Mortimer presents Holmes and Watson with a manuscript which the always observant Holmes had already noticed and dated at 1730. The document, dated 1742, Baskerville Hall, reveals the myth of the Baskerville curse. At the time of the "Great Revolution," Mortimer reads, Hugo Baskerville lorded over the Baskerville mansion in Devonshire. The infamous Hugo became obsessed with a local yeoman's daughter, whom he kidnapped one day. Trapped in an upstairs room, hearing the raucous drinking and carousing going on downstairs, the girl escaped with the help of an ivy-covered wall. She fled across the expansive moorlands outside. Enraged at finding that his captive escaped, Hugo made a deal with the devil and released his hounds in pursuit of the young girl. Hugo's companions had followed their drunken friend across the moorland, and came upon the bodies of both Hugo and his girl. Hugo had just had his throat ripped out by "a foul thing, a great, black beast." Ever since, Mortimer reports, the supernatural hound has haunted the family. The hound just recently killed Sir Charles Baskerville, the latest inhabitant of Baskerville Hall. Mortimer unfolds the Devon County Chronicle of May 14, reading about Sir Charles' philanthropy and the circumstances surrounding his death. Having remade his family fortune in South African colonial ventures, Charles returned two years ago to the family estate and gave extensively to the local population. The chronicle mentions the myth only to discount it, citing the testimony of Sir Charles' servants, Mr. Barrymore and Mrs. Barrymore, and that of Mortimer himself. Charles was found dead, the paper reports, at the site of his nightly walk down the so-called Yew Alley, which borders the haunted moorlands. Suspicious facts include Charles' apparent dawdling at the gate to the alley, and his footsteps down the alley itself, which indicated tiptoeing or running. But the paper points out Charles' poor health and the coroner's...
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