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

“It must be a wild place.”

“Yes, the setting is a worthy one. If the devil did desire to have a hand in the affairs of men–”

“Then you are yourself inclining to the supernatural explanation.”

“The devil’s agents may be of flesh and blood, may they not? There are two questions waiting for us at the outset. The one is whether any crime has been committed at all; the second is, what is the crime and how was it committed? Of course, if Dr. Mortimer’s surmise should be correct, and we are dealing with forces outside the ordinary laws of Nature, there is an end of our investigation. But we are bound to exhaust all other hypotheses before falling back upon this one. I think we’ll shut that window again, if you don’t mind. It is a singular thing, but I find that a concentrated atmosphere helps a concentration of thought. I have not pushed it to the length of getting into a box to think, but that is the logical outcome of my convictions. Have you turned the case over in your mind?”

“Yes, I have thought a good deal of it in the course of the day.”

“What do you make of it?”

“It is very bewildering.”

“It has certainly a character of its own. There are points of distinction about it. That change in the footprints, for example. What do you make of that?”

“Mortimer said that the man had walked on tiptoe down that portion of the alley.”

“He only repeated what some fool had said at the inquest. Why should a man walk on tiptoe down the alley?”

“What then?”

“He was running, Watson–running desperately, running for his life, running until he burst his heart–and fell dead upon his face.”

“Running from what?”

“There lies our problem. There are indications that the man was crazed with fear before ever he began to run.”

“How can you say that?”

“I am presuming that the cause of his fears came to him across the moor. If that were so, and it seems most probable, only a man who had lost his wits would have run from the house instead of towards it. If the gipsy’s evidence may be taken as true, he ran with cries for help in the direction where help was least likely to be. Then, again, whom was he waiting for that night, and why was he waiting for him in the yew alley rather than in his own house?”

“You think that he was waiting for someone?”

“The man was elderly and infirm. We can understand his taking an evening stroll, but the ground was damp and the night inclement. Is it natural that he should stand for five or ten minutes, as Dr. Mortimer, with more practical sense than I should have given him credit for, deduced from the cigar ash?”

“But he went out every evening.”

“I think it unlikely that he waited at the moor—gate every evening. On the contrary, the evidence is that he avoided the moor. That night he waited there. It was the night before he made his departure for London. The thing takes shape, Watson. It becomes coherent. Might I ask you to hand me my violin, and we will postpone all further thought upon this business until we have had the advantage of meeting Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry Baskerville in the morning.”

You are not logged in
MembershipLookupDictionaryWikipediaCustomHelp