The Hound of the Baskervilles.
ANOTHER ADVENTURE OF
By Conan Doyle
Two death scene bookends this first installment. The first shows the death of the wild despoiler of the Baskerville name, Sir Hugo. His hat and crop lie above him, his waistcoat flared at his side. SP has included just a hint of darkness at the throat to indicate the ravaging done by " the thing (that) tore at his throat." Nearby lies the maiden, bathed in the whiteness of the "moon... shining bright upon the clearing." The reader wishes to trust Doyle when he reports her death was due to "fear and fatigue"; Paget does not allow this small comfort. She lies on her side, one arm tucked under her and the other cast behind her, in the pose of a violent death consistent with being ridden down by a hound from her own hell.
The hound looks up from his kill, tail arched and back bowed; the Hound stands squarely betwixt the two bodies and stares at the just arrived riders.
The "three dare-devil roysters," inspect the scene from a distance, hunched over horse necks and shielding their eyes from the brightness of the moonscape and the horror of its scene. To their left, Paget has placed two reminders of the mystic past of the shire that gives credibility to such stories of a hound "larger than any hound that ever mortal eye has rested on." Two stones of the many henges that dot the island kingdom stand as silent sentinels and witness to the beginning of the legend of the hound.
The following image brings us to the Victorian present, to the
demise of the man who had been restoring the Baskerville name and manor.
The death scene reflects the hues of the first, but not the mysticism.
Barrymore holds aloft a lantern that cuts the gloom surrounding his master's
body. Little detail is added, and there is no illustration to accompany
the most dramatic line of the tale, "they were the footprints of a gigantic
The images of the fantastic are balanced by the typical calm and steadfast routine of London. Holmes and Watson spend two pages on the characteristics of the missed visitor, and the stick on which they base their speculations is featured in the first two images. Both scenes show the propriety of London life - a noted contrast to the horrors depicted at Baskerville Hall. Dressed in the rigid formality of the day, the three men sort out the details of the past and present. The silver serving pieces and the clock on the mantle subtly illustrating both temes.
In the first installment of The Hound of the Baskervilles , Paget has presented well the contradictions between past and present, reality and legend, brutality and innocence, that will be the hallmarks of this, the hallmark story of a remarkable collection.