Study Guide

The Hound of the Baskervilles Chapter 12

By Arthur Conan Doyle

Chapter 12

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).