The next day or two were quiet. Barrymore either stopped signaling his friend, or he was cleverer about it. On the second night I heard the howling again, but from my window I could not see the dog. I mentioned it to Sir Henry the following morning, but he had been asleep and had not heard it.
We went out for a walk along the moors. In the daylight, when he could see just how rough the terrain was, Sir Henry insisted on helping me over the rockiest places, or even carrying me, even though I did not need help. It certainly never occurred to Holmes to offer me this sort of help. I indulged Sir Henry's chivalry and let him carry me over a marshy place, but once we were in the ruins, I insisted on walking.
"These are lovely," I said. "I can see why Dr. Mortimer likes them. It looks as if he's been digging here, recently."
"Strange man," Sir Henry said.
I wondered if Mortimer had asked to feel his skull, too, but I decided not to ask. Sir Henry, who had been walking behind me, picked up the pace so he could arrive at the top of the hill in front of me first, and then reach me up. I sighed, took his outstretched hand, and allowed him to pull me up. Unfortunately, some of the ground gave way under my foot, causing me to fall against him. As I have said, he was a big man, still slender though, but sturdy enough that I did not send him toppling over.
"Are you all right?" He asked.
"Fine, thanks. The ground's a bit soft." I let go of his hands, ending the accidental embrace but still being friendly. "Do you…."
A thunderous coughing shook the air, making us both jump and look around. At the bottom of the hill was an old man in a seedy coat with a peddler's sack on his back. He coughed for a few more seconds then tipped his battered old hat.
"Good morning, sir, lady," he said hoarsely, scrambling nimbly up the rise like a mountain goat. "Would you like to see my wears? I have a fine selection. Perhaps this fine work of Dickens?"
"No thank you," Sir Henry said coldly.
"Or something for the lady?" The peddler waved a perfume bottle under my nose, giving me a glimpse of his sharp grey-green eyes.
"That's enough," Sir Henry raised his voice. "Be off with you!"
"I mean no harm, sir," the man wheezed, pocketing the bottle, and retreating down the hill far less nimbly than he had advanced. "I've got to eat, you know."
"I've forgotten what I was going to ask you," I said, still looking after the strange peddler. "Well, if it was important, I would remember."
We trekked onward eventually reaching more swampy land. Sir Henry picked up a rock and chucked it at a particularly gloppy place. The stone landed with a wet smack, lingered for a minute, and then slowly sank out of sight.
"Careful," a strange masculine voice shouted from our left. "Dangerous walking there!"
A man dressed in a Norfolk jacket and knickerbockers approached us. "My name's Stapleton, I live just across the way at Merripit House. I know the area pretty well, if you need direction."
"Thank you, but no," Sir Henry said. "I'm Sir Henry Baskerville, we were just exploring."
"Oh," Stapleton said. "It's a lovely day for it, but you want to be careful of these bogs… one of the ponies drowned here yesterday. Very upsetting to my sister."
"I can imagine," I said, causing Stapleton to look directly at me.
He was an ordinary-looking man, but something about his body language and the set of his mouth sent my thoughts back to the black jaguar spider.
"Lady Baskerville," he said to me, touching his hat.
Hell's bells. Why did people assume I was married to every man I was in the company of? If it happened much more with Holmes we'd be married in the eyes of society if not the church.
"Miss Sherwood," I corrected him.
He apologized warily, causing us both to look at Sir Henry, who unlike Holmes, was not offended by the mistake, but looked thoughtful.
Stapleton continued. "You must be Sherlock Holmes' friend. Sad business about the death of Sir Charles, isn't it? Oh, forgive me; we have a mutual friend, Dr. Mortimer. Will the Great Detective be honoring us with a visit?"
Another one who talked too much, and who had no imagination.
"Mr. Holmes has another case," Sir Henry said, letting some irritation show.
Stapleton looked disappointed. "But your company would be very much appreciated, too, Sir Henry. Please come and take tea some afternoon; I can introduce my younger sister, Beryl."
We thanked him for his invitation and promised to do so. Upon arriving back at Baskerville Hall, Barrymore handed me a note that had come earlier in the day.
"What is it?" Sir Henry asked.
"It's from Holmes," I replied. "He expects to be joining us within the next few days."
I did not mention the postscript, however, which explicitly said not to tell anyone. Holmes told me to go to a different part of the ruins later that evening. I excused myself after dinner on the pretense of a headache, but instead of retiring to bed, I bundled up for the cold and slipped out the back to keep my appointment.
It was not quite dark, but the shadows were long and the sky orange. I found another piece of paper at the mouth of the ruins that read, "Sit down and make yourself comfortable." Comfort was something not easily found in ancient ruins, but I brushed off a stone and sat. A few minutes later Holmes appeared, dressed in his overcoat, cape, and deerstalker, but with the seedy peddler's sack thrown over his shoulder.
"Hello Holmes," I said cautiously, perceiving from the look on his face that something was greatly troubling him. "How long have you been here?"
"As long as you and Sir Henry, Sherwood," he said, throwing down the sack. "I took a later train and have been camping here on the moors."
"Here," he held up several envelopes, all addressed to Baker Street.
I shook my head. "You utter bastard. I knew something about your other case was fishy, and I recognized you this morning, by the way, even though you fooled Sir Henry."
"How did you recognize me?" He asked, sounding more irked than pleased by my skill.
I smiled a little, "By your eyes."
He looked somewhat startled by that, but a second later he returned to being peevish. "I've been watching what goes on here at the moors. Stapleton is undoubtedly our man. We must return to Baskerville Hall; I'll explain on the way."
We left the ruins and set off in the direction of the Hall. Suddenly the sound of a baying hound stopped Holmes from explaining before he even got started, followed by the tortured scream of a man. I drew my gun, and Holmes and I ran in the direction of the sound. We arrived just in time to see a man in a well-cut brown suit fall over a cliff, pursued by the Hound. It was the dog Sir Henry and I had seen before, big as an elephant, and apparently as savage as a lion.
I shot at it and missed. The beast ran away getting lost in the shadows.
"Save your ammunition," Holmes said. "Whatever could have possessed Sir Henry to come out onto the moors alone?" He took two more steps. "Hullo, hullo, it isn't Sir Henry at all! It's that convict, Seldon."
"In Sir Henry's clothes," I noted, looking at the dead man's frozen expression of terror. "Poor fellow. Hold on, Holmes, there's someone coming!"
It was Stapleton.
"Not a word to show our suspicions," Holmes said, sotto voce.
"What happened here," Stapleton called. "I heard a cry."
"Seldon," I explained. "He broke his neck falling on the rocks."
"We were out for a walk and heard this poor devil as well," Holmes said.
Stapleton turned to look at him. "Good evening, Mr. Holmes, we've been expecting you. I invited Sir Henry over, and when he did not appear I became alarmed for his safety."
"Understandably," Holmes studied poor Seldon for a moment longer. "I suppose there's nothing to be done but leave him here. I must speak to the police about him now."
"Of course," Stapleton said, putting his hands in his pockets. "Tragic, but it relieves the tax-payer of another burden, doesn't it?"
"That's one way of looking at it, yes," I said, coolly.
Stapleton wished us goodnight and turned back in the direction of his own home.
"What nerves that man has," Holmes said. "How he pulled himself together when he found that the wrong man has fallen for his plot! But now we must return and bear the bad news to Mrs. Barrymore about her brother."
"Her brother? Of course! That's who Barrymore was signaling, and that solves the mystery of how Sir Henry's clothes were on his body."
Sir Henry was surprised but pleased to see Holmes. However, my mentor wasted no time in sending for Mrs. Barrymore to give her the sad news.
"Your brother," Holmes said, and she burst into tears.
"They caught him! Oh please forgive us, Sir Henry! Seldon was my brother even though he was no good, and we had to help him!"
"No, Mrs. Barrymore, I'm afraid it's worse than that… he's dead."
Barrymore quickly embraced his wife, though whether it was out of compassion or to muffle the noise, I couldn't be sure.
Sir Henry looked confused then he seemed to get the picture. "He was the one you were signaling from the window, Barrymore?"
The butler nodded, looking grim.
"And you gave him food, and Sir Henry's clothes," I said.
"The ones you said the iron ruined," Sir Henry seemed to think a moment. "Well, I suppose there's no real harm done. I forgive you. I'll see that you can bury him properly."
Once some semblance of order had been restored, Barrymore took Holmes upstairs to show him where he would sleep. I lingered downstairs a few more minutes then went up myself. Entering my room I noticed light under the door leading to the adjoining room, and I could smell Holmes' tobacco smoke. I bumped my forehead against the bedpost. A pity about Barrymore; I took him for a man with more of an imagination than this.
"Holmes?" I opened the door.
He was sitting in the chair by the window, smoking. "You should knock," he said irritably.
"You never go to bed this early," I replied, entering his room and sitting on the bed due to the lack of more chairs. "You never got to fully explain about Stapleton. Pray enlighten me."