You knew him, did you not?
I have already said that I owe a great deal to his
kindness. If I am able to support myself it is largely due to the interest which he took
in my unhappy situation.
Did you correspond with him?
The lady looked quickly up with an angry gleam in her hazel
What is the object of these questions? she asked
The object is to avoid a public scandal. It is better
that I should ask them here than that the matter should pass outside our control.
She was silent and her face was still very pale. At last she
looked up with something reckless and defiant in her manner.
Well, Ill answer, she said. What are
Did you correspond with Sir Charles?
I certainly wrote to him once or twice to acknowledge
his delicacy and his generosity.
Have you the dates of those letters?
Have you ever met him?
Yes, once or twice, when he came into Coombe Tracey. He
was a very retiring man, and he preferred to do good by stealth.
But if you saw him so seldom and wrote so seldom, how
did he know enough about your affairs to be able to help you, as you say that he has
She met my difficulty with the utmost readiness.
There were several gentlemen who knew my sad history and
united to help me. One was Mr. Stapleton, a neighbour and intimate friend of Sir
Charless. He was exceedingly kind, and it was through him that Sir Charles learned
about my affairs.
I knew already that Sir Charles Baskerville had made Stapleton
his almoner upon several occasions, so the ladys statement bore the impress of truth
Did you ever write to Sir Charles asking him to meet
you? I continued.
Mrs. Lyon flushed with anger again.
Really, sir, this is a very extraordinary
I am sorry, madam, but I must repeat it.
Then I answer, certainly not.
Not on the very day of Sir Charless death?
The flush had faded in an instant, and a deathly face was
before me. Her dry lips could not speak the No which I saw rather than heard.
Surely your memory deceives you, said I. I
could even quote a passage of your letter. It ran Please, please, as you are a
gentleman, burn this letter, and be at the gate by ten oclock.
I thought that she had fainted, but she recovered herself by a
Is there no such thing as a gentleman? she gasped.
You do Sir Charles an injustice. He did burn
the letter. But sometimes a letter may be legible even when burned. You acknowledge now
that you wrote it?
Yes, I did write it, she cried, pouring out her
soul in a torrent of words. I did write it. Why should I deny it? I have no reason
to be ashamed of it. I wished him to help me. I believed that if I had an interview I
could gain his help, so I asked him to meet me.
But why at such an hour?
Because I had only just learned that he was going to
London next day and might be away for months. There were reasons why I could not get there
But why a rendezvous in the garden instead of a visit to
Do you think a woman could go alone at that hour to a
Well, what happened when you did get there?
I never went.
No, I swear it to you on all I hold sacred. I never
went. Something intervened to prevent my going.
What was that?
That is a private matter. I cannot tell it.
You acknowledge then that you made an appointment with
Sir Charles at the very hour 
and place at which he met his death, but you deny that you kept the appointment.
That is the truth.
Again and again I cross-questioned her, but I could never get
past that point.
Mrs. Lyons, said I as I rose from this long and
inconclusive interview, you are taking a very great responsibility and putting
yourself in a very false position by not making an absolutely clean breast of all that you
know. If I have to call in the aid of the police you will find how seriously you are
compromised. If your position is innocent, why did you in the first instance deny having
written to Sir Charles upon that date?
Because I feared that some false conclusion might be
drawn from it and that I might find myself involved in a scandal.
And why were you so pressing that Sir Charles should
destroy your letter?
If you have read the letter you will know.
I did not say that I had read all the letter.
You quoted some of it.
I quoted the postscript. The letter had, as I said, been
burned and it was not all legible. I ask you once again why it was that you were so
pressing that Sir Charles should destroy this letter which he received on the day of his
The matter is a very private one.
The more reason why you should avoid a public
I will tell you, then. If you have heard anything of my
unhappy history you will know that I made a rash marriage and had reason to regret
I have heard so much.
My life has been one incessant persecution from a
husband whom I abhor. The law is upon his side, and every day I am faced by the
possibility that he may force me to live with him. At the time that I wrote this letter to
Sir Charles I had learned that there was a prospect of my regaining my freedom if certain
expenses could be met. It meant everything to mepeace of mind, happiness,
self-respecteverything. I knew Sir Charless generosity, and I thought that if
he heard the story from my own lips he would help me.
Then how is it that you did not go?
Because I received help in the interval from another
Why, then, did you not write to Sir Charles and explain
So I should have done had I not seen his death in the
paper next morning.
The womans story hung coherently together, and all my
questions were unable to shake it. I could only check it by finding if she had, indeed,
instituted divorce proceedings against her husband at or about the time of the tragedy.
It was unlikely that she would dare to say that she had not
been to Baskerville Hall if she really had been, for a trap would be necessary to take her
there, and could not have returned to Coombe Tracey until the early hours of the morning.
Such an excursion could not be kept secret. The probability was, therefore, that she was
telling the truth, or, at least, a part of the truth. I came away baffled and
disheartened. Once again I had reached that dead wall which seemed to be built across
every path by which I tried to get at the object of my mission. And yet the more I thought
of the ladys face and of her manner the more I felt that something was being held
back from me. Why should she turn so pale? Why should she fight against every admission
until it was forced from her? Why should she have been so reticent at the time of the
tragedy? Surely the explanation of all this could not  be as innocent as she would have me believe. For the
moment I could proceed no farther in that direction, but must turn back to that other clue
which was to be sought for among the stone huts upon the moor.
And that was a most vague direction. I realized it as I drove
back and noted how hill after hill showed traces of the ancient people. Barrymores
only indication had been that the stranger lived in one of these abandoned huts, and many
hundreds of them are scattered throughout the length and breadth of the moor. But I had my
own experience for a guide since it had shown me the man himself standing upon the summit
of the Black Tor. That, then, should be the centre of my search. From there I should
explore every hut upon the moor until I lighted upon the right one. If this man were
inside it I should find out from his own lips, at the point of my revolver if necessary,
who he was and why he had dogged us so long. He might slip away from us in the crowd of
Regent Street, but it would puzzle him to do so upon the lonely moor. On the other hand,
if I should find the hut and its tenant should not be within it I must remain there,
however long the vigil, until he returned. Holmes had missed him in London. It would
indeed be a triumph for me if I could run him to earth where my master had failed.
Luck had been against us again and again in this inquiry, but
now at last it came to my aid. And the messenger of good fortune was none other than Mr.
Frankland, who was standing, gray-whiskered and red-faced, outside the gate of his garden,
which opened on to the highroad along which I travelled.
Good-day, Dr. Watson, cried he with unwonted
good humour, you must really give your horses a rest and come in to have a glass of
wine and to congratulate me.
My feelings towards him were very far from being friendly
after what I had heard of his treatment of his daughter, but I was anxious to send Perkins
and the wagonette home, and the opportunity was a good one. I alighted and sent a message
to Sir Henry that I should walk over in time for dinner. Then I followed Frankland into
It is a great day for me, sirone of the red-letter
days of my life, he cried with many chuckles. I have brought off a double
event. I mean to teach them in these parts that law is law, and that there is a man here
who does not fear to invoke it. I have established a right of way through the centre of
old Middletons park, slap across it, sir, within a hundred yards of his own front
door. What do you think of that? Well teach these magnates that they cannot ride
roughshod over the rights of the commoners, confound them! And Ive closed the wood
where the Fernworthy folk used to picnic. These infernal people seem to think that there
are no rights of property, and that they can swarm where they like with their papers and
their bottles. Both cases decided, Dr. Watson, and both in my favour. I havent had
such a day since I had Sir John Morland for trespass because he shot in his own
How on earth did you do that?
Look it up in the books, sir. It will repay
readingFrankland v. Morland, Court of Queens Bench. It cost me £200, but I
got my verdict.
Did it do you any good?
None, sir, none. I am proud to say that I had no
interest in the matter. I act entirely from a sense of public duty. I have no doubt, for
example, that the Fernworthy people will burn me in effigy to-night. I told the police
last time they did it that they should stop these disgraceful exhibitions. The County
Constabulary is in a scandalous state, sir, and it has not afforded me the protection to
which I am entitled. The case of Frankland v. Regina will bring the matter before the  attention of the public. I told
them that they would have occasion to regret their treatment of me, and already my words
have come true.
How so? I asked.
The old man put on a very knowing expression.
Because I could tell them what they are dying to know;
but nothing would induce me to help the rascals in any way.
I had been casting round for some excuse by which I could get
away from his gossip, but now I began to wish to hear more of it. I had seen enough of the
contrary nature of the old sinner to understand that any strong sign of interest would be
the surest way to stop his confidences.
Some poaching case, no doubt? said I with an
Ha, ha, my boy, a very much more important matter than
that! What about the convict on the moor?
I started. You dont mean that you know where he
is? said I.
I may not know exactly where he is, but I am quite sure
that I could help the police to lay their hands on him. Has it never struck you that the
way to catch that man was to find out where he got his food and so trace it to him?
He certainly seemed to be getting uncomfortably near the
truth. No doubt, said I; but how do you know that he is anywhere upon
I know it because I have seen with my own eyes the
messenger who takes him his food.
My heart sank for Barrymore. It was a serious thing to be in
the power of this spiteful old busybody. But his next remark took a weight from my mind.
Youll be surprised to hear that his food is taken
to him by a child. I see him every day through my telescope upon the roof. He passes along
the same path at the same hour, and to whom should he be going except to the
Here was luck indeed! And yet I suppressed all appearance of
interest. A child! Barrymore had said that our unknown was supplied by a boy. It was on
his track, and not upon the convicts, that Frankland had stumbled. If I could get
his knowledge it might save me a long and weary hunt. But incredulity and indifference
were evidently my strongest cards.
I should say that it was much more likely that it was
the son of one of the moorland shepherds taking out his fathers dinner.
The least appearance of opposition struck fire out of the old
autocrat. His eyes looked malignantly at me, and his gray whiskers bristled like those of
an angry cat.
Indeed, sir! said he, pointing out over the
wide-stretching moor. Do you see that Black Tor over yonder? Well, do you see the
low hill beyond with the thornbush upon it? It is the stoniest part of the whole moor. Is
that a place where a shepherd would be likely to take his station? Your suggestion, sir,
is a most absurd one.
I meekly answered that I had spoken without knowing all the
facts. My submission pleased him and led him to further confidences.
You may be sure, sir, that I have very good grounds
before I come to an opinion. I have seen the boy again and again with his bundle. Every
day, and sometimes twice a day, I have been ablebut wait a moment, Dr. Watson. Do my
eyes deceive me, or is there at the present moment something moving upon that
It was several miles off, but I could distinctly see a small
dark dot against the dull green and gray.
Come, sir, come! cried Frankland, rushing
upstairs. You will see with your own eyes and judge for yourself.
The telescope, a formidable instrument mounted upon a tripod, stood upon the flat leads of
the house. Frankland clapped his eye to it and gave a cry of satisfaction.
Quick, Dr. Watson, quick, before he passes over the
There he was, sure enough, a small urchin with a little bundle
upon his shoulder, toiling slowly up the hill. When he reached the crest I saw the ragged
uncouth figure outlined for an instant against the cold blue sky. He looked round him with
a furtive and stealthy air, as one who dreads pursuit. Then he vanished over the hill.
Well! Am I right?
Certainly, there is a boy who seems to have some secret
And what the errand is even a county constable could
guess. But not one word shall they have from me, and I bind you to secrecy also, Dr.
Watson. Not a word! You understand!
Just as you wish.
They have treated me shamefullyshamefully. When
the facts come out in Frankland v. Regina I venture to think that a thrill of indignation
will run through the country. Nothing would induce me to help the police in any way. For
all they cared it might have been me, instead of my effigy, which these rascals burned at
the stake. Surely you are not going! You will help me to empty the decanter in honour of
this great occasion!
But I resisted all his solicitations and succeeded in
dissuading him from his announced intention of walking home with me. I kept the road as
long as his eye was on me, and then I struck off across the moor and made for the stony
hill over which the boy had disappeared. Everything was working in my favour, and I swore
that it should not be through lack of energy or perseverance that I should miss the chance
which fortune had thrown in my way.
The sun was already sinking when I reached the summit of the
hill, and the long slopes beneath me were all golden-green on one side and gray shadow on
the other. A haze lay low upon the farthest sky-line, out of which jutted the fantastic
shapes of Belliver and Vixen Tor. Over the wide expanse there was no sound and no
movement. One great gray bird, a gull or curlew, soared aloft in the blue heaven. He and I
seemed to be the only living things between the huge arch of the sky and the desert
beneath it. The barren scene, the sense of loneliness, and the mystery and urgency of my
task all struck a chill into my heart. The boy was nowhere to be seen. But down beneath me
in a cleft of the hills there was a circle of the old stone huts, and in the middle of
them there was one which retained sufficient roof to act as a screen against the weather.
My heart leaped within me as I saw it. This must be the burrow where the stranger lurked.
At last my foot was on the threshold of his hiding placehis secret was within my
As I approached the hut, walking as warily as Stapleton would
do when with poised net he drew near the settled butterfly, I satisfied myself that the
place had indeed been used as a habitation. A vague pathway among the boulders led to the
dilapidated opening which served as a door. All was silent within. The unknown might be
lurking there, or he might be prowling on the moor. My nerves tingled with the sense of
adventure. Throwing aside my cigarette, I closed my hand upon the butt of my revolver and,
walking swiftly up to the door, I looked in. The place was empty.
But there were ample signs that I had not come upon a false
scent. This was certainly where the man lived. Some blankets rolled in a waterproof lay
upon that  very stone
slab upon which neolithic man had once slumbered. The ashes of a fire were heaped in a
rude grate. Beside it lay some cooking utensils and a bucket half-full of water. A litter
of empty tins showed that the place had been occupied for some time, and I saw, as my eyes
became accustomed to the checkered light, a pannikin and a half-full bottle of spirits
standing in the corner. In the middle of the hut a flat stone served the purpose of a
table, and upon this stood a small cloth bundlethe same, no doubt, which I had seen
through the telescope upon the shoulder of the boy. It contained a loaf of bread, a tinned
tongue, and two tins of preserved peaches. As I set it down again, after having examined
it, my heart leaped to see that beneath it there lay a sheet of paper with writing upon
it. I raised it, and this was what I read, roughly scrawled in pencil: Dr. Watson
has gone to Coombe Tracey.
For a minute I stood there with the paper in my hands thinking
out the meaning of this curt message. It was I, then, and not Sir Henry, who was being
dogged by this secret man. He had not followed me himself, but he had set an
agentthe boy, perhapsupon my track, and this was his report. Possibly I had
taken no step since I had been upon the moor which had not been observed and reported.
Always there was this feeling of an unseen force, a fine net drawn round us with infinite
skill and delicacy, holding us so lightly that it was only at some supreme moment that one
realized that one was indeed entangled in its meshes.
If there was one report there might be others, so I looked
round the hut in search of them. There was no trace, however, of anything of the kind, nor
could I discover any sign which might indicate the character or intentions of the man who
lived in this singular place, save that he must be of Spartan habits and cared little for
the comforts of life. When I thought of the heavy rains and looked at the gaping roof I
understood how strong and immutable must be the purpose which had kept him in that
inhospitable abode. Was he our malignant enemy, or was he by chance our guardian angel? I
swore that I would not leave the hut until I knew.
Outside the sun was sinking low and the west was blazing with
scarlet and gold. Its reflection was shot back in ruddy patches by the distant pools which
lay amid the great Grimpen Mire. There were the two towers of Baskerville Hall, and there
a distant blur of smoke which marked the village of Grimpen. Between the two, behind the
hill, was the house of the Stapletons. All was sweet and mellow and peaceful in the golden
evening light, and yet as I looked at them my soul shared none of the peace of Nature but
quivered at the vagueness and the terror of that interview which every instant was
bringing nearer. With tingling nerves but a fixed purpose, I sat in the dark recess of the
hut and waited with sombre patience for the coming of its tenant.
And then at last I heard him. Far away came the sharp clink of
a boot striking upon a stone. Then another and yet another, coming nearer and nearer. I
shrank back into the darkest corner and cocked the pistol in my pocket, determined not to
discover myself until I had an opportunity of seeing something of the stranger. There was
a long pause which showed that he had stopped. Then once more the footsteps approached and
a shadow fell across the opening of the hut.
It is a lovely evening, my dear Watson, said a
well-known voice. I really think that you will be more comfortable outside than