George was a farmer but his farming ability could most accurately be described as wretched. He used all the modern fertilizers, machinery and techniques but nothing worked. The neighbours’ crops were always green and tall, while his were brown and stunted at best. The time came when it appeared his only option was to sell the farm.
Then, in addition to his agricultural problems, George suffered a severe injury to the thumb on his left hand. The wound became infected and the thumb started to turn black with red streaks running up the arm. He would have gone to the doctor, straight away, but he had a crop to get into the ground. The next day, the tiny shoots of plants came up. In greater profusion than they ever had before. Within a week he could see that his land was producing the greatest yield he had ever seen.
Because the thumb was paining him so much, he finally went to the doctor who prescribed a course of treatment with antibiotics. He started taking them and within a week his thumb was starting to get better. Simultaneously, he noticed the leaves of his plants starting to turn yellow on the stalk. This disturbed him so badly he forgot to continue taking his antibiotic. The thumb turned black again, but his plants began to thrive. There was clearly an inverse relationship between the health of his thumb and the health of his plants.
Now, George really didn’t know what to do. There was an obvious connection between his infected thumb and the crop.
Clearly, what he had was a gangrene thumb.