AU ~ Conan-Doyle
By Sammy Girl

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven aren't mine, nor is the plot, that belongs to Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle.

Authors Note: This story was inspired by a recent film of The Hound of the Baskervilles. I have changed characters, and some of the plot, but not much. Dartmoor is, as it always is, wonderfully beautiful in is bleak wildness. A windswept, almost treeless, upland area (now a national park) Dartmoor is used by the military for survival training. The prison was built to house military prisoners from the Napoleonic War; it was turned over to civilian use in the 1850's and was deemed to have reached the end of it usable life in the 1960's. It is still there, it is still a working prison and it is still a very grim and brutal place, housing some of the most difficult and troublesome prisoners. My thanks to Firefox, Helen and Shari for all their help, support, encouragement, suggestions and proof reading. There is an adult version of the story at the adult sight

Pictures of Dartmoor including the prison

Dartmoor Prison circa 1900

A Map of Dartmoor can be found at this site, in 'Notes and References'

AU: Open

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five



January 13th 1896

Yesterday Jackson called me to the Hall. To see Henry. How I did my job I will never know. Jackson was a tower of strength as usual, and of no small help. It is surely a crime that that man will never be a doctor. The beautiful Mrs Jackson provided tea, laced with brandy. Jackson had found him on the terrace, dead. I should have stayed with him, I knew he was worried, I knew he had become convinced the legend was true and would come for him. That last day, he was distracted. He asked me to stay the night - as I have so many times before. But I had surgery first thing in the morning and the hard frost of the night before had never melted. I knew from experience that even though it was clear then there would thick fog by dawn. I should have stayed. He would still be alive if I had stayed.

It looked like a heart attack, I will know this evening after the post mortem. How will I cut into him? How will I eviscerate my good friend. I must be objective, I can't help him if I let my emotions rule my head. I don't understand how it could be a heart attack, he was in perfect health, surely if he were to have a seizure it would be while engaged in a far more vigorous activity than a late evening stroll in the moonlight. And that's another thing - why was he out there at all? Yes, it was a beautiful night but freezing, he could have enjoyed that from the bedroom window or even the parlour terrace. Why go all the way to the moor gate - when he will not step so much as one foot on the moor after dark and if he ventures out in the daylight, keeps the house in sight at all times?


January 14th 1896

I will write the report later. As usual I will do a summary for Sergeant Riley in plain language. The poor man tries, but he really has no imagination and precious little intellect. I am resolved to seek more skilled help to find the truth behind my dear friend's death.



Date:- January 14th 1896

Name:- Sir Henry George Cedric Ezra Standish. Baronet.

Aged:- 52.

Died:- January 12th 1896

Address:- Standish Hall, The Parish of Leigh-on-Dartmoor, Devonshire.

Death was as the result of a sudden failure of the heart. There were no signs of prior heart disease or of any abnormality of the heart muscle. Other than some minor abrasions to the knees and hands there were no signs of violence on the body.

Doctor Josiah Sanchez M.R.C.P.



April 19th 1874

Oh God I can't believe that tomorrow I start at Lee Park School. Lee Park, no one has ever heard of it! A small provisional school, full of small provincial boys with small provincial minds and dull, stupid, provincial masters! Why couldn't I have a tutor at home? Freddie Bond was expelled and his parents got him a tutor, why not me? Oh no can't have Chris at home, getting underfoot, spoiling the family's reputation. Damn it I'm 16, I'm not a child, I don't need to be locked away in the nursery! My father is scared of me. I used to think he hated me, but now I think he just can't understand me. He is dull, my father, dull and unthinking and boring. He lives by rules, when to get up, what to wear, when to ride out, when to hunt, when to shoot, when to go to London and be seen, he lives for convention. Mother hates him, and me. All those girls, eight tiny graves in the church, one after another, all dead before they were even one year old, and me, strong and healthy. All she ever wanted was a girl. Father wanted a son, but not me. He wanted a different son, one to hunt and shoot and fish with. I like riding and shooting and even fishing, but hunting? I'm not sure, too many people, too many rules. But there is so much more to life than just hunting, shooting and fishing.


April 20th 1874

Well that went about as expected. Dull! Dull! Dull! My room is in the attic, because I am starting here in the middle of the school year there is no space for me with my peers. I have to have a room with the Remove. They are only 13 or 14, oh dear God in heaven save me from 14 year old boys! The headmaster took me into his study and informed me that any chemistry experiments have to be done in the science laboratory under supervision. Father should have been proud of me and my experiment, I was trying to make better gunpowder, and I succeeded too - it was a very small, old potting shed, I still don't see what all the fuss was about! I have to say that was the one bright spot in the whole miserable experience. Here they actually teach science, there is a laboratory and we will do experiments. I met the science master, he is Hungarian - that bodes well, more free thinking. The food was, well to call it food would be gracing it with a title it does not deserve. My room is small and pokey and draughty, no doubt in summer it will be stifling and freezing in winter. The ceiling slopes and I have to duck my head when rising from my desk. No doubt I will forget sometimes.

I have seen the boy who has the room next to mine, he also started today. He was called into see the headmaster just after me. Mr Bolton was quite reasonable with me, he told me this was a new start, that he had heard I had a quick mind and was inquisitive and he liked that. The other boy, my new neighbour, he just shouted at, though I couldn't hear what was said. When I saw him later he looked about ready to blub. His room is in the corner of the attic. I would surmise that, since he is nearly as tall as me, there is only one spot in the whole room where he can stand up straight, poor boy. His trunk has several Marlborough Station stickers on it and several from Brighton, so he lives in Brighton and was expelled from Marlborough, I wonder what he did to deserve that?

I can't sleep. This damn bed sags and the mattress is so lumpy I think it has rocks in it. As soon as possible I shall go in search of a better one, or even buy one. I can hear my new neighbour moving about. Perhaps it is time to make introductions.

His name is John Wilmington, but I get the feeling he doesn't like the name John much. He too could not sleep. I asked him without hesitation what he did to be expelled. He wouldn't say, but seemed amazed that I knew that he had been and from where. Really! It was easy enough to work out. He seems equally disenchanted with our new school. But while I merely want to get a decent education, he would appear to be desperately home sick. He is a tall and slender boy, with dark hair and blue eyes. His manner was guarded and defensive, but I get the feeling that he would like to be friends. For a 14 year old he isn't too bad, so I will endeavour to over come his reserve.



February 15th 1896

Dear Sir
I present to you this copy of a legend that is well known around the villages on Dartmoor. I will visit you again, since you were not in when I called today. Your housekeeper allowed me to write and leave this note. You will have read of the death of Sir Henry Standish of Standish Hall on Dartmoor. I have some reason to believe his death was not entirely natural.

Your Servant

Dr J Sanchez. M.R.C.P.


In the late 15th Century the lord of the manor of Standish Hall, Sir William Standish became enamoured of a young serving wench. When she rejected his advances he locked her in the cellar until she gave into him. But the girl escaped, fleeing across the moor. Enraged Sir William called upon the devil to aid him. The devil sent a huge hound to him to track down the girl. When he found her and she saw what her fate would be, the girl ran to the top of Hound tor and threw herself to her death. When Sir William railed against the devil for not keeping his promise, the huge hell-hound turned on him and ripped him to pieces. To this day the hound can be heard on the moor, baying for blood, the blood of the Standish family, while Sir William wanders the Hall and the moor seeking a resting-place.



February 15th 1896

Chris is board and that is bad. When he has no case to occupy his mind Inez tells me his bed is often not used, and he only sleeps when he has drunk far too much whisky, then he sleeps on the couch or in his chair by the fire. He is different, special, he needs taking care of, and that's my job. I know I'm not much, a fair field surgeon, rather too rough around the edges for really polite society - though they tolerate me. Fame or infamy? What ever it is, it is a double edged sword. But I am a good friend - I hope.

The note left by the doctor intrigued my friend, and that is good. We were out for lunch when he called. I saw that look in Chris' eyes this morning and knew he needed a diversion. So I took him to the King's Head at Southwall. It is an old coaching inn, and still frequented by travellers. Of course it is not our usual sort of place - I say 'our' but I mean him, I'm quite used to such places. The places was crowded, loud and lively. The food, plentiful and warming. I had steak and kidney pudding, Chris had steak and ale pie, we both drank beer, common for me but a rare treat for Chris. While we ate, he watched the people - that is why I took him there - constructing their lives from the fragmentary clues he could observe in the crush. It was a pleasant and even productive meal and I felt confident I had kept him from the drink for one more day.

When we returned Inez informed Chris he had had a visitor and handed over the note and also a cane our visitor had left. Chris read the note and the enclosed document and then handed them to me while he examined the cane. With out looking up he asked.

"Well? What do you think?"

I shrugged. "An amusing little tale to scare women and children with, no doubt it encourages visitors to the area," I commented.

"Quite so," Chris confirmed. Then he handed me the cane. "What do you make of it?" he asked.

I hate it when he does that. I do my best but I always get it wrong, which he is always most patronisingly sympathetic about in a smug way. Never the less it amuses him to see me floundering about, so I humour him.

"Well," I began with something easy, "it's mahogany - which is unusual for a cane, so it must be custom made or of foreign origin?" I looked up at him for some conformation, but as usual he let nothing show on his face, other than a look that reminds me of a trainer watching his prized dog go through its' tricks. I persevered. "The top is silver." I was confident about that, and strained to look at the hallmark. "Exeter?" Chris did at least give me a nod of conformation at that. "So, since we know the doctor is from Devon, I surmise it was custom made for him locally." Without looking up I examined the engraving around the silver cane topper.


"It was clearly a gift from someone to the doctor." Much more than that I couldn't add. Chris of course just smiled indulgently.

"Nothing else?" he asked.

I frowned at him and took one more look. "It is new, " I stated. "The end is barely worn down, there are few scratches upon it."

"You're getting better Buck," Chris commented, and for once he didn't sound patronising.

We heard Inez letting someone in. There was a brief conversion in Spanish and then she showed him upstairs to the front parlour.

"Dr Sanchez," she announced.

Dr Sanchez is an imposing man, a good six feet, he is built like the proverbial ox, and though I would guess him to be in his fifties with greying, slightly curly hair, he looks fit and strong. I for one would not like to tangle with him. Hopefully he is on our side. Larabee ushered him in and offered him a seat opposite his own favourite fireside chair. As usual I took up my seat by the window with my trusty note book and pencil. His accent was neutral, if he is part Spanish it does not show itself in his voice or his face.



February 15TH 1896

"Mr Larabee, your reputation has reached even Dartmoor, I felt I could come to no one else with this problem."

"Indeed, and what problem is that?" Larabee asked.

"You have read the legend?" Larabee nodded.

"My dear friend Sir Henry Standish was the direct descendant of the unfortunate wretch in that legend. For some time last year, and at the beginning of this year, he became convinced that it was true and this hound was coming for him. On the afternoon of the 12th of last month {January} we had spent a pleasant day together at the Hall. It was cold, snow lay on the ground and a hard frost had not lifted all day. I had surgery the next day and so left him that afternoon, not wishing to be trapped by more bad weather - I left before darkness came. He wanted me to stay, I should have stayed." The doctor stopped to compose himself. "His butler found him, out in the garden, he had apparently walked to the gate that leads onto the moor. This is my first concern. Why would he do that when he was terrified of the moor? He never went abroad after dark, never leaving the grounds of the Hall for any reason once the sun was down. He stood there for some time."

"How do you know this?" Larabee asked.

"I noticed the snow was trampled as if someone had stood and stamped his feet to keep warm and the ash from his cigar had dropped three times, freezing where it lay on the hard snow."

Larabee smiled. "You are a man after my own heart Doctor, please continue."

"From his footprints, he walked to the gate but ran from it, only the tips of his boots made an impression and they were further apart. He died of heart failure, yet his heart was healthy. His face was contorted in fear, such as I have never seen. There was something else, another set of prints, in the snow just beyond the gate."

"Well go on! Whose prints were they?" Larabee was getting impatient.

"Sir, they were the prints of a gigantic hound!"

Your writer let out a whistle of amazement at this moment. Larabee glared at me.

"Are you sure?"

"Mr Larabee I know what I saw."

"What is it you want from me?"

"I need advice, what am I to do with Sir Ezra, he arrives tomorrow, on the boat train."

Larabee leant back in his chair, those green eyes of his fixed on the good doctor. "He is the heir?"

"There were some settlements on friends and servants, but Sir Ezra, who is the son of Sir Henry's younger brother, the late Piers Standish, inherits the bulk of the estate, stocks, land, and properties overseas."

"Did you receive anything from the will?" Larabee asked.

"I did yes, Sir Henry was most…generous."

"How generous?"

"Twenty thousand pounds."

Your writer nearly chokes in amazement! Resulting in another Larabee glare.

"That is a very… generous settlement, what is the bulk of the estate worth?"

"Over one and a quarter million pounds Sterling."

Larabee looked genuinely surprised. "I had no idea the estate was so large. You were right to come to me Doctor. Where are you staying?"

"The Northumberland Hotel."

"Excellent, book your Sir Ezra in as well, preferably next to you, keep him close at hand and we will meet with you in a few days time, three at the most."



January 18th 1896

Dear Sir

         I have the honour to be your obedient servant Harold Peeves, solicitor at law. I am the bearer of sad tidings. Your Uncle, Sir Henry Standish has passed away very suddenly. Under the terms of his will, you are the principal beneficiary and now inherit the title of Baronet. In order to facilitate the transfer of funds it will be necessary for you to come to London, please bring suitable proof of identity. Contact us on your arrival and make an appointment. We look forward to welcoming you to London Sir Ezra.

         Your Obedient Servant

                      H J F Peeves



February 2nd 1896

Dear Mother,
         I have left the country.

        Your ever loving son.



February 16th 1896

Dear Sir Ezra,
         My name is Josiah Sanchez, I was your uncle's doctor and friend, I enclose my report on his death and a newspaper account of the events. I have engaged the famous detective Mr Christopher Larabee to look into the circumstance of your late uncle's death. Since he is not well known in the Americas I have enclosed what I know of him and his close friends and associate Dr J Wilmington. I also have written a little about myself, please know that I was your uncle's closet friend and will do all I can to assist you in any way.
         I will meet you off the boat train in London. Until then, I remain your servant and I hope your friend,

                       Josiah Sanchez


As you will no doubt have noticed my name is distinctly un-English, this is thanks to my Grandfather, he came to England from Spain to study, met a beautiful English rose called Hilary, and never left. I am thus only one quarter Spanish although I can speak the language fluently. I studied Medicine at Oxford and, wishing to see more of the world, travelled much after I qualified, often working in mission hospitals and clinics around the world. I settled back in England because of family commitments, purchasing a practice on Dartmoor, in the little village of Four Corners. It was here that I met your uncle. I am no surgeon and I don't claim to be anything other than a jobbing physician. I enjoy the quiet and slow pace of country life, surrounded by God's majesty. I will admit to preaching in the Methodist Chapel on occasions.


This is everything I know of the men, from newspaper articles, police gazette reports, and I admit it, social gossip.

Christopher Adam Larabee, born 1858 to James Larabee of Fordingbridge Hampshire. He was expelled from Eton, although I don't know why or where he went to school after that. He studied at Edinburgh University and has a degree in chemistry. While in Scotland he worked with a famous professor of medicine who was known to aid the police in some cases. He joined the navy as an officer in the marines and met and married Sarah Connelly, an Irish heiress. They had a son, but when the boy was six, mother and son both died, under what circumstances I do not know. I believe the deaths affected him deeply and he left the navy. Some time later he set up as a 'Consulting Detective'. Some persistent rumours say his family was murdered and he is still seeking the guilty party. He has a fine record for solving apparently impossible cases and the police consult him regularly. I met him yesterday. He is direct and although some what intimidating, he projects an air of confidence and trust. Mr Larabee is tall and slender, with fair hair and green eyes.

Buck Wilmington, born 1860, his real name is John - according to the medical register. But I have never heard or seen him referred to as anything but Buck. His mother was a famous courtesan. There are all kinds of rumours about who his father might be, none that can be proved, but what is common knowledge - I am told by society colleagues, since I do not move in such circles - is that his mother came into a generous 'inheritance' just after he was born. He too studied at Edinburgh, though he and Larabee would only have been there together for one year. After he qualified as a doctor he joined the army and served with some distinction in India. On returning to this country he became - assuming they did not already know each other - the close friend of Christopher Larabee. I am told he does still practice medicine, but he does not seem to have a practice anywhere or be on the staff of any hospital.
Buck Wilmington seems to be a very affable, friendly and dependable fellow. He is a very tall, fine looking man with a mane of dark hair and has something of a reputation as a scoundrel with the ladies.



February 16th 1896

What a day! I arrived in London at twenty after ten, as per the timetable. A tall man in a simple tweed coat approached me on the platform, even before I had engaged a porter. He asked if I was Sir Ezra. That was the first time anyone had called me that out loud. I must admit it sounded most …dignified, no not dignified, it was most satisfying. Oh good Lord it was very nice, I liked it. Mother would be in hog heaven if she were here - which she is not and never will be if I can prevent it. The man who approached me was of course, Dr Sanchez, whose letter I had read on the train, along with the other documents he had thoughtfully included.

I was unsure whether to give the Doctor's fears any credence, but as he spoke to me, while we rode in a Handsome to the hotel, I began to wonder what I had let myself in for. Nevertheless I insisted that as soon as my baggage, one small trunk and a valise, were in the room the good Doctor had booked in my name - it really is interesting the deference a title can get you here - we made our way to the solicitors. Here too Doctor Sanchez had made an appointment.

Mr Peeves is a very small man - very small, after all I'm not exactly a giant, but he was minute! Small but efficient. I had managed to 'relieve' mother of my birth certificate and a picture of myself as an infant of three or four with my father. This he took to be proof of identity. I read the will, signed some papers and instantly I am a man of property and wealth. All my life I have been in pursuit of money. We had money, while father was still alive, then he died and we had no money. Now I know why. Mother has spent her whole life in pursuit of this and now it just falls into my lap, all I had to do was wait. Money, respectability and a title, what more is there - but love. Ah well, you can't have it all, and no amount of money can bring that, for anyone.

The efficient but piggy Mr Peeves - how can one man look so much like a pig - had already turned some of the estate disposable income into cash Vulgar but necessary, he also provided a letter of recommendation for the bank. My late uncle's bank. His solicitors, his bank, his land, his house, his life, I still have nothing of my own. It is all borrowed, a pretence on my part, I pretend to be 'Sir Ezra' I pretend to be the lord of the manor, I pretend to be a gentleman, I pretend to be respectable, I pretend to be honest and decent and normal. I can do that, I'm good at pretending to be something and someone I'm not. I've been doing it all my life after all, so now I will do it for the rest of my life, at least the surroundings will be comfortable. And the clothes are exquisite!

After the bank and a fine meal we headed for Jermin Street, Bond Street, Saville Row, and Knightsbridge. I now posses a working wardrobe for my life as an English gentleman.

In the evening after we dined at the hotel, the good Doctor told me about my new home, he also spoke most warmly of my uncle. I get the feeling they were very good friends and he misses him more than he can say.



         If you are reading this Nephew, I am dead, and that being the case I regret I cannot meet you and set right a wrong done to you and your mother.

         Your Grandfather was a hard man, a man who expected obedience and unquestioning loyalty. Your father, my dearest younger brother, was a free spirit, a child of the wild moor where he grew up. Our father could never tame him, and when he ran away to America to find adventure Father threatened to cut him off from all family funds, but Mother persuaded him not to. She died the next year, in honour of her memory he continued to support Piers, but he was a vindictive old man by then, and ill himself. When he died I found he had made it a condition of his will that your father would only receive money from the family trust fund while he lived, no dependent could claim so much as a farthing after he died. I am so sorry if this caused you and your mother hardship, there was noting I could do. Forgive me nephew.

         Look after my moor, my house, my servants, all are loyal, trustworthy and decent. Do not listen to gossip, listen to your heart.

         Your uncle,

                  Henry Standish.



February 17th 1896

         Being new in your fair county I was dependent on the advice of others in the choice of hotel. I was given to believe this was a first class establishment, clearly my advice was erroneous. Last night I placed two pairs of boots outside my suite, one old pair and one newly purchased. When I put out a new pair of boots to be weatherproofed I expect a new pair of boots to be returned to me. This morning I found one old pair of boots, duly polished and one new boot. Be so good as to find my missing boot with all expediency!

Sir Ezra Standish.
Room 15



February 17th 1896

The good doctor introduced us to Sir Ezra over a breakfast at their hotel. He is a smaller man, with agreeable features and startling jade green that is most distinctive (I must ask the doctor if his uncle's eyes were also green) and chestnut coloured hair. His accent is different to other Americans I have met, but we quickly learnt that he was from the southern states where their accent is most distinctive. Sir Ezra was mad as hell. It seems there is some difficulty with a boot.



February 17th 1896
9.30 am

"Sir Ezra, " Chris began. "You have been made aware of the circumstances of your uncle's death and Dr Sanchez's concerns?"

"Indeed sir I have, but I am determined to go to Dartmoor and carry out my duties in person."

"An admirable sentiment."

"Do you give credence to his fears? Surly you do not believe some supernatural canine was responsible for my late uncle's demise?"

Larabee gave small smile and shook his head. "No sir, but I believe the doctor saw what he says he saw. When a fit and healthy man, a man who seems to have been happy, dies suddenly and inexplicably there is course for some curiosity, when such a large sum of money and property is involved then there is cause to be very curious and cautious. Do you not agree?"

"I bow to your superior knowledge in such matters."

"When do you travel to Devonshire?"

It was Dr Sanchez who answered. "Tomorrow, we take the seven o'clock train to Plymouth arriving just after ten."

Sir Ezra visibly shuddered at the mention of seven o'clock.

Just then a waiter came over to us and handed a note to Sir Ezra on a platter. He took it, opened it and frowning, handed it to Mr Larabee. Larabee shot out of his seat and ran after the waiter, the rest of us followed.

"Where did you get this?" he demanded waving the note in front of the man.

"A cabby handed it to the desk clerk sir." He gestured to the front desk. Larabee took off at a run.

He ran, with the three of us in pursuit, out into the street. "The cabby who just delivered a message, where is he?" he asked the doorman.

Instantly the uniformed man indicated a Handsome cab pulling away. The two of us ran after it, but it was too quickly lost in the throng of traffic.

"Buck?" he asked me, "you get the number?"

"4531," I replied, sure of my answer.

"Good man."

We returned to the hotel. Once we were resettled in the dining room, and our food had arrived, Chris showed us the note Sir Ezra had received.

The words were all cut from what looked to be a newspaper and pasted onto a sheet of writing paper. Larabee confirmed that the paper was cheap, the kind commonly sold at railway termini. The paste was likewise cheap. A quick examination of the Times proved what he already knew, that the words were cut from today's edition.

"What do you think Mr Larabee? It is a friendly warning or a threat?" Sir Ezra asked. There was perhaps just a hint of fear in his voice.

"I don't know, the note was made in a hurry, today's paper, the words have been hurriedly cut, and the paste unevenly applied. The word 'moor' has been made from two words. Who ever made this did not plan to do it, he or she saw an opportunity and took it. I have cases I need to attend to here in London, but Buck will accompany you to Dartmoor, tomorrow."



February 17th 1896

I did it again, I lied to Buck and made decisions about his life with out asking him. I knew as soon as I said it, that it was wrong. I should have waited, it didn't need to be decided then like that, I should have asked him. He would have said yes, he always says yes, but that is not the point. Why do I do that? Why do I treat him worse than a servant. Because he lets me? Possibly, and he does, he indulges me, as if I were some nabob. He smiles at me when I am being selfish or hurtful. Damn him! My suddenly sending him out of town on short notice will have upset his routine. How many working girls would be dead now if it were not for the gentle ministrations of Dr Buck, how many poor wretches would have bled to death after some butcher had torn them up getting rid of another unwanted baby, if Dr Buck hadn't been there to save them. How many children would be lost? Too many. He will be in Whitechapel or Bermondsey now, he's safe there, he's their hero, no one will touch him, and he won't have to pay for a thing.