Setting the Trap
‘Mr Sherlock Holmes,’ said Sir Henry Baskerville, ‘what a surprise! Welcome to Baskerville Hall.’
‘Thank you,’ said Holmes. ‘But you did not obey my orders. Last night you went out on the moor. You were nearly murdered!’
‘But I did not go alone,’ said Sir Henry. ‘Dr Watson was with me. He has a revolver to protect me.’
‘And I shall protect you too,’ said Holmes. ‘Next time you go out on the moor at night, both Dr Watson and I will go with you.’
‘The next time…’ Sir Henry began.
‘The next time will be tomorrow night,’ said Holmes. ‘Dr Watson tells me that you are going to dinner at Merripit House on the moor. I believe the Stapletons have invited you.’
‘Yes,’ Sir Henry said. ‘And has Dr Watson told you that I want to marry Miss Stapleton?’
‘Yes, he has,’ said Holmes. ‘Now I would like to ask Barrymore some questions.’
Sir Henry called for his servant, Barrymore. Barrymore came and stood in front of us. Sherlock Holmes looked at him carefully. Was this the man with the black beard we had seen in London?
‘Tell me about Sir Charles Baskerville,’ Holmes said to Barrymore. ‘Did he often go for a walk at night?’
‘No, sir,’ said Barrymore, ‘Sir Charles did not often leave the house at night.’
‘But, on the night he died, he went for a walk on the edge of the moor,’ said Holmes. ‘We know he stood by the gate on the edge of the moor for about ten minutes. Was he waiting for someone?’
‘I’m not sure, sir,’ said Barrymore. ‘I remember that Sir Charles received a letter that day.’
‘A letter?’ Holmes asked. ‘Why do you remember this letter? Did you read it?’
‘No, sir,’ Barrymore said. ‘I never read Sir Charles’ letters. But Sir Charles usually kept his letters on his desk. This letter was unusual. He read it. Then he put it on the fire.’
‘Oh, so he burnt it,’ Holmes said. ‘Perhaps this letter asked him to meet someone. Perhaps he went to this meeting and met someone — or something.’
‘But why did Sir Charles burn the letter?’ I asked.
‘Why do people burn letters, Watson?’ asked Holmes. ‘Often because they have something to hide. But Sir Charles was afraid to go out on the moor at night. Dr Mortimer told us that Sir Charles believed the story of the Hound of the Baskervilles. Why would he go out on the moor, alone, at night? If he was going to meet someone, it was someone he knew. But why meet on the edge of the moor? Was it a secret meeting?’
‘Do you think Sir Charles was murdered by a friend?’ I asked.
‘I think he knew his murderer,’ replied Holmes. ‘And I think his murderer is not far away.’
After dinner, we sat in the library. There were paintings of the Baskerville family hanging on the walls. Some of the paintings were very old.
Sherlock Holmes looked at the paintings carefully. He was interested in the painting of Sir Hugo Baskerville, dated 1645.
‘Interesting, Watson, very interesting,’ said Holmes. ‘Here is a painting of Sir Hugo, the man who started the story of the Hound of the Baskervilles. I am able to remember faces. Look at this black beard and the face. Have you seen this face before?’
‘Yes, Holmes,’ I said. ‘It is the face of the man we saw in London. It is the man who followed Sir Henry in a cab!’