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Too Close For Comfort
by [?]

When Dr. Watson entered I saw by his manner that he had something of more than usual interest to communicate. Watson has a trick of winding and unwinding his watch chain around his finger whenever he has some case in which he is particularly interested. As a rule, his work in the asylum keeps him busy the greater part of the day, and the little time he has to spare is given to cases in which he is called in consultation or by special appointment.

Therefore, knowing how busy he was, I felt certain that something out of the ordinary had called him from his regular duties at this time of day, and I was interested to learn what it was.

Watson is nothing if not direct, and rarely wastes words. On this occasion he certainly lived up to his reputation, for he began talking before he was fairly in the room.

“My dear Morris,” he said, “I have called to talk with you of a most interesting case, which has lately come under my observation. It is one in which I need your help, and I hope you will be able to spare the time to assist me.”

I nodded and waved him to a chair.

“The case in question is a most interesting one, in which hypnotic suggestion may or may not be an important factor.

“You know young Blake, the son of the late Mathew Blake, and you are aware that he has been rather extravagant in his habits and ways of living, and although not exactly a spendthrift, undoubtedly spends more money than he ought to in many ways. The great trouble with him is his passion for race-horses, and that is what, one of these days, is going to break him financially, unless I am very much mistaken.

“Just now young Blake has two horses entered in the big race which comes off day after to-morrow at Eaton Park. One of his horses, called Emperor, is well known, and he should easily win the race. He is by far the best horse of the lot, and has been selling in the pools for two to one against the field. The other horse is not nearly as good as Emperor, and has little chance of being placed. Murphy, the jockey who is to ride Emperor, is one of the best on the turf, although comparatively a young boy, probably about nineteen years old. He has ridden a number of races, and from all reports is a lad of good habits, and seemingly thoroughly honest.

“Young Blake, as you know, ‘plunges’ more or less on his horses when they run, whenever he thinks they have a fair show to win, and in this case he has bet a great deal more money than he can afford to lose, knowing that unless the horse meets with some unforeseen accident he is certain to win the race. As I understand it, he has bet so much money that if by any chance Emperor should lose the race it would seriously hurt young Blake. Of course, this is all foolishness from our standpoint, but the fact remains that the young man has bet this money, and that any accident which would interfere with his pulling off that race would cause him serious loss.

“Knowing his father as I did, I have taken more or less interest in the boy, and have time and again advised him to let racing alone, and settle down to more serious life. I should not have taken the special interest in this particular race had it not been that by a curious coincidence information has come to me which leads me to suspect that everything is not as it should be at young Blake’s stables.

“Last year one of the stable boys, a lad by the name of Collins, was badly injured by an accident, and young Blake saw that he was nicely taken care of, and paid him a salary during his illness. The youngster was grateful, and the other day, it seems, he came to Mr. Blake and told him that Murphy, the jockey who is to ride Emperor, had been sleeping badly for several nights, and talked a good deal in his sleep about the horses.