Willis Twombley, the American adventurer, has shot another one of Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s creditors. This was a Mr. Hornswoggle, whom Twombley caught fumbling around in the cellar in what was once the fifth Baron Coldsore’s torture chamber, estimating the resale value of the thumbscrews.
“If’n I can pick off all these leeches, Germy, your problems will be over,” Twombley says, as he and Jeremy hide the body in an unused cedar chest.
“I truly wish you wouldn’t, old boy. Once we are married to Lady Margo, her wealth will make my creditors disappear. I don’t fancy a date with the hangman.”
This is Chapter CXXIV, by the way. The author, Violet Crepuscular, has tried to slip it into the text without a number. She apologizes later.
Meanwhile, Lady Margo is distracted by the erratic behavior of Oswin, her pet crayfish. “He has been acting like a hamster lately,” she confides in Mother Fong, the wise woman who lives in the woods and is believed to practice witchcraft. She is a dues-paying member of Amalgamated Wise Women of the Woods, AWWW, an organization which some people persist in thinking has something to do with cute puppy and kitten videos. Mother Fong examines Oswin, at the cost of several painful nips.
“I like this not,” she says. “It fears me that Rodney has returned to our peaceful English shire.”
“Rodney!” Margo cries. “Do you mean Black Rodney? But he died when I was just a little girl, and he was already an old man then!”
Mother Fong mutters cryptically. “Dinna ye know Black Rodney fuddered in the forbidden arts of Evil Hobart? Forsooth, ’tis rofin time I mithered off to Floridy!” She packs her toads and roots, and nothing more is heard of her. We have Ms. Crepuscular’s promise that we have seen the last of her.
For the time being, Lady Margo has no alternative but to install a hamster wheel in Oswin’s aquarium.