Jody Baker: Mrs. Baynes And The First Afgan War - Part 1

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - by Jody Baker

Mrs. Baynes is a bit barmy when it comes to posting writings. She says that it will drive her Doollaly if I don’t post the seven-part series on her study of The First  Afghan War. I tell her that we do not need to post everything about her. There’s much of it re-cycled that people just don’t care to read. She responds with a big “Harumph, just throw it up against the wall, and let’s see if it sticks.”

The past being prologue to the future, I must caution that there may be parts here that you will wish to avoid. The series will be presented seriatim so that you may escape at will. Do not hesitate to delete or completely ignore Inspector Baynes. You will find comfort in the fact that many millions of people pay no attention to him, whatsoever. If you are ready, we shall begin.

Mrs. Baynes and The Afghan Wars  (In Seven Parts)

(Part One) 

I had attended a "Lodge" meeting on this particular evening and had made my way home by taking a well-known path across the moor. When I topped the far most  mound and our cottage came into view, I noticed lights aglow throughout the house. This was unusual since Mrs. Baynes is very parsimonious, and usually scrimps so on lamp oil.

As I crossed the threshold, I whistled out and called aloud: "Hullo, Mrs. Baynes. Is all well with you?" 

"Can't talk, Inspector. Too busy." Her remark was curt and short and quick, -- an economy of words. Her tone was business-like. From the sound of her voice I knew that she was in the bedroom. I went in. 

There, sitting up in the bed and leaning back against the headboard, was Mrs. Baynes. Her clenched teeth clamped hard on a yellow wood pencil. There were open books spread about all over the bed and several on the floor. Bookmarks were lodged in some books, and scraps of note paper were scattered helter-skelter upon the floor without any semblance of organization. Propped against her knees was a manuscript pad upon which Mrs. Baynes was industriously writing. She continued to write and to pause -- then write, then pause. She had a frown of determination on her face, and I could tell that her business, whatever it might be, was deadly serious -- to her.

"What's the project this time, Mrs. Baynes?" I asked. 

"It has to do with your friend, Dr. Watson," she replied. "You know that he saw combat in the Second Afghan War." 

I knew that that war had broken out when Watson was *en route* from Netley to his assigned duty station with the Royal Northumberland Fussiliers (the 5th Foot) in India. I knew, too, that he had joined with the Berkshires shortly before the disastrous Battle of Maiwand.

Dr. Watson described this as an engagement with the enemy during the Second Afghan War.

"Well, Inspector," she continued, " I have thought a lot about that second Afghan War, and I have drawn certain highly significant historical conclusions. After pondering the circumstances of the situation, I devoted myself to deep cerebration liberally laced with episodes of ratiocination."

Mrs. Baynes gave a sweep of her outstretched arm, and her gesture encompassed the circumjacent books upon and around her bed. She explained: "I have, also, undertaken my own investigation and my independent researches. I did some looking-up.

"Applying the methods of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I engaged in upstream deduction.  Thus intellectually fortified, I have determined that since there was a Second Afghan War, then the probability approaches certainty that there was also a first Afghan War.”

I smiled in expression of my appreciation of her success, and I said to her with a twinkle in my eye, "You are a remarkable piece of work, Mrs. Baynes, a remarkable piece."

Without acknowledging my comment, Mrs. Baynes continued steadily, "Watson probably referred to these wars as ‘AW I’ and ‘AW II,’ and I'm sure he referred to his own war as --`AW II, the big one.'"

Then, I posed a further question to Mrs. Baynes, little knowing that an avalanche of information and an outpouring of history would be forthcoming in reply: "What, then, did you learn about the first Afghan War, Mrs. Baynes?

"I'm glad you asked that question, Inspector. I am so glad that you asked. Now, let me tell you about that." 

Inspector Baynes of the Surrey Constabulary (Continued at Part Two)

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