"Edith Baxter was within thirty yards of the stables, when a man appeared out of the darkness and called to her to stop.
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 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 favorite's stall was empty, and there were no signs of his trainer.
"About a quarter of a mile from the stables John Straker's overcoat was flapping from a furze-bush.
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 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.
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 interests of the Mapleton stables?"
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 his own thoughts.
The sun was beginning to sink behind the stables of Mapleton, 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.
It ended at the paving of asphalt which led up to the gates of the Mapleton stables. As we approached, a groom ran out from them.
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.
"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.