Study Guide

The Hound of the Baskervilles Chapter 3

By Arthur Conan Doyle

Chapter 3

The Problem

  • 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.

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