In the third of Arthur Conan Doyle’s four classic detective novels, The Hound of the Baskervilles, that master of deduction Sherlock Holmes and his trustworthy companion, Dr. Watson, face a seemingly supernatural foe, a gigantic hound that stalks the heirs of the Baskerville fortune.
First serialized in The Strand Magazine, the story also played the role of white flag as Conan Doyle surrendered to the demands of the reading public and resurrected the beloved detective eight years after killing Holmes off in the short story, The Final Problem. The novel has been adapted for film more than 24 times – the Indian version became a “super hit” – and will be adapted yet again as part of the second season of the BBC’s Sherlock in 2012.
In the lead up to this excerpt, Holmes asks Watson what he can conclude from a walking stick left behind by a guest and Watson obliges him with some initial observations. Holmes then responds:
‘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.’