Holmes and I were surprised. This was a very strange story. I did not believe that Sir Charles Baskerville had been killed by a gigantic black dog. But I wanted to know the truth.
‘Who else saw these footprints?’ asked Sherlock Holmes. His bright eyes shone and he leant forward in his chair.
‘No one else saw the footprints,’ answered Dr Mortimer. ‘There was a lot of rain in the night. By morning, the footprints had been washed away.’
‘How large were the footprints? Were they larger than the footprints of a sheepdog?’
‘Yes, Mr Holmes, much larger. They were not the prints of an ordinary dog.’
‘Also, you say that Sir Charles ran away from this dog? How do you know?’ asked Holmes.
‘The ground was soft,’ answered Dr Mortimer. ‘I saw Sir Charles’ footprints outside Baskerville Hall. His footprints were close together as he walked along a path at the edge of the moor. Then he stopped and waited by a wooden gate. After that his footprints changed — they became wide apart and deep. I am sure he began to run. He ran towards the house. I believe that something came from the moor. I believe he saw the Hound of the Baskervilles.’
‘Yes, yes,’ said Holmes, ‘but how do you know that Sir Charles waited by this wooden gate?’
‘Because he smoked a cigar,’ said Dr Mortimer. ‘I saw the white cigar ash on the ground.’
‘Good,’ said Holmes, ‘good — you are a detective.’
‘Thank you,’ said Dr Mortimer, with a smile.
‘But you believe that Sir Charles was killed by a gigantic hound?’
‘I know he ran away from something,’ said Dr Mortimer. ‘I know I saw those strange footprints of a huge dog. But…’ He looked at his watch. ‘… I am meeting Sir Henry Baskerville at Waterloo Station in an hour. Sir Henry is Sir Charles’ nephew. He has come from Canada. Sir Charles had no children, so Sir Henry is now the owner of Baskerville Hall. And now I have a problem.’
‘What is your problem?’ asked Holmes.
‘I believe that Sir Henry is in danger,’ said Dr Mortimer. ‘Is it safe to take him to Baskerville Hall?’
‘I must think,’ said Sherlock Holmes. ‘Stay in London tonight. Come and see me again tomorrow morning. Please bring Sir Henry with you.’
‘I shall do so,’ said Dr Mortimer. He stood up. ‘Now I must go to meet Sir Henry at Waterloo Station. Good day.’
When Dr Mortimer had left, Holmes said to me, ‘We have a problem here, Watson. There are three questions. What is the crime? Who did it? How was it done?’