Friday, September 2, 2022

Sherlock Holmes The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | Thoughts on Chapter 13

Sherlock Holmes The Hound of the Baskervilles* [HOUN] by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | Thoughts on Chapter 13

(*First published in a serialized fashion by The Strand Magazine August 1901 - April 1902. SPOILERS AHEAD)

Sherlock Holmes is in Baskerville Hall at long last. Immediately, it feels as though Watson shifts his allegiance toward H and away from Sir Henry, who has for a nice time now been his BFF. I don't want to portray W as having been some sort of fake friend to Sir, as I don't feel that's the case. I do, however, appreciate W's professionalism here and see it much for what it is, which is an army man's dutiful response to the mission and his superior. Peak Watson, then. Speaking of peak and superior, there is no one line printed anywhere much more so each than, "Evil indeed is the man who has not one woman to mourn him." This comes as the news is shared of Selden's death.

Jack Stapleton will have harmed two women (that we know of) and pleased zero (that we know of) at the time of his [further spoiler alert] demise, but that is putting the cart before the horse. Plus, it's in his genes. I digress.

Then Holmes somewhat surprisingly at least to me, digs into the cast a big bit about the hand-me-down clothing on Selden's body; but that's cleared-up. "That's lucky for him--in fact, it's lucky for all of you, since you are all on the wrong side of the law in this matter. I am not sure that as a conscientious detective my first duty is not to arrest the whole household." One might think Holmes here is throwing his weight around, keeping everyone on their toes on the heels of his surprise appearance--but it was already mentioned in-story that Sir was none surprised, and his response here shows him none impressed by H's big talk, "But how about the case?" is the baronet's response. That little exchange always cracks me up and keeps things in perspective. The Sir and the detective.

Something of note is that I feel H might well have felt he had to turn everyone in to protect himself from the law. But since, as said, that was proved not to be the case--he did not. Meaning that H here sees the law as being apart from his own moral code. Nothing at all newsworthy, that, but still.

Nevertheless, Holmes goes on to require of Sir Henry one thing above all else, his blind obedience to his demands regarding plans. This is agreed to. A fine high-point occurs when H's attention suddenly shifts to just above and beyond Watson's head. Baskerville family portraits. Holmes asks Sir for the tour of them and it ends where H's eyes most likely began. Upon the portrait of who, as it turns out is Hugo Baskerville, the jerk who started all this hounding. Also, it's the name of another Baskerville who put pen to paper to pen the lore that was read way back in the ::: very ::: beginning. Anyways, Jack Stapleton is a dead ringer for the original. "A study of family portraits is enough to convert a man to the doctrine of reincarnation." Is a neatly-done line.

We now have Stapleton's motive, that being 'succession.' That ought to help build a case suitable for bringing before a court, no? Maybe. In my previous chapter's thoughts, I wondered aloud in smart device print as to whether or not a case here is ever made so much firmer than when Holmes expresses the desire to make it so much firmer. Well, on-deck to be up next is another thing that strung together as a strand of murderous pearls, adds to this end. Although I'm no attorney--isn't much of this something like circumstantial insofar as evidence? Again, I'm not qualified to delve and I am certain those who are have done-so quite fully and often. Food for thought and fodder for research, then.

In any event, "What is the next move?" Good question, Watson. It's for the dynamic duo to tell Sir they are departing for London fairly post haste. Sir winces and whines and Holmes reminds him of the deal they had struck wherein his bidding is done sans question. He also gives Sir a thing to do and some things to say. Henry states he has a mind to go back to London with them. I wonder here if that's less a plea to not be left behind alone or a means of making certain H and W are really doing as they say. At the top of this chapter, Henry notices that Holmes "had neither any luggage nor any explanations for its absence." Could he have thought H was in fact the Batman (The Man on the Tor)?

In short, I feel now that Sir feels dealt out and you have to figure a guy like him to not like a feeling like that. Unlike Mongo, he's not about being 'only pawn in game of life.' But he is for now and, as said, is given his instructions for his Merripit House engagement with the Stapletons that evening; and as to the said game which is now quite afoot. Of course, the dynamic duo are not off to London Town but instead, at bat now is one Laura Lyons. Oh and part of those instructions, lest I be remiss: to walk across the moor at night. One more note while LL begins her practice swings... Holmes offers nice repetition with "And as you value your life do not go across the moor in any direction save along the straight path which leads from Merripit House to Grimpen Road,"

Repetition of course from the cut and paste letter of warning from chapter 4 which ran "As you value your life or your reason keep away from the moor." A letter we now know to have been sent by Mrs. Stapleton. Not a big deal to spot but again a nice bit of use of repetition. Of repetition. Anyway, we finally get to Holmes and his interview with LL in which he tells her that Jack Stapleton is not who he says he is and furthermore is a married man. The cad! We get the puzzle pieces put together and he dangled marriage to her as bait in order to make of her an unwitting accomplice in the murder of Sir Charles. It's all there--but again--can it be made to stick? Again, dunno. But it seems a bit flimsy. Nevertheless, Lyons is now an ally of the axis of good, for what that's worth.

Oh and better yet, Lestrade is in town and strides to the batter's box as LL returns to the dugout or maybe stands on first... what's with all the baseball analogies? Easy, I know bloody bollocks of cricket. I do know a thing about setting and another about mood, however. Both notably lighten in the Hall with the presence of Holmes. It's almost as if he absorbs and then skillfully handles all the inky blackness.

Thoughts on Chapter 12
Thoughts on Chapter 14

You might also wish to read:

Sherlock Holmes The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | Thoughts on Chapter 2 (for a refresher on the Hugo Baskerville tale)

Sherlock Holmes The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | Thoughts on Chapter 4 (for a refresher on the cut and paste note of warning)

::: very :::

Online sources for this article: The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia (The Hound of the Baskervilles). You can read this tale in full there, so you know. READ MORE. Or LISTEN MORE, as I've found listening to the Bob Neufeld reading for LibriVox quite enjoyable and useful.