Hound of the Baskervilles

Arthur Conan Doyle
Summary

Chapters V–VI

Summary Chapters V–VI

At the station, the group is met by a pair of gun-toting police officers, on guard for an escaped con, and by a set of Baskerville servants. The ride to the hall offers a beautiful scenic view, but always with the foreboding moor in the background. Asking about the armed guards, the group learns from the coachman that a dastardly criminal, Selden, the Notting Hill murderer, just recently escaped from prison. Sobered and silent, the party finally reaches Baskerville Hall.

As Barrymore and his wife introduce themselves and start taking down the baggage, Mortimer announces his intention to head home for supper. Once inside, Watson and Sir Henry learn of the Barrymores' intention to leave Henry's service as soon as he gets settled. Citing their sadness and fear at Charles' death, the Barrymores admit that they will never feel relaxed at Baskerville Hall. They also announce their intention to establish a business with the money inherited from Sir Charles.

Later on at dinner, Sir Henry says he understands his uncle's ill health and anxiety given the somber and scary aspect of much of the hall. Once in bed, Watson has trouble sleeping, and he hears a woman's sobbing.

Analysis

When Holmes and Watson arrive at Henry's hotel, Holmes surprises us by lying to the bellhop to gain information about the guests who have checked in since Sir Henry. Sherlock also practices deceit, and his trickery clues us in to a maneuver he will pull when he suggests that he cannot go to Devonshire to handle the case. In enlisting Watson, Holmes plays his own game of disguised identity. Watson acts as Holmes' secret ears and eyes, thus Holmes will be there, through the conduit of Watson.

This section also depicts an interesting tête-à-tête between Holmes and Watson. When Holmes sends Watson up to Devonshire, he insists that Watson report just the facts. Though Watson revels in the trust and responsibility his friend affords him, it seems clear that Holmes does not give Watson enough credit. Then again, Watson is used to a much more abusive relationship with Holmes, so his expectations for their interactions are low. In "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax" and "The Solitary Cyclist," Holmes criticized his friend's abilities with an acid tongue.

The shift in perspective engendered by Watson's new found authority allows the novel to present a series of clues, without a series of hypotheses based on the clues. Learning the clues before Holmes gives us a chance to try our hand at solving the mystery. Doyle often achieves the same effect in other novels because Holmes has a tendency to keep tightlipped about his plans and theories. However, in this novel, Watson has the opportunity to stumble along with us, suggesting theories that may or may not be true.