Part 2 out of 4
"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 consulting
practice and with the constant appeals which reach me from many
quarters, it is impossible for me to be absent from London for an
indefinite time. At the present instant one of the most revered
names in England is being besmirched by a blackmailer, and only I
can stop a disastrous scandal. You will see how impossible it is
for me to go to Dartmoor."
"Whom would you recommend, then?"
Holmes laid his hand upon my arm.
"If my friend would undertake it there is no man who is better
worth having at your side when you are in a tight place. No one
can say so more confidently than I."
The proposition took me completely by surprise, but before I had
time to answer, Baskerville seized me by the hand and wrung it
"Well, now, that is real kind of you, Dr. Watson," said he. "You
see how it is with 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 10:30 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 were
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.--BASKERVILLE."
"Visited twenty-three hotels as directed, but sorry, to report
unable to trace cut sheet of Times.--CARTWRIGHT."
"There go two of my threads, Watson. There is nothing more
stimulating than a case where everything goes against you. We
must cast round for another scent."
"We have still the cabman who drove the spy."
"Exactly. I have wired to get his name and address from the
Official Registry. I should not be surprised if this were an
answer to my question."
The ring at the bell proved to be something even more
satisfactory than an 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 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 against me."
"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 again."
"John Clayton, 3 Turpey Street, the Borough. My cab is out of
Shipley's Yard, near Waterloo Station."
Sherlock Holmes made a note of it.
"Now, Clayton, tell me all about the fare who came and watched
this house at ten o'clock this morning and afterwards followed
the two gentlemen down Regent Street."
The man looked surprised and a little embarrassed. "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
"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 mentioned
his name, did he? That was imprudent. What was the name that he
"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
"This very door," said Holmes.
"Well, I couldn't be sure of that, but I dare say my fare knew
all about it. We pulled up half-way down the street and waited an
hour and a half. Then the two gentlemen passed us, walking, and
we followed down Baker Street and along ----"
"I know," said Holmes.
"Until we got three-quarters down Regent Street. Then my
gentleman threw up the trap, and he cried that I should drive
right away to Waterloo Station as hard as I could go. I whipped
up the mare and we were there under the ten minutes. Then he paid
up his two guineas, like a good one, and away he went into the
station. Only just as he was leaving he turned round and he said:
'It might interest you to know that you have been driving Mr.
Sherlock Holmes.' That's how I come to know the name."
"I see. And you saw no more of him?"
"Not after he went into the station."
"And how would you describe Mr. Sherlock Holmes?"
The cabman scratched his head. "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
"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 suspicions,
Watson," said he; "I wish you simply to report facts in the
fullest possible manner to me, and you can leave me to do the
"What sort of facts?" I asked.
"Anything which may seem to have a bearing however indirect upon
the case, and especially the relations between young Baskerville
and his neighbours or any fresh particulars concerning the death
of Sir Charles. I have made some inquiries myself in the last few
days, but the results have, I fear, been negative. One thing only
appears to be certain, and that is that Mr. James Desmond, who is
the next heir, is an elderly gentleman of a very amiable
disposition, so that this persecution does not arise from him. I
really think that we may eliminate him entirely from our
calculations. There remain the people who will actually surround
Sir Henry Baskerville upon the moor."
"Would it not be well in the first place to get rid of this
"By no means. You could not make a greater mistake. If they are
innocent it would be a cruel injustice, and if they are guilty we
should be giving up all chance of bringing it home to them. No,
no, we will preserve them upon our list of suspects. Then there
is a groom at the Hall, if I remember right. There are two
moorland farmers. There is our friend Dr. Mortimer, whom I
believe to be entirely honest, and there is his wife, of whom we
know nothing. There is this naturalist, Stapleton, and there is
his sister, who is said to be a young lady of attractions. There
is Mr. Frankland, of Lafter Hall, who is also an unknown factor,
and there are one or two other neighbours. These are the folk who
must be your very special study."
"I will do my best."
"You have arms, I suppose?"
"Yes, I thought it as well to take them."
"Most certainly. Keep your revolver near you night and day, and
never relax your precautions."
Our friends had already secured a first-class carriage and were
waiting for us upon the platform.
"No, we have no news of any kind," said Dr. Mortimer in answer to
my friend's questions. "I can swear to one 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 platform 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 familiar features
of the Devon scenery.
"I've been over a good part of the world since I left it, Dr.
Watson," said he; "but I have never seen a place to compare with
"I never saw a Devonshire man who did not swear by his county," I
"It depends upon the breed of men quite as much as on the
county," said Dr. Mortimer. "A glance at our friend here reveals
the rounded head of the 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 soldierly
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 country-side 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 boulders. Both
road and stream wound up through a valley dense with scrub oak
and fir. At every turn Baskerville gave an exclamation of
delight, looking eagerly about him and asking countless
questions. To his eyes all seemed beautiful, but to me a tinge of
melancholy lay upon the country-side, 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
"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 cairns 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 suggestiveness
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 cup-like depression, patched with stunted oaks and firs 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
"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 surmounted 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 African gold.
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,
crenelated, 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 silhouetted
against the yellow light of the hall. She came out and helped the
man to hand down our bags.
"You don't mind my driving straight home, Sir Henry?" said Dr.
Mortimer. "My wife is expecting me."
"Surely you will stay and have some dinner?"
"No, I must go. I shall probably find some work awaiting me. I
would stay to show you over the house, but Barrymore will be a
better guide than I. Good-bye, and never hesitate night or day to
send for me if I can be of service."
The wheels died away down the drive while Sir Henry and I turned
into the 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 balks of age-blackened oak. In the
great old-fashioned fireplace behind the high iron dogs a
log-fire crackled and snapped. Sir Henry and I held out our hands
to 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 white
"I feel that also, sir, and so does my wife. But to tell the
truth, sir, we were both very much attached to Sir Charles, and
his death gave us a shock and made these surroundings very
painful to us. I fear that we shall never again be easy in our
minds at Baskerville Hall."
"But what do you intend to do?"
"I have no doubt, sir, that we shall succeed in establishing
ourselves in some business. Sir Charles's generosity has given us
the means to do so. And now, sir, perhaps I had best show you to
A square balustraded gallery ran round the top of the old hall,
approached by a double stair. From this central point two long
corridors extended the whole length of the 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 subdued. 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 tell-tale
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 mystery
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 Sherlock
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
Barrymore had not been in London all the time. Suppose that it
were so--suppose that the same man had been the last who had seen
Sir Charles 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 running
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 lean-jawed, 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 introductions. 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 know
"I have been calling on Mortimer, and he pointed you out to me
from the window of his surgery as you passed. As our road lay the
same way I thought that I would overtake you and introduce
myself. I trust that Sir Henry is none the worse for his
"He is very well, thank you."
"We were all rather afraid that after the sad death of Sir
Charles the new baronet might refuse to live here. It is asking
much of a wealthy man to come down and bury himself in a place of
this kind, but I need not tell you that it means a very great
deal to the country-side. Sir Henry has, I suppose, no
superstitious fears in the matter?"
"I do not think that it is likely."
"Of course you know the legend of the fiend dog which haunts the
"I have heard it."
"It is extraordinary how credulous the peasants are about here!
Any number of them are ready to swear that they have seen such a
creature upon the moor." He spoke with a smile, but I seemed to
read in his eyes that he took the matter more seriously. "The
story took a great hold upon the imagination of Sir 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 himself?"
"He cannot leave town at present. He has other cases which engage
"What a pity! He might throw some light on that which is so dark
to us. But as to your own researches, if there is any possible
way in which I can be of service to you I trust that you will
command me. If I had any indication of the nature of your
suspicions or how you propose to investigate the case, I might
perhaps even now give you some aid or advice."
"I assure you that I am simply here upon a visit to my friend,
Sir Henry, and that I need no help of any kind."
"Excellent!" said Stapleton. "You are perfectly right to be wary
and discreet. I am justly reproved for what I feel was an
unjustifiable 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 of smoke.
"A moderate walk along this moor-path brings us to Merripit
House," said he. "Perhaps you will spare an hour that I may have
the pleasure of introducing you to my sister."
My first thought was that I should be by Sir Henry's side. But
then I remembered the pile of papers and bills with which his
study table was littered. It was certain that I could not help
with those. And Holmes had expressly said that I should study the
neighbours upon the moor. I accepted Stapleton's 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 mine.
"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 Mire."
"And you say you can penetrate it?"
"Yes, there are one or two paths which a very active man can
take. I have found them out."
"But why should you wish to go into so horrible a place?"
"Well, you see the hills beyond? They are really islands cut off
on all sides by the impassable mire, which has crawled round them
in the course of years. That is where the rare plants and the
butterflies are, if you have the wit to reach them."
"I shall try my luck some day."
He looked at me with a surprised face.
"For God's sake put such an idea out of your mind," said he.
"Your blood would be upon my head. I assure you that there would
not be the least chance of your coming back alive. It is only by
remembering certain complex landmarks that I am able to do it."
"Halloa!" I cried. "What is that?"
A 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 the bitterns."
"It's the weirdest, strangest thing that ever I heard in my
"Yes, it's rather an uncanny place altogether. Look at the hill-
side 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 extraordinary
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
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 mares-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 elegance 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
"Quite happy," said she, but there was no ring of conviction in
"I had a school," said Stapleton. "It was in the north country.
The work to a man of my temperament was mechanical and
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 interesting
neighbours. Dr. Mortimer is a most learned man in his own line.
Poor Sir Charles was also an admirable companion. We knew him
well, and miss him more than I can tell. Do you think that I
should intrude if I were to call this afternoon and make the
acquaintance of Sir Henry?"
"I am sure that he would be delighted."
"Then perhaps you would mention that I propose to do so. We may
in our humble way do something to make things more easy for him
until he becomes accustomed to his new surroundings. Will you
come upstairs, Dr. Watson, and inspect my collection of
Lepidoptera? I think it is the most complete one in the
south-west of England. By the time that you have looked through
them lunch will be almost ready."
But I was eager to get back to my charge. The melancholy of the
moor, the death of the unfortunate pony, the weird sound which
had been associated with the grim legend of the Baskervilles, 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
"No, no. I remember the thrill in your voice. I remember the look
in your eyes. Please, please, be frank with me, Miss Stapleton,
for ever since I have been here I have been conscious of shadows
all round me. Life has become like that great Grimpen Mire, with
little green patches everywhere into which one may sink and with
no guide to point the track. Tell me then what it was that you
meant, and I will promise to convey your warning to Sir Henry."
An expression of irresolution passed for an instant over her
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 information
than this it would be impossible to get him to move."
"I cannot say anything definite, for I do not know anything
"I would ask you one more question, Miss Stapleton. If you meant
no more than this when you first spoke to me, why should you not
wish your brother to overhear what you said? There is nothing to
which he, or anyone else, could object."
"My brother is very anxious to have the Hall inhabited, for he
thinks it is for the good of the poor folk upon the moor. He
would be very angry if he knew that I have said anything which
might induce Sir Henry to go away. But I have done my duty now
and I will say no more. I must get back, or he will miss me and
suspect that I have seen you. Good-bye!" She turned and had
disappeared in a few minutes among the scattered 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
hill-sides 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 would feel
that his presence there was more natural than your own. The
strange thing is that they should have lived so thickly on what
must always have been most unfruitful soil. I am no antiquarian,
but I could imagine that they were some unwarlike and harried
race who were forced to accept that which none other would
All 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 manservant, 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
wondered 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
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 matter.
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
tąte-Ö-tąte. 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 letter.
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. Half-way 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
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
choleric. 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. Sometimes he will shut up a right of way and defy the
parish to make him open it. At others he will with his own hands
tear down some other man's gate and declare that a path has
existed there from time 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 periodically 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 description 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 Henry.
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 write
In the evening he recurred to the subject of his own accord.
"I could not quite understand the object of your questions this
morning, Sir Henry," said he. "I trust that they do not mean that
I have done anything to forfeit your confidence?"
Sir Henry had to assure him that it was not so and pacify him by
giving him a considerable part of his old 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 adventure of last
night brings all my suspicions to a head.
And yet it may seem a small matter in itself. You are aware that
I am not a very sound 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
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
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,
considerably surprise you. Things have taken a turn which I could
not have anticipated. In some ways they have within the last
forty-eight hours become much clearer and in some ways they have
become more complicated. But I will tell you all and you shall
judge for yourself.
Before breakfast on the morning following my adventure I went
down the corridor and examined the room in which Barrymore had
been on the night before. The western window through which he had
stared so intently has, I noticed, one peculiarity above all
other windows in the house--it commands the nearest outlook on
the moor. There is an opening between two trees which enables one
from this point of view to look right down upon it, while from
all the other windows it is only a distant glimpse which can be
obtained. It follows, therefore, that Barrymore, 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 which I had heard after I
had returned to my room might mean that he had gone out to keep
some clandestine appointment. So I reasoned with myself in the
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
his steps in the passage, coming and going, just about the hour
"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 Plymouth, 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
"That depends on whether you are going on the moor," said I.
"Yes, I am."
"Well, you know what my instructions are. I am sorry to intrude,
but you heard how earnestly Holmes insisted that I should not
leave you, and especially that you should not go alone upon the
Sir Henry put his hand upon my shoulder with a pleasant smile.
"My dear fellow," said 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
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 Merripit
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 appointment.
They were walking slowly along in deep conversation, 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 displeasure. 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 do.
"Halloa, Watson! Where have you dropped from?" said he. "You don't
mean to say that you came after me in spite of all?"
I explained everything to him: how I had found it impossible to
remain 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 country-side seems to have been out to see me do my
wooing--and a mighty poor wooing at that! Where had you engaged a
"I was on that hill."
"Quite in the back row, eh? But her brother was well up to the
front. Did you see him come out on us?"
"Yes, I did."
"Did he ever strike you as being crazy--this brother of hers?"
"I can't say that he ever did."
"I dare say not. I always thought him sane enough until to-day,
but you can take it from me that either he or I ought to be in a
strait-jacket. What's the matter with me, anyhow? You've lived
near me for some weeks, Watson. Tell me straight, now! Is there
anything that would prevent me from making a good husband to a
woman that I loved?"
"I should say not."
"He can't object to my worldly position, so it must be myself
that he has this down on. What has he against me? I never hurt
man or woman in my life that I know of. And yet he would not so
much as let me touch the tips of her fingers."
"Did he say so?"
"That, and a deal more. I tell you, Watson, I've only known her
these few weeks, but from the first I just felt that she was made
for me, and she, too--she was happy when she was with me, and
that I'll swear. There's a light in a woman's eyes that speaks
louder than words. But he has never let us get together, and it
was only to-day for the first time that I saw a chance of having
a few words with her alone. She was glad to meet me, but when she
did it was not love that she would talk about, and she wouldn't
have let me talk about it either if she could have stopped it.
She kept coming back to it that this was a place of danger, and
that she would never be happy until I had left it. I told her
that since I had seen her I was in no hurry to leave it, and that
if she really wanted me to go, the only way to work it was for
her to arrange to go with me. With that I offered in as many
words to marry her, but before she could answer, down came this
brother of hers, running at us with a face on him like a madman.
He was just white with rage, and those light eyes of his were
blazing with fury. What was I doing with the lady? How dared I
offer her attentions which were distasteful to her? Did I think
that because I was a baronet I could do what I liked? If he had
not been her brother I should have known better how to answer
him. As it was I told him that my feelings towards his sister
were such as I was not ashamed of, and that I hoped that she
might honour me by becoming my wife. That seemed to make the
matter no better, so then I lost my temper too, and I answered
him rather more hotly than I should perhaps, considering that she
was standing by. So it ended by his going off with her, as you
saw, and here am I as badly puzzled a man as any in this county.
Just tell me what it all means, Watson, and I'll owe you more
than ever I can hope to pay."
I tried one or two 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 without
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.
"I 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
confidence which you showed in me when you sent me down. All
these things have by one night's work been thoroughly cleared.
I have said "by one night's work," but, in truth, it was by two
nights' work, for on the first we drew entirely blank. I sat up
with Sir Henry in his rooms until nearly three o'clock in the
morning, but no sound of any sort did we hear except the chiming
clock upon the stairs. It was a most melancholy vigil, and ended
by each of us falling asleep in our chairs. Fortunately we were
not discouraged, and we determined to try again. The next night
we lowered the lamp, and sat smoking cigarettes without making
the least sound. It was incredible how slowly the hours crawled
by, and yet we were helped through it by the same sort of patient
interest which the hunter must feel as he watches the trap into
which he hopes the game may wander. One struck, and two, and we
had almost for the second time given it up in despair, when in an
instant we both sat bolt upright in our chairs, with all our
weary senses keenly on the alert once more. We had heard the
creak of a step in the passage.
Very stealthily we heard it pass along until it died away in the
distance. Then the baronet gently opened his door and we set out
in pursuit. Already our man had gone round the gallery, and the
corridor was all in darkness. Softly we stole along until we had
come into the other wing. We were just in time to catch a glimpse
of the tall, black-bearded figure, his shoulders rounded, as he
tip-toed down the passage. Then he passed through the same door
as before, and the light of the candle framed it in the darkness
and shot one single yellow beam across the gloom of the corridor.
We shuffled cautiously towards it, trying every plank before we
dared to put our whole weight upon it. We had taken the
precaution of leaving our boots behind us, but, even so, the old
boards snapped and creaked beneath our tread. Sometimes it seemed
impossible that he should fail to hear our approach. However, the
man is fortunately rather deaf, and he was entirely preoccupied
in that which he was doing. When at last we reached the door and
peeped through we found him crouching at the window, candle in
hand, his white, intent face pressed against the pane, exactly as
I had seen him two nights before.
We had arranged no plan of campaign, but the baronet is a man to
whom the most direct way is always the most natural. He walked
into the room, and as he did so Barrymore sprang up from the
window with a sharp hiss of his breath and stood, livid and
trembling, before us. His dark eyes, glaring out of the white
mask of his face, were full of horror and astonishment as he
gazed from Sir Henry to me.
"What are you doing 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 window."
"And why were you holding a candle to the window?"
"Don't ask me, Sir Henry--don't ask me! I give you my word, sir,
that it is not my secret, and that I cannot tell it. If it
concerned no one but myself I would not try to keep it from you."
A sudden idea occurred to 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 confederate out yonder,
and what is this conspiracy that is going on?"
The man's face became openly defiant.
"It is my business, and not yours. I will not tell."
"Then you leave my employment right away."
"Very good, sir. If I must I must."
"And you go in disgrace. By thunder, you may well be ashamed of
yourself. Your family has lived with mine for over a hundred
years under this roof, and here I find you deep in some dark plot
"No, no, sir; no, not against you!" It was a woman's 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