Upon meeting again, Sir Henry reports that yet another boot has gone missing. This time, the boot is an old one, well-worn with age. Sir Henry seems to feel that the hotel’s shoe-shine boy is to blame.
It seems pretty obvious that the shoes are being stolen to provide scent to a dog, but Doyle delays this reveal for a bit.
The topic of conversation soon turns to Sir Charles’ will, where it’s discovered that Dr. Mortimer received 1,000 pounds from his friend and the Barrymores received 500 pounds each. The whole estate, Mortimer tells Sir Henry, is worth close to one million pounds. Holmes is convinced that this must be the motivation for the death of Sir Charles.
Holmes decides that the only way to solve the mystery is to have Sir Henry go to Baskerville Hall. However, he insists that Watson go along. Holmes claims to be too busy himself to take the time to do so, but he is sure Watson will be a fine substitute.
The real reason for Holmes’ separation from Watson is simple: Doyle has to keep Holmes—who solves mysteries in an instant—away long enough to build up suspense for the reader.
After lunch, the group follows Sir Henry to his room, where he is surprised to discover the new boot that went missing almost immediately upon his arrival. There is no sign of the old boot, however, and with the future plans mapped out, the group disbands.
One mystery that’s never solved is why the thief bothers to return the new boot, or bother stealing single boots altogether: especially given the easy scapegoat of the shoe-shine boy.
Upon returning home, Holmes finds the results of his earlier inquiries. The boy he hired to search the hotel wastepaper was unable to find the newspaper used in writing the letter, and the telegram to Mr. Barrymore was delivered as requested, meaning that Barrymore was at Baskerville Hall.
The speed at which Holmes’ inquiries are resolved is stunning. It’s a sign of the positively modern world that Holmes enjoys in the metropolis of London, which will be unavailable to him on the moor.
With these two clues amounting to nothing, Holmes meets with the cab driver of the bearded man who was following Sir Henry. The cab driver is willing to help, but he only knows the name of the person he was driving. The name the bearded man gave was none other than Sherlock Holmes. Holmes fears that this artifice is the sign of a dangerous criminal mastermind.
Holmes refers to the use of his name by his opponent as a “touch.” This is a reference to the sport of fencing, the goal of which is to use a kind of mock sword to touch one’s opponent in a critical area, thus scoring points. Thus, Holmes sees the emerging mystery as a game—though clearly a serious one.