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The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Author:A. Conan Doyle


"Hound of the Baskervilles" ( at The Hound of Baskervilles at The ) is Arthur Conan Doyle (Arthur Conan Doyle) the third in a series of Sherlock Holmes novels, also known as the most famous detective fiction story. This work was first serialized in "The Strand Magazine" from August 1901 to April 1902. Once it was published, it was a great success. It was even printed seven times to meet the demand. It is in the history of the magazine. This is the first and only time for a world of greatness. In the story, the demon dog that appeared in the Dartmoor swamp made the public reverie, and the extremely rational Sherlock Holmes dug three feet as before, making the Baskerville's eccentric family curse out of the truth. The novel also integrates two popular genres of detective and goth, and uses talented two-line narrative techniques. In addition, this work is also a pioneer and Victorian Gothic novels of the late "Dr. Jekyll" ( Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde , 1886) , "Portrait of Dorian Gray" ( at The Picture of Dorian Gray , 1891) and " Dracula "( Dracula , 1897) together, depicting the late nineteenth century, much more fear people distress.
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  Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings,save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up allnight, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon thehearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had leftbehind him the night before. It was a fine, thick piece of wood,bulbous-headed, of the sort which is known as a “Penang lawyer.”Just under the head was a broad silver band nearly an inchacross. “To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends of theC.C.H.,” was engraved upon it, with the date “1884.” It was justsuch a stick as the old-fashioned family practitioner used tocarry—dignified, solid, and reassuring.

  “Well, Watson, what do you make of it?”

  Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and I had given him nosign of my occupation.

  “How did you know what I was doing? I believe you have eyes inthe back of your head.”

  “I have, at least, a well-polished, silver-plated coffee-pot infront of me,” said he. “But, tell me, Watson, what do you make ofour visitor’s stick? Since we have been so unfortunate as to misshim and have no notion of his errand, this accidental souvenirbecomes of importance. Let me hear you reconstruct the man by anexamination of it.”

  “I think,” said I, following as far as I could the methods of mycompanion, “that Dr. Mortimer is a successful, elderly medicalman, well-esteemed since those who know him give him this mark oftheir appreciation.”

  “Good!” said Holmes. “Excellent!”

  “I think also that the probability is in favour of his being acountry practitioner who does a great deal of his visiting onfoot.”

  “Why so?”

  “Because this stick, though originally a very handsome one hasbeen so knocked about that I can hardly imagine a townpractitioner carrying it. The thick-iron ferrule is worn down, soit is evident that he has done a great amount of walking withit.”

  “Perfectly sound!” said Holmes.

  “And then again, there is the ‘friends of the C.C.H.’ I shouldguess that to be the Something Hunt, the local hunt to whosemembers he has possibly given some surgical assistance, and whichhas made him a small presentation in return.”

  “Really, Watson, you excel yourself,” said Holmes, pushing backhis chair and lighting a cigarette. “I am bound to say that inall the accounts which you have been so good as to give of my ownsmall achievements you have habitually underrated your ownabilities. It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but youare a conductor of light. Some people without possessing geniushave a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dearfellow, that I am very much in your debt.”

  He had never said as much before, and I must admit that his wordsgave me keen pleasure, for I had often been piqued by hisindifference to my admiration and to the attempts which I hadmade to give publicity to his methods. I was proud, too, to thinkthat I had so far mastered his system as to apply it in a waywhich earned his approval. He now took the stick from my handsand examined it for a few minutes with his naked eyes. Then withan expression of interest he laid down his cigarette, andcarrying the cane to the window, he looked over it again with aconvex lens.

  “Interesting, though elementary,” said he as he returned to hisfavourite corner of the settee. “There are certainly one or twoindications upon the stick. It gives us the basis for severaldeductions.”

  “Has anything escaped me?” I asked with some self-importance. “Itrust that there is nothing of consequence which I haveoverlooked?”

  “I am afraid, my dear Watson, that most of your conclusions wereerroneous. When I said that you stimulated me I meant, to befrank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guidedtowards the truth. Not that you are entirely wrong in thisinstance. The man is certainly a country practitioner. And hewalks a good deal.”

  “Then I was right.”

  “To that extent.”

  “But that was all.”

  “No, no, my dear Watson, not all—by no means all. I wouldsuggest, for example, that a presentation to a doctor is morelikely to come from a hospital than from a hunt, and that whenthe initials ‘C.C.’ are placed before that hospital the words‘Charing Cross’ very naturally suggest themselves.”

  “You may be right.”

  “The probability lies in that direction. And if we take this as aworking hypothesis we have a fresh basis from which to start ourconstruction of this unknown visitor.”

  “Well, then, supposing that ‘C.C.H.’ does stand for ‘CharingCross Hospital,’ what further inferences may we draw?”

  “Do none suggest themselves? You know my methods. Apply them!”

  “I can only think of the obvious conclusion that the man haspractised in town before going to the country.”

  “I think that we might venture a little farther than this. Lookat it in this light. On what occasion would it be most probablethat such a presentation would be made? When would his friendsunite to give him a pledge of their good will? Obviously at themoment when Dr. Mortimer withdrew from the service of thehospital in order to start a practice for himself. We know therehas been a presentation. We believe there has been a change froma town hospital to a country practice. Is it, then, stretchingour inference too far to say that the presentation was on theoccasion of the change?”

  “It certainly seems probable.”

  “Now, you will observe that he could not have been on the _staff_of the hospital, since only a man well-established in a Londonpractice could hold such a position, and such a one would notdrift into the country. What was he, then? If he was in thehospital and yet not on the staff he could only have been ahouse-surgeon or a house-physician—little more than a seniorstudent. And he left five years ago—the date is on the stick. Soyour grave, middle-aged family practitioner vanishes into thinair, my dear Watson, and there emerges a young fellow underthirty, amiable, unambitious, absent-minded, and the possessor ofa favourite dog, which I should describe roughly as being largerthan a terrier and smaller than a mastiff.”

  I laughed incredulously as Sherlock Holmes leaned back in hissettee and blew little wavering rings of smoke up to the ceiling.

  “As to the latter part, I have no means of checking you,” said I,“but at least it is not difficult to find out a few particularsabout the man’s age and professional career.” From my smallmedical shelf I took down the Medical Directory and turned up thename. There were several Mortimers, but only one who could be ourvisitor. I read his record aloud.

  “Mortimer, James, M.R.C.S., 1882, Grimpen, Dartmoor, Devon.House-surgeon, from 1882 to 1884, at Charing Cross Hospital.Winner of the Jackson prize for Comparative Pathology, withessay entitled ‘Is Disease a Reversion?’ Corresponding memberof the Swedish Pathological Society. Author of ‘Some Freaks ofAtavism’

_Lancet_ 1882

. ‘Do We Progress?’

_Journal ofPsychology_, March, 1883

. Medical Officer for the parishes ofGrimpen, Thorsley, and High Barrow.”

  “No mention of that local hunt, Watson,” said Holmes with amischievous smile, “but a country doctor, as you very astutelyobserved. I think that I am fairly justified in my inferences. Asto the adjectives, I said, if I remember right, amiable,unambitious, and absent-minded. It is my experience that it isonly an amiable man in this world who receives testimonials, onlyan unambitious one who abandons a London career for the country,and only an absent-minded one who leaves his stick and not hisvisiting-card after waiting an hour in your room.”

  “And the dog?”

  “Has been in the habit of carrying this stick behind his master.Being a heavy stick the dog has held it tightly by the middle,and the marks of his teeth are very plainly visible. The dog’sjaw, as shown in the space between these marks, is too broad inmy opinion for a terrier and not broad enough for a mastiff. Itmay have been—yes, by Jove, it _is_ a curly-haired spaniel.”

  He had risen and paced the room as he spoke. Now he halted in therecess of the window. There was such a ring of conviction in hisvoice that I glanced up in surprise.

  “My dear fellow, how can you possibly be so sure of that?”

  “For the very simple reason that I see the dog himself on ourvery door-step, and there is the ring of its owner. Don’t move, Ibeg you, Watson. He is a professional brother of yours, and yourpresence may be of assistance to me. Now is the dramatic momentof fate, Watson, when you hear a step upon the stair which iswalking into your life, and you know not whether for good or ill.What does Dr. James Mortimer, the man of science, ask of SherlockHolmes, the specialist in crime? Come in!”

  The appearance of our visitor was a surprise to me, since I hadexpected a typical country practitioner. He was a very tall, thinman, with a long nose like a beak, which jutted out between twokeen, grey eyes, set closely together and sparkling brightly frombehind a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. He was clad in aprofessional but rather slovenly fashion, for his frock-coat wasdingy and his trousers frayed. Though young, his long back wasalready bowed, and he walked with a forward thrust of his headand a general air of peering benevolence. As he entered his eyesfell upon the stick in Holmes’s hand, and he ran towards it withan exclamation of joy. “I am so very glad,” said he. “I was notsure whether I had left it here or in the Shipping Office. Iwould not lose that stick for the world.”

  “A presentation, I see,” said Holmes.

  “Yes, sir.”

  “From Charing Cross Hospital?”

  “From one or two friends there on the occasion of my marriage.”

  “Dear, dear, that’s bad!” said Holmes, shaking his head.

  Dr. Mortimer blinked through his glasses in mild astonishment.“Why was it bad?”

  “Only that you have disarranged our little deductions. Yourmarriage, you say?”

  “Yes, sir. I married, and so left the hospital, and with it allhopes of a consulting practice. It was necessary to make a homeof my own.”

  “Come, come, we are not so far wrong, after all,” said Holmes.“And now, Dr. James Mortimer—”

  “Mister, sir, Mister—a humble M.R.C.S.”

  “And a man of precise mind, evidently.”

  “A dabbler in science, Mr. Holmes, a picker up of shells on theshores of the great unknown ocean. I presume that it is Mr.Sherlock Holmes whom I am addressing and not—”

  “No, this is my friend Dr. Watson.”

  “Glad to meet you, sir. I have heard your name mentioned inconnection with that of your friend. You interest me very much,Mr. Holmes. I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic a skull orsuch well-marked supra-orbital development. Would you have anyobjection to my running my finger along your parietal fissure? Acast of your skull, sir, until the original is available, wouldbe an ornament to any anthropological museum. It is not myintention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.”

  Sherlock Holmes waved our strange visitor into a chair. “You arean enthusiast in your line of thought, I perceive, sir, as I amin mine,” said he. “I observe from your forefinger that you makeyour own cigarettes. Have no hesitation in lighting one.”

  The man drew out paper and tobacco and twirled the one up in theother with surprising dexterity. He had long, quivering fingersas agile and restless as the antennæ of an insect.

  Holmes was silent, but his little darting glances showed me theinterest which he took in our curious companion. “I presume,sir,” said he at last, “that it was not merely for the purpose ofexamining my skull that you have done me the honour to call herelast night and again today?”

  “No, sir, no; though I am happy to have had the opportunity ofdoing that as well. I came to you, Mr. Holmes, because Irecognized that I am myself an unpractical man and because I amsuddenly confronted with a most serious and extraordinaryproblem. Recognizing, as I do, that you are the second highestexpert in Europe—”

  “Indeed, sir! May I inquire who has the honour to be the first?”asked Holmes with some asperity.