Then our fear for Sir Henry became greater than our ter ror.Holmes and I fired our revolvers together.The creature gave a loud cry of pain,and we knew we had hit it.But it did not stop,and ran on,after Sir Henry.
When we heard the cry of pain,our fears disappeared.This was no supernatural hound.Our bullets could hurt it,and we could kill it.We ran after it as fast as we could.I have never seen anyone run as quickly as Holmes ran that night,and I could not keep up with him.In front of us on the path we heard scream after scream from Sir Henry,and the deep voice of the hound.I saw the creature jump at Sir Henry and throw him to the ground.Its teeth went for his throat.But the next moment Holmes had emptied his revolver into the hound's body.It gave a last deep cry,its teeth closed on the empty air,and it fell to the ground.I put my revolver to its head,but I did not need to fire.The hound was dead.
Sir Henry lay unconscious where he had fallen.Quickly we opened the neck of his shirt.Holmes had fired just in time,and the hound's teeth had not reached our friend's throat.Already his eyes were beginning to open and he looked up at us.
'My God,'he whispered.'What was it?What in heaven's name was it?'
'It's dead,whatever it was,'said Holmes.'We've killed the family ghost for ever.'
The creature that lay before us was as large as a small lion.Its mouth and teeth were huge.They shone with blue flames.There were rings of blue fire round its cruel eyes,too.I touched the hound's burning coat.When I held up my hand,it,too,seemed to be on fire.
'Phosphorus,'I said,'That is why the hound appears to burn in the dark.Stapleton put phosphorous paint on the hound in the hut beside the house.'
But Holmes was thinking more about Sir Henry than about Stapleton's cleverness.
'I must apologize to you,Sir Henry,'he said.'I put your life in danger.I expected to see a huge hound,but not a crea ture like this.The fog gave us a very short time to control our fear,and for moments we could not move.'
'Never mind,'said Sir Henry.'You saved my life,and I thank you.Please help me stand up.What are you going to do now?'
Sir Henry's legs were shaking so much from his terrible ex perience that he could not stand.We helped him to a rock.He sat there and held his head in his hands.
'We must leave you here,Sir Henry,and try to catch Staple ton.We shall come back as quickly as possible and take you to the Hall.Our case is complete,but we must now catch our man.'
I followed Holmes along the path back to the house.
'We must search the house,'said Holmes,'but almost cer tainly he won't be there.He probably heard the noise of our guns,so he knows his evil game is finished.'
The front door of the house was open.We went in and looked from room to room.All the rooms downstairs were empty,so we went upstairs and looked in all the rooms except one,which was locked.
'There's someone in there,'I said.'I heard someone move.Help me break open this door.'
We threw ourselves against the door,and as the lock broke we went in.We held our revolvers ready to fire.
In the middle of the room was a figure tied to a post.We could not see whether it was a man or a woman,as it was com pletely covered with sheets.Only the eyes and nose were free.
We pulled off the sheets and untied the prisoner from the post.It was Miss Stapleton.As we untied her,we could see long red bruises across her neck.
'That cruel devil Stapleton has beaten her,'Holmes said.'Put her into a chair.'Miss Stapleton had fainted from the beating and exhaustion.As we put her into the chair,she opened her eyes.
'Is he safe?'she asked.'Has he escaped?'
'He cannot escape us,Miss Stapleton,'Holmes said.
'No,no,I don't mean my husband.I mean Sir Henry.Is he safe?'
'Yes,'I said,'and the hound is dead.'
'Thank God,'she said.'Thank God.Oh,the cruel devil.Look what he has done to me.'She showed us her arms,and we saw with horror that her skin was black and blue where she had been beaten.'But he has hurt me more in other ways.While I thought he loved me,I accepted many things.But he doesn't love me.He has used me.'
'Then help us now,'said Holmes.'Tell us where he has gone.'
'There is an old house on an island in the middle of the marsh,'she said.'He kept his hound there.He also had the house ready in case he needed to escape.He will be there,I'm sure.'
'Nobody could find his way into the Grimpen Marsh in this fog tonight,'said Holmes,looking out of the window.
The fog lay like white wool against the glass,and we knew we could not try to follow him until it cleared.We decided to take Sir Henry back to Baskerville Hall.We had to tell him everything about the Stapletons,and he was deeply hurt when he heard the truth about the woman he loved.The news that she was married,and the awful fear he had experienced,brought on a fever.We sent for Dr Mortimer,who came and sat with Sir Henry throughout the night.
On the following morning Miss Stapleton took us to the path through the marsh.The fog had lifted,and she showed us the sticks which she and her husband had put in to mark the way.We followed them through the marsh,which smelled of dying plants.The wet ground pulled at our feet as we walked.From time to time one of us stepped from the path and sank up to his waist in the marsh.One man on his own could not hope to escape the pull of the marsh；without help he would sink to his death.
But we did not find any sign of Stapleton.We searched andsearched without success.There is no doubt that he lost hisway in the fog,and sank in the marsh Somewhere,deep down,his body lies to this day.
We reached the island Miss Stapleton had described,and searched the old house.
'This place tells us nothing that we do not already know,'said Holmes.'These bones show that he hid the hound here,but he could not keep it quiet,so people heard its cries.Here is the bottle of phosphorous paint.Stapleton used it very cleverly on the hound.After what we saw and felt last night,we cannot be surprised that Sir Charles died of fright.And now I under stand how Selden knew that the hound was following him in the dark.It's not surprising the poor man screamed and ran as he did.The old story of the supernatural hound probably gave Stapleton the idea of using phosphorus.Very clever.I said it in London and I say it again,Watson.We have never had a more dangerous enemy than the one who is lying out there'—and he pointed to the great marsh that was all round us.