The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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After the convict ran away in the dark, what did Dr. Watson see?

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The convict in question in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles is Selden, a brutal criminal known as the "Notting Hill Murderer." Selden recently escaped from the Princetown prison at Dartmoor in Devonshire, and he's been hiding in the moors near Baskerville Hall.

Sherlock Holmes's friend and assistant, Doctor John Watson, and Sir Henry Baskerville discover that Selden is being fed and clothed by his older sister, Mrs. Eliza Barrymore, and her husband. Dr. Watson and Sir Henry plan to capture Selden the next time he appears to get food from Mr. and Mrs. Barrymore.

Dr. Watson and Sir Henry's plan is unsuccessful. Something arouses Selden's suspicions when he approaches the appointed meeting place after he receives the signal from the Barrymores that they have food for him. Selden runs away, and Dr. Watson and Sir Henry are unable to keep up with Selden as he flees into the moors and disappears far into the distance.

As Dr. Watson and Sir Henry give up the chase and turn back towards Baskerville Hall, Dr. Watson sees a figure of a man starkly silhouetted by moonlight, standing on a jagged granite pinnacle.

In a letter to Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson describes what he saw.

As far as I could judge, the figure was that of a tall, thin man. He stood with his legs a little separated, his arms folded, his head bowed, as if he were brooding over that enormous wilderness of peat and granite which lay before him. (Chapter 9, "The Light upon the Moor [Second Report of Dr. Watson]")

"It was not the convict," wrote Dr. Watson. This man was much taller than Selden, and he appeared far away from where they lost sight of Selden. By the time Dr. Watson called to Sir Henry and looked back at the granite pinnacle, the man was gone.

Sir Henry surmised that the man was one of the prison warders searching for Selden. “The moor has been thick with them since this fellow escaped.”

Dr. Watson is unconvinced that the man is a prison warder, but he has no idea who the silhouetted figure might be.

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