The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot

The Adventure of the Devil's FootThe Adventure of the Devil’s Foot

One time my brother was at work and some of his co-workers decided to try some Salvia. One of the guys ended up thinking he was a fox and kept trying to eat his girlfriend, whom he thought was a rabbit or a chicken, I forget which. The guy was crawling around on the floor of the kitchen on his hands and knees, thinking he was a fox. Needless to say, this probably isn’t the most constructive work activity.

Sherlock is ordered on a vacation by a doctor, not Watson, but another doctor. He is told he’s putting entirely too much strain on himself by all this mystery solving and should take a holiday out to the countryside. He does, he ends up on the Cornish Peninsula. There he spends his days looking at remains from former inhabitants of the area. Sherlock and John meet the vicar of the small town. The vicar rents some rooms to a man named Mortimer Tregannis, no one good is ever named Mortimer.

One day the vicar and Mortimer contact Sherlock and John, something very, very strange has happened. The night previously Mortimer had been at his family home playing cards with his two brothers and sister. This morning the sister has been found dead, still sitting at the table with the cards, while the two brothers were singing and seemingly senseless. The maid fainted when she found them. Sherlock and John are called out of their vacation to take a look.

Sherlock examines the grounds outside of the home. He even knocks over a watering-pot to get a duplicate of Mortimer’s footprint. The tracks outside seem to corroborate his story. He had played cards with his family and left the night before. The two brothers were taken away to an insane asylum. Mortimer mentions that his brother might have seen something at the window the night before, but there are no tracks and the night had been rainy. It would have been difficult to see anyone outside of the window unless their face was really close.

Sherlock can’t really find anything at the scene of the crime. He leaves with John and they continue their vacation. Sherlock is tired of letting his mind wander about the case. He meets a man named Dr. Leon Sterndale, who lives in the area. Apparently he’s related to the Tregannis family in some manner. When he heard the news of Brenda’s death, the sister, he came back immediately. He was on his way to Africa. Sterndale is an explorer and lion hunter; he too likes to look around the area for signs of former humans. He is close enough to the family that the vicar sent him a telegram when the tragedy occurred.

The Tregannis family had some arguments over money some years back. They used to work a tin mine, but sold it fairly well and live comfortably off of the profits. It seems that Mortimer loves his family enough, but Sherlock really has nothing to go on. Sherlock also suspects Sterndale in the case, but isn’t sure why or about what.

There is news again. This time Mortimer is dead. Sherlock and John go to investigate the room. There is a lamp burning and some strange powder around it. Mortimer seems to have died in the same manner that his family did. There is a suggestion of suicide, but Sherlock thinks not. He collects the powder on the lamp and looks all around the room and outside the window. He finds something that interests him and points the local police in that direction.

In both crime scenes, there had been an open flame.  He proposes something to Watson.

Sherlock: Let’s get high. I found this powder. Let’s smoke it and see what happens.

John: Alright, let’s do it. I’m up for anything as long as you’re involved.

Sherlock puts the powder in a lamp in their rooms and they wait. Before long they’re both hallucinating. John has the wherewithal to get them out of the fumes of the lamp. There they sit on the grass and Sterndale happens to come by. He supposes that Brenda’s death really was a murder and that Mortimer did it, but he does not supposed that Mortimer’s death was a suicide. This is where Sterndale comes in.

Sterndale comes out with it. He says he loved Brenda and the vicar knew. He was responsible for procuring the root, Devil’s Foot, that caused death and madness in his cousins. He had no idea how Mortimer got a hold of it. He had shown it to him one day at his house, but didn’t know that it had been taken. Apparently, Mortimer was still sore over the dividing of wealth in the family and murdered them. Before he left for the evening after a game of cards, he threw the devil’s root into the fire. This caused Brenda to die and the brothers to go insane.

Sterndale had been told of Brenda’s death by the Vicar. He came right back home. He knew it had been Mortimer. He resolved to solve the problem. He took some of the devil’s root and held Mortimer hostage in his room. There he put the devil’s root in Mortimer’s lamp and held him at gunpoint until he died. Sterndale stood outside of Mortimer’s window with a pointed gun until Mortimer succumbed in order to get revenge on him for killing his beloved Brenda.

Sherlock says that if he was capable of love he would probably do the same thing and he lets Sterndale go on about his life. He doesn’t think the police will figure it out anyway.

The Adventure of the Devil's FootObservations

There are a lot of weird place names mentioned in this story.

  • Poldhu Bay-it’s a real place located in Cornwall on the Lizard Peninsula. Yes, you read that right, the Lizard Peninsula. Does David Icke live there?
  • Tredannick Wollas-Cornish is apparently a language. I don’t know how to speak it, but Wollas means “lower.” So we’re talking about a place called Lower Tredannick. I cannot find Tredannick anywhere on the map. First, I’m assuming that Tredannick is also a Cornish word. Second, I’m assuming that either Arthur made the place up, or there was at one point an actual place called Tredannick Wollas, but it was either unofficial or it ceased to exist. We are talking about an area of England that has supposedly be inhabited for a very long time. There may very well have been a Tredannick Wollas there or it could have been a place people just called Tredannick and it was merely a grouping of homes, rather than an official name to something.
  • Tredannick Wartha-From this website I was able to determine that “wartha” means upper. So Tredannick Wollas and Tredannick Wartha are probably the same little area, but large enough to be considered two separate places.
  • Redruth- It’s a real place in Cornwall. The name is also Cornish, but it’s been updated a little. It basically means a place to cross a river.
  • St. Ives-this place is probably the least weird-sounding place we’ve talking about today. It’s on the coast. It’s a town. It’s real; you can go there.

On Cornwall and Cornish and such, I never knew it was such a big deal. Apparently, a lot of people from Cornwall don’t consider themselves British, they consider themselves Cornish. In fact, the Cornish people, true Cornish people, have a distinct DNA varying from most British people. The area was inhabited all the way back to the lower paleolithic area, which basically means people have been there for a heck of a long time.

The Cornish language is supposedly descended from Celtic. From looking at the link I linked to earlier in the post, that’s a real possibility from what I know of Celtic. I admit, I don’t know a whole lot about Celtic. Sherlock Holmes assumes the language not to be Celtic, but to be Chaldean. Do you know where that’s at? Chaldea is in Mesopotamia. Maybe Arthur knew something I don’t, but as far as I know there weren’t too many Mesopotamians floating around the British Isles. It’s not that the Mesopotamians didn’t travel, they did, they traded, they built boats when they came to water; it’s that I don’t think they got so far, but maybe I’m wrong.

For Sherlock’s theory to be true, some Chaldean people would have had to have traveled as far as Southern England and started a life there. It’s not impossible, it’s just far-fetched and I don’t have any evidence to back up this theory. Here’s our historical kicker–Cornwall has been supposedly inhabited since the lower paleolithic era, 2.5 million years ago, the Chaldeans were around in 9th and 10th century BC. There have been people in Cornwall for a heck of a lot longer than Chaldea was considered a region.

In the end, I honestly don’t know enough about the ancient history of the British Isles to make a decision one way or the other.

Devil’s foot, or Devil’s claw, is a real plant from Africa as the story indicates, but it’s nothing like the story describes. It can actually be used medicinally and it’s probably not going to kill you. It’s also known as Harpagophytum. It’s used to treat arthritis, not kill people.

In this story the word “ejaculations” is used once.

I wonder why Arthur was so interested in all of this Cornish stuff?

The Adventure of the Devil's FootThemes

Don’t do drugs. I’m serious. Sherlock is no stranger to drugs of various kinds and he invites Watson to try something with him which he has never tried, knowing that this particular substance not only makes a person bats*** crazy, it could also kill a person.

I have never understood the draw with drugs. Ok, well I get it, I get that it’s an escape from reality. Why think about paying the bills and how much your life sucks when you could be riding a magical pony in a field of rainbows? I get escaping. I get the desire to escape. I understand all of that, but at what point do the risks outweigh the escape? We are talking some pretty hard-core stuff in this story.

It could produce a high, but it could also produce some very terrible detriments.

Something else about this story–this guy is a jerk. I told you no good ever came of a man being named Mortimer. He kills his family. Well, he kills his sister, but leaves his two brothers crazy. In what world is that ok? I get that our siblings can be downright awful at times, but you don’t have to kill them. History is just full of people killing their siblings. I want the crown, no I want the crown. You’re dead now, so sad, I’m the king.

This all goes back around to one question. That question is: Do you love all your children equally? If you loved all your children equally, wouldn’t they receive the same amount of inheritance? Why did one of them get more? Siblings always vie for position. It’s a natural thing. Siblings vie for their parents’ affections and they will continue on vying until they’re all dead. If they come from a home where they’re treated equally, then maybe the vying won’t be so bad, but how many of us came from a house where one sibling was not given preferential treatment over the other?  You guys may come from a perfect household, but I didn’t. I can guarantee you that my younger brothers were given preference over me. That sucks, but you’ve got to move on.

The great thing is–I’m not expecting any kind of inheritance and I doubt that my brothers will have one either. There is nothing to fight about, so we all get to live our lives. We don’t have any joint business ventures like the Tregannis family, so there is no need to worry about how to split up the money. We don’t have anything to vie for among my siblings, at least not anymore. Of course we vied for my mother’s affection when we were younger, but you know, we grew up, and now it’s just not as important.

This was all a case of siblings vying to be the best in the group, with money, and they all ended up in a terrible situation Maybe one day the brothers will recover and can leave the insane asylum.


Poor Brenda. Poor Sterndale.

cornish, cornwall, devil’s foot, getting high, hallucinogens, john watson, killing siblings, mortimer, sherlock, sherlock holmes, sir arthur conan doyle, The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot, The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot sherlock holmes, The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot sir arthur conan doyle, tregannis
Doyle-Sir Arthur Conan, Sherlock Holmes


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