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The Hound of the Baskervilles - Chapter 9 - The Light Upon the Moor

1. Chapter 1 - Mr. Sherlock Holmes

2. Chapter 2 - The Curse of the Baskervilles

3. Chapter 3 - The Problem

4. Chapter 4 - Sir Henry Baskerville

5. Chapter 5 - Three Broken Threads

6. Chapter 6 - Baskerville Hall

7. Chapter 7 - The Stapletons of Merripit House

8. Chapter 8 - First Report of Dr. Watson

9. Chapter 9 - The Light Upon the Moor

10. Chapter 10 - Extract from the Diary of Dr. Watson

11. Chapter 11 - The Man on the Tor

12. Chapter 12 - Death on the Moor

13. Chapter 13 - Fixing the Nets

14. Chapter 14 - The Hound of the Baskervilles

15. Chapter 15 - A Retrospection

(Second Report of Dr. Watson)

Baskerville Hall, Oct. 15th.

MY DEAR HOLMES,--If I was compelled to leave you without much
news during the early days of my mission you must acknowledge
that I am making up for lost time, and that events are now
crowding thick and fast upon us. In my last report I ended upon
my top note with Barrymore at the window, and now I have quite a
budget already which will, unless I am much mistaken,
considerably surprise you. Things have taken a turn which I could
not have anticipated. In some ways they have within the last
forty-eight hours become much clearer and in some ways they have
become more complicated. But I will tell you all and you shall
judge for yourself.

Before breakfast on the morning following my adventure I went
down the corridor and examined the room in which Barrymore had
been on the night before. The western window through which he had
stared so intently has, I noticed, one peculiarity above all
other windows in the house--it commands the nearest outlook on
the moor. There is an opening between two trees which enables one
from this point of view to look right down upon it, while from
all the other windows it is only a distant glimpse which can be
obtained. It follows, therefore, that Barrymore, since only this
window would serve the purpose, must have been looking out for
something or somebody upon the moor. The night was very dark, so
that I can hardly imagine how he could have hoped to see anyone.
It had struck me that it was possible that some love intrigue was
on foot. That would have accounted for his stealthy movements and
also for the uneasiness of his wife. The man is a
striking-looking fellow, very well equipped to steal the heart of
a country girl, so that this theory seemed to have something to
support it. That opening of the door which I had heard after I
had returned to my room might mean that he had gone out to keep
some clandestine appointment. So I reasoned with myself in the
morning, and I tell you the direction of my suspicions, however
much the result may have shown that they were unfounded.

But whatever the true explanation of Barrymore's movements might
be, I felt that the responsibility of keeping them to myself
until I could explain them was more than I could bear. I had an
interview with the baronet in his study after breakfast, and I
told him all that I had seen. He was less surprised than I had

"I knew that Barrymore walked about nights, and I had a mind to
speak to him about it," said he. "Two or three times I have heard
his steps in the passage, coming and going, just about the hour
you name."

"Perhaps then he pays a visit every night to that particular
window," I suggested.

"Perhaps he does. If so, we should be able to shadow him, and see
what it is that he is after. I wonder what your friend Holmes
would do, if he were here."

"I believe that he would do exactly what you now suggest," said
I. "He would follow Barrymore and see what he did."

"Then we shall do it together."

"But surely he would hear us."

"The man is rather deaf, and in any case we must take our chance
of that. We'll sit up in my room to-night and wait until he
passes." Sir Henry rubbed his hands with pleasure, and it was
evident that he hailed the adventure as a relief to his somewhat
quiet life upon the moor.

The baronet has been in communication with the architect who
prepared the plans for Sir Charles, and with a contractor from
London, so that we may expect great changes to begin here soon.
There have been decorators and furnishers up from Plymouth, and
it is evident that our friend has large ideas, and means to spare
no pains or expense to restore the grandeur of his family. When
the house is renovated and refurnished, all that he will need
will be a wife to make it complete. Between ourselves there are
pretty clear signs that this will not be wanting if the lady is
willing, for I have seldom seen a man more infatuated with a
woman than he is with our beautiful neighbour, Miss Stapleton.
And yet the course of true love does not run quite as smoothly as
one would under the circumstances expect. To-day, for example,
its surface was broken by a very unexpected ripple, which has
caused our friend considerable perplexity and annoyance.

After the conversation which I have quoted about Barrymore, Sir
Henry put on his hat and prepared to go out. As a matter of
course I did the same.

"What, are you coming, Watson?" he asked, looking at me in a
curious way.

"That depends on whether you are going on the moor," said I.

"Yes, I am."

"Well, you know what my instructions are. I am sorry to intrude,
but you heard how earnestly Holmes insisted that I should not
leave you, and especially that you should not go alone upon the

Sir Henry put his hand upon my shoulder with a pleasant smile.

"My dear fellow," said he, "Holmes, with all his wisdom, did not
foresee some things which have happened since I have been on the
moor. You understand me? I am sure that you are the last man in
the world who would wish to be a spoil-sport. I must go out

It put me in a most awkward position. I was at a loss what to say
or what to do, and before I had made up my mind he picked up his
cane and was gone.

But when I came to think the matter over my conscience reproached
me bitterly for having on any pretext allowed him to go out of my
sight. I imagined what my feelings would be if I had to return to
you and to confess that some misfortune had occurred through my
disregard for your instructions. I assure you my cheeks flushed
at the very thought. It might not even now be too late to
overtake him, so I set off at once in the direction of Merripit

I hurried along the road at the top of my speed without seeing
anything of Sir Henry, until I came to the point where the moor
path branches off. There, fearing that perhaps I had come in the
wrong direction after all, I mounted a hill from which I could
command a view--the same hill which is cut into the dark quarry.
Thence I saw him at once. He was on the moor path, about a
quarter of a mile off, and a lady was by his side who could only
be Miss Stapleton. It was clear that there was already an
understanding between them and that they had met by appointment.
They were walking slowly along in deep conversation, and I saw
her making quick little movements of her hands as if she were
very earnest in what she was saying, while he listened intently,
and once or twice shook his head in strong dissent. I stood among
the rocks watching them, very much puzzled as to what I should do
next. To follow them and break into their intimate conversation
seemed to be an outrage, and yet my clear duty was never for an
instant to let him out of my sight. To act the spy upon a friend
was a hateful task. Still, I could see no better course than to
observe him from the hill, and to clear my conscience by
confessing to him afterwards what I had done. It is true that if
any sudden danger had threatened him I was too far away to be of
use, and yet I am sure that you will agree with me that the
position was very difficult, and that there was nothing more
which I could do.

Our friend, Sir Henry, and the lady had halted on the path and
were standing deeply absorbed in their conversation, when I was
suddenly aware that I was not the only witness of their
interview. A wisp of green floating in the air caught my eye, and
another glance showed me that it was carried on a stick by a man
who was moving among the broken ground. It was Stapleton with his
butterfly-net. He was very much closer to the pair than I was,
and he appeared to be moving in their direction. At this instant
Sir Henry suddenly drew Miss Stapleton to his side. His arm was
round her, but it seemed to me that she was straining away from
him with her face averted. He stooped his head to hers, and she
raised one hand as if in protest. Next moment I saw them spring
apart and turn hurriedly round. Stapleton was the cause of the
interruption. He was running wildly towards them, his absurd net
dangling behind him. He gesticulated and almost danced with
excitement in front of the lovers. What the scene meant I could
not imagine, but it seemed to me that Stapleton was abusing Sir
Henry, who offered explanations, which became more angry as the
other refused to accept them. The lady stood by in haughty
silence. Finally Stapleton turned upon his heel and beckoned in a
peremptory way to his sister, who, after an irresolute glance at
Sir Henry, walked off by the side of her brother. The
naturalist's angry gestures showed that the lady was included in
his displeasure. The baronet stood for a minute looking after
them, and then he walked slowly back the way that he had come,
his head hanging, the very picture of dejection.

What all this meant I could not imagine, but I was deeply ashamed
to have witnessed so intimate a scene without my friend's
knowledge. I ran down the hill therefore and met the baronet at
the bottom. His face was flushed with anger and his brows were
wrinkled, like one who is at his wit's ends what to do.

"Halloa, Watson! Where have you dropped from?" said he. "You don't
mean to say that you came after me in spite of all?"

I explained everything to him: how I had found it impossible to
remain behind, how I had followed him, and how I had witnessed
all that had occurred. For an instant his eyes blazed at me, but
my frankness disarmed his anger, and he broke at last into a
rather rueful laugh.

"You would have thought the middle of that prairie a fairly safe
place for a man to be private," said he, "but, by thunder, the
whole country-side seems to have been out to see me do my
wooing--and a mighty poor wooing at that! Where had you engaged a

"I was on that hill."

"Quite in the back row, eh? But her brother was well up to the
front. Did you see him come out on us?"

"Yes, I did."

"Did he ever strike you as being crazy--this brother of hers?"

"I can't say that he ever did."

"I dare say not. I always thought him sane enough until to-day,
but you can take it from me that either he or I ought to be in a
strait-jacket. What's the matter with me, anyhow? You've lived
near me for some weeks, Watson. Tell me straight, now! Is there
anything that would prevent me from making a good husband to a
woman that I loved?"

"I should say not."

"He can't object to my worldly position, so it must be myself
that he has this down on. What has he against me? I never hurt
man or woman in my life that I know of. And yet he would not so
much as let me touch the tips of her fingers."

"Did he say so?"

"That, and a deal more. I tell you, Watson, I've only known her
these few weeks, but from the first I just felt that she was made
for me, and she, too--she was happy when she was with me, and
that I'll swear. There's a light in a woman's eyes that speaks
louder than words. But he has never let us get together, and it
was only to-day for the first time that I saw a chance of having
a few words with her alone. She was glad to meet me, but when she
did it was not love that she would talk about, and she wouldn't
have let me talk about it either if she could have stopped it.
She kept coming back to it that this was a place of danger, and
that she would never be happy until I had left it. I told her
that since I had seen her I was in no hurry to leave it, and that
if she really wanted me to go, the only way to work it was for
her to arrange to go with me. With that I offered in as many
words to marry her, but before she could answer, down came this
brother of hers, running at us with a face on him like a madman.
He was just white with rage, and those light eyes of his were
blazing with fury. What was I doing with the lady? How dared I
offer her attentions which were distasteful to her? Did I think
that because I was a baronet I could do what I liked? If he had
not been her brother I should have known better how to answer
him. As it was I told him that my feelings towards his sister
were such as I was not ashamed of, and that I hoped that she
might honour me by becoming my wife. That seemed to make the
matter no better, so then I lost my temper too, and I answered
him rather more hotly than I should perhaps, considering that she
was standing by. So it ended by his going off with her, as you
saw, and here am I as badly puzzled a man as any in this county.
Just tell me what it all means, Watson, and I'll owe you more
than ever I can hope to pay."

I tried one or two explanations, but, indeed, I was completely
puzzled myself. Our friend's title, his fortune, his age, his
character, and his appearance are all in his favour, and I know
nothing against him unless it be this dark fate which runs in his
family. That his advances should be rejected so brusquely without
any reference to the lady's own wishes, and that the lady should
accept the situation without protest, is very amazing. However,
our conjectures were set at rest by a visit from Stapleton
himself that very afternoon. He had come to offer apologies for
his rudeness of the morning, and after a long private interview
with Sir Henry in his study, the upshot of their conversation was
that the breach is quite healed, and that we are to dine at
Merripit House next Friday as a sign of it.

"I don't say now that he isn't a crazy man," said Sir Henry; "I
can't forget the look in his eyes when he ran at me this morning,
but I must allow that no man could make a more handsome apology
than he has done."

"Did he give any explanation of his conduct?"

"His sister is everything in his life, he says. That is natural
enough, and I am glad that he should understand her value. They
have always been together, and according to his account he has
been a very lonely man with only her as a companion, so that the
thought of losing her was really terrible to him. He had not
understood, he said, that I was becoming attached to her, but
when he saw with his own eyes that it was really so, and that she
might be taken away from him, it gave him such a shock that for a
time he was not responsible for what he said or did. He was very
sorry for all that had passed, and he recognized how foolish and
how selfish it was that he should imagine that he could hold a
beautiful woman like his sister to himself for her whole life. If
she had to leave him he had rather it was to a neighbour like
myself than to anyone else. But in any case it was a blow to him,
and it would take him some time before he could prepare himself
to meet it. He would withdraw all opposition upon his part if I
would promise for three months to let the matter rest and to be
content with cultivating the lady's friendship during that time
without claiming her love. This I promised, and so the matter

So there is one of our small mysteries cleared up. It is
something to have touched bottom anywhere in this bog in which we
are floundering. We know now why Stapleton looked with disfavour
upon his sister's suitor--even when that suitor was so eligible a
one as Sir Henry. And now I pass on to another thread which I
have extricated out of the tangled skein, the mystery of the sobs
in the night, of the tear-stained face of Mrs. Barrymore, of the
secret journey of the butler to the western lattice window.
Congratulate me, my dear Holmes, and tell me that I have not
disappointed you as an agent--that you do not regret the
confidence which you showed in me when you sent me down. All
these things have by one night's work been thoroughly cleared.

I have said "by one night's work," but, in truth, it was by two
nights' work, for on the first we drew entirely blank. I sat up
with Sir Henry in his rooms until nearly three o'clock in the
morning, but no sound of any sort did we hear except the chiming
clock upon the stairs. It was a most melancholy vigil, and ended
by each of us falling asleep in our chairs. Fortunately we were
not discouraged, and we determined to try again. The next night
we lowered the lamp, and sat smoking cigarettes without making
the least sound. It was incredible how slowly the hours crawled
by, and yet we were helped through it by the same sort of patient
interest which the hunter must feel as he watches the trap into
which he hopes the game may wander. One struck, and two, and we
had almost for the second time given it up in despair, when in an
instant we both sat bolt upright in our chairs, with all our
weary senses keenly on the alert once more. We had heard the
creak of a step in the passage.

Very stealthily we heard it pass along until it died away in the
distance. Then the baronet gently opened his door and we set out
in pursuit. Already our man had gone round the gallery, and the
corridor was all in darkness. Softly we stole along until we had
come into the other wing. We were just in time to catch a glimpse
of the tall, black-bearded figure, his shoulders rounded, as he
tip-toed down the passage. Then he passed through the same door
as before, and the light of the candle framed it in the darkness
and shot one single yellow beam across the gloom of the corridor.
We shuffled cautiously towards it, trying every plank before we
dared to put our whole weight upon it. We had taken the
precaution of leaving our boots behind us, but, even so, the old
boards snapped and creaked beneath our tread. Sometimes it seemed
impossible that he should fail to hear our approach. However, the
man is fortunately rather deaf, and he was entirely preoccupied
in that which he was doing. When at last we reached the door and
peeped through we found him crouching at the window, candle in
hand, his white, intent face pressed against the pane, exactly as
I had seen him two nights before.

We had arranged no plan of campaign, but the baronet is a man to
whom the most direct way is always the most natural. He walked
into the room, and as he did so Barrymore sprang up from the
window with a sharp hiss of his breath and stood, livid and
trembling, before us. His dark eyes, glaring out of the white
mask of his face, were full of horror and astonishment as he
gazed from Sir Henry to me.

"What are you doing here, Barrymore?"

"Nothing, sir." His agitation was so great that he could hardly
speak, and the shadows sprang up and down from the shaking of his
candle. "It was the window, sir. I go round at night to see that
they are fastened."

"On the second floor?"

"Yes, sir, all the windows."

"Look here, Barrymore," said Sir Henry, sternly; "we have made up
our minds to have the truth out of you, so it will save you
trouble to tell it sooner rather than later. Come, now! No lies!
What were you doing at that window?"

The fellow looked at us in a helpless way, and he wrung his hands
together like one who is in the last extremity of doubt and

"I was doing no harm, sir. I was holding a candle to the window."

"And why were you holding a candle to the window?"

"Don't ask me, Sir Henry--don't ask me! I give you my word, sir,
that it is not my secret, and that I cannot tell it. If it
concerned no one but myself I would not try to keep it from you."

A sudden idea occurred to me, and I took the candle from the
trembling hand of the butler.

"He must have been holding it as a signal," said I. "Let us see
if there is any answer." I held it as he had done, and stared out
into the darkness of the night. Vaguely I could discern the black
bank of the trees and the lighter expanse of the moor, for the
moon was behind the clouds. And then I gave a cry of exultation,
for a tiny pin-point of yellow light had suddenly transfixed the
dark veil, and glowed steadily in the centre of the black square
framed by the window.

"There it is!" I cried.

"No, no, sir, it is nothing--nothing at all!" the butler broke
in; "I assure you, sir ----"

"Move your light across the window, Watson!" cried the baronet.
"See, the other moves also! Now, you rascal, do you deny that it
is a signal? Come, speak up! Who is your confederate out yonder,
and what is this conspiracy that is going on?"

The man's face became openly defiant.

"It is my business, and not yours. I will not tell."

"Then you leave my employment right away."

"Very good, sir. If I must I must."

"And you go in disgrace. By thunder, you may well be ashamed of
yourself. Your family has lived with mine for over a hundred
years under this roof, and here I find you deep in some dark plot
against me."

"No, no, sir; no, not against you!" It was a woman's voice, and
Mrs. Barrymore, paler and more horror-struck than her husband,
was standing at the door. Her bulky figure in a shawl and skirt
might have been comic were it not for the intensity of feeling
upon her face.

"We have to go, Eliza. This is the end of it. You can pack our
things," said the butler.

"Oh, John, John, have I brought you to this? It is my doing, Sir
Henry--all mine. He has done nothing except for my sake and
because I asked him."

"Speak out, then! What does it mean?"

"My unhappy brother is starving on the moor. We cannot let him
perish at our very gates. The light is a signal to him that food
is ready for him, and his light out yonder is to show the spot to
which to bring it."

"Then your brother is --"

"The escaped convict, sir--Selden, the criminal."

"That's the truth, sir," said Barrymore. "I said that it was not
my secret and that I could not tell it to you. But now you have
heard it, and you will see that if there was a plot it was not
against you."

This, then, was the explanation of the stealthy expeditions at
night and the light at the window. Sir Henry and I both stared at
the woman in amazement. Was it possible that this stolidly
respectable person was of the same blood as one of the most
notorious criminals in the country?

"Yes, sir, my name was Selden, and he is my younger brother. We
humoured him too much when he was a lad, and gave him his own way
in everything until he came to think that the world was made for
his pleasure, and that he could do what he liked in it. Then as
he grew older he met wicked companions, and the devil entered
into him until he broke my mother's heart and dragged our name in
the dirt. From crime to crime he sank lower and lower, until it
is only the mercy of God which has snatched him from the
scaffold; but to me, sir, he was always the little curly-headed
boy that I had nursed and played with, as an elder sister would.
That was why he broke prison, sir. He knew that I was here and
that we could not refuse to help him. When he dragged himself
here one night, weary and starving, with the warders hard at his
heels, what could we do? We took him in and fed him and cared for
him. Then you returned, sir, and my brother thought he would be
safer on the moor than anywhere else until the hue and cry was
over, so he lay in hiding there. But every second night we made
sure if he was still there by putting a light in the window, and
if there was an answer my husband took out some bread and meat to
him. Every day we hoped that he was gone, but as long as he was
there we could not desert him. That is the whole truth, as I am
an honest Christian woman, and you will see that if there is
blame in the matter it does not lie with my husband, but with me,
for whose sake he has done all that he has."

The woman's words came with an intense earnestness which carried
conviction with them.

"Is this true, Barrymore?"

"Yes, Sir Henry. Every word of it."

"Well, I cannot blame you for standing by your own wife. Forget
what I have said. Go to your room, you two, and we shall talk
further about this matter in the morning."

When they were gone we looked out of the window again. Sir Henry
had flung it open, and the cold night wind beat in upon our
faces. Far away in the black distance there still glowed that one
tiny point of yellow light.

"I wonder he dares," said Sir Henry.

"It may be so placed as to be only visible from here."

"Very likely. How far do you think it is?"

"Out by the Cleft Tor, I think."

"Not more than a mile or two off."

"Hardly that."

"Well, it cannot be far if Barrymore had to carry out the food to
it. And he is waiting, this villain, beside that candle. By
thunder, Watson, I am going out to take that man!"

The same thought had crossed my own mind. It was not as if the
Barrymores had taken us into their confidence. Their secret had
been forced from them. The man was a danger to the community, an
unmitigated scoundrel for whom there was neither pity nor excuse.
We were only doing our duty in taking this chance of putting him
back where he could do no harm. With his brutal and violent
nature, others would have to pay the price if we held our hands.
Any night, for example, our neighbours the Stapletons might be
attacked by him, and it may have been the thought of this which
made Sir Henry so keen upon the adventure.

"I will come," said I.

"Then get your revolver and put on your boots. The sooner we
start the better, as the fellow may put out his light and be

In five minutes we were outside the door, starting upon our
expedition. We hurried through the dark shrubbery, amid the dull
moaning of the autumn wind and the rustle of the falling leaves.
The night air was heavy with the smell of damp and decay. Now and
again the moon peeped out for an instant, but clouds were driving
over the face of the sky, and just as we came out on the moor a
thin rain began to fall. The light still burned steadily in

"Are you armed?" I asked.

"I have a hunting-crop."

"We must close in on him rapidly, for he is said to be a
desperate fellow. We shall take him by surprise and have him at
our mercy before he can resist."

"I say, Watson," said the baronet, "what would Holmes say to
this? How about that hour of darkness in which the power of evil
is exalted?"

As if in answer to his words there rose suddenly out of the vast
gloom of the moor that strange cry which I had already heard upon
the borders of the great Grimpen Mire. It came with the wind
through the silence of the night, a long, deep mutter, then a
rising howl, and then the sad moan in which it died away. Again
and again it sounded, the whole air throbbing with it, strident,
wild, and menacing. The baronet caught my sleeve and his face
glimmered white through the darkness.

"My God, what's that, Watson?"

"I don't know. It's a sound they have on the moor. I heard it
once before."

It died away, and an absolute silence closed in upon us. We stood
straining our ears, but nothing came.

"Watson," said the baronet, "it was the cry of a hound."

My blood ran cold in my veins, for there was a break in his voice
which told of the sudden horror which had seized him.

"What do they call this sound?" he asked.


"The folk on the country-side."

"Oh, they are ignorant people. Why should you mind what they call

"Tell me, Watson. What do they say of it?"

I hesitated but could not escape the question.

"They say it is the cry of the Hound of the Baskervilles."

He groaned and was silent for a few moments.

"A hound it was," he said, at last, "but it seemed to come from
miles away, over yonder, I think."

"It was hard to say whence it came."

"It rose and fell with the wind. Isn't that the direction of the
great Grimpen Mire?"

"Yes, it is."

"Well, it was up there. Come now, Watson, didn't you think
yourself that it was the cry of a hound? I am not a child. You
need not fear to speak the truth."

"Stapleton was with me when I heard it last. He said that it
might be the calling of a strange bird."

"No, no, it was a hound. My God, can there be some truth in all
these stories? Is it possible that I am really in danger from so
dark a cause? You don't believe it, do you, Watson?"

"No, no."

"And yet it was one thing to laugh about it in London, and it is
another to stand out here in the darkness of the moor and to hear
such a cry as that. And my uncle! There was the footprint of the
hound beside him as he lay. It all fits together. I don't think
that I am a coward, Watson, but that sound seemed to freeze my
very blood. Feel my hand!"

It was as cold as a block of marble.

"You'll be all right to-morrow."

"I don't think I'll get that cry out of my head. What do you
advise that we do now?"

"Shall we turn back?"

"No, by thunder; we have come out to get our man, and we will do
it. We after the convict, and a hell-hound, as likely as not,
after us. Come on! We'll see it through if all the fiends of the
pit were loose upon the moor."

We stumbled slowly along in the darkness, with the black loom of
the craggy hills around us, and the yellow speck of light burning
steadily in front. There is nothing so deceptive as the distance
of a light upon a pitch-dark night, and sometimes the glimmer
seemed to be far away upon the horizon and sometimes it might
have been within a few yards of us. But at last we could see
whence it came, and then we knew that we were indeed very close.
A guttering candle was stuck in a crevice of the rocks which
flanked it on each side so as to keep the wind from it and also
to prevent it from being visible, save in the direction of
Baskerville Hall. A boulder of granite concealed our approach, and
crouching behind it we gazed over it at the signal light. It was
strange to see this single candle burning there in the middle of
the moor, with no sign of life near it--just the one straight
yellow flame and the gleam of the rock on each side of it.

"What shall we do now?" whispered Sir Henry.

"Wait here. He must be near his light. Let us see if we can get a
glimpse of him."

The words were hardly out of my mouth when we both saw him. Over
the rocks, in the crevice of which the candle burned, there was
thrust out an evil yellow face, a terrible animal face, all
seamed and scored with vile passions. Foul with mire, with a
bristling beard, and hung with matted hair, it might well have
belonged to one of those old savages who dwelt in the burrows on
the hillsides. The light beneath him was reflected in his small,
cunning eyes which peered fiercely to right and left through the
darkness, like a crafty and savage animal who has heard the steps
of the hunters.

Something had evidently aroused his suspicions. It may have been
that Barrymore had some private signal which we had neglected to
give, or the fellow may have had some other reason for thinking
that all was not well, but I could read his fears upon his wicked
face. Any instant he might dash out the light and vanish in the
darkness. I sprang forward therefore, and Sir Henry did the same.
At the same moment the convict screamed out a curse at us and
hurled a rock which splintered up against the boulder which had
sheltered us. I caught one glimpse of his short, squat, strongly-
built figure as he sprang to his feet and turned to run. At the
same moment by a lucky chance the moon broke through the clouds.
We rushed over the brow of the hill, and there was our man
running with great speed down the other side, springing over the
stones in his way with the activity of a mountain goat. A lucky
long shot of my revolver might have crippled him, but I had
brought it only to defend myself if attacked, and not to shoot an
unarmed man who was running away.

We were both swift runners and in fairly good training, but we
soon found that we had no chance of overtaking him. We saw him
for a long time in the moonlight until he was only a small speck
moving swiftly among the boulders upon the side of a distant
hill. We ran and ran until we were completely blown, but the
space between us grew ever wider. Finally we stopped and sat
panting on two rocks, while we watched him disappearing in the

And it was at this moment that there occurred a most strange and
unexpected thing. We had risen from our rocks and were turning to
go home, having abandoned the hopeless chase. The moon was low
upon the right, and the jagged pinnacle of a granite tor stood up
against the lower curve of its silver disc. There, outlined as
black as an ebony statue on that shining back-ground, I saw the
figure of a man upon the tor. Do not think that it was a
delusion, Holmes. I assure you that I have never in my life seen
anything more clearly. As far as I could judge, the figure was
that of a tall, thin man. He stood with his legs a little
separated, his arms folded, his head bowed, as if he were
brooding over that enormous wilderness of peat and granite which
lay before him. He might have been the very spirit of that
terrible place. It was not the convict. This man was far from the
place where the latter had disappeared. Besides, he was a much
taller man. With a cry of surprise I pointed him out to the
baronet, but in the instant during which I had turned to grasp
his arm the man was gone. There was the sharp pinnacle of granite
still cutting the lower edge of the moon, but its peak bore no
trace of that silent and motionless figure.

I wished to go in that direction and to search the tor, but it
was some distance away. The baronet's nerves were still quivering
from that cry, which recalled the dark story of his family, and
he was not in the mood for fresh adventures. He had not seen this
lonely man upon the tor and could not feel the thrill which his
strange presence and his commanding attitude had given to me. "A
warder, no doubt," said he. "The moor has been thick with them
since this fellow escaped." Well, perhaps his explanation may be
the right one, but I should like to have some further proof of
it. To-day we mean to communicate to the Princetown people where
they should look for their missing man, but it is hard lines that
we have not actually had the triumph of bringing him back as our
own prisoner. Such are the adventures of last night, and you must
acknowledge, my dear Holmes, that I have done you very well in
the matter of a report. Much of what I tell you is no doubt quite
irrelevant, but still I feel that it is best that I should let
you have all the facts and leave you to select for yourself those
which will be of most service to you in helping you to your
conclusions. We are certainly making some progress. So far as the
Barrymores go we have found the motive of their actions, and that
has cleared up the situation very much. But the moor with its
mysteries and its strange inhabitants remains as inscrutable as
ever. Perhaps in my next I may be able to throw some light upon
this also. Best of all would it be if you could come down to us.
In any case you will hear from me again in the course of the next
few days.

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