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    Silver Blaze

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    Chapter 1
    "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 two 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."
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 1
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