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Death on the Moor

Posted Jan 14 2013 2:08am
Holmes started running over the moor,and I followed him.From somewhere in front of us came one more hopeless scream.It was followed by the sound of something falling heavily.We stopped and listened.

I saw Holmes put his hand to his head.' He has won,Watson.We' re too late.I was mad not to act sooner.And you,Watson,look what happens when you leave the man I asked you to guard.But if the worst has happened,we shall see that Stapleton doesn't go free.'

We ran through the dark towards the place where the cries had come from.We reached a rocky edge from which a steep side fell away.Below us we saw the body of a man.He was lying with his face down on the ground.He had fallen on his head,which was bent under him,and his neck was broken.Holmes lit a match.We saw with horror the blood running out onto the ground from his head.

We both remembered clearly the suit the man was wearing.It was a thick,redbrown country suit.It was the suit Sir Henry had been wearing on the morning when we first met him in Baker Street.We saw it for a moment and then the match went out.Our hearts turned sick and cold inside us.

'The devil!The murderer!I shall never forgive myself for leaving Sir Henry alone,'I whispered angrily.

'It's more my fault than yours,'said Holmes.'I have let this good man die because I was busy with the last details of my case.It is the greatest mistake I have ever made.But why did he come out onto the moor?I told him it would lead to his death.Now both Sir Henry and his uncle have been murdered.By heavens,clever as he is,I shall trap Stapleton before another day is past.'

With heavy hearts we stood on either side of the broken body.Then Holmes bent over the body and began to move it.All of a sudden he began to laugh and jump up and down.

'Look at the face!'he shouted,hitting me on the back.'It is not Sir Henry.It's Selden,the escaped prisoner.'

We turned the body over.There was no doubt about it.I had seen the face before,on the night Sir Henry and I had chased Selden over the moor.Then I suddenly remembered,and everything became clear.Sir Henry had told me how he gave his old clothes to Barrymore.I realized that this suit had been among the clothes Barrymore had left for Selden,and I told Holmes.

'Then the clothes have caused the death of the poor man.The hound had been given something of Sir Henry's to smell so that it would pick up his scent and follow him.I think that is why the shoe was taken from the hotel in London.So the hound followed the scent and bunted this man.But there is one thing I don't understand.How did Selden know that the hound was following him? We know he ran a long way.He was screaming for a long time before he fell,and we could hear that he was running as he screamed.So the hound was a long way behind him when he began to run.How could he see it in the dark? How did he know it was there,until it was close be hind him?'

'I cannot answer that,'I said,' but there is something else I don' t understand.Why was the hound out on the moor tonight?Stapleton would not let it go out unless he thought Sir Henry was there.'

'We may know the answer to that question very soon,'said Holmes.'Here comes Stapleton.'

His sharp eyes had seen a figure moving in the darkness in front of us,and 

s the man came closer,I could see that it was indeed Stapleton.

'We must be very careful not to show that we suspect him,'Holmes warned me.

Stapleton stopped when he saw us,and then walked forward again.'Dr Watson,is that you?I didn't expect to see you on the moor at this time of night But,dear me,what's this? Somebody hurt? Not—don't tell me that it's our friend Sir Henry!'

He went past me and bent over the dead man.I heard him breathe in quickly.

'Who…who is this?' he asked,his voice shaking.

'It's Selden,the escaped prisoner.'

Stapleton quickly managed to hide the look of surprise and disappointment on his face as he turned towards us.He looked sharply from Holmes to me.'Dear me! How terrible! How did he die?'

'We think he broke his neck by falling over the edge of these rocks,'I said.

'I heard a cry,and that is why I came out.I was worried about Sir Henry,'Stapleton said.

'Why were you worried about Sir Henry?'I asked.

'Because I had invited him to my house.When he did not come I was surprised.Then,when I heard cries on the moor,I began to worry about him.I wonder'—his eyes went quickly from my face to Holmes'—' did you hear anything else at all?'

'No,'said Holmes.'Did you?'

'No,'said Stapleton.

'What do you mean,then?'

'Oh,you know the stories about the supernatural hound.I wondered if it had been here tonight.'

'We heard nothing of that kind,'I said.

'How do you think this poor man fell to his death?'Staple ton asked.

'I think cold and hunger,and his fear that the police would catch him,drove him mad.He ran round the moor in his mad ness,and fell over this edge,'I said.

'Do you agree,Mr Sherlock Holmes?'asked Stapleton.

'You're quick to guess who I am,'said Holmes.

'We're been expecting you ever since Dr Watson arrived.'

'I have no doubt my friend is right about the way Selden died,'said Holmes.'It' s a sad death,but it will not prevent me from returning to London tomorrow.'

'Before you return,will you be able to explain the mysteries that we've experienced here?'

'I am not always as successful as I hope.I need facts,not stories of the supernatural.This hasn' t been a good case for me.

Stapleton looked hard at him,but Holmes had spoken very seriously and his words sounded true.

We covered the body.Then Stapleton turned to go home,and Holmes and I walked towards Baskerville Hall.

'He's a very clever man,and a dangerous enemy,who will be difficult to trap,' said Holmes.' Look how he controlled his disappointment when he found that the dead man was not Sir Henry.'

'I'm sorry that he has seen you,'I said.

'So am I,but there was nothing we could do about it.Now he knows I am here he may be more careful,or he may act more quickly than he planned.'

'Why can't we give him to the police at once?'

'Because we can't prove anything against him.Sir Charles was found dead because his heart failed.Again,tonight we could not prove that there was a hound.Selden died from a fall.We have no case at present.We shall see Mrs Lyons to morrow,and she may help us.But whatever happens,I have my own plan.There will be some danger,but by the end of tomorrow I hope to have won this battle.'

He would say nothing else.

'Are you coming to the Hall?'I asked.

'Yes,'he replied.'There is no reason for me to hide any longer.But one last word,Watson Say nothing of the hound to Sir Henry.Let him think that Selden died from a fall.If he knows about the hound,he will find it harder to face the dan gers of tomorrow.I think you told me in your last letter that he is having dinner with the Stapletons tomorrow evening.'

'And they have invited me,too,'I reminded him.

'Then you must excuse yourself,and he must go alone.That can easily be arranged And now I think we are both ready for some food.'

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