Lady Margo’s Dilemma (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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From Violet Crepuscular’s Introductory Note to Chapter CCI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney:

“I, like you, dear reader, am perplexed that Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s injured foot won’t heal, thus preventing his marriage to Lady Margo Cargo, who isn’t getting any younger! Nor can she marry Willis Twombley, who, overcome by regret for having accidentally shot his friend, is now too soused to marry anyone. We join Lady Margo now in her sitting room, confiding with Oswin the Crayfish in his newly-upholstered aquarium…”

Lady Margo had expected more sympathy from Oswin. “Whatever shall I do?” she cries. “Oh, I could always marry Crusty, I mean Adelbert–but he is my butler, dagnabbit, and I’m not in love with him!” Oswin only waves his claws in a most unsympathetic fashion.

Why won’t Lord Jeremy’s foot heal? He has been doing his level best to try to follow Dr. Fanabla’s regime of an hour of one-legged jumping jacks every day. Finally the shipment of earth from the grave of a regicide arrives from the supply house in Ohio, and every morning, and every night at bedtime, some of it is sprinkled on Lord Jeremy’s wounded foot. The foot looks just awful. Twombley sadly shakes his head.

“I dunno, ol’ hoss–it looks to me like you’re a-headin’ for the last roundup.” Twombley sighs, then hiccups, then belches. “I’m afraid the only chance you got is if you cut it off. Want me to go git my Bowie knife?”

Before he can answer, a mysterious stranger bursts into the room. This one is not any of the mysterious strangers who have appeared earlier in the book. This one looks suspiciously like a well-known game show host. He flourishes a small cloth bag, waving it all about, and shouts “Aha! Aha!”

“Who the deuce are you?” cries Jeremy. Twombley reaches for his gun but is too drunk to find it.

“Never mind who I am!” cries the stranger. “What’s important is this!” He shakes the bag for all he’s worth. “Do you know what this is?” They don’t know, so he tells them. “It’s a cuss bag! Concealed right here in Coldsore Hall, Lord Jeremy–right up there on the lintel of the door to this very room! A cuss bag! That’s why your foot’s not healing. A powerful witch or sorcerer doesn’t want it to heal!”

“What’s in that cuss bag?” demands Twombley.

“Just odds and ends that would be of no use except to one highly skilled in malediction–torn-up baseball cards, bellybutton lint from a baker who has lost his bakery, and a few things which I will not mention in print!” This comes as a shock: neither Jeremy nor Twombley had any notion they were in print.

“But who would put a cuss bag at my door?” wails Jeremy.

The mysterious stranger who looks like a game show host takes a step closer, looks all around the room to make sure he cannot be overheard, lowers his voice a full octave, and whispers clandestinely:

“Black Rodney!”


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