Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
ONLINE BOOK NOTES - The Hound of the Baskervilles
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Fixing the Nets
There is still have no case against Stapleton, including a motive, but Holmes has a plan (which he keeps secret for now), and is still confident that Mrs. Lyons holds further useful information. Holmes tells Watson not to tell Sir Henry about the hound because he wants the baronet to keep the dinner with the Stapletons; Watson however must get out of it to aid in the deception that they are returning to London and be on hand for the execution of the rest of the plan.
Barrymore is upset at hearing news of Selden’s death but Mr. Barrymore takes it
with much more relief. The risk he ran is further lessened because there are no
features on the clothes to allow them to be traced back. For his part, Sir Henry
is glad to see Holmes and agrees to do as he says without question. The baronet
has already behaved according to instructions, when he declined the invitation
from Stapleton and remained at home instead, a decision that saved his life.
As they eat a late supper, the line of family portraits catches Holmes’s attention, one in particular, which Sir Henry identifies as Hugo Baskerville from 1647. Later on that night, the detective uses his arm to cover the hat and hair, and Watson sees that the resemblance to Stapleton is unmistakable. As a member of the Baskerville line, there is now a motive for Stapleton’s actions.
Early the next morning, the detective tells the authorities of Selden’s death and Cartwright of the change of events, so that he does not worry. When he sees Sir Henry, Holmes tells him that he and Watson will be returning to London and to be sure to pass on the message to the Stapletons. He also later has Cartwright send a telegram from London pretending to be him so that Stapleton will really believe that the detective and his assistant have left. Holmes also instructs Sir Henry to walk home on the straight path on the moor upon departing from dinner at Merripit House that night.
At the train station to send Cartwright off to London, Holmes receives a telegram from Lestrade (an Inspector from Scotland Yard), saying that he will be coming down, as requested, at 5:40. Then they pay a visit to Mrs. Lyons. When Holmes tells her that Stapleton is actually a married man named Vandeleur, she is ready to admit to the course of events.
Stapleton had dictated the letter to Sir Charles under the premise of getting money for her divorce. Then he apparently changed his mind, insisting that he would find someway to pay for it himself and dissuading her from keeping the appointment. When news of Sir Charles’s death came out, Stapleton kept her quiet out of her feelings for him and fear of the suspicious circumstances. She never had any intention of harming Sir Charles.
Holmes and Watson leave Mrs. Lyons after her confession and meet Lestrade at the station. Then they all have dinner, before Holmes’s plans for uncovering “[t]he biggest thing for years” gets underway.
“Evil indeed is the man who has not one woman to mourn him,” notes Watson. In this chapter, Mrs. Lyons tells the truth about Stapleton, understandably upset over his failure to tell her the truth about himself. Though she may still have some feelings for him, it is unlikely that she will mourn him when he meets his end in the next chapter. Neither will his wife, who laughs and claps at the news.
With this evilness, it may seem odd that Stapleton is so often compared to fish (pike in particular) and butterflies, creatures that do not typically represent wickedness. These animals seem to have been chosen since they both dart about, avoiding nets. They are caught sometimes though, and usually displayed, as Holmes mentions will be the (metaphorical, of course) fate of the naturalist. Additionally, one rarely thinks of fish or butterflies as being particularly evolved, and Stapleton bears a remarkable resemblance to Hugo Baskerville, despite the 242 years (see also notes on atavism from Chapter One).
Holmes draws attention at the beginning of the chapter by his repetition to the mention of metals in the book. The paneling in Baskerville Hall (the color) and the swords of Neolithic man are bronze. Iron is used throughout, from Dr. Mortimer’s walking stick and the Hall gates to Holmes’s character. Lastly, Stapleton has now twice been described as being worthy of steel.