- As you value your life or your reason keep away from the
The word moor only was printed in ink.
Now, said Sir Henry Baskerville, perhaps you
will tell me, Mr. Holmes, what in thunder is the meaning of that, and who it is that takes
so much interest in my affairs?
What do you make of it, Dr. Mortimer? You must allow that there is nothing
supernatural about this, at any rate?
No, sir, but it might very well come from someone who
was convinced that the business is supernatural.
What business? asked Sir Henry sharply. It
seems to me that all you gentlemen know a great deal more than I do about my own
You shall share our knowledge before you leave this
room, Sir Henry. I promise you that, said Sherlock Holmes. We will confine
ourselves for the present with your permission to this very interesting document, which
must have been put together and posted yesterday evening. Have you yesterdays Times,
It is here in the corner.
Might I trouble you for itthe inside page, please,
with the leading articles? He glanced swiftly over it, running his eyes up and down
the columns. Capital article this on free trade. Permit me to give you an extract
- You may be cajoled into imagining that your own
special trade or your own industry will be encouraged by a protective tariff, but it
stands to reason that such legislation must in the long run keep away wealth from the
country, diminish the value of our imports, and lower the general conditions of life in
What do you think of that, Watson? cried Holmes in
high glee, rubbing his hands together with satisfaction. Dont you think that
is an admirable sentiment?
Dr. Mortimer looked at Holmes with an air of professional
interest, and Sir Henry Baskerville turned a pair of puzzled dark eyes upon me.
I dont know much about the tariff and things of
that kind, said he, but it seems to me weve got a bit off the trail so
far as that note is concerned.
On the contrary, I think we are particularly hot upon
the trail, Sir Henry. Watson here knows more about my methods than you do, but I fear that
even he has not quite grasped the significance of this sentence.
No, I confess that I see no connection.
And yet, my dear Watson, there is so very close a
connection that the one is extracted out of the other. You, your,
your, life, reason, value, keep
away, from the. Dont you see now whence these words have been
By thunder, youre right! Well, if that isnt
smart! cried Sir Henry.
If any possible doubt remained it is settled by the fact
that keep away and from the are cut out in one piece.
Well, nowso it is!
Really, Mr. Holmes, this exceeds anything which I could
have imagined, said Dr. Mortimer, gazing at my friend in amazement. I could
understand anyone saying that the words were from a newspaper; but that you should name
which, and add that it came from the leading article, is really one of the most remarkable
things which I have ever known. How did you do it?
I presume, Doctor, that you could tell the skull of a
negro from that of an Esquimau?
Because that is my special hobby. The differences are
obvious. The supra-orbital crest, the facial angle, the maxillary curve, the
But this is my special hobby, and the differences are
equally obvious. There is 
as much difference to my eyes between the leaded bourgeois type of a Times article
and the slovenly print of an evening half-penny paper as there could be between your negro
and your Esquimau. The detection of types is one of the most elementary branches of
knowledge to the special expert in crime, though I confess that once when I was very young
I confused the Leeds Mercury with the Western Morning News. But a Times
leader is entirely distinctive, and these words could have been taken from nothing
else. As it was done yesterday the strong probability was that we should find the words in
So far as I can follow you, then, Mr. Holmes, said
Sir Henry Baskerville, someone cut out this message with a scissors
Nail-scissors, said Holmes. You can see that
it was a very short-bladed scissors, since the cutter had to take two snips over
That is so. Someone, then, cut out the message with a
pair of short-bladed scissors, pasted it with paste
Gum, said Holmes.
With gum on to the paper. But I want to know why the
word moor should have been written?
Because he could not find it in print. The other words
were all simple and might be found in any issue, but moor would be less
Why, of course, that would explain it. Have you read
anything else in this message, Mr. Holmes?
There are one or two indications, and yet the utmost
pains have been taken to remove all clues. The address, you observe, is printed in rough
characters. But the Times is a paper which is seldom found in any hands but those
of the highly educated. We may take it, therefore, that the letter was composed by an
educated man who wished to pose as an uneducated one, and his effort to conceal his own
writing suggests that that writing might be known, or come to be known, by you. Again, you
will observe that the words are not gummed on in an accurate line, but that some are much
higher than others. Life, for example, is quite out of its proper place. That
may point to carelessness or it may point to agitation and hurry upon the part of the
cutter. On the whole I incline to the latter view, since the matter was evidently
important, and it is unlikely that the composer of such a letter would be careless. If he
were in a hurry it opens up the interesting question why he should be in a hurry, since
any letter posted up to early morning would reach Sir Henry before he would leave his
hotel. Did the composer fear an interruptionand from whom?
We are coming now rather into the region of
guesswork, said Dr. Mortimer.
Say, rather, into the region where we balance
probabilities and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagination, but
we have always some material basis on which to start our speculation. Now, you would call
it a guess, no doubt, but I am almost certain that this address has been written in a
How in the world can you say that?
If you examine it carefully you will see that both the
pen and the ink have given the writer trouble. The pen has spluttered twice in a single
word and has run dry three times in a short address, showing that there was very little
ink in the bottle. Now, a private pen or ink-bottle is seldom allowed to be in such a
state, and the combination of the two must be quite rare. But you know the hotel ink and
the hotel pen, where it is rare to get anything else. Yes, I have very little hesitation
in saying that could we examine the waste-paper baskets of the hotels  around Charing Cross until we found
the remains of the mutilated Times leader we could lay our hands straight upon
the person who sent this singular message. Halloa! Halloa! Whats this?
He was carefully examining the foolscap, upon which the words
were pasted, holding it only an inch or two from his eyes.
Nothing, said he, throwing it down. It is a
blank half-sheet of paper, without even a water-mark upon it. I think we have drawn as
much as we can from this curious letter; and now, Sir Henry, has anything else of interest
happened to you since you have been in London?
Why, no, Mr. Holmes. I think not.
You have not observed anyone follow or watch you?
I seem to have walked right into the thick of a dime
novel, said our visitor. Why in thunder should anyone follow or watch
We are coming to that. You have nothing else to report
to us before we go into this matter?
Well, it depends upon what you think worth
I think anything out of the ordinary routine of life
well worth reporting.
Sir Henry smiled.
I dont know much of British life yet, for I have
spent nearly all my time in the States and in Canada. But I hope that to lose one of your
boots is not part of the ordinary routine of life over here.
You have lost one of your boots?
My dear sir, cried Dr. Mortimer, it is only
mislaid. You will find it when you return to the hotel. What is the use of troubling Mr.
Holmes with trifles of this kind?
Well, he asked me for anything outside the ordinary
Exactly, said Holmes, however foolish the
incident may seem. You have lost one of your boots, you say?
Well, mislaid it, anyhow. I put them both outside my
door last night, and there was only one in the morning. I could get no sense out of the
chap who cleans them. The worst of it is that I only bought the pair last night in the
Strand, and I have never had them on.
If you have never worn them, why did you put them out to
They were tan boots and had never been varnished. That
was why I put them out.
Then I understand that on your arrival in London
yesterday you went out at once and bought a pair of boots?
I did a good deal of shopping. Dr. Mortimer here went
round with me. You see, if I am to be squire down there I must dress the part, and it may
be that I have got a little careless in my ways out West. Among other things I bought
these brown bootsgave six dollars for themand had one stolen before ever I had
them on my feet.
It seems a singularly useless thing to steal, said
Sherlock Holmes. I confess that I share Dr. Mortimers belief that it will not
be long before the missing boot is found.
And, now, gentlemen, said the baronet with
decision, it seems to me that I have spoken quite enough about the little that I
know. It is time that you kept your promise and gave me a full account of what we are all
Your request is a very reasonable one, Holmes answered. Dr. Mortimer, I
think you could not do better than to tell your story as you told it to us.
Thus encouraged, our scientific friend drew his papers from
his pocket and presented the whole case as he had done upon the morning before. Sir Henry
Baskerville listened with the deepest attention and with an occasional exclamation of
Well, I seem to have come into an inheritance with a
vengeance, said he when the long narrative was finished. Of course, Ive
heard of the hound ever since I was in the nursery. Its the pet story of the family,
though I never thought of taking it seriously before. But as to my uncles
deathwell, it all seems boiling up in my head, and I cant get it clear yet.
You dont seem quite to have made up your mind whether its a case for a
policeman or a clergyman.
And now theres this affair of the letter to me at
the hotel. I suppose that fits into its place.
It seems to show that someone knows more than we do
about what goes on upon the moor, said Dr. Mortimer.
And also, said Holmes, that someone is not
ill-disposed towards you, since they warn you of danger.
Or it may be that they wish, for their own purposes, to
scare me away.
Well, of course, that is possible also. I am very much
indebted to you, Dr. Mortimer, for introducing me to a problem which presents several
interesting alternatives. But the practical point which we now have to decide, Sir Henry,
is whether it is or is not advisable for you to go to Baskerville Hall.
Why should I not go?
There seems to be danger.
Do you mean danger from this family fiend or do you mean
danger from human beings?
Well, that is what we have to find out.
Whichever it is, my answer is fixed. There is no devil
in hell, Mr. Holmes, and there is no man upon earth who can prevent me from going to the
home of my own people, and you may take that to be my final answer. His dark brows
knitted and his face flushed to a dusky red as he spoke. It was evident that the fiery
temper of the Baskervilles was not extinct in this their last representative.
Meanwhile, said he, I have hardly had time to think over all that you
have told me. Its a big thing for a man to have to understand and to decide at one
sitting. I should like to have a quiet hour by myself to make up my mind. Now, look here,
Mr. Holmes, its half-past eleven now and I am going back right away to my hotel.
Suppose you and your friend, Dr. Watson, come round and lunch with us at two. Ill be
able to tell you more clearly then how this thing strikes me.
Is that convenient to you, Watson?
Then you may expect us. Shall I have a cab called?
Id prefer to walk, for this affair has flurried me
Ill join you in a walk, with pleasure, said
Then we meet again at two oclock. Au revoir, and
We heard the steps of our visitors descend the stair and the
bang of the front door. In an instant Holmes had changed from the languid dreamer to the
man of action.
Your hat and boots, Watson, quick! Not a moment to lose! He rushed into his
room in his dressing-gown and was back again in a few seconds in a frock-coat. We hurried
together down the stairs and into the street. Dr. Mortimer and Baskerville were still
visible about two hundred yards ahead of us in the direction of Oxford Street.
Shall I run on and stop them?
Not for the world, my dear Watson. I am perfectly
satisfied with your company if you will tolerate mine. Our friends are wise, for it is
certainly a very fine morning for a walk.
He quickened his pace until we had decreased the distance
which divided us by about half. Then, still keeping a hundred yards behind, we followed
into Oxford Street and so down Regent Street. Once our friends stopped and stared into a
shop window, upon which Holmes did the same. An instant afterwards he gave a little cry of
satisfaction, and, following the direction of his eager eyes, I saw that a hansom cab with
a man inside which had halted on the other side of the street was now proceeding slowly
Theres our man, Watson! Come along! Well
have a good look at him, if we can do no more.
At that instant I was aware of a bushy black beard and a
pair of piercing eyes turned upon us through the side window of the cab. Instantly the
trapdoor at the top flew up, something was screamed to the driver, and the cab flew madly
off down Regent Street. Holmes looked eagerly round for another, but no empty one was in
sight. Then he dashed in wild pursuit amid the stream of the traffic, but the start was
too great, and already the cab was out of sight.
There now! said Holmes bitterly as he emerged
panting and white with vexation from the tide of vehicles. Was ever such bad luck
and such bad management, too? Watson, Watson, if you are an honest man you will record
this also and set it against my successes!
Who was the man?
I have not an idea.
Well, it was evident from what we have heard that
Baskerville has been very closely shadowed by someone since he has been in town. How else
could it be known so quickly that it was the Northumberland Hotel which he had chosen? If
they had followed him the first day I argued that they would follow him also the second.
You may have observed that I twice strolled over to the window while Dr. Mortimer was
reading his legend.
Yes, I remember.
I was looking out for loiterers in the street, but I saw
none. We are dealing with a clever man, Watson. This matter cuts very deep, and though I
have not finally made up my mind whether it is a benevolent or a malevolent agency which
is in touch with us, I am conscious always of power and design. When our friends left I at
once followed them in the hopes of marking down their invisible attendant. So wily was he
that he had not trusted himself upon foot, but he had availed himself of a cab so that he
could loiter behind or dash past them and so escape their notice. His method had the
additional advantage that if they were to take a cab he was all ready to follow them. It
has, however, one obvious disadvantage.
It puts him in the power of the cabman.
What a pity we did not get the number!
My dear Watson, clumsy as I have been, you surely do not
seriously imagine that I neglected to get the number? No. 2704 is our man. But that is no
use to us for the moment.
I fail to see how you could have done more.
On observing the cab I should have instantly turned and
walked in the other direction. I should then at my leisure have hired a second cab and
followed the first at a respectful distance, or, better still, have driven to the
Northumberland Hotel and waited there. When our unknown had followed Baskerville home we
should have had the opportunity of playing his own game upon himself and seeing where he
made for. As it is, by an indiscreet eagerness, which was taken advantage of with
extraordinary quickness and energy by our opponent, we have betrayed ourselves and lost
We had been sauntering slowly down Regent Street during this
conversation, and Dr. Mortimer, with his companion, had long vanished in front of us.
There is no object in our following them, said
Holmes. The shadow has departed and will not return. We must see what further cards
we have in our hands and play them with decision. Could you swear to that mans face
within the cab?
I could swear only to the beard.
And so could Ifrom which I gather that in all
probability it was a false one. A clever man upon so delicate an errand has no use for a
beard save to conceal his features. Come in here, Watson!
He turned into one of the district messenger offices, where he
was warmly greeted by the manager.
Ah, Wilson, I see you have not forgotten the little case
in which I had the good fortune to help you?
No, sir, indeed I have not. You saved my good name, and
perhaps my life.
My dear fellow, you exaggerate. I have some
recollection, Wilson, that you had among your boys a lad named Cartwright, who showed some
ability during the investigation.
Yes, sir, he is still with us.
Could you ring him up?thank you! And I should be
glad to have change of this five-pound note.
A lad of fourteen, with a bright, keen face, had obeyed the
summons of the manager. He stood now gazing with great reverence at the famous detective.
Let me have the Hotel Directory, said Holmes.
Thank you! Now, Cartwright, there are the names of twenty-three hotels here, all in
the immediate neighbourhood of Charing Cross. Do you see?
You will visit each of these in turn.
You will begin in each case by giving the outside porter
one shilling. Here are twenty-three shillings.
You will tell him that you want to see the waste-paper
of yesterday. You will say that an important telegram has miscarried and that you are
looking for it. You understand?
But what you are really looking for is the centre page
of the Times with some 
holes cut in it with scissors. Here is a copy of the Times. It is this page. You
could easily recognize it, could you not?
In each case the outside porter will send for the
hall porter, to whom also you will give a shilling. Here are twenty-three shillings. You
will then learn in possibly twenty cases out of the twenty-three that the waste of the day
before has been burned or removed. In the three other cases you will be shown a heap of
paper and you will look for this page of the Times among it. The odds are
enormously against your finding it. There are ten shillings over in case of emergencies.
Let me have a report by wire at Baker Street before evening. And now, Watson, it only
remains for us to find out by wire the identity of the cabman, No. 2704, and then we will
drop into one of the Bond Street picture galleries and fill in the time until we are due
at the hotel.