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Mr. John Clay, whose blood runs a royal red, can also be seen in these previous issues of Electro-Graphic Monthly courtesy of her literary agent David McAllister:

January 2004 . . .
His letter of introduction

February 2004 . . .
Regarding Beggars

A Letter From Mr. John Clay
Regarding His Reputation

My dear fellow members of the DLL,

As accustomed as I am to calumnies of various stripe, I would like to publicly defend myself against the oft-proclaimed charge of misdirection regarding the route from Saxe-Coburg Square to The Strand. This is based on a misquote by the libellous John H. "Jacko" Watson (a victim of WMD (Watson's Migratory-wound Disease) in the Afghan campaign) of a statement I made on a certain occasion when I had been disloged from my lawful occupation by the officious intermeddler Sherlock Holmes. If Mr. Holmes had no legitimate reason for enquiring the way that he knew perfectly well, is it any surprise that I should engage in a bit of dis-information on my part? Does Dr. W. expect that I did not recognize the man with whom, by his own admission, I had had one or two turns already? As surely as I knew my blaze gave me away, so did Mr. Holmes's aquiline coutenance.

I should have known that something was up when he knocked at the door- who does so at such a place of business? Then, he refused to step inside at my courteous invitation. Mind you, I'd have been well served to have had him down the cellar and walled up Edgar Allen Poe style in a trice if he had. I should have told him that the way to "The Strand" was to "write, write, write" (my humble attempt at a humorous loose reference to the infamous way to Carnegie Hall, a burlesque establishment in the City of New York, I am told). At the time, I merely suspected Holmes of commercial espionage, so I had to speed up my plans.

Let me explain: I probably would have been better off if I had started my tunnel from its true destination- the Vegetarian Restaurant. Yes, believe it or not, I had been planning to develop a private underground line from the pawnshop to the basement of the restaurant for the benefit of my kind employer, Mr. Wilson, so that he could enjoy his repasts there regardless of the weather. Mr. Holmes, in his inspection of dear Jabez, neglected to realize that he is a fanatic vegetarian, and addicted to the various spring rolls that are the restaurant's specialty (a taste no doubt picked up in the Orient and confirmed from his years on a merchant seaman's starchy seaboard diet). An alternate entry being thus provided, I also expected that Mr. Wilson's shop would be a popular shortcut to and from Saxe-Coburg Square, and yield us additional business in consequence. Mr. Wilson appreciates such initiative.

But, As you all know, this altruistic scheme failed. Unfortunately, my triangulation of the direction for the tunnel was faulty, and I was as surprised as anyone that my pal Archie and I should come up next door under the City and Suburban Bank. I find it very suspicious that purely by "accident", we should catch Mr.Holmes, his armed confederate, a suborned policeman, and a corrupt official of the bank, red-handed, right there in the process of riffling the boxes entrusted to the care of the bank, just as we entered. Knowing that we had broken in on such an evil cabal, who would as soon accuse us of some trumped up wrongdoing as commit a battery (Holmes is known to go about armed with a menacing loaded riding crop, and I certainly intend to sue regarding my fractured wrist), I tried to warn Archie; but to no avail.

Fortunately a sympatheic British jury found my story not beyond reasonable doubt (thanks to the efforts of my barrister O.J. "Johnnie" Cockedgun, and his collegue F. Leigh "Old" Baillie), or I would not be free to address the Dark Lantern League today. Now, you can't convict someone for a poor sense of direction, can you? You tell me how to get to Saxe-Coburg Square! Or the Dark Lantern League, for that matter!

Yr Obt Svt J. Clay, Esq.