Invoking a little-known law enacted in the year 636 by the Saxon warlord Bobby the Nit, Lord Jeremy Coldsore has drafted Professor Saltinus Facehead’s Egyptian diggers to put a new roof on Coldsore Hall. So begins Chapter CCCXLVI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney.
Constable Chumley explains the law to Prof. Facehead.
“In yon fillid wi’ King Bobby,” he says, “we fraith the bowyers aw’ mickle groith.” The professor nods sagely, although the constable’s quaint rural dialect eludes his best efforts to understand what has been said. He replies in archaic Portuguese. It is the constable’s turn to nod sagely.
Although the diggers speak no English, and their Arabic is not that hot, either, they throw themselves enthusiastically into their work and in a mere two days, Coldsore Hall has a new roof. The entire population of Scurveyshire assembles to admire it.
“It’s a miracle!” gushes Lady Margo Cargo. “I wish they’d do my roof like that!”
But when a moderate breeze springs up, the new roof seems to take wing and fly off toward the sunset. It will take some doing to get it back.
Here Ms. Crepuscular breaks in to report on the status of her Pulitzer Prize nomination, filed by her excitable neighbor, Mr. Pitfall.
“I am afraid Mr. Pitfall made an error and submitted the nomination to something called the Patzer Prize Committee,” she writes. “This group hands out prizes for poorly-played chess games. I cannot explain why they have decided to award a special prize to my epic romance, Oy, Rodney.”
The prize awarded is a rusty wheelbarrow. “I’ll have to find space for it on my mantle, somehow,” Ms. Crepuscular says. “It’s going to change the whole look of my living room. Given Mr. Pitfall’s current state of excitement, I dare do nothing else.”
Here the chapter breaks off for want, she admits, of inspiration.