THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
This text is in the Public Domain.
The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
The Yellow Face
The Stock-Broker's Clerk
The "Gloria Scott"
The Musgrave Ritual
The Reigate Puzzle
The Crooked Man
The Resident Patient
The Greek Interpreter
The Naval Treaty
The Final Problem
[This contains The Adventure of the Cardboard Box,
which was not present on OBI's copy.]
"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 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, charg-
ing 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 an-
nounced 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
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 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 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
"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 com-
plete, 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 anyone 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 yester-
day 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 cooperation if I do not show you the position from which
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 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 pre-
venting Silver Blaze from being there at the fall of the flag next
"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 colours 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 maidservant, 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 wilder-
ness, 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
she 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 nervous-
ness 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
" 'You are close to the King's Pyland training stables,' said
" '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 inquir-
ies, 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 contained 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 imagi-
nation 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 men-
tioned. 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 the statement that he
had come down to Dartmoor in the hope of getting some informa-
tion about the King's Pyland horses, and also about Desborough,
the second favourite, 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 infor-
mation. 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 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 favour 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 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 Simp-
son 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 eyeglass. 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
"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