Saturday, 25 July 2009


ONCE upon a time there lived in a certain village a little girl. Her mother was very fond of her, and her grandmother loved her even more. This good old woman made for her a red cloak, which suited the child so well that ever after she was called Little Red-Riding-Hood. One day her mother made some cakes, and said to Little Red-Riding-Hood:—

"Go, my dear, and see how grandmother does, for I hear that she has been very ill. Carry her a cake and a little pot of butter."

Little Red-Riding-Hood set out at once to go to her grandmother, who lived in another village. As she was going through the wood she met a large Wolf. He had a very great mind to eat her up; but he dared not, for there were some wood-choppers near by. So he asked her:—

"Where are you going, little girl?" The poor child did not know that it was dangerous to stop and talk with the Wolf, and she said:—

"I am going to see my grandmother, and carry her a cake and a little pot of butter from my mother."

"Does she live far off?" asked the Wolf.

"Oh, yes. It is beyond that mill, at the first house in the village."

"Well," said the Wolf, "I will go and see her, too. I will go this way; do you go that, and we will see who will be there soonest."

At this the Wolf began to run as fast as he could, taking the nearest way, and Little Red-Riding-Hood went by the farthest. She stopped often to chase a butterfly, or pluck a flower, and so she was a good while on the way. The Wolf was soon at the old woman's house, and knocked at the door—tap, tap!

"Who is there?"

"Your grandchild, Little Red-Riding-Hood," replied the Wolf, changing his voice. "I have brought you a cake and a pot of butter from mother." The good grandmother, who was ill in bed, called out:—

"Pull the string, and the latch will go up."

The Wolf pulled the string, and the latch went up. The door opened, and he jumped in, and fell upon the old woman, and ate her up in less than no time, for he had not tasted food for three days. He then shut the door, and got into the grandmother's bed. By and by, Little Red-Riding-Hood came and knocked at the door—tap, tap!

"Who is there?"

Little Red-Riding-Hood heard the big voice of the Wolf, and at first she was afraid. Then she thought her grandmother must have a bad cold, so she answered:—

"Little Red-Riding-Hood. I have brought you a cake and a pot of butter from mother." The Wolf softened his voice as much as he could, and called out:—

"Pull the string, and the latch will go up."

Little Red-Riding-Hood pulled the string, and the latch went up, and the door opened. The Wolf was hiding under the bedclothes and called out in a muffled voice:—

"Put the cake and the pot of butter on the shelf, and come to bed."

Little Red-Riding-Hood made ready for bed. Then she looked with wonder at her grandmother, who had changed so much, and she said:—

"Grandmother, what great arms you have!"

"The better to hug you, my dear."

"Grandmother, what great ears you have!"

"The better to hear you, my dear."

"Grandmother, what great eyes you have!"

"The better to see you, my dear."

"Grandmother, what great teeth you have!"

"The better to eat you."

And at this the wicked Wolf sprang up and fell upon poor Little Red-Riding-Hood and ate her all up.

The end



ONCE upon a time there lived a man and his wife and one beautiful daughter. The wife fell sick and died, and some time after the father married again, for he needed some one to take care of his child. The new wife appeared very well before the wedding, but afterward she showed a bad temper. She had two children of her own, and they were proud and unkind like their mother. They could not bear their gentle sister, and they made her do all the hard work.

She washed the dishes, and scrubbed the stairs. She swept the floor in my lady's chamber, and took care of the rooms of the two pert misses. They slept on soft beds in fine rooms, and had tall looking-glasses, so that they could admire themselves from top to toe. She lay on an old straw sack in the garret.

She bore all this without complaint. She did her work, and then sat in the corner among the ashes and cinders. So her two sisters gave her the name of Cinderella or the cinder-maid. But Cinderella was really much more beautiful than they; and she surely was more sweet and gentle.

Now the king's son gave a ball, and he invited all the rich and the grand. Cinderella's two sisters were fine ladies; they were to go to the ball. Perhaps they would even dance with the prince. So they had new gowns made, and they looked over all their finery.

Here was fresh work for poor Cinderella. She must starch their ruffles and iron their linen. All day long they talked of nothing but their fine clothes.

"I shall wear my red velvet dress," said the elder, "and trim it with my point lace."

"And I," said the younger sister, "shall wear a silk gown, but I shall wear over it a gold brocade, and I shall put on my diamonds. You have nothing so fine."

Then they began to quarrel over their clothes, and Cinderella tried to make peace between them. She helped them about their dresses, and offered to arrange their hair on the night of the ball.

While she was thus busy, the sisters said to her:—

"And pray, Cinderella, would you like to go to the ball?"

"Nay," said the poor girl; "you are mocking me. It is not for such as I to go to balls."

"True enough," they said. "Folks would laugh to see a cinder-maid at a court ball."

Any one else would have dressed their hair ill to spite them for their rudeness. But Cinderella was good-natured, and only took more pains to make them look well.

The two sisters scarcely ate a morsel for two days before the ball. They wished to look thin and graceful. They lost their tempers over and over, and they spent most of the time before their tall glasses. There they turned and turned to see how they looked behind, and how their long trains hung.

At last the evening came, and off they set in a coach. Cinderella watched them till they were out of sight, and then she sat down by the kitchen fire and began to weep.

All at once her fairy godmother appeared, with her wand.

"What are you crying for, my little maid?"

"I wish—I wish," began the poor girl, but her voice was choked with tears.

"You wish that you could go to the ball?"

Cinderella nodded.

"Well, then, if you will be a good girl, you shall go. Run quick and fetch me a pumpkin from the garden."

Cinderella flew to the garden and brought back the finest pumpkin she could find. She could not guess what use it would be, but the fairy scooped it hollow, and then touched it with her wand. The pumpkin became at once a splendid gilt coach.

"Now fetch me the mouse-trap from the pantry."

In the mouse-trap were six sleek mice. The fairy opened the door, and as they ran out she touched each with her wand, and it became a gray horse. But what was she to do for a coachman?

"We might look for a rat in the rat-trap," said Cinderella.

"That is a good thought. Run and bring the rat-trap, my dear."

Back came Cinderella with the trap. In it were three large rats. The fairy chose one that had long black whiskers, and she made him the coachman.

"Now go into the garden and bring me six lizards. You will find them behind the water-pot."

These were no sooner brought than, lo! with a touch of the wand they were turned into six footmen, who jumped up behind the coach, as if they had done nothing else all their days. Then the fairy said:—

"Here is your coach and six, Cinderella; your coachman and your footmen. Now you can go to the ball."

"What! in these clothes?" and Cinderella looked down at her ragged frock. The fairy laughed, and just touched her with the wand. In a twinkling, her shabby clothes were changed to a dress of gold and silver lace, and on her bare feet were silk stockings and a pair of glass slippers, the prettiest ever seen.

"Now go to the ball, Cinderella; but remember, if you stay one moment after midnight, your coach will instantly become a pumpkin, your horses will be mice, your coachman a rat, and your footmen lizards. And you? You will be once more only a cinder-maid in a ragged frock and with bare feet."

CINDERELLA promised and drove away in high glee. She dashed up to the palace, and her coach was so fine that the king's son came down the steps of the palace to hand out this unknown princess. He led her to the hall where all the guests were dancing.

The moment she appeared all voices were hushed, the music stopped, and the dancers stood still. Such a beautiful princess had never been seen! Even the king, old as he was, turned to the queen and said:—

"She is the most beautiful being I ever saw—since I first saw you!"

As for the ladies of the court, they were all busy looking at Cinderella's clothes. They meant to get some just like them the very next day, if possible.

The prince led Cinderella to the place of highest rank, and asked her hand for the next dance. She danced with so much grace that he admired her more and more. Supper was brought in, but the prince could not keep his eyes off the beautiful stranger. Cinderella went and sat by her sisters, and shared with them the fruit which the prince gave her. They were very proud to have her by them, for they never dreamed who she really was.

Cinderella was talking with them, when she heard the clock strike the quarter hour before twelve. She went at once to the king and queen, and made them a low courtesy and bade them good-night. The queen said there was to be another ball the next night, and she must come to that. The prince led her down the steps to her coach, and she drove home.

At the house the fairy sat waiting for Cinderella. The maiden began to tell all that had happened, and was in the midst of her story, when a knock was heard at the door. It was the sisters coming home from the ball. The fairy disappeared, and Cinderella went to the door, rubbing her eyes, as if she had just waked from a nap. She was once more a poor little cinder-maid.

"How late you are!" she said, as she opened the door.

"If you had been to the ball, you would not have thought it late," said her sisters. "There came the most beautiful princess that ever was seen. She was very polite to us, and loaded us with oranges and grapes."

"Who was she?" asked Cinderella.

"Nobody knew her name. The prince would give his eyes to know."

"Ah! how I should like to see her," said Cinderella. "Oh, do, my Lady Javotte,"—that was the name of the elder sister,—"lend me the yellow dress that you wear every day, and let me go to the ball and have a peep at the beautiful princess."

"What! lend my yellow gown to a cinder-maid! I am not so silly as that."

Cinderella was not sorry to have Javotte say no; she would have been puzzled to know what to do if her sister had really lent her the dress she begged for.

The next night came, and the sisters again went to the court ball. After they had gone, the fairy came as before and made Cinderella ready.

"Now remember," she said, as the coach drove away, "remember twelve o'clock."

Cinderella was even more splendid than on the first night, and the king's son never left her side. He said so many pretty things that Cinderella could think of nothing else. She forgot the fairy's warning; she forgot her promise. Eleven o'clock came, but she did not notice the striking. The half-hour struck, but the prince grew more charming, and Cinderella could hear nothing but his voice. The last quarter—but still Cinderella sat by the prince.

Then the great clock on the tower struck the first stroke of twelve. Up sprang Cinderella, and fled from the room. The prince started to follow her, but she was too swift for him; in her flight, one of her glass slippers fell from her feet, and he stopped to pick it up.

The last stroke of twelve died away, as Cinderella darted down the steps of the palace. In a twinkling the gay lady was gone; only a shabby cinder-maid was running down the steps. The splendid coach and six, driver and footman,—all were gone; only a pumpkin lay on the ground, and a rat, six mice, and six lizards scampered off.

Cinderella reached home, quite out of breath. She had saved nothing of all her finery but one little glass slipper. The prince had its mate, but he had lost the princess. He asked the soldiers at the palace gate if they had not seen her drive away. No; at that hour only a ragged girl had passed out.

Soon the two sisters came home from the ball, and Cinderella asked them if they had again seen the beautiful lady. Yes; she had been at the ball, but she had left suddenly, and no one knew what had become of her. But the prince would surely find her, for he had one of her glass slippers.

They spoke truly. A few days afterward, the king's son sent a messenger with a trumpet and the slipper through all the city. The messenger sounded his trumpet and shouted that the prince would marry the lady who could wear the glass slipper. So the slipper was first tried on by all the princesses; then by all the duchesses; next by all the persons belonging to the court; but in vain: not one could wear it.

Then it was carried to all the fine houses, and it came at last to the two sisters. They tried with all their might to force a foot into the fairy slipper, but they could not. Cinderella stood by, and said:—

"Suppose I were to try." Her two sisters jeered at her, but the messenger looked at Cinderella. He saw that she was very fair, and, besides, he had orders to try the slipper on the foot of every maiden in the kingdom, if need were.

So he bade Cinderella sit down on a three-legged stool in the kitchen. She put out her little foot, and the slipper fitted like wax. The sisters stood in amaze. Then Cinderella put her hand into her pocket and drew forth the other glass slipper, and put it on her other foot.

The moment that Cinderella did this, the fairy, who stood by unseen, touched her with her wand, and the cinder-maid again became the beautiful, gayly dressed lady. The sisters saw that she was the same one whom they had seen at the ball. They thought how ill they had treated her all these years, and they fell at her feet and asked her to forgive them.

Cinderella was as good now as she had been when she was a cinder-maid. She freely forgave her sisters, and took them to the palace with her, for she was now to be the prince's wife. And when the old king and queen died, the prince and Cinderella became King and Queen.

The end


IN the days of King Alfred a poor woman lived in a country village in England. She had an only son, Jack, who was a good-natured, idle boy. She was too easy with him. She never set him at work, and soon there was nothing left them but their cow. Then the mother began to weep and to think that she had brought up her boy very ill.
"Cruel boy!" she said. "You have at last made me a beggar. I have not money enough to buy a bit of bread. We cannot starve. We must sell the cow, and then what shall we do?"
At first Jack felt very badly and wished he had done better. But soon he began to think what fun it would be to sell the cow. He begged his mother to let him go with the cow to the nearest village. She was not very willing. She did not believe Jack knew enough to sell a cow, but at last she gave him leave.
Off went Jack with the cow. He had not gone far when he met a Butcher.
"Where are you going with your cow?" asked the Butcher.
"I am going to sell it," said Jack. The Butcher held his hat in his hand and shook it. Jack looked into the hat and saw some odd looking beans. The Butcher saw him eye them. He knew how silly Jack was, so he said to him:—
"Well, if you wish to sell your cow, sell her to me. I will give you all these beans for her."
Jack thought this a fine bargain. He gave the Butcher the cow and took the beans. He ran all the way home and could hardly wait to reach the house. He called out to his mother to see what he had got for the cow.
When the poor woman saw only a few beans, she burst into tears. She was so vexed that she threw the beans out of the window. She did not even cook them for supper. They had nothing else to eat, and they went to bed hungry.
Jack awoke early the next morning and thought it very dark. He went to the window and could hardly see out of it, for it was covered with something green. He ran downstairs and into the garden. There he saw a strange sight.
The beans had taken root and shot up toward the clouds. The stalks were as thick as trees, and were wound about each other. It was like a green ladder, and Jack at once wished to climb to the top.
He ran in to tell his mother, but she begged him not to climb the bean-stalk. She did not know what would happen. She was afraid to have him go. Who ever saw such bean-stalks before?
But Jack had set his heart on climbing, and he told his mother not to be afraid. He would soon see what it all meant. So up he climbed. He climbed for hours. He went higher and higher, and at last, quite tired out, he reached the top.
THEN he looked about him. It was all new. He had never seen such a place before. There was not a tree or plant; there was no house or shed. Some stones lay here and there, and there were little piles of earth. He could not see a living person.
Jack sat down on one of the stones. He wished he were at home again. He thought of his mother. He was hungry, and he did not know where to get anything to eat. He walked and walked, and hoped he might see a house.
He saw no house, but at last he saw a lady walking alone. He ran toward her, and when he came near, he pulled off his cap and made a bow. She was a beautiful lady, and she carried in her hand a stick. A peacock of fine gold sat on top of the stick.
The lady smiled and asked Jack how he came there. He told her all about the bean-stalk. Then she said:—
"Do you remember your father?"
"No," said Jack. "I do not know what became of him. When I speak of him to my mother, she cries, but she tells me nothing."
"She dare not," said the lady, "but I will tell you. I am a fairy. I was set to take care of your father, but one day I was careless. So I lost my power for a few years, and just when your father needed me most I could not help him, and he died."
Jack saw that she was very sorry as she told this story, but he begged her to go on.
"I will," she said, "and you may now help your mother. But you must do just as I tell you."
Jack promised.
"Your father was a good, kind man. He had a good wife, he had money, and he had friends. But he had one false friend. This was a Giant. Your father had once helped this Giant, but the Giant was cruel. He killed your father and took all his money. And he told your mother she must never tell you about your father. If she did, then the Giant would kill her and kill you too.
"You were a little child then, and your mother carried you away in her arms. I could not help her at the time, but my power came back to me yesterday. So I made you go off with the cow, and I made you take the beans, and I made you climb the bean-stalk.
"This is the land where the Giant lives. You must find him and rid the world of him. All that he has is yours, for he took it from your father. Now go. You must keep on this road till you see a great house. The Giant lives there. I cannot tell you what you must do next, but I will help you when the time comes. But you must not tell your mother anything."
The fairy disappeared and Jack set out. He walked all day, and when the sun set, he came to the Giant's house. He went up to it and saw a plain woman by the door. This was the Giant's wife. Jack spoke to her and asked her if she would give him something to eat and a place where he could sleep.
"What!" she said. "Do you not know? My husband is a Giant. He is away now, but he will be back soon. Sometimes he walks fifty miles in a day to see if he can find a man or a boy. He eats people. He will eat you if he finds you here."
Jack was in great fear, but he would not give up. He asked the Giant's wife to hide him somewhere in the house. She was a kind woman, so she led him in. They went through a great hall, and then through some large rooms. They came to a dark passage, and went through it. There was a little light, and Jack could see bars of iron at the side. Behind the bars were wretched people. They were the prisoners of the Giant.
Poor Jack thought of his mother and wished himself at home again. He began to think the Giant's wife was as bad as the Giant, and had brought him in to shut him up here. Then he thought of his father and marched boldly on.
They came to a room where a table was set. Jack sat down and began to eat. He was very hungry and soon forgot his fears. But while he was eating, there came a loud knock at the outside door. It was so loud that the whole house shook. The Giant's wife turned pale.
"What shall I do?" she cried. "It is the Giant. He will kill you and kill me too! What shall I do?"
"Hide me in the oven," said Jack. There was no fire under it, and Jack lay in the oven and looked out. The Giant came in and scolded his wife, and then he sat down and ate and drank for a long time. Jack thought he never would finish. At last the Giant leaned back in his chair and called out in a loud voice:—
"Bring me my hen!"
His wife brought a beautiful hen and placed it on the table.
"Lay!" roared the Giant, and the hen laid an egg of solid gold.
"Lay another!" And the hen laid another. So it went on. Each time the hen laid a larger egg than before. The Giant played with the hen for some time. Then he sent his wife to bed, but he sat in his chair. Soon he fell asleep, and then Jack crept out of the oven and seized the hen. He ran out of the house and down the road. He kept on till he came to the bean-stalk, and climbed down to his old home.
JACK'S mother was very glad to see him. She was afraid that he had come to some ill end.
"Not a bit of it, mother," said he. "Look here!" and he showed her the hen. "Lay!" he said to the hen, and the hen laid an egg of gold.
Jack and his mother now had all they needed, for they had only to tell the hen to lay, and she laid her golden egg. They sold the egg and had money enough. But Jack kept thinking of his father, and he longed to make another trial. He had told his mother about the Giant and his wife, but he had said nothing about the fairy and his father.
His mother begged Jack not to climb the bean-stalk again. She said the Giant's wife would be sure to know him, and he never would come back alive. Jack said nothing, but he put on some other clothes and stained his face and hands another color. Then, one morning, he rose early and climbed the bean-stalk a second time.
He went straight to the Giant's house. The Giant's wife was again at the door, but she did not know him. He begged for food and a place to sleep. She told him about the Giant, and then she said:—
"There was once a boy who came just as you have come. I let him in, and he stole the Giant's hen and ran away. Ever since the Giant has been very cruel to me. No, I cannot let you come in."
But Jack begged so hard that at last, she let him in. She led him through the house, and he saw just what he had seen before. She gave him something to eat, and then she hid him in a closet. The Giant came along in his heavy boots. He was so big, that the house shook. He sat by the fire for a time. Then he looked about and said:—
"Wife, I smell fresh meat."
"Yes," she said. "The crows have been flying about. They left some raw meat on top of the house. Then she made haste and got some supper for the Giant. He kept talking about his hen, and was very cross. So it went on as before. The Giant ate and drank. Then he called to his wife:—
"Bring me something. I want to be amused. You let that rascal steal my hen. Bring me something."
"What shall I bring?" she asked meekly.
"Bring me my money-bags; they are as heavy as anything." So she tugged two great bags to the table. One was full of silver and one was full of gold. The Giant sent his wife to bed. Then he untied the strings, emptied his bags, and counted his money. Jack watched him, and said to himself:—
"That is my father's money."
By and by the Giant was tired. He put the money back into the bags and tied the strings. Then he went to sleep. He had a dog to watch his money, but Jack did not see the dog. So when the Giant was sound asleep, Jack came out of the closet and laid hold of the bags.
At this the dog barked, and Jack thought his end had come. But the Giant did not wake, and Jack just then saw a bit of meat. He gave it to the dog, and while the dog was eating it, Jack took the two bags and was off.
IT was two whole days before he could reach the bean-stalk, for the bags were very heavy. Then he climbed down with them. But when he came to his house the door was locked. No one was inside, and he knew not what to do.
After a while he found an old woman who showed him where his mother was. She was very sick in another house. The poor thing had been made ill by Jack's going away. Now that he had come back, she began to get well, and soon she was in her own house again.
Jack said no more about the Giant and the bean-stalk. For three years he lived with his mother. They had money enough, and all seemed well. But Jack could not forget his father. He sat all day before the bean-stalk. His mother tried hard to amuse him, and she tried to find out what he was thinking about. He did not tell her, for he knew all would then go wrong.
At last he could bear it no longer. He had changed in looks now, and he changed himself still more. Then, one bright summer morning, very early in the day, he climbed the bean-stalk once more. The Giant's wife did not know him when he came to the door of the house. He had hard work to make her let him in.
This time he was hidden in the copper boiler. The Giant again came home, and was in a great rage.
"I smell fresh meat!" he cried. His wife could do nothing with him, and he began to go about the room. He looked into the oven, and into the closet, and then he came to the great boiler. Jack felt his heart stop. He thought now his end had come, surely. But the Giant did not lift the lid. He sat down by the fire and had his supper.
When supper was over, the Giant told his wife to bring his harp. Jack peeped out of the copper and saw a most beautiful harp. The Giant placed it on the table, and said:—
Jack never heard such music as the harp played. No hands touched it. It played all by itself. He thought he would rather have the harp than the hen or all the money. By and by the harp played the Giant to sleep. Then Jack crept out and seized the harp. He was running off with it, when some one called loudly:—
"Master! Master!"
It was the harp, but Jack would not let it go. The Giant started up, and saw Jack with the harp running down the road.
"Stop, you rascal!" he shouted. "You stole my hen and my money-bags. Do you steal my harp? I'll catch you, and I'll break every bone in your body!"

"Catch me if you can!" said Jack. He knew he could run faster than the Giant. Off they went, Jack and the harp, and the Giant after them. Jack came to the bean-stalk. The harp was all the while playing music, but now Jack said:—
"Stop!" and the harp stopped playing. He hurried down the bean-stalk with the harp. There sat his mother, by the cottage, weeping.
"Do not cry, mother," he said. "Quick, bring me a hatchet! Make haste!" He knew there was not a minute to spare. The Giant was already coming down. He was half-way down when Jack took his hatchet and cut the bean-stalk down, close to its roots. Over fell the bean-stalk, and down came the Giant upon the ground. He was killed on the spot.
In a moment the fairy was seen. She told Jack's mother everything, and how brave he had been. And that was the end. The bean-stalk never grew again.

The end

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Once upon a time . . . in a great castle, a Prince's daughter grew up happy and contented, in spite of a jealous stepmother. She was very pretty, with blue eyes and long black hair. Her skin was delicate and fair, and so she was called Snow White. Everyone was quite sure she would become very beautiful. Though her stepmother was a wicked woman, she too was very beautiful, and the magic mirror told her this every day, whenever she asked it.
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the loveliest lady in the land?" The reply was always; "You are, your Majesty," until the dreadful day when she heard it say, "Snow White is the loveliest in the land." The stepmother was furious and, wild with jealousy, began plotting to get rid of her rival. Calling one of her trusty servants, she bribed him with a rich reward to take Snow White intc the forest, far away from the Castle. Then, unseen, he was to put her to death. The greedy servant, attracted to the reward, agreed to do this deed, and he led the innocent little girl away. However, when they came to the fatal spot, the man's courage failed him and, leaving Snow White sitting beside a tree, he mumbled an excuse and ran off. Snow White was all alone in the forest.
Night came, but the servant did not return. Snow White, alone in the dark forest, began to cry bitterly. She thought she could feel terrible eyes spying on her, and she heard strange sounds and rustlings that made her heart thump. At last, overcome by tiredness, she fell asleep curled under a tree.
Snow White slept fitfully, wakening from time to time with a start and staring into the darkness round her. Several times, she thought she felt something, or somebody touch her as she slept.
At last, dawn woke the forest to the song of the birds, and Snow White too, awoke. A whole world was stirring to life and the little girl was glad to see how silly her fears had been. However, the thick trees were like a wall round her, and as she tried to find out where she was, she came upon a path. She walked along it, hopefully. On she walked till she came to a clearing. There stood a strange cottage, with a tiny door, tiny windows and a tiny chimney pot. Everything about the cottage was much tinier than it ought to be. Snow White pushed the door open.
"l wonder who lives here?" she said to herself, peeping round the kitchen. "What tiny plates! And spoons! There must be seven of them, the table's laid for seven people." Upstairs was a bedroom with seven neat little beds. Going back to the kitchen, Snow White had an idea.
"I'll make them something to eat. When they come home, they'll be glad to find a meal ready." Towards dusk, seven tiny men marched homewards singing. But when they opened the door, to their surprise they found a bowl of hot steaming soup on the table, and the whole house spick and span. Upstairs was Snow White, fast asleep on one of the beds. The chief dwarf prodded her gently.
"Who are you?" he asked. Snow White told them her sad story, and tears sprang to the dwarfs' eyes. Then one of them said, as he noisily blew his nose:
"Stay here with us!"
"Hooray! Hooray!" they cheered, dancing joyfully round the little girl. The dwarfs said to Snow White:
"You can live here and tend to the house while we're down the mine. Don't worry about your stepmother leaving you in the forest. We love you and we'll take care of you!" Snow White gratefully accepted their hospitality, and next morning the dwarfs set off for work. But they warned Snow White not to open the door to strangers.
Meanwhile, the servant had returned to the castle, with the heart of a roe deer. He gave it to the cruel stepmother, telling her it belonged to Snow White, so that he could claim the reward. Highly pleased, the stepmother turned again to the magic mirror. But her hopes were dashed, for the mirror replied: "The loveliest in the land is still Snow White, who lives in the seven dwarfs' cottage, down in the forest." The stepmother was beside herself with rage.
"She must die! She must die!" she screamed. Disguising herself as an old peasant woman, she put a poisoned apple with the others in her basket. Then, taking the quickest way into the forest, she crossed the swamp at the edge of the trees. She reached the bank unseen, just as Snow White stood waving goodbye to the seven dwarfs on their way to the mine.
Snow White was in the kitchen when she heard the sound at the door: KNOCK! KNOCK!
"Who's there?" she called suspiciously, remembering the dwarfs advice.
"I'm an old peasant woman selling apples," came the reply.
"I don't need any apples, thank you," she replied.
"But they are beautiful apples and ever so juicy!" said the velvety voice from outside the door.
"I'm not supposed to open the door to anyone," said the little girl, who was reluctant to disobey her friends.
"And quite right too! Good girl! If you promised not to open up to strangers, then of course you can't buy. You are a good girl indeed!" Then the old woman went on.
"And as a reward for being good, I'm going to make you a gift of one of my apples!" Without a further thought, Snow White opened the door just a tiny crack, to take the apple.
"There! Now isn't that a nice apple?" Snow White bit into the fruit, and as she did, fell to the ground in a faint: the effect of the terrible poison left her lifeless instantaneously.
Now chuckling evilly, the wicked stepmother hurried off. But as she ran back across the swamp, she tripped and fell into the quicksand. No one heard her cries for help, and she disappeared without a trace.
Meanwhile, the dwarfs came out of the mine to find the sky had grown dark and stormy. Loud thunder echoed through the valleys and streaks of lightning ripped the sky. Worried about Snow White they ran as quickly as they could down the mountain to the cottage.
There they found Snow White, lying still and lifeless, the poisoned apple by her side. They did their best to bring her around, but it was no use.
They wept and wept for a long time. Then they laid her on a bed of rose petals, carried her into the forest and put her in a crystal coffin.
Each day they laid a flower there.
Then one evening, they discovered a strange young man admiring Snow White's lovely face through the glass. After listening to the story, the Prince (for he was a prince!) made a suggestion.
"If you allow me to take her to the Castle, I'll call in famous doctors to waken her from this peculiar sleep. She's so lovely . . . I'd love to kiss her. . . !" He did, and as though by magic, the Prince's kiss broke the spell. To everyone's astonishment, Snow White opened her eyes. She had amazingly come back to life! Now in love, the Prince asked Snow White to marry him, and the dwarfs reluctantly had to say good bye to Snow White.
From that day on, Snow White lived happily in a great castle. But from time to time, she was drawn back to visit the little cottage down in the forest.

The end

The three little pigs

Once upon a time there were three little pigs and the time came for them to leave home and seek their fortunes.
Before they left, their mother told them " Whatever you do , do it the best that you can because that's the way to get along in the world.

The first little pig built his house out of straw because it was the easiest thing to do.
The second little pig built his house out of sticks. This was a little bit stronger than a straw house.
The third little pig built his house out of bricks.
One night the big bad wolf, who dearly loved to eat fat little piggies, came along and saw the first little pig in his house of straw. He said "Let me in, Let me in, little pig or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!"
"Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin", said the little pig.
But of course the wolf did blow the house in and ate the first little pig.
The wolf then came to the house of sticks.
"Let me in ,Let me in little pig or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in" "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin", said the little pig. But the wolf blew that house in too, and ate the second little pig.
The wolf then came to the house of bricks.
" Let me in , let me in" cried the wolf
"Or I'll huff and I'll puff till I blow your house in"
"Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin" said the pigs.
Well, the wolf huffed and puffed but he could not blow down that brick house.
But the wolf was a sly old wolf and he climbed up on the roof to look for a way into the brick house.

The little pig saw the wolf climb up on the roof and lit a roaring fire in the fireplace and placed on it a large kettle of water.
When the wolf finally found the hole in the chimney he crawled down and KERSPLASH right into that kettle of water and that was the end of his troubles with the big bad wolf.
The next day the little pig invited his mother over . She said "You see it is just as I told you. The way to get along in the world is to do things as well as you can." Fortunately for that little pig, he learned that lesson. And he just lived happily ever after!

The end

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

The Leaping Match

The flea, the grasshopper, and the frog once wanted to try which of them could jump highest; so they invited the whole world, and anybody else who liked, to come and see the grand sight. Three famous jumpers were they, as was seen by everyone when they met together in the room.
"I will give my daughter to him who shall jump highest," said the King.
"It would be too bad for you to have the trouble of jumping, and for us to offer you no prize."
The flea was the first to introduce himself. He had very polite manners, and bowed to the company on every side, for he was of noble blood; besides, he was accustomed to the society of man, which had been a great advantage to him.
Next came the grasshopper. He was not quite so slightly and elegantly formed as the flea; however, he knew perfectly well how to conduct himself, and wore a green uniform, which belonged to him by right of birth. Moreover, he declared himself to have sprung from a very ancient and honourable Egyptian family. In his present home he said he was very highly esteemed; so much so, indeed, that he had been taken out of the field where he learned to jump and put into a card house three stories high. This house was built on purpose for him, and all of court-cards, the coloured sides being turned inwards. As for the doors and windows in his house, they were cut out of the body of the Queen of Hearts.
"And I can sing so well," added he, "that sixteen parlour-bred crickets, who have chirped and chirped and chirped ever since they were born, and yet could never get anybody to build them a card house, after hearing me have fretted themselves ten times thinner than ever, out of sheer envy and vexation!"
Both the flea and the grasshopper knew excellently well how to make the most of themselves, and each considered himself quite an equal match for a Princess.
The frog said not a word; however, it might be that he thought the more. The house-dog, after going sniffing about him very carefully, confessed that the frog must be of a good family. And the King's old and trusted councillor, who in vain was ordered three times to hold his tongue, declared that the frog must be gifted with the spirit of prophecy, for that one could read on his back whether there was to be a severe or a mild winter, which, to be sure, is more than can be read on the back of the man who writes the weather almanac.
"Ah! I say nothing for the present," remarked the old King, "but I observe everything, and form my own private opinion. Let them show us what they can do."
And now the match began.
The flea jumped so high that no one could see what had become of him, and so they insisted that he had not jumped at all, "which was disgraceful, after he had made such a fuss!"
The grasshopper only jumped half as high, but unfortunately he jumped right into the King's face, and the King declared he was quite disgusted by his rudeness.
The frog stood still as if lost in thought; at last people fancied he did not intend to jump at all.
"I'm afraid he is ill!" said the dog; and he went sniffing at him again to see if he could find out what was wrong, when lo! All at once the frog made a little sidelong jump into the lap of the Princess, who was sitting on a low stool close by.
Then the King gave his judgment.
"There is nothing higher than my daughter," said he, "therefore it is plain that he who jumps up to her jumps highest; but only a person of good understanding would ever have thought of that, so the frog has shown us that he has understanding. He has brains in his head, that he has!" And thus the frog won the Princess.
"I jumped highest for all that!" exclaimed the flea. "But it's all the same to me, let her have the stiff-legged, slimy creature, if she like him! I jumped highest, but I am too light and airy for this stupid world; the people can neither see me nor catch me; dulness and heaviness win the day with them!"
And so the flea went away and fought in foreign wars, where, it is said, he was killed.
As for the grasshopper, he sat on a green bank, meditating on the world and its strange goings on, and at length he repeated the flea's last words. "Yes," he said, "dullness and heaviness win the day! Dullness and heaviness win day!" And then he again began singing his own peculiar, melancholy song, and it is from him that we have learnt this strange history.

The end

Hounds of the Baskervilles - Chapter 15

A Retrospection

It was the end of November, and Holmes and I sat, upon a raw and foggy night, on either side of a blazing fire in our sitting- room in Baker Street. Since the tragic upshot of our visit to Devonshire he had been engaged in two affairs of the utmost importance, in the first of which he had exposed the atrocious conduct of Colonel Upwood in connection with the famous card scandal of the Nonpareil Club, while in the second he had defended the unfortunate Mme. Montpensier from the charge of murder which hung over her in connection with the death of her step-daughter, Mlle. Carere, the young lady who, as it will be remembered, was found six months later alive and married in New York. My friend was in excellent spirits over the success which had attended a succession of difficult and important cases, so that I was able to induce him to discuss the details of the Baskerville mystery. I had waited patiently for the opportunity for I was aware that he would never permit cases to overlap, and that his clear and logical mind would not be drawn from its present work to dwell upon memories of the past. Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer were, however, in London, on their way to that long voyage which had been recommended for the restoration of his shattered nerves. They had called upon us that very after- noon, so that it was natural that the subject should come up for discussion. "The whole course of events," said Holmes, "from the point of view of the man who called himself Stapleton was simple and direct, although to us, who had no means in the beginning of knowing the motives of his actions and could only learn part of the facts, it all appeared exceedingly complex. I have had the advantage of two conversations with Mrs. Stapleton, and the case has now been so entirely cleared up that I am not aware that there is anything which has remained a secret to us. You will find a few notes upon the matter under the heading B in my indexed list of cases." "Perhaps you would kindly give me a sketch of the course of events from memory." "Certainly, though I cannot guarantee that I carry all the facts in my mind. Intense mental concentration has a curious way of blotting out what has passed. The barrister who has his case at his fingers' ends and is able to argue with an expert upon his own subject finds that a week or two of the courts will drive it all out of his head once more. So each of my cases displaces the last, and Mlle. Carere has blurred my recollection of Baskerville Hall. To-morrow some other little problem may be submitted to my notice which will in turn dispossess the fair French lady and the infamous Upwood. So far as the case of the hound goes, however, I will give you the course of events as nearly as I can, and you will suggest anything which I may have forgotten. "My inquiries show beyond all question that the family por- trait did not lie, and that this fellow was indeed a Baskerville. He was a son of that Rodger Baskerville, the younger brother of Sir Charles, who fled with a sinister reputation to South America, where he was said to have died unmarried. He did, as a matter of fact, marry, and had one child, this fellow, whose real name is the same as his father's. He married Beryl Garcia, one of the beauties of Costa Rica, and, having purloined a considerable sum of public money, he changed his name to Vandeleur and fled to England, where he established a school in the east of Yorkshire. His reason for attempting this special line of business was that he had struck up an acquaintance with a consumptive tutor upon the voyage home, and that he had used this man's ability to make the undertaking a success. Fraser, the tutor, died however, and the school which had begun well sank from disre- pute into infamy. The Vandeleurs found it convenient to change their name to Stapleton, and he brought the remains of his fortune, his schemes for the future, and his taste for entomology to the south of England. I learned at the British Museum that he was a recognized authority upon the subject, and that the name of Vandeleur has been permanently attached to a certain moth which he had, in his Yorkshire days, been the first to describe. "We now come to that portion of his life which has proved to be of such intense interest to us. The fellow had evidently made inquiry and found that only two lives intervened between him and a valuable estate. When he went to Devonshire his plans were, I believe, exceedingly hazy, but that he meant mischief from the first is evident from the way in which he took his wife with him in the character of his sister. The idea of using her as a decoy was clearly already in his mind, though he may not have been certain how the details of his plot were to be arranged. He meant in the end to have the estate, and he was ready to use any tool or run any risk for that end. His first act was to establish himself as near to his ancestral home as he could, and his second was to cultivate a friendship with Sir Charles Baskerville and with the neighbours. "The baronet himself told him about the family hound, and so prepared the way for his own death. Stapleton, as I will continue to call him, knew that the old man's heart was weak and that a shock would kill him. So much he had learned from Dr. Morti- mer. He had heard also that Sir Charles was superstitious and had taken this grim legend very seriously. His ingenious mind instantly suggested a way by which the baronet could be done to death, and yet it would be hardly possible to bring home the guilt to the real murderer. "Having conceived the idea he proceeded to carry it out with considerable finesse. An ordinary schemer would have been content to work with a savage hound. The use of artificial means to make the creature diabolical was a flash of genius upon his part. The dog he bought in London from Ross and Mangles, the dealers in Fulham Road. It was the strongest and most savage in their possession. He brought it down by the North Devon line and walked a great distance over the moor so as to get it home without exciting any remarks. He had already on his insect hunts learned to penetrate the Grimpen Mire, and so had found a safe hiding-place for the creature. Here he kennelled it and waited his chance. "But it was some time coming. The old gentleman could not be decoyed outside of his grounds at night. Several times Stapleton lurked about with his hound, but without avail. It was during these fruitless quests that he, or rather his ally, was seen by peasants, and that the legend of the demon dog received a new confirmation. He had hoped that his wife might lure Sir Charles to his ruin, but here she proved unexpectedly independent. She would not endeavour to entangle the old gentleman in a senti- mental attachment which might deliver him over to his enemy. Threats and even, I am sorry to say, blows refused to move her. She would have nothing to do with it, and for a time Stapleton was at a deadlock. "He found a way out of his difficulties through the chance that Sir Charles, who had conceived a friendship for him, made him the minister of his charity in the case of this unfortunate woman, Mrs. Laura Lyons. By representing himself as a single man he acquired complete influence over her, and he gave her to understand.that in the event of her obtaining a divorce from her husband he would marry her. His plans were suddenly brought to a head by his knowledge that Sir Charles was about to leave the Hall on the advice of Dr. Mortimer, with whose opinion he himself pretended to coincide. He must act at once, or his victim might get beyond his power. He therefore put pressure upon Mrs. Lyons to write this letter, imploring the old man to give her an interview on the evening before his departure for London. He then, by a specious argument, prevented her from going, and so had the chance for which he had waited. "Driving back in the evening from Coombe Tracey he was in time to get his hound, to treat it with his infernal paint, and to bring the beast round to the gate at which he had reason to expect that he would find the old gentleman waiting. The dog, incited by its master, sprang over the wicket-gate and pursued the unfortunate baronet, who fled screaming down the yew alley. In that gloomy tunnel it must indeed have been a dreadful sight to see that huge black creature, with its flaming jaws and blazing eyes, bounding after its victim. He fell dead at the end of the alley from heart disease and terror. The hound had kept upon the grassy border while the baronet had run down the path, so that no track but the man's was visible. On seeing him lying still the creature had probably approached to sniff at him, but finding him dead had turned away again. It was then that it left the print which was actually observed by Dr. Mortimer. The hound was called off and hurried away to its lair in the Grimpen Mire, and a mystery was left which puzzled the authorities, alarmed the countryside, and finally brought the case within the scope of our observation. "So much for the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. You perceive the devilish cunning of it, for really it would be almost impossible to make a case against the real murderer. His only accomplice was one who could never give him away, and the grotesque, inconceivable nature of the device only served to make it more effective. Both of the women concerned in the case, Mrs. Stapleton and Mrs. Laura Lyons, were left with a strong suspicion against Stapleton. Mrs. Stapleton knew that he had designs upon the old man, and also of the existence of the hound. Mrs. Lyons knew neither of these things, but had been impressed by the death occurring at the time of an uncancelled appointment which was only known to him. However, both of them were under his influence, and he had nothing to fear from them. The first half of his task was successfully accomplished but the more difficult still remained. "It is possible that Stapleton did not know of the existence of an heir in Canada. In any case he would very soon learn it from his friend Dr. Mortimer, and he was told by the latter all details about the arrival of Henry Baskerville. Stapleton's first idea was that this young stranger from Canada might possibly be done to death in London without coming down to Devonshire at all. He distrusted his wife ever since she had refused to help him in laying a trap for the old man, and he dared not leave her long out of his sight for fear he should lose his influence over her. It was for this reason that he took her to London with him. They lodged, I find, at the Mexborough Private Hotel, in Craven Street, which was actually one of those called upon by my agent in search of evidence. Here he kept his wife imprisoned in her room while he, disguised in a beard, followed Dr. Mortimer to Baker Street and afterwards to the station and to the North- umberland Hotel. His wife had some inkling of his plans; but she had such a fear of her husband -- a fear founded upon brutal ill-treatment -- that she dare not write to warn the man whom she knew to be in danger. If the letter should fall into Stapleton's hands her own life would not be safe. Eventually, as we know, she adopted the expedient of cutting out the words which would form the message, and addressing the letter in a disguised hand. It reached the baronet, and gave him the first warning of his danger. "It was very essential for Stapleton to get some article of Sir Henry's attire so that, in case he was driven to use the dog, he might always have the means of setting him upon his track. With characteristic promptness and audacity he set about this at once, and we cannot doubt that the boots or chamber-maid of the hotel was well bribed to help him in his design. By chance, however, the first boot which was procured for him was a new one and, therefore, useless for his purpose. He then had it returned and obtained another -- a most instructive incident, since it proved conclusively to my mind that we were dealing with a real hound, as no other supposition could explain this anxiety to obtain an old boot and this indifference to a new one. The more outre and grotesque an incident is the more carefully it deserves to be examined, and the very point which appears to complicate a case is, when duly considered and scientifically handled, the one which is most likely to elucidate it. "Then we had the visit from our friends next morning, shad- owed always by Stapleton in the cab. From his knowledge of our rooms and of my appearance, as well as from his general con- duct, I am inclined to think that Stapleton's career of crime has been by no means limited to this single Baskerville affair. It is suggestive that during the last three years there have been four considerable burglaries in the west country, for none of which was any criminal ever arrested. The last of these, at Folkestone Court, in May, was remarkable for the cold-blooded pistolling of the page, who surprised the masked and solitary burglar. I cannot doubt that Stapleton recruited his waning resources in this fashion, and that for years he has been a desperate and dangerous man. "We had an example of his readiness of resource that morning when he got away from us so successfully, and also of his audacity in sending back my own name to me through the cabman. From that moment he understood that I had taken over the case in London, and that therefore there was no chance for him there. He returned to Dartmoor and awaited the arrival of the baronet." "One moment!" said I. "You have, no doubt, described the sequence of events correctly, but there is one point which you have left unexplained. What became of the hound when its master was in London?" "I have given some attention to this matter and it is undoubt- edly of importance. There can be no question that Stapleton had a confidant, though it is unlikely that he ever placed himself in his power by sharing all his plans with him. There was an old manservant at Merripit House, whose name was Anthony. His connection with the Stapletons can be traced for several years, as far back as the schoolmastering days, so that he must have been aware that his master and mistress were really husband and wife. This man has disappeared and has escaped from the country. It is suggestive that Anthony is not a common name in England, while Antonio is so in all Spanish or Spanish-American coun- tries. The man, like Mrs. Stapleton herself, spoke good English, but with a curious lisping accent. I have myself seen this old man cross the Grimpen Mire by the path which Stapleton had marked out. It is very probable, therefore, that in the absence of his master it was he who cared for the hound, though he may never have known the purpose for which the beast was used. "The Stapletons then went down to Devonshire, whither they were soon followed by Sir Henry and you. One word now as to how I stood myself at that time. It may possibly recur to your memory that when I examined the paper upon which the printed words were fastened I made a close inspection for the water- mark. In doing so I held it within a few inches of my eyes, and was conscious of a faint smell of the scent known as white jessamine. There are seventy-five perfumes, which it is very necessary that a criminal expert should be able to distinguish from each other, and cases have more than once within my own experience depended upon their prompt recognition. The scent suggested the presence of a lady, and already my thoughts began to turn towards the Stapletons. Thus I had made certain of the hound, and had guessed at the criminal before ever we went to the west country. "It was my game to watch Stapleton. It was evident, how- ever, that I could not do this if I were with you, since he would be keenly on his guard. I deceived everybody, therefore, your- self included, and I came down secretly when I was supposed to be in London. My hardships were not so great as you imagined, though such trifling details must never interfere with the investi- gation of a case. I stayed for the most part at Coombe Tracey, and only used the hut upon the moor when it was necessary to be near the scene of action. Cartwright had come down with me, and in his disguise as a country boy he was of great assistance to me. I was dependent upon him for food and clean linen. When I was watching Stapleton, Cartwright was frequently watching you, so that I was able to keep my hand upon all the strings. "I have already told you that your reports reached me rapidly, being forwarded instantly from Baker Street to Coombe Tracey. They were of great service to me, and especially that one inci- dentally truthful piece of biography of Stapleton's. I was able to establish the identity of the man and the woman and knew at last exactly how I stood. The case had been considerably compli- cated through the incident of the escaped convict and the rela- tions between him and the Barrymores. This also you cleared up in a very effective way, though I had already come to the same conclusions from my own observations. "By the time that you discovered me upon the moor I had a complete knowledge of the whole business, but I had not a case which could go to a jury. Even Stapleton's attempt upon Sir Henry that night which ended in the death of the unfortunate convict did not help us much in proving murder against our man. There seemed to be no alternative but to catch him red-handed, and to do so we had to use Sir Henry, alone and apparently unprotected, as a bait. We did so, and at the cost of a severe shock to our client we succeeded in completing our case and driving Stapleton to his destruction. That Sir Henry should have been exposed to this is, I must confess, a reproach to my management of the case, but we had no means of foreseeing the terrible and paralyzing spectacle which the beast presented, nor could we predict the fog which enabled him to burst upon us at such short notice. We succeeded in our object at a cost which both the specialist and Dr. Mortimer assure me will be a tempo- rary one. A long journey may enable our friend to recover not only from his shattered nerves but also from his wounded feel- ings. His love for the lady was deep and sincere, and to him the saddest part of all this black business was that he should have been deceived by her. "It only remains to indicate the part which she had played throughout. There can be no doubt that Stapleton exercised an influence over her which may have been love or may have been fear, or very possibly both, since they are by no means incom- patible emotions. It was, at least, absolutely effective. At his command she consented to pass as his sister, though he found the limits of his power over her when he endeavoured to make her the direct accessory to murder. She was ready to warn Sir Henry so far as she could without implicating her husband, and again and again she tried to do so. Stapleton himself seems to have been capable of jealousy, and when he saw the baronet paying court to the lady, even though it was part of his own plan, still he could not help interrupting with a passionate out- burst which revealed the fiery soul which his self-contained manner so cleverly concealed. By encouraging the intimacy he made it certain that Sir Henry would frequently come to Merripit House and that he would sooner or later get the opportunity which he desired. On the day of the crisis, however, his wife turned suddenly against him. She had learned something of the death of the convict, and she knew that the hound was being kept in the outhouse on the evening that Sir Henry was coming to dinner. She taxed her husband with his intended crime, and a furious scene followed in which he showed her for the first time that she had a rival in his love. Her fidelity turned in an instant to bitter hatred, and he saw that she would betray him. He tied her up, therefore, that she might have no chance of warning Sir Henry, and he hoped, no doubt, that when the whole countryside put down the baronet's death to the curse of his family, as they certainly would do, he could win his wife back to accept an accomplished fact and to keep silent upon what she knew. In this I fancy that in any case he made a miscalculation, and that, if we had not been there, his doom would none the less have been sealed. A woman of Spanish blood does not condone such an irjury so lightly. And now, my dear Watson, without referring to my notes, I cannot give you a more detailed account of this curious case. I do not know that anything essential has been left unexplained." "He could not hope to frighten Sir Henry to death as he had done the old uncle with his bogie hound." "The beast was savage and half-starved. If its appearance did not frighten its victim to death, at least it would paralyze the resistance which might be offered." "No doubt. There only remains one difficulty. If Stapleton came into the succession, how could he explain the fact that he, the heir, had been living unannounced under another name so close to the property? How could he claim it without causing suspicion and inquiry?" "It is a fomlidable difficulty, and I fear that you ask too much when you expect me to solve it. The past and the present are within the field of my inquiry, but what a man may do in the future is a hard question to answer. Mrs. Stapleton has heard her husband discuss the problem on several occasions. There were three possible courses. He might claim the property from South America, establish his identity before the British authorities there and so obtain the fortune without ever coming to England at all, or he might adopt an elaborate disguise during the short time that he need be in London; or, again, he might furnish an accomplice with the proofs and papers, putting him in as heir, and retaining a claim upon some proportion of his income. We cannot doubt from what we know of him that he would have found some way out of the difficulty. And now, my dear Watson, we have had some weeks of severe work, and for one evening, I think, we may turn our thoughts into more pleasant channels. I have a box for 'Les Huguenots.' Have you heard the De Reszkes? Might I trouble you then to be ready in half an hour, and we can stop at Marcini's for a little dinner on the way?"

The end

Hounds of the Baskervilles - Chapter 14

The Hound of the Baskervilles

One of Sherlock Holmes's defects -- if, indeed, one may call it a defect -- was that he was exceedingly loath to communicate his full plans to any other person until the instant of their fulfilment. Partly it came no doubt from his own masterful nature, which loved to dominate and surprise those who were around him. Partly also from his professional caution, which urged him never to take any chances. The result, however, was very trying for those who were acting as his agents and assistants. I had often suffered under it, but never more so than during that long drive in the darkness. The great ordeal was in front of us; at last we were about to make our final effort, and yet Holmes had said nothing, and I could only surmise what his course of action would be. My nerves thrilled with anticipation when at last the cold wind upon our faces and the dark, void spaces on either side of the narrow road told me that we were back upon the moor once again. Every stride of the horses and every turn of the wheels was taking us nearer to our supreme adventure. Our conversation was hampered by the presence of the driver of the hired wagonette, so that we were forced to talk of trivial matters when our nerves were tense with emotion and anticipa- tion. It was a relief to me, after that unnatural restraint, when we at last passed Frankland's house and knew that we were drawing near to the Hall and to the scene of action. We did not drive up to the door but got down near the gate of the avenue. The wagonette was paid off and ordered to return to Coombe Tracey forthwith, while we started to walk to Merripit House. "Are you armed, Lestrade?" The little detective smiled. "As long as I have my trousers I have a hip-pocket, and as long as I have my hip-pocket I have something in it." "Good! My friend and I are also ready for emergencies." "You're mighty close about this affair, Mr. Holmes. What's the game now?" "A waiting game." "My word, it does not seem a very cheerful place," said the detective with a shiver, glancing round him at the gloomy slopes of the hill and at the huge lake of fog which lay over the Grimpen Mire. "I see the lights of a house ahead of us." "That is Merripit House and the end of our journey. I must request you to walk on tiptoe and not to talk above a whisper." We moved cautiously along the track as if we were bound for the house, but Holmes halted us when we were about two hundred yards from it. "This will do," said he. "These rocks upon the right make an admirable screen." "We are to wait here?" "Yes, we shall make our little ambush here. Get into this hollow, Lestrade. You have been inside the house, have you not, Watson? Can you tell the position of the rooms? What are those latticed windows at this end?" "I think they are the kitchen windows." "And the one beyond, which shines so brightly?" "That is certainly the dining-room." "The blinds are up. You know the lie of the land best. Creep forward quietly and see what they are doing -- but for heaven's sake don't let them know that they are watched!" I tiptoed down the path and stooped behind the low wall which surrounded the stunted orchard. Creeping in its shadow I reached a point whence I could look straight through the uncurtained window. There were only two men in the room, Sir Henry and Stapleton. They sat with their profiles towards me on either side of the round table. Both of them were smoking cigars, and coffee and wine were in front of them. Stapleton was talking with anima- tion, but the baronet looked pale and distrait. Perhaps the thought of that lonely walk across the ill-omened moor was weighing heavily upon his mind. As I watched them Stapleton rose and left the room, while Sir Henry filled his glass again and leaned back in his chair, puffing at his cigar. I heard the creak of a door and the crisp sound of boots upon gravel. The steps passed along the path on the other side of the wall under which I crouched. Looking over, I saw the naturalist pause at the door of an out-house in the corner of the orchard. A key turned in a lock, and as he passed in there was a curious scuffling noise from within. He was only a minute or so inside, and then I heard the key turn once more and he passed me and reentered the house. I saw him rejoin his guest, and I crept quietly back to where my companions were waiting to tell them what I had seen. "You say, Watson, that the lady is not there?" Holmes asked when I had finished my report. "No." "Where can she be, then, since there is no light in any other room except the kitchen?" "I cannot think where she is." I have said that over the great Grimpen Mire there hung a dense, white fog. It was drifting slowly in our direction and banked itself up like a wall on that side of us, low but thick and well defined. The moon shone on it, and it looked like a great shimmering ice-field, with the heads of the distant tors as rocks borne upon its surface. Holmes's face was turned towards it, and he muttered impatiently as he watched its sluggish drift. "It's moving towards us, Watson." "Is that serious?" "Very serious, indeed -- the one thing upon earth which could have disarranged my plans. He can't be very long, now. It is already ten o'clock. Our success and even his life may depend upon his coming out before the fog is over the path." The night was clear and fine above us. The stars shone cold and bright, while a half-moon bathed the whole scene in a soft, uncertain light. Before us lay the dark bulk of the house, its serrated roof and bristling chimneys hard outlined against the silver-spangled sky. Broad bars of golden light from the lower windows stretched across the orchard and the moor. One of them was suddenly shut off. The servants had left the kitchen. There only remained the lamp in the dining-room where the two men, the muderous host and the unconscious guest, still chatted over their cigars. Every minute that white woolly plain which covered one-half of the moor was drifting closer and closer to the house. Already the first thin wisps of it were curling across the golden square of the lighted window. The farther wall of the orchard was already invisible, and the trees were standing out of a swirl of white vapour. As we watched it the fog-wreaths came crawling round both corners of the house and rolled slowly into one dense bank on which the upper floor and the roof floated like a strange ship upon a shadowy sea. Holmes struck his hand passionately upon the rock in front of us and stamped his feet in his impatience. "If he isn't out in a quarter of an hour the path will be covered. In half an hour we won't be able to see our hands in front of us." "Shall we move farther back upon higher ground?" "Yes, I think it would be as well." So as the fog-bank flowed onward we fell back before it until we were half a mile from the house, and still that dense white sea, with the moon silvering its upper edge, swept slowly and inexorably on. "We are going too far," said Holmes. "We dare not take the chance of his being overtaken before he can reach us. At all costs we must hold our ground where we are." He dropped on his knees and clapped his ear to the ground. "Thank God, I think that I hear him coming." A sound of quick steps broke the silence of the moor. Crouch- ing among the stones we stared intently at the silver-tipped bank in front of us. The steps grew louder, and through the fog, as through a curtain, there stepped the man whom we were await- ing. He looked round him in surprise as he emerged into the clear, starlit night. Then he came swiftly along the path, passed close to where we lay, and went on up the long slope behind us. As he walked he glanced continually over either shoulder, like a man who is ill at ease. "Hist!" cried Holmes, and I heard the sharp click of a cock- ing pistol. "Look out! It's coming!" There was a thin, crisp, continuous patter from somewhere in the heart of that crawling bank. The cloud was within fifty yards of where we lay, and we glared at it, all three, uncertain what horror was about to break from the heart of it. I was at Holmes's elbow, and I glanced for an instant at his face. It was pale and exultant, his eyes shining brightly in the moonlight. But sud- denly they started forward in a rigid, fixed stare, and his lips parted in amazement. At the same instant Lestrade gave a yell of terror and threw himself face downward upon the ground. I sprang to my feet, my inert hand grasping my pistol, my mind paralyzed by the dreadful shape which had sprung out upon us from the shadows of the fog. A hound it was, an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smouldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in flickering flame. Never in the delirious dream of a disordered brain could anything more savage, more appalling, more hellish be conceived than that dark form and savage face which broke upon us out of the wall of fog. With long bounds the huge black creatwe was leaping down the track, following hard upon the footsteps of our friend. So paralyzed were we by the apparition that we allowed him to pass before we had recovered our nerve. Then Holmes and I both fired together, and the creature gave a hideous howl, which showed that one at least had hit him. He did not pause, however, but bounded onward. Far away on the path we saw Sir Henry looking back, his face white in the moonlight, his hands raised in horror, glaring helplessly at the frightful thing which was hunt- ing him down. But that cry of pain from the hound had blown all our fears to the winds. If he was vulnerable he was mortal, and if we could wound him we could kill him. Never have I seen a man run as Holmes ran that night. I am reckoned fleet of foot, but he outpaced me as much as I outpaced the little professional. In front of us as we flew up the track we heard scream after scream from Sir Henry and the deep roar of the hound. I was in time to see the beast spring upon its victim, hurl him to the ground, and worry at his throat. But the next instant Holmes had emptied five barrels of his revolver into the creature's flank. With a last howl of agony and a vicious snap in the air, it rolled upon its back, four feet pawing furiously, and then fell limp upon its side. I stooped, panting, and pressed my pistol to the dreadful, shimmering head, but it was useless to press the trigger. The giant hound was dead. Sir Henry lay insensible where he had fallen. We tore away his collar, and Holmes breathed a prayer of gratitude when we saw. that there was no sign of a wound and that the rescue had been in time. Already our friend's eyelids shivered and he made a feeble effort to move. Lestrade thrust his brandy-flask between the baronet's teeth, and two frightened eyes were looking up at us. "My God!" he whispered. "What was it? What, in heaven's name, was it?" "It's dead, whatever it is," said Holmes. "We've laid the family ghost once and forever." In mere size and strength it was a terrible creature which was lying stretched before us. It was not a pure bloodhound and it was not a pure mastiff; but it appeared to be a combination of the two -- gaunt, savage, and as large as a small lioness. Even now in the stillness of death, the huge jaws seemed to be dripping with a bluish flame and the small, deep-set, cruel eyes were ringed with fire. I placed my hand upon the glowing muzzle, and as I held them up my own fingers smouldered and gleamed in the darkness. "Phosphorus," I said. "A cunning preparation of it," said Holmes, sniffing at the dead animal. "There is no smell which might have interfered with his power of scent. We owe you a deep apology, Sir Henry, for having exposed you to this fright. I was prepared for a hound, but not for such a creature as this. And the fog gave us little time to receive him." "You have saved my life." "Having first endangered it. Are you strong enough to stand?" "Give me another mouthful of that brandy and I shall be ready for anything. So! Now, if you will help me up. What do you propose to do?" "To leave you here. You are not fit for further adventures to-night. If you will wait, one or other of us will go back with you to the Hall." He tried to stagger to his feet; but he was still ghastly pale and trembling in every limb. We helped him to a rock, where he sat shivering with his face buried in his hands. "We must leave you now," said Holmes. "The rest of our work must be done, and every moment is of importance. We have our case, and now we only want our man. "It's a thousand to one against our finding him at the house," he continued as we retraced our steps swiftly down the path. "Those shots must have told him that the game was up." "We were some distance off, and this fog may have deadened them." "He followed the hound to call him off -- of that you may be certain. No, no, he's gone by this time! But we'll search the house and make sure." The front door was open, so we rushed in and hurried from room to room to the amazement of a doddering old manservant, who met us in the passage. There was no light save in the dining-room, but Holmes caught up the lamp and left no corner of the house unexplored. No sign could we see of the man whom we were chasing. On the upper floor, however, one of the bedroom doors was locked. "There's someone in here," cried Lestrade. "I can hear a movement. Open this door!" A faint moaning and rustling came from within. Holmes struck the door just over the lock with the flat of his foot and it flew open. Pistol in hand, we all three rushed into the room. But there was no sign within it of that desperate and defiant villain whom we expected to see. Instead we were faced by an object so strange and so unexpected that we stood for a moment staring at it in amazement. The room had been fashioned into a small museum, and the walls were lined by a number of glass-topped cases full of that collection of butterflies and moths the formation of which had been the relaxation of this complex and dangerous man. In the centre of this room there was an upright beam, which had been placed at some period as a support for the old worm-eaten baulk of timber which spanned the roof. To this post a figure was tied, so swathed and muffled in the sheets which had been used to secure it that one could not for the moment tell whether it was that of a man or a woman. One towel passed round the throat and was secured at the back of the pillar. Another covered the lower part of the face, and over it two dark eyes -- eyes full of grief and shame and a dreadful questioning -- stared back at us. In a minute we had torn off the gag, unswathed the bonds, and Mrs. Stapleton sank upon the floor in front of us. As her beautiful head fell upon her chest I saw the clear red weal of a whiplash across her neck. "The brute!" cried Holmes. "Here, Lestrade, your brandy- bottle! Put her in the chair! She has fainted from ill-usage and exhaustion." She opened her eyes again. "Is he safe?" she asked. "Has he escaped?" "He cannot escape us, madam." "No, no, I did not mean my husband. Sir Henry? Is he safe?" "Yes." "And the hound?" "It is dead." She gave a long sigh of satisfaction. "Thank God! Thank God! Oh, this villain! See how he has treated me!" She shot her arms out from her sleeves, and we saw with horror that they were all mottled with bruises. "But this is nothing -- nothing! It is my mind and soul that he has tortured and defiled. I could endure it all, ill-usage, solitude, a life of deception, everything, as long as I could still cling to the hope that I had his love, but now I know that in this also I have been his dupe and his tool." She broke into passionate sobbing as she spoke. "You bear him no good will, madam," said Holmes. "Tell us then where we shall find him. If you have ever aided him in evil, help us now and so atone." "There is but one place where he can have fled," she an- swered. "There is an old tin mine on an island in the heart of the mire. It was there that he kept his hound and there also he had made preparations so that he might have a refuge. That is where he would fly." The fog-bank lay like white wool against the window. Holmes held the lamp towards it. "See," said he. "No one could find his way into the Grimpen Mire to-night." She laughed and clapped her hands. Her eyes and teeth gleamed with fierce merriment "He may find his way in, but never out," she cried. "How can he see the guiding wands to-night? We planted them to- gether, he and I, to mark the pathway through the mire. Oh, if I could only have plucked them out to-day. Then indeed you would have had him at your mercy!" It was evident to us that all pursuit was in vain until the fog had lifted. Meanwhile we left Lestrade in possession of the house while Holmes and I went back with the baronet to Baskerville Hall. The story of the Stapletons could no longer be withheld from him, but he took the blow bravely when he learned the truth about the woman whom he had loved. But the shock of the night's adventures had shattered his nerves, and before morning he lay delirious in a high fever under the care of Dr. Mortimer. The two of them were destined to travel together round the world before Sir Henry had become once more the hale, hearty man that he had been before he became master of that ill-omened estate.
And now I come rapidly to the conclusion of this singular narrative, in which I have tried to make the reader share those dark fears and vague surmises which clouded our lives so long and ended in so tragic a manner. On the morning after the death of the hound the fog had lifted and we were guided by Mrs. Stapleton to the point where they had found a pathway through the bog. It helped us to realize the horror of this woman's life when we saw the eagerness and joy with which she laid us on her husband's track. We left her standing upon the thin peninsula of firm, peaty soil which tapered out into the widespread bog. From the end of it a small wand planted here and there showed where the path zigzagged from tuft to tuft of rushes among those green-scummed pits and foul quagmires which barred the way to the stranger. Rank reeds and lush, slimy water-plants sent an odour of decay and a heavy miasmatic vapour onto our faces, while a false step plunged us more than once thigh-deep into the dark, quivering mire, which shook for yards in soft undulations around our feet. Its tenacious grip plucked at our heels as we walked, and when we sank into it it was as if some malignant hand was tugging us down into those obscene depths, so grim and purposeful was the clutch in which it held us. Once only we saw a trace that someone had passed that perilous way before us. From amid a tuft of cotton grass which bore it up out of the slime some dark thing was projecting. Holmes sank to his waist as he stepped from the path to seize it, and had we not been there to drag him out he could never have set his foot upon firm land again. He held an old black boot in the air. "Meyers, Toronto," was printed on the leather inside. "It is worth a mud bath," said he. "It is our friend Sir Henry's missing boot." "Thrown there by Stapleton in his flight." "Exactly. He retained it in his hand after using it to set the hound upon the track. He fled when he knew the game was up, still clutching it. And he hurled it away at this point of his flight. We know at least that he came so far in safety." But more than that we were never destined to know, though there was much which we might surmise. There was no chance of finding footsteps in the mire, for the rising mud oozed swiftly in upon them, but as we at last reached firmer ground beyond the morass we all looked eagerly for them. But no slightest sign of them ever met our eyes. If the earth told a true story, then Stapleton never reached that island of refuge towards which he struggled through the fog upon that last night. Somewhere in the heart of the great Grimpen Mire, down in the foul slime of the huge morass which had sucked him in, this cold and cruel- hearted man is forever buried. Many traces we found of him in the bog-girt island where he had hid his savage ally. A huge driving-wheel and a shaft half-filled with rubbish showed the position of an abandoned mine. Beside it were the crumbling remains of the cottages of the miners, driven away no doubt by the foul reek of the surrounding swamp. In one of these a staple and chain with a quantity of gnawed bones showed where the animal had been confined. A skeleton with a tangle of brown hair adhering to it lay among the debris. "A dog!" said Holmes. "By Jove, a curly-haired spaniel. Poor Mortimer will never see his pet again. Well, I do not know that this place contains any secret which we have not already fath- omed. He could hide his hound, but he could not hush its voice, and hence came those cries which even in daylight were not pleasant to hear. On an emergency he could keep the hound in the out-house at Merripit, but it was always a risk, and it was only on the supreme day, which he regarded as the end of all his efforts, that he dared do it. This paste in the tin is no doubt the luminous mixture with which the creature was daubed. It was suggested, of course, by the story of the family hell-hound, and by the desire to frighten old Sir Charles to death. No wonder the poor devil of a convict ran and screamed, even as our friend did, and as we ourselves might have done, when he saw such a creature bounding through the darkness of the moor upon his track. It was a cunning device, for, apart from the chance of driving your victim to his death, what peasant would venture to inquire too closely into such a creature should he get sight of it, as many have done, upon the moor? I said it in London, Watson, and I say it again now, that never yet have we helped to hunt down a more dangerous man than he who is lying yonder" -- he swept his long arm towards the huge mottled expanse of green- splotched bog which stretched away until it merged into the russet slopes of the moor.

Hounds of the Baskervilles - Chapter 13

Fixing the Nets

"We're at close grips at last," said Holmes as we walked together across the moor. "What a nerve the fellow has! How he pulled himself together in the face of what must have been a paralyzing shock when he found that the wrong man had fallen a victim to his plot. I told you in London, Watson, and I tell you now again, that we have never had a foeman more worthy of our steel." "I am sorry that he has seen you." "And so was I at first. But there was no getting out of it." "What effect do you think it will have upon his plans now that he knows you are here?" "It may cause him to be more cautious, or it may drive him to desperate measures at once. Like most clever criminals, he may be too confident in his own cleverness and imagine that he has completely deceived us." "Why should we not arrest him at once?" "My dear Watson, you were born to be a man of action. Your instinct is always to do something energetic. But supposing, for argument's sake, that we had him arrested to-night, what on earth the better off should we be for that? We could prove nothing against him. There's the devilish cunning of it! If he were acting through a human agent we could get some evidence, but if we were to drag this great dog to the light of day it would not help us in putting a rope round the neck of its master." "Surely we have a case." "Not a shadow of one -- only surmise and conjecture. We should be laughed out of court if we came with such a story and such evidence." "There is Sir Charles's death." "Found dead without a mark upon him. You and I know that he died of sheer fright, and we know also what frightened him but how are we to get twelve stolid jurymen to know it? What signs are there of a hound? Where are the marks of its fangs? Of course we know that a hound does not bite a dead body and that Sir Charles was dead before ever the brute overtook him. But we have to prove all this, and we are not in a position to do it." "Well, then, to-night?" "We are not much better off to-night. Again, there was no direct connection between the hound and the man's death. We never saw the hound. We heard it, but we could not prove that it was running upon this man's trail. There is a complete absence of motive. No, my dear fellow; we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that we have no case at present, and that it is worth our while to run any risk in order to establish one." "And how do you propose to do so?" "I have great hopes of what Mrs. Laura Lyons may do for us when the position of affairs is made clear to her. And I have my own plan as well. Sufficient for to-morrow is the evil thereof; but I hope before the day is past to have the upper hand at last." I could draw nothing further from him, and he walked, lost in thought, as far as the Baskerville gates. "Are you coming up?" "Yes; I see no reason for further concealment. But one last word, Watson. Say nothing of the hound to Sir Henry. Let him think that Selden's death was as Stapleton would have us be- lieve. He will have a better nerve for the ordeal which he will have to undergo to-morrow, when he is engaged, if I remember your report aright, to dine with these people." "And so am I." "Then you must excuse yourself and he must go alone. That will be easily arranged. And now, if we are too late for dinner, I think that we are both ready for our suppers." Sir Henry was more pleased than surprised to see Sherlock Holmes, for he had for some days been expecting that recent events would bring him down from London. He did raise his eyebrows, however, when he found that my friend had neither any luggage nor any explanations for its absence. Between us we soon supplied his wants, and then over a belated supper we explained to the baronet as much of our experience as it seemed desirable that he should know. But first I had the unpleasant duty of breaking the news to Barrymore and his wife. To him it may have been an unmitigated relief, but she wept bitterly in her apron. To all the world he was the man of violence, half animal and half demon; but to her he always remained the little wilful boy of her own girlhood, the child who had clung to her hand. Evil indeed is the man who has not one woman to mourn him. "I've been moping in the house all day since Watson went off in the morning," said the baronet. "I guess I should have some credit, for I have kept my promise. If I hadn't sworn not to go about alone I might have had a more lively evening, for I had a message from Stapleton asking me over there." "I have no doubt that you would have had a more lively evening," said Holmes drily. "By the way, I don't suppose you appreciate that we have been mourning over you as having broken your neck?" Sir Henry opened his eyes. "How was that?" "This poor wretch was dressed in your clothes. I fear your servant who gave them to him may get into trouble with the police." "That is unlikely. There was no mark on any of them, as far as I know." "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. Watson's reports are most incriminating documents." "But how about the case?" asked the baronet. "Have you made anything out of the tangle? I don't know that Watson and I are much the wiser since we came down." "I think that I shall be in a position to make the situation rather more clear to you before long. It has been an exceedingly difficult and most complicated business. There are several points upon which we still want light -- but it is coming all the same." "We've had one experience, as Watson has no doubt told you. We heard the hound on the moor, so I can swear that it is not all empty superstition. I had something to do with dogs when I was out West, and I know one when I hear one. If you can muzzle that one and put him on a chain I'll be ready to swear you are the greatest detective of all time." "I think I will muzzle him and chain him all right if you will give me your help." "Whatever you tell me to do I will do." "Very good; and I will ask you also to do it blindly, without always asking the reason." "Just as you like." "If you will do this I think the chances are that our little problem will soon be solved. I have no doubt " He stopped suddenly and stared fixedly up over my head into the air. The lamp beat upon his face, and so intent was it and so still that it might have been that of a clear-cut classical statue, a personification of alertness and expectation. "What is it?" we both cried. I could see as he looked down that he was repressing some internal emotion. His features were still composed, but his eyes shone with amused exultation. "Excuse the admiration of a connoisseur," said he as he waved his hand towards the line of portraits which covered the opposite wall. "Watson won't allow that I know anything of art but that is mere jealousy because our views upon the subject differ. Now, these are a really very fine series of portraits." "Well, I'm glad to hear you say so," said Sir Henry, glancing with some surprise at my friend. "I don't pretend to know much about these things, and I'd be a better judge of a horse or a steer than of a picture. I didn't know that you found time for such things. " "I know what is good when I see it, and I see it now. That's a Kneller, I'll swear, that lady in the blue silk over yonder, and the stout gentleman with the wig ought to be a Reynolds. They are all family portraits, I presume?" "Every one." "Do you know the names?" "Barrymore has been coaching me in them, and I think I can say my lessons fairly well." "Who is the gentleman with the telescope?" "That is Rear-Admiral Baskerville, who served under Rodney in the West Indies. The man with the blue coat and the roll of paper is Sir William Baskerville, who was Chairman of Commit- tees of the House of Commons under Pitt." "And this Cavalier opposite to me -- the one with the black velvet and the lace?" "Ah, you have a right to know about him. That is the cause of all the mischief, the wicked Hugo, who started the Hound of the Baskervilles. We're not likely to forget him." I gazed with interest and some surprise upon the portrait. "Dear me!" said Holmes, "he seems a quiet, meek-mannered man enough, but I dare say that there was a lurking devil in his eyes. I had pictured him as a more robust and ruffianly person." "There's no doubt about the authenticity, for the name and the date, 1647, are on the back of the canvas." Holmes said little more, but the picture of the old roysterer seemed to have a fascination for him, and his eyes were continu- ally fixed upon it during supper. It was not until later, when Sir Henry had gone to his room, that I was able to follow the trend of his thoughts. He led me back into the banqueting-hall, his bedroom candle in his hand, and he held it up against the time-stained portrait on the wall. "Do you see anything there?" I looked at the broad plumed hat, the curling love-locks, the white lace collar, and the straight, severe face which was framed between them. lt was not a brutal countenance, but it was prim hard, and stern, with a firm-set, thin-lipped mouth, and a coldly intolerant eye. "Is it like anyone you know?" "There is something of Sir Henry about the jaw." "Just a suggestion, perhaps. But wait an instant!" He stood upon a chair, and, holding up the light in his left hand, he curved his right arm over the broad hat and round the long ringlets. "Good heavens!" I cried in amazement. The face of Stapleton had sprung out of the canvas. "Ha, you see it now. My eyes have been trained to examine faces and not their trimmings. It is the first quality of a criminal investigator that he should see through a disguise." "But this is marvellous. It might be his portrait." "Yes, it is an interesting instance of a throwback, which appears to be both physical and spiritual. A study of family portraits is enough to convert a man to the doctrine of reincarna- tion. The fellow is a Baskerville -- that is evident." "With designs upon the succession." "Exactly. This chance of the picture has supplied us with one of our most obvious missing links. We have him, Watson, we have him, and I dare swear that before to-morrow night he will be fluttering in our net as helpless as one of his own butterflies. A pin, a cork, and a card, and we add him to the Baker Street collection!" He burst into one of his rare fits of laughter as he turned away from the picture. I have not heard him laugh often, and it has always boded ill to somebody. I was up betimes in the morning, but Holmes was afoot earlier still, for I saw him as I dressed, coming up the drive. "Yes, we should have a full day to-day," he remarked, and he rubbed his hands with the joy of action. "The nets are all in place, and the drag is about to begin. We'll know before the day is out whether we have caught our big, leanjawed pike, or whether he has got through the meshes." "Have you been on the moor already?" "I have sent a report from Grimpen to Princetown as to the death of Selden. I think I can promise that none of you will be troubled in the matter. And I have also communicated with my faithful Cartwright, who would certainly have pined away at the door of my hut, as a dog does at his master's grave, if I had not set his mind at rest about my safety." "What is the next move?" "To see Sir Henry. Ah, here he is!" "Good-morning, Holmes," said the baronet. "You look like a general who is planning a battle with his chief of the staff." "That is the exact situation. Watson was asking for orders." "And so do I." "Very good. You are engaged, as I understand, to dine with our friends the Stapletons to-night." "I hope that you will come also. They are very hospitable people, and I am sure that they would be very glad to see you." "I fear that Watson and I must go to London." "To London?" "Yes, I think that we should be more useful there at the present juncture." The baronet's face perceptibly lengthened. "I hoped that you were going to see me through this business. The Hall and the moor are not very pleasant places when one is alone." "My dear fellow, you must trust me implicitly and do exactly what I tell you. You can tell your friends that we should have been happy to have come with you, but that urgent business required us to be in town. We hope very soon to return to Devonshire. Will you remember to give them that message?" "If you insist upon it." "There is no alternative, I assure you." I saw by the baronet's clouded brow that he was deeply hurt by what he regarded as our desertion. "When do you desire to go?" he asked coldly. "Immediately after breakfast. We will drive in to Coombe Tracey, but Watson will leave his things as a pledge that he will come back to you. Watson, you will send a note to Stapleton to tell him that you regret that you cannot come." "I have a good mind to go to London with you," said the baronet. "Why should I stay here alone?" "Because it is your post of duty. Because you gave me your word that you would do as you were told, and I tell you to stay." "All right, then, I'll stay." "One more direction! I wish you to drive to Merripit House Send back your trap, however, and let them know that you intend to walk home." "To walk across the moor?" "Yes." "But that is the very thing which you have so often cautioned me not to do." "This time you may do it with safety. If I had not every confidence in your nerve and courage I would not suggest it, but it is essential that you should do it." "Then I will do it." "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 the Grimpen Road, and is your natural way home." "I will do just what you say." "Very good. I should be glad to get away as soon after breakfast as possible, so as to reach London in the afternoon." I was much astounded by this programme, though I remem- bered that Holmes had said to Stapleton on the night before that his visit would terminate next day. It had not crossed my mind however, that he would wish me to go with him, nor could I understand how we could both be absent at a moment which he himself declared to be critical. There was nothing for it, how- ever, but implicit obedience; so we bade good-bye to our rueful friend, and a couple of hours afterwards we were at the station of Coombe Tracey and had dispatched the trap upon its return journey. A small boy was waiting upon the platform. "Any orders, sir?" "You will take this train to town, Cartwright. The moment you arrive you will send a wire to Sir Henry Baskerville, in my name, to say that if he finds the pocketbook which I have dropped he is to send it by registered post to Baker Street." "Yes, sir." "And ask at the station office if there is a message for me." The boy returned with a telegram, which Holmes handed to me. It ran:
Wire received. Coming down with unsigned warrant. Arrive five-forty. Lestrade.
"That is in answer to mine of this morning. He is the best of the professionals, I think, and we may need his assistance. Now, Watson, I think that we cannot employ our time better than by calling upon your acquaintance, Mrs. Laura Lyons." His plan of campaign was beginning to be evident. He would use the baronet in order to convince the Stapletons that we were really gone, while we should actually return at the instant when we were likely to be needed. That telegram from London, if mentioned by Sir Henry to the Stapletons, must remove the last suspicions from their minds. Already I seemed to see our nets drawing closer around that leanjawed pike. Mrs. Laura Lyons was in her office, and Sherlock Holmes opened his interview with a frankness and directness which considerably amazed her. "I am investigating the circumstances which attended the death of the late Sir Charles Baskerville," said he. "My friend here, Dr. Watson, has informed me of what you have communi- cated, and also of what you have withheld in connection with that matter." "What have I withheld?" she asked defiantly. "You have confessed that you asked Sir Charles to be at the gate at ten o'clock. We know that that was the place and hour of his death. You have withheld what the connection is between these events." "There is no connection." "In that case the coincidence must indeed be an extraordinary one. But I think that we shall succeed in establishing a connec- tion, after all. I wish to be perfectly frank with you, Mrs. Lyons. We regard this case as one of murder, and the evidence may implicate not only your friend Mr. Stapleton but his wife as well." The lady sprang from her chair. "His wife!" she cried. "The fact is no longer a secret. The person who has passed for his sister is really his wife." Mrs. Lyons had resumed her seat. Her hands were grasping the arms of her chair, and I saw that the pink nails had turned white with the pressure of her grip. "His wife!" she said again. "His wife! He is not a married man." Sherlock Holmes shrugged his shoulders. "Prove it to me! Prove it to me! And if you can do so --!" The fierce flash of her eyes said more than any words. "I have come prepared to do so," said Holmes, drawing several papers from his pocket. "Here is a photograph of the couple taken in York four years ago. It is indorsed 'Mr. and Mrs. Vandeleur,' but you will have no difficulty in recognizing him, and her also, if you know her by sight. Here are three written descriptions by trustworthy witnesses of Mr. and Mrs. Vandeleur, who at that time kept St. Oliver's private school. Read them and see if you can doubt the identity of these people." She glanced at them, and then looked up at us with the set rigid face of a desperate woman. "Mr. Holmes," she said, "this man had offered me marriage on condition that I could get a divorce from my husband. He has lied to me, the villain, in every conceivable way. Not one word of truth has he ever told me. And why -- why? I imagined that all was for my own sake. But now I see that I was never anything but a tool in his hands. Why should I preserve faith with him who never kept any with me? Why should I try to shield him from the consequences of his own wicked acts? Ask me what you like, and there is nothing which I shall hold back. One thing I swear to you, and that is that when I wrote the letter I never dreamed of any harm to the old gentleman, who had been my kindest friend." "I entirely believe you, madam," said Sherlock Holmes. "The recital of these events must be very painful to you, and perhaps it will make it easier if I tell you what occurred, and you can check me if I make any material mistake. The sending of this letter was suggested to you by Stapleton?" "He dictated it." "I presume that the reason he gave was that you would receive help from Sir Charles for the legal expenses connected with your divorce?" "Exactly." "And then after you had sent the letter he dissuaded you from keeping the appointment?" "He told me that it would hurt his self-respect that any other man should find the money for such an object, and that though he was a poor man himself he would devote his last penny to removing the obstacles which divided us." "He appears to be a very consistent character. And then you heard nothing until you read the reports of the death in the paper?" "No." "And he made you swear to say nothing about your appoint- ment with Sir Charles?" "He did. He said that the death was a very mysterious one, and that I should certainly be suspected if the facts came out. He frightened me into remaining silent." "Quite so. But you had your suspicions?" She hesitated and looked down. "I knew him," she said. "But if he had kept faith with me I should always have done so with him." "I think that on the whole you have had a fortunate escape," said Sherlock Holmes. "You have had him in your power and he knew it, and yet you are alive. You have been walking for some months very near to the edge of a precipice. We must wish you good-morning now, Mrs. Lyons, and it is probable that you will very shortly hear from us again."
"Our case becomes rounded off, and difficulty after difficulty thins away in front of us," said Holmes as we stood waiting for the arrival of the express from town. "I shall soon be in the position of being able to put into a single connected narrative one of the most singular and sensational crimes of modern times. Students of criminology will remember the analogous incidents in Godno, in Little Russia, in the year '66, and of course there are the Anderson murders in North Carolina, but this case possesses some features which are entirely its own. Even now we have no clear case against this very wily man. But I shall be very much surprised if it is not clear enough before we go to bed this night. " The London express came roaring into the station, and a small, wiry bulldog of a man had sprung from a first-class carriage. We all three shook hands, and I saw at once from the reverential way in which Lestrade gazed at my companion that he had learned a good deal since the days when they had first worked together. I could well remember the scorn which the theories of the reasoner used then to excite in the practical man. "Anything good?" he asked. "The biggest thing for years," said Holmes. "We have two hours before we need think of starting. I think we might employ it in getting some dinner and then, Lestrade, we will take the London fog out of your throat by giving you a breath of the pure night air of Dartmoor. Never been there? Ah, well, I don't suppose you will forget your first visit."