The Game is Afoot by Phillip Clement | Gladstone's Library

The Game is Afoot by Phillip Clement

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Some days ago now (November 5 to be precise) my colleague at the library, Jamie Stokes, published a brief web log regarding his experiences and the commencement of his recent project (described as a ‘hunt’). It is due, in part, to this publication that I am given cause to write again.

Mr Stokes' web log (entitled ‘Commencing the Treasure Hunt’) details in particular the discovery of a piece of some value and mystery at the library, The Paraphrase of Erasmus upon the Ghospell of S. John/ translated into the vulgare tongue by the moste noble Princess Marie, a document which has been the source of some intrigue to me for some time. You may wonder why it was that such happenstance archaeology has elicited in me such a desire to write? In truth it is not the act of the finding which has interested me; rather it is the description of the discovery.

Mr Stokes, in the course of his publication, remarks as follows: Sleuthing, it must be said, is not an occupation I’ve previously been known for. (Line 8, para 3)

I do not fault his accuracy, for Mr Stokes, has until now, been unknown to the public at large for such a profession. Though do not allow yourself to so easily deceived, for it is not due to his imagined unfamiliarity at the act of investigation that Mr Stokes enjoys anonymity, quite the reverse. Mr Stokes is prodigious.

You will remember I am sure that Mr Stokes ended his web log with four ‘clue words’ (note the almost habitual desire to return to the thrill of the chase) intended to whet your appetite. These words may, to the untrained observer, have been misconstrued; for they did not, as the ‘donner of deer-stalkers’ would have you believe refer to works of previously unknown glory. No, these words hide a darker message; Mr Stokes was in fact preparing you for the reveal of his true identity which I can reveal to you here. Mr Stokes is, contrary to his own word, a worthy snoop; a blood-eyed sleuth-hound; gumshoe; hawkshaw; shamus; Sherlock; peeler; Pinkerton. He is a Detective!

The words he cites, "Mummies; Mint, Bull; Armenia’" refer to forgotten individuals whose criminal wanderings were brought to cessation by his acts; they are of no further interest, save for seekers of mimsy and fiction – yet who can forget the (later fictionalised within a small medical journal, published in Edinburgh) Case of He Who Butled in Armenia: Gary ‘The Butler’ Butler, alas, a favourite I confess.

I have my own reasons for revealing Stokes’ identity and they will become apparent; the facts, however, are thus: he crossed my patch on the 10th of September. On the 23rd he incommoded me and by the middle of October I was absolutely hampered in my plans. Now at the start of December I find myself with no alternative option. Owing to his continual persecution, I am in positive danger of losing my liberty. The situation has begun impossible; I shall place the extreme pressure upon the grievance.

I remain then, dear reader, conspicuously yours,

“The Professor” Phillip (M) Clement