R Puzzle: Blank Check

by Francis Heaney

The answers to the cryptic clues are:

  1. PILLSBURY (pill + rubs + Y)
  2. UNCHIC (crUNCH ICe)
  3. BLED WHITE (while debt)
  4. SEQUESTERS (quest + seers)
  5. MAKE NO MISTAKE (mist + AK + a + keno + me)
  6. OPTIMUM (opt + I + mum)
  7. TALC (eclat - E)
  8. THINKING (thin + king)
  9. OSTLERS (losers + T)
  10. GALLERY (R + galley)
  11. ECCE HOMO (home economics - Simon)
  12. T-BONES (TBS + one)
  13. DELETES (delegates - GA)
  14. ROTFL (parROT FLies)
  15. UNCLEAN (uncle + an)
  16. NAREW (we + ran)
  17. KNOTHOLE (not whole)

And the filled-in grid reads:

However, you won't have much luck finding the hidden clue in the grid unless you look at the initial letters of the acrostic answers, which read PUB'S MOTTO: GET DRUNK, which is a cryptic clue for BOTTOMS UP (& lit). This indicates that the hidden clue reads from the bottom of the grid to the top. Reading the 20th, 9th, and 4th columns from bottom to top gives you ELLIS BELL IS SHE (the name "Bell" being hinted at in the flavor text's references to ringing). Ellis Bell is the pseudonym of a woman who, like the machine in this room, was a printer (well, writer) who only produced one major work (namely Wuthering Heights). The answer is EMILY BRONTE.