Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Chapter 15
The Hound of the Baskervilles
It was a long drive back. The cold wind and the dark, empty spaces told us we were back on the moor.
We stopped near the gate of Baskerville Hall, and walked over the moor inn the moonlight. Soon we were near Merripit House.
"You have your gun, Lestrade?" asked Holmes.
The detective smiled, "Of course."
"Good. My friend and I are ready too."
"You haven't said much about this case, Mr. Holmes. This moor doesn't seem a very cheerful place."
He looked at the dark, hilly slopes and the large cloud of thick, white fog that lay over Grimpen Mire.
"I see the lights of a house. What do we do now?"
"We wait here. It's a waiting game, Lestrade. That's Merripit house - the end of out journey. We must be very quiet now."
"We wait here. It's a waiting game, Lestrade. That's Merripit House - the end of our journey. We moved slowly forward until Holmes stopped us. "This is close enough," he said. "We'll hide behind these rocks. Watson, you know the house. Go and look inside. But don't let anyone hear or see you."
I walked carefully down the path till I saw the window of the digging room. Inside sir Henry and Stapleton sat at a round table smoking cigars and drinking. Although Stapleton talked a lot, sir Henry looked pale and anxious. Perhaps he was worried about the lonely walk back across the moor. Soon Stapleton went out while sir Henry stayed inside. He went over to a small hut in the garden, unlocked it and went in. Strange scuffling sounds were heard.
Then he came out, locked up and returned to the dining room. I crept quietly back to Holmes and Lestrade to tell them what I had seen.
"You say, Watson, that Beryl Stapleton isn't there? Where can she be?" Holmes asked.
"The house was dark. I really don't know."
The fog was moving slowly in our direction. In the moonlight it looked like a great shining ice-field with the hilltops floating above it.
"You see the fog coming here, Watson."
"Is that bad?"
"Very bad. Sir Henry will leave soon. It's already ten o'clock. He must come out before the fog is over the path. His life depends on it!"
The night was clear around us, and we could still see the house. But fog soon covered more than half the moor. Then it vegan to cover the ground around the house too, so only the roof could be seen. The roof floated above the fog like a strange ship on a shadowy sea.
Holmes got down on his knees with his ear to the ground.
"I think he's coming!" he said.
We heard sir Henry's footsteps. The steps got louder. Then we saw him coming out of the fog. As he passed us and went on, he kept looking back like a worried man.
"Shh!" said Holmes and I heard the click of his gun. "Look out! It's coming!"
Something was running towards us through the fog. All of us felt afraid. Then a large animal rushed out of the wall of fog. It was an enormous, coal-black hound!
Lestrade fell to the ground in terror. It was the largest hound we had ever seen - the size of a small lion. Fire burst from its open mouth. Its head and body glowed with flame as it ran towards sir Henry. Holmes and I fired our guns when it passed. The beast gave a loud cry of pain but kept running.
Sir Henry looked back. His face was white, and his hands were raised. He stared helplessly at the terrible beast that was hunting him and he screamed.
Holmes humped up, running very fast after the hound. I never saw a man run as he ran that night. I followed Holmes, and Lestrade came behind. We heard scream after scream from sir Henry and the deep roaring of the hound. I saw the animal jump onto him and knock him to the ground. Homes immediately shoe the animal five times. With a loud cry, the giant hound rolled over, then fell onto its side, dead.
Sir Henry lay still on the ground in shock but luckily was unhurt. We had rescued him just in time. Lestrade poured some brandy into his mouth.
He opened two frightened eyes.
"My God!" he whispered. "What in heaven's name was it?"
"It's dead, whatever it was," said Holmes. "We've killed the family ghost once and for all.
It was the largest dog we had ever seen. There was a blue-colored flame around its jaws and eyes.
"Phosphorus - the chemical that shines in the dark," I said, after touching the animal.
"It's phosphorus with no odor," said Holmes, "so it didn't upset the dog's sense of smell. Sorry for the chock, sir Henry. I didn't expect the hound to be so frightening. The fog was also a problem."
"You saved my life."
"Yes, but I put you in danger. Can you stand up?"
"I'll try. What are you going to do now?"
"We'll leave you here and soon we'll be back to bring you home."
Sir Henry was still too weak to get up. We helped him to a rock where he sat pale and trembling.
"We still have work," Holmes said. "Hurry! We must catch our man.
He heard the shots and knows we'll be after him. He's left the house but we'll check to make sure."
We ran through Merripit House but found nothing. However, one of the upstairs rooms was locked.
"I hear a noise inside!" cried Lestrade.
Holmes kicked the door open and we rushed in with our guns. The room Holmes kicked the door open and we rushed in with our guns. The room contained Stapleton's butterfly collection. We saw someone tried up and covered with sheets. It was Mrs. Stapleton. She had fainted but opened her eyes when Holmes gave her some brandy.
"Is sir Henry safe? she asked.
"And the hound?"
"It's dead."
"Thank God!" she said. "Look at my arms - all black and blue. See how that man beat me!"
"Tell us where to find him, madam," said Holmes.
"He has a hiding place in the middle of Grimpen Mire, an old hut where he kept his hound."
The fog was still very thick, so we could not go after Stapleton right away. Lestrade stayed with Mrs. Stapleton, while Holmes and I took Sir henry back to Baskerville Hall. He was shocked to hear the story about the Stapletons.
The next morning Mrs. Stapletons showed us the hiding place in the Mire.
She waited at the edge of the bog while we followed small sticks stuck into the ground. Stapleton had used them to guide him through the swamp.
On the way Holmes picked up a small dark object - an old black boot.
"Sir Henry's missing boot!"
"Stapleton threw it away."
"Correct. He used it so the hound would arrack Sir Henry. He surely came this way."
But we did not find him. There were no footprints. For sure he had fallen deep into one of the bog-holes of Grimpen Mire.

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