Two old man were sitting on a park bench in Florida. One of them, Bullard, spent every day in the park with his Labrador dog, Boring everyone he came across. The other man tried to escape Bullard and his dog, who kept trying to chew the garters for his socks. The stranger went to another bench but Bullard followed him. Bullard asked the stranger about his line of business.
My line? said the stranger crisply, laying down his book. Sorry – Ive never had a line. Ive been a drifter since the age of nine, since Edison set up his laboratory next to my home and showed me the intelligence analyser. Say, what is this? said Bullard, suspiciously. Youre pulling my leg? Whats this about an intelligence analyser? Ive never heard of that. Of course you havent, said the stranger. Mr. Edison and I promised to keep it a secret … Bullard was entranced. Uh, this intelligence analyser, he said. It analysed intelligence, did it?…
It was back in the fall of eighteen seventy – nine, said the stranger at last, softly. Back in the village of Menlo Park, New Jersey. I was a boy of nine. A young man we all thought was a wizard had set up a laboratory next door to my home… I didnt get to know Edison right off, but his dog Sparky and I got to be steady pals. Well, one day, Sparky and I were wrestling around and we wrestled right up to the door of the laboratory. The next thing I knew, Sparky had pushed me in through the door and Bam! I was sitting on the laboratory floor, looking up at Mr. Edison himself.
Bet he was sore, said Bullard, delighted. You can bet I was scared, said the stranger. I thought I was face to face with Satan himself. Edison had wires hooked to his ears running down to a little black box in his lap! I started to scoot but he caught me by the collar and made me sit down.
For over a year, my boy, Edison said to me, Ive been trying to find a filament that will last in an incandescent lamp … So while I was trying to think of something … I put this together, he said, showing me the little black box. I thought maybe intelligence was just a certain kind of electricity, so I made this intelligence analiser here. It works! Youre the first one to know about it, my boy… And it did work … I let him try it on me and the needle just lay where it was and trembled. But dumb as I was, then is when I made my one and only contribution in the world… What did you do? said Bullard. I said, Mr. Edison, sir, lets try it on the dog.
And would you believe it, that needle sailed clear across the dial, way past a little red pencil mark on the dial face! Mr. Edison, sir, I said. Whats that red mark mean? My boy, said Edison, it means the instrument is broken, because the red mark is me. I say it was broken, said Bullard. The stranger replied gravely, But it wasnt broken. No sir. Edison checked the whole thing … When Edison told me that, it was then that Sparky, crazy to get out, gave himself away … We really had him locked in, see? There were three locks on the door … That dog stood up … and had the knob in his teeth when Edison stopped him.
So! said Edison to Sparky. Mans best friend, huh? Dumb animal, huh? … Pretty soft, isnt it, Sparky? said Edison. Let somebody else worry about getting food, building shelters and keeping warm while you sleep in front of a fire or go chasing after the girls. No mortgages, no politics no war, no work. Just wag the old tail or lick a hand and youre all taken care of. Mr. Edison, I said, do you mean to tell me that dogs are smarter than people?
Smarter? Ill tell the world! said Edison. And what have I been doing for the past year? Slaving to work out a light bulb so dogs can play at night! Look, Mr. Edison, said Sparky, why not keep quiet about this? Its been working out to everybodys satisfaction for it, destroy the intelligence analyser, and Ill tell you what to use for a lamp filament. Hogwash, said Bullard, his face purple.
The stranger stood. You have my solemn word as a gentleman. That dog rewarded me for my silence with a stock market tip that made me independently wealthy for the rest of my days. And the last words that Sparky ever spoke were to Tomas Edison. Try a piece of carbonised cotton thread, he said. Later, he was torn to pieces by a pack of dogs that had gathered outside the door, listening. The stranger removed his garters and handed them to Bullards dog. A small token of esteem, sir, for an ancestor of yours who talked himself to death. Good day. He tucked his book under his arm and walked away.