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.)


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

A New Way To Stop The Poverty Education Cycle

For more years then proud to talk I have watched, sometimes up close and very personal, the plight and future of so many kids.  Mostly black and a few others this group was destined not to greatness or success, but to a life of food stamps, welfare, poor education and poorer still educational prospects.  So often in my own work I would see and feel the excitement of the ... (click for more)

Additions And Improvements At Camp Jordan Arena Coming Soon

Additions and improvements are coming to Camp Jordan Arena in the near future. At the Thursday night meeting of the East Ridge city council, approval was given for buying new playground equipment. It will come from Gametime, a locally-based company. The VP of Marketing lives in East Ridge and made a proposal to set up the playground at Camp Jordan so his company could use it for ... (click for more)

Tribute Service For Luther Masingill Held At Historic Engel Stadium

It took a place as big as historic Engel Stadium for Chattanooga to say goodbye to their beloved Luther. Hundreds came Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to Luther Masingill who died early Monday morning after a radio career that spanned an amazing 74 years. It was clear from all who spoke that he was considered not only a radio personality, but also a role model. One after ... (click for more)

Freeman-Led Owls Whip Cleveland, 30-14, To Win 5-AAA Title

Junior Rashun Freeman's stunning versatility stole the show Friday night. Freeman caught a touchdown pass, returned a punt for a second score and had one of three Ooltewah interceptions as the fourth-ranked Owls whipped Cleveland, 30-14, to win the District 5-AAA championship in front of a near-capacity crowd at James N. Monroe Stadium. “I practice hard and that shows ... (click for more)

Baylor Beats Father Ryan For D-II State Volleyball Title

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Friday was a magical day for the Baylor Lady Red Raider volleyball team. Facing arch-rival Father Ryan for the fourth time this season, Baylor evened the score at 2-2, but the last time at Siegel High School was the sweetest as it came in the championship match of the D-II Class AA state tournament. Father Ryan had a huge group of students in its ... (click for more)