The Hound of the Baskervilles (in English, abridged, for upper-intermediate)

English Lessons based on the story The Hound of the Baskervilles Part 4 for Episode 4

The Scenes from the film:

  1. The Baskervilles Hall
  2. The meeting on the moor

hound of the baskervilles adapted

You can continue now. Watch Episode 4 of the Hound of the Baskervilles and then read part 4 of the book

orange] Episode 4 corresponds to chapter 6 and chapter 7 of the book. You can read The Hound of the Baskervilles (in the original) [/orange]restrict …]

This part is based on Chapter 6 (continuation)

«It’s just as I imagined it,» said Sir Henry. «It is the very picture of an old family home. To think that this should be the same hall in which for five hundred years my people have lived.»
Barrymore had returned from taking our luggage to our rooms. He stood in front of us now, a remarkable-looking man, tall, handsome, with a square black beard and pale, distinguished features.
«Would you wish dinner to be served at once, sir?»
«Is it ready?»
«In a very few minutes, sir. And now, sir, perhaps I had best show you to your rooms.»

A square balustraded gallery ran round the top of the old hall, approached by a double stair. From this central point two long corridors extended the whole length of the building, from which all the bedrooms opened. My own was in the same wing as Baskerville’s and almost next door to it.

The dining-room was a long chamber with a gallery overlooking it. The rows of torches light it up. A dim line of ancestors, in every variety of dress, from the Elizabethan knight to the buck of the Regency, stared down upon us from the wall. We talked little, and I was glad when the meal was over and we were able to retire into the modern billiard-room and smoke a cigarette.

«My word, it isn’t a very cheerful place,» said Sir Henry. «No wonder that my uncle got a little jumpy if he lived all alone in such a house as this. However, if it suits you, we will retire early tonight, and perhaps things may seem more cheerful in the morning.»

I drew aside my curtains before I went to bed and looked out from my window. It opened upon the grassy space which lay in front of the hall door. Beyond, two trees moaned and swung in a rising wind. A half moon broke through the rifts of racing clouds. In its cold light I saw beyond the trees a broken fringe of rocks, and the long, low curve of the melancholy moor. I closed the curtain. I found myself weary and yet wakeful, tossing restlessly from side to side, seeking for the sleep which would not come. Far away a chiming clock struck out the quarters of the hours, but otherwise a deathly silence lay upon the old house. And then suddenly, in the very dead of the night, there came a sound to my ears, clear, resonant, and unmistakable. It was the sob of a woman, the muffled, strangling gasp of one who is torn by an uncontrollable sorrow. I sat up in bed and listened intently. The noise could not have been far away and was certainly in the house. For half an hour I waited with every nerve on the alert, but there came no other sound save the chiming clock and the rustle of the ivy on the wall.

* * *

This part is based on Chapter 7

The fresh beauty of the following morning did something to erase from our minds the grim and gray impression which had been left upon both of us by our first experience of Baskerville Hall. As Sir Henry and I sat at breakfast the sunlight flooded in through the high windows. The dark panelling glowed like bronze in the golden rays, and it was hard to realize that this was indeed the chamber which had struck such a gloom into our souls upon the evening before.

«I guess it is ourselves and not the house that we have to blame!» said the baronet. «We were tired with our journey and chilled by our drive, so we took a gray view of the place. Now we are fresh and well, so it is all cheerful once more.»
«And yet it was not entirely a question of imagination,» I answered. «Did you, for example, happen to hear someone, a woman I think, sobbing in the night?»

«That is curious, for I did when I was half asleep fancy that I heard something of the sort. I waited quite a time, but there was no more of it, so I concluded that it was all a dream.»
«I heard it distinctly, and I am sure that it was really the sob of a woman.»
«We must ask about this right away.» He rang the bell and asked Barrymore whether he could account for our experience.
«There are only two women in the house, Sir Henry,» he answered. «One is the maid, who sleeps in the other wing. The other is my wife, and I can answer for it that the sound could not have come from her.»

And yet he lied as he said it, for it chanced that after breakfast I met Mrs. Barrymore in the long corridor with the sun full upon her face. She was a large, impassive, heavy-featured woman with a stern set expression of mouth. But her eyes were red and glanced at me from between swollen lids. It was she, then, who wept in the night, and if she did so her husband must know it. Yet he had taken the obvious risk of discovery in declaring that it was not so. Why had he done this? And why did she weep so bitterly? Already round this pale-faced, handsome, black-bearded man there was gathering an atmosphere of mystery and of gloom. It was he who had been the first to discover the body of Sir Charles. Was it possible that it was Barrymore, after all, whom we had seen in the cab in Regent Street? The beard might well have been the same. Obviously the first thing to do was to see the Grimpen postmaster and find whether the test telegram had really been placed in Barrymore’s own hands.

Sir Henry had numerous papers to examine after breakfast, so I desided to go to the post office which was a four-mile walk from the Baskerville Hall and make it clear with the telegram. The postmaster, who was also the village grocer, had a clear recollection of it.
«Certainly, sir,» said he, «I had the telegram delivered to Mr. Barrymore exactly as directed.»
«Who delivered it?»
«My boy here. James, you delivered that telegram to Mr. Barrymore at the Hall last week, did you not?»
«Yes, father, I delivered it.»
«Into his own hands?» I asked.

«Well, he was up in the loft at the time, so that I could not put it into his own hands, but I gave it into Mrs. Barrymore’s hands, and she promised to deliver it at once.»
«Did you see Mr. Barrymore?»
«No, sir; I tell you he was in the loft.»
«If you didn’t see him, how do you know he was in the loft?»
«Well, surely his own wife ought to know where he is,» said the postmaster testily.

It seemed hopeless to get to know anything else, it was clear that we had no proof that Barrymore had not been in London all the time. I went back to Baskerville Hall.  I was walking along the gray, lonely road when suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by the sound of running feet behind me and by a voice which called me by name. I turned, expecting to see Dr. Mortimer, but to my surprise it was a stranger who was pursuing me. He was a small, slim, clean-shaven man, between thirty and forty years of age, dressed in a gray suit and wearing a straw hat. A tin box for botanical specimens hung over his shoulder and he carried a green butterfly-net in one of his hands.

«Dr. Watson, I presume?» said he as he came panting up to where I stood. «Here on the moor we are homely folk and do not wait for formal introductions. You may possibly have heard my name from our mutual friend, Mortimer. I am Stapleton, of Merripit House.»

«How is Sir Henry?  None the worse for his journey, I trust?»
«He is very well, thank you.»
«We were all rather afraid that after the sad death of Sir Charles the new baronet might refuse to live here. It is asking much of a wealthy man to come down and bury himself in a place of this kind but I need not tell you that it means a very great deal to the countryside to have Sir Henry here. He has, I suppose, no superstitious fears in the matter?»

«I do not think that it is likely.»
«Of course you know the legend of the fiend dog which haunts the family?»
«I have heard it.»
«It is extraordinary how credulous the peasants are about here! Any number of them are ready to swear that they have seen such a creature upon the moor.» He spoke with a smile, but I seemed to read in his eyes that he took the matter more seriously. «The story took a great hold upon the imagination of Sir Charles, and I have no doubt that it led to his tragic end.»

«But how?»
«His nerves were so worked up that the appearance of any dog might have had a fatal effect upon his diseased heart. I fancy that he really did see something of the kind upon that last night in the yew alley. I feared that some disaster might occur, for I was very fond of the old man, and I knew that his heart was weak.»
«How did you know that?»
«My friend Mortimer told me.»
«You think, then, that some dog pursued Sir Charles, and that he died of fright?»
«Have you any better explanation?»

«I have not come to any conclusion.»
«Has Mr. Sherlock Holmes?»
«I am afraid that I cannot answer that question.»
«May I ask if he is going to honour us with a visit himself?»
«He cannot leave town at present. He has other cases which engage his attention.»
«What a pity! He might throw some light on that which is so dark to us. If there is any possible way in which I can be of service to you? If I knew more about the case, I might perhaps even now give you some aid or advice.»

«I assure you that I am simply here upon a visit to my friend, Sir Henry, and that I need no help of any kind.»
«Excellent!» said Stapleton. «You are perfectly right to be wary and discreet. I am justly reproved for what I feel was an unjustifiable intrusion, and I promise you that I will not mention the matter again.»

We had come to a point where a narrow grassy path struck off from the road and wound away across the moor. A steep hill lay upon the right.  The face which was turned towards us formed a dark cliff, with ferns and brambles growing in its niches. From over a distant rise there floated a gray plume of smoke.

«A moderate walk along this moor-path brings us to Merripit House,» said he. «Perhaps you will spare an hour that I may have the pleasure of introducing you to my sister.»

My first thought was that I should be by Sir Henry’s side. But then I remembered the pile of papers and bills with which his study table was littered. It was certain that I could not help with those. And Holmes had expressly said that I should study the neighbours upon the moor. I accepted Stapleton’s invitation, and we turned together down the path.

«It is a wonderful place, the moor,» said he, looking around over the crests of jagged granite foaming up into fantastic surges. «You are never tired of the moor. You cannot think the wonderful secrets which it contains. It is so vast, and so mysterious.»
«You know it well, then?»
«I have only been here two years. The residents would call me a newcomer. We came shortly after Sir Charles settled. But my tastes led me to explore every part of the country round, and I should think that there are few men who know it better than I do.»
«Is it hard to know?»
«Very hard. You see, for example, this great plain to the north here with the queer hills breaking out of it. Do you observe anything remarkable about that?»

«It would be a good place for a gallop.»
«You would naturally think so and the thought has cost some people their lives before now. You notice those bright green spots scattered thickly over it?»
«Yes, they seem more fertile than the rest.»
Stapleton laughed.
«That is the great Grimpen Mire,» said he. «A false step yonder means death to man or beast. Only yesterday I saw one of the moor ponies wander into it. He never came out. I saw his head for quite a long time craning out of the bog-hole, but it sucked him down at last. Even in dry seasons it is a danger to cross it, but after these autumn rains it is an awful place. And yet I can find my way to the very heart of it and return alive. It’s a bad place, the great Grimpen Mire.»

«And you say you can penetrate it?»
«Yes, there are one or two paths which a very active man can take. I have found them out.»
«But why should you wish to go into so horrible a place?»
«Well, you see the hills beyond? They are really islands cut off on all sides by the impassable mire. That is where the rare plants and the butterflies are, if you have the wit to reach them.»
«I shall try my luck some day.»

He looked at me with a surprised face.
«For God’s sake put such an idea out of your mind,» said he.«Your blood would be upon my head. I assure you that there would not be the least chance of your coming back alive. It is only by remembering certain complex landmarks that I am able to do it.»

«Halloa!» I cried. «What is that?»
A long, low moan, indescribably sad, swept over the moor. It filled the whole air, and yet it was impossible to say whence it came. From a dull murmur it swelled into a deep roar, and then sank back into a melancholy, throbbing murmur once again. Stapleton looked at me with a curious expression in his face.
«Queer place, the moor!» said he.
«But what is it?»
«The peasants say it is the Hound of the Baskervilles calling for its prey. I’ve heard it once or twice before, but never quite so loud.»

I looked round, with a chill of fear in my heart.
«You are an educated man. You don’t believe such nonsense as that?» said I. «What do you think is the cause of so strange a sound?»
«Bogs make queer noises sometimes. It’s the mud settling, or the water rising, or something.»

Suddenly a small fly or moth had fluttered across our path, and in an instant Stapleton was rushing with extraordinary energy and speed in pursuit of it. I was standing watching his pursuit with a mixture of admiration for his extraordinary activity when I heard the sound of steps and, turning round, found a woman near me upon the path. She had come from the direction in which the plume of smoke indicated the position of Merripit House.

I could not doubt that this was the Miss Stapleton of whom I had been told, since ladies of any sort must be few upon the moor, and I remembered that I had heard someone describe her as being a beauty. The woman who approached me was certainly that, and of a most uncommon type. There could not have been a greater contrast between brother and sister, for Stapleton was neutral tinted, with light hair and gray eyes, while she was darker than any brunette whom I have seen in England – slim, elegant, and tall. She had the sensitive mouth and the beautiful dark, eager eyes. With her perfect figure and elegant dress she was, indeed, a strange apparition upon a lonely moorland path. Her eyes were on her brother as I turned, and then she quickened her pace towards me. I had raised my hat.

«Go back!» she said feverishly. «Go straight back to London, instantly.»
I could only stare at her in stupid surprise. Her eyes blazed at me.
«Why should I go back?» I asked.
«I cannot explain.» She spoke in a low, eager voice. «But for God’s sake do what I ask you. Go back and never set foot upon the moor again.»
«But I have only just come.»
«Man, man!» she cried. «Can you not tell when a warning is for your own good? Go back to London! Start tonight! Get away from this place at all costs! You are in great danger here. Hush, my brother is coming!»

«Hello there! I see you have introduced yourself.»

«Yes. I was telling Sir Henry that it was rather late for him to see the true beauties of the moor.»
«Why, who do you think this is?»
«I imagine that it must be Sir Henry Baskerville.»

«No, no,» said I. «Only his friend. My name is Dr. Watson.»
A flush of vexation passed over her expressive face. «We have been talking at cross purposes,» said she.

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