Stage 2 (Apprentice): The hound of the Baskervilles, chapter 2

Chapter 2: Some little mysteries

A man quietly entered. He was small, dark-eyed and very sturdy(1), with thick black eyebrows. He wore an old suit, yet looked quite a gentleman.

“This is Sir Henry Baskerville,” said Dr. Mortimer.

“Why, yes,” said he, “Mr.Holmes, I suppose(2). And you are Dr. Mortimer, my new neighbor? I am very glad to meet you both. I came here because I understand that you think out little puzzles, and I have one which wants more thinking out than I am able to give it.”

“Well, that is very strange, for Dr.Mortimer here was planning to take you here himself. But take a seat, Sir Henry. Have you had some strage experience since you arrived in London?”

“Nothing of much importance, Mr. Holmes. Only a joke, as like as not. It was this letter, if you can call it a letter, which reached me this morning. It ran:

        As you value your life or your reason keep away from the moor.

The word “moor” only was printed in ink. The other ones were pasted on. But the strange thing is, Mr.Holmes, I have told no one the address of my London hotel.”

Holmes examined(3) the letter carefully, then said to Watson,

“Can you please hand me yesterday’s Times magazine, please?” he glanced quickly over it, running his eyes up and down the columns. “Well, well

     ‘You may imagine that your own special

     trade(4) or your own industry will be encouraged(5) by a

     protective law, but it stands to reason that such

     thing must keep away money from the

     country, lower the value of our products, and lower the

     conditions of life in this island.’

“What do you think of that, Watson?” cried Holmes joyfully.

“It seems to me we’ve got a bit off topic.”remarked Sir Henry.

“Well, don’t you see?. ‘You,’ ‘your,’ ‘your,’ ‘life,’ ‘reason,’ ‘value,’ ‘keep away,’ ‘from the.’ Don’t you see now where these words have been taken?”

“You’re right! That is very smart!” cried Sir Henry.

“It is my job to be able to recognize the different typefaces of popular London magazines, because that helps in solving problems.”replied Holmes.

“Anything else?”asked Sir Charles eagerly.

“I am almost certain that this address has been written in a hotel.””said Holmes “If you examine it carefully you will see that both the pen and the ink have given the writer trouble. Now, a private(6) pen or ink-bottle hardly ever does. But you know the hotel ink and the hotel pen, which are of very low quality. Could we examine the waste-paper baskets of the hotels around Charing Cross until we found the a cut Times leader we would surely lay our hands upon the person who sent this strange message.”said Holmes. “By the way, Sir Henry, has anything else happened to you since you arrived in London? Anything strange and inexplicable(7)?”

“Well, I have lost one of my boots!”replied Sir Henry.

“That is certainly very unusual,”remarked Holmes “Yet I don’t think anyone would want to steal a boot. Perhaps you have mislaid it?”

“That is very unlikely, yet I will look again.” said Sir Henry. “Now, Dr. Mortimer, I think you have some problem of your own also, or you would not come here.”

“Why yes, and the problem concerns(8) you, Sir.” Replied the Doctor. Then, he began to tell Sir Henry the story of the family hound, and its connection to the recent death of Sir Charles’s’.

“I have finished my story, Sir Henry,”said he at last “And I would like to know whether you still want to go to Baskerville hall after hearing it.”

“You seem to think there is real danger from this mysterious hound?”asked Sir Henry.

“Yes, I think so.”replied Dr. Mortimer “Your uncle died a very mysterious death at the hall.”

“There is no devil in hell, Doctor, and there is no man upon earth who can prevent me from going to the home of my own people, and you may take that to be my final answer.” Sir Henry’s face flushed red as he spoke.

“Well, then the matter is settled.”said Holmes “Still, I regard your problem as a very interesting one, so perhaps I will examine it closer when I have time.”

“Thank you, Sir.” said Sir Henry “And now, Dr.Mortimer, perhaps you would like to dine(9) with me at my hotel?”

“My pleasure, Sir.”replied the Doctor.

And so they went. As soon as they were out of the door, however, Mr. Sherlock Holmes grabbed his hat and coat and told me to follow him quickly. We then marched onto the streets, keeping close to Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer. After a while, Holmes pointed an excited finger at a cab that also seemed to be following our clients(10). Inside the cab there sat a short man with a black beard.

“That is the man who has been following Sir Henry since he arrived in London. Quick, Watson, and we might catch him.”

Holmes was out of luck, however, for the man saw us and immediately, his cab drove away. My friend looked very disappointed and angry at himself. But he could do nothing but return to our apartment. Yet I knew that Holmes was becoming very interested in this case, and probably would see it through, for he remarked before we went to sleep:

“This is a serious case, Watson. Someone is clearly following Sir Henry, who might want to do him harm. And I strongly believe that Sir Charle’s death was not natural, Watson. No, no, it is a murder we are investigating(11).”

The next day Sherlock Holmes began at once to make use of the clues which we were able to gather.

To begin with, he sent a letter to Dr.Mortimer asking if any of his and Sir Henry’s friends had a black beard, like that of the mysterious man. Secondly, he sent one of his agents(12) to examine the garbage bags of all the neighboring hotels, in search of the cut Times. Finally, he called upon London’s cab office to ask for the driver of cab number 2704. The people at the office promised to send him the driver next morning.

At the end of the day Holmes received(13) two letters. He was very eager (14) to open them, thinking that they contained the answers for his questions. Unfortunately, the answers were negative: only Barrymore, the manservant at Baskerville hall had a black beard, but he was surely at the hall and not in London; the cut Times was nowhere to be found. Holmes looked at me and sighed deeply:

“There go two of our clues. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.”

Next morning, the cabman of 2704 arrived. Holme’s interview with him proved to be a very interesting one indeed.

“I got a message from the head office that a man at this address has been asking for No. 2704,” said he.

“Yes, my good man. I have half a sovereign for you if you will give me a clear answer to my questions.”

“What was it you wanted to ask, sir?”said the cabman, smiling.

“Who is it that you drove two days before? Remember? He ordered you to follow two gentlemen down Regent Street.”

The cabman looked nervous, “This is a hard question to answer, Sir. The gentleman told me that he was a detective and that I was to say nothing about him to anyone.”

“My good fellow; this is a very serious business. If you don’t answer me clearly and truthfully you might get into trouble. You say that he was a detective?”

“Yes. At least he said so.”

“When did he say this?”

“When he left me.”

“Did he say anything more?”

“His name.”

Holmes cast a swift glance of triumph at me. “Oh, he told you his name, did he? That was careless. What was it?”

“His name,” said the cabman, “was Mr. Sherlock Holmes.”

Never have I seen my friend more surprised. For an instant he sat in silent amazement. Then he laughed.

“A touch, Watson— a marvelous touch!” said he. “I feel an enemy as quick and clever as myself. So his name was Sherlock Holmes, was it?”

“Yes, Sir,”replied the cabman.

“Well,well. Thank you for your cooperation(15), Mr. Have a good day!” said Holmes. He then gave the cabman the money promised. Immediately, the man left us.

“He knew we were onto him, Watson, whoever he was.” said Holmes “Also, he foresaw that I would search for the cabman. What a clever spy!”

“So you think this man killed Sir Charles, then?” I asked. “There was no mysterious hound, but a human killer?”

“No, I do not say so.” replied Holmes. “This case is very deep, Watson. I would like to go to Baskerville hall myself to investigate.”

“Then do!” I said.

“Unfortunately, I have many cases here in London already. I can’t leave this week. Perhaps you can go for me, my dear Watson?”

“Me?” I gasped. The idea of going alone to a haunted and dangerous countryside mansion did not seem very inviting.

“You’ll be my eyes and ears!” he continued “Go to the hall and write back to me what you see there. But more importantly, be very careful. Look after Sir Henry, and make sure that he doesn’t go out on the moor at night. I tell you again, this is a very serious case, so don’t treat it lightly.”

This statement did little to ease my nerves. However, there was no way out of it. I was Holme’s man, and wherever he sent me, I went.

Hardly a day after this conversation, I was on the train to Baskerville hall, accompanied by Sir Henry Baskerville and Dr. Mortimer. It was a long and tiresome journey, and we did not arrive until late in the evening. In the darkness, the moor looked incredibly lonely. Even Sir Henry Baskerville shivered at the sight. However, when we arrived at the hall he became extremely excited. His cheeks flushed, and he wore a look of pride as we passed through the ancient gates.

We were greeted at the hall door by the manservant, Barrymore. He immediately led us to the dining-room. It was a place of shadow and gloom. Black beams shot across above our heads, with a dark ceiling beyond them. A line of ancestors stared down upon us and haunted us by their silent company. We talked little, and I was glad when the meal was over.

“My word, it isn’t a very cheerful place,” said Sir Henry. ” I don’t wonder that my uncle got a little nervous if he lived all alone in such a house as this. However, if it suits you, we will rest early tonight, and perhaps things may seem more cheerful in the morning.”

When I went to my bedroom, however, I found myself tired and yet wakeful, turning from side to side, finding the sleep which would not come. A deathly silence lay upon the old house. But then suddenly, in the very dead of the night, there came a sound to my ears. It was the sad cries of a woman. I sat up in bed and listenedcarefully. The noise could not have been far away and was certainly in the house. For half an hour I waited, but there came no other sound save the chiming clock and the rustling leaves outside.

————————————————————————————————————————————————

+GLOSSARY

1/sturdy : strong, sligtly fat

2/suppose : believe, conclude

3/examine : look at things carefully

4/trade : buying and selling, occupation

5/encourage : to help, support, motivate

6/private : personal

7/inexplicable: something that cannot be explained

8/concern : affect

9/dine : (polite) eat

10/client : customer, buyer of goods or services

11/investigate : examine (cases)

12/ agent : a person who acts in place for another person

13/receive : to be given something

14/eager : enthusiastic

15/cooperation : willingness to work together

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