|The next morning was sunny,and we were much more cheerful.
I told Sir Henry about the crying I had heard.He rang the bell to call Barrymore,and asked him if he could explain the crying.Barrymore’s face went white when he heard Sir Henry’s question.
‘There are only two women in the house,Sir Henry,’he an swered.’One is the maid,who sleeps on the other side of the house.The other is my wife,and she was certainly not crying.’
But he was telling a lie.I saw Mrs Barrymore after breakfast.The sun was full on her face,and it was clear she had been crying.
Why had Barrymore lied?What deep sadness had made his wife cry?There was a mystery surrounding this black bearded,handsome man.Was it possible that Barrymore was in fact the man who had been watching Sir Henry in London?I decided I must check with the local post office that the tele gram had really been put into Barrymore’s own hands.
While Sir Henry worked at some papers,I walked to the post office.It was in the nearest village,which was called Grimpen.I spoke to the boy who had taken the telegram to the Hall.
‘Did you give it to Mr Barrymore himself?’I asked.
‘Well,’the boy said,’he was working upon the roof,so I couldn’t give it to him.I gave it to Mrs Barrymore,and she promised to give it to him at once.’
‘Did you see Mr Barrymore?’I asked him.
‘No,’said the boy,’but why did his wife say he was upon the roof if he wasn’t?’
It was hopeless to ask any more questions.It was clear that Holmes’ cleverness with the telegram had not given us the proof we needed.
I was walking away from the post office when I heard some one running after me.A voice called me by name,and I turned.I expected to see Dr Mortimer,as I knew nobody else in the village.To my surprise it was a stranger.He was a small,thin man,between thirty and forty years old,with fair hair and no beard.He was carrying a butterfly net,and a box for putting butterflies in.
‘I hope you will excuse me for introducing myself,Dr Wat son,’he said as he came up to me.’My name is Stapleton.I was in Dr Mortimer’s house and we saw you.He told me who you are.May I walk along with you? This path back to the Hall goes near my home,Pen House.Please come in and meet my sister,and spend an hour with us.’
I accepted Stapleton’s invitation,and we walked together.
‘I know that you are a close friend of Sherlock Holmes,’said Stapleton.’Has Mr Holmes any ideas about Sir Charles death?’
‘I’m afraid I can’t answer that question,’I said.
‘Will Mr Holmes visit us himself?’he asked.
‘He can’t leave London at the moment,’I answered.I was rather surprised that he was asking me these questions
We walked on.Stapleton told me that he and his sister had lived in Devonshire for only two years.They had moved there soon after Sir Charles had begun to live in Baskerville Hall.He also talked about the moor and how it interested him.He told me to look across the moor to a place which was a bright green colour.
‘That is the Great Grimpen Marsh,’he said ‘If animals or men go into the marsh,they will sink into it and die.But I can find my way to the very centre of it.Look,there is another of those poor horses.’
Something brown was fighting to get out of the bright green of the marsh.Then a terrible cry came across the moor.The horse’s head and neck disappeared under the green.
‘It’s gone,’Stapleton said.’The marsh has caught and killed it.That often happens.It is an evil place,the Great Grimpen Marsh.’
‘But you say you can go safely in and out of it?’I asked him.
‘Yes,there are a few paths,and I have found them.The low hills you can see are like islands surrounded by the marsh.That is where I can find the unusual plants and butterflies.And that’s why I found my way through the marsh.’
‘I shall try my luck one day,’I said.
He looked at me in surprise.’Please don’t try,’he said.’You would never return alive,and it would be my fault.’
‘Listen,’I said.’What is that?’
A long,low cry,very deep and very sad,came over the moor.It filled the whole air.Then it died away.
‘What is it?’I asked,with a cold fear in my heart.
Stapleton had a strange look on his face.’The people say it’s the Hound of the Baskervilles,which is calling for some thing to hunt and kill.I’ve heard it once or twice before,but never so loud.’
‘You are a man of science,’I said.’You don’t believe that,do you?Isn’t there a natural explanation for the sound?’
‘A marsh makes strange noises sometimes.It is the water and the wet ground moving.’
‘But that was the voice of a living creature,’I said.
‘Well,perhaps it was.There are some very unusual birds on the moors.It was most probably the cry of one of those.’
At that moment a small butterfly flew across the path in front of us.’Excuse me,Dr Watson,’shouted Stapleton,and ran off to try to catch the butterfly.He ran quickly and fol lowed the butterfly on to the marsh,but he knew exactly where he could go,and was not in any danger.
As I watched him,I heard the sound of steps behind me.I turned and saw a woman near me on the path.I was sure she was Miss Stapleton.She was very beautiful.She was dark and tall,with a lovely face.Before I could say anything,she said:
‘Go back!Go straight back to London,immediately.I can not tell you why,but please do what I ask you,and never come near the moor again.But my brother is coming.Not a word to him.’
Stapleton had caught the butterfly,and was walking bath to us.
‘Hello,my dear,’he said to his sister,but it seemed to me that his voice was not completely friendly.’I see that you two have already introduced yourselves.’
‘Yes,’she said.’I was telling Sir Henry that it was rather late in the year for him to see the true beauty of the moor.’
‘I am sorry,’I said.’You have made a mistake.I’m not Sir Henry.I am a friend who is visiting him,and my name is Dr Watson.’
Miss Stapleton was clearly angry with herself.’I’m sorry,’ she said.’Please forget what I said.But do come with us to our house.’
The house was lonely and rather grim.I wondered why the two of them had come to live so far away from anyone else.Stapleton seemed to know what I was thinking,and said:’You may think this a lonely,strange place to live,but the moors are very interesting,and we enjoy it here.I owned a school in the north of England,but I had to close it.I miss the boys and girls but thefe is plenty to do here,and we have good neighbours.I hope Sir Henry will become one of tnem.May I visit the Hall this afternoon to meet him,do you think?’
‘I’m sure he will be very pleased to meet you,’I said.’I must go back to the Hall now,and I shall tell him immediately.’
I said goodbye to the Stapletons,and continued on the path back to the Hall.I had been walking for only a few minutes when I was surprised to see Miss Stapleton sitting on a rock ahead of me.She was breathing quickly,and I realized she had run by a quicker way to get ahead of me.
‘Dr Watson,’she said.’I want to say sorry for the mistake I made.I thought you were Sir Henry.Please forget what I said.I did not mean you were in danger.Now I must go,or my brother will miss me.’
‘I cannot forget your words,Miss Stapleton,’I said.’If Sir Henry is in danger,I must tell him.’
‘You know the story of the Hound?’she asked me.
‘Yes,but I do not believe it,’I replied.
‘But I think it’s true,’she said.’Please persuade Sir Henry to leave this place.So many of his family have died here mys teriously.He must not put his life in danger by staying here.’
‘Sir Henry won’t leave this place without a real reason,’I said.
‘I can’t give you a real reason.I don’t know anything for certain.’
‘One more question,Miss Stapleton,’I said.’The story of the Hound is well known.Why didn’t you want your brother to hear what you said?’
‘My brother wants the head of the Baskerville family to live in the Hall,’she said.’He wants Sir Henry to continue the good work that Sir Charles began.He doesn’t want Sir Henry to go and live in another place.So he doesn’t want me to talk about the Hound.I must go now,or my brother will guess I have been speaking to you.Goodbye!’
She turned and went back towards her house,and I walked on to Baskerville Hall.