‘Ladies, Gentleman, esteemed members of the press, rank bastards of the tabloids; I thank you for attending today. A great many scurrilous rumours have been circulating in London of late, and, failing to hire the proper number of thugs to quell those responsible for such gossip, I feel it is instead of vital importance that I address those rumours here.
I have for some time carried a small number of sorrow-spiders in my attaché case. This is a matter of personal security: being a legitimate businessperson with many surviving clients – and no instances of defrauding the Brass Embassy – to my name, I have important papers and bottles of alcohol that I must protect. Short of arming my assistants – and we all know that the City of London recently passed ordinance against me arming my legitimate assistants – sorrow-spiders have been the next most secure option.
On the day in question, March 13 of this year, I was attending a small conference at the University as a guest speaker. Having been honoured with an invitation to stay at the Dean’s Chambers during my visit, my Valet thought it necessary to pack a trunk with a few small supplies. This included: a spider-silk shirt, linen breeches, a seal-skin belt, cat-skin shoes, a faux-fox greatcoat lined with the hair of a waiter who had displeased me; certain perfumes, ointments, unguents and powders to make my toilet; a rubber Rattus Faber for my bath; a hand cannon and a brace of six pistols for self-defence; as well as my attaché case.
At no stage in time did I instruct my Valet to pack the urchin who lives on my rooftop. Contrary to vicious conjecture, I do not, and never will, keep an urchin to throw in the way of an assassin’s bullet; children are the future, and almost all of my assassins use bombs anyway. My Valet believes – and my lawyers agree – that the child must have crawled into the trunk and hidden himself on top of the items of clothing, but beneath the various perfumes, ointments, unguents and powders so he wouldn’t crush anything valuable. Had I known the child was within, I most certainly would not have ordered my Valet to then apply several padlocks to the trunk in question.
Our journey to the University was a long one. The roads in question were bumpy, and filled with noisy, obnoxious pedestrians. Not only did this fact prevent either myself or my Valet from hearing any sounds of movement from within the trunk, but also my lawyers believe that these unfortunate jolts in the poorly kept roads may or may not have opened the attaché case, releasing the sorrow-spiders therein. On an unrelated note, my suit against the City of London is still pending.
Upon my arrival, I was greeted by a small party of invited guests, led by the Chancellor, and the Dean of Pseudo-Mordacious Fiction, all of whom like me, and none of whom have since pressed a lawsuit following the visitation of my professional litigation-dissuaders. It was during the course of this most warm welcome that my trunk was removed from the back of my carriage, and carried past our party toward my rooms. It was at this time that we heard the noises coming from within. Upon the Chancellor’s expression of concern, I tapped the trunk sharply with my cane and – mistaking the shouts of the urchin for the movements of my sorrow-spiders – told the contents to “be quiet”. Unfortunately, this appears to have agitated both the sorrow-spiders and the urchin further, for the noises within grew in their intensity. Upon observing that the trunk was shaking quite violently, I ordered the porters to place it down, and asked my Valet to see what the problem was.
At that point, the urchin and the surviving sorrow-spiders sprang out, disrupting the contents of my trunk. The items of my toilet – the various perfumes, ointments, unguents and powders – were scattered from my trunk, and shattered against the ground. Having become aware that a child had sprung out from among my property, I endeavoured to lift him up away from the trunk, as I was concerned that he would do himself some injury amidst so much broken glass. Any suggestion that I called him an “irresponsible little guttersnipe”, or threatened to skin him for breaking my perfumes, is utterly defamatory. I was only shaking him to make sure there were no spiders on his person. At such a point, I felt my boots losing their grip on the now-slippery ground. Concerned that I might fall and harm the urchin, I threw him aside, where he landed in the soft patch of moss I was aiming for, and not the rosebush a little further away. Thankfully, you will be pleased to note, I managed to regain my balance.
Now, please allow me to make this clear: I had no idea that the sorrow-spiders were unfed. The servant responsible for this shortcoming has been thrown in the River. Unfortunately, having been deprived of nourishment from some small number of weeks, the sorrow-spiders began to attack members of the party. My lawyers – and the arachnologist I obtained – all inform me that this is a natural instinct, and that I had no part in their actions. I further extend my best wishes to Lady O_ and the Dean of Pseudo-Mordacious Fiction; I do hope you received my gift of satin eye patches, and get well soon.
Now, in the midst of such chaos, I noticed that the urchin in question was fleeing the scene, with a sorrow-spider in pursuit; I did not yell: “get him, Cuddles” as some have claimed, but rather: “get out of trouble”. Knowing full well what danger the child was in, I retrieved my hand cannon and a revolver, and attempted to shoot the spider. As my enemies will tell you, I am more or less a very good shot. Unfortunately, in the midst of my distress, I continually missed the spider, which may or may not have sent some bullets over the head of the child.
Having run out of ammunition, I attempted to give chase. This pursuit of the sorrow-spider led me into the Department of Eruptive Chemistry. Needless to say, it is impossible to tell what sent the building up in flames, and the contents of its sixteenth-century library across the greater London area. It is believed to have been the work of anarchists who happened to be in there at the time. We are certain a group will claim responsibility shortly.
I hope this explanation goes some way to clearing up some of the many fictitious and shameful lies that have been spread about my person. I am very happy to report that the child is alive, and I am completely unharmed. I am even happier to report that the Chancellor is unwilling to press any charges, having been unable to obtain very many reliable witnesses from the incident in question.
I shall now be talking a short leave of absence in the Tomb Colonies for reasons of my health. Meanwhile, I do implore you to go on with your lives, and remember that Lord D_ was seen cavorting with Sinning Jenny yesterday, so you might want to go and check that out…
Thank you. We will give a few seconds to questions. Keep in mind, it should have nothing to do with any of the events in March. Or November. Or yesterday.’[li]
edited by The Foolsman on 12/29/2014