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Adventure I. Silver Blaze

“I am afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go,” said 

  Holmes, as we sat down together to our breakfast one

  morning.

  “Go! Where to?”

  “To Dartmoor; to King’s Pyland.”

  I was not surprised. Indeed, my only wonder was that

  he had not already been mixed upon this extraordinary

  case, which was the one topic of conversation through

  the length and breadth of England. For a whole day my

  companion had rambled about the room with his chin

  upon his chest and his brows knitted, charging and

  recharging his pipe with the strongest black tobacco,

  and absolutely deaf to any of my questions or remarks. 

  Fresh editions of every paper had been sent up by our

  news agent, only to be glanced over and tossed down

  into a corner. Yet, silent as he was, I knew

  perfectly well what it was over which he was brooding. 

  There was but one problem before the public which

  could challenge his powers of analysis, and that was

  the singular disappearance of the favorite for the

  Wessex Cup, and the tragic murder of its trainer. 

  When, therefore, he suddenly announced his intention

  of setting out for the scene of the drama it was only

  what I had both expected and hoped for.

  “I should be most happy to go down with you if I

  should not be in the way,” said I.

  “My dear Watson, you would confer a great favor upon

  me by coming. And I think that your time will not be

  misspent, for there are points about the case which

  promise to make it an absolutely unique one. We have,

  I think, just time to catch our train at Paddington,

  and I will go further into the matter upon our

  journey. You would oblige me by bringing with you

  your very excellent field-glass.”

  And so it happened that an hour or so later I found

  myself in the corner of a first-class carriage flying

  along en route for Exeter, while Sherlock Holmes, with

  his sharp, eager face framed in his ear-flapped

  travelling-cap, dipped rapidly into the bundle of

  fresh papers which he had procured at Paddington. We

  had left Reading far behind us before he thrust the

  last one of them under the seat, and offered me his

  cigar-case.

  “We are going well,” said he, looking out the window

  and glancing at his watch. “Our rate at present is

  fifty-three and a half miles an hour.”

  “I have not observed the quarter-mile posts,” said I. 

  “Nor have I. But the telegraph posts upon this line

  are sixty yards apart, and the calculation is a simple

  one. I presume that you have looked into this matter

  of the murder of John Straker and the disappearance of

  Silver Blaze?”

  “I have seen what the Telegraph and the Chronicle have

  to say.”

  “It is one of those cases where the art of the

  reasoner should be used rather for the sifting of

  details than for the acquiring of fresh evidence. The

  tragedy has been so uncommon, so complete and of such

  personal importance to so many people, that we are

  suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture, and

  hypothesis. The difficulty is to detach the framework

  of fact–of absolute undeniable fact–from the

  embellishments of theorists and reporters. Then,

  having established ourselves upon this sound basis, it

  is our duty to see what inferences may be drawn and

  what are the special points upon which the whole

  mystery turns. On Tuesday evening I received

  telegrams from both Colonel Ross, the owner of the

  horse, and from Inspector Gregory, who is looking

  after the case, inviting my cooperation.

  “Tuesday evening!” I exclaimed. “And this is Thursday

  morning. Why didn’t you go down yesterday?”

  “Because I made a blunder, my dear Watson–which is, I

  am afraid, a more common occurrence than any one would

  think who only knew me through your memoirs. The fact

  is that I could not believe is possible that the most

  remarkable horse in England could long remain

  concealed, especially in so sparsely inhabited a place

  as the north of Dartmoor. From hour to hour yesterday

  I expected to hear that he had been found, and that

  his abductor was the murderer of John Straker. When,

  however, another morning had come, and I found that

  beyond the arrest of young Fitzroy Simpson nothing had

  been done, I felt that it was time for me to take

  action. Yet in some ways I feel that yesterday has

  not been wasted.”

  “You have formed a theory, then?”

  “At least I have got a grip of the essential facts of

  the case. I shall enumerate them to you, for nothing

  clears up a case so much as stating it to another

  person, and I can hardly expect your co-operation if I

  do not show you the position from which we start.”

  I lay back against the cushions, puffing at my cigar,

  while Holmes, leaning forward, with his long, thin

  forefinger checking off the points upon the palm of

  his left hand, gave me a sketch of the events which

  had led to our journey.

  “Silver Blaze,” said he, “is from the Somomy stock,

  and holds as brilliant a record as his famous

  ancestor. He is now in his fifth year, and has

  brought in turn each of the prizes of the turf to

  Colonel Ross, his fortunate owner. Up to the time of

  the catastrophe he was the first favorite for the

  Wessex Cup, the betting being three to one on him. He

  has always, however, been a prime favorite with the

  racing public, and has never yet disappointed them, so

  that even at those odds enormous sums of money have

  been laid upon him. It is obvious, therefore, that

  there were many people who had the strongest interest

  in preventing Silver Blaze from being there at the

  fall of the flag next Tuesday.

  “The fact was, of course, appreciated at King’s

  Pyland, where the Colonel’s training-stable is

  situated. Every precaution was taken to guard the

  favorite. The trainer, John Straker, is a retired

  jockey who rode in Colonel Ross’s colors before he

  became too heavy for the weighing-chair. He has

  served the Colonel for five years as jockey and for

  seven as trainer, and has always shown himself to be a

  zealous and honest servant. Under him were three

  lads; for the establishment was a small one,

  containing only four horses in all. One of these lads

  sat up each night in the stable, while the others

  slept in the loft. All three bore excellent

  characters. John Straker, who is a married man, lived

  in a small villa about tow hundred yards from the

  stables. He has no children, keeps one maid-servant,

  and is comfortably off. The country round is very

  lonely, but about half a mile to the north there is a

  small cluster of villas which have been built by a

  Tavistock contractor for the use of invalids and

  others who may wish to enjoy the pure Dartmoor air. 

  Tavistock itself lies two miles to the west, while

  across the moor, also about two miles distant, is the

  larger training establishment of Mapleton, which

  belongs to Lord Backwater, and is managed by Silas

  Brown. In every other direction the moor is a

  complete wilderness, inhabited only be a few roaming

  gypsies. Such was the general situation last Monday

  night when the catastrophe occurred.

  “On that evening the horses had been exercised and

  watered as usual, and the stables were locked up at

  nine o’clock. Two of the lads walked up to the

  trainer’s house, where they had supper in the kitchen,

  while the third, Ned Hunter, remained on guard. At a

  few minutes after nine the maid, Edith Baxter, carried

  down to the stables his supper, which consisted of a

  dish of curried mutton. She took no liquid, as there

  was a water-tap in the stables, and it was the rule

  that the lad on duty should drink nothing else. The

  maid carried a lantern with her, as it was very dark

  and the path ran across the open moor.

  “Edith Baxter was within thirty yards of the stables,

  when a man appeared out of the darkness and called to

  her to stop. As he stepped into the circle of yellow

  light thrown by the lantern she saw that he was a

  person of gentlemanly bearing, dressed in a gray suit

  of tweeds, with a cloth cap. He wore gaiters, and

  carried a heavy stick with a knob to it. She was most

  impressed, however, by the extreme pallor of his face

  and by the nervousness of his manner. His age, she

  thought, would be rather over thirty than under it.

  “‘Can you tell me where I am?’ he asked. ‘I had almost

  made up my mind to sleep on the moor, when I saw the

  light of your lantern.’

  “‘You are close to the King’s Pyland

  training-stables,’ said she.

  “‘Oh, indeed! What a stroke of luck!’ he cried. ‘I

  understand that a stable-boy sleeps there alone every

  night. Perhaps that is his supper which you are

  carrying to him. Now I am sure that you would not be

  too proud to earn the price of a new dress, would

  you?’ He took a piece of white paper folded up out of

  his waistcoat pocket. ‘See that the boy has this

  to-night, and you shall have the prettiest frock that

  money can buy.’

  “She was frightened by the earnestness of his manner,

  and ran past him to the window through which she was

  accustomed to hand the meals. It was already opened,

  and Hunter was seated at the small table inside. She

  had begun to tell him of what had happened, when the

  stranger came up again.

  “‘Good-evening,’ said he, looking through the window. 

  ‘I wanted to have a word with you.’ The girl has

  sworn that as he spoke she noticed the corner of the

  little paper packet protruding from his closed hand.

  “‘What business have you here?’ asked the lad.

  “‘It’s business that may put something into your

  pocket,’ said the other. ‘You’ve two horses in for

  the Wessex Cup–Silver Blaze and Bayard. Let me have

  the straight tip and you won’t be a loser. Is it a

  fact that at the weights Bayard could give the other a

  hundred yards in five furlongs, and that the stable

  have put their money on him?’

  “‘So, you’re one of those damned touts!’ cried the

  lad. ‘I’ll show you how we serve them in King’s

  Pyland.’ He sprang up and rushed across the stable to

  unloose the dog. The girl fled away to the house, but

  as she ran she looked back and saw that the stranger

  was leaning through the window. A minute later,

  however, when Hunter rushed out with the hound he was

  gone, and though he ran all round the buildings he

  failed to find any trace of him.”

  “One moment,” I asked. “Did the stable-boy, when he

  ran out with the dog, leave the door unlocked behind

  him?”

  “Excellent, Watson, excellent!” murmured my companion. 

  “The importance of the point struck me so forcibly

  that I sent a special wire to Dartmoor yesterday to

  clear the matter up. The boy locked the door before

  he left it. The window, I may add, was not large

  enough for a man to get through.

  “Hunter waited until his fellow-grooms had returned,

  when he sent a message to the trainer and told him

  what had occurred. Straker was excited at hearing the

  account, although he does not seem to have quite

  realized its true significance. It left him, however,

  vaguely uneasy, and Mrs. Straker, waking at one in the

  morning, found that he was dressing. In reply to her

  inquiries, he said that he could not sleep on account

  of his anxiety about the horses, and that he intended

  to walk down to the stables to see that all was well. 

  She begged him to remain at home, as she could hear

  the rain pattering against the window, but in spite of

  her entreaties he pulled on his large mackintosh and

  left the house.

  “Mrs. Straker awoke at seven in the morning, to find

  that her husband had not yet returned. She dressed

  herself hastily, called the maid, and set off for the

  stables. The door was open; inside, huddled together

  upon a chair, Hunter was sunk in a state of absolute

  stupor, the favorite’s stall was empty, and there were

  no signs of his trainer.

  “The two lads who slept in the chaff-cutting loft

  above the harness-room were quickly aroused. They had

  heard nothing during the night, for they are both

  sound sleepers. Hunter was obviously under the

  influence of some powerful drug, and as no sense could

  be got out of him, he was left to sleep it off while

  the two lads and the two women ran out in search of

  the absentees. They still had hopes that the trainer

  had for some reason taken out the horse for early

  exercise, but on ascending the knoll near the house,

  from which all the neighboring moors were visible,

  they not only could see no signs of the missing

  favorite, but they perceived something which warned

  them that they were in the presence of a tragedy.

  “About a quarter of a mile from the stables John

  Straker’s overcoat was flapping from a furze-bush. 

  Immediately beyond there was a bowl-shaped depression

  in the moor, and at the bottom of this was found the

  dead body of the unfortunate trainer. His head had

  been shattered by a savage blow from some heavy

  weapon, and he was wounded on the thigh, where there

was a long, clean cut, inflicted evidently by some

  very sharp instrument. It was clear, however, that

  Straker had defended himself vigorously against his

  assailants, for in his right hand he held a small

  knife, which was clotted with blood up to the handle,

  while in his left he clasped a red and black silk

  cravat, which was recognized by the maid as having

  been worn on the preceding evening by the stranger who

  had visited the stables. Hunter, on recovering from

  his stupor, was also quite positive as to the

  ownership of the cravat. He was equally certain that

  the same stranger had, while standing at the window,

  drugged his curried mutton, and so deprived the

  stables of their watchman. As to the missing horse,

  there were abundant proofs in the mud which lay at the

  bottom of the fatal hollow that he had been there at

  the time of the struggle. But from that morning he

  has disappeared, and although a large reward has been

  offered, and all the gypsies of Dartmoor are on the

  alert, no news has come of him. Finally, an analysis

  has shown that the remains of his supper left by the

  stable-lad contain an appreciable quantity of powdered

  opium, while the people at the house partook of the

  same dish on the same night without any ill effect.

  “Those are the main facts of the case, stripped of all

  surmise, and stated as baldly as possible. I shall

  now recapitulate what the police have done in the

  matter.

  “Inspector Gregory, to whom the case has been

  committed, is an extremely competent officer. Were he

  but gifted with imagination he might rise to great

  heights in his profession. On his arrival he promptly

  found and arrested the man upon whom suspicion

  naturally rested. There was little difficulty in

  finding him, for he inhabited one of those villas

  which I have mentioned. His name, it appears, was

  Fitzroy Simpson. He was a man of excellent birth and

  education, who had squandered a fortune upon the turf,

  and who lived now by doing a little quiet and genteel

  book-making in the sporting clubs of London. An

  examination of his betting-book shows that bets to the

  amount of five thousand pounds had been registered by

  him against the favorite. On being arrested he

  volunteered that statement that he had come down to

  Dartmoor in the hope of getting some information about

  the King’s Pyland horses, and also about Desborough,

  the second favorite, which was in charge of Silas

  Brown at the Mapleton stables. He did not attempt to

  deny that he had acted as described upon the evening

  before, but declared that he had no sinister designs,

  and had simply wished to obtain first-hand

  information. When confronted with his cravat, he

  turned very pale, and was utterly unable to account

  for its presence in the hand of the murdered man. His

  wet clothing showed that he had been out in the storm

  of the night before, and his stick, which was a

  Penang-lawyer weighted with lead, was just such a

  weapon as might, by repeated blows, have inflicted the

  terrible injuries to which the trainer had succumbed. 

  On the other hand, there was no wound upon his person,

  while the state of Straker’s knife would show that one

  at least of his assailants must bear his mark upon

  him. There you have it all in a nutshell, Watson, and

  if you can give me any light I shall be infinitely

  obliged to you.”

  I had listened with the greatest interest to the

  statement which Holmes, with characteristic clearness,

  had laid before me. Though most of the facts were

  familiar to me, I had not sufficiently appreciated

  their relative importance, nor their connection to

  each other.

  “Is in not possible,” I suggested, “that the incised

  would upon Straker may have been caused by his own

  knife in the convulsive struggles which follow any

  brain injury?”

  “It is more than possible; it is probable,” said

  Holmes. “In that case one of the main points in favor

  of the accused disappears.”

  “And yet,” said I, “even now I fail to understand what

  the theory of the police can be.”

  “I am afraid that whatever theory we state has very

  grave objections to it,” returned my companion. “The

  police imagine, I take it, that this Fitzroy Simpson,

  having drugged the lad, and having in some way

obtained a duplicate key, opened the stable door and

  took out the horse, with the intention, apparently, of

  kidnapping him altogether. His bridle is missing, so

  that Simpson must have put this on. Then, having left

  the door open behind him, he was leading the horse

  away over the moor, when he was either met or

  overtaken by the trainer. A row naturally ensued. 

  Simpson beat out the trainer’s brains with his heavy

  stick without receiving any injury from the small

  knife which Straker used in self-defence, and then the

  thief either led the horse on to some secret

  hiding-place, or else it may have bolted during the

  struggle, and be now wandering out on the moors. That

  is the case as it appears to the police, and

  improbable as it is, all other explanations are more

  improbable still. However, I shall very quickly test

  the matter when I am once upon the spot, and until

  then I cannot really see how we can get much further

  than our present position.”

  It was evening before we reached the little town of

  Tavistock, which lies, like the boss of a shield, in

  the middle of the huge circle of Dartmoor. Two

  gentlemen were awaiting us in the station–the one a

  tall, fair man with lion-like hair and beard and

  curiously penetrating light blue eyes; the other a

  small, alert person, very neat and dapper, in a

  frock-coat and gaiters, with trim little side-whiskers

  and an eye-glass. The latter was Colonel Ross, the

  well-known sportsman; the other, Inspector Gregory, a

  man who was rapidly making his name in the English

  detective service.

  “I am delighted that you have come down, Mr. Holmes,”

  said the Colonel. “The Inspector here has done all

  that could possibly be suggested, but I wish to leave

  no stone unturned in trying to avenge poor Straker and

  in recovering my horse.”

  “Have there been any fresh developments?” asked

  Holmes.

  “I am sorry to say that we have made very little

  progress,” said the Inspector. “We have an open

  carriage outside, and as you would no doubt like to

  see the place before the light fails, we might talk it

  over as we drive.”

  A minute later we were all seated in a comfortable

  landau, and were rattling through the quaint old

  Devonshire city. Inspector Gregory was full of his

  case, and poured out a stream of remarks, while Holmes

  threw in an occasional question or interjection. 

  Colonel Ross leaned back with his arms folded and his

  hat tilted over his eyes, while I listened with

  interest to the dialogue of the two detectives. 

  Gregory was formulating his theory, which was almost

  exactly what Holmes had foretold in the train.

  “The net is drawn pretty close round Fitzroy Simpson,”

  he remarked, “and I believe myself that he is our man. 

  At the same time I recognize that the evidence is

  purely circumstantial, and that some new development

  may upset it.”

  “How about Straker’s knife?”

  “We have quite come to the conclusion that he wounded

  himself in his fall.”

  “My friend Dr. Watson made that suggestion to me as we

  came down. If so, it would tell against this man

  Simpson.”

  “Undoubtedly. He has neither a knife nor any sign of

  a wound. The evidence against him is certainly very

  strong. He had a great interest in the disappearance

  of the favorite. He lies under suspicion of having

  poisoned the stable-boy, he was undoubtedly out in the

  storm, he was armed with a heavy stick, and his cravat

  was found in the dead man’s hand. I really think we

  have enough to go before a jury.”

  Holmes shook his head. “A clever counsel would tear

  it all to rags,” said he. “Why should he take the

  horse out of the stable? If he wished to injure it

  why could he not do it there? Has a duplicate key

  been found in his possession? What chemist sold him

  the powdered opium? Above all, where could he, a

  stranger to the district, hide a horse, and such a

  horse as this? What is his own explanation as to the

  paper which he wished the maid to give to the

  stable-boy?”

  “He says that it was a ten-pound note. One was found

  in his purse. But your other difficulties are not so

  formidable as they seem. He is not a stranger to the

  district. He has twice lodged at Tavistock in the

  summer. The opium was probably brought from London. 

  The key, having served its purpose, would be hurled

  away. The horse may be at the bottom of one of the

  pits or old mines upon the moor.”

  “What does he say about the cravat?”

  “He acknowledges that it is his, and declares that he

  had lost it. But a new element has been introduced

  into the case which may account for his leading the

  horse from the stable.”

  Holmes pricked up his ears.

  “We have found traces which show that a party of

  gypsies encamped on Monday night within a mile of the

  spot where the murder took place. On Tuesday they

  were gone. Now, presuming that there was some

  understanding between Simpson and these gypsies, might

  he not have been leading the horse to them when he was

  overtaken, and may they not have him now?”

  “It is certainly possible.”

  “The moor is being scoured for these gypsies. I have

  also examined every stable and out-house in Tavistock,

  and for a radius of ten miles.”

  “There is another training-stable quite close, I

  understand?”

  “Yes, and that is a factor which we must certainly not

  neglect. As Desborough, their horse, was second in

  the betting, they had an interest in the disappearance

  of the favorite. Silas Brown, the trainer, is known

  to have had large bets upon the event, and he was no

  friend to poor Straker. We have, however, examined

  the stables, and there is nothing to connect him with

  the affair.”

  “And nothing to connect this man Simpson with the

  interests of the Mapleton stables?”

  “Nothing at all.”

  Holmes leaned back in the carriage, and the

  conversation ceased. A few minutes later our driver

  pulled up at a neat little red-brick villa with

  overhanging eaves which stood by the road. Some

  distance off, across a paddock, lay a long gray-tiled

  out-building. In every other direction the low curves

  of the moor, bronze-colored from the fading ferns,

  stretched away to the sky-line, broken only by the

  steeples of Tavistock, and by a cluster of houses away

  to the westward which marked the Mapleton stables. We

  all sprang out with the exception of Holmes, who

  continued to lean back with his eyes fixed upon the

  sky in front of him, entirely absorbed in his own

  thoughts. It was only when I touched his arm that he

  roused himself with a violent start and stepped out of

  the carriage.

“Excuse me,” said he, turning to Colonel Ross, who

  had looked at him in some surprise. “I was

  day-dreaming.” There was a gleam in his eyes and a

  suppressed excitement in his manner which convinced

  me, used as I was to his ways, that his hand was upon

  a clue, though I could not imagine where he had found

  it.

  “Perhaps you would prefer at once to go on to the

  scene of the crime, Mr. Holmes?” said Gregory.

  “I think that I should prefer to stay here a little

  and go into one or two questions of detail. Straker

  was brought back here, I presume?”

  “Yes; he lies upstairs. The inquest is to-morrow.”

  “He has been in your service some years, Colonel

  Ross?”

  “I have always found him an excellent servant.”

  “I presume that you made an inventory of what he had

  in this pockets at the time of his death, Inspector?”

  “I have the things themselves in the sitting-room, if

  you would care to see them.”

  “I should be very glad.” We all filed into the front

  room and sat round the central table while the

  Inspector unlocked a square tin box and laid a small

  heap of things before us. There was a box of vestas,

  two inches of tallow candle, an A D P brier-root pipe,

  a pouch of seal-skin with half an ounce of long-cut

  Cavendish, a silver watch with a gold chain, five

  sovereigns in gold, an aluminum pencil-case, a few

  papers, and an ivory-handled knife with a very

  delicate, inflexible bade marked Weiss & Co., London.

  “This is a very singular knife,” said Holmes, lifting

  it up and examining it minutely. “I presume, as I see

  blood-stains upon it, that it is the one which was

  found in the dead man’s grasp. Watson, this knife is

  surely in your line?”

  “It is what we call a cataract knife,” said I.

  “I thought so. A very delicate blade devised for very

  delicate work. A strange thing for a man to carry

  with him upon a rough expedition, especially as it

  would not shut in his pocket.”

  “The tip was guarded by a disk of cork which we found

  beside his body,” said the Inspector. “His wife tells

  us that the knife had lain upon the dressing-table,

  and that he had picked it up as he left the room. It

  was a poor weapon, but perhaps the best that he could

  lay his hands on at the moment.”

  “Very possible. How about these papers?”

  “Three of them are receipted hay-dealers’ accounts. 

  One of them is a letter of instructions from Colonel

  Ross. This other is a milliner’s account for

  thirty-seven pounds fifteen made out by Madame

  Lesurier, of Bond Street, to William Derbyshire. Mrs.

  Straker tells us that Derbyshire was a friend of her

  husband’s and that occasionally his letters were

  addressed here.”

  “Madam Derbyshire had somewhat expensive tastes,”

  remarked Holmes, glancing down the account. 

  “Twenty-two guineas is rather heavy for a single

  costume. However there appears to be nothing more to

  learn, and we may now go down to the scene of the

  crime.”

  As we emerged from the sitting-room a woman, who had

  been waiting in the passage, took a step forward and

  laid her hand upon the Inspector’s sleeve. Her face

  was haggard and thin and eager, stamped with the print

  of a recent horror.

  “Have you got them? Have you found them?” she panted.

  “No, Mrs. Straker. But Mr. Holmes here has come from

  London to help us, and we shall do all that is

  possible.”

  “Surely I met you in Plymouth at a garden-party some

  little time ago, Mrs. Straker?” said Holmes.

  “No, sir; you are mistaken.”

  “Dear me! Why, I could have sworn to it. You wore a

  costume of dove-colored silk with ostrich-feather

  trimming.”

  “I never had such a dress, sir,” answered the lady.

  “Ah, that quite settles it,” said Holmes. And with an

  apology he followed the Inspector outside. A short

  walk across the moor took us to the hollow in which

  the body had been found. At the brink of it was the

  furze-bush upon which the coat had been hung.

  “There was no wind that night, I understand,” said

  Holmes.

  “None; but very heavy rain.”

  “In that case the overcoat was not blown against the

  furze-bush, but placed there.”

  “Yes, it was laid across the bush.”

  “You fill me with interest, I perceive that the

  ground has been trampled up a good deal. No doubt

  many feet have been here since Monday night.”

  “A piece of matting has been laid here at the side,

  and we have all stood upon that.”

  “Excellent.”

  “In this bag I have one of the boots which Straker

  wore, one of Fitzroy Simpson’s shoes, and a cast

  horseshoe of Silver Blaze.”

  “My dear Inspector, you surpass yourself!” Homes took

  the bag, and, descending into the hollow, he pushed

  the matting into a more central position. Then

  stretching himself upon his face and leaning his chin

  upon his hands, he made a careful study of the

  trampled mud in front of him. “Hullo!” said he,

  suddenly. “What’s this?” It was a wax vesta half

  burned, which was so coated with mud that it looked at

  first like a little chip of wood.

  “I cannot think how I came to overlook it,” said the

  Inspector, with an expression of annoyance.

  “It was invisible, buried in the mud. I only saw it

  because I was looking for it.”

  “What! You expected to find it?”

  “I thought it not unlikely.”

  He took the boots from the bag, and compared the

  impressions of each of them with marks upon the

  ground. Then he clambered up to the rim of the

  hollow, and crawled about among the ferns and bushes.

  “I am afraid that there are no more tracks,” said the

  Inspector. “I have examined the ground very carefully

  for a hundred yards in each direction.”

  “Indeed!” said Holmes, rising. “I should not have the

  impertinence to do it again after what you say. But I

  should like to take a little walk over the moor before

  it grows dark, that I may know my ground to-morrow,

  and I think that I shall put this horseshoe into my

  pocket for luck.”

  Colonel Ross, who had shown some signs of impatience

  at my companion’s quiet and systematic method of work,

  glanced at his watch. “I wish you would come back

  with me, Inspector,” said he. “There are several

  points on which I should like your advice, and

  especially as to whether we do not owe it to the

  public to remove our horse’s name from the entries for

  the Cup.”

  “Certainly not,” cried Holmes, with decision. “I

  should let the name stand.”

  The Colonel bowed. “I am very glad to have had your

  opinion, sir,” said he. “You will find us at poor

  Straker’s house when you have finished your walk, and

  we can drive together into Tavistock.”

He turned back with the Inspector, while Holmes and I

  walked slowly across the moor. The sun was beginning

  to sink behind the stables of Mapleton, and the long,

  sloping plain in front of us was tinged with gold,

  deepening into rich, ruddy browns where the faded

  ferns and brambles caught the evening light. But the

  glories of the landscape were all wasted upon my

  companion, who was sunk in the deepest thought.

  “It’s this way, Watson,” said he at last. “We may

  leave the question of who killed John Straker for the

  instant, and confine ourselves to finding out what has

  become of the horse. Now, supposing that he broke

  away during or after the tragedy, where could he have

  gone to? The horse is a very gregarious creature. If

  left to himself his instincts would have been either

  to return to King’s Pyland or go over to Mapleton. 

  Why should he run wild upon the moor? He would surely

  have been seen by now. And why should gypsies kidnap

  him? These people always clear out when they hear of

  trouble, for they do not wish to be pestered by the

  police. They could not hope to sell such a horse. 

  They would run a great risk and gain nothing by taking

  him. Surely that is clear.”

  “Where is he, then?”

  “I have already said that he must have gone to King’s

  Pyland or to Mapleton. He is not at King’s Pyland. 

  Therefore he is at Mapleton. Let us take that as a

  working hypothesis and see what it leads us to. This

  part of the moor, as the Inspector remarked, is very

  hard and dry. But if falls away towards Mapleton, and

  you can see from here that there is a long hollow over

  yonder, which must have been very wet on Monday night. 

  If our supposition is correct, then the horse must

  have crossed that, and there is the point where we

  should look for his tracks.”

  We had been walking briskly during this conversation,

  and a few more minutes brought us to the hollow in

  question. At Holmes’ request I walked down the bank

  to the right, and he to the left, but I had not taken

  fifty paces before I heard him give a shout, and saw

  him waving his hand to me. The track of a horse was

  plainly outlined in the soft earth in front of him,

  and the shoe which he took from his pocket exactly

  fitted the impression.

  “See the value of imagination,” said Holmes. “It is

  the one quality which Gregory lacks. We imagined what

  might have happened, acted upon the supposition, and

  find ourselves justified. Let us proceed.”

  We crossed the marshy bottom and passed over a quarter

  of a mile of dry, hard turf. Again the ground sloped,

  and again we came on the tracks. Then we lost them

  for half a mile, but only to pick them up once more

  quite close to Mapleton. It was Holmes who saw them

  first, and he stood pointing with a look of triumph

  upon his face. A man’s track was visible beside the

  horse’s.

  “The horse was alone before,” I cried.

  “Quite so. It was alone before. Hullo, what is

  this?”

  The double track turned sharp off and took the

  direction of King’s Pyland. Homes whistled, and we

  both followed along after it. His eyes were on the

  trail, but I happened to look a little to one side,

  and saw to my surprise the same tracks coming back

  again in the opposite direction.

  “One for you, Watson,” said Holmes, when I pointed it

  out. “You have saved us a long walk, which would have

  brought us back on our own traces. Let us follow the

  return track.”

  We had not to go far. It ended at the paving of

  asphalt which led up to the gates of the Mapleton

  stables. As we approached, a groom ran out from them.

  “We don’t want any loiterers about here,” said he.

  “I only wished to ask a question,” said Holmes, with

  his finger and thumb in his waistcoat pocket. “Should

  I be too early to see your master, Mr. Silas Brown, if

  I were to call at five o’clock to-morrow morning?”

  “Bless you, sir, if any one is about he will be, for

  he is always the first stirring. But here he is, sir,

  to answer your questions for himself. No, sir, no; it

  is as much as my place is worth to let him see me

  touch your money. Afterwards, if you like.”

  As Sherlock Holmes replaced the half-crown which he

had drawn from his pocket, a fierce-looking elderly

  man strode out from the gate with a hunting-crop

  swinging in his hand.

  “What’s this, Dawson!” he cried. “No gossiping! Go

  about your business! And you, what the devil do you

  want here?”

  “Ten minutes’ talk with you, my good sir,” said Holmes

  in the sweetest of voices.

  “I’ve no time to talk to every gadabout. We want no

  stranger here. Be off, or you may find a dog at your

  heels.”

  Holmes leaned forward and whispered something in the

  trainer’s ear. He started violently and flushed to

  the temples.

  “It’s a lie!” he shouted, “an infernal lie!”

  “Very good. Shall we argue about it here in public or

  talk it over in your parlor?”

  “Oh, come in if you wish to.”

  Holmes smiled. “I shall not keep you more than a few

  minutes, Watson,” said he. “Now, Mr. Brown, I am

  quite at your disposal.”

  It was twenty minutes, and the reds had all faded into

  grays before Holmes and the trainer reappeared. Never

  have I seen such a change as had been brought about in

  Silas Brown in that short time. His face was ashy

  pale, beads of perspiration shone upon his brow, and

  his hands shook until the hunting-crop wagged like a

  branch in the wind. His bullying, overbearing manner

  was all gone too, and he cringed along at my

  companion’s side like a dog with its master.

  “You instructions will be done. It shall all be

  done,” said he.

  “There must be no mistake,” said Holmes, looking round

  at him. The other winced as he read the menace in his

  eyes.

  “Oh no, there shall be no mistake. It shall be there. 

  Should I change it first or not?”

  Holmes thought a little and then burst out laughing. 

  “No, don’t,” said he; “I shall write to you about it. 

  No tricks, now, or–“

  “Oh, you can trust me, you can trust me!”

  “Yes, I think I can. Well, you shall hear from me

  to-morrow.” He turned upon his heel, disregarding the

  trembling hand which the other held out to him, and we

  set off for King’s Pyland.

  “A more perfect compound of the bully, coward, and

  sneak than Master Silas Brown I have seldom met with,”

  remarked Holmes as we trudged along together.

  “He has the horse, then?”

  “He tried to bluster out of it, but I described to him

  so exactly what his actions had been upon that morning

  that he is convinced that I was watching him. Of

  course you observed the peculiarly square toes in the

  impressions, and that his own boots exactly

  corresponded to them. Again, of course no subordinate

  would have dared to do such a thing. I described to

  him how, when according to his custom he was the first

  down, he perceived a strange horse wandering over the

  moor. How he went out to it, and his astonishment at

  recognizing, from the white forehead which has given

  the favorite its name, that chance had put in his

  power the only horse which could beat the one upon

  which he had put his money. Then I described how his

  first impulse had been to lead him back to King’s

  Pyland, and how the devil had shown him how he could

  hide the horse until the race was over, and how he had

  led it back and concealed it at Mapleton. When I told

  him every detail he gave it up and thought only of

  saving his own skin.”

  “But his stables had been searched?”

  “Oh, and old horse-fakir like him has many a dodge.”

  “But are you not afraid to leave the horse in his

  power now, since he has every interest in injuring

  it?”

  “My dear fellow, he will guard it as the apple of his

  eye. He knows that his only hope of mercy is to

  produce it safe.”

  “Colonel Ross did not impress me as a man who would be

  likely to show much mercy in any case.”

  “The matter does not rest with Colonel Ross. I follow

  my own methods, and tell as much or as little as I

  choose. That is the advantage of being unofficial. I

  don’t know whether you observed it, Watson, but the

  Colonel’s manner has been just a trifle cavalier to

  me. I am inclined now to have a little amusement at

  his expense. Say nothing to him about the horse.”

  “Certainly not without your permission.”

  “And of course this is all quite a minor point

  compared to the question of who killed John Straker.”

  “And you will devote yourself to that?”

  “On the contrary, we both go back to London by the

  night train.”

  I was thunderstruck by my friend’s words. We had only

  been a few hours in Devonshire, and that he should

  give up an investigation which he had begun so

  brilliantly was quite incomprehensible to me. Not a

  word more could I draw from him until we were back at

  the trainer’s house. The Colonel and the Inspector

  were awaiting us in the parlor.

  “My friend and I return to town by the night-express,”

  said Holmes. “We have had a charming little breath of

  your beautiful Dartmoor air.”

  The Inspector opened his eyes, and the Colonel’s lip

  curled in a sneer.

  “So you despair of arresting the murderer of poor

  Straker,” said he.

  Holmes shrugged his shoulders. “There are certainly

  grave difficulties in the way,” said he. “I have

  every hope, however, that your horse will start upon

  Tuesday, and I beg that you will have your jockey in

  readiness. Might I ask for a photograph of Mr. John

  Straker?”

  The Inspector took one from an envelope and handed it

  to him.

  “My dear Gregory, you anticipate all my wants. If I

  might ask you to wait here for an instant, I have a

  question which I should like to put to the maid.”

  “I must say that I am rather disappointed in our

  London consultant,” said Colonel Ross, bluntly, as my

  friend left the room. “I do not see that we are any

  further than when he came.”

  “At least you have his assurance that your horse will

  run,” said I.

  “Yes, I have his assurance,” said the Colonel, with a

  shrug of his shoulders. “I should prefer to have the

  horse.”

  I was about to make some reply in defence of my friend

  when he entered the room again.

  “Now, gentlemen,” said he, “I am quite ready for

  Tavistock.”

  As we stepped into the carriage one of the stable-lads

  held the door open for us. A sudden idea seemed to

  occur to Holmes, for he leaned forward and touched the

  lad upon the sleeve.

  “You have a few sheep in the paddock,” he said. “Who

  attends to them?”

  “I do, sir.”

  “Have you noticed anything amiss with them of late?”

  “Well, sir, not of much account; but three of them

  have gone lame, sir.”

  I could see that Holmes was extremely pleased, for he

  chuckled and rubbed his hands together.

  “A long shot, Watson; a very long shot,” said he,

  pinching my arm. “Gregory, let me recommend to your

  attention this singular epidemic among the sheep. 

  Drive on, coachman!”

  Colonel Ross still wore an expression which showed the

  poor opinion which he had formed of my companion’s

  ability, but I saw by the Inspector’s face that his

  attention had been keenly aroused.

  “You consider that to be important?” he asked.

  “Exceedingly so.”

  “Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my

  attention?”

  “To the curious incident of the dog in the

  night-time.”

  “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

  “That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock

  Holmes.

  Four days later Holmes and I were again in the train,

  bound for Winchester to see the race for the Wessex

  Cup. Colonel Ross met us by appointment outside the

  station, and we drove in his drag to the course beyond

  the town. His face was grave, and his manner was cold

  in the extreme.

  “I have seen nothing of my horse,” said he.

  “I suppose that you would know him when you saw him?”

  asked Holmes.

  The Colonel was very angry. “I have been on the turf

  for twenty years, and never was asked such a question

  as that before,” said he. “A child would know Silver

  Blaze, with his white forehead and his mottled

  off-foreleg.”

  “How is the betting?”

  “Well, that is the curious part of it. You could have

  got fifteen to one yesterday, but the price has become

  shorter and shorter, until you can hardly get three to

  one now.”

  “Hum!” said Holmes. “Somebody knows something, that

  is clear.”

  As the drag drew up in the enclosure near the grand

  stand I glanced at the card to see the entries.

  Wessex Plate [it ran] 50 sovs each h ft with 1000 sovs

  added for four and five year olds. Second, L300. 

  Third, L200. New course (one mile and five furlongs).

  Mr. Heath Newton’s The Negro. Red cap. Cinnamon

  jacket.

  Colonel Wardlaw’s Pugilist. Pink cap. Blue and black

  jacket.

  Lord Backwater’s Desborough. Yellow cap and sleeves.

  Colonel Ross’s Silver Blaze. Black cap. Red jacket.

  Duke of Balmoral’s Iris. Yellow and black stripes.

  Lord Singleford’s Rasper. Purple cap. Black sleeves.

  “We scratched our other one, and put all hopes on your

  word,” said the Colonel. “Why, what is that? Silver

  Blaze favorite?”

  “Five to four against Silver Blaze!” roared the ring. 

  “Five to four against Silver Blaze! Five to fifteen

  against Desborough! Five to four on the field!”

  “There are the numbers up,” I cried. “They are all

  six there.”

  “All six there? Then my horse is running,” cried the

  Colonel in great agitation. “But I don’t see him. My

  colors have not passed.”

  “Only five have passed. This must be he.”

  As I spoke a powerful bay horse swept out from the

  weighting enclosure and cantered past us, bearing on

  it back the well-known black and red of the Colonel.

  “That’s not my horse,” cried the owner. “That beast

  has not a white hair upon its body. What is this that

  you have done, Mr. Holmes?”

  “Well, well, let us see how he gets on,” said my

  friend, imperturbably. For a few minutes he gazed

  through my field-glass. “Capital! An excellent

  start!” he cried suddenly. “There they are, coming

  round the curve!”

  From our drag we had a superb view as they came up the

  straight. The six horses were so close together that

  a carpet could have covered them, but half way up the

  yellow of the Mapleton stable showed to the front. 

  Before they reached us, however, Desborough’s bolt was

  shot, and the Colonel’s horse, coming away with a

  rush, passed the post a good six lengths before its

  rival, the Duke of Balmoral’s Iris making a bad third.

  “It’s my race, anyhow,” gasped the Colonel, passing

  his hand over his eyes. “I confess that I can make

  neither head nor tail of it. Don’t you think that you

  have kept up your mystery long enough, Mr. Holmes?”

  “Certainly, Colonel, you shall know everything. Let

  us all go round and have a look at the horse together. 

  Here he is,” he continued, as we made our way into the

  weighing enclosure, where only owners and their

  friends find admittance. “You have only to wash his

  face and his leg in spirits of wine, and you will find

  that he is the same old Silver Blaze as ever.”

  “You take my breath away!”

  “I found him in the hands of a fakir, and took the

  liberty of running him just as he was sent over.”

  “My dear sir, you have done wonders. The horse looks

  very fit and well. It never went better in its life. 

  I owe you a thousand apologies for having doubted your

  ability. You have done me a great service by

  recovering my horse. You would do me a greater still

  if you could lay your hands on the murderer of John

  Straker.”

  “I have done so,” said Holmes quietly.

  The Colonel and I stared at him in amazement. “You

  have got him! Where is he, then?”

  “He is here.”

  “Here! Where?”

  “In my company at the present moment.”

  The Colonel flushed angrily. “I quite recognize that

  I am under obligations to you, Mr. Holmes,” said he,

  “but I must regard what you have just said as either a

  very bad joke or an insult.”

  Sherlock Holmes laughed. “I assure you that I have

  not associated you with the crime, Colonel,” said he. 

  “The real murderer is standing immediately behind

  you.” He stepped past and laid his hand upon the

  glossy neck of the thoroughbred.

  “The horse!” cried both the Colonel and myself.

  “Yes, the horse. And it may lessen his guilt if I say

  that it was done in self-defence, and that John

  Straker was a man who was entirely unworthy of your

  confidence. But there goes the bell, and as I stand

  to win a little on this next race, I shall defer a

  lengthy explanation until a more fitting time.”

  We had the corner of a Pullman car to ourselves that

  evening as we whirled back to London, and I fancy that

  the journey was a short one to Colonel Ross as well as

  to myself, as we listened to our companion’s narrative

  of the events which had occurred at the Dartmoor

  training-stables upon the Monday night, and the means

  by which he had unravelled them.

  “I confess,” said he, “that any theories which I had

  formed from the newspaper reports were entirely

  erroneous. And yet there were indications there, had

  they not been overlaid by other details which

  concealed their true import. I went to Devonshire

  with the conviction that Fitzroy Simpson was the true

  culprit, although, of course, I saw that the evidence

  against him was by no means complete. It was 

while I was in the carriage, just as we reached the trainer’s

  house, that the immense significance of the curried

  mutton occurred to me. You may remember that I was

  distrait, and remained sitting after you had all

  alighted. I was marvelling in my own mind how I could

  possibly have overlooked so obvious a clue.”

  “I confess,” said the Colonel, “that even now I cannot

  see how it helps us.”

  “It was the first link in my chain of reasoning. 

  Powdered opium is by no means tasteless. The flavor

  is not disagreeable, but it is perceptible. Were it

  mixed with any ordinary dish the eater would

  undoubtedly detect it, and would probably eat no more. 

  A curry was exactly the medium which would disguise

  this taste. By no possible supposition could this

  stranger, Fitzroy Simpson, have caused curry to be

  served in the trainer’s family that night, and it is

  surely too monstrous a coincidence to suppose that he

  happened to come along with powdered opium upon the

  very night when a dish happened to be served which

  would disguise the flavor. That is unthinkable. 

  Therefore Simpson becomes eliminated from the case,

  and our attention centers upon Straker and his wife,

  the only two people who could have chosen curried

  mutton for supper that night. The opium was added

  after the dish was set aside for the stable-boy, for

  the others had the same for supper with no ill

  effects. Which of them, then, had access to that dish

  without the maid seeing them?

  “Before deciding that question I had grasped the

  significance of the silence of the dog, for one true

  inference invariably suggests others. The Simpson

  incident had shown me that a dog was kept in the

  stables, and yet, though some one had been in and had

  fetched out a horse, he had not barked enough to

  arouse the two lads in the loft. Obviously the

  midnight visitor was some one whom the dog knew well.

  “I was already convinced, or almost convinced, that

  John Straker went down to the stables in the dead of

  the night and took out Silver Blaze. For what

  purpose? For a dishonest one, obviously, or why

  should he drug his own stable-boy? And yet I was at a

  loss to know why. There have been cases before now

  where trainers have made sure of great sums of money

  by laying against their own horses, through agents,

  and then preventing them from winning by fraud. 

  Sometimes it is a pulling jockey. Sometimes it is

  some surer and subtler means. What was it here? I

  hoped that the contents of his pockets might help me

  to form a conclusion.

  “And they did so. You cannot have forgotten the

  singular knife which was found in the dead man’s hand,

  a knife which certainly no sane man would choose for a

  weapon. It was, as Dr. Watson told us, a form of

  knife which is used for the most delicate operations

  known in surgery. And it was to be used for a

  delicate operation that night. You must know, with

  your wide experience of turf matters, Colonel Ross,

  that it is possible to make a slight nick upon the

  tendons of a horse’s ham, and to do it subcutaneously,

  so as to leave absolutely no trace. A horse so

  treated would develop a slight lameness, which would

  be put down to a strain in exercise or a touch of

  rheumatism, but never to foul play.”

  “Villain! Scoundrel!” cried the Colonel.

  “We have here the explanation of why John Straker

  wished to take the horse out on to the moor. So

  spirited a creature would have certainly roused the

  soundest of sleepers when it felt the prick of the

  knife. It was absolutely necessary to do it in the

  open air.”

  “I have been blind!” cried the Colonel. “Of course

  that was why he needed the candle, and struck the

  match.”

  “Undoubtedly. But in examining his belongings I was

  fortunate enough to discover not only the method of

  the crime, but even its motives. As a man of the

  world, Colonel, you know that men do not carry other

  people’s bills about in their pockets. We have most

  of us quite enough to do to settle our own. I at once

concluded that Straker was leading a double life, and

  keeping a second establishment. The nature of the

  bill showed that there was a lady in the case, and one

  who had expensive tastes. Liberal as you are with

  your servants, one can hardly expect that they can buy

  twenty-guinea walking dresses for their ladies. I

  questioned Mrs. Straker as to the dress without her

  knowing it, and having satisfied myself that it had

  never reached her, I made a note of the milliner’s

  address, and felt that by calling there with Straker’s

  photograph I could easily dispose of the mythical

  Derbyshire.

  “From that time on all was plain. Straker had led out

  the horse to a hollow where his light would be

  invisible. Simpson in his flight had dropped his

  cravat, and Straker had picked it up–with some idea,

  perhaps, that he might use it in securing the horse’s

  leg. Once in the hollow, he had got behind the horse

  and had struck a light; but the creature frightened at

  the sudden glare, and with the strange instinct of

  animals feeling that some mischief was intended, had

  lashed out, and the steel shoe had struck Straker full

  on the forehead. He had already, in spite of the

  rain, taken off his overcoat in order to do his

  delicate task, and so, as he fell, his knife gashed

  his thigh. Do I make it clear?”

  “Wonderful!” cried the Colonel. “Wonderful! You

  might have been there!”

  “My final shot was, I confess a very long one. It

  struck me that so astute a man as Straker would not

  undertake this delicate tendon-nicking without a

  little practice. What could he practice on? My eyes

  fell upon the sheep, and I asked a question which,

  rather to my surprise, showed that my surmise was

  correct.

  “When I returned to London I called upon the milliner,

  who had recognized Straker as an excellent customer of

  the name of Derbyshire, who had a very dashing wife,

  with a strong partiality for expensive dresses. I

  have no doubt that this woman had plunged him over

  head and ears in debt, and so led him into this

  miserable plot.”

  “You have explained all but one thing,” cried the

  Colonel. “Where was the horse?”

  “Ah, it bolted, and was cared for by one of your

  neighbors. We must have an amnesty in that direction,

  I think. This is Clapham Junction, if I am not

  mistaken, and we shall be in Victoria in less than ten

  minutes. If you care to smoke a cigar in our rooms,

  Colonel, I shall be happy to give you any other

  details which might interest you.”

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