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Not knowing that such accusations are incorrect, Watson tells Sir Henry what he has seen and, the baronet, who is already aware of the activity and knows that Barrymore is partially deaf, suggests that they shadow him. Nothing happens the first night of their vigil but on the second, they watch Barrymore with the candle once again go into the same room. Sir Henry walks right in to confront him, much to the man’s shock and anxiety, but he will not answer questions, saying that it is not his secret to reveal.
Watson realizes that the light is a signal and when he holds it up to the window, another light not far out on the moor shines back. At this point, Mrs. Barrymore enters the room and explains the situation to clear her husband’s name. The escaped Selden is her younger brother and the lights are a signal system to get food to him every other night. She still sees him as a child and could not bear to let him starve so close by.
Sir Henry sends the Barrymores back to their room and then Watson and he decide to go out in pursuit of the convict. With sporadic moonlight and a light rain, the weather is well suited to the occasion. As Sir Henry brings up Holmes’s previous warning about the dangers of the moor at night, the frightening sound that Watson heard before once again fills the air. When it gives way to silence, Sir Henry is quite shaken, and confident that the sound was a hound, as the countryside said.
Nonetheless, they continue towards the light, which they realize has been placed between the rocks so as to be visible only from the Hall. A savage-looking man is hiding out close by, and, fearing he will soon leave, Watson and Sir Henry jump out to make their move. The convict throws a rock in their direction and then takes off down the hillside. They try to pursue him, but it is clearly a lost cause, given the speed and agility of the fleeing man.
As the two get ready to head back to the Hall, Watson sees a man standing on a rocky outcrop, watching them. He is only able to make out the outline before the person disappears but the possibility of following is discouraged by Sir Henry, who is still nervous from the sound of the hound.
As in the previous report when worrying over the Stapletons at the mercy of a criminal, Watson again unknowingly writes a significant line, in light of the ending. When Mrs. Barrymore confesses that Selden is her brother, he asks if “it is possible that this stolidly respectable person was of the same blood as one of the most notorious criminals in the country?” The word “stolidly” (and the previous chapter’s description of her being “a heavy, solid person”) is not unlike Watson’s phrase “very sturdily built” when he first meets Sir Henry, both referring to a certain steadfastness in their characters, whether physically or intellectually. The true impact of the line though comes when Sir Henry is later discovered to be “of the same blood” as the person behind the Baskerville mystery.
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McCauley, Kelly. "TheBestNotes on The Hound of the Baskervilles".
. 09 May 2017