Baskerville Hall, Oct. 15th.
MY DEAR HOLMES:
If I was compelled to leave you without much news during
the early days of my mission you must acknowledge that I am
making up for lost time, and that events are now crowding thick
and fast upon us. In my last report I ended upon my top note
with Barrymore at the window, and now I have quite a budget
already which will, unless I am much mistaken, considerably surprise you. Things have taken a turn which I could not
have anticipated. In some ways they have within the last forty-eight hours become much clearer and in some ways they have
become more complicated. But I will tell you all and you shall
judge for yourself.
Before breakfast on the morning following my adventure I
went down the corridor and examined the room in which Barrymore had been on the-night before. The western window through
which he had stared so intently has, I noticed, one peculiarity
above all other windows in the house -- it commands the nearest
outlook on to the moor. There is an opening between two trees
which enables one from this point of view to look right down
upon it, while from all the other windows it is only a distant
glimpse which can be obtained. It follows, therefore, that Barrymore, since only this window would serve the purpose, must
have been looking out for something or somebody upon the
moor. The night was very dark, so that I can hardly imagine how
he could have hoped to see anyone. It had struck me that it was
possible that some love intrigue was on foot. That would have
accounted for his stealthy movements and also for the uneasiness
of his wife. The man is a striking-looking fellow, very well
equipped to steal the heart of a country girl, so that this theory
seemed to have something to support it. That opening of the door
whlch I had heard after I had returned to my room might mean
that he had gone out to keep some clandestine appointment. So I
reasoned with myself in the morning, and I tell you the direction
of my suspicions, however much the result may have shown that
they were unfounded.
But whatever the true explanation of Barrymore's movements
might be, I felt that the responsibility of keeping them to myself
until I could explain them was more than I could bear. I had an
interview with the baronet in his study after breakfast, and I told
him all that I had seen. He was less surprised than I had
"I knew that Barrymore walked about nights, and I had a
mind to speak to him about it," said he. "Two or three times I
have heard hls steps in the passage, coming and going, just about
the hour you name."
"Perhaps then he pays a visit every night to that particular
window," I suggested.
"Perhaps he does. If so, we should be able to shadow him and
see what it is that he is after. I wonder what your friend Holmes
would do if he were here."
"I believe that he would do exactly what you now suggest,"
said I. "He would follow Barrymore and see what he did."
"Then we shall do it together."
"But surely he would hear us."
"The man is rather deaf, and in any case we must take our
chance of that. We'll sit up in my room to-night and wait until
he passes." Sir Henry rubbed his hands with pleasure, and it was
evident that he hailed the adventure as a relief to his somewhat
quiet life upon the moor.
The baronet has been in communication with the architect who
prepared the plans for Sir Charles, and with a contractor from
London, so that we may expect great changes to begin here
soon. There have been decorators and furnishers up from Plymouth, and it is evident that our friend has large ideas and means
to spare no pains or expense to restore the grandeur of his
family. When the house is renovated and refurnished, all that he
will need will be a wife to make it complete. Between ourselves
there are pretty clear signs that this will not be wanting if the
lady is willing, for I have seldom seen a man more infatuated
with a woman than he is with our beautiful neighbour, Miss
Stapleton. And yet the course of true love does not run quite as
smoothly as one would under the circumstances expect. To-day,
for example, its surface was broken by a very unexpected ripple,
which has caused our friend considerable perplexity and annoyance.
After the conversation which I have quoted about Barrymore,
Sir Henry put on his hat and prepared to go out. As a matter of
course I did the same.
"What, are you coming, Watson?" he asked, looking at me in
a curious way.
"That depends on whether you are going on the moor," said
"Yes, I am."
"Well, you know what my instructions are. I am sorry to
intrude, but you heard how earnestly Holmes insisted that I
should not leave you, and especially that you should not go alone
upon the moor."
Sir Henry put his hand upon my shoulder with a pleasant
"My dear fellow," said he, "Holmes, with all his wisdom,
did not foresee some things which have happened since I have
been on the moor. You understand me? I am sure that you are
the last man in the world who would wish to be a spoil-sport. I
must go out alone."
It put me in a most awkward position. I was at a loss what to
say or what to do, and before I had made up my mind he picked
up his cane and was gone.
But when I came to think the matter over my conscience
reproached me bitterly for having on any pretext allowed him to
go out of my sight. I imagined what my feelings would be if I
had to return to you and to confess that some misfortune had
occurred through my disregard for your instructions. I assure you
my cheeks flushed at the very thought. It might not even now be
too late to overtake him, so I set off at once in the direction of
I hurried along the road at the top of my speed without seeing
anything of Sir Henry, until I came to the point where the moor
path branches off. There, fearing that perhaps I had come in the
wrong direction after all, I mounted a hill from which I could
command a view -- the same hill which is cut into the dark
quarry. Thence I saw him at once. He was on the moor path
about a quarter of a mile off, and a lady was by his side who
could only be Miss Stapleton. It was clear that there was already
an understanding between them and that they had met by appointment. They were walking slowly along in deep conversation, and I saw her making quick little movements of her hands
as if she were very earnest in what she was saying, while he
listened intently, and once or twice shook his head in strong
dissent. I stood among the rocks watching them, very much
puzzled as to what I should do next. To follow them and break
into their intimate conversation seemed to be an outrage, and yet
my clear duty was never for an instant to let him out of my sight.
To act the spy upon a friend was a hateful task. Still, I could see
no better course than to observe him from the hill, and to clear
my conscience by confessing to him afterwards what I had done.
It is true that if any sudden danger had threatened him I was too
far away to be of use, and yet I am sure that you will agree with
me that the position was very difficult, and that there was
nothing more which I could do.
Our friend, Sir Henry, and the lady had halted on the path and
were standing deeply absorbed in their conversation, when I was
suddenly aware that I was not the only witness of their interview.
A wisp of green floating in the air caught my eye, and another
glance showed me that it was carried on a stick by a man who
was moving among the broken ground. It was Stapleton with his
butterfly-net. He was very much closer to the pair than I was,
and he appeared to be moving in their direction. At this instant
Sir Henry suddenly drew Miss Stapleton to his side. His arm was
round her, but it seemed to me that she was straining away from
him with her face averted. He stooped his head to hers, and she
raised one hand as if in protest. Next moment I saw them spring
apart and turn hurriedly round. Stapleton was the cause of the
interruption. He was running wildly towards them, his absurd net
dangling behind him. He gesticulated and almost danced with
excitement in front of the lovers. What the scene meant I could
not imagine, but it seemed to me that Stapleton was abusing Sir
Henry, who offered explanations, which became more angry as
the other refused to accept them. The lady stood by in haughty
silence. Finally Stapleton turned upon his heel and beckoned in a
peremptory way to his sister, who, after an irresolute glance at
Sir Henry, walked off by the side of her brother. The naturalist's
angry gestures showed that the lady was included in his displeasure. The baronet stood for a minute looking after them, and
then he walked slowly back the way that he had come, his head
hanging, the very picture of dejection.
What all this meant I could not imagine, but I was deeply
ashamed to have witnessed so intimate a scene without my
friend's knowledge. I ran down the hill therefore and met the
baronet at the bottom. His face was flushed with anger and his
brows were wrinkled, like one who is at his wit's ends what to
"Halloa, Watson! Where have you dropped from?" said he.
"You don't mean to say that you came after me in spite of all?"
I explained everything to him: how I had found it impossible
to remain behind, how I had followed him, and how I had
witnessed all that had occurred. For an instant his eyes blazed at
me, but my frankness disarmed his anger, and he broke at last
into a rather rueful laugh.
"You would have thought the middle of that prairie a fairly
safe place for a man to be private," said he, "but, by thunder,
the whole countryside seems to have been out to see me do my
wooing -- and a mighty poor wooing at that! Where had you
engaged a seat?"
"I was on that hill."
"Quite in the back row, eh? But her brother was well up to
the front. Did you see him come out on us?"
"Yes, I did."
"Did he ever strike you as being crazy -- this brother of hers?"
"I can't say that he ever did."
"I dare say not. I always thought him sane enough until
to-day, but you can take it from me that either he or I ought to be
in a straitjacket. What's the matter with me, anyhow? You've
lived near me for some weeks, Watson. Tell me straight, now! Is
there anything that would prevent me from making a good
husband to a woman that I loved?"
"I should say not."
"He can't object to my worldly position, so it must be myself
that he has this down on. What has he against me? I never hurt
man or woman in my life that I know of. And yet he would not
so much as let me touch the tips of her fingers."
"Did he say so?"
"That, and a deal more. I tell you, Watson, I've only known
her these few weeks, but from the first I just felt that she was
made for me, and she, too -- she was happy when she was with
me, and that I'll swear. There's a light in a woman's eyes that
speaks louder than words. But he has never let us get together
and it was only to-day for the first time that I saw a chance of
having a few words with her alone. She was glad to meet me,
but when she did it was not love that she would talk about, and
she wouldn't have let me talk about it either if she could have
stopped it. She kept coming back to it that this was a place of
danger, and that she would never be happy until I had left it. I
told her that since I had seen her I was in no hurry to leave it,
and that if she really wanted me to go, the only way to work it
was for her to arrange to go with me. With that I offered in as
many words to marry her, but before she could answer, down
came this brother of hers, running at us with a face on him like a
madman. He was just white with rage, and those light eyes of his
were blazing with fury. What was I doing with the lady? How
dared I offer her attentions which were distasteful to her? Did I
think that because I was a baronet I could do what I liked? If he
had not been her brother I should have known better how to
answer him. As it was I told him that my feelings towards his
sister were such as I was not ashamed of, and that I hoped that
she might honour me by becoming my wife. That seemed to
make the matter no better, so then I lost my temper too, and I
answered him rather more hotly than I should perhaps, considering that she was standing by. So it ended by his going off with
her, as you saw, and here am I as badly puzzled a man as any in
this county. Just tell me what it all means, Watson, and I'll owe
you more than ever I can hope to pay."
I tried one or two explanations, but, indeed, I was completely
puzzled myself. Our friend's title, his fortune, his age, his
character, and his appearance are all in his favour, and I know
nothing against him unless it be this dark fate which runs in his
family. That his advances should be rejected so brusquely without any reference to the lady's own wishes and that the lady
should accept the situation without protest is very amazing.
However, our conjectures were set at rest by a visit from Stapleton
himself that very afternoon. He had come to offer apologies for
his rudeness of the morning, and after a long private interview
with Sir Henry in his study the upshot of their conversation was
that the breach is quite healed, and that we are to dine at Merripit
House next Friday as a sign of it.
"l don't say now that he isn't a crazy man," said Sir Henry
"I can't forget the look in his eyes when he ran at me this
morning, but I must allow that no man could make a more
handsome apology than he has done."
"Did he give any explanation of his conduct?"
"His sister is everything in his life, he says. That is natural
enough, and I am glad that he should understand her value. They
have always been together, and according to his account he has
been a very lonely man with only her as a companion, so that the
thought of losing her was really terrible to him. He had not
understood, he said, that I was becoming attached to her, but
when he saw with his own eyes that it was really so, and that she
might be taken away from him, it gave him such a shock that for
a time he was not responsible for what he said or did. He was
very sorry for all that had passed, and he recognized how foolish
and how selfish it was that he should imagine that he could hold
a beautiful woman like his sister to himself for her whole life. If
she had to leave him he had rather it was to a neighbour like
myself than to anyone else. But in any case it was a blow to him
and it would take him some time before he could prepare himself
to meet it. He would withdraw all opposition upon his part if I
would promise for three months to let the matter rest and to be
content with cultivating the lady's friendship during that time
without claiming her love. This I promised, and so the matter
So there is one of our small mysteries cleared up. It is
something to have touched bottom anywhere in this bog in which
we are floundering. We know now why Stapleton looked with
disfavour upon his sister's suitor -- even when that suitor was so
eligible a one as Sir Henry. And now I pass on to another thread
which I have extricated out of the tangled skein, the mystery of
the sobs in the night, of the tear-stained face of Mrs. Barrymore,
of the secret journey of the butler to the western lattice window.
Congratulate me, my dear Holmes, and tell me that I have not
disappointed you as an agent -- that you do not regret the confidence which you showed in me when you sent me down. All
these things have by one night's work been thoroughly cleared.
I have said "by one night's work," but, in truth, it was by
two nights' work, for on the first we drew entirely blank. I sat up
with Sir Henry in his rooms until nearly three o'clock in the
morning, but no sound of any sort did we hear except the
chiming clock upon the stairs. It was a most melancholy vigil
and ended by each of us falling asleep in our chairs. Fortunately
we were not discouraged, and we determined to try again. The
next night we lowered the lamp and sat smoking cigarettes
without making the least sound. It was incredible how slowly the
hours crawled by, and yet we were helped through it by the same
sort of patient interest which the hunter must feel as he watches
the trap into which he hopes the game may wander. One struck,
and two, and we had almost for the second time given it up in
despair when in an instant we both sat bolt upright in our chairs
with all our weary senses keenly on the alert once more. We had
heard the creak of a step in the passage.
Very stealthily we heard it pass along until it died away in the
distance. Then the baronet gently opened his door and we set out
in pursuit. Already our man had gone round the gallery and the
corridor was all in darkness. Softly we stole along untii we had
come into the other wing. We were just in time to catch a
glimpse of the tall, black-bearded figure, his shoulders rounded
as he tiptoed down the passage. Then he passed through the
same door as before, and the light of the candle framed it in the
darkness and shot one single yellow beam across the gloom of
the corridor. We shuffled cautiously towards it, trying every
plank before we dared to put our whole weight upon it. We had
taken the precaution of leaving our boots behind us, but, even
so, the old boards snapped and creaked beneath our tread. Sometimes it seemed impossible that he should fail to hear our approach. However, the man is fortunately rather deaf, and he was
entirely preoccupied in that which he was doing. When at last we
reached the door and peeped through we found him crouching at
the window, candle in hand, his white, intent face pressed
against the pane, exactly as I had seen him two nights before.
We had arranged no plan of campaign, but the baronet is a
man to whom the most direct way is always the most natural. He
walked into the room, and as he did so Barrymore sprang up
from the window with a sharp hiss of his breath and stood, livid
and trembling, before us. His dark eyes, glaring out of the white
mask of his face, were full of horror and astonishment as he
gazed from Sir Henry to me.
"What are you doing here, Barrymore?"
"Nothing, sir." His agitation was so great that he could
hardly speak, and the shadows sprang up and down from the
shaking of his candle. "It was the window, sir. I go round at
night to see that they are fastened."
"On the second floor?"
"Yes, sir, all the windows."
"Look here, Barrymore," said Sir Henry sternly, "we have
made up our minds to have the truth out of you, so it will save
you trouble to tell it sooner rather than later. Come, now! No
lies! What were you doing at that window??'
The fellow looked at us in a helpless way, and he wrung his
hands together like one who is in the last extremity of doubt and
"I was doing no harm, sir. I was holding a candle to the
"And why were you holding a candle to the window?"
"Don't ask me, Sir Henry -- don't ask me! I give you my
word, sir, that it is not my secret, and that I cannot tell it. If it
concerned no one but myself I would not try to keep it from
A sudden idea occurred to me, and I took the candle from the
trembling hand of the butler.
"He must have been holding it as a signal," said I. "Let us
see if there is any answer." I held it as he had done, and stared
out into the darkness of the night. Vaguely I could discern the
black bank of the trees and the lighter expanse of the moor, for
the moon was behind the clouds. And then I gave a cry of
exultation, for a tiny pin-point of yellow light had suddenly
transfixed the dark veil, and glowed steadily in the centre of the
black square framed by the window.
"There it is!" I cried.
"No, no, sir, it is nothing -- nothing at all!" the butler broke
in; "I assure you, sir --"
"Move your light across the window, Watson!" cried the
baronet. "See, the other moves also! Now, you rascal, do you
deny that it is a signal? Come, speak up! Who is your confederate out yonder, and what is this conspiracy that is going on?"
The man's face became openly defiant.
"It is my business, and not yours. I will not tell."
"Then you leave my employment right away."
"Very good, sir. If I must I must."
"And you go in disgrace. By thunder, you may well be
ashamed of yourself. Your family has lived with mine for over a
hundred years under this roof, and here I find you deep in some
dark plot against me."
"No, no, sir; no, not against you!" It was a woman's voice,
and Mrs. Barrymore, paler and more horror-struck than her
husband, was standing at the door. Her bulky figure in a shawl
and skirt might have been comic were it not for the intensity of
feeling upon her face.
"We have to go, Eliza. This is the end of it. You can pack our
things," said the butler.
"Oh, John, John, have I brought you to this? It is my doing,
Sir Henry -- all mine. He has done nothing except for my sake
and because I asked him."
"Speak out, then! What does it mean?"
"My unhappy brother is starving on the moor. We cannot let
him perish at our very gates. The light is a signal to him that
food is ready for him, and his light out yonder is to show the
spot to which to bring it."
"Then your brother is --"
"The escaped convict, sir -- Selden, the criminal."
"That's the truth, sir," said Barrymore. "I said that it was not
my secret and that I could not tell it to you. But now you have
heard it, and you will see that if there was a plot it was not
This, then, was the explanation of the stealthy expeditions at
night and the light at the window. Sir Henry and I both stared at
the woman in amazement. Was it possible that this stolidly
respectable person was of the same blood as one of the most
notorious criminals in the country?
"Yes, sir, my name was Selden, and he is my younger brother.
We humoured him too much when he was a lad and gave him his
own way in everything until he came to think that the world was
made for his pleasure, and that he could do what he liked in it.
Then as he grew older he met wicked companions, and the devil
entered into him until he broke my mother's heart and dragged
our name in the dirt. From crime to crime he sank lower and
lower until it is only the mercy of God which has snatched him
from the scaffold; but to me, sir, he was always the little
curly-headed boy that I had nursed and played with as an elder
sister would. That was why he broke prison, sir. He knew that I
was here and that we could not refuse to help him. When he
dragged himself here one night, weary and starving, with the
warders hard at his heels, what could we do? We took him in
and fed him and cared for him. Then you returned, sir, and my
brother thought he would be safer on the moor than anywhere
else until the hue and cry was over, so he lay in hiding there. But
every second night we made sure if he was still there by putting
a light in the window, and if there was an answer my husband
took out some bread and meat to him. Every day we hoped that
he was gone, but as long as he was there we could not desert
him. That is the whole truth, as I am an honest Christian woman
and you will see that if there is blame in the matter it does not lie
with my husband but with me, for whose sake he has done all
that he has."
The woman's words came with an intense earnestness which
carried conviction with them.
"Is this true, Barrymore?"
"Yes, Sir Henry. Every word of it."
"Well, I cannot blame you for standing by your own wife.
Forget what I have said. Go to your room, you two, and we shall
talk further about this matter in the morning."
When they were gone we looked out of the window again. Sir
Henry had flung it open, and the cold night wind beat in upon
our faces. Far away in the black distance there still glowed that
one tiny point of yellow light.
"I wonder he dares," said Sir Henry.
"It may be so placed as to be only visible from here."
"Very likely. How far do you think it is?"
"Out by the Cleft Tor, I think."
"Not more than a mile or two off."
"Well, it cannot be far if Barrymore had to carry out the food
to it. And he is waiting, this villain, beside that candle. By
thunder, Watson, I am going out to take that man!"
The same thought had crossed my own mind. It was not as if
the Barrymores had taken us into their confidence. Their secret
had been forced from them. The man was a danger to the
community, an unmitigated scoundrel for whom there was neither pity nor excuse. We were only doing our duty in taking this
chance of putting him back where he could do no harm. With his
brutal and violent nature, others would have to pay the price if
we held our hands. Any night, for example, our neighbours the
Stapletons might be attacked by him, and it may have been the
thought of this which made Sir Henry so keen upon the adventure.
"I will come," said I.
"Then get your revolver and put on your boots. The sooner
we start the better, as the fellow may put out his light and be
In five minutes we were outside the door, starting upon our
expedition. We hurried through the dark shrubbery, amid the
dull moaning of the autumn wind and the rustle of the falling
leaves. The night air was heavy with the smell of damp and
decay. Now and again the moon peeped out for an instant, but
clouds were driving over the face of the sky, and just as we came
out on the moor a thin rain began to fall. The light still burned
steadily in front.
"Are you armed?" I asked.
"I have a hunting-crop."
"We must close in on him rapidly, for he is said to be a
desperate fellow. We shall take him by surprise and have him at
our mercy before he can resist."
"I say, Watson," said the baronet, "what would Holmes say
to this? How about that hour of darkness in which the power of
evil is exalted?"
As if in answer to his words there rose suddenly out of the
vast gloom of the moor that strange cry which I had already
heard upon the borders of the great Grimpen Mire. It came with
the wind through the silence of the night, a long, deep mutter
then a rising howl, and then the sad moan in which it died away.
Again and again it sounded, the whole air throbbing with it,
strident, wild, and menacing. The baronet caught my sleeve and
his face glimmered white through the darkness.
"My God, what's that, Watson?"
"I don't know. It's a sound they have on the moor. I heard it
It died away, and an absolute silence closed in upon us. We
stood straining our ears, but nothing came.
"Watson," said the baronet, "it was the cry of a hound."
My blood ran cold in my veins, for there was a break in his
voice which told of the sudden horror which had seized him.
"What do they call this sound?" he asked.
"The folk on the countryside."
"Oh, they are ignorant people. Why should you mind what
they call it?"
"Tell me, Watson. What do they say of it?"
I hesitated but could not escape the question.
"They say it is the cry of the Hound of the Baskervilles."
He groaned and was silent for a few moments.
"A hound it was," he said at last, "but it seemed to come
from miles away, over yonder, I think."
"It was hard to say whence it came."
"It rose and fell with the wind. Isn't that the direction of the
great Grimpen Mire?"
"Yes, it is."
"Well, it was up there. Come now, Watson, didn't you think
yourself that it was the cry of a hound? I am not a child. You
need not fear to speak the truth."
"Stapleton was with me when I heard it last. He said that it
might be the calling of a strange bird."
"No, no, it was a hound. My God, can there be some truth in
all these stories? Is it possible that I am really in danger from so
dark a cause? You don't believe it, do you, Watson?"
"And yet it was one thing to laugh about it in London, and it
is another to stand out here in the darkness of the moor and to
hear such a cry as that. And my uncle! There was the footprint of
the hound beside him as he lay. It all fits together. I don't think
that I am a coward, Watson, but that sound seemed to freeze my
very blood. Feel my hand!"
It was as cold as a block of marble.
"You'll be all right to-morrow."
"I don't think I'll get that cry out of my head. What do you
advise that we do now?"
"Shall we turn back?"
"No, by thunder; we have come out to get our man, and we
will do it. We after the convict, and a hell-hound, as likely as
not, after us. Come on! We'll see it through if all the fiends of
the pit were loose upon the moor."
We stumbled slowly along in the darkness, with the black
loom of the craggy hills around us, and the yellow speck of light
burning steadily in front. There is nothing so deceptive as the
distance of a light upon a pitch-dark night, and sometimes the
glimmer seemed to be far away upon the horizon and sometimes
it might have been within a few yards of us. But at last we could
see whence it came, and then we knew that we were indeed very
close. A guttering candle was stuck in a crevice of the rocks
which flanked it on each side so as to keep the wind from it and
also to prevent it from being visible, save in the direction of
Baskerville Hall. A boulder of granite concealed our approach,
and crouching behind it we gazed over it at the signal light. It
was strange to see this single candle burning there in the middle
of the moor, with no sign of life near it -- just the one straight
yellow flame and the gleam of the rock on each side of it.
"What shall we do now?" whispered Sir Henry.
"Wait here. He must be near his light. Let us see if we can
get a glimpse of him."
The words were hardly out of my mouth when we both saw
him. Over the rocks, in the crevice of which the candle burned,
there was thrust out an evil yellow face, a terrible animal face,
all seamed and scored with vile passions. Foul with mire, with a
bristling beard, and hung with matted hair, it might well have
belonged to one of those old savages who dwelt in the burrows
on the hillsides. The light beneath him was reflected in his small,
cunning eyes which peered fiercely to right and left through the
darkness like a crafty and savage animal who has heard the steps
of the hunters.
Something had evidently aroused his suspicions. It may have
been that Barrymore had some private signal which we had
neglected to give, or the fellow may have had some other reason
for thinking that all was not well, but I could read his fears upon
his wicked face. Any instant he might dash out the light and
vanish in the darkness. I sprang forward therefore, and Sir Henry
did the same. At the same moment the convict screamed out a
curse at us and hurled a rock which splintered up against the
boulder which had sheltered us. I caught one glimpse of his
short, squat, strongly built figure as he sprang to his feet and
turned to run. At the same moment by a lucky chance the moon
broke through the clouds. We rushed over the brow of the hill,
and there was our man running with great speed down the other
side, springing over the stones in his way with the activity of a
mountain goat. A lucky long shot of my revolver might have
crippled him, but I had brought it only to defend myself if
attacked and not to shoot an unarmed man who was running
We were both swift runners and in fairly good training, but we
soon found that we had no chance of overtaking him. We saw
him for a long time in the moonlight until he was only a small
speck moving swiftly among the boulders upon the side of a
distant hill. We ran and ran until we were completely blown, but
the space between us grew ever wider. Finally we stopped and
sat panting on two rocks, while we watched him disappearing in
And it was at this moment that there occurred a most strange
and unexpected thing. We had risen from our rocks and were
turning to go home, having abandoned the hopeless chase. The
moon was low upon the right, and the jagged pinnacle of a
granite tor stood up against the lower curve of its silver disc.
There, outlined as black as an ebony statue on that shining
background, I saw the figure of a man upon the tor. Do not think
that it was a delusion, Holmes. I assure you that I have never in
my life seen anything more clearly. As far as I could judge, the
figure was that of a tall, thin man. He stood with his legs a little
separated, his arms folded, his head bowed, as if he were
brooding over that enormous wilderness of peat and granite
which lay before him. He might have been the very spirit of that
terrible place. It was not the convict. This man was far from the
place where the latter had disappeared. Besides, he was a much
taller man. With a cry of surprise I pointed him out to the
baronet, but in the instant during which I had turned to grasp his
arm the man was gone. There was the sharp pinnacle of granite
still cutting the lower edge of the moon, but its peak bore no
trace of that silent and motionless figure.
I wished to go in that direction and to search the tor, but it was
some distance away. The baronet's nerves were still quivering
from that cry, which recalled the dark story of his family, and he
was not in the mood for fresh adventures. He had not seen this
lonely man upon the tor and could not feel the thrill which his
strange presence and his commanding attitude had given to me.
"A warder, no doubl," said he. "The moor has been thick with
them since this fellow escaped." Well, perhaps his explanation
may be the right one, but I should like to have some further
proof of it. To-day we mean to communicate to the Princetown
people where they should look for their missing man, but it is
hard lines that we have not actually had the triumph of bringing
him back as our own prisoner. Such are the adventures of last
night, and you must acknowledge, my dear Holmes, that I have
done you very well in the matter of a report. Much of what I tell
you is no doubt quite irrelevant, but still I feel that it is best that
I should let you have all the facts and leave you to select for
yourself those which will be of most service to you in helping
you to your conclusilons. We are certainly making some progress. So far as the Barrymores go we have found the motive of
their actions, and that has cleared up the situation very much.
But the moor with its mysteries and its strange inhabitants remains as inscrutable as ever. Perhaps in my next I may be able to
throw some light upon this also. Best of all would it be if you
could come down to us. In any case you will hear from me again
in the course of the next few days.