Okay, so here at the very beginning of the chapter, Watson makes a rare criticism of Holmes. He says that Holmes is "exceedingly loath to communicate his full plans to any other person until the instant of their fulfillment" (p. 681). Watson thinks that's because Holmes likes to surprise people, and also that he doesn't like to take chances. I'm not entirely sure. I know that I myself am often very secretive about my plans until I know they work. I don't like to appear foolish or disappoint other people. I wonder if something similar might also be at work in Holmes' mind.
Anyway, onward and upward. Holmes sets a trap for Stapleton and baits it with Sir Henry, which is a bit bold, isn't it? Using your client as bait without his knowledge? Of course, I can't think of any other way to get proof against Stapleton and end this intrigue once and for all, but still. Wow. It could all have gone so horribly wrong! And even though Sir Henry survives, his nerves are still shattered. Poor guy. Watson says he and Dr. Mortimer have to travel around the whole world before Sir Henry returns to his normal self. Poor guy.
Don't you just love the description of the hound itself? "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" (p. 684). So scary! Wow.
|Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes seeing the hound emerge from the fog.|
Once they've dispatched the hound, off they go to find Stapleton. Check out how cool Holmes is when they're searching the house! They find a locked bedroom, and "Holmes struck the door just over the lock with the flat of his foot and it flew open" (p. 685). He kicked down the door, folks. I don't know about you, but I have this major fondness for guys who can break down a door. I'm going to pause here and savor that image for a minute.
Right. So they free Mrs. Stapleton and discover that her husband has been beating her, which gives them one more reason to go after him, as if they needed another. But they never do find him. Sherlock Holmes doesn't get his man this time -- the Grimpen Mire gets him first. Or does it? That can be the Possible Discussion Question for today: do you believe Stapleton did die in the mire, or do you think he might have gotten away?
Before us lay the dark bulk of the house, its serrated roof and bristling chimneys hard outlined against the silver-spangled sky (p. 683).