The Red-Headed League
The Adventure of the Dancing Men
The Adventure of the Speckled Band
"Silver Blaze," said he, "is a descendant of the famous race-horse Somomy, 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 horse-racing world to Colonel Ross, his fortunate owner. Up to the time of the catastrophe he was the favorite for the Wessex Cup, the betting being three to one on him. He has always, however, been a prime favorite with the racing public, and has never yet disappointed them, so that even at those odds enormous amounts of money have been bet on him. It is obvious, therefore, that there were many people who had the strongest interest in preventing Silver Blaze from being there at the start of the race next Tuesday.
"The fact was, ofcourse, well understood at King's Pyland, where the Colonel's stable is situated. Every precaution was taken to guard the favorite. The trainer, John Straker, is a retired jockey who rode for Colonel Ross before he became too heavy to ride in races. He has served the Colonel for five years as jockey and for seven as trainer, and has always shown himself to be capable, hard-working, and honest. There were only three stable boys working for him, because Colonel Ross only had four horses. One of these stable boys 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 house about two hundred yards from the stables. He has no children, keeps one maid, and earns enough money for his and his wife's needs. The surrounding country is very lonely, but about half a mile to the north there is a small group of houses which have been built by a Tavistock builder for the use of people recovering from illness, and others who may wish to enjoy the pure Dartmoor air. Tavistock itselflies two miles to the west, while across the moor, also about two miles away, is the larger training stable of Mapleton, which belongs to Lord Backwater, and is managed by Silas Brown. In every other direction the moor is completely wild: the only people you will find there are 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 stable boys 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, took him his supper, which consisted of a dish ofcurried mutton. She took no liquid, as there was a water-tap in the stables, and it was the rule that the stable boy 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.