"A woman of Spanish blood does not condone such an injury so lightly." -- Hound of the Baskervilles
Holmes was silent as we cautiously made our way out of the mire back to solid ground where Mrs. Stapleton, as I still thought of her, stood waiting for us. Her eyebrows rose and she clasped her hands in front of her, her dark eyes alight. "Have you found what you sought?"
"Yes. I said it in London and I say it again now that never yet have we helped to hunt down a more dangerous man than he who is lying yonder." Holmes gestured grandly with his arm to the wild, treacherous mire from whence we had come.
"You are sure he was lost to the moor?" the girl persisted with a strange mixture of hope and fear.
Holmes sent her a look I could not interpret. "I have no doubt whatsoever that he is dead, and that his body cannot be recovered. And now, madam, Watson and I must relay these new developments to Dr. Mortimer."
"And Sir Henry too, surely."
"I fear not. He has had a terrible shock and was already ill when we departed this morning."
The lady gasped and one elegant hand flew to her mouth. "Is it serious?"
"Dr. Mortimer says his condition very grave."
"I am truly sorry to hear that." And indeed, there were tears glimmering in her eyes. "But no doubt being in his ancestral land will aid his recovery?"
"Perhaps. I rather think he will require a good, long holiday away from this place. It may be his ancestral home but now there are wretched memories attached to it. I think some time away would be the most beneficial for him."
"Yes. Yes, I suppose so," Mrs. Stapleton faltered. Her eyes dimmed and she turned away from us towards Merripit House. My heart went out to this poor woman who had already suffered so much cruelty and hardship in her short life. I turned to say as much to Holmes but my words died away unsaid.
I have rarely seen him look so – perhaps moments after we learned of the disappearance of John Douglas, a.k.a. Birdy Edwards, and he plotted the demise of Moriarty or while he was creating the message to avenge the death of John Openshaw. He watched Mrs. Stapleton's progress with a cold, hard expression that left me taken aback. Suddenly he seized my arm and veritably began dragging me down the path after her.
"Come, Watson! I will not have us playing accomplice to murder!"
"Holmes, what on earth are you talking about?" I cried.
"You will see, Watson, you will see. It is we who have been the dupes and tools in this matter, make no mistake."
Mrs. Stapleton had reached her front door when we caught up with her. She turned, looking as surprised by our presence as I felt. "Is there something else you wished to know, Mr. Holmes?"
"There is," replied he. "May we come in?"
"Oh . . . yes . . . certainly." She escorted us in and offered us seats, which Holmes declined.
"No, I do not anticipate this taking much time. I hold most of the threads in this case; there are but a few loose ends that I should like to address before we return to London. First and foremost, Mrs. Baskerville, when exactly did you first decide to kill your husband?"