As happens to people with extreme sensitivity, Sherlock Holmes suffered periodic accesses of melancholy. This morbid state could last several weeks. My friend then locked himself in his room completely in the dark and refused to receive anyone other than Queen Victoria or someone who looked like Her.
I had to talk to him through the closed door of his room and Mrs. Hudson was forced to pass his meal under the door, which meant reducing his food to very thin slices of ham and cheese. As for the intake of liquids, the only thing we could do was spill buckets of water in the hope that it formed puddles on the other side of the door so Holmes could slurp them through a straw. However, this diet seemed to me insufficient, so one day I showed myself up at home with a fruit capable of providing both solid and liquid food.
“How do you plan to pass a coconut under the door?” objected Mrs. Hudson, who was a very nit-picking woman.
In my youth I had played rugby and had an enviable aim when throwing a ball forward. And although the window of Holmes’ room was small and at a considerable height from the ground, I knew I was able to introduce the coconut through that hole.
To make things more complicated, I had to try the throw in the dark of the night, for only then did Holmes open the window to air the room. And that only for a while, so I had to seize that moment.
When it got dark, I lurked under the lintel of the door and, when I heard the second floor window open, I ran with the coconut grabbed with both hands and, from the centre of the street, I threw it with all the strength of my arm.
To my satisfaction, the coconut entered like a projectile in my friend’s room. But instantly I heard a groan coming from the window. Alarmed, I ran home and rushed up the stairs. From the landing, I got a running start and rammed Holmes’ door sending it flying open. As I feared, Holmes lay on the ground unconscious. The coconut had hit just in the middle of his forehead, where an egg-sized bump stood out.
“Mrs. Hudson, call a doctor, quickly!” I shouted. When Mrs. Hudson reminded me that I had the medical degree myself, I asked her to bring my briefcase. The vital signs were normal. One could only hope that when he woke up, his brain would not have been affected by the blow.
When he finally woke up, Holmes showed a smile from ear to ear. Mrs. Hudson and I started talking to him but Holmes showed no sign of understanding anything we said. He just smiled and spoke to us in an Eastern European language that I identified as Bulgarian. In a fit of inspiration, I grabbed the coconut and hit his head with it. Then his language switched to Portuguese. By beating his head again and again, and after going through all the languages my friend knew, finally I managed to tune his brain to English language.
Interestingly enough, his melancholy was gone.