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"We're at close grips at last," said Holmes as we walked together across the moor. "What a nerve the fellow has! How he pulled himself together in the face of what must have been a paralyzing shock when he found that the wrong man had fallen a victim to his plot. I told you in London, Watson, and I tell you now again, that we have never had a foeman more worthy of our steel."

"I am sorry that he has seen you."

"And so was I at first. But there was no getting out of it."

"What effect do you think it will have upon his plans now that he knows you are here?"

"It may cause him to be more cautious, or it may drive him to desperate measures at once. Like most clever criminals, he may be too confident in his own cleverness and imagine that he has completely deceived us."

"Why should we not arrest him at once?"

"My dear Watson, you were born to be a man of action. Your instinct is always to do something energetic. But supposing, for argument's sake, that we had him arrested to-night, what on earth the better off should we be for that? We could prove nothing against him. There's the devilish cunning of it! If he were acting through a human agent we could get some evidence, but if we were to drag this great dog to the light of day it would not help us in putting a rope round the neck of its master."

"Surely we have a case."

"Not a shadow of one--only surmise and conjecture. We should be laughed out of court if we came with such a story and such evidence."

"There is Sir Charles's death."

"Found dead without a mark upon him. You and I know that he died of sheer fright, and we know also what frightened him; but how are we to get twelve stolid jurymen to know it? What signs are there of a hound? Where are the marks of its fangs? Of course we know that a hound does not bite a dead body and that Sir Charles was dead before ever the brute overtook him. But we have to prove all this, and we are not in a position to do it."

"Well, then, to-night?"

"We are not much better off to-night. Again, there was no direct connection between the hound and the man's death. We never saw the hound. We heard it; but we could not prove that it was running upon this man's trail. There is a complete absence of motive. No, my dear fellow; we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that we have no case at present, and that it is worth our while to run any risk in order to establish one."

"And how do you propose to do so?"

"I have great hopes of what Mrs. Laura Lyons may do for us when the position of affairs is made clear to her. And I have my own plan as well. Sufficient for to-morrow is the evil thereof; but I hope before the day is past to have the upper hand at last."

I could draw nothing further from him, and he walked, lost in thought, as far as the Baskerville gates.

"Are you coming up?"

"Yes; I see no reason for further concealment. But one last word, Watson. Say nothing of the hound to Sir Henry. Let him think that Selden's death was as Stapleton would have us believe. He will have a better nerve for the ordeal which he will have to undergo to-morrow, when he is engaged, if I remember your report aright, to dine with these people."

"And so am I."

"Then you must excuse yourself and he must go alone. That will be easily arranged. And now, if we are too late for dinner, I think that we are both ready for our suppers."

Sir Henry was more pleased than surprised to see Sherlock Holmes, for he had for some days been expecting that recent events would bring him down from London. He did raise his eyebrows, however, when he found that my friend had neither any luggage nor any explanations for its absence. Between us we soon supplied his wants, and then over a belated supper we explained to the baronet as much of our experience as it seemed desirable that he should know. But first I had the unpleasant duty of breaking the news to Barrymore and his wife. To him it may have been an unmitigated relief, but she wept bitterly in her apron. To all the world he was the man of violence, half animal and half demon; but to her he always remained the little wilful boy of her own girlhood, the child who had clung to her hand. Evil indeed is the man who has not one woman to mourn him.

"I've been moping in the house all day since Watson went off in the morning," said the baronet. "I guess I should have some credit, for I have kept my promise. If I hadn't sworn not to go about alone I might have had a more lively evening, for I had a message from Stapleton asking me over there."

"I have no doubt that you would have had a more lively evening," said Holmes drily. "By the way, I don't suppose you appreciate that we have been mourning over you as having broken your neck?"

Sir Henry opened his eyes. "How was that?"

"This poor wretch was dressed in your clothes. I fear your servant who gave them to him may get into trouble with the police."

"That is unlikely. There was no mark on any of them, as far as I know."

"That's lucky for him--in fact, it's lucky for all of you, since you are all on the wrong side of the law in this matter. I am not sure that as a conscientious detective my first duty is not to arrest the whole household. Watson's reports are most incriminating documents."

"But how about the case?" asked the baronet. "Have you made anything out of the tangle? I don't know that Watson and I are much the wiser since we came down."

"I think that I shall be in a position to make the situation rather more clear to you before long. It has been an exceedingly difficult and most complicated business. There are several points upon which we still want light--but it is coming all the same."

"We've had one experience, as Watson has no doubt told you. We heard the hound on the moor, so I can swear that it is not all empty superstition. I had something to do with dogs when I was out West, and I know one when I hear one. If you can muzzle that one and put him on a chain I'll be ready to swear you are the greatest detective of all time."

"I think I will muzzle him and chain him all right if you will give me your help."

"Whatever you tell me to do I will do."

"Very good; and I will ask you also to do it blindly, without always asking the reason."

"Just as you like."

"If you will do this I think the chances are that our little problem will soon be solved. I have no doubt----"

He stopped suddenly and stared fixedly up over my head into the air. The lamp beat upon his face, and so intent was it and so still that it might have been that of a clear-cut classical statue, a personification of alertness and expectation.

"What is it?" we both cried.

I could see as he looked down that he was repressing some internal emotion. His features were still composed, but his eyes shone with amused exultation.

"Excuse the admiration of a connoisseur," said he as he waved his hand towards the line of portraits which covered the opposite wall. "Watson won't allow that I know anything of art, but that is mere jealousy, because our views upon the subject differ. Now, these are a really very fine series of portraits."

"Well, I'm glad to hear you say so," said Sir Henry, glancing with some surprise at my friend. "I don't pretend to know much about these things, and I'd be a better judge of a horse or a steer than of a picture. I didn't know that you found time for such things."

"I know what is good when I see it, and I see it now. That's a Kneller, I'll swear, that lady in the blue silk over yonder, and the stout gentleman with the wig ought to be a Reynolds. They are all family portraits, I presume?"

"Every one."

"Do you know the names?"

"Barrymore has been coaching me in them, and I think I can say my lessons fairly well."

"Who is the gentleman with the telescope?"

"That is Rear-Admiral Baskerville, who served under Rodney in the West Indies. The man with the blue coat and the roll of paper is Sir William Baskerville, who was Chairman of Committees of the House of Commons under Pitt."

"And this Cavalier opposite to me--the one with the black velvet and the lace?"

"Ah, you have a right to know about him. That is the cause of all the mischief, the wicked Hugo, who started the Hound of the Baskervilles. We're not likely to forget him."

I gazed with interest and some surprise upon the portrait.

"Dear me!" said Holmes, "he seems a quiet, meek-mannered man enough, but I dare say that there was a lurking devil in his eyes. I had pictured him as a more robust and ruffianly person."

"There's no doubt about the authenticity, for the name and the date, 1647, are on the back of the canvas."

Holmes said little more, but the picture of the old roysterer seemed to have a fascination for him, and his eyes were continually fixed upon it during supper. It was not until later, when Sir Henry had gone to his room, that I was able to follow the trend of his thoughts. He led me back into the banqueting-hall, his bedroom candle in his hand, and he held it up against the time-stained portrait on the wall.

"Do you see anything there?"

I looked at the broad plumed hat, the curling love-locks, the white lace collar, and the straight, severe face which was framed between them. It was not a brutal countenance, but it was prim, hard, and stern, with a firm-set, thin-lipped mouth, and a coldly intolerant eye.

"Is it like anyone you know?"

"There is something of Sir Henry about the jaw."

"Just a suggestion, perhaps. But wait an instant!" He stood upon a chair, and, holding up the light in his left hand, he curved his right arm over the broad hat and round the long ringlets.

"Good heavens!" I cried, in amazement.

The face of Stapleton had sprung out of the canvas.

"Ha, you see it now. My eyes have been trained to examine faces and not their trimmings. It is the first quality of a criminal investigator that he should see through a disguise."

"But this is marvellous. It might be his portrait."

"Yes, it is an interesting instance of a throwback, which appears to be both physical and spiritual. A study of family portraits is enough to convert a man to the doctrine of reincarnation. The fellow is a Baskerville--that is evident."

"With designs upon the succession."

"Exactly. This chance of the picture has supplied us with one of our most obvious missing links. We have him, Watson, we have him, and I dare swear that before to-morrow night he will be fluttering in our net as helpless as one of his own butterflies. A pin, a cork, and a card, and we add him to the Baker Street collection!" He burst into one of his rare fits of laughter as he turned away from the picture. I have not heard him laugh often, and it has always boded ill to somebody.

I was up betimes in the morning, but Holmes was afoot earlier still, for I saw him as I dressed, coming up the drive.

"Yes, we should have a full day to-day," he remarked, and he rubbed his hands with the joy of action. "The nets are all in place, and the drag is about to begin. We'll know before the day is out whether we have caught our big, lean-jawed pike, or whether he has got through the meshes."

"Have you been on the moor already?"

"I have sent a report from Grimpen to Princetown as to the death of Selden. I think I can promise that none of you will be troubled in the matter. And I have also communicated with my faithful Cartwright, who would certainly have pined away at the door of my hut, as a dog does at his master's grave, if I had not set his mind at rest about my safety."

"What is the next move?"

"To see Sir Henry. Ah, here he is!"

"Good morning, Holmes," said the baronet. "You look like a general who is planning a battle with his chief of the staff."

"That is the exact situation. Watson was asking for orders."

"And so do I."

"Very good. You are engaged, as I understand, to dine with our friends the Stapletons to-night."

"I hope that you will come also. They are very hospitable people, and I am sure that they would be very glad to see you."

"I fear that Watson and I must go to London."

"To London?"

"Yes, I think that we should be more useful there at the present juncture."

The baronet's face perceptibly lengthened.

"I hoped that you were going to see me through this business. The Hall and the moor are not very pleasant places when one is alone."

"My dear fellow, you must trust me implicitly and do exactly what I tell you. You can tell your friends that we should have been happy to have come with you, but that urgent business required us to be in town. We hope very soon to return to Devonshire. Will you remember to give them that message?"

"If you insist upon it."

"There is no alternative, I assure you."

I saw by the baronet's clouded brow that he was deeply hurt by what he regarded as our desertion.

"When do you desire to go?" he asked coldly.

"Immediately after breakfast. We will drive in to Coombe Tracey, but Watson will leave his things as a pledge that he will come back to you. Watson, you will send a note to Stapleton to tell him that you regret that you cannot come."

"I have a good mind to go to London with you," said the baronet. "Why should I stay here alone?"

"Because it is your post of duty. Because you gave me your word that you would do as you were told, and I tell you to stay."

"All right, then, I'll stay."

"One more direction! I wish you to drive to Merripit House. Send back your trap, however, and let them know that you intend to walk home."

"To walk across the moor?"

"Yes."

"But that is the very thing which you have so often cautioned me not to do."

"This time you may do it with safety. If I had not every confidence in your nerve and courage I would not suggest it, but it is essential that you should do it."

"Then I will do it."

"And as you value your life do not go across the moor in any direction save along the straight path which leads from Merripit House to the Grimpen Road, and is your natural way home."

"I will do just what you say."

"Very good. I should be glad to get away as soon after breakfast as possible, so as to reach London in the afternoon."

I was much astounded by this programme, though I remembered that Holmes had said to Stapleton on the night before that his visit would terminate next day. It had not crossed my mind, however, that he would wish me to go with him, nor could I understand how we could both be absent at a moment which he himself declared to be critical. There was nothing for it, however, but implicit obedience; so we bade good-bye to our rueful friend, and a couple of hours afterwards we were at the station of Coombe Tracey and had dispatched the trap upon its return journey. A small boy was waiting upon the platform.

"Any orders, sir?"

"You will take this train to town, Cartwright. The moment you arrive you will send a wire to Sir Henry Baskerville, in my name, to say that if he finds the pocket-book which I have dropped he is to send it by registered post to Baker Street."

"Yes, sir."

"And ask at the station office if there is a message for me."

The boy returned with a telegram, which Holmes handed to me. It ran: "Wire received. Coming down with unsigned warrant. Arrive five-forty.--LESTRADE."

"That is in answer to mine of this morning. He is the best of the professionals, I think, and we may need his assistance. Now, Watson, I think that we cannot employ our time better than by calling upon your acquaintance, Mrs. Laura Lyons."

His plan of campaign was beginning to be evident. He would use the baronet in order to convince the Stapletons that we were really gone, while we should actually return at the instant when we were likely to be needed. That telegram from London, if mentioned by Sir Henry to the Stapletons, must remove the last suspicions from their minds. Already I seemed to see our nets drawing closer around that lean-jawed pike.

Mrs. Laura Lyons was in her office, and Sherlock Holmes opened his interview with a frankness and directness which considerably amazed her.

"I am investigating the circumstances which attended the death of the late Sir Charles Baskerville," said he. "My friend here, Dr. Watson, has informed me of what you have communicated, and also of what you have withheld in connection with that matter."

"What have I withheld?" she asked defiantly.

"You have confessed that you asked Sir Charles to be at the gate at ten o'clock. We know that that was the place and hour of his death. You have withheld what the connection is between these events."

"There is no connection."

"In that case the coincidence must indeed be an extraordinary one. But I think that we shall succeed in establishing a connection after all. I wish to be perfectly frank with you, Mrs. Lyons. We regard this case as one of murder, and the evidence may implicate not only your friend Mr. Stapleton, but his wife as well."

The lady sprang from her chair.

"His wife!" she cried.

"The fact is no longer a secret. The person who has passed for his sister is really his wife."

Mrs. Lyons had resumed her seat. Her hands were grasping the arms of her chair, and I saw that the pink nails had turned white with the pressure of her grip.

"His wife!" she said again. "His wife! He is not a married man."

Sherlock Holmes shrugged his shoulders.

"Prove it to me! Prove it to me! And if you can do so --!" The fierce flash of her eyes said more than any words.

"I have come prepared to do so," said Holmes, drawing several papers from his pocket. "Here is a photograph of the couple taken in York four years ago. It is indorsed 'Mr. and Mrs. Vandeleur,' but you will have no difficulty in recognizing him, and her also, if you know her by sight. Here are three written descriptions by trustworthy witnesses of Mr. and Mrs. Vandeleur, who at that time kept St. Oliver's private school. Read them and see if you can doubt the identity of these people."

She glanced at them, and then looked up at us with the set, rigid face of a desperate woman.

"Mr. Holmes," she said, "this man had offered me marriage on condition that I could get a divorce from my husband. He has lied to me, the villain, in every conceivable way. Not one word of truth has he ever told me. And why--why? I imagined that all was for my own sake. But now I see that I was never anything but a tool in his hands. Why should I preserve faith with him who never kept any with me? Why should I try to shield him from the consequences of his own wicked acts? Ask me what you like, and there is nothing which I shall hold back. One thing I swear to you, and that is that when I wrote the letter I never dreamed of any harm to the old gentleman, who had been my kindest friend."

"I entirely believe you, madam," said Sherlock Holmes. "The recital of these events must be very painful to you, and perhaps it will make it easier if I tell you what occurred, and you can check me if I make any material mistake. The sending of this letter was suggested to you by Stapleton?"

"He dictated it."

"I presume that the reason he gave was that you would receive help from Sir Charles for the legal expenses connected with your divorce?"

"Exactly."

"And then after you had sent the letter he dissuaded you from keeping the appointment?"

"He told me that it would hurt his self-respect that any other man should find the money for such an object, and that though he was a poor man himself he would devote his last penny to removing the obstacles which divided us."

"He appears to be a very consistent character. And then you heard nothing until you read the reports of the death in the paper?"

"No."

"And he made you swear to say nothing about your appointment with Sir Charles?"

"He did. He said that the death was a very mysterious one, and that I should certainly be suspected if the facts came out. He frightened me into remaining silent."

"Quite so. But you had your suspicions?"

She hesitated and looked down.

"I knew him," she said. "But if he had kept faith with me I should always have done so with him."

"I think that on the whole you have had a fortunate escape," said Sherlock Holmes. "You have had him in your power and he knew it, and yet you are alive. You have been walking for some months very near to the edge of a precipice. We must wish you good-morning now, Mrs. Lyons, and it is probable that you will very shortly hear from us again."

"Our case becomes rounded off, and difficulty after difficulty thins away in front of us," said Holmes as we stood waiting for the arrival of the express from town. "I shall soon be in the position of being able to put into a single connected narrative one of the most singular and sensational crimes of modern times. Students of criminology will remember the analogous incidents in Godno, in Little Russia, in the year '66, and of course there are the Anderson murders in North Carolina, but this case possesses some features which are entirely its own. Even now we have no clear case against this very wily man. But I shall be very much surprised if it is not clear enough before we go to bed this night."

The London express came roaring into the station, and a small, wiry bulldog of a man had sprung from a first-class carriage. We all three shook hands, and I saw at once from the reverential way in which Lestrade gazed at my companion that he had learned a good deal since the days when they had first worked together. I could well remember the scorn which the theories of the reasoner used then to excite in the practical man.

"Anything good?" he asked.

"The biggest thing for years," said Holmes. "We have two hours before we need think of starting. I think we might employ it in getting some dinner and then, Lestrade, we will take the London fog out of your throat by giving you a breath of the pure night air of Dartmoor. Never been there? Ah, well, I don't suppose you will forget your first visit."

“咱们终于就要抓住他了,”当我们一起走过沼地的时候,福尔摩斯这样说,“这家伙的神经可真够坚强的!当他发现他那阴谋已经错杀了人,面临着本应使人万分惊愕的情况的时候,他是多么地镇定啊。我曾在伦敦和你讲过,华生,现在我还要和你讲,咱们从来没遇见过比他更值得一斗的对手呢。”

“我感到很遗憾,他竟看到了你。”

“我起初也这样感觉,可是这是毫无办法的事。”

“现在他已知道了你在这里,你认为对于他的计划会发生什么影响呢?”

“可能会使他变得更加谨慎,或许会使他马上采取不顾一切的手段。和大多数有点鬼聪明的罪犯一样,他可能会过分地相信了自己的小聪明,并且想象他已经完全把咱们骗过去了。”

“咱们为什么不马上逮捕他呢?”

“我亲爱的华生,你天生就是个急于采取行动的人,你的本能总是促使你想痛快淋漓地干点什么。咱们可以谈谈,假设咱们今晚把他逮捕了,可是这样做对咱们究竟有什么好处呢?对他不利的事,咱们什么也证明不了。这里边有魔鬼一样的狡猾手段,如果他是通过一个人来进行活动,咱们还可以找到些证据,可是如果咱们在光天化日之下拉出这条大狗来,对于咱们想把绳子套在它主人脖子上的计划是毫无帮助的。”

“咱们当然有证据啊。”

“连个影子也没有啊——咱们的证据只不过是些推测和猜想罢了。如果咱们所有的只是这样一段故事和这样的‘证据’,那咱们会被人家从法庭里给笑出来呢。”

“查尔兹爵士的死不就是证据吗?”

“他死得身上毫无伤痕,虽然你和我都知道,他完全是被吓死的,而且咱们也知道是什么把他吓死的。可是咱们怎能使十二个陪审员也相信这一点呢。哪里有猎狗的踪迹,哪里有它那狗牙的痕迹呀?咱们当然知道,猎狗是不会咬死尸的,而查尔兹爵士又是在那畜生赶上他之前死的。关于这些东西咱们都得加以证明才行,可是现在却办不到。”

“那么,今晚的事难道也不能证明吗?”

“今天晚上,咱们的情况也没有好了多少。又是上次那样,猎狗和那人的死亡之间并没有什么直接的联系。咱们没有见到那只猎狗,虽听到过它的声音,可是并不能证明它就跟在那人的后面,简直就是毫无来由。不,亲爱的伙伴,咱们必须承认一个事实:咱们目前对全案还没有得出完整合理的结论,任何能获得合理结论的冒险行动都是值得咱们去干一下的。”

“你认为应该怎样干法呢?”

“我对劳拉·莱昂丝太太所能给予咱们的帮助抱有很大希望,只要把实情向她讲清就行了。此外我还有自己的计划。 今天就单管今天好了,何必多虑明天呢?可是我希望明天就能占了上风。”

我从他口中再也问不出什么东西来了,在到达巴斯克维尔庄园的大门以前,他一面走着,一面沉醉在冥想之中。

“你也进去吗?”

“嗯,我看没有什么理由再躲起来了。可是,最后还有一句话,华生。可别对亨利爵士谈起那猎狗的事来,就让他把塞尔丹的死因想成斯台普吞所希望我们相信的那样子吧。这样他就能以较坚强的神经来迎接明天必须经受的苦难了。如果我没有记错你的报告的话,他们已经约好明天要到斯台普吞家去吃晚饭的。”

“他们也和我约好了。”

“那么,你一定得借口谢绝,他必须单身前去,那样就容易安排了。现在,如果说咱们已经过了吃晚饭的时间的话,我想咱们两人可以吃夜宵了。”

亨利爵士见到了歇洛克·福尔摩斯,与其说是惊奇,不如说是高兴,因为几天来他都在盼着,希望最近发生的事会促使他从伦敦到这里来。可是,当他发现我的朋友既没有带任何行李,也没有对不带行李的原因加以解释的时候,倒确曾表示了惊疑。不久,我们就给他匀出来了他所需要的东西,在很晚才吃的夜宵中间,我们把在我们的遭遇之中看来准男爵应该知道的部分都尽量讲给他听了。此外我还负起了将这一消息透露给白瑞摩夫妇的不愉快的责任。对白瑞摩说来,这倒可能是件大大舒心的事,可是她听了之后竟抓起围裙痛哭起来。对全世界的人说来,他都是个凶暴的、半是野兽半是魔鬼的人;可是在她的心目中,他却永远是幼时和她同处的那个任性的、紧抓着她的手不放的孩子。这个人可真是罪大恶极了,临死时连一个哭他的女人都没有。

“自从早晨华生出去之后,我在家里整天都感到闷闷不乐,”准男爵说道,“我想我还是值得受到表扬的,因为我恪守了我的诺言。如果我没有发过誓说决不单独外出的话,也许我就能去过一个愉快的夜晚了,因为我曾接到斯台普吞一封信,请我到他那里去。”

“我相信您如果真的去了,确实是会过一个比较愉快的夜晚的,”福尔摩斯冷淡地说道,“可是,我们却曾以为您已摔断了脖子而大为伤心呢,我想您总不会因为知道了这一点而感到高兴吧?”

亨利爵士睁大了眼睛吃惊地问:“怎么回事啊?”

“那个可怜的坏蛋穿的是您的衣服,恐怕是您的仆人送给他的吧。说不定警察还会来找他的麻烦呢。”

“恐怕不会,据我所知,在那些衣服上,哪一件也没有记号。”

“那他真是运气——事实上你们都很运气,因为在这件事情里,就法律而言,你们都已犯了罪。作为一个公正的侦探来说,我几乎可以肯定,我的责任首先就是要将你们全家逮捕。华生的报告就是定你们罪的最有力的证明。”

“可是咱们的案子怎么样了呢?”准男爵问道,“在这乱糟糟的一堆里,您摸到什么头绪了没有?我觉得,华生和我两人自从到了这里以来是并不怎样聪明的。”

“我想,不久我就可以把有关的情况弄得更清楚些了。这真是一件极为困难和最最复杂的案件,现在还有几点我们弄不明白——可是不久就会弄明白了。”

“我们曾经遇到过一次,华生一定早已告诉过您了。我们在沼地里听到了那猎狗的叫声,因此我敢发誓说,那决不全是无稽的迷信。在美洲西部的时候,我曾摆弄过一阵子狗,我一听就能知道。如果您能给这只狗戴上笼头、套上铁链的话,我就发誓承认您是前所未有的大侦探了。”

“我想只要您肯帮助,我就一定能给它戴上笼头,套上铁链。”

“无论您让我干什么我都干。”

“很好,我还得要求您盲目地去做,而不要老是问为什么,为什么。”

“就听您的吧。”

“如果您这样做,我想咱们的小问题不久就能解决了。我确信——”

他突然住口不说了,凝神注视着我头顶以上的地方。灯光照在他的脸上,那样的专心,那样的安静,几乎象是一座古代典型的轮廓鲜明的雕像——机警和企望的化身。

“什么啊?”我们两人都站了起来。

当他两眼下望的时候,我看得出来,他是在抑制着内心的激动。他那表情虽还依然镇静自若,可是他的眼睛里却闪烁出狂喜的光芒。

“请原谅鉴赏家的赞赏吧。”他一边说着一边挥手指着挂满对面墙上的一排肖像,“华生是不会承认我懂得什么艺术的,可是,那不过是嫉妒罢了,因为我们对一件作品的看法总是不同的。啊,这些人像画得可真是好。”

“噢,您这样说,我听了很高兴,”亨利爵士说道,一面以惊异的眼光望了望我的朋友,“对于这些东西,我不敢假充内行。我对马或是阉牛要比对一张画会品评得多了。我真不知道您竟能有时间搞这些玩艺儿。”

“好在哪里,我一眼就能看出来,我现在就看出来了。我敢发誓,那是一张奈勒[奈勒:旅居伦敦的德国著名人像画家(1646—1723)。——译者注]画的画像,就是那边那个穿着蓝绸衣服的女人像;而那个胖胖的戴着假发的绅士像则一定出自瑞诺茨[瑞诺茨:英国著名人像画家(1723—1792)。——译者注]的手笔。我想这些都是您家里人的画像吧?”

“所有的都是。”

“人名您都知道吗?”

“白瑞摩曾经详细地告诉过我,我想我还能背得不错呢。”

“拿着望远镜的那位绅士是谁呀?”

“那是巴斯克维尔海军少将,他是在西印度群岛在罗德尼麾下任职的。那穿着蓝色外衣、拿着一卷纸的是威廉·巴斯克维尔爵士,在庇特任首相时期,他任下议院委员会的主席。”

“还有我对面的这个骑士——穿着黑天鹅绒斗篷、挂着绶带的这位呢?”

“啊,您可得知道他——品质恶劣的修果,他就是一切不幸的根源,巴斯克维尔的猎狗的传说就是从他开始的。我们不会忘掉他的。”

我也很感兴趣并有些惊奇地望着那张肖像。

“天哪!”福尔摩斯说,“看样子他确象一位态度安详而又柔顺的人,可是我敢说,在他的眼里暗藏着乖戾的神气。我曾把他想象成一个比这要更粗暴、凶残得多的人呢。”

“这张画像的真实性是不容怀疑的,因为画布的背面还写着姓名和年代‘1647’呢。”

福尔摩斯没有再多说什么话,可是那老酗酒鬼的画像似乎对他发生着魔力,在吃夜宵的时候,他的眼还不断地盯着那张画像。直到后来,当亨利爵士回到他自己的房间去以后,我才能摸清了他的思路。他又把我领回宴会厅去,手里拿着寝室的蜡烛,高举起来,照着挂在墙上的由于年代久远而显得颜色暗淡的肖像。

“你在画像上能看出什么东西来吗?”

我望着那装有羽饰的宽檐帽,额旁的卷曲发穗,镶着白花边的领圈和这些陪衬中间的那副一本正经的严肃面孔。虽说不上暴戾,却也显得粗鲁,冰冷和严峻,有着薄薄的双唇,紧闭着嘴,还有一对显得冷漠和顽固的眼睛。

“是不是象一个你认识的人?”

“下巴有些象亨利爵士。”

“也许隐约有一点。等会儿!”他站在一只椅子上,左手举起蜡烛,把右臂弯曲着掩住宽檐帽和下垂的长条发卷。

“天哪!”我惊奇地叫了起来。

好象是斯台普吞的面孔由画布里跳了出来。

“哈哈,你看出来了吧。我的眼睛是久经训练的,专能检查容貌而不致被附属的装饰物所蒙蔽。这是罪犯侦察人员的首要特点,应该能看破任何伪装。”

“简直太妙了,说不定这就是他的画像呢。”

“是啊,这确是一个返祖遗传的有趣的实例,而且是同时表现在肉体和精神两方面的。研究家族肖像足以使人相信来世投胎轮回的说法。显而易见,这家伙是巴斯克维尔家的后代。”

“还怀着篡夺财产继承权的阴谋呢。”

“确是如此,这张画像还碰巧供给了我们一个显然是最迫切需要的线索。咱们算是抓住他了,华生,咱们算是抓住他了。我敢发誓说,明晚之前他就要在咱们的网子里象他自己所捉的蝴蝶一样地绝望地乱拍翅膀了。只要一根针、一块软木和一张卡片,咱们就可以把他放进贝克街的标本陈列室里去了!”

当他离开那画像的时候,他突然发出了少有的大笑。我不常听到他笑,只要他一笑,总是说明有人就要倒霉了。

第二天早晨我很早就起来了,可是福尔摩斯比我还要早些,因为我在穿衣服的时候,看到他正沿着车道从外边走回来。

“啊,今天咱们得好好地干他一天!”他说着,一面由于行动之前的喜悦搓着双手,“网是全部下好了,眼看就要往回拉了。今天咱们就能见个分晓,究竟是咱们把那条尖嘴大梭鱼捉住呢,还是它由咱们的网眼里溜掉。”

“你已经到沼地里去过了吗?”

“我已经由格林盆发了一份关于塞尔丹死亡的报告到王子镇去了。我想我能许下诺言,你们之中谁也不会再因为这件事而发生麻烦了。我还和我那忠实的卡特莱联系了一下,如果我不使他知道我是安全无恙的话,他一定会象一只守在它主人坟墓旁边的狗一样地在我那小屋门口憔悴死的。”

“下一步怎么办呢?”

“那得去找亨利爵士商量一下。啊,他来了!”

“早安,福尔摩斯,”准男爵说道,“您真象是一个正在和参谋长计划一次战役的将军。”

“正是这样。华生正在向我请求命令呢。”

“我也是来听候差遣的。”

“很好,据我了解,您今晚被约去咱们的朋友斯台普吞家吃饭吧?”

“我希望您也去。他们很好客,而且我敢说,他们见到您一定会很高兴的。”

“恐怕华生和我一定要去伦敦呢。”

“到伦敦去?”

“是的,我想在这个时候我们去伦敦要比在这里更有用得多了。”

可以看得出来,准男爵的脸上显出了不高兴的样子。

“我希望您能看着我度过这一关。一个人单独住在这个庄园和这片沼地里可不是一件很愉快的事啊。”

“我亲爱的伙伴,您一定得完全信任我,彻底按照我吩咐您的那样去做。您可以告诉咱们的朋友说,我们本来是很愿意跟您一起去的,可是有件急事要求我们一定得回到城里去。我们希望不久就能再回到德文郡来。您能把这口信带给他们吗?”

“如果您坚持那样的话。”

“也只能如此了,我肯定地和您说吧。”

我从准男爵紧锁的眉头上可以看出,他认为我们是弃他而去,因而深感不快。

“你们想什么时候走呢?”他语调冷淡地问道。

“早餐之后马上便走。我们要坐车先到库姆·特雷西去,可是华生把行李杂物都留下来,作为他仍将回到您这里来的保证。华生,你应当写封信给斯台普吞,说明你不能赴约并向他表示歉意才是啊。”

“我真想和你们一同到伦敦去。”准男爵说,“我干什么要一个人留在这里呢?”

“因为这就是您的职责所在。您曾经答应过我,让您干什么您就干什么,所以我就让您留在这里。”

“那么,好吧,我就留下吧。”

“再向您提出一个要求,我希望您坐马车去梅利琵宅邸,然后把您的马车打发回来,让他们知道,您是打算走着回家的。”

“走过沼地吗?”

“对了。”

“可是,这正是您常常嘱咐我不要作的事啊!”

“这一次您这样做,保证安全。如果我对您的神经和勇气没有完全的信任的话,我也不会提出这样的建议来。您千万得这样做啊。”

“那么,我就这样做吧。”

“如果您珍视您的性命的话,穿过沼地的时候,除了从梅利琵宅邸直通格林盆大路的直路之外,不要走别的方向,那是您回家的必经之路。”

“我一定根据您所说的去做。”

“很好。我倒愿意在早饭之后愈快动身愈好,这样下午就能到伦敦了。”

虽然我还记得福尔摩斯昨天晚上曾和斯台普吞说过,他的拜访是到第二天为止的,可是这个行程的计划还是使我为之大吃一惊,我怎么也没有想到他会希望我和他一起走。我也弄不明白,在他亲口说是最危险的时刻,我们两人怎能全都离开呢?可是毫无办法,只有盲目地服从。这样,我们就向愠怒的朋友告了别,两小时之后我们就到了库姆·特雷西车站,随即把马车打发回去。月台上有个小男孩在等着我们。

“有什么吩咐吗,先生?”

“卡特莱,你就坐这趟车进城吧。你一到地方,马上用我的名字给亨利·巴斯克维尔爵士打一封电报,就说如果他找到了我遗落在那里的记事本的话,请他用挂号给我寄到贝克街去。”

“好的,先生。”

“现在你先到车站邮局去问问有没有给我的信。”

那孩子一会儿便带着一封电报回来了,福尔摩斯看了看便递给了我。上面写着: 电报收到。即携空白拘票前去。五点四十分抵达。

雷斯垂德“这是我早晨那封电报的回电。我认为他是公家侦探里最能干的了,咱们可能还需要他的协助呢。噢,华生,我想咱们最好是利用这段时间去拜访你的相识劳拉·莱昂丝太太去吧。”

他的作战计划开始露了头,他是想利用准男爵使斯台普吞夫妇确信我们真的已经离去,而实际上我们却随时都可能出现在任何可能需要我们的地方。如果亨利爵士向斯台普吞夫妇提起由伦敦发来的电报的话,就能完全消除他们心里的怀疑了。我好象已经看到,我们围绕那条尖嘴梭鱼布下的网正在愈拉愈紧。

劳拉·莱昂丝太太正在她的办公室里。歇洛克·福尔摩斯以坦白直爽的态度开始了他的访问谈话,这一点倒使她很吃惊。

“我正在调查与已故的查尔兹·巴斯克维尔爵士的暴死有关的情况,”他说道,“我的这位朋友华生医生已经向我报告了您所谈过的话,同时还说,您对此事还有若干隐瞒之处。”

“我隐瞒过什么?”她以挑战的口气问道。

“您已经承认了,您曾要求查尔兹爵士在十点钟的时候到那门口去。我们知道,那正是他死去的时间和地点。您隐瞒了这些事件之间的关联。”

“这些事件之间并没有什么关联啊!”

“如果是那样的话,这倒确实是件极为奇特的巧合了。可是,我觉得我们总会找出其中的联系来的。我愿意对您坦白到底,莱昂丝太太,我们认为这是一件谋杀案。根据已有的证据来看,不仅是您的朋友斯台普吞,就连他的太太也可能要被牵连进去的。”

那女士猛然由椅子里跳了起来。

“他的太太!?”她惊呼道。

“这件事实已不再是秘密了。被当作是他妹妹的那个人实际上就是他的妻子。”

莱昂丝太太又坐了下去,两手紧抓着扶手,我看到由于她紧握双手的压力,使得那粉红色的指甲都已变成白色了。

“他的太太!?”她又说了一遍,“他的太太,他还没有结过婚啊!”

歇洛克·福尔摩斯耸了耸肩。

“给我拿出证明来啊!给我证明啊!如果您能这样的话……”她那可怕的闪烁的眼神,比什么话都更能说明问题。

“我到这里来就是准备给您证明的,”福尔摩斯一边说着,一边从口袋里抽出几张纸来,“这是四年前他们夫妇在约克郡拍的一张像片。背面写的是‘凡戴勒先生和夫人’,可是您不难认出他来,如果您和他太太见过面的话,她也是不难认出来的。这是几个可靠的证人寄来的三份关于凡戴勒先生和太太的材料,他那时开着一所私立圣·奥利弗小学。读一读吧,看您是否还会怀疑是不是这两个人。”

她看了看他俩的合影,然后又抬起头来望着我们,冷冰冰地板着面孔,现出一种完全绝望的神情。

“福尔摩斯先生,”她说道,“这个人曾向我提议,只要我能和我丈夫离婚,他就和我结婚。这个坏蛋,他为了骗我。什么花招都想出来了,他没有和我说过一句实话。可是为什么……为什么呢?我一直认为一切都是为了我的原故。现在我才算明白了,我一直就是他手里的工具。他对我从没有丝毫真情,我为什么要对他保持忠诚呢,我为什么要掩护他,使他免食自己所犯罪行的恶果呢?您愿意问什么就问我吧!我是什么也不会隐瞒的了。不过有一点,我可以对您发誓,就是当我写那封信的时候,我从没有想到会有害于那位老绅士,他是待我最好的朋友了。”

“我完全相信您,太太,”歇洛克·福尔摩斯说,“重述这些事情,对您说来一定会是很痛苦的。不妨让我先把事情的原委说一遍,然后您再来检查一下,看其中是否有什么重大的错误,这样您或许可以好受一些。那封信是斯台普吞建议您写的吧?”

“是他口授,我写的。”

“我想,他提出让您写信的理由是:您可以由此得到查尔兹爵士在经济上的帮助,作为您在离婚诉讼中的费用吧?”

“正是这样。”

“等您把信发出去之后,他又劝阻您不要前往赴约?”

“他对我说,为这样的目的而让别人出钱非常有伤他的自尊心,还说,他虽然是个穷人,也要花尽自己最后的一个铜板,来消除使我俩分离的障碍。”

“看来他倒很象是个言行一致的人呢。以后您除了由报纸上看到那件有关死亡案的报道之外,就再没有听到过什么了吧?”

“对了。”

“他还曾叫您发誓,决不要说出您和查尔兹爵士的约会吧?”

“是的,他说那是一件很神秘的暴死,如果被人知道了我们的约会的话,我一定会遭受嫌疑的。这样一来,他就把我吓得不敢说话了。”

“正是这样,可是您对他也有自己的怀疑吧?”

她犹豫了一下就低下头去了。

“我知道他的为人,”她说道,“可是如果他保持对我真诚的话,我也就会永远保持对他的忠诚。”

“总起来说,我认为您还是脱身得很幸运呢,”歇洛克·福尔摩斯说道,“他已经落在您的掌握之中了,这一点他是知道的,可是您竟依然还活着而没有被他害死。几个月来,您都在紧靠着悬崖绝壁的边缘上徘徊。现在我们非得向您告别不可了,莱昂丝太太,也许不久您就能又听到我们的消息了。”

“咱们破案前的准备工作算是完成了,困难一个跟着一个地都已在我们的面前消逝了,”当我们站在那里等着由城里开来的快车的时候,福尔摩斯说,“我不久就能写出一本完整的近代最奇异惊人的犯罪小说了。研究犯罪学的学生们会记得一八六六年在小俄罗斯的果德诺地方发生过的类似案件,当然还有在北凯热兰诺州发生的安德森谋杀案。可是这个案件却具有一些与其他案件全然不同的特点。虽然咱们现在还没有掌握确切的证据,足以制服这个诡计多端的人,可是今晚,在咱们入睡之前,如果还弄不清楚的话,那才叫奇怪呢。”

从伦敦来的快车怒吼着开进了车站,一个矮小结实得象个叭喇狗似的人,由一节头等车厢里跳了出来。我们三人握了手,我马上就从雷斯垂德望着我的伙伴的那种恭谨的样子里看了出来,自从他们开始在一起工作以后,他已学到了很多东西。我还很记得这位喜欢用推理方法的人怎样用那套理论来嘲讽刺激这位讲求实际的人。

“有什么好事吗?”他问道。

“简直是这些年来最重要的事了,”福尔摩斯说,“在考虑动手之前,咱们还有两个小时的时间。我想咱们可以利用这段时间来吃晚饭,然后,雷斯垂德,就让你呼吸一下达特沼地上夜晚的清凉空气,好把你喉咙里的伦敦雾气赶出来,从来没有到那里去过吗?啊,好啊!我想你是不会忘掉这次初游的。”