Turn we unto Chapter CXXX of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney.
All is not well in Scurveyshire. The vicar is laid out with conniptions. Jasper the village idiot is in jail with Princess Didi, who, it turns out, is neither a princess nor any relation at all to Queen Victoria, but only an outcast from the nearby village of Plaguesby. Lady Margo Cargo, claiming a touch of leprosy, has gone into seclusion.
Worst of all, various people of questionable morality are whispering that “Black Rodney” has returned from the dead and is “at it again, puttin’ curses on the shire.” No one dares approach the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard.
Meanwhile, desperately trying to raise money to keep Coldsore Hall, Lord Jeremy Coldsore has opened a lemonade stand at the entrance to his palatial drive, selling it for five guineas a glass. As an economy measure, he has dismissed all his servants except for his footman, Sir Reginald Fumfer, who works for whatever food he can scrounge from the larder. Sir Reginald has descended to this lowly estate as a result of an unnamed spot of trouble out in India. Her Majesty’s Government have forbidden him to speak to anyone. But at least Lord Jeremy has enjoyed a brisk business so far.
“Say, Germy ol’ hoss, jist how much debt have you got?” asks his friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley.
“Roughly one million pounds, old boy.”
“That’s a lot of lemonade!”
“I do what I can, Sargon.” Twombley still thinks he is Sargon of Akkad.
“Well, so do I, Germy. I jist shot another one of those creditors of yours. I put him in that closet in your billiard room. No one’ll ever find him there, as long as they don’t look in the closet.”
“That’s a great comfort to me,” says Lord Jeremy. He has given up trying to dissuade Twombley from murdering the creditors. It does no good.
Now arriving on the scene is a wandering spider collector, Miss Lizzie Snivel, a character left over from one of Ms. Crepuscular’s unpublished novels. “I could not bear to see her go to waste,” Violet confesses to her readers.