In Chapter CXXXVI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who think he’s Sargon of Akkad, visits the taproom of The Lying Tart to buy drinks for Col. Fildebert Blemish, who insists that he married Lady Margo Cargo by proxy many years ago. If his claim stands, she won’t be able to marry Twombley and Lord Jeremy Coldsore: Twombley has convinced her that he and Lord Jeremy are actually the same person, and marrying into her wealth will enable Lord Jeremy to keep possession of Coldsore Hall.
But first, for reasons known only to the author, the jolly villagers in the pub break into song, “We are jolly villagers.” Ms. Crepuscular has probably watched one too many old pirate movies.
By now Col. Blemish is well and truly tanked, and Twombley is telling jokes. Each one evokes loud belly-laughs from the colonel.
“Here, now,” says Twombley, “let me tell you the funniest joke I know. Quiet, everybody!” The villagers comply. “Are you ready for this, ol’ Fildy ol’ pal?”
“Ready and willing, Twombley–fire away!”
“All right. Now, Colonel, the first thing is, you’ve got to say ‘I am a bigamous bounder!’ Say it nice and loud, y’hear. And then I’ll say the punch line.”
The colonel burps. “Right-o, Twombley!” He clears his throat and announces, loud and clear, “I am a bigamous bounder!”
Twombley leaps to his feet. “Right! You all heard that! Col. Blemish has admitted to the crime of bigamy. He can’t marry Lady Margo Cargo! You all heard him say it!”
The crowd cheers: they don’t like the colonel. “You bigamous bounder, you!” shouts a mob of assorted laborers, scriveners, and shepherds. They begin to throw things at the colonel. He laughs uproariously until he realizes that Twombley has destroyed his claim to being Lady Margo’s lawful husband. He flees the scene, colliding with the Japanese ambassador who is just trying to enter the taproom. Trampling over him, Col. Blemish vanishes into the night.
Lord Jeremy has his doubts about this procedure. “Won’t he just come back and try again, once he sobers up?”
“Not a chance, Germy! See, I done some readin’ up on him, and he really is a bigamist. He has wed three wives!”
Jeremy sighs with relief. “So then the way is clear again,” he says, “for us to marry Lady Margo.”
“That’s about the size of it,” says Twombley–“once the vicar gets over his conniptions, that is.”