Some days ago I read Kim’s post over at the Wyvern’s Tail that she is hosting a Hallow’s end competition. I thought myself that I’m going to take a part on this one, since I love Halloween. Idea is to write your own or use already written story (Edgar Allan Poe or Legend of Sleepy Hollow for example) and use WoW screenshots to make to story alive.
At this point I could only think one story that has stick trough mylife, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles. I got my first copy of it when I was around 11 I think, it was summer and we were visiting my godfather and my cousins. One day my godfather gave me this bag of pennies (markka and penni were Finnish currency before euros :P) and said I can buy anything I want with them. We went to this second hand store and I found it, I found my first own book I was gonna by all by myself 😛 It’s a Finnish copy of it published in 1957.
And then not long ago I found myself another copy from a Swedish bookstore, it’s a bit newer (published 2010) and it’s in English.
The part of the story I’m gonna use is at the start when Sherlock Holmes and Watson meet with Doctor Mortimer who explains The Curse of the Baskervilles. I also helped myself with reading the both books (like I haven’t read the Finnish one that many times :D) and I watched the movie with the one and only real Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett) from youtube. But that is enough of the backstory and off to my version of the Hound of the Baskervilles.
I stood my back to Holmes and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before. Just under the head was a broad silver band, nearly an inch cross ‘To James Mortimer, MRCS from his friends of the CCH’ was engraved upon it, with the date ‘1884’.
‘Well, Watson, what do you make of it?’
Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and I had given him no sign of my occupation.
‘How did you know what I was doing? I believe you have eyes in the back of your head.’
‘I have, at least, a well-polished, silver-plated lantern in front of me’ said he.
‘But, tell me Watson, what do you make of our visitor’s stick? Since we have been so unfortunate as to miss him and have no notion of his errand, this accidental souvenir becomes of importance. Let me hear your reconstruct the man by an examination of it.’
‘I think,’ said I, following so far as I could the methods of my companion, ‘that Dr Mortimer is a succesful elderly medical man, well-esteemed, since those who know him give him this mark of their appreciation.’
‘Good!’ said Holmes. ‘Excellent!’
‘I think also that the probability is in favour of his being a country practioner who does a great deal of his visiting on foot.’
‘Because this stick, though originally a very handsome one, has been so knocked about that I can hardly imagine a town practitioner carrying it. The thick iron ferrule is worn down, so it is evident that he has done a great amount of walking with it.’
‘Perfectly sound!’ said Holmes.
‘And then again, there is the “friends of the CCH”. I should guess that to be the Something Hunt, the local hunt to whose has made him a small presentation in return.’
‘Really, Watson, you excel yourself’,’ said Holmes, ‘I am bound to say that in all the accounts which you have been so good as to give of my own small achievements you have habitually underrated your own abilities.’
He had never said as much before, and I must admit that his words gave me keen pleasure, for I had often been piqued by his indifference to my admiration and to the attempts which I had made to give publicity to his methods. I was proud, too, to think that I had so far mastered his system as to apply it in a way which earned his approval. He now took the stick from my hands and examined it for a few minutes with his naked eyes. Then. with and expression of interest, carrying the cane to the window, he looked over it again with a convex lens.
‘Interesting, though elementary,’ said he, ‘I am afraid, my dear Watson, that most of your conclusions were erroneous. When I said that you stimulated me I meant, to be frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided towards the truth. Not that you are entirely wrong in this instance. The man is certainly a country practitioner. And he walks a good deal.’
‘Then I was right.’
‘To that extent.’
‘But that was all.’
‘No, no, my dear Watson, not all – by no means all. I would suggest, for example, that a presentation to a doctor is more likely to come from a hospital than from a hunt, and that when the initials “CC” are placed before that hospital the words “Charing Cross” very naturally suggest themselves.’
‘You may be right.’
‘The probability lies in that direction. And if we take this as a working hypothesis we have a fresh basis from which to start our construction of this unknown visitor.’
The appearance of our visitor was a surprise to me since I had expected typical country practitioner. He was very tall, thin man, with long nose like a peak, which shout out between two keen, grey eyes, set closely together and sparkling brightly behind a pair of gold-rimmed glasses.
‘I am so very glad’ said he. ‘ I was not sure whether I had left it here or in the Shipping Office. I would not lose that stick for the world.’
‘I have in my pocket a manuscript,’ said Dr James Mortimer.
‘The exact date is 1742.’ Dr Mortimer drew it from his breast pocket. ‘This family paper was committed to my care by Sir Charles Baskerville, whose sudden and tragic death some three months ago created so much excitement in Devonshire.’
‘It appears to be a statement of some sort.’
‘Yes, it is a statement of a certain legend which runs in the Baskerville family.’
Dr Mortimer turned the manuscript to the light, and read in a high, crackling voice the following curious, old-world narrative:
‘Know then that in the time of the Great Rebellion this Manor of Baskerville was held by Hugo of that name, nor can it be gainsaid that he was most wild, profane, and godless man. This, in truth, his neighbours might have pardoned, seeing that saints have never flourished in those parts, but there was in him a certain wanton and cruel humour which made his name a byword through the West. It chanced that this Hugo came to love (if, indeed, so dark a passion may be known under so bright a name) the daughter of a yeoman who held lands near the Baskerville estate. But the young maiden, being discreet and good repute, would ever avoid him, for she feared his evil name. So it came to pass that one Michaelmas this Hugo, with five or six of his idle and wicked companions, stole down upon the farm and carried off the maiden, her father and brothers being from home, as he well knew. When they had brought her to the Hall the maiden was placed in an upper chamber, while Hugo and his friends sat down to a long carouse as was their nightly custom.
Now, the poor lass upstairs was like to have her wits turned at the singing and shouting and terrible oaths which came up to her from below, for they say that the words used by Hugo Baskerville, when he was in wine, were such as might blast the man who said them. At last in the stress of her fear she did that which might have daunted the bravest or most active man, for by the aid of the growth of ivy which covered the south wall, she came down from under the eaves, and so homeward across the moor, there being three leagues betwixt the Hall and her father’s farm.
It chanced that some little time later Hugo left his guests to carry food and drink – with other worse things, perchance – to his captive, and so found the cage empty and the bird escaped. Then, as it would seem, he became as one that hath a devil, for rushing down the stairs into the dining-hall, he sprang upon the great table, flagons and trenchers flying before him, and he cried aloud before all the company that he would that very night render his body and soul to the Powers of Evil if he might but overtake the wench. And while the revellers stood aghast at the fury of the man, one more wicked or, it may be, more drunken than the rest, cried out that they should put the hounds upon her. Whereat Hugo ran from the house, crying to his grooms, that they should saddle his mare and unkennel the pack, and giving the hounds a kerchief of the maid’s he swung them to the line, and so off full cry in the moonlight over the moor.
Now, for some space the revellers stood agape, unable to understand all that had been done in such haste. But anon their bemused wits awoke to the nature of the deed which was like to be done upon the moorlands. Everything was now in an uproar, some calling for their pistols, some for their horses, and some for another flask of wine. But at length some sense came back to their crazed minds, and the whole of them, and they rode swiftly abreast, taking that course which the maid must needs have taken if she were to reach her own home.
They had gone a mile or two when they passed one of the night shepherds upon the moorlands, and they cried to him to know if he had seen the hunt. And the man, as the story goes, was so crazed with fear that he could scarce speak, but at last he said that he had indeed seen the unhappy maiden, with the hounds upon her track. “But I have seen more than that”, said he, “for Hugo Baskerville passed me upon his black mare, and there ran mute behind him such hound of hell as God forbid should ever be at my heels.”
So the drunken squires cursed the shepherd and rode onwards. But soon their skins turned cold, for there came a sound of galloping across the moor, and the black mare, dabbled with white froth, went past with trailing bridle and empty saddle. Then the revellers rode close together, for a great fear was on them, but they still followed over the moor, though each, had been alone, would have been right glad to have turned his horse’s head. Riding slowly in this fashion, they came at last upon the hounds. These, though known for their valour and their breed, were whimpering in a cluster at the head of a deep dip or goyal, upon the moor, some slinking away and some, with starting hackles and staring eyes, gazing down the narrow valley before them.
The company had come to a halt , more sober men, as you may guess, than when they started. The most of them would by no means advance, but three of them, the boldest,or, it may be, the most drunken, rode forward down the goyal. Now opened into a broad space in which stood two of those great stones, still to be seen there, which were set by certain forgotten peoples in the days of the old. The moon was shining bright upon the clearing, and there in the centre lay the unhappy maid where she had fallen, dead of fear and fatigue. But it was not the sight of her body, nor yet was it that of the body of Hugo Baskerville lying near her, which raised the hair upon the heads of these three dare-devils roisterers, but it was that, standing over Hugo, and plucking at his throat, there stood a foul thing, a great, black beast, shaped like a hound yet larger than any hound that ever mortal eye has rested upon.
And even as they looked the thing tore the throat out of Hugo Baskerville, on which as it turned its blazing eyes and dripping jaws upon them, the three shrieked with fear and rode for dear life, still screaming, across the moor. One, it is said, died that very night of what he had seen, and the other twain were but broken men for the rest of their days.’