"Always there was this feeling of an unseen force, a fine net drawn round us with infinite skill and delicacy, holding us so lightly that it was only at some supreme moment that one realized that one was indeed entangled in its meshes." —Watson, p. 267
Here, Watson describes his feelings as he approaches the hut where the mysterious figure seems to be living. Of course, he soon discovers that it is Holmes himself who has drawn this "net" around him. The net is an important image in the novel, symbolizing the way knowledge is used to manipulate others like puppets or toys. Those who possess knowledge control those who do not have it. For example, Stapleton orchestrates Sir Charles's death and creates an aura of superstition because he knows much that others on the moor do not. Similarly, Holmes must hoard his own knowledge throughout the case, so that Stapleton does not realize that they are on his trail. Only when knowledge is kept secret or private can it become a "net," a means of control.