the hound of the baskervilles chapter 9


The Light On The Moor

Baskerville Hall Dartmoor

15 October 1889

My Dear Holmes,

I am now able to answer the question at the end of my last letter. I know why Barrymore signalled with a candle.

First, let me tell you about Sir Henry and Miss Stapleton. I told you that they are very friendly. I have found out that Sir Henry is in love with her. The truth is he wants to marry her.

Yesterday morning he said to me, ‘I am going to see Miss Stapleton. I want to go alone.’

‘But Mr Holmes told me to stay with you,’ I said. ‘You must not go across the moor on your own.’

‘I shall go alone,’ said Sir Henry, and he went out.

I did not know what to do. I waited for ten minutes, then I decided to follow him. I did not see everything, but this is what happened.

Sir Henry met Miss Stapleton on the moor. He asked her to marry him — he told me this afterwards. They walked towards Merripit House to see Mr Stapleton. They met him outside the house. Sir Henry told Stapleton the news.

I reached High Tor before Sir Henry met Stapleton, so I saw what happened next. I saw Sir Henry talking to Stapleton. Suddenly Stapleton became wild and angry. He shouted at Sir Henry. Then he took his sister’s hand and pulled her towards Merripit House.

Sir Henry turned away and walked back towards the Hall. He saw me by High Tor. He was not angry that I had followed him.

‘Watson,’ he said, ‘that man is mad. I told him that I want to marry his sister. He shouted at me. He told me never to see her again. I think he is mad.’

I said nothing and we walked back to the Hall. That afternoon, Stapleton came to the Hall. He wanted to speak to Sir Henry. He kept saying, ‘I am sorry. I was very rude.’ Then he invited Sir Henry to dinner at Merripit House on Friday night.

Now I will tell you the story of Barrymore. I told Sir Henry that I had seen Barrymore signal with a candle. Sir Henry said, ‘We will wait for him tonight. If he signals again, we will catch him.’

Sir Henry and I did not go to bed. We sat waiting in Sir Henry’s study until two o’clock in the morning. Then we heard footsteps outside the study. We listened. The footsteps went upstairs.

Sir Henry and I waited for two more minutes. Then we opened the door quietly, and went upstairs. We saw Barrymore by the large window at the end of the corridor. He had a candle in his hand and he was waving the candle in front of the window.

‘What are you doing, Barrymore?’ Sir Henry shouted.

Barrymore almost dropped the candle. He looked frightened. ‘Nothing, Sir Henry,’ he said. ‘I’m checking the window, that’s all.’

‘You are signalling to someone on the moor,’ said Sir Henry. ‘Who is outside? Tell me!’

‘No one, sir,’ said Barrymore.

‘Tell me,’ said Sir Henry, ‘or you shall leave this house tomorrow. Tell me now!’

‘Sir Henry,’ said another voice, ‘please don’t be angry with my husband. It is my fault.’

We turned and saw Mrs Barrymore. She was standing at the top of the stairs, holding her hands tightly together.

‘My brother is outside, sir,’ she said. ‘My brother is Selden, the man who escaped from prison.’

‘Selden — the murderer?’ I said. ‘And why do you signal to him at night?’

‘My husband takes him food and clothes,’ said Mrs Barrymore. ‘We signal to tell him my husband is coming.’

‘I understand,’ said Sir Henry. ‘He is your brother; you must try to help him. Go to your room. We will talk about this in the morning.’

The Barrymores left the room.

Sir Henry turned and spoke to me. ‘I am sorry for them, but Selden is a murderer. I must try to catch him.’

‘Look!’ I said. ‘Look out of the window. There is a light on the moor.’

Sir Henry looked. A small light was shining on the moor. It was near High Tor.

‘That’s him!’ said Sir Henry. ‘Come, Dr Watson, we will go to that light. Bring your revolver.’

We put on our coats quickly and went out onto the moor. The moon was bright and so we could see the path across the moor. Also, we could see the signal light. It was about a mile away.

‘There!’ said Sir Henry. ‘Selden is there. Hurry!’

I followed Sir Henry along the path across the moor. I was worried. I did not want Sir Henry to go far on the moor at night.

At that moment, we heard a strange sound. It was a deep howling sound. It came from some distance away.

‘What’s that?’ asked Sir Henry. There was fear in his voice.

I was afraid too. ‘It sounds like a dog,’ I said. ‘It sounds like a very large dog. Shall we turn back?’

‘No,’ said Sir Henry. ‘We are nearly there. Look!’

In front of us, we saw the signal light clearly. It came from a lamp which stood on a rock. Beside the rock was a man, but the man did not see us. He was looking in the other direction.

Again we heard that deep howling sound — the sound of a huge dog. The sound was much nearer now. We heard the sound again. It was coming nearer all the time! The man by the rock heard the sound as well. He picked up the lantern and jumped on the rock. He looked one way, then the other. Suddenly he jumped off the rock and started to run.

He ran towards High Tor. He was running away from us. But he was not running away because he saw us. He was running away from something else which we could not see.

‘Quick, Dr Watson, follow him!’ shouted Sir Henry. ‘Get your revolver ready.’

We ran along the narrow path. Near us, we heard the deep howling sound. It was very near and very loud. Then we heard a scream. We stopped.

‘Be careful, Dr Watson,’ said Sir Henry. ‘Let us go forward slowly.’

The night was silent. We walked forward slowly. There was something, or someone, lying near the bottom of the Tor. We went over to it. I held my revolver in front of me.

We found the body of a man at the foot of the Tor.

The man had fallen from the rocky hill. He was dead. His neck was broken.

We were sure that the man was Selden. He was dressed in Sir Henry’s old clothes — the clothes that Sir Henry had given to Barrymore.

I have one last strange thing to tell you, Holmes.

I looked up at the Tor from which Selden had fallen. Up above, at the top of the Tor, stood a tall, thin man. I saw him only for a moment. Then he disappeared into the night. But I know I have seen him before. I will search for this strange man who walks on the moor at night.


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