“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, 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 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 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 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 excellent field-glass.”
      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 cigarcase.
      “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 say.”
      “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 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 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 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 expect your cooperation 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 checking off the points upon the palm of his left hand, gave me a sketch of the events which had led to our journey.


      这么着,大概一个钟头之后,我已经坐进了一节头等车厢的角落,列车飞速驶向埃克塞特 。歇洛克•福尔摩斯飞快地浏览着刚从帕丁顿车站买来的一大捆当天报纸,带护耳的旅行便帽如同一个画框,围住了他那张机敏热切的面孔。直到列车远远驶过雷丁之后,他才把最后一张报纸塞到座位下面,又把自己的雪茄烟盒递给了我。
      “这列火车跑得挺快的,”他看看窗外,又看看自己的表。“目前的时速是五十三点五英里 。”
      “就这类案件来说,演绎专家的工作重点应该是筛选案情细节,而不是获取新的证据。这件惨案如此非同凡响、如此骇人听闻,又与如此众多的人利害攸关,所以呢,摆在咱们面前的猜测、推断和假设真可谓严重过剩,难点在于如何抽丝剥茧,把事实的框架——我指的是那些绝对不容置疑的事实——跟牛皮匠和记者的添油加醋区分开来。打好这样一个牢固的基础之后,咱们的职责就是设法理清,这些事实能够引出什么样的推论、整件谜案的关键又在些地方。星期二晚上,我同时收到了两封电报,一封来自失踪名马的主人罗斯上校,另一封则来自负责侦办此案的格雷戈里督察 ,他俩都邀请我参与调查。”

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