The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
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"The net is drawn pretty close round Fitzroy Simpson," he
remarked, "and I believe myself that he is our man. At the same
time I recognize that the evidence is purely circumstantial, and
that some new development may upset it."
"How about Straker's knife?"
"We have quite come to the conclusion that he wounded
himself in his fall."
"My friend Dr. Watson made that suggestion to me as we
came down. If so, it would tell against this man Simpson."
"Undoubtedly. He has neither a knife nor any sign of a
wound. The evidence against him is certainly very strong. He
had a great interest in the disappearance of the favourite. He lies
under suspicion of having poisoned the stable-boy; he was un-
doubtedly out in the storm; he was armed with a heavy stick, and
his cravat was found in the dead man's hand. I really think we
have enough to go before a jury."
Holmes shook his head. "A clever counsel would tear it all to
rags," said he. "Why should he take the horse out of the stable?
If he wished to injure it, why could he not do it there? Has a
duplicate key been found in his possession? What chemist sold
him the powdered opium? Above all, where could he, a stranger
to the district, hide a horse, and such a horse as this? What is his
own explanation as to the paper which he wished the maid to
give to the stable-boy?"
"He says that it was a ten-pound note. One was found in his
purse. But your other difficulties are not so formidable as they
seem. He is not a stranger to the district. He has twice lodged at
Tavistock in the summer. The opium was probably brought from
London. The key, having served its purpose, would be hurled
away. The horse may be at the bottom of one of the pits or old
mines upon the moor."
"What does he say about the cravat?"
"He acknowledges that it is his and declares that he had lost
it. But a new element has been introduced into the case which
may account for his leading the horse from the stable."
Holmes pricked up his ears.
"We have found traces which show that a party of gypsies
encamped on Monday night within a mile of the spot where the
murder took place. On Tuesday they were gone. Now, presum-
ing that there was some understanding between Simpson and
these gypsies, might he not have been leading the horse to them
when he was overtaken, and may they not have him now?"
"It is certainly possible."
"The moor is being scoured for these gypsies. I have also
examined every stable and outhouse in Tavistock, and for a
radius of ten miles."
"There is another training-stable quite close, I understand?"
"Yes, and that is a factor which we must certainly not ne-
glect. 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 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
outbuilding. In every other direction the low curves of the moor,
bronze-coloured from the fading ferns, stretched away to the
sky-line, broken only by the steeples of Tavistock, and by a
cluster of houses away to the westward which marked the Mapleton
stables. We all sprang out with the exception of Holmes, who
continued to lean back with his eyes fixed upon the sky in front
of him, entirely absorbed in his own thoughts. It was only when
I touched his arm that he roused himself with a violent start and
stepped out of the carriage.
"Excuse me," said he, turning to Colonel Ross, who had
looked at him in some surprise. "I was day-dreaming." There
was a gleam in his eyes and a suppressed excitement in his
manner which convinced me, used as I was to his ways, that his
hand was upon a clue, though I could not imagine where he had
"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
"Yes, he lies upstairs. The inquest is to-morrow."
"He has been in your service some years, Colonel Ross?"
"I have always found him an excellent servant."
"I presume that you made an inventory of what he had in his
pockets at the time of his death, Inspector?"
"I have the things themselves in the sitting-room if you would
care to see them."
"I should be very glad." We all filed into the front room and
sat round the central table while the inspector unlocked a square
tin box and lald a small heap of things before us. There was a
box of vestas, two inches of tallow candle. an A D P brier-root
pipe, a pouch of sealskin with half an ounce of long-cut Caven-
dish, 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 blade marked Weiss & Co.,
"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 disc 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 possibly. How about these papers?"
"Three of them are receipted hay-dealers' accounts. One of
them is a letter of instructions from Colonel Ross. This other is a
milliner's account for thirty-seven pounds fifteen made out by
Madame Lesurier, of Bond Street, to William Derbyshire. Mrs.
Straker tells us that Derbyshire was a friend of her husband's
and that occasionally his letters were addressed here."
"Madame Derbyshire had somewhat expensive tastes," re-
marked Holmes, glancing down the account. "Twenty-two guin-
eas is rather heavy for a single costume. However, there appears
to be nothing more to learn, and we may now go down to the
scene of the crime."
As we emerged from the sitting-room a woman, who had been
waiting in the passage, took a step forward and laid her hand
upon the inspector's sleeve. Her face was haggard and thin and
eager, stamped with the print of a recent horror.
"Have you got them? Have you found them?" she panted.
"No, Mrs. Straker. But Mr. Holmes here has come from
London to help us, and we shall do all that is possible."
"Surely I met you in Plymouth at a garden-party some little
time ago, Mrs. Straker?" said Holmes.
"No, sir; you are mistaken."
"Dear me! Why, I could have sworn to it. You wore a
costume of dove-coloured silk with ostrich-feather trimming."
"I never had such a dress, sir," answered the lady.
"Ah, that quite settles it," said Holmes. And with an apology
he followed the inspector outside. A short walk across the moor
took us to the hollow in which the body had been found. At the
brink of it was the furze-bush upon which the coat had been
"There was no wind that night, I understand," said Holmes.
"None, but very heavy rain."
"In that case the overcoat was not blown against the furze-
bush, but placed there."
"Yes, it was laid across the bush."
"You fill me with interest. I perceive that the ground has been
trampled up a good deal. No doubt many feet have been here
since Monday night."
"A piece of matting has been laid here at the side, and we
have all stood upon that."