I CONFESS that at these words a shudder passed through me. There was a
thrill in the doctors 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 dont suppose I should have done so had I not known this
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
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
Had Sir Charles reached this?
No; he lay about fifty yards from it.
Now, tell me, Dr. Mortimerand this is
importantthe 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
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
Closed and padlocked.
How high was it?
About four feet high.
Then anyone could have got over it?
And what marks did you see by the wicket-gate?
None in particular.
Good heaven! Did no one examine?
Yes, I examined, myself.
And found nothing?
It was all very confused. Sir Charles had evidently
stood there for five or ten minutes.
How do you know that?
Because the ash had twice dropped from his cigar.
Excellent! This is a colleague, Watson, after our own
heart. But the marks?
He had left his own marks all over that small patch of
gravel. I could discern no others.
Sherlock Holmes struck his hand against his knee with an
If I had only been there! he cried. It is
evidently a case of extraordinary interest, and one which presented immense 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.
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
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
mans 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 Charless 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 StationDr. Mortimer looked at his
watchin 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 Charless will.
There is no other claimant, I presume?
None. The only other kinsman whom we have been able to
trace was Rodger Baskerville, the youngest of three brothers of whom poor Sir Charles was
the elder. The second brother, who died young, is the father of this lad Henry. The third,
Rodger, was the black sheep of the family. He came of the old masterful Baskerville strain
and was the very image, they tell me, of the family picture of old Hugo. He made England
too hot to hold him, fled to Central America, and died there in 1876 of yellow fever.
Henry is the last of the Baskervilles. In one hour and five minutes I meet him at Waterloo
Station. I have had a wire that he arrived at Southampton this morning. Now, Mr. Holmes,
what would you advise me to do with him?
Why should he not go to the home of his fathers?
It seems natural, does it not? And yet, consider that
every Baskerville  who
goes there meets with an evil fate. I feel sure that if Sir Charles could have spoken with
me before his death he would have warned me against bringing this, the last of the old
race, and the heir to great wealth, to that deadly place. And yet it cannot be denied that
the prosperity of the whole poor, bleak countryside depends upon his presence. All the
good work which has been done by Sir Charles will crash to the ground if there is no
tenant of the Hall. I fear lest I should be swayed too much by my own obvious interest in
the matter, and that is why I bring the case before you and ask for your advice.
Holmes considered for a little time.
Put into plain words, the matter is this, said he.
In your opinion there is a diabolical agency which makes Dartmoor an unsafe abode
for a Baskervillethat 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
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 oclock to-morrow, 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