The True Ending of The Hound of the Baskervilles – Page Six

“Yes, sir, I should think so,” responded  the ferretlike official detective as he removed the handcuffs from John Selden’s wrists. The Seldens and Mrs. Selden’s former lover—Platonic lover, of course, since this was the Victorian Era--all looked greatly relieved. Edgar slapped John Selden on the back, and the two men shook hands.

“Well,” I said, returning at last to the original topic of the conversation, which was the hound’s deeds, “what about Sir Charles Baskerville? The hound killed him.
            “Not at all,” said Holmes. “He died of a heart attack at the mere appearance of the hound. The dog never touched him.”

Another voice came out of the fog-bank: “And besides that, I’m not dead, either.” Out stepped an older gentleman.

“Uncle Charles!” cried Sir Henry.

“Now what?” groaned Lestrade, sitting down on a rock.

“Yes, Sir Charles,” demanded Holmes. “What is the explanation of this second resurrection of the evening?”

“It is like this,” said the old aristocrat. “When we realized that someone was out to get me, using the old legend of the hound, my friend Dr. Mortimer and I decided to fake my death so as to put my unknown enemy or enemies off their guard. Mortimer claimed to have done an autopsy on my remains and then to have cremated them, so no one ever saw my body. Then we notified my nephew Henry here of my supposed demise, and he came over to claim his inheritance—and unbeknownst to him, make himself the target of the plot.”

“Thanks a lot, Uncle Charles,” said Sir Henry in a hurt tone.

“There, there, my boy,” replied Sir Charles. “You are a young, strapping fellow whose heart could take the strain better than my old one could. Besides, we had Mortimer consult Mr. Holmes, knowing that he would protect you and get to the bottom of the matter. In the meantime, I was hiding out at the home of my friend Laura Lyons, old Frankland’s daughter, whose bounder of a husband has, as you know, deserted her. With my money and my connections in the power structure, I am helping her to secure a divorce, after which she and I are to be married.”

“Congratulations,” said Sir Henry. “But this means that I came all the way over here from Canada for nothing. I mean, I’m glad you’re alive and all, but since you are, I haven’t inherited anything. In fact, I’m not even a baronet now. I’m not ‘Sir Henry’; I’m just plain Henry Baskerville again.”

            “On the contrary,” replied his uncle. “I am tired of being the squire of the manor. I have been doing it most of my life, and now, in my golden years, I am ready to have a little fun. after taking out enough money to ensure that I never have to work for the rest of my life and Laura can give up typewriting, I will sign the whole kit and caboodle, including the title, over to you. Laura and I will leave this godforsaken moor behind and go on an extended honeymoon around the world, then settle in London, where we can enjoy fine restaurants, the theatre, and concerts.”

“Well, that’s all right, then,” said Sir Henry with obvious relief. “One of the first things I will do will be to propose to Beryl Stapleton.”

“I’m afraid that I have a bit of bad news for you on that score, Sir Henry,” said Holmes. “You see, Beryl is Roger Stapleton’s wife.”

“Good Lord!” cried the baronet. “She is married to her own brother?”

“No, no,” said Holmes, with that same tone of impatience for slower intellects than his own that I have so often heard when he was speaking to me. “She is not his sister at all. She is only his wife.”

            “Oh, no,” moaned Sir Henry in despair. “I love her deeply. I am sure that she is the only woman I shall ever love. How can I go on without her? Why have she and Stapleton misrepresented their relationship in this manner?”
            “The Stapletons were the ones behind all of the strange goings-on involving the hound. It was her task to make you fall in love with her so that you would be lured to Merripit House, where they could set the hound upon you.”

            “Why, the filthy slut!” exclaimed Sir Henry.


            “So it was Stapleton and his wife?” asked Lestrade. “What was their object in all of this?”

“They were after the Baskerville estate,” replied Holmes. “You see, their real name is not Stapleton at all; it is Baskerville.”

“The same as mine!” ejaculated Sir Henry. “What a coincidence!”

Holmes rolled his eyes heavenward. “I’m surrounded by them,” he muttered. “It is not a coincidence at all, Sir Henry. ‘Jack Stapleton’ is really Rodger Baskerville, the son of Sir Charles’s younger brother, who fled with a sinister reputation to South America, where he married and had one child, this fellow, whose real name is the same as his father’s. The younger Rodger Baskerville grew up and married Beryl Garcia, one of the beauties of Costa Rica, and they changed their name to Vandeleur and opened a school in Yorkshire. Stapleton, as I will continue to call him to avoid confusion, eventually discovered that only Sir Charles Baskerville stood between him and a valuable estate. When he came to Devonshire his plans were, I believe, exceedingly hazy, but that he meant mischief from the first is evident from the way in which he took his wife with him in the character of his sister. The idea of using her as a decoy was clearly already in his mind, though he may not have been certain how the details of his plot were to be arranged. He meant in the end to have the estate, and he was ready to use any tool or run any risk for that end. His first act was to establish himself as near to his ancestral home as he could, and his second was to cultivate a friendship with Sir Charles Baskerville and with the neighbours. The baronet himself told him about the family hound. Stapleton knew that Sir Charles was superstitious and had taken this grim legend very seriously. His ingenious mind instantly suggested a way by which the baronet could be done to death, and yet it would be hardly possible to bring home the guilt to the real murderer.

            “Having conceived the idea he proceeded to carry it out with considerable finesse. An ordinary schemer would have been content to work with a savage hound. The use of artificial means to make the creature diabolical was a flash of genius upon his part. The dog he bought in London from Ross and Mangles, the dealers in Fulham Road. He brought it down by the North Devon line and walked a great distance over the moor so as to get it home without exciting any remarks. He had already on his insect hunts learned to penetrate the Grimpen Mire, and so had found a safe hiding-place for the creature. Here he kennelled it and waited his chance. He thought that he had killed Sir Charles by giving him a heart attack, though now we know that that was not the case.