"The fact was, of co...

"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 favorite. The trainer, John Straker, is a retired jockey
who rode in Colonel Ross's colors 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 maid-servant, 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
wilderness, inhabited only by a few roaming gypsies. Such was the
general situation last Monday night when the catastrophe occurred.


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