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JMernoiro of
Sherlock fiolmes


Author of Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,*' Tale* of
Sherlock Holmes," etc.




Published by arrangement witii Harper & Brothers

Copyright, 1893, by A. CONAN DOYLE.
Copyright, 1894, by HARPER & BROTHERS.














NOTE. The first twelve Adventures of Sherlock Holmes will be found
in the volume published by HARPER & BROTHERS, entitled "Adventures
of Sherlock Holmes." It is uniform in size and price with " Memoirs of
Sherlock Holmes."


B&venture fill


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 up in 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 weli 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 mis-
spent, 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 my-
self 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 Pad-
dington. We had left Reading far behind us before he thrust
the last one of them under the seat, and offered me his cigar-

" We are going well," said he, looking out of 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 pre-
sume that you have looked into this matter of the murder o*
John Straker and the disappearance of Silver Blaze ?"

" I have seen what the Telegraph and the Chronicle have to

" 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 un-
common, 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 es-
tablished 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 look-
ing after the case, inviting my co-operation."


" 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 1 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 Stra-
ker. 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 ex-
pect 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 check-
ing 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 Wes-
sex 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 pre-
caution 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 estab-
lishment 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 chil-
dren, 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 man-
aged 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 wa-
tered 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, re-
mained on guard. At a few minutes after nine the maid,
Edith Baxter, carried down to the st-ables 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. c 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 un-
derstand 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 eara 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 accus-
tomed to hand the meals. It was already opened, and Hun-
ter was seated at the small table inside. She had begun to
tell him of what had happened, when the stranger came up

" '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 .veights 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 win-
dow. 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,
J 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 oc-
curred. 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 has-
tily, 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
vas 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 ail the neigh-
boring 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 be-
yond there was a bowl-shaped depression in the moor, and at
the bottom of this was found the dead body of the uafortu-
nate 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 gyp-
sies of Dartmoor are on the alert, no news has corae of him.
Finally, an analysis has shown that the remains of his supper


)ctt by the stable-lad contain an appreciable quantity of pow<
dered opium, while the people at the house partook of the
same dish on the same night without any IT effect.

" Those are the main facts of the case, stripped of all sur-
mise, and stated as baldly as possible. I shall now recapitu-
late what the police have done in the matter.

" Inspector Gregory, to whom the case has been commit-
ted, is an extremely competent officer. Were he but gifted
with imagination he might rise to great heights in his profes-
sion. On his arrival he promptly found and arrested the man
upon whom suspicion naturally rested. There was little diffi-
culty in finding him, for he inhabited one of those villas which
I have mentioned. His name, it appears, was Fitzroy Simp-
son. 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 the statement that he had come down to Dart-
moor 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 it 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 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

" 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 im-
agine, 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 inten-
tion, apparently, of kidnapping him altogether. His bridle is
missing, se that Simpson must have put this on. Then, hav-
ing 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 in-
jury 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 ex-
planations 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 Tavis-
tock, 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 un-
turned in trying to avenge poor Straker and in recovering my

" 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 circumstan-
tial, 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."


11 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 bot-
tom 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 Simp-
son 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 under-
stand ?"

"Yes, and that is a factor which we must certainly not
neglect As Desborough, their horse, was second in the bet-
ting, they had an interest in the disappearance of the favor-
ite. 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 inter-
ests 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

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Online LibraryArthur Conan DoyleMemoirs of Sherlock Holmes → online text (page 1 of 21)