The Hound of the Baskervilles Summary
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson are hanging around the apartment that they share (as platonic bros) when Doctor James Mortimer appears to consult Holmes about a very strange matter that occurred in his town of Dartmoor. While Baskerville Hall may be fictional, Dartmoor—with its beautiful, barren, boggy, hilly countryside—is definitely a real place.
Apparently, in the 1640s, a bad guy named Hugo Baskerville kidnapped a young woman and stuck her in his castle. When she escaped, he rode out after her. And when his friends went to find Hugo to stop him, they discovered two dead bodies. The girl had died of exhaustion and fear at being ridden down by a creepy madman on the moors (wetlands) at night. But Hugo Baskerville suffered a worse fate: his drinking buddies found him getting his throat torn out by a giant black dog from hell. Supposedly, this demon hound haunts the Baskerville family to this day.
The latest Baskerville, Sir Charles, has also just died under Mysterious Circumstances. Sir Charles was known to be terrified of the Hound, and he was found lying dead just beyond his own driveway with an expression of horror on his face. Doctor Mortimer strongly suspects that the ghost dog—the Hound—had something to do with it.
Doctor Mortimer doesn't want Holmes to investigate; he just wants to know if he should tell this to Sir Henry Baskerville, the new heir. He doesn't want to frighten the guy, but he doesn't want Sir Henry to become Devil Dog Chow, either. Holmes agrees to meet Sir Charles.
When Sir Henry arrives at Holmes' apartment with Doctor Mortimer, he has his own news. Someone has sent him a warning telling him to "keep away from the moor" (4.11). Someone took one of his new brown boots and later on, one of his old black boots went missing. Holmes and Watson also discover a strange-looking man with a big beard following Sir Henry
Holmes sends Sir Henry back to Baskerville Hall and asks Watson to go along with him to investigate. Once they arrive, they find the place to be (a) huge, (b) rich, (c) old, and (d) gloomy.
Here are just a couple of reasons why no one in their right mind would want to be at Baskerville Hall: first, Sir Henry's butler Barrymore plans to quit his job and leave Sir Henry on his own. Barrymore's a prime suspect for Sir Charles' murder, since he and his wife benefited from Sir Charles' will; he also has a large beard. If that's not bad enough, there's news that a homicidal maniac named Selden has escaped from the nearby prison (a real prison). Between the crazed murderer and the butler, Sir Henry isn't exactly overjoyed with his new digs.
When Watson's out for a stroll, a man carrying a butterfly net (yeah, we know—weird) introduces himself as Stapleton, a neighbor of Sir Henry. He seems to know a lot about the Hound and Sir Charles' fear of it. He's also aware of Watson's relationship with Holmes.
When Stapleton runs off to catch a butterfly, a woman suddenly approaches Watson, whom she mistakes for Sir Henry, and warns him to go back to London right away. When Stapleton returns, she immediately changes the subject. Turns out she's Stapleton's sister Beryl. When she figures out that Watson is not Sir Henry Baskerville she refuses to tell Watson why it's so important for Sir Henry to leave Baskerville Hall. Not looking good for Sir Henry.
Watson reports to Holmes that Sir Henry seems to be falling for Beryl Stapleton, which is upsetting Stapleton for some reason. And something else: at about 2:00AM, Watson saw Barrymore looking out at the moors and holding a candle up to the window. That guy is obviously hiding something. Could he be our murderer? (Cue the creepy organ music.)
A couple of nights later, Watson and Sir Henry find the butler standing at the same window with his candle. And there, out on the moors, they spot—another candle! Yep, the candle is some kind of signal. Sir Henry fires Barrymore on the spot for plotting against him, but Barrymore's wife appears and tells all. The candle out on the moor belongs to her brother, Selden, the psychotic murderer. They've been feeding him when he signals, because she can't bear to let him starve, no matter what awful things he's done. Watson and Barrymore try to track Selden down but he manages to escape. But Watson spots yet another unknown guy on the moors.
Barrymore tells Watson he knows why Sir Charles was in his driveway so late at night, despite his fear of the moors and the Hound. He got a letter signed "L.L." from a woman asking to meet him at that precise spot. Doctor Mortimer tells Watson there's a woman named Laura Lyons living nearby in Coombe Tracy. She's the disowned daughter of Mr. Frankland. Watson visits Laura Lyons, and while she finally admits to writing the note, she swears she never went to meet Sir Charles that fateful night.
But wait, there's more! Mr. Frankland tells Watson he's seen a boy bringing food to one of the Stone Age huts on the moors. He believes it's Selden, the murderer. But Watson guesses it's his mysterious man from the night before. Watson goes to the hut and lies in wait, only to find the man is Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes apologizes to Watson for keeping him in the dark. His observations depended on secrecy, and feared that Watson couldn't help but give away Holmes' location. Holmes has discovered that Laura Lyons has been seeing Stapleton, and that she hopes to marry him. But she can't: the woman who Stapleton's living with as his sister? She's actually his wife. (Ick.) Suddenly, Holmes and Watson hear a horrible scream and rush out to find a corpse with a crushed skull at the bottom of a cliff. They think it's Sir Henry Baskerville, but in fact, it's Selden dressed in Sir Henry's clothing. Stapleton comes by and appears visibly shaken to see a dead body that's not Sir Henry. (More organ music.)
To prove that Stapleton is connected to the murders, Holmes lays a trap. He claims that he and Watson are going back to London but insists that Sir Henry go to Stapleton's house for dinner that night. Holmes and Watson plan to ambush Stapleton when he tries to kill Sir Henry.
Holmes and Watson visit Laura Lyons again. When she hears that Stapleton has a wife, she tells Holmes everything: that Stapleton dictated the letter she sent to Sir Charles, that he then insisted that she not keep the appointment, and that he bullied her into keeping silent about Sir Charles' death. They return to Stapleton's house to set up their trap.
As Sir Henry leaves the house, a giant black dog with flames jumping from its mouth and eyes gallops after him. The dog manages to bring down Sir Henry and to bite his throat. Holmes finally kills the dog, and they find Sir Henry freaked out but mostly okay considering he's just been mauled by Cujo's great-great-great-great-grandfather.
The dead dog's fur had been coated in phosphorus. It was the terrifying sight of the glowing dog that frightened Sir Charles into a heart attack and drove Selden off the cliff to his death. Inside the house, they find Beryl Stapleton tied up and gagged. She leads them to his hiding place in a dangerous bog, but he's not there. They find Sir Henry's black boot sunk in the bog —Stapleton has been using it to train the Hound to follow Sir Henry's scent. Watson suspects that Stapleton lost his footing in the bog and wound up being sucked down, never to be seen again.
Back in London, Holmes ties up the loose ends for Watson: Stapleton was actually the long-lost son of Rodger Baskerville, Sir Charles' brother. Old Rodger had moved to South America many years before and died there. Young Rodger—a.k.a. Stapleton—moved to England with his wife and learned that he was in line to inherit the Baskerville fortune if he could only get rid of Sirs Charles and Henry. He used the legend of the Hound to try to do just that.
So that's it—Stapleton is lying at the bottom of the bog and Holmes and Watson are back in London. Score: Logic 1, Superstition 0.
All this talk of devil dogs is making us hungry. We'll be right back.
Mr. Sherlock Holmes
- An unknown visitor has come by the house that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson share, but they weren't home to meet him.
- Watson inspects a walking stick that the visitor mistakenly left behind.
- Watson notices that it's made of nice wood and it has a band of silver under the handle dedicated "To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends of the C.C.H.," dated 1884 (1.1).
- Watson guesses that the stick belongs to an older country doctor, and that it was a present from the local hunting organization.
- (Watson is talking about fox hunting, the classic British sport of the upper classes that involves hunting down foxes on horseback with a bunch of dogs—total Downton Abbey stuff.)
- Holmes breaks the news to Watson: he's mostly wrong.
- But his dumb ideas have helped Holmes to get the right idea.
- (We're only slightly exaggerating how tactless Holmes is with Watson.)
- Yeah, James Mortimer is a doctor ("M.R.C.S." = "Member of the Royal College of Surgeons"), and he does live in the countryside.
- But the "H" in "C.C.H." probably means hospital rather than hunt.
- Holmes concludes that Mortimer must be a young man who did his medical residency at the Charing Cross Hospital before moving out to the countryside to start his own practice.
- Also, Holmes guesses from tooth marks on the stick that Dr. Mortimer owns a smallish dog.
- According to Holmes' records, there is a Dr. James Mortimer living in Dartmoor, in a town called Grimpen.
- Just then, Dr. Mortimer appears at their door, and it's all as Holmes says.
- He's young, he has a smallish dog, he left Charing Cross Hospital some time ago to set up his practice in the countryside (because he got married and settled down—that part, Holmes missed).
- Dr. Mortimer is here because he has a most extraordinary problem (dun-da-DUN-dun).
The Curse of the Baskervilles
- Dr. Mortimer hands a manuscript to Holmes.
- It's old—it dates back to 1742, at least a hundred fifty years before the events of Hound of the Baskervilles.
- Dr. Mortimer got the manuscript from his friend, Sir Charles Baskerville.
- And even though the manuscript deals with an old family legend, Dr. Mortimer is here on very contemporary business.
- The manuscript tells the story of Hugo Baskerville and the family curse
Why the Baskerville Family Is So Afraid of Dogs
- This Hugo Baskerville, gets into some bad trouble around the time of the "Great Rebellion" (the English Civil War of 1642-1651).
- He likes to drink, curse, and rough people up.
- One night, he kidnaps a neighboring woman with five or six of his friends and locks her up in his mansion while he parties with his buddies.
- She manages to climb down some ivy to escape his evil clutches.
- Hugo Baskerville swears that he will sell his soul for the power to catch her.
- (Why do people in these stories never seem to learn that selling your soul is never a good idea?)
- Hugo Baskerville then has the bright idea of riding out after her with his pack of hounds.
- The drunken partygoers finally realize, hey, if Hugo Baskerville succeeds in catching her, something terrible is going to happen. Really?
- So they ride out after Hugo Baskerville and his pack of hounds.
- They find his lifeless body on the ground near the girl's.
- The girl has died of fear and exhaustion after running from Hugo Baskerville.
- But Hugo Baskerville's death is much more gruesome: the former partygoers (now painfully sober) watch a huge, ghostly-looking black hound tear his throat out.
- Holmes doesn't think much of this whole story—it's just a fairy tale.
- So Dr. Mortimer continues his story.
- Sir Charles Baskerville, the descendant of this nasty Hugo, has just died mysteriously.
- He had heart trouble, so it's not impossible that he died of natural causes.
- But his body was found lying at the end of his own driveway with such a grotesque expression that Dr. Mortimer had trouble recognizing him.
- Apparently, Sir Charles had become very afraid of this story of the black dog and Hugo Baskerville.
- And here's the kicker: near Sir Charles' body, Dr. Mortimer found footprints—the footprints of a giant dog. (Dun dun dun.)
- Dr. Mortimer insists that this strange black dog is no wild or local dog.
- The ash from Sir Charles' cigar shows that he was standing at the end of the driveway for five or ten minutes before tiptoeing out in the direction of the moor.
- Holmes is annoyed that he hasn't gotten a look at the scene of the death yet—why didn't Dr. Mortimer call him in earlier?!
- Dr. Mortimer hems and haws a little, but it's clear what he thinks: can a detective really help in what Mortimer is convinced are supernatural matters?
- After all, the local people have been spotting a giant, glow-in-the-dark dog on the moors.
- (By the way, a moor is a track of open wetland. Baskerville Hall is located in Dartmoor, which, as you can probably guess from the name, is an area of moorland.)
- Holmes is justifiably confused.
- If Dr. Mortimer doesn't think a detective will be able to track down the Hound of Hell who killed Sir Charles, why has he even come to visit Holmes?
- Dr. Mortimer says he wants advice from Holmes about Sir Henry Baskerville, the new heir to the estate.
- Sir Henry Baskerville has been living in Canada but has returned to claim has estate.
- He has no idea about Hugo Baskerville's horrible crimes three centuries before or about the curse of the demon dog that Hugo (apparently) unleashed on his descendants.
- Should Dr. Mortimer tell him that there is "a diabolical agency" (3.75)—a.k.a. a devilish force—making Dartmoor unsafe for Baskervilles?
- Holmes tells Dr. Mortimer to bring Sir Henry Baskerville back to Baskerville Hall.
- If the devil's after him, it's not like staying in London will keep him safe.
- But in the meantime, no one should say anything to Sir Henry about the Hound until Holmes says it's okay.
- Holmes is a bit of a control freak.
- Holmes asks Dr. Mortimer to bring Sir Henry around at 10AM the following morning.
- Watson wants to give Holmes space to think over this new puzzle so he stays at his club the entire day while Holmes sits smoking like a chimney and drinking tons of coffee.
- When Watson gets back, Holmes shows him a detailed map of the area around Baskerville Hall.
- It does indeed look grim and bare—there's even a prison nearby.
- Holmes laughs about Dr. Mortimer's explanation that Sir Charles was tiptoeing home before he keeled over.
- No, sir, Sir Charles was running flat out—running like his life depended on it. (As, in fact, it did.)
- Holmes reasons that Sir Charles saw something that frightened him so badly that he began to run away from his house before his heart gave out.
- But they still need to figure out what he was waiting for outside, especially since he usually avoided the moors.
Sir Henry Baskerville
- At exactly ten the next morning, Dr. Mortimer shows up with Sir Henry Baskerville.
- Sir Henry is a smart-looking guy of around thirty.
- He's glad to meet Holmes because he's had a weird experience he wants to discuss.
- Even though it's not public knowledge where he's staying in London, he received an anonymous note at his hotel that morning.
- The note says, "As you value your life or your reason keep away from the moor" (4.11).
- Holmes figures out that the words from the note were cut out of the Times (a British newspaper).
- Holmes also deduces that the person who left the note is an educated person who wanted to appear working-class, and who was in a huge hurry.
- Sir Henry has one other weird incident to report: one of his shoes has gone missing.
- He bought a pair of new brown boots yesterday, and one of them has disappeared.
- Holmes can't think why anyone would steal one brown boot, so he assumes the boot will turn up again.
- Holmes tells Sir Henry all about the Hound and Sir Charles' sudden and mysterious death.
- Sir Henry's heard the story of the Hound since he was a kid, but he doesn't buy it.
- He's not going to let some dog keep him away from the property that is rightfully his.
- Still, Sir Henry wants some time to think over what Holmes has told him.
- So he invites Holmes and Watson over to his hotel for lunch.
- Until then, he's going to wander around and think things over with Dr. Mortimer.
- Holmes watches Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer leave the apartment.
- Then, he grabs Watson and rushes out the door.
- As Holmes and Watson follow Sir Henry at a distance, they spot another man tailing him in a cab.
- The man has a thick beard and piercing eyes.
- But as soon as Holmes sees the man, the man yells at the cabdriver to drive on.
- Holmes is impressed at the smarts of their opponent.
- He's also annoyed with himself for making it so obvious that he was following Sir Henry.
- So Holmes tries a new Clever Plan: he pays a local messenger boy to visit all the major hotels in London.
- He wants the kid to go through the trash to try to find copy of yesterday's Times with words cut out of the lead article.
- Holmes and Watson go off to spend a few hours at art galleries before meeting Sir Henry.
- (The life of a famous private detective sounds pretty sweet, filled with regular excitement, lunches at expensive hotels, and time left over for art appreciation. Where can we sign up?)
Three Broken Threads
- Holmes and Watson arrive at Sir Henry's hotel.
- Holmes says that the other people staying at the hotel cannot be connected to the person watching Sir Henry, because that person is keeping his distance.
- When they arrive at Sir Henry's room, they find out that he is furious.
- Someone's stolen an old black boot, leaving him a mismatched pair of one brown and one black.
- Sir Henry apologizes for making such a fuss over such a small thing as two stolen boots.
- But Holmes looks Very Serious—clearly, this Mystery of the Stolen Boots means a lot more to Holmes than it does to us.
- Holmes asks if Sir Henry knows anyone with a thick black beard.
- Yep—apparently Barrymore, the butler at Baskerville Hall, fits that description.
- It turns out that both Barrymore and his wife received money in Sir Charles' will.
- Perhaps they could be the culprits!
- Dr. Mortimer admits that he also received some cash from Sir Charles' will.
- But the rest of his estate all went to Sir Henry: 740,000 pounds, to be exact.
- (According to this handy historical currency converter, that's serious cash—almost a hundred million dollars in today's money.
- Holmes agrees that kind of money makes a great murder motive.
- If Sir Henry mysteriously dies, the next person in line to inherit is a distant cousin named James Desmond, but he's an elderly priest who doesn't seem interested in Sir Charles' money.
- Holmes says that it's too dangerous for Sir Henry to go to Baskerville Hall alone.
- Holmes can't come himself, because he has business in London.
- But he does know someone who can help: Dr. Watson.
- Watson is like, wait, what?
- But Sir Henry is so grateful to Watson for agreeing to come to Baskerville Hall that Watson can't really protest.
- As they finish up lunch, Sir Henry suddenly notices his brown boot hidden underneath a cabinet.
- How did the boot reappear during lunch?
- That evening, Holmes gets confirmation that Barrymore has not left Baskerville Hall for London, so he can't be Sir Henry's spy.
- Holmes also hears from the messenger boy—no luck finding the Times in the trash.
- Holmes uses the cab number to track down the man who drove the bearded spy after Sir Henry.
- The driver, John Clayton, says that his bearded passenger was a detective by the name of Sherlock Holmes.
- This "Sherlock Holmes" paid John Clayton a big tip to follow two men coming out of the Northumberland Hotel (men who we know were Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer).
- The real Holmes gives John Clayton some money and then laughs with Watson.
- He realizes that the spy must have recognized Holmes when he started following Sir Henry.
- That Saturday, Holmes takes Watson to the train station to go to Baskerville Hall.
- Holmes asks Watson to send him information about Sir Henry's neighbors.
- Holmes gives Watson a quick list of people in the area:
- Mr. and Mrs. Barrymore (the butler and his wife);
- Dr. Mortimer (unlikely to be the murderer);
- Mrs. Mortimer (totally unknown);
- Stapleton (a local scientist);
- Stapleton's sister (an attractive young woman); and
- Mr. Frankland (another neighbor).
- When Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry arrive at the train station, Holmes warns Sir Henry that it's not safe for him to go off on his own. Not. Safe.
- Watson, Dr. Mortimer, and Sir Henry take the train to Devonshire.
- Watson notices that the landscape is a bleak and a little sad.
- Plus, there are soldiers watching the road to Sir Henry's property.
- The driver explains that a prisoner has escaped onto the moors.
- And he's not just any prisoner—he's an insane murderer named Selden.
- When they arrive at Baskerville Hall, they see that it's a pretty gloomy place.
- Barrymore welcomes Sir Henry to his (miserable-looking, but very grand) family home.
- He also suggests that Sir Henry start hiring a full staff of servants to keep the old place up.
- Sir Henry wonders: is Barrymore planning on quitting? His family has worked for Baskerville Hall for generations.
- In fact, Barrymore does want to leave: he and his wife were so weirded out by Sir Charles' death that they don't feel comfortable at the Hall any longer.
- In the middle of the night, Watson hears the sound of a woman sobbing.
The Stapletons of Merripit House
- The next morning, the sun is shining and the house seems less, well, cursed.
- Even so, both Watson and Sir Henry agree that they heard a woman crying the night before.
- Watson suspects that the crying woman is Mrs. Barrymore, and that Barrymore's responsible.
- Watson's suspicions about Barrymore's character only increase when he walks into town and finds out that it wasn't Barrymore, but Barrymore's wife who received the telegram Holmes sent to check out his alibi while Sir Henry was in town.
- Could Barrymore have been in London spying on Sir Henry after all?
- A man runs up to Watson in the village and introduces himself: it's Stapleton, from nearby Merripit House.
- He's carrying a butterfly net.
- He announces that he is a "naturalist" (a scientist who studies nature, particularly animals and plants).
- Stapleton asks if Sherlock Holmes has any theories behind the Hound of the Baskervilles to explain Sir Charles' death.
- Watson is like, whuh? Holmes? How did you know—?
- Stapleton promises him that everyone in the neighborhood knows why Watson is here.
- (Evidently, Holmes is known far and wide after his recent win on Britain's Got Talent.)
- Stapleton invites Watson to Merripit House to meet his sister.
- As they walk through the moors, Stapleton tells Watson that the ground in this area is not stable: there are bogs and marshes all over the place.
- Stapleton warns that, if Watson went into the Mire on his own, he would probably drown in the swamp.
- The two men hear a long, low howl over the moor.
- Apparently, the local people believe that this howl belongs to the Hound of the Baskervilles.
- Stapleton thinks it's a bittern—a kind of bird that's nearly extinct in England.
- They walk past the remains of a prehistoric town.
- (Okay, could this setting get any creepier, with the mysterious howls and the ancient ruins?)
- Stapleton suddenly spots a butterfly and goes running off into the Mire.
- Watson watches him anxiously, worried that he'll lose his footing and sink.
- As Watson stares after Stapleton, a woman suddenly approaches him.
- Watson assumes that she is Stapleton's sister, even though she doesn't look very much like him.
- She quickly warns him, "Go straight back to London, instantly" (7.91).
- When Stapleton returns to the path, she suddenly changes the subject and starts talking about the flowers on the moor.
- Stapleton addresses her as "Beryl" (7.98) (an unusual name, but any Sailor Moon fans out there will recognize "Beryl" as a woman's name.)
- Beryl mentions that she has already introduced herself to "Sir Henry."
- Watson is like, ummm, no, I'm just Dr. Watson.
- Beryl blushes in embarrassment.
- When Watson walks off in the direction of Baskerville Hall, Beryl rushes over to speak to him.
- She apologizes for confusing him with Sir Henry but refuses to explain why it's so important for Sir Henry to leave.
First Report of Doctor Watson
- As the narrator of this story, Watson then describes the telegrams he's sent to Holmes so far.
- The first telegram reports that it looks like Selden (the psychotic killer) has left the area.
- Anyway, no one's seen him, which is a big relief.
- Watson has also noticed signs that Sir Henry is totally falling for Beryl Stapleton.
- Weird, though—you'd think Stapleton would be happy to have his sister marry the local rich guy.
- But in fact, Stapleton seems to be trying to find ways to keep Beryl and Sir Henry apart.
- Watson also mentions another neighbor: Mr. Frankland of Lafter Hall.
- He's a litigious (lawsuit-loving) old man interested in astronomy who has a telescope on his roof.
- These days, Mr. Frankland spends a fair amount of his time scanning the moors with his telescope looking for Selden the murderer.
- And now, for the last bit of news: weird stuff has been happening with the Barrymores.
- Watson told Sir Henry that Barrymore may not have received the telegram Holmes sent from London himself.
- So Sir Henry asks Barrymore if he read the telegram and replied to it himself.
- He answers that, since he was busy, he let his wife answer.
- Later on in the day, Barrymore asks if Sir Henry suspects him of something.
- Sir Henry says no, and offers Barrymore some of his used clothes to prove his faith in him.
- Sir Henry's lost 75 lbs. on Jenny Craig, and anyway now that he's a baronet, he needs classier clothes. (A baronet is a pretty low rank in the British aristocracy. Sir Henry inherited the title when Sir Charles died.)
- Watson can't forget that first night when he heard Mrs. Barrymore sobbing. He's seen signs of crying on her face several times since then.
- Watson's suspicions of Barrymore have only gotten worse since a strange incident the night before.
- At around two in the morning, Watson heard someone sneaking around outside his room.
- He woke up and looked out to see Barrymore creeping along the hallway to an empty room.
- Watson watched Barrymore standing in front of a window with a lamp in his hand.
- Barrymore stared out onto the moor for several minutes before groaning and putting out the light.
- Something is going on with that guy.
[Second Report of Dr. Watson] The Light Upon the Moor
[This chapter is so long that we're going to break it into sections to make our summary easier to read. Hang in there— it's an action-packed chapter]
- The next morning, Watson looks out Barrymore's secret window.
- He sees that this window gives the best view of the moor.
- Watson mentions Barrymore's late night activities to Sir Henry, who isn't surprised.
- In fact, Sir Henry has also heard Barrymore going around late at night.
- They decide to stay up that night and follow Barrymore.
- Sir Henry prepares to go out for a walk on the moor, and Watson gets ready to go with him.
- Sir Henry's like, three's company, man. Don't crowd me, I've got business on the moor.
- Watson is embarrassed to be a third wheel, since it's clear that Sir Henry's trying to go on a date.
- But Holmes did insist that Watson shouldn't let Sir Henry leave the house on his own.
- So Watson follows secretly, some distance behind him.
- He sees Sir Henry meeting with Beryl Stapleton.
- As Watson keeps a lookout, he sees the two lovebirds jump apart.
- He watches as Stapleton comes running up, enraged..
- Stapleton gets all up in Sir Henry's face and then drags Beryl away.
- Watson appears from his hiding place on top of a nearby hill.
- Sir Henry's annoyed at Watson's spying. But he's more shocked at Stapleton's bizarre behavior.
- Why would Stapleton go nuts about Sir Henry proposing to Beryl?
- That afternoon, Stapleton comes to Baskerville Hall to apologize for his behavior.
- He invites Sir Henry and Watson to dinner at Merripit House to make up for it.
- Stapleton explains why he flipped out at the idea of Beryl and Sir Henry getting together.
- Apparently, he's just a lonely guy who's come to depend on his sister's company to keep him from getting too isolated.
- He hadn't noticed that Beryl and Sir Henry were growing close, and he was taken by surprise to hear of their potential engagement.
- He has no real objection, but he asks Sir Henry to give him three months to get used to the idea.
- Sir Henry agrees, and so he and Beryl are now engaged… to be engaged.
- Sir Henry and Watson now turn their attention back to Barrymore.
- Two nights later, they catch him again standing at the window with his lamp. Barrymore claims that it isn't his place to say why he's holding a candle to the window.
- As Barrymore speaks, they spot another light out on the moors.
- When Barrymore moves his candle, the other light also moves. A signal.
- Sir Henry fires Barrymore on the spot and accuses him of plotting against him.
- Suddenly, Mrs. Barrymore appears: she swears that they are not planning to harm Sir Henry.
- Barrymore tries to calm her, but she insists on explaining: the signal is for her brother.
- Mrs. Barrymore's brother is none other than—Selden, the insane escaped prisoner. (Gasp!)
- Mrs. Barrymore explains that, even after everything that Selden's done, when he turned up at their doorstep shivering and alone, she couldn't leave him to die out on the moors.
- Sir Henry forgives Barrymore for standing by his wife, and rehires him as butler.
- He sends the Barrymores off to bed, and promises they'll talk over things in the morning.
- After the Barrymores leave, Watson and Sir Henry look out the window.
- They can still see Selden's candle burning out on the moor.
- Watson guesses that he's hiding about a mile or two away.
- Sir Henry and Watson decide to go out and capture Selden, since a psychotic murderer could be a danger to the community. Ya think?
- Watson brings his gun, and they set off in the direction of the light.
- Suddenly, they hear that low, moaning howl that Watson heard on the moor that afternoon with Stapleton.
- Sir Henry sounds frightened when he asks Watson what the local people say about that sound.
- Watson tries to play it off as no big deal, but finally he has to admit: it's the howl of the Hound of the Baskervilles.
- Sir Henry starts to sound very superstitious about this Hound business.
- They spot Selden just as he seems to realize that he's been found. He takes off across the moor.
- Sir Henry and Watson chase after him, but he's had too much of a head start.
- As they're standing on the moor, Watson sees a tall figure of another man outlined against the moon.
- A split second later, the man is gone.
Extract From the Diary of Doctor Watson
- As the chapter title promises us, this is—wait for it—a section of Watson's diary from his time at Baskerville Hall. Shocking, we know.
- Barrymore and Sir Henry get into it the next morning.
- Turns out Barrymore's angry that Watson and Sir Henry went to hunt down Selden.
- Barrymore begs the two men to let Selden go until they can get him on a boat to South America.
- Watson and Sir Henry agree to leave Selden alone.
- Barrymore's so grateful that he wants to do something for Sir Henry in return.
- There's something about Sir Charles' death that Barrymore's been keeping secret.
- The morning of Sir Charles' death, Barrymore happened to notice him receiving a letter from a nearby town called Coombe Tracey.
- The letter was written in a woman's handwriting.
- A few weeks ago, long after Sir Charles' mysterious death, Barrymore was cleaning out the ashes of the fireplace in Sir Charles' study.
- He found the charred pieces of that letter.
- He could still read the final lines: "Please, please, as you are a gentleman, burn this letter, and be at the gate at ten o'clock" (10.35).
- The letter was signed "L.L."
- Barrymore hasn't wanted to reveal this because he wanted to protect Sir Charles' rep.
- But now that Sir Henry has been so kind, Barrymore wants to help him in return.
- The next day, Watson goes out walking on the moors.
- As he's heading back to Baskerville Hall, Dr. Mortimer drives past him in a cart.
- Dr. Mortimer tells Watson that there is a woman with the initials "L.L." living in Coombe Tracey: Laura Lyons, the disgraced, disowned daughter of Mr. Frankland.
- Apparently, she eloped against her father's will with an artist named Lyons, who then left her.
- After dinner that evening, Watson asks Barrymore if Selden's still around.
- Barrymore says he last left out food for him three days ago, but hasn't seen him since.
- Barrymore also mentions that there's someone else out on the moor.
- Selden has mentioned this other man to Barrymore—the man doesn't seem to be a convict.
- Selden told Barrymore that this other man is living in the prehistoric ruins, and that a kid from the village brings him food regularly.
- The moors seem to be just the thing if you need to hide but need to be close enough to a take-out place that delivers.
The Man on the Tor
- Watson travels into Coombe Tracey to see if he can track down Laura Lyons.
- She's actually pretty easy to find (lucky for Watson, since he—unlike Holmes—isn't the World's Greatest Detective).
- Watson asks her straight out if she knew Sir Charles.
- She reluctantly admits that she has received financial assistance from him.
- Laura goes on to say that a friend of hers, Stapleton, used to speak to Sir Charles on her behalf.
- She denies that she ever wrote asking to meet him, though.
- That is, she denies it until Watson quotes her own letter back to her. Oops.
- She finally admits that she wrote to Sir Charles asking to meet him.
- She explains why she kept it secret: hello, it's rural England in 1901, a married woman can't just visit an unmarried guy at night without it being a huge scandal.
- The one thing she won't explain is why she never went to the meeting. She just swears that she made the appointment, but she never went to Baskerville Hall.
- She says she received the help she needed from "another source" (11.66).
- Watson is sure there's more to the story than Laura will tell him, but she never changes her answers.
- He realizes she must have been asking for money for a divorce, but why so urgently right now?
- Watson goes back to Baskerville Hall.
- Mr. Frankland sees him passing by in his carriage and calls him over for a drink.
- Mr. Frankland starts bragging because he knows something the cops don't know—and he won't tell them.
- Apparently, there's a boy that has been carrying food to a man hidden near a large hill called Black Tor.
- Mr. Frankland has been keeping watch with his telescope because he thinks the man is the murderous Selden.
- Even as they're talking about it, the boy appears on his twice daily errand of sneaking over the moors with food for the mysterious man.
- Watson ditches Mr. Frankland and goes out onto the moors to follow the boy's tracks.
- He finds a circle of old stone huts, and he discovers one that's clearly being lived in.
- Inside the hut, there's a note: "Dr. Watson has gone to Coombe Tracey" (11.112).
- Watson realizes that the mystery man has been following him.
- But he can't find any other signs of the man's identity. (Any guesses?)
- Watson sits and waits nervously for the man to return.
- Finally, he hears the sound of someone approaching.
- And he hears a familiar voice inviting him to come outside, where it's more comfortable.
Death on the Moor
- Surprise! The mysterious man on the hill is none other than Holmes.
- Watson gets upset when he realizes that Holmes has been deliberately keeping him in the dark.
- And what about all those reports, which he so carefully wrote up and sent off to London?
- Holmes tries to make nice.
- He says he trusts Watson completely. But he also worried that Watson wouldn't have been able to resist making contact with Holmes on the moors.
- And Holmes has been getting the reports—he arranged to have them delivered back to him on the moors from London.
- Holmes is fascinated by Watson's account of his conversation with Laura Lyons.
- Holmes knows that Stapleton and Laura Lyons have been hooking up.
- Holmes drops another bombshell: Beryl is actually Mrs. Stapleton. She's his wife, not his sister!
- Stapleton is the one who followed Sir Henry in London, and Beryl's the one who sent that warning to Sir Henry at his hotel.
- Holmes knows that Stapleton's pose as an unmarried man helped him enlist Laura in his plotting.
- And Laura's desperate for divorce money now because she believes that she can marry him.
- Holmes is almost ready to charge Stapleton with murder.
- But he needs Watson to wait at Baskerville Hall with Sir Henry for at least another day or two.
- Just as Holmes says this, they hear a horrible scream over the moors, followed by the growling of a dog.
- Holmes fears that they may be too late.
- At the side of a cliff, they find a body with a crushed skull.
- It's Sir Henry Baskerville.
- Besides feeling guilty that they were on the moors and still failed to save Sir Henry, Holmes is deeply frustrated.
- Even though Holmes and Watson are both sure that Stapleton is involved with the Hound murders, there's no definite proof linking him to the Baskerville deaths.
- Holmes goes over to the body to carry it to the hall.
- But suddenly, he starts dancing around and shaking Watson's hand.
- It's not Sir Henry at all! The body has a beard!
- (Um—it may not be Sir Henry, but it's still a corpse with a shattered skull… is dancing the appropriate thing here?)
- In fact, the body belongs to Selden.
- Watson remembers that Sir Henry gave some of his old clothes to Barrymore; Barrymore probably passed them on to Selden.
- Stapleton's dog has obviously been trained to react to Sir Henry's smell, which lead him to attack Selden in Sir Henry's clothes.
- They see someone smoking and strolling towards them: it's Stapleton.
- Stapleton turns pale when he sees the body, since he realizes that it's not Sir Henry.
- Stapleton claims he invited Sir Henry to walk over to Merripit House and then got worried when he never turned up.
- Stapleton asks suspiciously if anybody heard the sounds of a dog, since the moors are supposed to be haunted.
- Neither Holmes nor Watson gives any sign that they might know why Stapleton's so interested in this mysterious dog.
- Watson claims to believe that Selden died from madness and stress, which drove him over a cliff.
- Holmes also pretends that he plans to go back to London the next day, since this has "not been a satisfactory case" (12.133).
Fixing the Nets
- Holmes is impressed at how Stapleton's so cool under pressure.
- Yeah, he's cool—it's not like Holmes can prove any of his ideas in a court of law yet.
- (This is just like that Columbo episode where he knows the plumber's lying but—oh, sorry, we digress…)
- Holmes believes that Laura Lyons will be the key to this stage of the case.
- Watson brings Holmes to Baskerville Hall, and Sir Henry welcomes him.
- Watson breaks the news to the Barrymores that Selden's dead.
- Holmes tells Sir Henry that he'll soon have the answer to his mystery, as long as Sir Henry does exactly what Holmes says without asking why. More control-freak stuff.
- Holmes suddenly jumps up to look at one of the portraits on Sir Henry's wall.
- When Holmes points to the portrait of a man in black velvet and lace, Sir Henry identifies him as than Hugo Baskerville—the original victim of the Hound.
- After dinner, Holmes leads Watson back over to the portrait.
- When Holmes covers Hugo's ridiculous hair, Watson can finally spot what Holmes noticed so long before: that the face of Hugo Baskerville hugely resembles Stapleton's.
- In other words, Stapleton must be a member of the Baskerville family.
- Sir Henry comes in, and Holmes tells him that he and Watson are planning to go back to London.
- Sir Henry's disappointed (and probably scared silly), but Holmes reassures him that they'll be back soon.
- They were all supposed to go over to dinner at Stapleton's house together, but now Sir Henry will just have to go alone.
- Holmes tells Sir Henry to drive over to Merripit House, but then to have the groom bring the carriage home.
- Sir Henry should then tell his host, Stapleton, that he plans to walk home that night.
- At the train station in Coombe Tracey, Holmes and Watson meet the boy, Cartwright, who was bringing Holmes' food to the moors over those many days.
- Holmes orders Cartwright to take the train into London.
- From London, Cartwright should send a telegram to Sir Henry asking about a pocketbook Holmes might have forgotten at Baskerville Hall. (This is all to "prove" that Holmes really is in London. This guy doesn't miss a trick.)
- Cartwright agrees, and he also gives Holmes a telegram.
- It's from "Lestrade," who's coming down to Devonshire on the 5:40 train with a warrant.
- Holmes explains that Lestrade's a policeman, and they may need his help tonight.
- Holmes and Watson head over to Laura Lyons' house.
- Holmes tells Laura Lyons that he is involved in a case which implicates Stapleton and "his wife" (13.114) in murder.
- Holmes shows her pictures of the people now calling themselves Jack and Beryl Stapleton.
- The pictures were taken several years ago in York, where they were called Mr. and Mrs. Vandeleur (13.121).
- Laura Lyons is shocked that Stapleton has lied to her about his wife. First time in history that's ever happened.
- She admits that Stapleton told her what to write in the letter to Sir Charles.
- She also says that, after she sent the letter, Stapleton appeared to change his mind about her borrowing money from Sir Charles.
- After she agreed not to meet with Sir Charles, she didn't hear anything more about him until she read about his death in the newspaper.
- Stapleton then frightened Laura into promising not to say anything about the scheduled appointment with Sir Charles, since his death was so mysterious.
- Holmes and Watson go to the train station to meet Lestrade.
- Holmes promises that this case is the "biggest thing for years" (13.140).
The Hound of the Baskervilles
- As Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade drive over to Merripit House, the suspense is killing Watson.
- Holmes and Lestrade hide about two hundred yards away from the house.
- Holmes sends Watson to spy through the dining-room window.
- Sir Henry and Stapleton are sitting together and smoking.
- Beryl's nowhere to be seen.
- The Grimpen Mire is covered with fog, which is a bummer for Holmes—fog is the one thing that could really endanger Sir Henry's life.
- They hear the sounds of Sir Henry leaving the house.
- And then, Holmes hushes Watson—there's another sound of pattering feet coming.
- It's a black hound covered in flickering flame, with fire coming out of its mouth.
- Oh no, it's running toward Sir Henry.
- Holmes and Watson shoot the dog, which howls but keeps running.
- Sir Henry is looking behind him at the dog—and he looks terrified. Duh. The dog leaps at Sir Henry and starts biting him. Bad dog!
- But Holmes catches up and empties his gun into the dog.
- The dog falls dead.
- Sir Henry faints, but he's still alive.
- When Sir Henry comes to, he, Holmes, and Watson inspect the body of the dog.
- It's an enormous beast with huge jaws, and it's been covered in some kind of weird glow-in-the-dark stuff.
- Watson touches the stuff on the dog's fur and realizes that it's phosphorus (a glowing chemical).
- Holmes apologizes for putting Sir Henry in so much danger—he didn't expect either the fog or the dog.
- Sir Henry's so freaked out that Holmes and Watson leave him sitting on a rock while they go off after Stapleton.
- Back at Merripit House, there's a locked bedroom door.
- Holmes breaks down the door. They find a woman bound and gagged: Beryl Stapleton.
- She's furious and heartbroken that Stapleton has been abusing her and using her as his tool in his schemes against Sir Henry.
- Beryl says that Stapleton has a hiding place in the middle of the Grimpen Mire. The fog is so dense that he won't be able to leave his hiding place that night.
- The next morning, Beryl leads Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade through the dangerous bog.
- As the three men walk deep into the Grimpen Mire, Holmes spots something: Sir Henry's black boot.
- Stapleton must have been using the boot to teach the hound to track Sir Henry's smell.
- But they don't find any other sign of Stapleton.
- Watson believes that Stapleton probably got lost in the fog that night and fell into the Mire, never to emerge.
- On the island in the Mire, they find traces of the dog: this must be where Stapleton kept it.
- Sadly, they also find the skeleton of Dr. Mortimer's little spaniel.
- There's a pot full of the glowing stuff that Stapleton had been using to create the fire-breathing "Hound of the Baskervilles," which frightened Selden into running over a cliff and scared Sir Charles to death.
A Retrospection (Sherlock Holmes Explains It All)
- About a month later, Holmes and Watson are sitting by the fire in their apartment in London.
- They've had a visit from Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer, who are about to go on a relaxing trip around the world to help improve Sir Henry's "shattered nerves" (15.1). No kidding.
- Since the case of the Baskervilles is on Watson's mind, he presses Holmes to tell him more about the background of the case.
- Apparently, Mrs. Stapleton has confirmed Holmes' guess that Stapleton was a Baskerville.
- He was the son of Rodger Baskerville, Sir Charles' younger brother, who moved to South America to escape some nasty rumors about him.
- Stapleton's real name was Rodger Baskerville (Junior, we guess?), and he married a South American woman named Beryl Garcia.
- He and Beryl came to England under the fake name of Vandelay—wait, we meant Vandeleur—after running away with some embezzled money.
- They opened a school, which eventually failed.
- So the Vandeleurs changed their names to Stapleton and moved to the south of England.
- Stapleton discovered that he was pretty close to being the heir to the Baskerville fortune.
- And—luckily for him, because he was a creep—the current holder of that fortune (Sir Charles) was easily frightened and had a heart problem.
- So Stapleton bought a giant dog, mixed up some phosphorus, plunked the dog down in the middle of the Grimpen Mire, and waited for his chance.
- Stapleton had planned at first to live with Beryl as his sister rather than his wife just in case he could use her to attract Sir Charles.
- But she absolutely refused to help Stapleton in this way.
- Stapleton lucked out when he met Laura Lyons, whom he manipulated into writing to Sir Charles for help in getting a divorce.
- On the night of Sir Charles' death, Stapleton brought the dog to the driveway where Sir Charles was waiting for Laura.
- Stapleton released the dog on Sir Charles, who ran away screaming until he collapsed from his weak heart.
- That's why there was a paw print near Sir Charles' body.
- Both Beryl and Laura Lyons suspected Stapleton of planning Sir Charles' death, but neither would turn on him while they were still in love with him.
- And then, along came Sir Henry.
- Stapleton traveled to London to see if he could figure out some way of stopping Sir Henry from coming down to Baskerville Hall at all.
- At this point, Stapleton had stopped trusting Beryl, so he dragged her along on the trip and kept her prisoner in the hotel while he spied on Sir Henry. (Keeping women locked up seems to run in the Baskerville family.)
- She still managed to send Sir Henry her secret message cut out of the Times, though.
- The disappearing boots were also a clue: the first one was too new to smell like Sir Henry, which is why Stapleton returned it.
- The older black boot was better for training his giant dog to chase the scent.
- When Stapleton spotted Holmes in the company of Sir Henry, he realized that there was no point in continuing to hunt Sir Henry in London.
- Stapleton went back to Merripit House with his wife to try his luck in Dartmoor.
- Even before Holmes went down to the moors, he already suspected Stapleton.
- The problem was catching him, with enough proof to make a legal case against him.
- That's why Holmes set up poor Sir Henry as bait to catch Stapleton red-handed.
- As for Beryl, she started out helping Stapleton because she really loved him (and feared him).
- But as time went on, Beryl's loyalties shifted to Sir Henry and she began to hate Stapleton.
- Finally, on the night of the attack, Beryl tried to stop Stapleton from setting up Sir Henry for death-by-dog, and he tied her up to keep her out of the way.
- So that's that.
- There's nothing more that Holmes can say with any certainty.
- So he and Watson go off to the opera for the evening—a happy ending (except for all the deaths, of course).