The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
"I am afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go," said
Holmes, as we sat down together to our breakfast one
"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 favourite 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 favour 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
"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
"I have seen what the Telegraph and the Chronicle have
"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 it 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 Isonomy 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 favourite for the
Wessex Cup, the betting being three to one on him. He
has always, however, been a prime favourite 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
favourite. 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 Capleton, which
belongs to Lord Backwater, and is managed by Silas
Brown. In every other direction the moor is a
complete wilderness, inhabited only by 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
tonight, 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
"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 favourite'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 neighbouring moors were visible,
they not only could see no signs of the missing
favourite, 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
"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 favourite.
"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 favourite, which was in charge of Silas
Brown at the Capleton 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
"Is in not possible," I suggested, "that the incised
wound upon Straker may have been caused by his own
knife in the convulsive struggles which follow any
"It is more than possible; it is probable," said
Holmes. "In that case one of the main points in favour
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
"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
"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
"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 favourite. 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
"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
"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 favourite. 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
"And nothing to connect this man Simpson with the
interests of the Capleton 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 Capleton 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
"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
"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 tomorrow."
"He has been in your service some years, Colonel
"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. briar-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 Darbyshire. Mrs.
Straker tells us that Darbyshire was a friend of her
husband's and that occasionally his letters were
"Madam Darbyshire 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
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
"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
"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
"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."
"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 tomorrow,
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
"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 Capleton, 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 Capleton.
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 Capleton. He is not at King's Pyland.
Therefore he is at Capleton. 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 Capleton, 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 Capleton. 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
"The horse was alone before," I cried.
"Quite so. It was alone before. Hullo, what is
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
We had not to go far. It ended at the paving of
asphalt which led up to the gates of the Capleton
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 tomorrow 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
"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
Holmes leaned forward and whispered something in the
trainer's ear. He started violently and flushed to
"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 parlour?"
"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
"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
tomorrow." 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 favourite 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 Capleton. 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
"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
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 parlour.
"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
The Inspector took one from an envelope and handed it
"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
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
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.
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my
"To the curious incident of the dog in the
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock
* * * * * * * * * * *
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?"
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
"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
"Hum!" said Holmes. "Somebody knows something, that
As the drag drew up in the enclosure near the grand
stand I glanced at the card to see the entries.
50 sovs each, h ft, with 1,000 sovs.
added for four and five year olds. Second, £300.
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
"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
"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 Capleton 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
"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."
"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
"I have been blind!" cried the Colonel. "Of course
that was why he needed the candle, and struck the
"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
"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
"When I returned to London I called upon the milliner,
who had recognized Straker as an excellent customer of
the name of Darbyshire, 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
"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
neighbours. We must have an amnesty in that direction,
I think. This is Clapham Junction, if I am not
mistaken, and we shall be in Victoria in less than ten
minutes. If you care to smoke a cigar in our rooms,
Colonel, I shall be happy to give you any other
details which might interest you."
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Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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