FIRST REPORT OF DR WATSON
Baskerville Hall, October 13th
My dear Holmes,
From my letters and telegrams you know all that has happened in this far-away corner of the world. But I have said little about the escaped convict upon the moor. For two weeks the farmers here were terrified. But now a long time has passed and nothing has been heard of him. The farmers think that he has gone away. He cannot live so long on the moor without food and drink. So now their fears are over and everybody sleeps much better.
Our friend Sir Henry begins to show much interest in our beautiful neighbour of Merripit House. She is such a strange contrast to her cold and unemotional brother. But he has a very great influence over her. I have noticed that she continually glances at him when she talks to any of us. There is something in Stapleton's eyes which makes me think he is a harsh man.
The day after my visit to Merripit House the naturalist came to see Sir Henry. We all three went out for a walk on the moor and Stapleton showed us the place which is described in the legend about the hound of the Baskervilles. It is a short valley between the high rocks. In the middle of it rise two great stones that look like gigantic fangs of some monstrous animal. Sir Henry asked Stapleton if he really believed in the supernatural hound. Stapleton said little in reply, for he did not want to frighten his new friend, but it was easy to see that he could have said more on this subject.
On our way back we had lunch in Merripit House and Sir Henry was introduced to Miss Stapleton. From the first moment that he saw her he was strongly attracted by her. When we were walking home he kept speaking about her. Since that day the brother and sister often visit us and we call on them. There is one strange thing. Stapleton never lets Sir Henry speak to his sister alone and sometimes I notice an angry expression in his eyes when he sees them together. I suppose that he doesn't want his sister to get married, for he will be very lonely without her. It will soon be very difficult for me to follow Sir Henry everywhere for he doesn't like my presence when he visits Miss Stapleton.
On Thursday Dr Mortimer and the Stapletons lunched with us. In the afternoon Sir Henry asked the doctor to show us the spot in the yew alley where Sir Charles had been found on that fatal night. At the far end of the yew alley there is an old summerhouse. Halfway is the gate where the old gentleman stood and dropped his cigar ash. Beyond it lies the wide moor. As I saw all this I tried to imagine how everything had happened: the old man stood there and saw something coming across the moor, something which terrified him so that he lost his head and ran and ran until he died of fear and exhaustion. But from what had he fled? From a sheepdog? Or from the terrible hound of the Baskervilles? There is yet no answer to this question.
I have met another neighbour since I wrote last. It is Mr Frankland who lives four miles to the south of us. He is an elderly red-faced, white-haired man and is very much interested in astronomy. He has a telescope with which he lies on the roof of his house all day watching the moor with the hope of finding the escaped convict.
And now that I have told you about the convict, the Stapletons, and Mr Frankland, I want to tell you something that is still more important. First of all about the telegram that you sent from London. I have already told you that the postmaster had delivered the telegram to Barrymore's wife. When I told Sir Henry about it he immediately sent for the butler and asked him if he had received the telegram himself. Barrymore said that he had.
'Did the postmaster deliver it into your own hands?'
Barrymore thought a moment and then said: 'It was brought to me by my wife.'
'Did you answer it yourself?'
'No, I told my wife to do so. I don't quite understand why you ask me these questions, Sir Henry,' he added. 'I hope I haven't done anything that has displeased you.'
Sir Henry assured him that it was not so and to prove it gave him some of his clothes from London.
So now the question of the telegram is quite clear.
Mrs Barrymore interests me. She seems indifferent, yet I often notice traces of tears on her face. It is clear that deep sorrow fills her heart. Sometimes I suspect that Barrymore is cruel to her. There is something strange in the man. Last night at about 2 o'clock in the morning I was awakened by a soft step in the passage. I rose, opened my door and looked out. A long black figure was moving down the corridor. It was Barrymore with a candle in his hand. He was without shoes and walked very softly. I followed him at a distance. He entered one of the empty rooms at the far end of the corridor. I crept down the passage as noiselessly as I could and looked into the room.
Barrymore was standing by the window with the candle against the glass. He was looking out into the blackness of the night. For some minutes he stood as if waiting for something. Then he groaned and put out the light. I immediately returned to my room and very soon heard his soft steps passing my door. A minute later a key turned somewhere in a lock and all was still again. What all this means I do not know, but there is some secret in this gloomy house.