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BOOK SUMMARY AND NOTES - The Hound of the Baskervilles
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: The Hound of the Baskervilles
To Watson and Lestradeís frustration, Holmes will not tell them his
plan for the night, restrained from doing so by his secretive nature as a detective
and a sense of a sort of showmanship. The three leave the wagonette and go on
towards the Merripit House. After making sure Lestrade is armed as well, Holmes
cautions them to be quiet as they get nearer. Holmes and Lestrade remain a short
distance back, behind some rocks, while Watson moves closer to get a look inside
the house. Though unable to locate Mrs. Stapleton, he does see the nervous baronet
and Mr. Stapleton. The latter soon leaves the room and enters the outhouse (where
he is keeping the hound). He soon comes out and returns to the house, and Watson
goes back to the rocks.
A thick fog makes Holmes increasingly nervous and they eventually must move back. Fortunately, Sir Henry leaves the Merripit House presently, walking quickly and nervously by their hiding place. Then the hound appears, with the glowing eyes and mouth, looking just as the legend said. Lestrade is scared beyond action, and the hound has passed them by the time Watson and Holmes recover enough to fire at it. Hearing the howl that means they have wounded it, they run after the beast and Holmes, arriving there first, shoots it to death.
Sir Henry had been knocked to the ground but did not sustain any physical injuries. He comes around with the help of a little brandy but will later spend some time traveling with Dr. Mortimer to regain his full strength. For the moment though, they leave him to recover on a rock and go look in the house. Holmes does not expect to find Stapleton there and he is correct, but they do find Mrs. Stapleton. She has been beaten, gagged, and bound in the middle of a locked (Holmes kicks it in) room, full of the naturalistís collections of butterflies and moths.
Once they free her, she asks about Sir Henry and the hound. Knowing now that she has been used by her husband all along, she tells them of Stapletonís retreat to an abandoned mine deep within the marshy land. They set out on the path the next day; even with the fog lifted and it marked out by the Stapletons, it is difficult to follow. But they manage to find his retreat, and in it, the phosphorescence mixture used on the hound and the remains of Dr. Mortimerís spaniel. Apparently Stapleton did not make it. At one point, Holmes is able to retrieve Sir Henryís stolen boot, but there are no signs of the naturalist after that. It is to be assumed that he fell in and died.
There is a parallel to be drawn in that the cases of butterflies and moths were found in the upper room of the Merripit House, where the beaten wife has also been imprisoned. Stapleton as a naturalist is not all that different from Stapleton as a man, and he seems to treat people with no more regard than his insects. The overlapping of crime and science is seen throughout, set up by Holmesís comment from Chapter One about what a doctor would ask of a detective.
Another parallel arises when the dead spaniel is considered. It was eaten by the hound, another dog (even if they are quite different breeds). Sir Charles was also killed by one of his own kind, the fellow Baskerville descendent Stapleton.