Lord Jeremy’s Conflict (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“In Chapter CCCLXXXVIII, we left Lord Jeremy Coldsore confronted with an inner conflict,” writes Violet Crepuscular, introducing Chapter CCCLXXXIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “With all of Scurveyshire now infested with Bug-Men, does he meet Olaf Skraeling’s diabolical price for releasing his chameleons to eat the Bug-Men, and give him the hand of Lady Margo Cargo in marriage; or does he carry through his plan to marry Lady Margo himself, so that her vast wealth will serve to pay off his myriad creditors and leave him very much in the clover?” Never mind the dilemma: who ever heard of such a sentence?

Lady Margo does not want to marry Mr. Olaf Skraeling.

“I could never marry a Frenchman!” she declares.

“He’s Welsh,” answers Jeremy.

“Foreigners are all the same,” intones Lady Margo.

“He won’t release the chameleons unless you marry him!” cries Jeremy. “It’s the only way to save Scurveyshire!”

“It’ll be a Prussian or a Serbian next,” grumbles Lady Margo. “I thought you loved me, Willis!” She can’t tell the difference between Lord Jeremy and the American adventurer, Willis Twombley.

This conversation goes on for quite a while with nothing being resolved. “Lord Jeremy cannot decide whether to save himself or to save all Scurveyshire,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “What would you do in his place, dear reader?”

Before the reader can answer, Constable Chumley, thoroughly misunderstanding his instructions, lets himself into Mr. Skraeling’s palatial hovel and releases the chameleons, who have a field day gulping down Bug-Men. The crafty Welshman is considerably upset by this. Meanwhile the Bug-Men flee back to wherever they came from: they just can’t stand chameleons.

“You have cheated me, Lord Jeremy!” growls Skraeling. “But I have powerful friends in high places, and your days are numbered!” He has grown a mustache for the occasion, which he now fingers in a sinister manner, anticipating a gesture made famous by silent movie villains.

The chapter closes with Ms. Crepuscular’s recipe for toothpaste dumplings.

 

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