very night of what he had seen, and 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 for-
ever punish the innocent beyond that third or fourth genera-
tion 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
John, with instructions that they say nothing thereof to their
When Dr. Mortimer had finished reading this singular narra-
tive 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.
"Well?" said he.
"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 date."
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 amia-
bility 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 resi-
dence 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 country-
side 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 play, or to
imagine that death could be from any but natural causes. Sir
Charles was a widower, and 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 tastes,
and bis indoor servants at Baskerville Hall consisted of a mar-
ried couple named Barrymore, the husband acting as butler
and the wife as housekeeper. Their evidence, corroborated
by that of several friends, tends to show that Sir Charles's
health has for some time been impaired, and points espe-
cially to some affection of the heart, manifesting itself in
changes of colour, breathlessness, and acute attacks of ner-
vous depression. Dr. James Mortimer, the friend and medi-
cal attendant of the deceased, has given evidence to the
"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 evi-
dence of the Barrymores shows that this had been his
custom. On the fourth 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 foot-
marks were easily traced down the alley. Halfway 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 direction
they 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 expla-
nation 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 evi-
dence. 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 under-
stood 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 fortune."
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 Holmes, "for 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 back, put his
finger-tips together, and assumed his most impassive and judicial
"In doing so," said Dr. Mortimer, who had begun to show
signs of some strong emotion, "I 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 inhabited, and 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. Frankland, of Lafter Hall, and Mr. Stapleton, the naturalist,
there are no other men of education within many miles. Sir
Charles was a retiring man, but the chance of his illness brought
us together, and a community of interests in science kept us so.
He had brought back much scientific information from South
Africa, and 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 break-
ing 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 overhung
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 him, when I saw his eyes fix themselves over my
shoulder and 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 gone, however, and the
incident appeared to make the worst impression upon his mind. I
stayed with him all the evening, and it was on that occasion, to
explain the emotion which he had shown, that 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 followed, but I was convinced at
the time that the matter was entirely trivial and that his excite-
ment had no justification.
"It was at my advice that Sir Charles was about to go to
London. His heart was, I knew, affected, and the constant anxi-
ety 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 butler
who made the discovery, sent 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 alley, I saw the spot at the moor-gate
where he seemed to have waited, I remarked the change in the
shape of the prints after that point, I noted that there were no
other footsteps save those of Barrymore on the soft gravel, and
finally I carefully examined the body, which had not been touched
until my arrival. Sir Charles lay on his face, his arms out, his
fingers dug into the ground, and his features convulsed with
some strong emotion to such an extent that I could hardly have
sworn to his identity. TheFe 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
off, but fresh and clear."
"A man's or a woman's?"
Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and 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 hard, dry
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
"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
"You interest me exceedingly. Another point. Was the wicket-
"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 the marks?"
"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 interest, and one which presented immense opportu-
nities 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. Oh, Dr.
Mortimer, Dr. Mortimer, to 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 experi-
enced 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 super-
"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 evil, but to take on
the Father of Evil himself would, perhaps, be 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 now 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
countryside 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. Morti-
mer, 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 shirt-cuff and hurried off in his strange, peering, absent-
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 submined to us
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 evidence, constructed alter-
native theories, balanced one against the other, and 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 out, for the room was so filled with smoke that the light
of the lamp upon the table was blurred by it. As I entered,
however, my fears were set at rest, for 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,
"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 armchair 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 per-
ceive, 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 explanation."
"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
"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 house?"
"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 early, and Holmes waited in his
dressing-gown for the promised interview. Our clients were punc-
tual to their appointment, for the clock had just struck ten when
Dr. Mortimer was shown up, followed by the young baronet.
The latter was a small, alert, dark-eyed man about thirty years of
age, very sturdily built, with thick black eyebrows and a strong,
pugnacious 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 air, and yet there was something in his steady
eye and the quiet assurance of his bearing which indicated the
"This is Sir Henry Baskerville," said Dr. Mortimer.
"Why, yes," said he, "and 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 London?"
"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 table, and we all bent over it. It
was of common quality, grayish in colour. The address, "Sir
Henry Baskerville, Northumberland Hotel," was printed in rough
characters; the post-mark "Charing Cross," and the date of
posting the preceding evening.
"Who knew that you were going to the Northumberland Ho-
tel?" asked Holmes, glancing 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
"Hum! Someone seems to be very deeply interested in your
movements." Out of the envelope he took a half-sheet of fools-
cap 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 Baskerville, "perhaps 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 affairs."
"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 document, which must have been put together
and posted yesterday evening. Have you yesterday's Times,
"It is here in the corner."
"Might I trouble you for it -- the inside page, please, with the
leading articles?" He glanced swiftly over it, running 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 spe-
cial trade or your own industry will be encouraged by a
protective tariff, but it stands to reason that such legislation
must in the long run keep away wealth from the country,
diminish the value of our imports, and lower the general
conditions of life in this island.
"What do you think of that, Watson?" cried Holmes in high glee,
rubbing his hands together with satisfaction. "Don't you think
that is an admirable sentiment?"
Dr. Mortimer looked at Holmes with an air of professional
interest, and 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 this sentence."
"No, I confess that I see no connection."
"And yet, my dear Watson, there is so very close a connec-
tion 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. Mortimer, gazing 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
"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 obvi-
ous. 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 yester-
"So far as I can follow you, then, Mr. Holmes," said Sir
Henry Baskerville, "someone cut out this message with a
"Nail-scissors," said Holmes. "You can see that it was a
very short-bladed scissors, since 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 --"
"Gum," said Holmes.
"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
"Why, of course, that would explain it. Have you read any-
thing 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 from whom?"
"We are coming now rather into the region of guesswork,"
said Dr. Mortimer.
"Say, rather, into the region where we balance probabilities
and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagina-
tion, 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 hotel."
"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 foolscap, upon which the
words were pasted, holding it only an inch or two from his eyes.
"Nothing," said he, throwing it down. "It is a blank half-
sheet of paper, without even a water-mark upon it. I think we
have drawn as much as we can from this curious letter; and now,
Sir Henry, has 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 over
"You have lost one of your boots?"
"My dear sir," cried Dr. Mortimer, "it 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 Holmes, "however 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
"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 feet."
"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 decision, "it
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. Mortimer, I think you could not do better than to tell your
story as you told it to us."
Thus encouraged, our scientific friend drew his papers from
his pocket and presented the whole case as he had done upon the
morning before. Sir Henry Baskerville listened with the deepest
attention and with an occasional exclamation of surprise.
"Well, I seem to have come into an inheritance with a ven-
geance," said he when the long narrative was finished. "Of
course, I've heard of the hound ever since I was in the nursery.
It's the pet story of the family, though I never thought of taking
it seriously before. But as to my uncle's death -- well, it all
seems boiling up in my head, and 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 Holmes, "that 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
"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.
Now, look here, Mr. Holmes, it's half-past eleven now and I am
going back right away to my hotel.- Suppose you and your friend,
Dr. 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-
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 Oxford Street.
"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. Then, still keeping a hundred
yards behind, we followed into Oxford Street and so down
Regent Street. Once our friends stopped and stared into a shop
window, upon which Holmes did the same. An instant after-
wards he gave a little cry of satisfaction, and, following the
direction of his eager eyes, I saw that a hansom cab with a man
inside which had halted on the other side of the street was now
proceeding slowly onward again.
"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 up, something was
screamed to the driver, and the cab flew madly off down Regent
Street. Holmes looked eagerly round for another, but no-empty
one was in sight. Then he dashed in wild pursuit amid the stream
of the traffic, but the start was too great, and already the cab was
out of sight.
"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 management, too? Watson, Watson, if
you are an honest man you will record this also and set it against
"Who was the man?"
"I have not an idea."
"Well, it was evident from what we have heard that Basker-
ville 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 extraor-
dinary quickness and energy by our opponent, we have betrayed
ourselves and lost our man."
We had been sauntering slowly down Regent Street during this
conversation, and Dr. Mortimer, with his companion, had 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 offices, where 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 life."
"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 fourteen, with a bright, keen face, had 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, Cartwright, there are the names of twenty-three
hotels here, all 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 miscar-
ried 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 had, in a very remarkable degree, the power
of detaching his mind at will. For two hours the strange business
in which we had been involved appeared to be forgotten, and he
was entirely absorbed in the pictures of the modern Belgian
masters. He would talk of nothing but art, of which he had the
crudest ideas, from our leaving the gallery until we found our-
selves 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?"
"Not in the least."
The book showed that two names had been added after that of
Baskerville. One was Theophilus Johnson and family, of New-
castle; the other Mrs. Oldmore and maid, of High Lodge, Alton.
"Surely that must be the same Johnson whom I used to
know," said Holmes to the porter. "A lawyer, is he not, gray-
headed, and 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, Wat-
son," 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 are, as we have seen, very anxious to watch him, they
are equally anxious that he should not see them. Now, this is a
most suggestive fact."
"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 anger,
and he held an old and dusty boot in one of his hands. So furious
was he that he was hardly articulate, and 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 stafted in to monkey with the
wrong man unless they are careful. By thunder, if that chap can't
find my missing boot there will be trouble. I can take a joke with
the best, Mr. Holmes, but they've got a bit over the mark this
"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 leath-
ers, which I am wearing. Last night they took one of my brown
ones, and to-day 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
"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 Holmes thoughtfully.
"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 Holmes, "I 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.
Moftimer, 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 Baffymore?"
"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 way, Dr. Mortimer,
who is this Barrymore, anyhow?"
"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 Baskerville, "it'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 provi-
sions of his wlll."
"That is very interesting."
"I hope," said Dr. Mortimer, "that 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
"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 rich, but 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 million."
"Dear me! It is a stake for which a man might well play a
desperate game. And one more question, Dr. Mortimer. Suppos-
ing 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
"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."
"Is it 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 con-
sulting 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 black-
mailer, 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 surprise, but before I
had time to answer, Baskerville seized me by the hand and
wrung it heartily.
"Well, now, that is real kind of you, Dr. Watson," said he.
"You see how it is with me, and 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 me,
and 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 comes, as it will do, I 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 ten-thirty train from Paddington."
We had risen to depart when Baskerville gave a cry, of 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
The German was sent for but professed to know nothing of the
matter, nor 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 death, we had a line
of inexplicable incidents all within the limits of two days, which
included the receipt of the printed letter, the black-bearded spy in
the hansom, the loss of the new brown boot, the loss of the old
black boot, and now the return of the new brown boot. Holmes
sat in silence in the cab as we drove back to Baker Street, and I
knew from his drawn brows and keen face that his mind, like my
own, was 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.
Visited twenty-three hotels as directed, but sorry, to report
unable to trace cut sheet of Times.
"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 haw 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 satis-
factory than an answer, however, for 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 No. 2704," 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
"I have nothing in the world against you, my good man,"
said Holmes. "On the contrary, I 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 cabman
with a grin. "What was it you wanted to ask, sir?"
"First of all your name and address, in case I want you
"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. "Why
there's no good my telling you things, for 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 to anyone."
"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. "Oh, he men-
tioned his name, did he? That was imprudent. What was the
name that he mentioned?"
"His name," said the cabman, "was 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 Holmes, was 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 here."
"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 halfway 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. "Well, he wasn't altogether
such an easy gentleman to describe. I'd put him at forty years of
age, and he was of a middle height, two or three inches shorter
than you, sir. He was dressed like a toff, and he had a black
beard, cut square at the end, and 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-night, sir, and thank you!"
John Clayton departed chuckling, and 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 day, and 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 suspi-
cions, Watson," said he; "I wish you simply to report facts in
the fullest possible manner to me, and you can leave me to do
"What sort of facts?" I asked.
"Anything which may seem to have a bearing however indi-
rect upon the case, and especially the relations between young
Baskerville and his neighbours or any fresh particulars concern-
ing 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 ofl 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 thing, and
that is that we have not been shadowed during the last two days.
We have never gone out without keeping a sharp watch, and 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 Holmes, shaking his
head and looking very grave. "I beg, Sir Henry, that 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 mind, Sir
Henry, one of the phrases in that queer old legend which Dr.
Mortimer has read to us and avoid the moor in those hours of
darkness when the powers of evil are exalted."
I looked back at the plafform when we had left it far behind
and saw the tall, austere figure of Holmes standing motionless
and gazing after us.
The journey was a swift and pleasant one, and 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 ruddy, the brick had changed to
granite, and red cows grazed in well-hedged fields where the
lush grasses and more luxuriant vegetation spoke of a richer, if a
damper, climate. Young Baskerville stared eagerly out of the
window and cried aloud with delight as he recognized the famil-
ar 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
"l never saw a Devonshire man who did not swear by his
county," I remarked.
"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 Celt, which carries inside it the
Celtic enthusiasm and power of attachment. Poor Sir Charles's
head was of a very rare type, half Gaelic, half Ivernian in its
characteristics. But you were very young when you last saw
Baskerville Hall, were 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. Mortimer, pointing out of the
Over the green squares of the fields and the low curve of a
wood there rose in the distance a gray, melancholy hill, with a
strange jagged summit, dim and vague in the distance, like some
fantastic landscape in a dream. Baskerville sat for a long time
his eyes fixed upon it, and I read upon his eager face how much
it meant to him, this 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 sat, with his tweed suit and his American accent, in the
corner of a prosaic railway-carriage, and 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-blooded, fiery, and
masterful men. There were pride, valour, and strength in his
thick brows, his sensitive nostrils, and his large hazel eyes. If on
that forbidding moor a difficult and dangerous quest should lie
before us, this 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. Outside, beyond the low, white fence, a wagonette
with a pair of cobs was waiting. Our coming was evidently a
great event, for station-master and porters clustered round us to
carry out our luggage. It was a sweet, simple country spot, but I
was surprised to observe that by the gate there stood two sol-
dierly men in dark uniforms who leaned upon their short rifles
and glanced keenly at us as we passed. The coachman, a hard-
faced, gnarled little fellow, saluted Sir Henry Baskerville, and in
a few minutes we were flying swiftly down the broad, white
road. Rolling pasture lands curved upward on either side of us,
and old gabled houses peeped out from amid the thick green
foliage, but behind the peaceful and sunlit countryside there rose
ever, dark against the evening sky, the long, gloomy curve of the
moor, broken by the jagged and sinister hills.
The wagonette swung round into a side road, and we curved
upward through deep lanes worn by centuries of wheels, high
banks on either side, heavy with dripping moss and fleshy
hart's-tongue ferns. Bronzing bracken and mottled bramble gleamed
in the light of the sinking sun. Still steadily rising, we passed
over a narrow granite bridge and skirted a noisy stream which
gushed swiftly down, foaming and roaring amid the gray boul-
ders. Both road and stream wound up through a valley dense
with scrub oak and fir. At every turn Baskerville gave an excla-
mation of delight, looking eagerly about him and asking count-
less questions. To his eyes all seemed beautiful, but to me a
tinge of melancholy lay upon the countryside, which 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 gifts, as it seemed to me, for Nature to throw before the
carriage of the returning heir of the Baskervilles.
"Halloa!" cried Dr. Mortimer, "what is this?"
A steep curve of heath-clad land, an outlying spur of the
moor, lay in front of us. On the summit, hard and clear like an
equestrian statue upon its pedestal, was a mounted soldier, dark
and stern, his 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 at
"Who is he, then?"
"It is Selden, the Notting Hill murderer."
I remembered the case well, for 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 sanity, so atrocious was
his conduct. Our wagonette had topped a rise and in front of us
rose the huge expanse of the moor, mottled with gnarled and
craggy caims and tors. A cold wind swept down from it and set
us shivering. Somewhere there, on that desolate plain, was
lurking this fiendish man, hiding in a burrow like a wild beast,
his heart full of malignancy against the whole race which had
cast him out. It needed but this to complete the grim suggestive-
ness of the barren waste, the chilling wind, and 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 now, the 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 slopes, sprinkled with giant boulders. Now and then we
passed a moorland cottage, walled and roofed with stone, with
no creeper to break its harsh outline. Suddenly we looked down
into a cuplike depression, patched with stunted oaks and fus
which had been twisted and bent by the fury of years of storm.
Two high, narrow towers rose over the trees. The driver pointed
with his whip.
"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 iron, with weather-
bitten pillars on either side, blotched with lichens, and summounted
by the boars' heads of the Baskervilles. The lodge was a ruin of
black granite and bared ribs of rafters, but facing it was a new
building, half constructed, the first fruit of Sir Charles's South
Through the gateway we passed into the avenue, where the
wheels were again hushed amid the leaves, and the old trees shot
their branches in a sombre tunnel.over our heads. Baskerville
shuddered as he looked up the long, dark 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 again, with a thousand candle-
power Swan and Edison right here in front of the hall door."
The avenue opened into a broad expanse of turf, and 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 ivy, with 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 towers, ancient,
crenellated, and 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 windows, and from the
high chimneys which rose from the steep, high-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 silhouet-
ted 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 hall, and the door clanged heavily behind us. It
was a fine apartment in which we found ourselves, large, lofty,
and heavily raftered with huge baulks 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 it, for we were numb from our long drive. Then we
gazed round us at the high, thin window of old stained glass, the
oak panelling, the stags' heads, the 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 stood, but 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 man,
tall, handsome, with a square black beard and pale, distinguished
"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
"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
"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 your rooms."
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 building, from 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 house, and
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 heads, with 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
banquet, it might have softened; but now, when two black-
clothed gentlemen sat in the little circle of light thrown by a
shaded lamp, one's voice became hushed and one's spirit sub-
dued. A dim line of ancestors, in every variety of dress, from the
Elizabethan knight to the buck of the Regency, stared down upon
us and daunted us by their silent company. We talked little, and 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 it, but 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. However, if it
suits you, we will retire early to-night, and 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. Beyond, two 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 rocks, and the long, low curve of the melancholy moor.
I closed the curtain, feeling that my last impression was in
keeping with the rest.
And yet it was not quite the last. I found myself weary and yet
wakeful, tossing restlessly from side to side, seeking for the
sleep which would not come. Far away a chiming clock struck
out the quarters of the hours, but otherwise a deathly silence lay
upon the old house. And then suddenly, in the very dead of the
night, there came a sound to my ears, clear, resonant, and
unmistakable. It was the sob of a woman, the muffled, strangling
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 alert, but 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 windows, throwing watery patches of
colour from the coats of arms which covered them. The dark
panelling glowed like bronze in the golden rays, and 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 drive, so we took a gray view of the place. Now
we are fresh and well, so it is all cheerful once more."
"And yet it was not entirely a question of imagination," I
answered. "Did you, for example, happen to hear someone, a
woman I think, sobbing 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 it, for it chanced that after breakfast I
met Mrs. Barrymore in the long corridor with the sun full upon
her face. She was a large, impassive, heavy-featured woman
with a stern set expression of mouth. But her telltale eyes were
red and glanced at me from between swollen lids. It was she,
then, who wept in the night, and 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-faced, handsome,
black-bearded man there was gathering an atmosphere of mys-
tery and of gloom. It was he who had been the first to discover
the body of Sir Charles, and 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 man, but
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 postmaster and find whether the test telegram
had really been placed in Barrymore's own hands. Be the answer
what it might, I should at least have something to report to
Sir Henry had numerous papers to examine after breakfast, so
that the time was propitious for my excursion. It was a pleasant
walk of four miles along the edge of the moor, leading me at last
to a small gray hamlet, in which two larger buildings, which
proved to be the inn and the house of Dr. Mortimer, stood high
above the rest. The postmaster, who was also the village grocer,
had a clear recollection of the telegram.
"Certainly, sir," said he, "I 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 farther, but it was
clear that in spite of Holmes's ruse we had no proof that Barry-
more 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 alive, and 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 Henry, that 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 prayed, as I walked back
along the gray, lonely road, that 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 run-
ning feet behind me and by a voice which called me by name. I
turned, expecting to see Dr. Mortimer, but to my surprise it was
a stranger who was pursuing me. He was a small, slim, clean-
shaven, prim-faced man, flaxen-haired and leanjawed, between
thirty and forty years of age, dressed 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 he as he came panting up to where I stood. "Here on the
moor we are homely folk and do not wait for formal introduc-
tions. You may possibly have heard my name from our mutual
friend, Mortimer. I am Stapleton, of Merripit House."
"Your net and box would have told me as much," said I,
"for I knew that Mr. Stapleton was a naturalist. But how did you
"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 countryside. 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 family?"
"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 smile, but I
seemed to read in his eyes that he took the matter more seri-
ously. "The story took a great hold upon the imagination of Sir
Charles, and 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 instant but 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 here, and you could not celebrate him without being known
yourself. When Mortimer told me your name he could not deny
your identity. If you are here, then it follows that Mr. Sherlock
Holmes is interesting himself in the matter, and 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 himsel?"
"He cannot leave town at present. He has other cases which
engage his attention."
"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 intrusion, and 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 cliff, with ferns and brambles growing
in its niches. From over a distant rise there floated a gray plume
"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 invitation, and
we turned together down the path.
"It is a wonderful place, the moor," said he, looking round
over the undulating downs, long green rollers, with 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 vast, and so barren, and so mysterious."
"You know it well, then?"
"I have only been here two years. The residents would call
me a newcomer. 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-hole, but it
sucked him down at last. Even in dry seasons it is a danger to
cross it, but 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
George, there is another of those miserable ponies!"
Something brown was rolling and tossing among the green
sedges. Then a long, agonized, writhing neck shot upward and a
dreadful cry echoed over the moor. It turned me cold with
horror, but my companion's nerves seemed to be stronger than
"It's gone!" said he. "The mire has him. Two in two days,
and many more, perhaps, for they get in the way of going there
in the dry weather and never know the difference until the mire
has them in its clutches. It's a bad place, the great Grimpen
"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 long, low moan, indescribably sad, swept over the moor. It
filled the whole air, and yet it was impossible to say whence it
came. From a dull murmur it swelled into a deep roar, and then
sank back into a melancholy, throbbing 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 round, with a chill of fear in my heart, at the huge
swelling plain, mottled with the green patches of rushes. Nothing
stirred over the vast expanse save a pair of ravens, which 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
"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
stone, a 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 path, and 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 mire, and my acquaintance never paused for an
instant, bounding from tuft to tuft behind it, his green net waving
in the air. His gray clothes and jerky, zigzag, irregular progress
made him not unlike some huge moth himself. I was standing
watching his pursuit with a mixture of admiration for his extraor-
dinary activity and fear lest he should lose his footing in the
treacherous mire when I heard the sound of steps and, 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 House, but the dip of the moor had hid her
until she was quite close.
I could not doubt that this was the Miss Stapleton of whom I
had been told, since 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
that, and of a most uncommon type. There could not have been a
greater contrast between brother and sister, for Stapleton was
neutral tinted, with light hair and gray eyes, while she was
darker than any brunette whom I have seen in England -- slim,
elegant, and tall. She had a proud, finely cut face, so regular that
it might have seemed impassive were it not for the sensitive
mouth and the beautiful dark, eager eyes. With her perfect figure
and elegant dress she was, indeed, a strange apparition upon a
lonely moorland path. Her eyes were on her brother as I turned,
and then she quickened her pace towards me. I had raised my hat
and was about to make some explanatory remark when her own
words turned all my thoughts into a new channel.
"Go back!" she said. "Go straight back to London, instantly."
I could only stare at her in stupid surprise. Her eyes blazed at
me, and she tapped the ground impatiently with her foot.
"Why should I go back?" I asked.
"I cannot explain." She spoke in a low, eager voice, with 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! Hush, my brother is coming! Not a
word of what I have said. Would you mind getting that orchid
for me among the mare's-tails yonder? We are very rich in
orchids on the moor, though, of course, you 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 he, and 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 unconcernedly, but 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 commoner, but 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.
"Why, you 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 on,
will you not, and see Merripit House?"
A short walk brought us to it, a bleak moorland house, once
the farm of some grazier in the old prosperous days, but now put
into repair and turned into a modern dwelling. An orchard
surrounded it, but the trees, as is usual upon the moor, were
stunted and nipped, and the effect of the whole place was mean
and melancholy. We were admitted by a strange, wizened, rusty-
coated old manservant, who seemed in keeping with the house.
Inside, however, there were large rooms furnished with an ele-
gance in which I seemed to recognize 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
happy, do we not, Beryl?"
"Quite happy," said she, but there was no ring of conviction
in her words.
"I had a school," said Stapleton. "It was in the north coun-
try. The work to a man of my temperament was mechanical and
uninteresting, but the privilege of living with youth, of helping
to mould those young minds, and of impressing them with one's
own character and ideals was very dear to me. However, the
fates were against us. A serious epidemic broke out in the school
and three of the boys died. It never recovered from the blow, and
much of my capital was irretrievably swallowed up. And yet, if
it were not for the loss of the charming companionship of the
boys, I could rejoice over my own misfortune, for, with my
strong tastes for botany and zoology, I find an unlimited field of
work here, and my sister is as devoted to Nature as I am. All
this, Dr. Watson, has 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 she quickly.
"We have books, we have our studies, and we have interest-
ing 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 surround-
ings. 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 moor, the death of the unfortunate pony, the weird sound
which had been associated with the grim legend of the Basker-
villes, all 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 Stapleton, delivered
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 lunch, and I set off at once upon my return journey, taking
the grass-grown path by which we had come.
It seems, however, that there must have been some short cut
for those who knew it, for 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 exertions
and 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 said, which have no application
whatever to you."
"But I can't forget them, Miss Stapleton," said I. "I am Sir
Henry's friend, and 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 do."
"No, no. I remember the thrill in your voice. I remembe 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
face, but 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 intimately, for his favourite walk
was over the moor to our house. He was deeply impressed with
the curse which hung over the family, and 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 here, and 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 informa-
tion 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 go 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 boulders,
while I, with my soul full of vague fears, pursued 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 missing, but otherwise they
are exactly as written and show my feelings and suspicions of the
moment more accurately than my memory, clear as it is upon
these tragic events, can possibly do.
Baskerville Hall, October 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 soul, its vastness, and 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 folk, with 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 hillsides you
leave your own age behind you, and if you were to see a
skin-clad, hairy man crawl out from the low door fitting a
flint-tipped arrow on to the string of his bow, you wouid 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 occupy.
All this, however, is 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 me, therefore, return 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 occurred, which I shall tell
you in due course. But, first of all, I must keep you in touch
with some of the other factors in the situation.
One of these, concerning which I have said little, is the
escaped convict upon the moor. There is strong reason now to
believe that he has got right away, which is a considerable relief
to the lonely householders of this district. A fortnight has passed
since his flight, during 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 course, so
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 think, therefore, that he has gone, and the
outlying farmers sleep the better in consequence.
We are four able-bodied men in this household, so that we
could take good care of ourselves, but I confess that I have had
uneasy moments when I have thought of the Stapletons. They
live miles from any help. There are one maid, an old manser-
vant, the sister, and the brother, the latter not a very strong man.
They would be helpless in the hands of a desperate fellow like
this Notting Hill criminal if he could once effect an entrance.
Both Sir Henry and I were concerned at their situation, and 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 friend, the baronet, begins to display a
considerable interest in our fair neighbour. It is not to be won-
dered at, for time hangs heavily in this lonely spot to an active
man like him, and 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 her, for 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 eyes and a
firm set of his thin lips, which goes with a positive and possibly
a harsh nature. You would find him an interesting study.
He came over to call upon Baskerville on that first day, and
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
open, grassy space flecked over with the white cotton grass. In
the middle of it rose two great stones, worn 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 lightly, but it was evident that he was
very much in earnest. Stapleton was guarded in his replies, but it
was easy to see that he said less than he might, and that he
would not express his whole opinion out of consideration for the
feelings of the baronet. He told us of similar cases, where
families had suffered from some evil influence, and he left us
with the impression that he shared the popular view upon the
On our way back we stayed for lunch at Merripit House, and 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 her, and I am much mistaken if the feeling was not
mutual. He referred to her again and again on our walk home,
and since then hardly a day has passed that we have not seen
something of the brother and sister. They dine here to-night, and
there is some talk of our going to them next week. One would
imagine that such a match would be very welcome to Stapleton,
and 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 her, no doubt, and
would lead a lonely life without her, but 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 love, and I have several times
observed that he has taken pains to prevent them from being
tete-a-tete. By the way, your 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 other day -- Thursday, to be more exact -- Dr. Mortimer
lunched with us. He has been excavating a barrow at Long Down
and 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 afterwards, and the good doctor took us all to
the yew alley at Sir Henry's request to show us exactly how
everything occurred upon that fatal night. It is a long, dismal
walk, the yew alley, between two high walls of clipped hedge,
with a narrow band of grass upon either side. At the far end is an
old tumble-down summer-house. Halfway down is the moor-
gate, where 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 moor, something which terrified him so that
he lost his wits and ran and ran until he died of sheer horror and
exhaustion. There was the long, gloomy tunnel down which he
fled. And from what? A sheep-dog of the moor? Or a spectral
hound, black, silent, and 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 vague, but always there is
the dark shadow of crime behind it.
One other neighbour I have met since I wrote last. This is Mr.
Frankland, of Lafter Hall, who lives some four miles to the south
of us. He is an elderly man, red-faced, white-haired, and cho-
leric. His passion is for the British law, and 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 question, so that it
is no wonder that he has found it a costly amusement. Some-
times 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 immemorial, defying the owner to prosecute him for
trespass. He is learned in old manorial and communal rights, and
he applies his knowledge sometimes in favour of the villagers of
Fernworthy and sometimes against them, so that he is periodi-
cally either carried in triumph down the village street or else
burned in effigy, according to his latest exploit. He is said to
have about seven lawsuits upon his hands at present, which 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 kindly, good-natured person, and I only mention
him because you were particular that I should send some descrip-
tion of the people who surround us. He is curiously employed at
present, for, being an amateur astronomer, he has an excellent
telescope, with 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 well, but there are rumours that he intends to prosecute
Dr. Mortimer for opening a grave without the consent of the next
of kin because 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 now, having brought you up to date in the escaped
convict, the Stapletons, Dr. Mortimer, and Frankland, of Lafter
Hall, let me end on that which is most important and tell you
more about the Barrymores, and especially about the surprising
development of last night.
First of all about the test telegram, which 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 stood, and he
at once, in his downright fashion, had 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
Barrymore looked surprised, and considered for a little time.
"No," said he, "I 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
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 wardrobe, the
London outfit having now all arrived.
Mrs. Barrymore is of interest to me. She is a heavy, solid
person, very limited, intensely respectable, and inclined to be
puritanical. You could hardly conceive a less emotional subject.
Yet I have told you how, on the first night here, I heard her
sobbing bitterly, and 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 her, and sometimes I suspect Barrymore of being a
domestic tyrant. I have always felt that there was something
singular and questionable in this man's character, but the adven-
ture 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 sleeper, and since I have been on
guard in this house my slumbers have been lighter than ever.
Last night, about two in the morning, I was aroused by a stealthy
step passing my room. I rose, opened my door, and 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 trousers, with no
covering to his feet. I could merely see the outline, but his height
told me that it was Barrymore. He walked very slowly and
circumspectly, and there was something indescribably guilty and
furtive in his whole appearance.
I have told you that the corridor is broken by the balcony
which runs round the hall, but 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 corridor, and I could see from the glimmer
of light through an open door that he had entered one of the
rooms. Now, all these rooms are unfurnished and unoccupied so
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 the door.
Barrymore was crouching at the window with the candle held
against the glass. His profile was half turned towards me, and 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
room, and 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
guess, but 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 theories, for you asked me to furnish
you only with facts. I have had a long talk with Sir Henry this
morning, and we have made a plan of campaign founded upon
my observations of last night. I will not speak about it just now,
but it should make my next report interesting reading.
Second Report of Dr. Watson
THE LIGHT UPON THE MOOR
Baskerville Hall, Oct. 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 time, and that events are now crowding thick
and fast upon us. In my last report I ended upon my top note
with Barrymore at the window, and now I have quite a budget
already which will, unless I am much mistaken, considera-
bly 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 Barry-
more had been on the-night before. The western window through
which he had stared so intently has, I noticed, one peculiarity
above all other windows in the house -- it commands the nearest
outlook on to the moor. There is an opening between two trees
which enables one from this point of view to look right down
upon it, while from all the other windows it is only a distant
glimpse which can be obtained. It follows, therefore, that Barry-
more, since only this window would serve the purpose, must
have been looking out for something or somebody upon the
moor. The night was very dark, so 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 fellow, very well
equipped to steal the heart of a country girl, so that this theory
seemed to have something to support it. That opening of the door
whlch 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 morning, and I tell you the direction
of my suspicions, however much the result may have shown that
they were unfounded.
But whatever the true explanation of Barrymore's movements
might be, I 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 breakfast, and 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 hls steps in the passage, coming and going, just about
the hour you name."
"Perhaps then he pays a visit every night to that particular
window," I suggested.
"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 pleasure, and 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 Charles, and with a contractor from
London, so that we may expect great changes to begin here
soon. There have been decorators and furnishers up from Plym-
outh, and it is evident that our friend has large ideas and means
to spare no pains or expense to restore the grandeur of his
family. When the house is renovated and refurnished, all 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 willing, for I have seldom seen a man more infatuated
with a woman than he is with our beautiful neighbour, Miss
Stapleton. And yet the course of true love does not run quite as
smoothly as one would under the circumstances expect. To-day,
for example, its surface was broken by a very unexpected ripple,
which has caused our friend considerable perplexity and annoyance.
After the conversation which I have quoted about Barrymore,
Sir 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 asked, looking at me in
a curious way.
"That depends on whether you are going on the moor," said
"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 moor."
Sir Henry put his hand upon my shoulder with a pleasant
"My dear fellow," said he, "Holmes, 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 alone."
It put me in a most awkward position. I was at a loss what to
say or what to do, and 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 him, so I set off at once in the direction of
I hurried along the road at the top of my speed without seeing
anything of Sir Henry, until I came to the point where the moor
path branches off. There, fearing that perhaps I had come in the
wrong direction after all, I 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 path
about a quarter of a mile off, and 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 ap-
pointment. They were walking slowly along in deep conversa-
tion, and I saw her making quick little movements of her hands
as if she were very earnest in what she was saying, while he
listened intently, and once or twice shook his head in strong
dissent. I stood among the rocks watching them, very much
puzzled as to what I should do next. To follow them and break
into their intimate conversation seemed to be an outrage, and 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. Still, I could see
no better course than to observe him from the hill, and 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 use, and yet I am sure that you will agree with
me that the position was very difficult, and that there was
nothing more which I could do.
Our friend, Sir Henry, and the lady had halted on the path and
were standing deeply absorbed in their conversation, when I was
suddenly aware that I was not the only witness of their interview.
A wisp of green floating in the air caught my eye, and 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 her, but it seemed to me that she was straining away from
him with her face averted. He stooped his head to hers, and 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 them, his absurd net
dangling behind him. He gesticulated and almost danced with
excitement in front of the lovers. What the scene meant I could
not imagine, but it seemed to me that Stapleton was abusing Sir
Henry, who offered explanations, which 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 sister, who, after an irresolute glance at
Sir Henry, walked off by the side of her brother. The naturalist's
angry gestures showed that the lady was included in his displea-
sure. The baronet stood for a minute looking after them, and
then he walked slowly back the way that he had come, his head
hanging, the very picture of dejection.
What all this meant I could not imagine, but 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 wrinkled, like one who is at his wit's ends what to
"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 behind, how I had followed him, and how I had
witnessed all that had occurred. For an instant his eyes blazed at
me, but my frankness disarmed his anger, and 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 he, "but, 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 seat?"
"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 straitjacket. 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, consider-
ing 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 explanations, but, indeed, I was completely
puzzled myself. Our friend's title, his fortune, his age, his
character, and his appearance are all in his favour, and I know
nothing against him unless it be this dark fate which runs in his
family. That his advances should be rejected so brusquely with-
out any reference to the lady's own wishes and that the lady
should accept the situation without protest is 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 morning, and after a long private interview
with Sir Henry in his study the upshot of their conversation was
that the breach is quite healed, and 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 skein, the mystery of
the sobs in the night, of the tear-stained face of Mrs. Barrymore,
of the secret journey of the butler to the western lattice window.
Congratulate me, my dear Holmes, and tell me that I have not
disappointed you as an agent -- that you do not regret the confi-
dence 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 untii 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 tiptoed 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. Some-
times it seemed impossible that he should fail to hear our ap-
proach. 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 here, Barrymore?"
"Nothing, sir." His agitation was so great that he could
hardly speak, and the shadows sprang up and down from the
shaking of his candle. "It was the window, sir. 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 Henry sternly, "we have
made up our minds to have the truth out of you, so it will save
you trouble to tell it sooner rather than later. Come, now! No
lies! What were you doing at that window??'
The fellow looked at us in a helpless way, and 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
"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
A sudden idea occurred to me, and 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 done, and stared
out into the darkness of the night. Vaguely I could discern the
black bank of the trees and the lighter expanse of the moor, for
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 veil, and 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 you, sir --"
"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 confeder-
ate 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 against me."
"No, no, sir; no, not against you!" It was a woman's voice,
and Mrs. Barrymore, paler 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 it, and you will see that if there was a plot it was not
This, then, was 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 open, and 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
community, an unmitigated scoundrel for whom there was nei-
ther 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 nature, others would have to pay the price if
we held our hands. Any night, for example, our neighbours the
Stapletons might be attacked by him, and 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 door, starting upon our
expedition. We hurried through the dark shrubbery, amid 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 instant, but
clouds were driving over the face of the sky, and just as we came
out on the moor a thin rain began to fall. The light still burned
steadily in front.
"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 baronet, "what would Holmes say
to this? How about that hour of darkness in which the power of
evil is exalted?"
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 night, a long, deep mutter
then a rising howl, and then the sad moan in which it died away.
Again and again it sounded, the whole air throbbing with it,
strident, wild, and 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 away, and an absolute silence closed in upon us. We
stood straining our ears, but nothing came.
"Watson," said the baronet, "it was the cry of a hound."
My blood ran cold in my veins, for 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 countryside."
"Oh, they are ignorant people. Why should you mind what
they call it?"
"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 said at last, "but 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 darkness, with the black
loom of the craggy hills around us, and the yellow speck of light
burning steadily in front. There is nothing so deceptive as the
distance of a light upon a pitch-dark night, and 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 came, and 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 visible, save in the direction of
Baskerville Hall. A boulder of granite concealed our approach,
and 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 moor, with 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 rocks, in the crevice of which the candle burned,
there was thrust out an evil yellow face, a terrible animal face,
all seamed and scored with vile passions. Foul with mire, with a
bristling beard, and hung with matted hair, it 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
darkness like 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 give, or the fellow may have had some other reason
for thinking that all was not well, but 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 therefore, and 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
short, squat, strongly built 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 hill,
and there was our man running with great speed down the other
side, springing over the stones in his way with the activity of a
mountain goat. A lucky long shot of my revolver might have
crippled him, but I had brought it only to defend myself if
attacked and not to shoot an unarmed man who was running
We were both swift runners and in fairly good training, but we
soon found that we had no chance of overtaking 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 blown, but
the space between us grew ever wider. Finally we stopped and
sat panting on two rocks, while we watched him disappearing in
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 home, having abandoned the hopeless chase. The
moon was low upon the right, and the jagged pinnacle of a
granite tor stood up against the lower curve of its silver disc.
There, outlined as black as an ebony statue on that shining
background, I saw the figure of a man upon the tor. Do not think
that it was a delusion, Holmes. I assure you that I have never in
my life seen anything more clearly. As far as I could judge, the
figure was that of a tall, thin man. He stood with his legs a little
separated, his arms folded, his head bowed, as 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. Besides, he was a much
taller man. With a cry of surprise I pointed him out to the
baronet, but 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 moon, but its peak bore no
trace of that silent and motionless figure.
I wished to go in that direction and to search the tor, but it was
some distance away. The baronet's nerves were still quivering
from that cry, which recalled the dark story of his family, and 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 warder, no doubl," said he. "The moor has been thick with
them since this fellow escaped." Well, perhaps his explanation
may be the right one, but 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 man, but 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
night, and you must acknowledge, my dear Holmes, that I have
done you very well in the matter of a report. Much of what I tell
you is no doubt quite irrelevant, but 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 conclusilons. We are certainly making some prog-
ress. So far as the Barrymores go we have found the motive of
their actions, and that has cleared up the situation very much.
But the moor with its mysteries and its strange inhabitants re-
mains 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 few days.
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, however, I have arrived at a point in my narrative where I
am compelled to abandon this method and to trust once more to
my recollections, aided 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, then, from the morning which followed our abortive
chase of the convict and our other strange experiences upon the
October 16th. A dull and foggy day with a drizzle of rain. The
house is banked in with rolling clouds, which rise now and then
to show the dreary curves of the moor, with thin, silver veins
upon the sides of the hills, and 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 dan-
ger, 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 Hall, fulfilling so exactly the conditions of
the family legend, and there are the repeated reports from peas-
ants of the appearance of a strange creature upon the moor.
Twice I have with my own ears heard the sound which resem-
bled the distant baying of a hound. It is incredible, impossible,
that 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 superstition, and Mortimer also, but if I have one
quality upon earth it is common sense, and nothing will persuade
me to believe in such a thing. To do so would be to descend to
the level of these poor peasants, who 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 facts, and 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 concealed, where
did it get its food, where did it come from, how was it that no
one saw it by day? It must be confessed that the natural explana-
tion offers almost as many difficulties as the other. And always,
apart from the hound, there is the fact of the human agency in
London, the man in the cab, and the letter which warned Sir
Henry against the moor. This at least was real, but 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 London,
or 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 him, and yet
there are some things to which I am ready to swear. He is no one
whom I have seen down here, and I have now met all the
neighbours. The figure was far taller than that of Stapleton, far
thinner than that of Frankland. Barrymore it might possibly have
been, but we had left him behind us, and 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 man, then 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 ta 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 anxieties, but 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 Henry, and they were closeted in
his study some little time. Sitting in the billiard-room I more
than once heard the sound of voices raised, and 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 he, of his own free will, had told us the secret."
The butler was standing very pale but very collected before us.
"I may have spoken too warmly, sir," said he, "and 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 baronet, "you 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 scat-
tered 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 untill 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
"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 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 was hiding."
"That is true," said Sir Henry. "Well, Barrymore --"
"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 turned, but 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 died?"
"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
"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 lettefs in the same
"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 important information."
"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. "Well, Watson, what do you
think of this new light?"
"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 late, for the notes which I had from Baker
Street were few and short, with no comments upon the informa-
tion which I had supplied and hardly any reference to my mis-
sion. 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 down, rustling
on the ivy and dripping from the eaves. I thought of the convict
out upon the bleak, cold, shelterless moor. Poor devil! Whatever
his crimes, he has suffered something to atone for them. And
then I thought of that other one -- the face in the cab, the figure
against the moon. Was he also out in that deluged -- the unseen
watcher, the man of darkness? In the evening I put on my
waterproof and I walked far upon the sodden moor, full of dark
imaginings, the rain beating upon my face and the wind whis-
tling 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 watcher,
and from its craggy summit I looked out myself across the
melancholy downs. Rain squalls drifted across their russet face,
and the heavy, slate-coloured clouds hung low over the land-
scape, trailing in gray wreaths down the sides of the fantastic
hills. In the distant hollow on the left, half hidden by the mist,
the two thin towers of Baskerville Hall rose above the trees.
They were the only signs of human life which I could see, save
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
us, and 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-cart, and 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 might, but I thought of the pony on the
Grimpen Mire, and I do not fancy that he will see his little dog
"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 L. L.?"
He thought for a few minutes.
"No," said he. "There are a few gipsies and labouring folk
for whom I can't answer, but 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 per-
haps 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 inquiries, but I managed
to satisfy his curiosity without telling him too much, for there is
no reason why we should take anyone into our confidence.
To-morrow morning I shall find my way to Coombe Tracey, and
if I can see this Mrs. Laura Lyons, of equivocal reputation, a
long step will have been made towards clearing one incident in
this chain of mysteries. I am certainly developing the wisdom of
the serpent, for when Mortimer pressed his questions to an
inconvenient extent I asked him casually to what type Frank-
land's skull belonged, and so heard nothing but craniology for
the rest of our drive. I have not lived for years with Sherlock
Holmes for nothing.
I have only one other incident to record upon this tempestuous
and melancholy day. This was my conversation with Barrymore
just now, which gives me one more strong card which I can play
in due time.
Mortimer had stayed to dinner, and he and the baronet played
ecarte afterwards. The butler brought me my coffee into the
library, and I took the chance to ask him a few questions.
"Well," said I, "has 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
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
Barrymore hesitated for a moment, as if he regretted his
outburst or found it difficult to express his own feelings in
"It's all these goings-on, sir," he cried at last, waving his
hand towards the rain-lashed window which faced the moor.
"There's foul play somewhere, and there's black villainy brew-
ing, to that I'll swear! Very glad I should be, sir, to 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 hid,
or 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 all he needs. I dare say 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 window, and 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 indoors, and 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! There, in that
hut upon the moor, seems 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 eighteenth of October, a 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 recollection, and I can tell them
without reference to the notes made at the time. I start them from
the day which succeeded that upon which I had established two
facts of great importance, the 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 death, the other that the lurking man upon the moor was to be
found among the stone huts upon the hillside. 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 before, for Dr. Mortimer
remained with him at cards until it was very late. At breakfast,
however, I informed him about my discovery and asked him
whether he would care to accompany me to Coombe Tracey. At
first he was very eager to come, but 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 behind, therefore, not without
some prickings of conscience, and 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 rooms, which were
central and well appointed. A maid showed me in without cere-
mony, and as I entered the sitting-room a lady, who was sitting
before a Remington typewriter, sprang up with a pleasant smile
of welcome. Her face fell, however, when she saw that I was a
stranger, and she sat down again and asked me the object of my
The first impression left by Mrs. Lyons was one of extreme
beauty. Her eyes and hair were of the same rich hazel colour,
and her cheeks, though considerably freckled, were flushed with
the exquisite bloom of the brunette, the dainty pink which lurks
at the heart of the sulphur rose. Admiration was, I repeat, the
first impression. But the second was criticism. There was some-
thing subtly wrong with the face, some coarseness of expres-
sion, some hardness, perhaps, of eye, some looseness of lip
which marred its perfect beauty. But these, of course, are after-
thoughts. At the moment I was simply conscious that I was in
the presence of a very handsome woman, and 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 I, "of knowing your father."
It was a clumsy introduction, and 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 asked, and 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
"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 occasions, so the lady's statement bore
the impress of truth upon it.
"Did you ever write to Sir Charles asking him to meet you?"
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 instant, and a deathly face was
before me. Her dry lips could not speak the "No" which I saw
rather than heard.
"Surely your memory deceives you," said I. "I could even
quote a passage of your letter. It ran 'Please, please, as you are a
gentleman, burn this letter, and be at the gate by ten o'clock.' "
I thought that she had fainted, but 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 cried, pouring 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 help, so I asked him to
"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
"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 her, but I could never get
past that point.
"Mrs. Lyons," said I as I rose from this long and inconclu-
sive interview, "you 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 compro-
mised. If your position is innocent, why did you in the first
instance deny having written to Sir Charles upon that date?"
"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 your letter?"
"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
"So I should have done had I not seen his death in the paper
The woman's story hung coherently together, and all my
questions were unable to shake it. I could only check it by
finding if she had, indeed, instituted 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 been, for a trap would
be necessary to take her there, and 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, there-
fore, that she was telling the truth, or, at least, a 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 direction, but 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 huts, and 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 lips, at the point of my revolver if necessary, who
he was and why he had dogged us so long. He might slip away
from us in the crowd of Regent Street, but it would puzzle him
to do so upon the lonely moor. On the other hand, if I should
find the hut and its tenant should not be within it I must remain
there, however long the vigil, until 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 inquiry, but
now at last it came to my aid. And the messenger of good
fortune was none other than Mr. Frankland, who was standing,
gray-whiskered and red-faced, outside the gate of bis garden,
which opened on to the highroad along which I travelled.
"Good-day, Dr. Watson," cried he with unwonted good
humour, "you 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 daughter, but I was
anxious to send Perkins and the wagonette home, and the oppor-
tunity was a good one. I alighted and sent a message to Sir
Henry that I should walk over in time for dinner. Then I fol-
lowed 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 law, and
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
park, slap across it, sir, within a hundred yards of his own front
door. What do you think of that? We'll teach these magnates that
they cannot ride roughshod over the rights of the commoners,
confound 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 property, and that they can swarm where
they like with their papers and their bottles. Both cases decided
Dr. Watson, and both in my favour. I haven't had such a day
since I had Sir John Morland for trespass because he shot in his
"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
"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 Constabu-
lary 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 oId 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 gossip, but 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 I with an indifferent
"Ha, ha, my boy, a very much more important matter than
that! What about the convict on the moor?"
I stared. "You don't mean that you know where he is?" said
"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 the moor?"
"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 track, and not upon the
convict's, that Frankland had stumbled. If I could get his knowl-
edge 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 me, and his gray whis-
kers bristled like those of an angry cat.
"Indeed, sir!" said he, pointing out over the wide-stretching
moor. "Do you see that Black Tor over yonder? Well, do 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 suggestion, sir, is 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
It was several miles off, but I could distinctly see a small dark
dot against the dull green and gray.
"Come, sir, come!" cried Frankland, rushing upstairs. "You
will see with your own eyes and judge for yourself."
The telescope, a formidable instrument mounted upon a tri-
pod, 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 was, sure enough, a small urchin with a little bundle
upon his shoulder, toiling 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 air, as one who dreads pursuit. Then he vanished
over the hill.
"Well! Am I right?"
"Certainly, there is a boy who seems to have some secret
"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 me, and then I struck off
across the moor and made for the stony hill over which the boy
had disappeared. Everything was working in my favour, and I
swore that it should not be through lack of energy or persever-
ance that I should miss the chance which fortune had thrown in
The sun was already sinking when I reached the summit of the
hill, and 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-line, out 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 bird, a gull or curlew,
soared 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 scene, the sense of loneliness, and 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 huts, and 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 hut, walking as warily as Stapleton would
do when with poised net he drew near the settled butterfly, I
satisfied myself that the place had indeed been used as a habita-
tion. 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 there, or he might be prowling on the
moor. My nerves tingled with the sense of adventure. Throwing
aside my cigarette, I closed my hand upon the butt of my
revolver and, walking swiftly up to the door, I 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 time, and I saw, as my eyes
became accustomed to the checkered light, a 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 table, and upon this
stood a small cloth bundle -- the same, no doubt, which I had
seen through the telescope upon the shoulder of the boy. It
contained a loaf of bread, a tinned tongue, and two tins of
preserved peaches. As I set it down again, after having examined
it, my heart leaped to see that beneath it there lay a sheet of
paper with writing upon it. I raised it, and this was what I read,
roughly scrawled in pencil: "Dr. Watson has gone to Coombe
For a minute I stood there with the paper in my hands thinking
out the meaning of this curt message. It was I, then, and not Sir
Henry, who was being aogged by this secret man. He had not
followed me himself, but he had set an agent -- the boy, perhaps --
upon my track, and this was his report. Possibly I had taken no
step since I had been upon the moor which had not been observed
and reported. Always there was this feeling of an unseen force, a
fine net drawn round us with infinite skill and delicacy, holding
us so lightly that it was only at some supreme moment that one
realized that one was indeed-entangled in its meshes.
If there was one report there might be others, so I looked
round the hut in search of them. There was no trace, however, of
anything of the kind, nor could I discover any sign which might
indicate the character or intentions of the man who lived in this
singular place, save 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 enemy, or 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 Hall, and there a
distant blur of smoke which marked the village of Grimpen.
Between the two, behind the hill, was the house of the Stapletons.
All was sweet and mellow and peaceful in the golden evening
light, and 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 nerves but a fixed purpose, I 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 another,
coming nearer and nearer. I shrank back into the darkest corner
and cocked the pistol in my pocket, determined 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 breathless, hardly able to believe
my ears. Then my senses and my voice came back to me, while
a crushing weight of responsibility seemed in an instant to be
lifted from my soul. That cold, incisive, ironical voice could
belong to but one man in all the world.
"Holmes!" I cried -- "Holmes!"
"Come out," said he, "and please be careful with the revolver."
I stooped under the rude lintel, and there he sat upon a stone
outside, his gray eyes dancing with amusement as they fell upon
my astonished features. He was thin and worn, but clear and
alert, his 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 moor, and he had contrived, with that catlike
love of personal cleanliness which was one of his characteristics,
that 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 I as 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 seri-
ously 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
"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
"No, your boy had been observed, and that gave me a guide
where to look."
"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. "Ha, I see that Cartwright has
brought up some supplies. What's this paper? So you have been
to Coombe Tracey, have 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
"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 possi-
bly 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 trem-
bled as I recalled the pains and the pride with which I had
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 ex-
ceedingly 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 me, but 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 he, seeing 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 twilight, I 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 bridge in this most
complex affair. You are aware, perhaps, that 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 instincts, my vague suspicions, suddenly
took shape and centred upon the naturalist. In that impassive
colourless man, with his straw hat and his butterfly-net, I seemed
to see something terrible -- a creature of infinite patience and
craft, with 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 villainy, half seen, half 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
dare say 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
The darkness was rising, but 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 his
"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 said as 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 mur-
der. 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 com-
plete, but until then guard your charge as closely as ever a fond
mother watched her ailing child. Your mission to-day has justi-
fied 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 feet, and I saw his dark, athletic
outline at the door of the hut, his shoulders stooping, his head
thrust forward, his face peering into the darkness.
"Hush!" he whispered. "Hush!"
The cry had been loud on account of its vehemence, but it had
pealed out from somewhere far off on the shadowy plain. Now it
burst upon our ears, nearer, louder, more urgent than before.
"Where is it?" Holmes whispered; and I knew from the thrill
of his voice that he, the man of iron, was shaken to the soul.
"Where is it, Watson?"
"There, I think." I pointed into the darkness.
Again the agonized cry swept through the silent night, louder
and much nearer than ever. And a new sound mingled with it, a
deep, muttered rumble, musical and yet menacing, rising and
falling like the low, constant murmur of the sea.
"The hound!" cried Holmes. "Come, Watson, come! Great
heavens, if we are too late!"
He had started running swiftly over the moor, and 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 dull, heavy thud. We halted and
listened. Not another sound broke the heavy silence of the
I saw Holmes put his hand to his forehead like a man dis-
tracted. 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 gloom, blundering against boul-
ders, forcing our way through gorse bushes, panting up hills and
rushing down slopes, heading always in the direction whence
those dreadful sounds had come. At every rise Holmes looked
eagerly round him, but the shadows were thick upon the moor,
and 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 dark, irregular object. As we ran towards it
the vague outline hardened into a definite shape. It was a pros-
trate man face downward upon the ground, the head doubled
under him at a horrible angle, the 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
realize that that moan had been the passing of his soul. Not a
whisper, not a rustle, rose now from the dark figure over which
we stooped. Holmes laid his hand upon him and 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 it, and then the match flickered and went
out, even as the hope had gone out of our souls. Holmes
groaned, and 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
"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.
Then as the moon rose we climbed to the top of the rocks over
which our poor friend had fallen, and from the summit we gazed
out over the shadowy moor, half silver and half gloom. Far
away, miles off, in the direction of Grimpen, a 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 gazed.
"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 body, black 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 fires, indeed!
"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 over, and that
dripping beard was pointing up to the cold, clear moon. There
could be no doubt about the beetling forehead, the 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 Selden,
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. Boots, shirt, cap -- it was all Sir Henry's. The
tragedy was still black enough, but this man had at least de-
served death by the laws of his country. I told Holmes how the
matter stood, my 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
hotel, in all probability -- and so ran this man down. There is one
very singular thing, however: How came Selden, in the dark-
ness, to 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 he know?"
"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 be there."
"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 forever 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 moor, and I saw the dull
red glow of a cigar. The moon shone upon him, and I could
distinguish the dapper shape and jaunty walk of the naturalist.
He stopped when he saw us, and 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 us, but 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
"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 Stapleton, and
he gave a sigh which I took to indicate his relief. "What do you
think about it, Mr. 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 man-
ner. 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 hospi-
tality, Holmes and I set off to Baskerville Hall, leaving the
naturalist to return alone. Looking back we saw the figure mov-
ing slowly away over the broad moor, and 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 London, Watson, and I tell you
now again, that we have never had a foeman more worthy of our
"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
"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 him, and he walked, lost in
thought, as 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 be-
lieve. 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
eyebrows, however, when he found that my friend had neither
any luggage nor any explanations for its absence. Between us we
soon supplied his wants, and 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 relief, but she wept bitterly in her
apron. To all the world he was the man of violence, half animal
and half demon; but to her he always remained the little wilful
boy of her own girlhood, the 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
credit, for I have kept my promise. If I hadn't sworn not to go
about alone I might have had a more lively evening, for 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 way, I 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 know."
"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 incriminating
"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 face, and so intent was it and so
still that it might have been that of a clear-cut classical statue, a
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 composed, but 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 art
but that is mere jealousy because 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 Henry, glancing
with some surprise at my friend. "I don't pretend to know much
about these things, and 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
"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 Commit-
tees 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 Holmes, "he 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 more, but the picture of the old roysterer
seemed to have a fascination for him, and his eyes were continu-
ally fixed upon it during supper. It was not until later, when Sir
Henry had gone to his room, that I was able to follow the trend
of his thoughts. He led me back into the banqueting-hall, his
bedroom candle in his hand, and he held it up against the
time-stained portrait on the wall.
"Do you see anything there?"
I looked at the broad plumed hat, the curling love-locks, the
white lace collar, and the straight, severe face which was framed
between them. lt was not a brutal countenance, but it was prim
hard, and stern, with a firm-set, thin-lipped mouth, and 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 chair, and, holding up the light in his left hand, he curved
his right arm over the broad hat and round the long ringlets.
"Good heavens!" I cried in 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 reincarna-
tion. 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 morning, but Holmes was afoot earlier
still, for I saw him as I dressed, coming up the drive.
"Yes, we should have a full day to-day," he remarked, and
he rubbed his hands with the joy of action. "The nets are all in
place, and the drag is about to begin. We'll know before the day
is out whether we have caught our big, leanjawed pike, or
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
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
"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 walk home."
"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 programme, though I remem-
bered that Holmes had said to Stapleton on the night before that
his visit would terminate next day. It had not crossed my mind
however, that he would wish me to go with him, nor could I
understand how we could both be absent at a moment which he
himself declared to be critical. There was nothing for it, how-
ever, but implicit obedience; so we bade good-bye to our rueful
friend, and 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 pocketbook 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 telegram, which Holmes handed to
me. It ran:
Wire received. Coming down with unsigned warrant.
"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 gone, while we should actually return at the instant when
we were likely to be needed. That telegram from London, if
mentioned by Sir Henry to the Stapletons, must remove the last
suspicions from their minds. Already I seemed to see our nets
drawing closer around that leanjawed pike.
Mrs. Laura Lyons was in her office, and Sherlock Holmes
opened his interview with a frankness and directness which
considerably amazed her.
"I am investigating the circumstances which attended the
death of the late Sir Charles Baskerville," said he. "My friend
here, Dr. Watson, has informed me of what you have communi-
cated, and also of what you have withheld in connection with
"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 withheld what the connection is between
"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 connec-
tion, 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 chair, and 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
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 Holmes, drawing
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
him, and her also, if you know her by sight. Here are three
written descriptions by trustworthy witnesses of Mr. and Mrs.
Vandeleur, who 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 them, and then looked up at us with the set
rigid face of a desperate woman.
"Mr. Holmes," she said, "this 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
"I entirely believe you, madam," said Sherlock Holmes.
"The recital of these events must be very painful to you, and
perhaps it will make it easier if I tell you what occurred, and 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 divorce?"
"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
"And he made you swear to say nothing about your appoint-
ment with Sir Charles?"
"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 now, Mrs. Lyons, and 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
Godno, in Little Russia, in the year '66, and of course there are
the Anderson murders in North Carolina, but 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 night. "
The London express came roaring into the station, and a
small, wiry bulldog of a man had sprung from a first-class
carriage. We all three shook hands, and 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 then, Lestrade, we will take the
London fog out of your throat by giving you a breath of the pure
night air of Dartmoor. Never been there? Ah, well, I don't
suppose you will forget your first visit."
The Hound of the Baskervilles
One of Sherlock Holmes's defects -- if, indeed, one 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 nature, which
loved to dominate and surprise those who were around him.
Partly also from his professional caution, which urged him never
to take any chances. The result, however, was very trying for
those who were acting as his agents and assistants. I had often
suffered under it, but 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 effort, and 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 dark, void 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 wagonette, so that we were forced to talk of trivial
matters when our nerves were tense with emotion and anticipa-
tion. It was a relief to me, after that unnatural restraint, when 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 game now?"
"A waiting game."
"My word, it does not seem a very cheerful place," said the
detective with a shiver, glancing 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 house, but Holmes halted us when we were about two
hundred yards from it.
"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 room, Sir Henry and Stapleton.
They sat with their profiles towards me on either side of the
round table. Both of them were smoking cigars, and coffee and
wine were in front of them. Stapleton was talking with anima-
tion, 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 room, while 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 lock, and as he passed in there was a
curious scuffling noise from within. He was only a minute or so
inside, and then I heard the key turn once more and he passed
me and reentered the house. I saw him rejoin his guest, and 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 asked
when 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 direction and
banked itself up like a wall on that side of us, low but thick and
well defined. The moon shone on it, and it looked like a great
shimmering ice-field, with the heads of the distant tors as rocks
borne upon its surface. Holmes's face was turned towards it, and
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 bright, while a half-moon bathed the whole scene in a soft,
uncertain light. Before us lay the dark bulk of the house, its
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 men,
the muderous host and the unconscious guest, still 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
invisible, and 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 bank
on 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 house, and still that dense white
sea, with the moon silvering its upper edge, swept 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 God, I
think that I hear him coming."
A sound of quick steps broke the silence of the moor. Crouch-
ing among the stones we stared intently at the silver-tipped bank
in front of us. The steps grew louder, and through the fog, as
through a curtain, there stepped the man whom we were await-
ing. He looked round him in surprise as he emerged into the
clear, starlit night. Then he came swiftly along the path, passed
close to where we lay, and went on up the long slope behind us.
As he walked he glanced continually over either shoulder, like a
man who is ill at ease.
"Hist!" cried Holmes, and I heard the sharp click of a cock-
ing pistol. "Look out! It's coming!"
There was a thin, crisp, continuous patter from somewhere in
the heart of that crawling bank. The cloud was within fifty yards
of where we lay, and we glared at it, all three, uncertain what
horror was about to break from the heart of it. I was at Holmes's
elbow, and I glanced for an instant at his face. It was pale and
exultant, his eyes shining brightly in the moonlight. But sud-
denly they started forward in a rigid, fixed stare, and 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 feet, my inert hand grasping my pistol, my mind
paralyzed by the dreadful shape which had sprung out upon us
from the shadows of the fog. A hound it was, an enormous
coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever
seen. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a
smouldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were
outlined in flickering flame. Never in the delirious dream of a
disordered brain could anything more savage, more appalling,
more 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 creatwe was leaping down
the track, following 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 together, and the creature gave a hideous howl, which
showed that one at least had hit him. He did not pause, however,
but bounded onward. Far away on the path we saw Sir Henry
looking back, his face white in the moonlight, his hands raised in
horror, glaring helplessly at the frightful thing which was hunt-
ing him down.
But that cry of pain from the hound had blown all our fears to
the winds. If he was vulnerable he was mortal, and 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 foot, but 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 victim, hurl him to the ground, and
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 air, it rolled upon its
back, four feet pawing furiously, and then fell limp upon its
side. I stooped, panting, and pressed my pistol to the dreadful,
shimmering head, but it was useless to press the trigger. The
giant hound was dead.
Sir Henry lay insensible where he had fallen. We tore away
his collar, and 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 teeth, and two frightened eyes were looking up at
"My God!" he whispered. "What was it? What, in heaven's
name, was it?"
"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 -- gaunt, savage, and as large as a small lioness. Even now
in the stillness of death, the huge jaws seemed to be dripping
with a bluish flame and the small, deep-set, cruel 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 the
"Phosphorus," I said.
"A cunning preparation of it," said Holmes, sniffing at the
dead animal. "There is no smell which might have interfered
with his power of scent. We owe you a deep apology, Sir Henry,
for having exposed you to this fright. I was prepared for a
hound, but not for such a creature as this. And the fog gave us
little time to receive him."
"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 do?"
"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 rock, where he sat
shivering with his face buried in his hands.
"We must leave you now," said Holmes. "The rest of our
work must be done, and every moment is of importance. We
have our case, and 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
"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 open, so we rushed in and hurried from
room to room to the amazement of a doddering old manservant,
who met us in the passage. There was no light save in the
dining-room, but 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 floor, however, one 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 hand, we 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 museum, and 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 beam, which 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 face, and 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 gag, unswathed the bonds, and
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. "Here, Lestrade, your 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 sleeves, and 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 all, ill-usage, solitude, a
life of deception, everything, as long as I could still cling to the
hope that I had his love, but now I know that in this also I have
been his dupe and his tool." She broke into passionate sobbing
as she spoke.
"You bear him no good will, madam," said Holmes. "Tell us
then where we shall find him. If you have ever aided him in evil,
help us now and so atone."
"There is but one place where he can have fled," she an-
swered. "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 would fly."
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
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 to-
gether, he and I, to mark the pathway through the mire. Oh, if I
could only have plucked them out to-day. Then indeed you
would have had him at your mercy!"
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 him, but 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 nerves, and before morning
he lay delirious in a high fever under 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 hale, hearty man
that he had been before he became master of that ill-omened
And now I come rapidly to the conclusion of this singular
narrative, in 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 lush, slimy water-plants sent an
odour of decay and a heavy miasmatic vapour onto our faces,
while a false step plunged us more than once thigh-deep into the
dark, quivering mire, which 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 depths, so 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 it, and 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. "Meyers, Toronto,"
was printed on the leather inside.
"It is worth a mud bath," said he. "It is our friend Sir
Henry's missing boot."
"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 know, though
there was much which we might surmise. There was no chance
of finding footsteps in the mire, for the rising mud oozed swiftly
in upon them, but 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 story, then
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 Mire, down in the foul slime of the
huge morass which had sucked him in, this cold and cruel-
hearted man is forever buried.
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
miners, driven 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
"A dog!" said Holmes. "By Jove, a curly-haired spaniel. Poor
Mortimer will never see his pet again. Well, I do not know that
this place contains any secret which we have not already fath-
omed. He could hide his hound, but he could not hush its voice,
and 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 Merripit, but it was always a risk, and it was
only on the supreme day, which he regarded as the end of all his
efforts, that he dared do it. This paste in the tin is no doubt the
luminous mixture with which the creature was daubed. It was
suggested, of course, by the story of the family hell-hound, and
by the desire to frighten old Sir Charles to death. No wonder the
poor devil of a convict ran and screamed, even as our friend did,
and as we ourselves might have done, when he saw such a
creature bounding through the darkness of the moor upon his
track. It was a cunning device, for, apart from the chance of
driving your victim to his death, what peasant would venture to
inquire too closely into such a creature should he get sight of it,
as many have done, upon the moor? I said it in London, Watson,
and I say it again now, that 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 moor.
It was the end of November, and Holmes and I sat, upon a raw
and foggy night, on 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
importance, in the first of which he had exposed the atrocious
conduct of Colonel Upwood in connection with the famous card
scandal of the Nonpareil Club, while 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-daughter, Mlle. Carere, the young lady who, as it will be
remembered, was 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 cases,
so 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 overlap, and
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 were, however, in London, on their way to that
long voyage which had been recommended for the restoration of
his shattered nerves. They had called upon us that very after-
noon, so that it was natural that the subject should come up for
"The whole course of events," said Holmes, "from 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' ends 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 por-
trait did not lie, and that this fellow was indeed a Baskerville. He
was a son of that Rodger Baskerville, the younger brother of Sir
Charles, who fled with a sinister reputation to South America,
where he was said to have died unmarried. He did, as a matter of
fact, marry, and had one child, this fellow, whose real name is
the same as his father's. He married Beryl Garcia, one of the
beauties of Costa Rica, and, having purloined a considerable
sum of public money, he changed his name to Vandeleur and
fled to England, where 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 home, and that he had used this man's
ability to make the undertaking a success. Fraser, the tutor, died
however, and the school which had begun well sank from disre-
pute into infamy. The Vandeleurs found it convenient to change
their name to Stapleton, and he brought the remains of his
fortune, his schemes for the future, and his taste for entomology
to the south of England. I learned at the British Museum that he
was a recognized authority upon the subject, and that the name
of Vandeleur has been permanently attached to a certain moth
which he had, in his Yorkshire days, been 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 hound, and so
prepared the way for his own death. Stapleton, as I will continue
to call him, knew that the old man's heart was weak and that a
shock would kill him. So much he had learned from Dr. Morti-
mer. 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
death, and 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 his
"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 hound, but without avail. It was during
these fruitless quests that he, or rather his ally, was seen by
peasants, and that the legend of the demon dog received a new
confirmation. He had hoped that his wife might lure Sir Charles
to his ruin, but here she proved unexpectedly independent. She
would not endeavour to entangle the old gentleman in a senti-
mental attachment which might deliver him over to his enemy.
Threats and even, I am sorry to say, blows refused to move her.
She would have nothing to do with it, and 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 hound, to treat it with his infernal paint, and to
bring the beast round to the gate at which he had reason to
expect that he would find the old gentleman waiting. The dog,
incited by its master, sprang over the wicket-gate and pursued
the unfortunate baronet, who fled screaming down the yew alley.
In that gloomy tunnel it must indeed have been a dreadful sight
to see that huge black creature, with its flaming jaws and blazing
eyes, bounding 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 path, so that
no track but the man's was visible. On seeing him lying still the
creature had probably approached to sniff at him, but 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 Mire, and a
mystery was left which puzzled the authorities, alarmed the
countryside, and finally brought the case within the scope of our
"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 still remained.
"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. Mortimer, and 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 man, and 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
lodged, I find, at the Mexborough Private Hotel, in Craven
Street, which was actually one of those called upon by my agent
in search of evidence. Here he kept his wife imprisoned in her
room while he, disguised in a beard, followed Dr. Mortimer to
Baker Street and afterwards to the station and to the North-
umberland 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. Eventually, as we know,
she adopted the expedient of cutting out the words which would
form the message, and addressing the letter in a disguised hand.
It reached the baronet, and 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 morning, shad-
owed always by Stapleton in the cab. From his knowledge of our
rooms and of my appearance, as well as from his general con-
duct, I 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 country, for none of which
was any criminal ever arrested. The last of these, at Folkestone
Court, in May, was remarkable for the cold-blooded pistolling of
the page, who surprised the masked and solitary burglar. I
cannot doubt that Stapleton recruited his waning resources in this
fashion, and 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
"One moment!" said I. "You have, no doubt, described the
sequence of events correctly, but there is one point which you
have left unexplained. What became of the hound when its
master was in London?"
"I have given some attention to this matter and it is undoubt-
edly 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 coun-
tries. 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 Devonshire, whither 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 eyes, and
was conscious of a faint smell of the scent known as white
jessamine. There are seventy-five perfumes, which it is very
necessary that a criminal expert should be able to distinguish
from each other, and 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
hound, and had guessed at the criminal before ever we went to
the west country.
"It was my game to watch Stapleton. It was evident, how-
ever, that I could not do this if I were with you, since he would
be keenly on his guard. I deceived everybody, therefore, your-
self 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 investi-
gation 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 me, and especially that one inci-
dentally 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 compli-
cated through the incident of the escaped convict and the rela-
tions between him and the Barrymores. This also you cleared up
in a very effective way, though 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 tempo-
rary one. A long journey may enable our friend to recover not
only from his shattered nerves but also from his wounded feel-
ings. 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
fear, or very possibly both, since they are by no means incom-
patible emotions. It was, at least, absolutely effective. At his
command she consented to pass as his sister, though 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 husband, and
again and again she tried to do so. Stapleton himself seems to
have been capable of jealousy, and when he saw the baronet
paying court to the lady, even though it was part of his own
plan, still he could not help interrupting with a passionate out-
burst 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 crisis, however, his wife
turned suddenly against him. She had learned something of the
death of the convict, and she knew that the hound was being kept
in the outhouse on the evening that Sir Henry was coming to
dinner. She taxed her husband with his intended crime, and a
furious scene followed in 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, therefore, that she might have no chance of warning Sir
Henry, and he hoped, no doubt, that when the whole countryside
put down the baronet's death to the curse of his family, as they
certainly would do, he 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 miscalculation, and that, if we
had not been there, his doom would none the less have been
sealed. A woman of Spanish blood does not condone such an
irjury so lightly. And now, my dear Watson, without 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
"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 inquiry?"
"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?"
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank