Aolib.comFragment of Photochrom print of the front of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany (ca. 1897)

The Hound of the Baskervilles »

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“There is a realm in which the most acute and most experienced of detectives is helpless.”

“You mean that the thing is supernatural?”

“I did not positively say so.”

“No, but you evidently think it.”

“Since the tragedy, Mr. Holmes, there have come to my ears several incidents which are hard to reconcile with the settled order of Nature.”

“For example?”

“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 night.”

“And you, a trained man of science, believe it to be supernatural?”

“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?”

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