The True Ending of The Hound of the Baskervilles – Page Two
Lestrade and I woke up as the wagonette came to a stop near Baskerville Hall. “ . . . And that is Betelgeuse,” Holmes was saying in conclusion, as he pointed at a star in the constellation Orion. He then turned to the Scotland Yard man. “Are you armed, Lestrade?”
The little detective smiled.
“As long as I have my trousers I have a hip-pocket, and as long as I have my hip-pocket I have something in it.”
“So that’s a gun in your pocket! I thought you were just happy to see me.”
One could almost hear the clanking of the gears of Lestrade’s brain as he struggled to understand what Holmes had said. Finally, after about forty-five seconds, his face turned a bright red as he got the joke.
“Blimey!” said he. Recovering from his embarrassment, he went on, “You’re mighty close about this affair, Mr. Holmes. What’s the game now?”
“A waiting game. And please keep that thing in your trousers. You will not be needing it to-night.”
“Do you mean my, pistol, Mr. Holmes, or my—”
“Your pistol! Your pistol!” cried Holmes. “Although I doubt that you have much use for the other item, either,” he muttered.
“More than you have for yours, I’d bet,” growled Lestrade.
“Now, now, gentlemen,” I said, soothingly.
We did not drive up to the door of the Hall but got down near the gate of the avenue. The wagonette was paid off and ordered to return to Coombe Tracey forthwith, while we started to walk to Merripit House.
“My word, it does not seem a very cheerful place,” said the detective with a shiver, glancing round him at the gloomy slopes of the hill and at the huge lake of fog which lay over the Grimpen Mire. “I see the lights of a house ahead of us.”
“That is Merripit House and the end of our journey. I must request you to walk on tiptoe and not to talk above a whisper.”
We moved cautiously along the track as if we were bound for the house, but Holmes halted us when we were about two hundred yards from it.
“This will do,” said he. “These rocks upon the right make an admirable screen.”
“We are to wait here?”
“Yes, we shall make our little ambush here. Get into this hollow, Lestrade. You have been inside the house, have you not, Watson? Can you tell the position of the rooms? What are those latticed windows at this end?”
“I think they are the kitchen windows.”
“And the one beyond, which
shines so brightly?”
“The blinds are up. You know the lie of the land best. Creep forward quietly and see what they are doing but for heaven’s sake don’t let them know that they are watched!”
I tiptoed down the path and stooped behind the low wall which surrounded the stunted orchard. Creeping in its shadow I reached a point whence I could look straight through the uncurtained window.
There were only two men in the room, Sir Henry
and Stapleton. They sat with their profiles towards me on either side of the
round table. Both of them were smoking cigars, and coffee and wine were in
front of them.
As I watched them Stapleton rose and left the room, while Sir Henry filled his glass again and leaned back in his chair, puffing at his cigar. I heard the creak of a door and the crisp sound of boots upon gravel. The steps passed along the path on the other side of the wall under which I
crouched. Looking over, I saw the naturalist pause at the door of an out-house in the corner of the orchard.
He went inside and remained there for several minutes, making some truly disgusting noises. At last he emerged and went over to another building a few yards away from the out-house. A key turned in a lock, and as he passed in there was a curious scuffling noise from within.
He was only a minute or so inside, and then I heard the key turn once more and he passed me and reentered the house. I saw him rejoin his guest, and I crept quietly back to where my companions were waiting to tell them what I had seen.
“You say, Watson, that the lady is not there?” Holmes asked when I had finished my report.
“Where can she be, then, since there is no light in any other room except the kitchen?”
“I cannot think where she is.”