Study Guide

The Hound of the Baskervilles Chapter 7

By Arthur Conan Doyle

Chapter 7

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.

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