Study Guide

The Hound of the Baskervilles Chapter 5

By Arthur Conan Doyle

Chapter 5

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.

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