The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle
I am Dr Watson and I am a friend of the famous detective• Mr Sherlock Holmes. We are eating breakfast in our rooms at 221B Baker Street. Suddenly there is a knock• at the door.
“Come in!” calls Holmes.
Our visitor is a country doctor called Dr Mortimer. He is a very tall, thin man with glasses.
“I came to you, Mr Holmes,” says Dr Mortimer, “because I have a serious problem.”
“Dr Mortimer, this is my friend Dr Watson. Please, tell us your problem,” says Holmes.
Dr Mortimer takes an old yellow paper from his pocket. “My friend Sir Charles Baskerville, died• suddenly three months ago. He gave• me this paper,” he explains. “It is a legend of the Baskerville family.”
“Why do you need my help?” asks Holmes.
“First,” says Dr Mortimer, “I must read this story to you.”
Dr Mortimer reads:
“The story of the Hound• of the Baskervilles.
Baskerville Hall, 1742.
Sir Hugo Baskerville is lord of the manor• of Baskerville. He is a cruel man. Hugo falls in love with the daughter of a local farmer. But she does not want to marry him. So Hugo, with five or six of his friends, kidnaps• the girl and takes her to Baskerville Hall. But the girl escapes and runs across the moor• as fast as possible. Hugo is very angry. He follows• her over the moor with his horses and hounds in the moonlight. His friends follow on their horses. Suddenly they see Hugo’s horse but Hugo is not on it. They stop and by the light of the moon they see the young woman, lying dead. Next to her lies the dead body of Hugo. A horrible, black animal is standing over him. It is like a hound, but much, much bigger. And as they watch, it bites• a hole in Hugo Baskerville’s throat. There is blood everywhere. Hugo’s friends scream• and ride away on their horses across the moor. One of them dies that night from the shock. The others are never the same again.
“This is the story of the Hound of the Baskervilles. Many family members die of sudden and strange deaths. So my children, remember this: never, never go across the moor at night.”
Sherlock Holmes yawns• as Dr Mortimer finishes reading. “Is this a fairy tale?” he asks.
Dr Mortimer shows Holmes a newspaper. “Now, Mr Holmes. This newspaper is the Devon Country Chronicle of May 14th. It has a short report• of the death• of Sir Charles Baskerville.”
He reads: “On the night of the 4th of May Sir Charles Baskerville goes out for a walk as usual. But he does not return. At twelve o’clock his butler• Barrymore, goes to look for Sir Charles. Barrymore finds the dead• body of Sir Charles near a small gate which opens onto the moor. There are no signs• of violence. Sir Charles’s closest relative• is Mr Henry Baskerville, the son of Sir Charles Baskerville’s younger brother. Sir Henry lives in America.”“Thank you,” says Sherlock Holmes. “Is that all?”
Dr Mortimer looks worried•. “Listen, Mr Holmes. I have got a secret• that nobody else knows.
“Sir Charles was• my friend and he was very worried about the Hound of the Baskervilles. He was afraid to walk on the moor at night. He was sure there were• strange noises on the moor at night.
“When Barrymore the butler finds Sir Charles’s body he calls me to Baskerville Hall. There are footprints• on Sir Charles’s body.”
“A man’s or a woman’s?” asks Holmes.
Dr Mortimer looks strangely at us, and he answers:
“Mr Holmes, they are the footprints of a giant• hound!”