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The Hound of the Baskervilles

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1902HoundBaskervillesCover

Front cover of a first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles from 1902.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third of four Sherlock Holmes novels by the British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was originally serialized in the magazine The Strand between April 1901 and August 1902. It was first published in a single volume later in 1902.

In the novel, a country doctor named Mortimer from Dartmoor in Devonshire, the former physician and friend of the late Sir Charles Baskerville, travels to London to seek the advice of the famous detective and genius Sherlock Holmes. Although an inquest concluded that Sir Charles died from natural causes, Dr. Mortimer believes that his death may have had some connection to the Baskerville family curse. According to legend, as punishment for the evil deeds of their ancestor Sir Hugo Baskerville, a demonic hound will hunt down and kill any member of the Baskerville family who wanders onto the moor near Baskerville Hall at night. Holmes is skeptical about the existence of a curse or a diabolical dog. However, he suspects foul play in the death of Sir Charles Baskerville and believes that the life of his nephew and heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, is genuinely in danger. Holmes sends his friend Dr. John Watson to Dartmoor, to protect Sir Henry and to begin an investigation.

Tales of phantom black dogs, which are often associated with aristocratic families, are common in the folklore of many parts of England. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle acknowledged that he got the inspiration to write the novel after his friend, the journalist Bertram Fletcher Robinson, told him a story about one such ghostly hound. The Hound of the Baskervilles was not originally conceived as a Sherlock Holmes story, however, Doyle decided that he did not need to create a new character who was capable of solving the mystery surrounding the devilish dog since he already had one in the form of Holmes.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is notable for being the first work which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about Sherlock Holmes after having killed off the character in the 1893 short story "The Final Problem". However, Holmes is not technically brought back from the dead in The Hound of the Baskervilles because the events of the novel take place in the autumn of 1889, some two years before the May 1891 death of Holmes described in "The Final Problem". Partly as a result of the commercial success of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doyle went on to write the 1903 short story "The Adventure of the Empty House", in which it is revealed that Holmes faked his own death, and continued to write more stories about the character until 1927.

There have been numerous adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles to other media. The 1939 American film version, starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, and the 1959 British film version, starring Peter Cushing and André Morrell, are much admired.

Plot

On an autumn morning in 1889, the Baker Street home of the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson is visited by Dr. James Mortimer from Dartmoor in Devonshire. Dr. Mortimer brings with him a recent newspaper cutting and a piece of old parchment.

Houn-05 - Hound of Baskervilles, page 24

Sir Hugo's friends see the hound next to his dead body. 1901 illustration by Sidney Paget.

Written on the parchment is an account of a legend. It was written in 1742 by Baronet Baskerville as a warning to his two sons and details events which are said to have happened to their ancestor Sir Hugo Baskerville roughly a hundred years earlier. Sir Hugo Baskerville had a reputation for being wicked. He lusted after a local young woman and abducted her while her father and brothers were away. He took her to an upstairs bedroom at Baskerville Hall and left her there while he had a drunken party with several of his friends. While Sir Hugo was with his friends, the young woman escaped through the bedroom window. After he discovered that she had gone, the angry Sir Hugo said that he would "render his body and soul to the Powers of Evil" if he could get her back. One of Sir Hugo's drunken friends suggested that he set his hunting hounds on her. Sir Hugo took the suggestion literally and pursued the woman onto the moor with his dogs. Thirteen of his friends followed him later. A shepherd told them that he had seen the young woman and Sir Hugo being followed by a "hound of hell". Soon afterwards, they saw Sir Hugo's horse without a rider and his hunting hounds standing at the edge of a valley where some ancient standing stones could be seen. Three of Sir Hugo's friends went into the valley. There they saw the young woman, dead from exhaustion and fear, and the dead body of Sir Hugo. Tearing at his throat was an enormous black dog. One of Sir Hugo's three friends is said to have died from fear the same night and the other two never recovered from the experience. Baronet Baskerville concludes his account by saying that, since the Bible says that people may be punished for the sins of their ancestors for three or four generations and since many members of the Baskerville family have died horrible deaths in the intervening hundred years, his sons should avoid going on the moor "in those dark hours when the powers of evil are exalted".

The newspaper cutting deals with the recent death of Sir Charles Baskerville. Sir Charles had two younger brothers, one who emigrated to North America and one who emigrated to Central America, both of whom are now dead. Although the ancient Baskerville family fortune had long since gone, Sir Charles made his own personal fortune in South Africa and was well known for his charity work and generosity. In spite of having been ill for some time, Sir Charles took his usual evening stroll around the grounds of Baskerville Hall on the night of his death. An inquest concluded that he had died of heart failure and dyspnea, which caused his face to be distorted so much that Dr. Mortimer could not recognize him at first. It was concluded that no foul play was involved, even though Sir Charles' footprints in the damp gravel path showed that he had been walking on tiptoe towards the moor at some point.

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Holmes, Watson and Dr. Mortimer. 1901 illustration by Sidney Paget.

Dr. Mortimer, a good friend of Sir Charles because he, Stapleton the naturalist and Mr. Franland of Lafter Hall were the only educated men in the neighborhood, tells Holmes that he did not reveal all that he knew at the inquest. Sir Charles had already been dead for some time when Dr. Mortimer examined his body. However, he knew from the accumulated cigar ash that Sir Charles had been waiting outside on a damp evening for five or ten minutes. Dr. Mortimer knows that Sir Charles was terrified by the legend of the hound and would not go on the moor out of fear of it. The doctor believes that fear made his friend's health worse. Dr. Mortimer also noticed another set of footprints some twenty yards away from Sir Charles' body by a gate that led to the moor, the footprints of a gigantic hound. Three local men also claim to have seen the demonic hound on the moor in the days before Sir Charles' death, although Dr. Mortimer has to admit that nobody has reported seeing it afterwards.

Holmes points out that it will be difficult to investigate the death of Sir Charles now, after some time has passed and the crime scene will have been contaminated. Dr. Mortimer responds that he does not want Holmes to investigate the murder. He has come to ask Holmes for advice. Sir Charles' heir Sir Henry Baskerville, the son of his younger brother who emigrated to North America, has recently arrived in England from Canada and is due to arrive in London by train that day. Dr. Mortimer is keen for an heir to come to Baskerville Hall and continue the charitable work which Sir Charles started. However he fears that Sir Henry's life may be in danger and is uncertain whether to tell him about the legend of the hound or not. Holmes advises Dr. Mortimer to say nothing to Sir Henry about his fears that day and to return to Baker Street with Sir Henry the following day.

Sherlock Holmes spends the rest of the day pondering the case. He obtains a large map of Dartmoor, on which he finds marked the hamlet of Grimpen where Dr. Mortimer lives, the homes of Mr. Frankland and Mr. Stapleton, Baskerville Hall and Princetown Prison. Most of the rest of the area is uninhabited and is made up of the moor. Holmes tells Watson that Sir Charles was waiting for somebody on the night that he died, the sick elderly man would not have been standing around for up to ten minutes on a damp evening otherwise. He goes on to say that Sir Charles was not walking on tiptoe but "running for his life, running until he burst his heart". Holmes notes that Sir Charles must have been terrified to the point of losing his reason because he was running away from his house and towards the moor.

The following day, Dr. Mortimer returns to Baker Street with Sir Henry Baskerville. Sir Henry shows Holmes a letter, postmarked Charing Cross, which was delivered to him at his hotel, even though nobody except for Dr. Mortimer was supposed to know that he was staying there. The letter reads, "As you value your life and your reason keep away from the moor". Apart from the word "moor", the letter is made up entirely of words cut out of a newspaper. Holmes recognizes the words as all having come from a story in the previous day's copy of The Times, the word "moor", a word not often found in newspapers, and the address on the envelope having been crudely written in obviously disguised handwriting. The fact that it was written with a pen which was running out of ink suggests that it was not the writer's own pen and was probably one from a hotel room. Sir Henry also says that one of his boots, a new one which he has never worn, has disappeared. At Holmes' suggestion, Dr. Mortimer tells the legend of the hound, which Sir Henry does not take seriously. Nevertheless, Sir Henry decides that he would like to take a few hours considering whether he should go to Dartmoor or not. He invites Holmes and Watson to come to see him at his hotel room that afternoon.

Houn-14 - Hound of Baskervilles, page 76

Holmes and Watson briefly glimpse the man who has been following Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer. 1901 illustration by Sidney Paget.

Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer walk back to the hotel. Holmes and Watson secretly follow them. Holmes sees that a cab, which he had noticed parked outside his Baker Street apartment earlier, is also following the two men. Holmes and Watson are unable to catch up with the cab but catch a brief glimpse of its passenger, a man with a black beard which Holmes thinks is probably false. Holmes also makes a note of the cab's number. Holmes gets a messenger, a boy named Cartwright, to go to all twenty-three hotels in the Charing Cross area and ask to see their wastepaper from the previous day, in order to find the page of The Times with the words cut out of it. Unfortunately, at every hotel, Cartwright is told that the previous day's wastepaper has already been removed or burnt. By checking the register and talking to the receptionist at the hotel where Sir Henry is staying, Holmes comes to the conclusion that the bearded man who is pursuing the Baskerville heir is not staying there also.

When Holmes and Watson arrive at Sir Henry's room, he tells them that he has lost another boot but this time it is an old one. Holmes tells Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry about the man with a black beard who was following them. Mortimer says that the description sounds a bit like Barrymore, the butler at Baskerville Hall. Mortimer admits that Barrymore may have had a reason to kill Sir Charles because he and his wife inherited five hundred pounds each in Sir Charles' will. To make certain that Barrymore is not in London, Holmes arranges for a telegram to be sent to Baskerville Hall with the express instructions that it must be delivered into Barrymore's hands. However, Mortimer goes on to say that he himself was left a thousand pounds by Sir Charles, several other people and charities were left small amounts of money and Sir Henry has inherited seven hundred and forty thousand pounds. In the event of Sir Henry's death, his money and Baskerville Hall would go to Sir Charles' distant relative, the elderly clergyman James Desmond.

Sir Henry declares that he has decided to go to Dartmoor and take up residence at Baskerville Hall the following Saturday. Believing that Sir Henry is still in danger and knowing that Dr. Mortimer will not be able to constantly guard him, Holmes says that someone else should go with Sir Henry to protect him. Holmes says that he is unable to go himself because he is busy with a blackmailing case in London. He suggests that his friend Dr. Watson go instead. Before Holmes and Watson leave his hotel room, Sir Henry notices that his missing new boot has been returned to him but there is no sign of the old one.

That evening, Holmes receives the news that the telegram was delivered to Barrymore. The cabman whose number Holmes noted comes to Baker Street. In return for some money, he tells all he knows about the bearded passenger who he carried that day, including the fact that he said he was a detective called Sherlock Holmes.

Before Watson goes to Dartmoor, Holmes tells him that he has ruled out the clergyman James Desmond, an elderly man of good character, of having any involvement in the death of Sir Charles and the strange happenings surrounding Sir Henry. However, the servants at Baskerville Hall, Mr. and Mrs. Barrymore, and Sir Henry's new neighbors, Mr. Frankland, Mr. Stapleton and his beautiful sister and even Dr. Mortimer, remain suspects. Watson is told to send Holmes regular reports detailing any facts that he finds out about Sir Charles' death and anything significant concerning Sir Henry's interaction with his neighbors. Holmes also advises Sir Henry not to go onto the moor at night.

Houn-21 - Hound of Baskervilles, page 118

Mr. and Mrs. Barrymore welcome Sir Henry and Dr. Watson to Baskerville Hall. 1901 illustration by Sidney Paget.

On arrival in Dartmoor, Watson, Sir Henry and Mortimer notice several soldiers who are looking for Selden the Notting Hill murderer, a convict who has recently escaped from Princetown Prison.

At Baskerville Hall, the butler Barrymore suggests that he and his wife will soon be leaving Sir Henry's service and using the money that they inherited from Sir Charles to start their own business. Watson is awoken during the night by the sound of a woman crying. The following morning, he finds out that Sir Henry heard the sound too. When Barrymore is asked about it, he denies that his wife was the one who was crying. However, when Watson sees Mrs. Barrymore, it is obvious from her face that her husband was lying. At the post office in Grimpen, Watson finds out that the telegram for Barrymore was not in fact given to him but to his wife. He therefore cannot be certain that Barrymore was not the one following Sir Henry in London.

After Watson leaves the post office, Jack Stapleton, a naturalist who is particularly interested in insects, approaches him and introduces himself. He knows that Watson is a friend of Sherlock Holmes and wants to know what the famous detective thinks about the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. Stapleton expresses his opinion that Sir Charles was so frightened by the legend of the hound that he could have died of fright while running away from any dog. Stapleton invites Watson to come to his house. On the way, Stapleton points out stone huts which were the homes of prehistoric people and the boggy Grimpen Mire. The mire is a dangerous place. Watson and Stapleton see a pony get caught in a bog and get slowly dragged down to its death. Watson and Stapleton hear a strange howling sound. Stapleton says that it could be the sound of mud settling or water rising in a bog or the cry of a rare bird.

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Beryl Stapleton tells Dr. Watson to forget the warning she gave earlier. 1901 illustration by Sidney Paget.

Shortly before they reach Stapleton's home, the naturalist goes off in pursuit of a butterfly which he has just seen. At that point, his sister Beryl approaches Dr. Watson. She tells him to go straight back to London and not tell her brother about the words she has spoken to him. When Jack Stapleton returns, it is revealed that Beryl believed that she was talking to Sir Henry Baskerville when she gave the warning. During dinner, Stapleton tells Watson that he moved to Dartmoor after the school which he ran in the north of England closed following an epidemic in which three boys died. After Watson leaves Stapleton's house, Beryl catches up with him. She tells Watson to forget the warning which she gave him. When Watson tells her that he cannot forget it and presses her on the issue, she says that she was only referring to the legendary hound. She says that she asked Watson not to say anything about the warning to her brother because he wants a Baskerville in the area to continue the charity work which Sir Charles started.

Sir Henry speaks to Barrymore about the telegram which was delivered into his wife's hands instead of into his. Barrymore takes offense at this and Sir Henry has to give him several of his old clothes in order to make him feel better.

Watson makes the acquaintance of Mr. Frankland, an amateur astronomer who also enjoys bringing lawsuits against people and putting himself into positions which lead to other people prosecuting him. Frankland's lawsuits sometimes bring about results which are of benefit to local people, who then hail him as a hero, and sometimes lead to the local people becoming extremely angry with him and burning dummies of him.

Sir Henry meets and falls in love with Beryl Stapleton. Her brother, however, does not appear to approve of the relationship. Secretly watched by Watson, who has promised not to allow Sir Henry to go out alone, Sir Henry and Beryl Stapleton meet on the moor. Jack Stapleton suddenly appears and angrily confronts Sir Henry and his sister. Stapleton goes to Baskerville Hall later to apologize for his behavior and to invite Sir Henry and Watson to dinner the following Friday.

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Barrymore signals to Selden. 1901 illustration by Sidney Paget.

Late at night, Watson is awoken by the sound of footsteps. He sees Barrymore go to a window with a candle in his hand. He later notices that the window has the best view of the moor of all the windows in Baskerville Hall. Watson tells Sir Henry about this and they decide to investigate. When they see Barrymore go to the window at night with a candle in his hand again, they confront him. Barrymore refuses to tell them what he was doing. His wife, however, reveals the truth. The escaped convict Selden, who is hiding on the moor, is her brother. They signal to him every few days to see if he is still alive. He signals back to them to show them where they can leave food for him.

Watson and Sir Henry go onto the moor in pursuit of the convict. They see him but are unable to catch him. While they are on the moor, they hear the strange howling sound. Watson tells Sir Henry the explanations for the sound that Stapleton gave him but Sir Henry is certain that it is a hound. Fearing for his safety, Sir Henry decides to go home. Before they leave the moor, Watson sees the silhouette of another man, who is not the convict Selden, on a distant hill. Barrymore later confirms that there is another man living on the moor in one of the prehistoric stone huts. He says that Selden has seen a boy bringing food to the man.

Mr. and Mrs. Barrymore plead with Watson and Sir Henry not to tell the police about the location of Selden or the help which they have been giving him. When they hear that arrangements have been made to send Selden to South America, Sir Henry and Watson agree. Out of gratitude, Barrymore gives some further information which he had previously withheld about the death of Sir Charles. Barrymore knows that Sir Charles was waiting to see a woman whose initials were L.L. on the night that he died. On the morning of that day, a letter in a woman's handwriting arrived for Sir Charles. Mrs. Barrymore later found the charred remains of the letter in the fireplace and was able to see the signature L.L. and the words, "as you are a gentleman, burn this letter, and be at the gate at ten o'clock". From Dr. Mortimer, Watson finds out that L.L. could refer to Frankland's daughter Laura Lyons who lives in the nearby town of Coombe Tracey. Her father decided to have nothing more to do with her after she married without his approval. Her husband went on to mistreat her and later abandon her. Dr. Mortimer adds that he and several other people have helped Laura Lyons by giving her money.

Watson travels to Coombe Tracey and meets Laura Lyons. She says that she did not know Sir Charles very well and that she was introduced to him by their mutual friend Stapleton. She reluctantly admits that she had arranged to meet him on the night that he died to ask for money for a divorce. She says that the meeting was arranged for such a late hour because she would not have another opportunity to see Sir Charles, who was leaving for a long stay in London the next day. She says that she asked to see him outside rather than go into his house because it would seem improper for a woman to enter a single man's house at night. She also adds that she did not keep her arranged meeting with Sir Charles because she got financial help from someone else.

Houn-42 - Frontispiece (Hound of Baskervilles)

Dr. Watson in the hut of the mysterious man on the moor. 1901 illustration by Sidney Paget.

On the way back to Baskerville Hall, Watson sees Mr. Frankland. Through one of his lawsuits, Frankland has angered some of the local people who have burnt a dummy of him. He feels that the local police are not taking the situation seriously enough. Consequently, Frankland has decided not to tell the police what he believes he knows about the whereabouts of Selden. Through his telescope, Frankland has seen a boy bringing food to one of the prehistoric huts on the moor. He and Watson observe the boy going to the hut, which Watson knows is not inhabited by Selden but by the other mysterious man. Watson makes his way to the hut. He sees signs that somebody has been living there for some time and is shocked to find a note which says, "Dr. Watson has gone to Coombe Tracey". He waits inside the hut for its occupant to return. To his great surprise, the occupant is revealed to be Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes tells Watson that he has been in the area secretly for some time. (He later reveals that he spent most of that time in Coombe Tracey and only came to the hut on the moor when he considered it necessary.) Holmes claims to have found out more that way than he could if his presence was known. He brought the messenger boy Cartwright from London with him and it is Cartwright who has been bringing him food. All of Watson's reports were forwarded to Holmes and he found them very helpful.

Although he has no solid evidence for it, Holmes is certain that Stapleton was the one responsible for Sir Charles' death, is the hound's master and is planning to kill Sir Henry. He has found out that Stapleton's comment about a running a school in the north which had to close after an epidemic was true. Holmes has been able to find out more about the man by finding records of that incident. Stapleton was using a different name at that time but he is identifiable by his physical description and his interest in insects. One fact which Holmes has discovered is that Beryl Stapleton is not really Jack Stapleton's sister but his wife. Holmes also suspects that there was a "close intimacy" between Stapleton and Laura Lyons and feels the need to question her again.

Seeing no further need to conceal his presence, Holmes decides to accompany Watson back to Baskerville Hall. On the way, they hear the howling of the hound and another terrible sound, which they soon discover was that of a dying man. They find the body of a man who died after falling from some rocks while running away from the hound. From his clothes, they take him at first to be Sir Henry. On closer inspection, they find that the body is that of Selden, wearing some of Sir Henry's old clothes that he gave to Barrymore. Holmes knows that the old clothes, carrying Sir Henry's scent, were the cause of Selden's death. The reason why Sir Henry's boots were stolen was so that the hound could get his scent. The new boot was returned because, since Sir Henry had never worn it, his scent was not on it.

Holmes wonders why the hound was on the moor that evening, certain that Stapleton does not send it onto the moor every night. Shortly afterwards, Stapleton appears. He tries to conceal his disappointment at the dead body being that of Selden and not Sir Henry. He mentions that he invited Sir Henry to visit him that evening but Sir Henry did not come. Holmes, whom Stapleton recognizes immediately, tells the man that he is returning to London the following day. Holmes later explains that he told that lie because he is certain that his presence would change Stapleton's behavior, although he is uncertain whether it would make him more cautious or more reckless. He tells Watson not to mention the hound when they tell Sir Henry and the Barrymores about Selden's death. He also tells Watson that he will need to excuse himself from attending dinner at Stapleton's house the following Friday, Holmes having decided that Sir Henry should go there alone.

At Baskerville Hall, Holmes' attention is grabbed by a portrait of Sir Hugo Baskerville. When Holmes covers up the old-fashioned hairstyle and hat in the picture, Watson is amazed to see what looks exactly like a portrait of Stapleton.

Sir Henry is not surprised to see Holmes, recent events having led him to believe that the detective would be coming soon. He agrees to do everything which Holmes tells him to do. In the morning, Holmes tells Sir Henry that he and Watson are leaving for London immediately but that Sir Henry must stay in Dartmoor. He adds that Sir Henry should go to dinner at Stapleton's house alone. He should go by carriage but should walk home alone across the moor.

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Holmes talks to Laura Lyons. 1902 illustration by Sideny Paget.

Holmes and Watson go together to Coombe Tracey to see Laura Lyons. Holmes tells her that Sir Charles Baskerville was murdered and that her friend Stapleton and his wife were behind his death. When Miss Lyons says that Stapleton is not married, Holmes shows her photographs, taken four years earlier, which are labeled "Mr. and Mrs. Vandeleur" and which clearly show Stapleton and the woman who is now passing as his sister. Having found out that Stapleton deceived her, Laura Lyons confesses the truth. She says that Stapleton promised to marry her if she could raise the money to pay for a divorce. She says that Stapleton dictated the letter that she sent to Sir Charles and then told her not to go to the meeting. She adds that Stapleton made her swear to say nothing about it after Sir Charles died.

Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard arrives in Dartmoor by train, carrying an arrest warrant. He, Holmes and Watson head towards Stapleton's house, where Sir Henry has been having dinner, and hide behind some rocks to observe it. When a fog begins to come onto the moor, in order to get a better view, the three men have to move further away to get onto higher ground. Watson sees Sir Henry and Jack Stapleton inside but cannot see Beryl. Stapleton is also seen going outside to another small building on his property.

Houn-53 - The coal-black Hound (Hound of Baskervilles)

Holmes and Watson see the hound. 1902 illustration by Sidney Paget.

Late at night, Sir Henry eventually leaves Stapleton's home. Watson, Holmes and Lestrade soon see the hound emerge from the fog behind him. The animal is coal-black and appears to have fire coming from its mouth and eyes and flames all over its body. Holmes and Watson shoot at the hound. They injure it but it continues to chase after Sir Henry. Confident that the hound is not a supernatural being and that it can be wounded and killed, the three men chase after it. They see the beast spring on Sir Henry, at which point Holmes shoots repeatedly at the animal and kills it. Although he has received a horrible shock, Sir Henry has not been injured by the hound. On inspecting the hound's dead body, Watson decides that the animal was part bloodhound and part mastiff and, "as large as a small lioness". When Watson touches the hound, he finds that it was coated with phosphorous, which explains its flaming appearance.

Although they are certain that he would have run off when he heard gunfire and do not expect to find him there, Holmes and Watson search Stapleton's home for him. They find Beryl Stapleton bound, gagged and bruised. She is relieved to hear that Sir Henry is unharmed but is unconcerned for the husband who has mistreated her. She is happy to help Holmes and Watson capture him. She tells them that he would have gone to an abandoned tin mine in the middle of Grimpen Mire. Holmes tells her that it would be impossible to follow him onto the treacherous mire that night because of the fog.

The following day, Beryl Stapleton takes Holmes and Watson to the abandoned tin mine. They see the abandoned miner's cottage where Stapleton usually kept the hound, except on evenings when he felt confident enough to keep it in the small building near his house. They also find Sir Henry's missing boot, which Stapleton obviously dropped while running away. However, they cannot find Stapleton himself. They conclude that, on the foggy night, he must have unknowingly stepped into a bog and been dragged down to his death.

Holmes later explains that Stapleton was Sir Charles Baskerville's nephew. He was the son of Sir Charles' brother who emigrated to Central America and was wrongly believed to have died childless. Holmes thinks that, although Stapleton planned to kill Sir Charles for his money and property, he had no clear idea of how he would do so when he first came to Dartmoor. The fact that he had made his beautiful wife pretend to be his sister suggests that he intended to use her to entrap the old man. He later used her as a lure to get Sir Henry to visit his home, although he could not help feeling jealous at the same time. Beryl apparently refused to help Stapleton in his murderous plans and he lost trust in her afterwards. Stapleton learned of the legend of the hound from Sir Charles himself. He bought the largest and most savage dog that he could find from a London dealer and used it to kill Sir Charles by simply scaring him to death.

At the time that he killed Sir Charles, Stapleton was probably unaware of another Baskerville heir in Canada. It was Stapleton, wearing a false beard, whom Holmes and Watson briefly saw following Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry in London. Since he did not trust his wife, he took her to London with him. She sent Sir Henry the note made up of words cut out of The Times, intended not as a threat but as a friendly warning. Stapleton must have bribed somebody at Sir Henry's hotel to steal the boot needed for the hound to get his scent. When Watson says that, unlike the elderly Sir Charles, Sir Henry could not be merely scared to death, Holmes points out that the hound was very fierce and was kept half-starved.

When Watson asks how Stapleton, a man who had been living near Baskerville Hall under an assumed name for some time, could then claim to be the rightful heir of the Baskerville estate without incriminating himself, Holmes has to admit that he does not know. He is, however, certain that the clever criminal would have found a way.

Adaptations

CC No 33 Sherlock Holmes

Classic Comics issue #33 from January 1947 includes adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles and A Study in Scarlet.

There have been stage, radio, comic book and graphic novel adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Between 1914 and 2015, more than twenty different film and television adaptations of the novel were produced in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, the Soviet Union, India and Japan.

Director Sidney Lanfield's 1939 Hollywood film The Hound of the Baskervilles, starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson and distributed by 20th Century Fox, is a largely faithful condensed adaptation of the story. A major difference from the novel is that Beryl Stapleton is not secretly the wife of Jack Stapleton in the film but is genuinely his step-sister. She and Sir Henry Baskerville fall in love and get engaged. Although Beryl Stapleton worries about Sir Henry's safety and repeatedly warns him that he is in danger, she is completely unaware of her step-brother's murderous intentions. She only offers the warnings because she is beginning to believe in the legend of the hound. The Hound of the Baskervilles was the first film adaptation of a Sherlock Holmes story to be set in Victorian times, all previous movies based around the character of Holmes had updated the action to the year in which the film was made. The box office success of The Hound of the Baskervilles led to Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce appearing as Holmes and Watson in a further thirteen films and two hundred and twenty episodes of a radio series from NBC.

The 1959 movie The Hound of the Baskervilles from Britain's Hammer Films, directed by Terence Fisher and starring Peter Cushing as Holmes, André Morrell as Watson and Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville, was the first screen adaptation of Sherlock Holmes story to be made in color. It is a somewhat loose adaptation of the novel. The most significant changes made to the story concern the character of Stapleton and the woman who lives with him. In the film, Stapleton is identifiable as a descendant of Sir Hugo Baskerville because he, like his ancestor, has unusually large webbing between the fingers of his left hand. He steals a portrait of Sir Hugo from Baskerville Hall in an attempt to conceal this fact. In the movie, Stapleton is a widower who lives with his half-Spanish daughter Cecile. Cecile is not only aware that her father is guilty of the murder of Sir Charles Baskerville and the attempted murder of Sir Henry but is his accomplice in those crimes. She lures the two men to the place on the moor where the hound is to attack them. Stapleton's death is shown on screen. He is mauled by his own hound after having been shot by Watson. Cecile also dies shortly after her father. Fleeing from the scene of the crime, she runs into a bog and drowns. In spite of the many differences from the novel, the Hammer version of The Hound of the Baskervilles has won praise from Holmes fans for the performances of its two leads. Dr. Watson as played by André Morrell is much closer to the brave, intelligent and trustworthy character described by Doyle than the bumbling old buffoon played by Nigel Bruce. Peter Cushing was a great admirer of the Sherlock Holmes stories and drew on his significant knowledge of them in his portrayal of Holmes.

Largely on the strength of his performance in the 1959 film version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Peter Cushing was cast nine years later as the title character in the BBC TV series Sherlock Holmes. The series included another adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, divided into two episodes, which originally aired in the United Kingdom on September 30, 1968 and October 7, 1968.

The Hound of the Baskervilles was faithfully adapted as the thirteenth and final episode of The Return of Sherlock Holmes, the second of Granada TV's Sherlock Holmes series starring Jeremy Brett. The episode first aired in the United Kingdom on the ITV network on August 29, 1988.

"The Hounds of Baskerville", the second episode of the second season of the BBC TV series Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is an updated adaptation of the novel. It was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on January 8, 2012. Due to the fact that many more people are familiar with The Hound of the Baskervilles than with other stories about Holmes that have been adapted as episodes of Sherlock, series writer Mark Gatiss felt it much more necessary than usual to include familiar elements from the original work in the episode. Gatiss intended the episode to be a scary one. However, rather than using elements from traditional ghost stories, he decided instead to play on more modern fears related to conspiracy theories and genetic engineering.

The novel's title is referenced in "The Hound of the Cancer Cells", the eighteenth episode of the second season of the American Sherlock Holmes series Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, which was first shown on CBS on March 13, 2014. "Hounded", the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of the same series is a loose adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. In the episode, Charles Baskerville is killed when he is chased by a mysterious creature into oncoming traffic. His brother Henry soon becomes the next target. The episode, which first aired on CBS on March 10, 2016, contains more references to the original story than is usual for the series, including Stapleton and many other character names as well as a dog that glows in the dark.

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