The Hound of the Baskervilles

the mysterious death of sir charles baskerville

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In Chapter Two, Dr. Mortimer gives Holmes a newspaper clipping detailing Sir Charles Baskerville's recent death. The newspaper story first describes Sir Charles Baskerville. At the time a probable candidate for the upcoming election, Baskerville had earned his fortune from South African speculation, and lived childless in the countryside, where he was involved in much philanthropy. The story then explains the circumstances of his death. When Sir Charles did not return from his usual nightly walk down an alley of trees behind Baskerville Hall, his servant Barrymore investigated to find his body. The mystery was increased because there were no signs of violence on his body, and because his footprints suggested he had been walking on his tip-toes. One witness, a gypsy horse-dealer named Murphy, had heard cries but admitted he was drunk. Authorities concluded that Sir Charles had died from cardiac exhaustion, ruling out any suggestions of mystical stories. Finally, the article identifies his next of kin as his nephew, Mr. Henry Baskerville, who is supposedly in America.

More interested now, Holmes asks Dr. Mortimer for details not included in the article. Though he considers himself a man of science, Dr. Mortimer admits he has some strange suspicions. He considered Sir Charles a close friend, since they were two of the few intellectuals living out on the moor. The only other men of note are Stapleton and Mr. Frankland.

In the days before the man's death, Dr. Mortimer noticed that Sir Charles was growing anxious over the legends of the hound. One night, after seeing a black shape cross their paths, Sir Charles admitted his fears, and Dr. Mortimer convinced him to escape to London. He died the night before he planned to leave. Finally, Dr. Mortimer adds that upon investigating the scene of Sir Charles's death, he found the footprints of a gigantic hound. He did not reveal this information to the press.