Chapter CCXX of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney, is something of a flashback.
Lady Margo Cargo seldom reads the local newspaper, The Scurveyshire Serf; so when a stranger asks her, “How did you come to lose your husband–and your leg?”, she answers candidly.
“I took my husband, Sir Largo Cargo, to London to see the monkeys in the zoo, and I’m afraid he just wandered off when I happened to let go of his hand to buy some peanuts. That was fifteen years ago, and I haven’t seen him since. As for my leg, a few days after that, I woke up one morning and it was gone. We looked all over the house for it, but it never turned up.”
Imagine her embarrassment when this story was reported by “The Inquiring Lackwit” in the Serf. She wrote a letter of complaint to the editor: “I thought I was talking to an inquiring lackwit. I didn’t know I was talking to The Inquiring Lackwit! Have you people no respect for someone’s privacy?”
Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who, along with his friend, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, is engaged to marry Lady Margo–she thinks they’re the same person–tries to comfort her. “You want me to shoot that varmint of an editor, li’l honey? We can dump the body in that abandoned mine over yonder.” But Lady Margo is not prepared to go that far.
Lord Jeremy, in his capacity as the only Justice of the Peace in England with two left feet, takes more positive action, ordering Constable Chumley to arrest the editor. “Lock him up and throw away the key! I will not have my fiancee made a subject of public comment.”
“Aith me sore unclunner, your lordship,” replies the constable, resorting to his quaint rural dialect. He obeys the order literally, and now can’t find the key.
Ms. Crepuscular concludes the chapter with an admonition to her readers to avoid conversing with lackwits of any kind.