Jody Baker: Dumb, Dumb, Dumb

Friday, January 18, 2013 - by Jody Baker

DUMB, DUMB, DUMB ---

In The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot, John Watson describes, in vivid language, the effect of radis pedis diabilo upon the human being. In short, it leads to a horror of horrors and to torturous death or madness. In Dr. Watson’s words: 

“I had hardly settled in my chair before I was conscious of a thick, musky odour, subtle and nauseous. At the very first whiff of it my brain and my imagination were beyond all control. A thick, black cloud swirled before my eyes, and my mind told me that in this cloud, unseen as yet,  but about to spring out upon my appalled senses, lurked all that was vaguely horrible, all that was monstrous and inconceivably wicked in the universe. Vague shapes swirled and swam amid the dark cloud-bank, each a menace and a warning of something coming, the advent of some unspeakable dweller upon the threshold, whose very shadow would blast my soul. A freezing horror took possession of me. I felt that my hair was rising, that my eyes were protruding, that my mouth wag opened, and my tongue like leather. The turmoil within my brain was such that something must surely snap. I tried to scream and was vaguely aware of some hoarse croak which was my own voice, but distant and detached from myself.”

Sherlock Holmes knew that the fumes from the burning brown dust of the ground root from the West African tribes had brought upon Brenda Tregennis a horror stricken death. Holmes knew that the fumes had driven her brothers George Tregennis and Owen Tregennis mad. Holmes suspected that such was, also, the cause of the death of Mortimer Tregennis.  

Notwithstanding, Sherlock Holmes persuaded his friend and cohort to join him in an experiment  --- to voluntary subject themselves to the poisonous fumes which were certain to cause death or madness. To conduct the experiment (Holmes) --- and to agree to be part of it (Watson) --- was  dumb, dumb, dumb.

LUCK, LUCK, LUCK ---

It was luck, luck, luck that saved the lives of Holmes and Watson. For no apparent reason – just luck – Watson awakened from his poison-induced stupor. Let’s hear it in Watson’s words: 

“At the same moment, in some effort of escape, I broke through that cloud of despair and had a glimpse of Holmes's face, white, rigid, and drawn with horror -- the very look which I had seen upon the features of the dead. It was that vision which gave me an instant of sanity and of strength. I dashed from my chair, threw my arms round Holmes, and together we lurched through the door, and an instant afterwards had thrown ourselves down upon the grass plot and were lying side by side, conscious only of the glorious sunshine which was bursting its way through the hellish cloud of terror which had girt us in. Slowly it rose from our souls like the mists from a landscape until peace and reason had returned, and we were sitting upon the grass, wiping our clammy foreheads, and looking with apprehension at each other to mark the last traces of that terrific experience which we had undergone.”

But for luck, both Watson and Holmes would be no longer with us. It was luck, luck, luck plus swift work by Watson,  that brought our heroes through. 

MADNESS, MADNESS, MADNESS

At the end of this tale, Holmes extracts a full confession from Dr. Leon Sterndale. With premeditation and malice aforethought Sterndale had killed Mortimer Tregennis. What were Sterndale’s reasons? 

Well, Mortimer had killed his own sister, Brenda. And Leon loved Brenda. That’s no defense to premeditated first-degree murder.  Once again Holmes is a sucker for a sad tale. and he turns a killer loose on the world. That’s not just wrong, wrong, wrong. It is madness, madness, madness. 

 Respectfully, Insp. Baynes


(Jody Baker is a Chattanooga attorney, who specializes in Sherlock Holmes lore. He can be reached at josiahbaker@bkhcw.com.)


Roy Exum: Tipping The Preacher

I got an unusual telephone call the other day from someone I love who asked my help in solving one of life’s delicate mysteries. It is a tough question: “How do you tip a preacher?” In the first place, you never tip a preacher. It’s the preacher who gives out the tips, helping to keep you on the straight-and-narrow in your quest to waltz through the Pearly Gates. But there are ... (click for more)

Proper English

According to a news report, the University of Pittsburgh is now telling students what is and is not proper English. This "suggestion" has nothing to do with a desire to create a more expressive, imaginative, or beautiful world of language. "Proper" is that which is "gender-inclusive" and "non-sexist." Use of improper language in classrooms and elsewhere on campus will be considered ... (click for more)

Fire Destroys Highway 58 BBQ

A fire destroyed a barbeque restaurant on Highway 58 on Friday afternoon.   Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to the Highway 58 BBQ around 6 p.m. The business is located at 4921 Highway 58. Though the business was housed in a small building, the flames and smoke could be seen from a long distance away.  Captain Teri Rose with Quint 6 said the ... (click for more)

2nd Independent Candidate May Be On Walker County Ballot

A second Independent candidate may be on the ballot for sole commissioner of Walker County in the election on Nov. 8. Perry D. Lamb, Jr. has been working toward collecting the necessary 1,640 signatures of registered voters on a petition. His campaign said he is close to the goal. Incumbent Bebe Heiskell is running an an Independent. Election officials said since she was ... (click for more)

Gonsalves Earns First Double-A Win in 5-3 Victory Against Jackson

Left-handed pitcher Stephen Gonsalves only allowed two runs on six hits while striking out six batters in five innings to earn his first ever Double-A win. The Lookouts 5-3 win was there second of the second half and improves their overall record to 38-35. For the last six weeks or more, many have been wondering when Gonsalves would be promoted to Double-A. Tonight, he made ... (click for more)

Prep Football Jamboree is Aug 12-13 at Finley Stadium

Highlighted by a match-up of state semifinalists in Baylor and Notre Dame, the 57th annual Prep Football Jamboree is set for Aug. 12-13 at Finley Stadium with five games each night. Baylor (10-3) reached the D-II AA semis before losing to eventual state champ Brentwood Academy, while Notre Dame (10-4) reached the D-I 3A semis before losing to eventual state champion Alcoa. ... (click for more)