Finally! In Chapter CCII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, we are vouchsafed a glimpse of the infamous sorcerer and necromancer, Black Rodney. “Vouchsafed” is Ms. Crepuscular’s word, not mine. I have no idea what it means.
It turns out that Coldsore Hall is full of cunningly concealed cuss bags: no wonder Lord Jeremy’s troubles seem to have no end. The mysterious stranger who looks like a famous game show host, but won’t reveal his name, has teamed up with the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, to find and get rid of all the cuss bags.
“I had a problem like this with some Sumerians,” recalls Twombley, who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad, “but they stopped doin’ it when I sicked the Elamites on ’em.”
Lord Jeremy cannot take part in the search. In his efforts to follow Dr. Fanabla’s regime of one-legged jumping jacks, he has injured his other foot. Lady Margo pays a comforting visit, complete with inedible toothpaste muffins baked by her aunt in Bedlam. “We’ll have our wedding yet, dear,” she consoles him.
But that night, as he makes his rounds of the hall in search of cuss bags, Twombley has a shattering experience. He staggers into Lord Jeremy’s bedroom. Startled, Lady Margo jumps up more suddenly than is good for her and her newly-upholstered wooden leg falls off.
“I seen him, I seen him!” Twombley gasps. “Black Rodney, as large as life! Hidin’ a cuss bag on top of that painting in the billiard room–the one of Queen Victoria on her pogo stick!” He then faints before he can say anymore. Unable to re-attach her leg, Lady Margo can only leave him sprawled on the floor.
“I wish he’d told us what Black Rodney looks like!” she complains.
The mysterious stranger bursts into the room, startling Lady Margo so badly that her wig falls off and her false teeth clatter to the floor.
“I can tell you what he looks like!” cries the stranger. “He wears a black sheet over his entire head and body, without eye-holes, and slinks about at night, avoiding light of any kind. That’s what Mr. Twombley saw in the billiard room.”
“Well, he couldn’t have seen much, then, could he?” snaps Jeremy, who has begun to feel annoyed. “How are we to identify someone who hides himself under a black sheet in the dead of night?”
The stranger tiptoes closer to the bed, looks all around for eavesdroppers, lowers his voice two full octaves, and whispers, “You will know him by his reaction to the words ‘polla-wolla-bing-bang’! Speak them in his presence, and he cannot help but have a tantrum! Anyone else would just look at you quizzically.”
The chapter concludes with a lengthy complaint about the customer service department at Scurveyshire’s Bureau of Unusual Hats–and Ms. Crepuscular’s apology for not including Constable Chumley in this chapter.
We suspect the constable says “polla-wolla-bing-bang” fairly often.