On the appointed day Sir Henry Baskerville and Dr Mortimer were at the station. Sherlock Holmes and I soon joined them there.
'I do not ask you to make your own theories, Watson,' said Holmes, taking me aside. 'I only beg you to report all the possible facts to me.'
'What sort of facts?' I asked.
'Everything that has the smallest connection with this case — and especially the relations between Sir Henry and his neighbours.
If you hear of any new details connected with the death of Sir Charles, let me know. And study the people who live on the moor near Baskerville Hall — the Barrymores, Dr Mortimer, the naturalist Stapleton and his sister, Mr Frankland and one or two other neighbours.'
'I will do my best.'
'You are armed, I suppose?'
'Yes, I thought it necessary.'
'Certainly. Never be off your guard. Keep your revolver near you night and day.'
'I will, my dear friend. Don't worry.'
'By the way, Sir Henry,' said Holmes, turning to young Baskerville who was talking to Dr Mortimer, 'Have you found your black boot?'
'No, Mr Holmes, it has disappeared.'
'That is very interesting. Well, good-bye,' he added as the train began to move, 'and remember, Sir Henry, don't walk on the moor alone when it's dark.'
When we reached Devonshire Sir Henry, who was looking out of the window, seemed happy to see the land where he had spent his childhood. The train stopped at a small station and we got out.
A carriage with a pair of horses was waiting for us.
It was a quiet, pleasant spot and I was surprised to see two soldiers by the station gate.
They looked keenly at the passers-by. The coachman greeted Sir Henry and soon the carriage was rolling swiftly along the road. On the top of a hill there stood another soldier.
He was watching the road. The coachman turned in his seat.
'A convict had escaped from the prison of Princetown and is hiding on the moor.
The man is a dangerous murderer, and the soldiers watch every road and every station, but they have not yet found him.'
Somewhere there, on the bare and dark moor, this terrible man was hiding like a beast in a hole.
This made the wild and sad place seem still wilder and sadder.
Soon the road turned sharply and the wide, silent moor came in sight.
A few minutes later the carriage stopped before a large dark house with two high narrow towers.
'Welcome to Baskerville Hall, Sir Henry,' said a tall man with a black beard opening the door of the carriage. It was Barrymore, the butler. His wife approached and helped him to take down the luggage.
Dr Mortimer refused to stay for dinner saying that his wife was expecting him.
We entered the hall. It was a very fine hall, large, high, with a great old-fashioned fireplace. Barrymore and his wife had taken the luggage up to the bedrooms.
The butler approached Sir Henry. 'Will you have dinner now, sir?' he asked.
'Is it ready?'
'Yes, sir. I should like to tell you at once that my wife and I will be happy to serve you for some time, but then we should like to go.'
'But why?' Sir Henry asked in surprise.
'You see, sir, the death of Sir Charles has made this house very unpleasant to us.'
'Well, we'll speak about this later. Now show us the dining-room. My friend and I are hungry after our journey.'
A few minutes later we were seated at the dinner table. The room was a dark and gloomy place.
There was a long line of old family portraits on the wall and their silent company was not pleasant.
We talked little and when dinner was over we were happy to go to the modern billiard-room and smoke a cigarette.
'It isn't a very cheerful place,' said Sir Henry. 'I'm not surprised that my poor uncle was nervous in such a gloomy house. But let's go to bed early tonight and perhaps in the morning we'll feel more cheerful.'
Before going to bed I opened the window and looked out. In the cold light of the moon I could see the melancholy moor. Everything was silent around.
I was very tired, yet I could not sleep. Far away a clock struck twelve.
Suddenly the stillness of the night was broken by an unexpected sound.
It was the sobbing of a woman. I sat up in bed and listened. The woman was sobbing not far away, certainly in the house. The sound stopped as suddenly as it had begun.
For half an hour I waited to hear the sound again, but all was still.