I could see as he looked down that he was repressing some internal emotion.
His features were still composed, but his eyes shone with amused exultation.
`Excuse the admiration of a connoisseur,' said he as he waved his hand towards the line of portraits which covered the opposite wall. `Watson won't allow that I know anything of art but that is mere jealousy because our views upon the subject differ. Now, these are a really very fine series of portraits.'
`Well, I'm glad to hear you say so,' said Sir Henry, glancing with some surprise at my friend. `I don't pretend to know much about these things, and I'd be a better judge of a horse or a steer than of a picture. I didn't know that you found time for such things.'
`I know what is good when I see it, and I see it now. That's a Kneller, I'll swear, that lady in the blue silk over yonder, and the stout gentleman with the wig ought to be a Reynolds. They are all family portraits, I presume?'
`Do you know the names?'
`Barrymore has been coaching me in them, and I think I can say my lessons fairly well.'
`Who is the gentleman with the telescope?'
`That is Rear-Admiral Baskerville, who served under Rodney in the West Indies. The man with the blue coat and the roll of paper is Sir William Baskerville, who was Chairman of Committees of the House of Commons under Pitt.'
`And this Cavalier opposite to me - the one with the black velvet and the lace?'
`Ah, you have a right to know about him. That is the cause of all the mischief, the wicked Hugo, who started the Hound of the Baskervilles. We're not likely to forget him.'
I gazed with interest and some surprise upon the portrait.
`Dear me!' said Holmes, `he seems a quiet, meek-mannered man enough, but I dare say that there was a lurking devil in his eyes. I had pictured him as a more robust and ruffianly person.'
`There's no doubt about the authenticity, for the name and the date, 1647, are on the back of the canvas.'
Holmes said little more, but the picture of the old roysterer seemed to have a fascination for him, and his eyes were continually fixed upon it during supper. It was not until later, when Sir Henry had gone to his room, that I was able to follow the trend of his thoughts. He led me back into the banqueting-hall, his bedroom candle in his hand, and he held it up against the time-stained portrait on the wall.
`Do you see anything there?'
I looked at the broad plumed hat, the curling love-locks, the white lace collar, and the straight, severe face which was framed between them. It was not a brutal countenance, but it was prim hard, and stern, with a firm-set, thin-lipped mouth, and a coldly intolerant eye.
`Is it like anyone you know?'
`There is something of Sir Henry about the jaw.'
`Just a suggestion, perhaps. But wait an instant!' He stood upon a chair, and, holding up the light in his left hand, he curved his right arm over the broad hat and round the long ringlets.
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