One night Holmes and I could not sleep a wink because of a guy dressed as a Scotsman who played the bagpipes right in front 221B Baker Street. Our housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson, went out to see what the hell that guy wanted. It turned out that he was the same individual who had come in the morning requesting the help of Sherlock Holmes to find his pet, a fox terrier named Fritzi. The man was offended because Holmes had rejected the case on the grounds that that was not his usual line of work. However, at the insistence of Mrs. Hudson, who wished to sleep peacefully, Holmes had no choice but to grant the piper an interview.
“Mr. Holmes, by rejecting the case so quickly, I had no opportunity to tell you that Fritzi is not an ordinary dog.”
“What can be extraordinary about a fox terrier?”
“That he is a telegrapher.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Yes, yes, you heard it right. He knows the Morse code by heart and is capable of transmitting messages by sending out barks of long and short duration at certain intervals, a method equivalent to the traditional ‘point and line’.”
The news left Holmes speechless. It was as if they had just notified him that a rabbit was able to play Mozart on piano.
“Won’t you be serious?” he said.
“Yes, Mr. Holmes. He’s a dog prodigy! That’s why he’s so valuable.”
Before such revelation, Holmes did not hesitate to accept the case.
“Do you really believe, Holmes, that that dog dominates the art of telegraphy?” I ventured to ask him the next morning. “I rather tend to think that he’s using that story as bait for you to accept the case.”
Just as I had feared, my friend was deeply offended by my remark and refused to pass me the butter during breakfast. The fact is that my comment had him thinking a lot and in the course of the whole day he acted moody and distant, and I noticed that he got all flustered in my presence. Finally, he burst out:
“Do you take me for a jerk, Watson?”
“Heaven forbid! On the contrary: I think you are a genius!”
“Let me put it another way. Do you think that I have behaved like a jerk in giving credibility to the story of the telegrapher-dog?”
Faced with my silence, he insisted: “Come on, answer up! You don’t have to walk on eggshells.”
“Well, it seemed to me a little hasty on your part, I must admit.”
Holmes dropped his head in his hands: “I’ve done the most awful ridiculous thing in my life. I’ll be the laughing stock of the Annual Detective Conference.”
“Come on, come on, Holmes, it’s no big deal. We all make mistakes.”
“Not a mistake of such magnitude. Not Sherlock Holmes!” he suddenly exclaimed in an outburst of petulance.
“Either way, you cannot take back your words. You must search for that dog and return it to its owner.”
“You are right, Watson. But I can think of a way to amend my mistake. “
“What’s that way?”
“I’ll find that Fritzi mongrel. But before returning him to his owner, I’ll teach him all the secrets of telegraphy! ”