Lord Jeremy Coldsore is infatuated with a ghost, The Woman in Moldy Knickers, who died 600 years ago but–so it seems–has been reactivated by the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney. This puts at grave risk his marriage to Lady Margo Cargo.
Introducing Chapter CDXXVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular, in a confidential aside to the reader, muses, “What have I gotten myself into? The ghost can only be laid by a man who looks like Lee J. Cobb, and there is no such man in Scurveyshire. Lord Jeremy’s friends are desperate to rescue him and save his impending marriage–but how do I write my way out of this?”
She unexpectedly finds a solution in a letter from an avid reader, Mrs. Phyllis Gillis, who has been prospecting for gravel in Turkmenistan.
“Once I adopted my pet whelk, Lawrence, I had no more time for hopeless love affairs with ghosts and could turn my attentions to more productive enterprises,” Mrs. Gillis writes. Ms. Crepuscular loses no time in sending Johnno the Merry Minstrel all the way to Baffin Island to obtain a pet whelk for Lord Jeremy. As a bonus, the whelk does bear a faint resemblance to Lee J. Cobb.
By this master stroke, Rodney’s evil spell is utterly defeated. Lord Jeremy now ignores The Woman in Moldy Knickers when she flits past his bedroom window.
“I don’t know what I ever saw in her!” he funambulates. “Those knickers–disgusting! Here, watch my whelk creep around the aquarium! I can hardly wait to show her off to Lady Margo!”
Molluscs have always been a big deal in Scurveyshire. Much more so than dogs or cats. Lord Jeremy has named his pet whelk Stuart.
Will the marriage now go forward?
“You’re asking me?” writes Ms. Crepuscular.
[Editor’s Note: Sorry, but all the available pictures of whelks just look like sea shells.]