As we enter Chapter CCXXXIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, we find Lady Margo Cargo trying to adapt to her new role as the wife of Constable Chumley, to whom she was accidentally married two chapters ago. She has yet to discover the constable’s first name. So have we.
“This must be undone!” Lord Jeremy Coldsore declares. It had been his plan to marry Lady Margo, the richest widow in Scurveyshire, and so save his ancestral home, Coldsore Hall, from a growing legion of creditors.
“Germy, ol’ hoss, we’re runnin’ out of places to hide the bodies,” says Jeremy’s friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. Twombley has been shooting creditors and hiding them around the hall and grounds. “If we don’t marry Lady Margo, we’re sunk.”
Meanwhile the constable goes about his duties and enjoys his evenings at The Lying Tart as if he weren’t married at all. It may be he has forgotten the incident. But then–
“I believe I’m with child by the constable,” Lady Margo confides in Twombley. “Dr. Fanabla says it’s all in my head, the marriage has not been consummated, and why don’t I just shut up about it–but I can’t!”
“Why don’t you jist get the marriage annulled?” asked Twombley. “I’m sure the vicar will be happy to do it for you.” He is not aware that the vicar has relapsed into more conniptions. “And if he can’t do it, Lord Germy can: he’s the justice of the peace, ain’t he?”
“But I gave my word to the constable!” cries Lady Margo.
Later, over enormous tankards of ale at the pub, Twombley tries to persuade the constable to disavow the marriage. “Mayhap the furthin be thwall a-beedle,” replies the constable. He has begun his correspondence course in mole-ology and is preoccupied by it.
Lord Jeremy is almost frantic. “We’ve got to get that so-called marriage annulled by the next chapter at the latest! Or, as you said, old boy, we’re sunk!” He could, of course, declare the whole thing null and void, and have the assistant justice removed from his post and thrown in jail; but at the moment he is too upset to think clearly.