I really like this chapter. We start to dig into the mystery, Holmes gets perfectly Holmesish, and I'm positively bouncing with delight.
One of my favorite moments is when Dr. Mortimer tells Holmes he knows how long Sir Charles had stood there because of the cigar ashes on the ground. Holmes cries, "Excellent! This is a colleague, Watson, after our own heart" (p. 589). I love that he says "our own heart," not "my own heart." It's like a little apology to Watson for tweaking him about his deductive abilities earlier.
And I like Dr. Mortimer more and more, don't you? Scribbling notes on his shirt cuffs! Reminds me of me -- I tend to write things on the back of my left hand to be sure I don't forget them.
Something new struck me during this reading. While showing Watson the map of Devonshire, Holmes says, "This, then, is the stage upon which tragedy has been played, and upon which we may help to play it again" (p. 593). I never noticed before that Holmes seriously thinks something tragic could happen again, that Dr. Mortimer is not just being superstitious and fanciful.
"I have hitherto confined my investigations to this world," said he. "In a modest way I have combated evil, but to take on the Father of Evil himself would, perhaps, be too ambitious a task" (p. 590).
"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes" (p. 592).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Holmes says Watson "is not a man with intimate friends" (p. 592). Do you think he means besides himself? Or does he not think of himself as Watson's intimate friend either? (And of course, in that day, "intimate" meant "closely acquainted, familiar, dear.")