Previously on Sherlock Herms Master Detective…
Satiated by the delicious sammiches served by Mrs. Gray for tea, Fergus and I lay side by side on his cushy bed in front of a blazing hearth fire. ‘Life’s darkest moment,’ one publication called Sherlock Holmes’ death,” the dog told me. “One of the letters my master received was from a woman who called him a Brute! Still another woman Doyle met on the street struck him with her handbag. Twenty thousand furious readers cancelled their subscriptions to The Strand that published Sherlock Holmes. That nearly bankrupted the magazine. Londoners wore black to express their mourning. The Prince of Wales is still upset. The day the story broke of Holmes’ death, the headlines read, “Tragic Death of Mr. Sherlock,” as if he were flesh and blood–not print and imagination.”
“So I’m not the only one who thought he was real.” My ears still warmed with embarrassment that I’d never suspected Sherlock Holmes to be a fictional character.
“I dare say, the World suffers for heroes to pin their hopes and dreams on,” Fergus replied. “Although I am bewildered as to why the World would choose to make a hero out of such a narrow-minded, self-centered, barely likeable hoomon with an addictive personality.” The dog glanced over at me. “What made you so infatuated with him that you chose to emulate him?”
I flicked through my recall of what my Word of the Day calendar said ‘emulate’ meant before I replied, “He knows almost everything about pawfessional detecting. That’s impressive.”
“Yet he’s indifferent about everything else,” Fergus countered. “Lit-tra-chure. Philosophy. Poly-ticks. Sex!”
“You’re his creator,” I told the dog. “Why did you make him like that?”
“I suppose that was my flaw as Doyle’s muse. I allowed him to focus too hard on Holmes using his eyes and brains to solve cases. It didn’t occur to me that he would become shallow in all other hoomon respects.”
“Well, you aren’t a hoomon,” I pointed out.
“This is true.”
“Thank Cod!” we said in unison…then laughed with newfound companionship.
“So, Fergus. The World is mad at your master for killing Sherlock.”
“Mad is simplifying their reaction,” he said with a sigh. “Doyle has been much maligned for doing him in. I advised my master not to kill him, but he felt he was justified in doing so. Said it was homicide in self-defense since if he had not killed Holmes, he felt certain that Holmes would have killed him.”
My ears flattened. “How so?”
“The public demand for Sherlock Holmes took my master by surprise. The money has been outstanding, affording us an extravagant lifestyle. But after some time my master’s health took a turn. I wasn’t surprised. For years he’s been churning out three thousand words a day, longhand, with barely a correction. I encouraged him to use the typewriter, but you know hoomons. Stubborn!”
“Indeed,” I agreed in order to maintain our camaraderie, although my mom writes on a computer and grumbles about using a pen to make a grocery list.
“Especially,” Fergus was saying, “when Doyle has been called the greatest short story writer since Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is Doyle’s hero. What pressure to be measured and compared against your hero.”
“I still don’t understand why Doyle killed Holmes if he was so popular.”
“Well, the way Doyle explained…rather, complained…it to me was… He continually felt the Sherlock Holmes stories were not turning out the way he’d envisioned them in his head. The words weren’t flowing quite the way he wanted them to. Yet, he spent so much time working on the stories that he sent them regardless to The Strand. And they published them without question. “The story is awful,” Doyle would say to me. “Certainly not my best work.” But our audience loved each and every story. More than anything else Doyle wrote. In fact, they demanded more of Holmes and less of Doyle’s other works. That pleased me no end, but it made Doyle grouchy. Jealous I dare tell you. It goes without saying that Moriarty wasn’t Sherlock Holmes’s greatest enemy. Arthur Conan Doyle was!”
I gasped. “His creator became his killer!”
“Exactly! I overheard him telling people he wanted to withdraw Holmes before the public turned weary of him. But that was never going to happen and everyone knew it. It was Doyle himself who turned weary of Sherlock Holmes. He even said to his mother a couple of years ago that he thought of slaying Holmes in order to concentrate on better things. His mother demanded he not follow through with such a plan, but you know how sons rarely heed their mother’s advice.”
We lay awhile thinking our own thoughts. It bothered me what Fergus said about Doyle growing weary of Holmes enough to kill him. What if my mom got bored writing my stories? Would she dare to…to… kill me?
Fergus turned to me with curious brown eyes. “You mentioned you have had four cases as a detective, and yet you are struggling rather than improving.”
I nodded, ashamed to put words to my failure.
“I dare say it’s because you’re trying to detect like a hoomon.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I came up with the idea for Sherlock Holmes, I created him with superior senses like my own. Holmes could see, smell, hear… Like me—a Beddlington Whippet cross. Holmes possessed senses far superior to other hoomons. But my master said such a man would be unbelievable. In fact, he went so far as to compare my vision for Holmes to a children’s story called The Brownie and the Princess by a woman named Louisa May Alcott. I don’t know what made the fur raise on my neck more. That he compared me to a children’s story, or to a woman author.”
Since my mom was a woman author, I refrained from making a comment. Instead I said, “So…you think I would be more successful as a detective if I detected like…a dog?”
Fergus shrugged. “Or a cat. It matters not. Hoomons are inferior compared to us four-leggeds. We have superior instincts and super senses. Super sight. Super smell. Super hearing. We are able to smell things about a suspect that hoomons cannot. Can see things in the dark that hoomons are blind to. It is my opinion that Sherlock Holmes would have been popular far into the future if Doyle had written him my way. Popular for at least ten more years, I would think. But no. My master insisted Holmes should approach mystery-solving by asking ‘What if?’ And then, after gathering data, by drawing conclusions based on logic and reason.” Fergus shook his head. “No wonder Doyle grew bored with Holmes. I can barely keep my eyes open just thinking about all the work my Master Detective had to put into solving cases when, if I’d had my way, he could have sniffed the trail of the suspect, and hid in the dark to watch the scoundrel incriminate himself.”
I felt pulled in two directions. I had so many questions to ask Fergus, but I was also exhausted from traveling one hundred and twenty three years into the past. I fought to keep my eyes open. Then I remembered something I had forgotten. Something I’d left in the driveway. Mosey!
“Excuse me. I appreciate everything you’ve shared with me, but I have to go now.” I got up to leave, but Fergus grabbed my tail.
“You can’t leave. I haven’t shared with you my secrets for becoming a Master Detective.”
“I—I left someone waiting outside. I forgot all about him.”
“Oh dear! Well, bring the chap inside. I will have Mrs. Gray fetch supper for him while he warms his paws by the fire.”
I scampered out the front door to where Mosey waited by the gate. Upon seeing my approach, he whimpered with relief, making me feel even worse for having forgotten him. I apologized profusely while I wheeled him up the walk and through the front doors into the house just as Fergus was coming back from ordering supper from Mrs. Gray.
I knew the moment Fergus and Mosey spotted each other there would be trouble. As Fergus froze with the fur raised on his neck, I felt Mosey pull hard enough to jerk from my grip. I grabbed his handlebar as menacing growls filled the hall.
“No, Mosey! No!” But what could I say to stop Fergus who abruptly lunged at my Ride and sunk his teeth into Mosey’s mesh hood.
I howled, hissed and screamed while Fergus and Mosey rolled around the hall, fighting to the death. I never knew Mosey was dog aggressive, but I guess hindsight is 20/20. How could I break them up without hurting my pal Mosey or making Fergus mad enough not to share with me his secrets of becoming a Master Detective? My ears were starting to hurt from the howls and shrieks. I had to do something.
So I did what cats do when they are upset and want to make their point.
I jumped onto an elaborately carved chair with delicate needlepoint padding, and sprayed.
The act of my feline aggression jerked Fergus’s attention to me long enough for Mosey to turn wheel and roll out the door. Not only did he roll, he zoomed! One minute he was there. The next he was gone. Not just gone down the street. Gone from the past.
Mosey had just left me stranded in 1894!
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