Darmowy fragment publikacji:
A. Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Polska wersja językowa w tłumaczeniu Eugenii Żmijewskiej
Angielska wersja językowa zgodna z pierwszym wydaniem z roku 1902
Ilustracje: Sidney Paget
Wydawnictwo Wymownia, 2016
Utwór, jego tłumaczenie oraz wszystkie ilustracje dostępne w domenie publicznej. Źródła:
https://pl.wikisource.org/wiki/Tajemnica_Baskerville E2 80 99 C3 B3w (dokonano zmiany tytułu; tytuł nadany przez
tłumaczkę Tajemnica Baskerville’ów. Dziwne przygody Sherlocka Holmes”).
The Hound of the Baskervilles ……………………………………. 3
Pies Baskerville’ów ………………………………………………. 175
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Chapter 1. Mr. Sherlock Holmes
Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not
infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon
the hearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before.
It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort which is known as a Penang
lawyer. Just under the head was a broad silver band nearly an inch across. To James
Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends of the C.C.H., was engraved upon it, with the date
1884. It was just such a stick as the old-fashioned family practitioner used to carry—
dignified, solid, and reassuring.
Well, Watson, what do you make of it?
Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and I had given him no sign of my occupation.
How did you know what I was doing? I believe you have eyes in the back of your head.
I have, at least, a well-polished, silver-plated coffee-pot in front of me, said he. But, tell
me, Watson, what do you make of our visitor s stick? Since we have been so unfortunate as to
miss him and have no notion of his errand, this accidental souvenir becomes of importance.
Let me hear you reconstruct the man by an examination of it.
I think, said I, following as far as I could the methods of my companion, that Dr. Mortimer
is a successful, elderly medical man, well-esteemed since those who know him give him this
mark of their appreciation.
Good! said Holmes. Excellent!
I think also that the probability is in favour of his being a country practitioner who does a
great deal of his visiting on foot.
Because this stick, though originally a very handsome one has been so knocked about that I
can hardly imagine a town practitioner carrying it. The thick-iron ferrule is worn down, so it
is evident that he has done a great amount of walking with it.
Perfectly sound! said Holmes.
And then again, there is the friends of the C.C.H. I should guess that to be the Something
Hunt, the local hunt to whose members he has possibly given some surgical assistance, and
which has made him a small presentation in return.
Really, Watson, you excel yourself, said Holmes, pushing back his chair and lighting a
cigarette. I am bound to say that in all the accounts which you have been so good as to give
of my own small achievements you have habitually underrated your own abilities. It may be
that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without
possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow, that I
am very much in your debt.
He had never said as much before, and I must admit that his words gave me keen pleasure, for
I had often been piqued by his indifference to my admiration and to the attempts which I had
made to give publicity to his methods. I was proud, too, to think that I had so far mastered his
system as to apply it in a way which earned his approval. He now took the stick from my
hands and examined it for a few minutes with his naked eyes. Then with an expression of
interest he laid down his cigarette, and carrying the cane to the window, he looked over it
again with a convex lens.
Interesting, though elementary, said he as he returned to his favourite corner of the settee.
There are certainly one or two indications upon the stick. It gives us the basis for several
Has anything escaped me? I asked with some self-importance. I trust that there is nothing
of consequence which I have overlooked?
I am afraid, my dear Watson, that most of your conclusions were erroneous. When I said that
you stimulated me I meant, to be frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided
towards the truth. Not that you are entirely wrong in this instance. The man is certainly a
country practitioner. And he walks a good deal.
Then I was right.
To that extent.
But that was all.
No, no, my dear Watson, not all—by no means all. I would suggest, for example, that a
presentation to a doctor is more likely to come from a hospital than from a hunt, and that
when the initials C.C. are placed before that hospital the words Charing Cross very naturally
You may be right.
The probability lies in that direction. And if we take this as a working hypothesis we have a
fresh basis from which to start our construction of this unknown visitor.
Well, then, supposing that C.C.H. does stand for Charing Cross Hospital, what further
inferences may we draw?
Do none suggest themselves? You know my methods. Apply them!
I can only think of the obvious conclusion that the man has practised in town before going to
I think that we might venture a little farther than this. Look at it in this light. On what
occasion would it be most probable that such a presentation would be made? When would his
friends unite to give him a pledge of their good will? Obviously at the moment when Dr.
Mortimer withdrew from the service of the hospital in order to start a practice for himself. We
know there has been a presentation. We believe there has been a change from a town hospital
to a country practice. Is it, then, stretching our inference too far to say that the presentation
was on the occasion of the change?
It certainly seems probable.
Now, you will observe that he could not have been on the staff of the hospital, since only a
man well-established in a London practice could hold such a position, and such a one would
not drift into the country. What was he, then? If he was in the hospital and yet not on the staff
he could only have been a house-surgeon or a house-physician—little more than a senior
student. And he left five years ago—the date is on the stick. So your grave, middle-aged
family practitioner vanishes into thin air, my dear Watson, and there emerges a young fellow
under thirty, amiable, unambitious, absent-minded, and the possessor of a favourite dog,
which I should describe roughly as being larger than a terrier and smaller than a mastiff.
I laughed incredulously as Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his settee and blew little wavering
rings of smoke up to the ceiling.
As to the latter part, I have no means of checking you, said I, but at least it is not difficult
to find out a few particulars about the man s age and professional career. From my small
medical shelf I took down the Medical Directory and turned up the name. There were several
Mortimers, but only one who could be our visitor. I read his record aloud.
Mortimer, James, M.R.C.S., 1882, Grimpen, Dartmoor, Devon.
House-surgeon, from 1882 to 1884, at Charing Cross Hospital.
Winner of the Jackson prize for Comparative Pathology,
with essay entitled Is Disease a Reversion? Corresponding
member of the Swedish Pathological Society. Author of
Some Freaks of Atavism (Lancet 1882). Do We Progress?
(Journal of Psychology, March, 1883). Medical Officer
for the parishes of Grimpen, Thorsley, and High Barrow.
No mention of that local hunt, Watson, said Holmes with a mischievous smile, but a
country doctor, as you very astutely observed. I think that I am fairly justified in my
inferences. As to the adjectives, I said, if I remember right, amiable, unambitious, and absent-
minded. It is my experience that it is only an amiable man in this world who receives
testimonials, only an unambitious one who abandons a London career for the country, and
only an absent-minded one who leaves his stick and not his visiting-card after waiting an hour
in your room.
And the dog?
Has been in the habit of carrying this stick behind his master. Being a heavy stick the dog
has held it tightly by the middle, and the marks of his teeth are very plainly visible. The dog s
jaw, as shown in the space between these marks, is too broad in my opinion for a terrier and
not broad enough for a mastiff. It may have been—yes, by Jove, it is a curly-haired spaniel.
He had risen and paced the room as he spoke. Now he halted in the recess of the window.
There was such a ring of conviction in his voice that I glanced up in surprise.
My dear fellow, how can you possibly be so sure of that?
For the very simple reason that I see the dog himself on our very door-step, and there is the
ring of its owner. Don t move, I beg you, Watson. He is a professional brother of yours, and
your presence may be of assistance to me. Now is the dramatic moment of fate, Watson, when
you hear a step upon the stair which is walking into your life, and you know not whether for
good or ill. What does Dr. James Mortimer, the man of science, ask of Sherlock Holmes, the
specialist in crime? Come in!
The appearance of our visitor was a surprise to me, since I had expected a typical country
practitioner. He was a very tall, thin man, with a long nose like a beak, which jutted out
between two keen, gray eyes, set closely together and sparkling brightly from behind a pair of
gold-rimmed glasses. He was clad in a professional but rather slovenly fashion, for his frock-
coat was dingy and his trousers frayed. Though young, his long back was already bowed, and
he walked with a forward thrust of his head and a general air of peering benevolence. As he
entered his eyes fell upon the stick in Holmes s hand, and he ran towards it with an
exclamation of joy. I am so very glad, said he. I was not sure whether I had left it here or in
the Shipping Office. I would not lose that stick for the world.
A presentation, I see, said Holmes.
From Charing Cross Hospital?
From one or two friends there on the occasion of my marriage.
Dear, dear, that s bad! said Holmes, shaking his head.
Dr. Mortimer blinked through his glasses in mild astonishment. Why was it bad?
Only that you have disarranged our little deductions. Your marriage, you say?
Yes, sir. I married, and so left the hospital, and with it all hopes of a consulting practice. It
was necessary to make a home of my own.
Come, come, we are not so far wrong, after all, said Holmes. And now, Dr. James
Mister, sir, Mister—a humble M.R.C.S.
And a man of precise mind, evidently.
A dabbler in science, Mr. Holmes, a picker up of shells on the shores of the great unknown
ocean. I presume that it is Mr. Sherlock Holmes whom I am addressing and not—
No, this is my friend Dr. Watson.
Glad to meet you, sir. I have heard your name mentioned in connection with that of your
friend. You interest me very much, Mr. Holmes. I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic a
skull or such well-marked supra-orbital development. Would you have any objection to my
running my finger along your parietal fissure? A cast of your skull, sir, until the original is
available, would be an ornament to any anthropological museum. It is not my intention to be
fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.
Sherlock Holmes waved our strange visitor into a chair. You are an enthusiast in your line of
thought, I perceive, sir, as I am in mine, said he. I observe from your forefinger that you
make your own cigarettes. Have no hesitation in lighting one.
The man drew out paper and tobacco and twirled the one up in the other with surprising
dexterity. He had long, quivering fingers as agile and restless as the antennae of an insect.
Holmes was silent, but his little darting glances showed me the interest which he took in our
curious companion. I presume, sir, said he at last, that it was not merely for the purpose of
examining my skull that you have done me the honour to call here last night and again
No, sir, no; though I am happy to have had the opportunity of doing that as well. I came to
you, Mr. Holmes, because I recognized that I am myself an unpractical man and because I am
suddenly confronted with a most serious and extraordinary problem. Recognizing, as I do,
that you are the second highest expert in Europe—
Indeed, sir! May I inquire who has the honour to be the first? asked Holmes with some
To the man of precisely scientific mind the work of Monsieur Bertillon must always appeal
Then had you not better consult him?
I said, sir, to the precisely scientific mind. But as a practical man of affairs it is
acknowledged that you stand alone. I trust, sir, that I have not inadvertently—
Just a little, said Holmes. I think, Dr. Mortimer, you would do wisely if without more ado
you would kindly tell me plainly what the exact nature of the problem is in which you demand
Chapter 2. The Curse of the Baskervilles
I have in my pocket a manuscript, said Dr. James Mortimer.
I observed it as you entered the room, said Holmes.
It is an old manuscript.
Early eighteenth century, unless it is a forgery.
How can you say that, sir?
You have presented an inch or two of it to my examination all the time that you have been
talking. It would be a poor expert who could not give the date of a document within a decade
or so. You may possibly have read my little monograph upon the subject. I put that at 1730.
The exact date is 1742. Dr. Mortimer drew it from his breast-pocket. This family paper
was committed to my care by Sir Charles Baskerville, whose sudden and tragic death some
three months ago created so much excitement in Devonshire. I may say that I was his personal
friend as well as his medical attendant. He was a strong-minded man, sir, shrewd, practical,
and as unimaginative as I am myself. Yet he took this document very seriously, and his mind
was prepared for just such an end as did eventually overtake him.
Holmes stretched out his hand for the manuscript and flattened it upon his knee. You will
observe, Watson, the alternative use of the long s and the short. It is one of several indications
which enabled me to fix the date.
I looked over his shoulder at the yellow paper and the faded script. At the head was written:
Baskerville Hall, and below in large, scrawling figures: 1742.
It appears to be a statement of some sort.
Yes, it is a statement of a certain legend which runs in the Baskerville family.
But I understand that it is something more modern and practical upon which you wish to
Most modern. A most practical, pressing matter, which must be decided within twenty-four
hours. But the manuscript is short and is intimately connected with the affair. With your
permission I will read it to you.
Holmes leaned back in his chair, placed his finger-tips together, and closed his eyes, with an
air of resignation. Dr. Mortimer turned the manuscript to the light and read in a high, cracking
voice the following curious, old-world narrative:
Of the origin of the Hound of the Baskervilles there
have been many statements, yet as I come in a direct
line from Hugo Baskerville, and as I had the story from
my father, who also had it from his, I have set it down
with all belief that it occurred even as is here set
forth. And I would have you believe, my sons, that the
same Justice which punishes sin may also most graciously
forgive it, and that no ban is so heavy but that by prayer
and repentance it may be removed. Learn then from this
story not to fear the fruits of the past, but rather to
be circumspect in the future, that those foul passions
whereby our family has suffered so grievously may not
again be loosed to our undoing.
Know then that in the time of the Great Rebellion (the
history of which by the learned Lord Clarendon I most
earnestly commend to your attention) this Manor of
Baskerville was held by Hugo of that name, nor can it be
gainsaid that he was a most wild, profane, and godless
man. This, in truth, his neighbours might have pardoned,
seeing that saints have never flourished in those parts,
but there was in him a certain wanton and cruel humour
which made his name a by-word through the West. It
chanced that this Hugo came to love (if, indeed, so dark
a passion may be known under so bright a name) the daughter
of a yeoman who held lands near the Baskerville estate.
But the young maiden, being discreet and of good repute,
would ever avoid him, for she feared his evil name. So
it came to pass that one Michaelmas this Hugo, with five
or six of his idle and wicked companions, stole down upon
the farm and carried off the maiden, her father and
brothers being from home, as he well knew. When they had
brought her to the Hall the maiden was placed in an upper
chamber, while Hugo and his friends sat down to a long
carouse, as was their nightly custom. Now, the poor lass
upstairs was like to have her wits turned at the singing
and shouting and terrible oaths which came up to her from
below, for they say that the words used by Hugo Baskerville,
when he was in wine, were such as might blast the man who
said them. At last in the stress of her fear she did that
which might have daunted the bravest or most active man,
for by the aid of the growth of ivy which covered (and
still covers) the south wall she came down from under the
eaves, and so homeward across the moor, there being three
leagues betwixt the Hall and her father s farm.
It chanced that some little time later Hugo left his
guests to carry food and drink—with other worse things,
perchance—to his captive, and so found the cage empty
and the bird escaped. Then, as it would seem, he became
as one that hath a devil, for, rushing down the stairs
into the dining-hall, he sprang upon the great table,
flagons and trenchers flying before him, and he cried
aloud before all the company that he would that very
night render his body and soul to the Powers of Evil if
he might but overtake the wench. And while the revellers
stood aghast at the fury of the man, one more wicked or,
it may be, more drunken than the rest, cried out that
they should put the hounds upon her. Whereat Hugo ran
from the house, crying to his grooms that they should
saddle his mare and unkennel the pack, and giving the
hounds a kerchief of the maid s, he swung them to the
line, and so off full cry in the moonlight over the moor.
Now, for some space the revellers stood agape, unable
to understand all that had been done in such haste. But
anon their bemused wits awoke to the nature of the deed
which was like to be done upon the moorlands. Everything
was now in an uproar, some calling for their pistols,
some for their horses, and some for another flask of
wine. But at length some sense came back to their crazed
minds, and the whole of them, thirteen in number, took
horse and started in pursuit. The moon shone clear above
them, and they rode swiftly abreast, taking that course
which the maid must needs have taken if she were to reach
her own home.
They had gone a mile or two when they passed one of the
night shepherds upon the moorlands, and they cried to
him to know if he had seen the hunt. And the man, as
the story goes, was so crazed with fear that he could
scarce speak, but at last he said that he had indeed seen
the unhappy maiden, with the hounds upon her track. But
I have seen more than that, said he, for Hugo Baskerville
passed me upon his black mare, and there ran mute behind
him such a hound of hell as God forbid should ever be at
my heels. So the drunken squires cursed the shepherd
and rode onward. But soon their skins turned cold, for
there came a galloping across the moor, and the black
mare, dabbled with white froth, went past with trailing
bridle and empty saddle. Then the revellers rode close
together, for a great fear was on them, but they still
followed over the moor, though each, had he been alone,
would have been right glad to have turned his horse s
head. Riding slowly in this fashion they came at last
upon the hounds. These, though known for their valour
and their breed, were whimpering in a cluster at the
head of a deep dip or goyal, as we call it, upon the
moor, some slinking away and some, with starting hackles
and staring eyes, gazing down the narrow valley before them.
The company had come to a halt, more sober men, as you
may guess, than when they started. The most of them
would by no means advance, but three of them, the boldest,
or it may be the most drunken, rode forward down the goyal.
Now, it opened into a broad space in which stood two of
those great stones, still to be seen there, which were
set by certain forgotten peoples in the days of old.
The moon was shining bright upon the clearing, and there
in the centre lay the unhappy maid where she had fallen,
dead of fear and of fatigue. But it was not the sight
of her body, nor yet was it that of the body of Hugo
Baskerville lying near her, which raised the hair upon
the heads of these three dare-devil roysterers, but it
was that, standing over Hugo, and plucking at his throat,
there stood a foul thing, a great, black beast, shaped
like a hound, yet larger than any hound that ever mortal
eye has rested upon. And even as they looked the thing
tore the throat out of Hugo Baskerville, on which, as it
turned its blazing eyes and dripping jaws upon them, the
three shrieked with fear and rode for dear life, still
screaming, across the moor. One, it is said, died that
very night of what he had seen, and the other twain were
but broken men for the rest of their days.
Such is the tale, my sons, of the coming of the hound
which is said to have plagued the family so sorely ever
since. If I have set it down it is because that which
is clearly known hath less terror than that which is but
hinted at and guessed. Nor can it be denied that many
of the family have been unhappy in their deaths, which
have been sudden, bloody, and mysterious. Yet may we
shelter ourselves in the infinite goodness of Providence,
which would not forever punish the innocent beyond that
third or fourth generation which is threatened in Holy
Writ. To that Providence, my sons, I hereby commend
you, and I counsel you by way of caution to forbear from
crossing the moor in those dark hours when the powers of
evil are exalted.
[This from Hugo Baskerville to his sons Rodger and John,
with instructions that they say nothing thereof to their
When Dr. Mortimer had finished reading this singular narrative he pushed his spectacles up
on his forehead and stared across at Mr. Sherlock Holmes. The latter yawned and tossed the
end of his cigarette into the fire.
Well? said he.
Do you not find it interesting?
To a collector of fairy tales.
Dr. Mortimer drew a folded newspaper out of his pocket.
Now, Mr. Holmes, we will give you something a little more recent. This is the Devon
County Chronicle of May 14th of this year. It is a short account of the facts elicited at the
death of Sir Charles Baskerville which occurred a few days before that date.
My friend leaned a little forward and his expression became intent. Our visitor readjusted his
glasses and began:
The recent sudden death of Sir Charles Baskerville, whose
name has been mentioned as the probable Liberal candidate
for Mid-Devon at the next election, has cast a gloom over
the county. Though Sir Charles had resided at Baskerville
Hall for a comparatively short period his amiability of
character and extreme generosity had won the affection
and respect of all who had been brought into contact with
him. In these days of nouveaux riches it is refreshing
to find a case where the scion of an old county family
which has fallen upon evil days is able to make his own
fortune and to bring it back with him to restore the
fallen grandeur of his line. Sir Charles, as is well known,
made large sums of money in South African speculation.
More wise than those who go on until the wheel turns
against them, he realized his gains and returned to England
with them. It is only two years since he took up his
residence at Baskerville Hall, and it is common talk how
large were those schemes of reconstruction and improvement
which have been interrupted by his death. Being himself
childless, it was his openly expressed desire that the
whole countryside should, within his own lifetime, profit
by his good fortune, and many will have personal reasons
for bewailing his untimely end. His generous donations
to local and county charities have been frequently
chronicled in these columns.
The circumstances connected with the death of Sir Charles
cannot be said to have been entirely cleared up by the
inquest, but at least enough has been done to dispose of
those rumours to which local superstition has given rise.
There is no reason whatever to suspect foul play, or to
imagine that death could be from any but natural causes.
Sir Charles was a widower, and a man who may be said to
have been in some ways of an eccentric habit of mind.
In spite of his considerable wealth he was simple in his
personal tastes, and his indoor servants at Baskerville
Hall consisted of a married couple named Barrymore, the
husband acting as butler and the wife as housekeeper.
Their evidence, corroborated by that of several friends,
tends to show that Sir Charles s health has for some time
been impaired, and points especially to some affection
of the heart, manifesting itself in changes of colour,
breathlessness, and acute attacks of nervous depression.
Dr. James Mortimer, the friend and medical attendant of
the deceased, has given evidence to the same effect.
The facts of the case are simple. Sir Charles Baskerville
was in the habit every night before going to bed of walking
down the famous yew alley of Baskerville Hall. The evidence
of the Barrymores shows that this had been his custom.
On the fourth of May Sir Charles had declared his intention
of starting next day for London, and had ordered Barrymore
to prepare his luggage. That night he went out as usual
for his nocturnal walk, in the course of which he was in
the habit of smoking a cigar. He never returned. At
twelve o clock Barrymore, finding the hall door still open,
became alarmed, and, lighting a lantern, went in search
of his master. The day had been wet, and Sir Charles s
footmarks were easily traced down the alley. Halfway down
this walk there is a gate which leads out on to the moor.
There were indications that Sir Charles had stood for some
little time here. He then proceeded down the alley, and
it was at the far end of it that his body was discovered.
One fact which has not been explained is the statement
of Barrymore that his master s footprints altered their
character from the time that he passed the moor-gate, and
that he appeared from thence onward to have been walking
upon his toes. One Murphy, a gipsy horse-dealer, was on
the moor at no great distance at the time, but he appears
by his own confession to have been the worse for drink.
He declares that he heard cries but is unable to state
from what direction they came. No signs of violence were
to be discovered upon Sir Charles s person, and though
the doctor s evidence pointed to an almost incredible
facial distortion—so great that Dr. Mortimer refused at
first to believe that it was indeed his friend and patient
who lay before him—it was explained that that is a symptom
which is not unusual in cases of dyspnoea and death from
cardiac exhaustion. This explanation was borne out by
the post-mortem examination, which showed long-standing
organic disease, and the coroner s jury returned a
verdict in accordance with the medical evidence. It is
well that this is so, for it is obviously of the utmost
importance that Sir Charles s heir should settle at the
Hall and continue the good work which has been so sadly
interrupted. Had the prosaic finding of the coroner not
finally put an end to the romantic stories which have been
whispered in connection with the affair, it might have been
difficult to find a tenant for Baskerville Hall. It is
understood that the next of kin is Mr. Henry Baskerville,
if he be still alive, the son of Sir Charles Baskerville s
younger brother. The young man when last heard of was
in America, and inquiries are being instituted with a
view to informing him of his good fortune.
Dr. Mortimer refolded his paper and replaced it in his pocket. Those are the public facts, Mr.
Holmes, in connection with the death of Sir Charles Baskerville.
I must thank you, said Sherlock Holmes, for calling my attention to a case which certainly
presents some features of interest. I had observed some newspaper comment at the time, but I
was exceedingly preoccupied by that little affair of the Vatican cameos, and in my anxiety to
oblige the Pope I lost touch with several interesting English cases. This article, you say,
contains all the public facts?
Then let me have the private ones. He leaned back, put his finger-tips together, and assumed
his most impassive and judicial expression.
In doing so, said Dr. Mortimer, who had begun to show signs of some strong emotion, I
am telling that which I have not confided to anyone. My motive for withholding it from the
coroner s inquiry is that a man of science shrinks from placing himself in the public position
of seeming to indorse a popular superstition. I had the further motive that Baskerville Hall, as
the paper says, would certainly remain untenanted if anything were done to increase its
already rather grim reputation. For both these reasons I thought that I was justified in telling
rather less than I knew, since no practical good could result from it, but with you there is no
reason why I should not be perfectly frank.
The moor is very sparsely inhabited, and those who live near each other are thrown very
much together. For this reason I saw a good deal of Sir Charles Baskerville. With the
exception of Mr. Frankland, of Lafter Hall, and Mr. Stapleton, the naturalist, there are no
other men of education within many miles. Sir Charles was a retiring man, but the chance of
his illness brought us together, and a community of interests in science kept us so. He had
brought back much scientific information from South Africa, and many a charming evening
we have spent together discussing the comparative anatomy of the Bushman and the
Within the last few months it became increasingly plain to me that Sir Charles s nervous
system was strained to the breaking point. He had taken this legend which I have read you
exceedingly to heart—so much so that, although he would walk in his own grounds, nothing
would induce him to go out upon the moor at night. Incredible as it may appear to you, Mr.
Holmes, he was honestly convinced that a dreadful fate overhung his family, and certainly the
records which he was able to give of his ancestors were not encouraging. The idea of some
ghastly presence constantly haunted him, and on more than one occasion he has asked me
whether I had on my medical journeys at night ever seen any strange creature or heard the
baying of a hound. The latter question he put to me several times, and always with a voice
which vibrated with excitement.
I can well remember driving up to his house in the evening some three weeks before the fatal
event. He chanced to be at his hall door. I had descended from my gig and was standing in
front of him, when I saw his eyes fix themselves over my shoulder and stare past me with an
expression of the most dreadful horror. I whisked round and had just time to catch a glimpse
of something which I took to be a large black calf passing at the head of the drive. So excited
and alarmed was he that I was compelled to go down to the spot where the animal had been
and look around for it. It was gone, however, and the incident appeared to make the worst
impression upon his mind. I stayed with him all the evening, and it was on that occasion, to
explain the emotion which he had shown, that he confided to my keeping that narrative which
I read to you when first I came. I mention this small episode because it assumes some
importance in view of the tragedy which followed, but I was convinced at the time that the
matter was entirely trivial and that his excitement had no justification.
It was at my advice that Sir Charles was about to go to London. His heart was, I knew,
affected, and the constant anxiety in which he lived, however chimerical the cause of it might
be, was evidently having a serious effect upon his health. I thought that a few months among
the distractions of town would send him back a new man. Mr. Stapleton, a mutual friend who
was much concerned at his state of health, was of the same opinion. At the last instant came
this terrible catastrophe.
On the night of Sir Charles s death Barrymore the butler, who made the discovery, sent
Perkins the groom on horseback to me, and as I was sitting up late I was able to reach
Baskerville Hall within an hour of the event. I checked and corroborated all the facts which
were mentioned at the inquest. I followed the footsteps down the yew alley, I saw the spot at
the moor-gate where he seemed to have waited, I remarked the change in the shape of the
prints after that point, I noted that there were no other footsteps save those of Barrymore on
the soft gravel, and finally I carefully examined the body, which had not been touched until
my arrival. Sir Charles lay on his face, his arms out, his fingers dug into the ground, and his
features convulsed with some strong emotion to such an extent that I could hardly have sworn
to his identity. There was certainly no physical injury of any kind. But one false statement
was made by Barrymore at the inquest. He said that there were no traces upon the ground
round the body. He did not observe any. But I did—some little distance off, but fresh and
A man s or a woman s?
Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as
Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!
Chapter 3. The Problem
I confess at these words a shudder passed through me. There was a thrill in the doctor s voice
which showed that he was himself deeply moved by that which he told us. Holmes leaned
forward in his excitement and his eyes had the hard, dry glitter which shot from them when he
was keenly interested.
You saw this?
As clearly as I see you.
And you said nothing?
What was the use?
How was it that no one else saw it?
The marks were some twenty yards from the body and no one gave them a thought. I don t
suppose I should have done so had I not known this legend.
There are many sheep-dogs on the moor?
No doubt, but this was no sheep-dog.
You say it was large?
But it had not approached the body?
What sort of night was it?
Damp and raw.
But not actually raining?
What is the alley like?
There are two lines of old yew hedge, twelve feet high and impenetrable. The walk in the
centre is about eight feet across.
Is there anything between the hedges and the walk?
Yes, there is a strip of grass about six feet broad on either side.
I understand that the yew hedge is penetrated at one point by a gate?
Yes, the wicket-gate which leads on to the moor.
Is there any other opening?
So that to reach the yew alley one either has to come down it from the house or else to enter
it by the moor-gate?
There is an exit through a summer-house at the far end.
Had Sir Charles reached this?
No; he lay about fifty yards from it.
Now, tell me, Dr. Mortimer—and this is important—the marks which you saw were on the
path and not on the grass?
No marks could show on the grass.
Were they on the same side of the path as the moor-gate?
Yes; they were on the edge of the path on the same side as the moor-gate.
You interest me exceedingly. Another point. Was the wicket-gate closed?
Closed and padlocked.
How high was it?
About four feet high.
Then anyone could have got over it?
And what marks did you see by the wicket-gate?
None in particular.
Good heaven! Did no one examine?
Yes, I examined, myself.
And found nothing?
It was all very confused. Sir Charles had evidently stood there for five or ten minutes.
How do you know that?
Because the ash had twice dropped from his cigar.
Excellent! This is a colleague, Watson, after our own heart. But the marks?
He had left his own marks all over that small patch of gravel. I could discern no others.
Sherlock Holmes struck his hand against his knee with an impatient gesture.
If I had only been there! he cried. It is evidently a case of extraordinary interest, and one
which presented immense opportunities to the scientific expert. That gravel page upon which
I might have read so much has been long ere this smudged by the rain and defaced by the
clogs of curious peasants. Oh, Dr. Mortimer, Dr. Mortimer, to think that you should not have
called me in! You have indeed much to answer for.
I could not call you in, Mr. Holmes, without disclosing these facts to the world, and I have
already given my reasons for not wishing to do so. Besides, besides—
Why do you hesitate?
There is a realm in which the most acute and most experienced of detectives is helpless.
You mean that the thing is supernatural?
I did not positively say so.
No, but you evidently think it.
Since the tragedy, Mr. Holmes, there have come to my ears several incidents which are hard
to reconcile with the settled order of Nature.
I find that before the terrible event occurred several people had seen a creature upon the
moor which corresponds with this Baskerville demon, and which could not possibly be any
animal known to science. They all agreed that it was a huge creature, luminous, ghastly, and
spectral. I have cross-examined these men, one of them a hard-headed countryman, one a
farrier, and one a moorland farmer, who all tell the same story of this dreadful apparition,
exactly corresponding to the hell-hound of the legend. I assure you that there is a reign of
terror in the district, and that it is a hardy man who will cross the moor at 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
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
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
There is no other claimant, I presume?
None. The only other kinsman whom we have been able to trace was Rodger Baskerville, the
youngest of three brothers of whom poor Sir Charles was the elder. The second brother, who
died young, is the father of this lad Henry. The third, Rodger, was the black sheep of the
family. He came of the old masterful Baskerville strain and was the very image, they tell me,
of the family picture of old Hugo. He made England too hot to hold him, fled to Central
America, and died there in 1876 of yellow fever. Henry is the last of the Baskervilles. In one
hour and five minutes I meet him at Waterloo Station. I have had a wire that he arrived at
Southampton this morning. Now, Mr. Holmes, what would you advise me to do with him?
Why should he not go to the home of his fathers?
It seems natural, does it not? And yet, consider that every Baskerville who goes there meets
with an evil fate. I feel sure that if Sir Charles could have spoken with me before his death he
would have warned me against bringing this, the last of the old race, and the heir to great
wealth, to that deadly place. And yet it cannot be denied that the prosperity of the whole poor,
bleak countryside depends upon his presence. All the good work which has been done by Sir
Charles will crash to the ground if there is no tenant of the Hall. I fear lest I should be swayed
too much by my own obvious interest in the matter, and that is why I bring the case before
you and ask for your advice.
Holmes considered for a little time.
Put into plain words, the matter is this, said he. In your opinion there is a diabolical agency
which makes Dartmoor an unsafe abode for a Baskerville—that is your opinion?
At least I might go the length of saying that there is some evidence that this may be so.
Exactly. But surely, if your supernatural theory be correct, it could work the young man evil
in London as easily as in Devonshire. A devil with merely local powers like a parish vestry
would be too inconceivable a thing.
You put the matter more flippantly, Mr. Holmes, than you would probably do if you were
brought into personal contact with these things. Your advice, then, as I understand it, is that
the young man will be as safe in Devonshire as in London. He comes in fifty minutes. What
would you recommend?
I recommend, sir, that you take a cab, call off your spaniel who is scratching at my front
door, and proceed to Waterloo to meet Sir Henry Baskerville.
And then you will say nothing to him at all until I have made up my mind about the matter.
How long will it take you to make up your mind?
Twenty-four hours. At ten o clock tomorrow, Dr. Mortimer, I will be much obliged to you if
you will call upon me here, and it will be of help to me in my plans for the future if you will
bring Sir Henry Baskerville with you.
I will do so, Mr. Holmes. He scribbled the appointment on his shirt-cuff and hurried off in
his strange, peering, absent-minded fashion. Holmes stopped him at the head of the stair.
Only one more question, Dr. Mortimer. You say that before Sir Charles Baskerville s death
several people saw this apparition upon the moor?
Three people did.
Did any see it after?
I have not heard of any.
Thank you. Good-morning.
Holmes returned to his seat with that quiet look of inward satisfaction which meant that he
had a congenial task before him.
Going out, Watson?
Unless I can help you.
No, my dear fellow, it is at the hour of action that I turn to you for aid. But this is splendid,
really unique from some points of view. When you pass Bradley s, would you ask him to send
up a pound of the strongest shag tobacco? Thank you. It would be as well if you could make it
convenient not to return before evening. Then I should be very glad to compare impressions
as to this most interesting problem which has been submitted to us this morning.
I knew that seclusion and solitude were very necessary for my friend in those hours of intense
mental concentration during which he weighed every particle of evidence, constructed
alternative theories, balanced one against the other, and made up his mind as to which points
were essential and which immaterial. I therefore spent the day at my club and did not return to
Baker Street until evening. It was nearly nine o clock when I found myself in the sitting-room
My first impression as I opened the door was that a fire had broken out, for the room was so
filled with smoke that the light of the lamp upon the table was blurred by it. As I entered,
however, my fears were set at rest, for it was the acrid fumes of strong coarse tobacco which
took me by the throat and set me coughing. Through the haze I had a vague vision of Holmes
in his dressing-gown coiled up in an armchair with his black clay pipe between his lips.
Several rolls of paper lay around him.
Caught cold, Watson? said he.
No, it s this poisonous atmosphere.
I suppose it is pretty thick, now that you mention it.
Thick! It is intolerable.
Open the window, then! You have been at your club all day, I perceive.
My dear Holmes!
Am I right?
Certainly, but how?
He laughed at my bewildered expression. There is a delightful freshness about you, Watson,
which makes it a pleasure to exercise any small powers which I possess at your expense. A
gentleman goes forth on a showery and miry day. He returns immaculate in the evening with
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