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 Silver Blaze 

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Silver Blaze

"I am afraid, afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go," said Holmes, as we sat down sat down together to our breakfast one morning. "Go! Where to?""To Dartmoor; to King's Pyland."

I was not surprised. Indeed, Indeed, my only wonder was that he had not already been mixed up in mixed up in this extraordinary case, which was the one topic of conversation through the length and breadth of England. For a whole whole day my companion companion had rambled rambled about the room with his chin upon his chest and his brows knitted, knitted, charging and recharging his pipe with the strongest black tobacco, and absolutely 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 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. brooding. There was but one problem before the public which could challenge his powers of analysis, and that was the singular singular disappearance of the favorite for the Wessex Cup, and the tragic tragic murder of its trainer. When, there fore, 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 go down with you if I should not be in the way," said I. "My dear Watson, you would confer 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 absolutely unique unique one. We have, I think, just time to catch our train at Paddington, and I will go further into go further into the matter upon our journey. You would oblige oblige me by bringing with you your very excellent field glass."

And so it happened that an hour or so later 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 eager face framed in his ear flapped travelling cap, dipped rapidly into dipped rapidly into the bundle of fresh papers which he had procured procured at Paddington. We had left Reading far behind behind us before he thrust thrust the last one of them under the seat, and offered me his cigar case.

"We are going well," said he, looking out looking out the window and glancing 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 presume that you have looked into 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 Chronicle have to say."

"It is one of those cases where the art of the reasoner should be used rather rather for the sifting of details than for the acquiring acquiring of fresh evidence. evidence. The tragedy tragedy has been so uncommon, so complete and of such personal importance to so many people, that we are suffering from a plethora plethora of surmise, surmise, conjecture, conjecture, and hypothesis. The difficulty is to detach the framework of fact—of absolute absolute undeniable undeniable fact—from the embellishments of theorists and reporters. Then, having established 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 whole mystery mystery turns On turns On Tuesday evening I received telegrams from both Colonel Ross, the owner of the horse, and from Inspector Gregory, who is looking after looking after the case, inviting my cooperation."

"Tuesday evening!" I exclaimed. exclaimed. "And this is Thursday morning. Why didn't you go down go down yesterday?" "Because I made a blunder, blunder, my dear Watson—which is, I am afraid, 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 it possible that the most remarkable remarkable horse in England could long remain remain concealed, concealed, especially especially in so sparsely sparsely inhabited 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 another morning had come, and I found that beyond 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 essential facts of the case. I shall enumerate enumerate them to you, for nothing clears up clears up a case much as stating it to another another person, and I can hardly 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 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 led to our journey.

"Silver Blaze," said he, "is from the Somomy stock, and holds as brilliant a record as his famous famous ancestor. 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 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 enormous sums of money have been laid upon him. It is obvious, obvious, therefore, that there were many people who had the strongest interest in interest in pre venting Silver Blaze from being there at the fall of the flag next Tuesday.

"The fact was, of course, appreciated appreciated at King's Pyland, where the Colonel's training stable is situated. Every precaution precaution was taken to guard the favorite. The trainer, John Straker, is a re tired jockey jockey who rode in Colonel Ross's colors before he be came too heavy for the weighing chair. He has served the Colonel for five years as jockey jockey and for seven as trainer, and has always shown himself to be a zealous zealous and honest servant. Under him were three lads; for the establishment was a small one, containing 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 bore excellent characters. John Straker, who is a married man, lived in a small villa about two hundred yards from the stables. He has no children, keeps one maid servant, and is comfortably comfortably off. The country round is very lonely, 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, distant, is the larger training establishment of Mapleton, which belongs to belongs to Lord Backwater, and is managed by Silas Brown. In every other direction the moor is a

complete wilderness, inhabited inhabited only by a few roaming roaming gypsies. Such was the general situation last Monday night when the catastrophe catastrophe occurred. occurred.

"On that evening the horses had been exercised and watered as usual, usual, and the stables were locked up locked up at nine o'clock. Two of the lads walked up to the trainer's house, where they had sup per in the kitchen, while the third, Ned Hunter, remained 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 ran across the open moor.

"Edith Baxter was within thirty yards of the stables, when a man appeared 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, bearing, dressed in a gray suit of tweeds, with a cloth cap. He wore gaiters, and carried a heavy stick with stick with a knob to it. She was most impressed, however, by the extreme extreme pallor of his face and by the nervousness nervousness of his manner. His age, she thought, would be rather rather over thirty than under it. "'Can you tell me where I am?' he asked. 'I had almost made up my mind 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! indeed! What a stroke of luck!' he cried. 'I understand that a stable boy sleeps there alone every night. Perhaps Perhaps that is his supper which you are carrying to him. Now I am sure that you would not be too proud to earn earn the price of a new dress, would you?' He took a piece of white paper folded 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 frightened by the earnestness earnestness of his manner, and ran past him to the window through which she was accustomed 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 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 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 rushed across the stable to unloose the dog. The girl fled fled away to the house, but as she ran she looked back and saw that the stranger stranger was leaning leaning through the window. A minute later, later, however, when Hunter rushed 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 behind him?" "Excellent, Watson, excellent!" murmured murmured my companion. 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 grooms had returned, when he sent a message to the trainer and told him what had occurred. occurred. Straker was excited excited at hearing the account, although he does not seem seem to have quite quite realized realized its true significance. It left him, however, vaguely vaguely uneasy, and Mrs. Straker, waking at one in the morning, found that he was dressing. In reply to her inquiries, inquiries, he said that he could not sleep on account of his anxiety about the horses, and that he intended intended to walk down to the stables to see that all was well. She begged him to remain remain at home, as she could hear the rain pattering against the window, but in spite spite of her entreaties entreaties he pulled on 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, hastily, called the maid, and set off for the stables. The door was open; inside, huddled huddled together upon a chair, Hunter was sunk in a state of absolute absolute stupor, the favorite's stall stall was empty, and there were no signs of his trainer.

"The two lads who slept in the chaff chaff cutting loft above the harness harness room were quickly aroused. aroused. They had heard nothing during the night, for they are both sound sleepers. Hunter was obviously obviously under the influence of some powerful drug, and as no sense could be got out of him, he was left to 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 taken out the horse for early exercise, but on ascending ascending the knoll 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 perceived something which warned them that they were in the presence of a tragedy. tragedy.

"About a quarter of a mile from the stables John Straker's overcoat was flapping from a furze bush. Immediately beyond beyond there was a bowl shaped depression depression in the moor, and at the bottom of this was found the dead body of the unfortunate trainer. His head had been shattered shattered by a savage savage blow from some heavy weapon, and he was wounded wounded on the thigh, where there was a long, clean cut, inflicted inflicted evidently evidently by some very sharp instrument. It was clear, however, that Straker had de fended himself vigorously vigorously against his assailants, for in his right hand he held a small knife, which was clotted clotted with blood up to the handle, handle, while in his left he clasped a red and black silk cravat, cravat, which was recognized by the maid as having been worn on the preceding preceding evening by the stranger stranger who had visited the stables. Hunter, on recovering from his stupor, was also quite quite positive as to the ownership of the cravat. cravat. He was equally certain certain that the same stranger stranger had, while standing standing at the window, drugged his curried mutton, and so deprived deprived the stables of their watchman. As to the missing horse, there were abundant abundant proofs in the mud which lay at the bottom of the fatal fatal hollow 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 come of him. Finally, an analysis has shown that the remains remains of his supper left by the stable lad contain 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. effect. "Those are the main facts of the case, stripped of all surmise, surmise, and stated as baldly as possible. I shall now recapitulate recapitulate what the police have done in done in the matter.

"Inspector Gregory, to whom the case has been committed, is an extremely extremely competent officer. Were he but gifted with imagination he might rise to great heights in his profession. On his arrival he promptly promptly found and arrested the man upon whom suspicion naturally rested. There was little difficulty in finding him, for he inhabited inhabited one of those villas which I have mentioned. mentioned. His name, it appears, appears, was Fitzroy Simpson. He was a man of excellent birth and education, who had squandered squandered a fortune upon the turf, and who lived now by doing a little quiet and genteel genteel book making in the sporting clubs of London. An examination of his betting book shows that bets to the amount amount of five thousand pounds pounds had been registered by him against the favorite. On being arrested he volunteered volunteered that statement that he had come down 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 deny that he had acted as acted as described described upon the evening before, but declared that he had no sinister sinister designs, and had simply wished to obtain obtain first hand information. When confronted confronted with his cravat, cravat, he turned very pale, pale, and was utterly utterly unable unable to ac count for its presence in the hand of the murdered man. His wet clothing showed that he had been out 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 re peated blows, have inflicted inflicted the terrible terrible injuries to which the trainer had succumbed. succumbed. On the other hand On the other hand there was no wound wound upon his person, while the state of Straker's knife would show that one at least of his assailants must bear bear his mark upon him. There you have it all in a nutshell in a nutshell Watson, and if you can give me any light I shall be infinitely obliged obliged to you."

I had listened with the greatest interest to the statement which Holmes, with characteristic characteristic clearness, had laid before me. Though most of the facts were familiar to me, I had not sufficiently sufficiently appreciated appreciated their relative importance, nor their connection to each other.

"Is it not possible," I suggested, "that the incised incised wound wound 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," probable," said Holmes. "In that case one of the main points in favor of the accused accused disappears." "And yet," said I, "even now I fail to understand what the theory of the police can be."

"I am afraid afraid that whatever theory we state has very grave grave objections to it," returned my companion. companion. "The police imagine, I take it, that this Fitzroy Simpson, having drugged the lad, and having in some way obtained obtained a duplicate duplicate key, opened the stable door and took out took out the horse, with the intention, apparently, apparently, of kidnapping him altogether. altogether. His bridle bridle is missing, so that Simpson must have put this on. Then, having left the door open behind 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. ensued. Simpson beat out the trainer's brains with his heavy stick without receiving any injury from the small knife which Straker used in selfdefence, 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 wandering out on the moors. That is the case as it appears 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 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 awaiting us in the station—the one a tall, fair man with lion like hair and beard and curiously penetrating penetrating light blue eyes; the other a small, alert person, very neat and dapper, dapper, in a frock coat and gaiters, with trim little side whiskers and an eye glass. The latter latter was Colon el Ross, the well known sportsman; the other, Inspector Gregory, a man who was rapidly rapidly making his name in the English detective service.

"I am delighted that you have come down 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 leave no stone unturned in trying to avenge 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 talk it over as we drive."

A minute later later we were all seated in a comfortable comfortable landau, and were rattling through the quaint quaint old Devonshire city. Inspector Gregory was full of his case, and poured out poured out a stream of remarks, while Holmes threw in an occasional question or interjection. Colonel Ross leaned leaned back with his arms folded folded and his hat tilted 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 re marked, "and I believe myself that he is our man. At the same time I recognize that the evidence evidence is purely circumstantial, and that some new development may upset upset it." "How about Straker's knife?" "We have quite quite come to the conclusion that he wounded wounded him self in his fall." "My friend Dr. Watson made that suggestion to me as we came down came down If so, it would tell against this man Simpson."

"Undoubtedly. He has neither a knife nor any sign of a wound. wound. The evidence evidence against him is certainly certainly very strong. He had a great interest in 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 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 du plicate key been found in his possession? possession? What chemist sold him the powdered opium? Above all, where could he, a stranger stranger to the district, hide 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 pound note. One was found in his purse. But your other difficulties are not so formidable formidable as they seem. seem. He is not a stranger stranger to the district. He has twice lodged at Tavistock in the summer. The opium was probably probably brought from London. The key, having served its purpose, would be hurled 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?" cravat?" "He acknowledges 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 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 en camped on Monday night within a mile of the spot where the murder took place On took place On Tuesday they were gone. Now, presum ing 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 certainly possible."

"The moor is being scoured for these gypsies. I have also ex amined every stable and out house in Tavistock, and for a radius of ten miles." "There is another another training stable quite quite close, I understand?" "Yes, and that is a factor which we must certainly certainly not neglect. As Desborough, their horse, was second in the betting, they had an interest in 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 leaned back in the carriage, and the conversation ceased. ceased. A few minutes later later our driver pulled up at a neat little red brick villa with overhanging eaves which stood by 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 fading ferns, stretched 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 exception of Holmes, who continued to lean lean back with his eyes fixed upon the sky in front of him, entirely entirely absorbed 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 gleam in his eyes and a suppressed 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 "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 go into one or two questions of detail. Straker was brought back here, I presume?" 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 presume that you made an inventory of what he had in his 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." glad." We all filed into the front room and sat round the central central table while the Inspector unlocked a square tin box and laid a small heap 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 sovereigns in gold, an aluminum pencil case, a few papers, and an ivory handled handled knife with a very delicate, delicate, inflexible blade marked Weiss & Co., London.

"This is a very singular singular knife," said Holmes, lifting it up and examining it minutely. "I presume, presume, as I see blood stains stains upon it, that it is the one which was found in the dead man's grasp. grasp. Watson, this knife is surely in your line?" "It is what we call a cataract cataract knife," said I.

"I thought so. A very delicate delicate blade devised devised for very delicate delicate work. A strange strange thing for a man to carry with him upon a rough expedition, especially especially as it would not shut in his pocket."

"The tip was guarded by a disk of cork which we found be side 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 perhaps the best that he could lay his hands on 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 account for thirty seven pounds 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 addressed here."

"Madam Derbyshire had somewhat somewhat expensive expensive tastes," re marked Holmes, glancing glancing down the account. "Twenty two guineas is rather rather heavy for a single costume. However there appears appears to be nothing more to learn, and we may now go down go down to the scene of the crime." As we emerged 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 haggard and thin and eager, eager, stamped with the print of a recent horror. horror. "Have you got them? Have you found them?" she panted. "No, Mrs. Straker. But Mr. Holmes here has come from Lon don 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 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 hollow in which the body had been found. At the brink 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 perceive that the ground has been trampled 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 surpass yourself!" Holmes took the bag, and, descending descending into the hollow, hollow, he pushed the matting into a more central central position. Then stretching stretching himself upon his face and leaning leaning his chin upon his hands, he made a careful study of the trampled trampled mud in front of him. "Hullo!" said he, suddenly. "What's this?" It was a wax 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 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 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, hollow, and crawled crawled about among the ferns and bushes. "I am afraid afraid that there are no more tracks," said the Inspect Inspect or. "I have examined the ground very carefully for a hundred yards in each direction."

"Indeed!" "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 systematic method of work glanced at work glanced at his watch. "I wish you would come back come back with me, Inspector," said he. "There are several several points on which I should like your advice, and especially especially as to whether we do not owe owe it to the public to remove our horse's name from the entries for the Cup." "Certainly "Certainly not," cried Holmes, with decision. "I should let let the name stand."

The Colonel bowed. bowed. "I am very glad glad to have had your opinion, 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 turned back with the Inspector, while Holmes and I walked slowly across the moor. The sun was beginning to sink behind 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 faded ferns and brambles caught the evening light. But the glories glories of the landscape were all wasted upon my companion, 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 confine ourselves to finding out finding out what has become of become of the horse. Now, supposing that he broke away during or after the tragedy, tragedy, where could he have gone to? The horse is a very gregarious gregarious creature. If left to left to himself his instincts instincts would have been either to return 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 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 Let us take that as a working hypothesis and see what it leads us to leads us to This part of the moor, as the Inspector re marked, is very hard and dry. But it falls away towards Mapleton, and you can see from here that there is a long hollow hollow over yonder, which must have been very wet on Monday night. If our supposition supposition is correct, then the horse must have crossed that, and there is the point where we should look for look for his tracks."

We had been walking briskly briskly during this conversation, and a few more minutes brought us to the hollow 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 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. lacks. We imagined what might have happened, acted upon the supposition, supposition, and find ourselves justified. justified. Let Let us proceed." proceed."

We crossed the marshy bottom and passed over 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 quite close to Mapleton. It was Holmes who saw them first, and he stood pointing with a look of triumph triumph upon his face. A man's track was visible beside the horse's. "The horse was alone before," I cried.

"Quite "Quite so. It was alone before. Hullo, what is this?" The double track turned sharp off turned sharp off and took the direction of King's Pyland. Holmes whistled, and we both followed along after it. His eyes were on the trail, trail, but I happened to happened to look a little to one side, and saw to saw to my surprise the same tracks coming back coming back again in the opposite direction. "One for you, Watson," said Holmes, when I pointed it out pointed it out "You have saved us a long walk, which would have brought us back on our own traces. Let Let us follow the return track." We had not to go far. It ended at the paving of asphalt which led up to led up to the gates of the Mapleton stables. As we approached, approached, a groom 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. 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 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 fierce looking elderly man strode strode out from the gate with a hunting crop swinging in his hand. "What's this, Dawson!" he cried. "No gossiping! Go about 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 stranger here. Be off, or you may find a dog at your heels." Holmes leaned leaned forward and whispered 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 argue about it here in public or talk it over 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 quite at your disposal."

It was twenty minutes, and the reds had all faded faded into grays before Holmes and the trainer reappeared. Never have I seen such a change as had been brought about brought about in Silas Brown in that short time. His face was ashy pale, pale, beads of perspiration shone upon his brow, and his hands shook until the hunting crop wagged wagged like a branch in the wind. His bullying, overbearing manner was all gone too, and he cringed cringed along at my companion's side like a dog with its master. "Your 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 winced as he read the menace 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 hear from me to morrow."

He turned upon his heel, disregarding disregarding the trembling 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 sneak than Master Silas Brown I have seldom seldom met with," remarked Holmes as we trudged trudged along together.

"He has the horse, then?" "He tried to bluster bluster out of it, but I described 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 peculiarly square toes in the impressions, and that his own boots exactly corresponded corresponded to them. Again, of course no subordinate subordinate would have dared to do such a thing. I described described to him how, when according according to his custom custom he was the first down, he perceived perceived a strange strange horse wandering wandering over the moor. How he went out went out to it, and his astonishment 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 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 hide the horse until the race was over, and how he had led it back and concealed concealed it at Mapleton. When I told him every detail he gave it up and thought only of thought only of saving his own skin."

"But his stables had been searched?" "Oh, an old horse faker like him has many a dodge."

"But are you not afraid afraid to leave the horse in his power now, since he has every interest in 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 trifle cavalier to me. I am inclined now to inclined now to have a little amusement amusement at his expense. Say nothing to him about the horse."

"Certainly "Certainly not without your permission."

"And of course this is all quite quite a minor point compared to the question of who killed John Straker." "And you will devote yourself to devote yourself to that?" "On the contrary, contrary, we both go back 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 in vestigation which he had begun so brilliantly was quite quite incomprehensible 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 awaiting us in the parlor.

"My friend and I return to return to town by the night express," said Holmes. "We have had a charming charming little breath of your beautiful Dartmoor air." The Inspector opened his eyes, and the Colonel's lip curled in a sneer. sneer. "So you despair despair of arresting the murderer of poor Straker," said he. Holmes shrugged his shoulders. "There are certainly certainly grave 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 jockey in readiness. Might I ask for 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 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 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 further than when he came." "At least you have his assurance assurance that your horse will run," said I. "Yes, I have his assurance," 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 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 seemed to occur to occur to Holmes, for he leaned leaned forward and touched the lad upon the sleeve. "You have a few sheep in the paddock," he said. "Who at tends to them?" "I do, sir." "Have you noticed anything amiss amiss with them of late?" "Well, sir, not of much account; but three of them have gone lame, lame, sir." I could see that Holmes was extremely extremely pleased, pleased, for he chuckled and rubbed his hands together. "A long shot, Watson; a very long shot," said he, pinching pinching my arm.

"Gregory, let let me recommend to your attention this singular singular epidemic epidemic among the sheep. Drive on, coachman!" Colonel Ross still wore an expression which showed the poor opinion opinion which he had formed of my companion's ability, ability, but I saw by the Inspector's face that his attention had been keenly keenly aroused. aroused. "You consider 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 did nothing in the night time." "That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes. Four days later 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 drag to the course beyond beyond the town. His face was grave, grave, and his manner was cold in the extreme. 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 be fore," said he. "A child would know Silver Blaze, with his white forehead and his mottled 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 short er, until you can hardly hardly get three to one now." "Hum!" said Holmes. "Somebody knows something, that is clear." As the drag drag drew up drew up in the enclosure near the grand grand stand I glanced 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 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 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. 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 weighing enclosure and cantered cantered past us, bearing on bearing on its 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 let us see how he gets on," said my friend, imperturbably. For a few minutes he gazed gazed through my field glass.

"Capital! An excellent start!" he cried suddenly. "There they are, coming round the curve!" From our drag 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, rush, passed the post a good six lengths before its rival, rival, the Duke of Balmoral's Iris making a bad third. "It's my race, anyhow," gasped gasped the Colonel, passing his hand over hand over his eyes. "I confess confess that I can make neither head nor tail of it. Don't you think that you have kept up your mystery mystery long enough, Mr. Holmes?" "Certainly, "Certainly, Colonel, you shall know everything. Let 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 faker, and took the liberty liberty of running him just as he was sent over."

"My dear sir, you have done wonders. The horse looks very fit and well very fit and well It never went better in its life. I owe owe you a thou thou sand apologies for having doubted your ability. 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 hands on the murderer of John Straker." "I have done so," said Holmes quietly. The Colonel and I stared stared at him in amazement. 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 quite recognize that I am un der obligations obligations to you, Mr. Holmes," said he, "but I must regard regard what you have just said as either a very bad joke or an insult." Sherlock Holmes laughed. "I assure assure you that I have not associated you with associated you with the crime, Colonel," said he.

"The real murderer is standing standing immediately behind 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 done in selfdefence, and that John Straker was a man who was entirely 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 defer a lengthy explanation until a more fitting time." We had the corner of a Pullman car to ourselves that evening as we whirled whirled back to London, and I fancy fancy that the journey was a short one to Colonel Ross as well as to myself, as we listened to our companion's narrative narrative of the events which had occurred occurred at the Dartmoor training stables upon the Monday night, and the means means by which he had unravelled unravelled them. "I confess," confess," said he, "that any theories which I had formed from the newspaper reports were entirely entirely erroneous. erroneous. And yet there were indications there, had they not been overlaid by other details which concealed concealed their true import.

I went to Devonshire with the conviction conviction that Fitzroy Simpson was the true culprit, culprit, although, of course, I saw that the evidence evidence against him was by no means means complete. It was while I was in the carriage, just as we reached the trainer's house, that the immense immense significance of the curried mutton occurred to occurred to me. You may remember that I was distrait, and remained remained sitting after you had all alighted. I was marvelling marvelling in my own mind how I could possibly have overlooked overlooked so obvious obvious a clue." "I confess," 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 means tasteless. The flavor is not disagreeable, but it is perceptible. Were it mixed with any ordinary dish the eater would undoubtedly detect detect it, and would probably probably eat no more. A curry was exactly the medium which would disguise disguise this taste. By no possible supposition supposition could this stranger, stranger, Fitzroy Simpson, have caused curry to be served in the trainer's family that night, and it is surely too monstrous monstrous a coincidence coincidence to sup pose pose that he happened to happened to come along with powdered opium upon the very night when a dish happened to happened to be served which would disguise disguise the flavor.

That is unthinkable. Therefore Simpson becomes eliminated 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 set aside for the stable boy, for the others had the same for supper with no ill effects. effects. Which of them, then, had access to that dish without the maid seeing them? "Before deciding that question I had grasped 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 kept in the stables, and yet, though some one had been in and had fetched out had fetched out a horse, he had not barked enough to arouse arouse the two lads in the loft.

Obviously Obviously the midnight visitor was someone whom the dog knew well. "I was already convinced, or almost convinced, that John Straker went down went down to the stables in the dead of the night and took out took out Silver Blaze. For what purpose? For a dishonest one, obviously, 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 pre venting them from winning by fraud.

Sometimes it is a pulling jockey. jockey. Sometimes it is some surer and subtler subtler means. 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 singular knife which was found in the dead man's hand, a knife which certainly certainly no sane 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 delicate operations known in surgery. And it was to be used for a delicate 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 absolutely no trace. A horse so treated would develop a slight lameness, lameness, which would be put down to a strain in exercise or a touch of rheumatism, but never to foul 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 certainly roused the soundest of sleepers when it felt the prick of the knife. It was absolutely absolutely necessary necessary to do it in 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 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 expensive tastes. Liberal Liberal as you are with your servants, one can hardly 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, address, and felt that by calling there with Straker's photograph I could easily dispose of dispose of the mythical Derbyshire. "From that time on all was plain.

Straker had led out had led out the horse to a hollow hollow where his light would be invisible. Simpson in his flight had dropped his cravat, cravat, and Straker had picked it up—with some idea, perhaps, perhaps, that he might use it in securing the horse's leg. Once in the hollow, hollow, he had got behind behind the horse and had struck a light; but the creature frightened frightened at the sudden glare, and with the strange strange instinct instinct of animals feeling that some mischief mischief was intended, intended, had lashed out had lashed out and the steel shoe had struck Straker full on the forehead. He had already, in spite spite of the rain, taken off taken off his overcoat in order to do his del icate 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 confess a very long one. It struck me that so astute astute a man as Straker would not undertake undertake this delicate 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 rather to my surprise, showed that my surmise surmise was correct. "When I returned to 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 expensive dresses. I have no doubt that this woman had plunged plunged him over head and ears in debt, and so led him in to 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 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 de tails which might interest you."

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