The legend of the Baskerville hound, a ghostly dog haunting every generation of that respectable Devonshire family, was not the kind of thing a man of science like Dr Mortimer took seriously. Yet after Sir Charles Baskerville was found dead, something made him rush up to London to consult Sherlock Holmes.
“FINALLY I carefully examined the body, which had not been touched until my arrival. Sir Charles lay on his face, his arms out, his fingers dug into the ground, and his features convulsed with some strong emotion to such an extent that I could hardly have sworn to his identity.
“There was certainly no physical injury of any kind. But one false statement was made by Barrymore* at the inquest. He said that there were no traces upon the ground round the body. He did not observe any. But I did — some little distance off, but fresh and clear.”
“A man’s or a woman’s?”
Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered.
“Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound.”
* Barrymore was Sir Charles’s butler.