Introducing Chapter CDXLVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, or, A Gentlewoman’s Malady, Violet Crespuscular–
Wait! What’s this “or” business? Since when is there an “or”?
“The subtitle,” Ms. Crepuscular explains in a series of smoke signals, “is a staple of Victorian literature. I don’t know why I haven’t been using one!”
Be that as it may, in this chapter, none of Lady Margo Cargo’s folk remedies has sufficed to halt the vicar’s conniptions. “I have never seen more disgusting conniptions in my life,” says Lady Margo.
In desperation, Lord Jeremy Coldsore consults the Wise Woman of the Gaol, formerly the Wise Woman of the Woods; but she prefers the gaol.
“Ah, yes, conniptions!” she festiculates. “Constable Chumley has kept me well-informed of the vicar’s conniptions. They are of a special kind–Smythe-Peddington Conniptions, named for the first doctor who was unable to cure them. Fortunately, I know exactly how to cure them! And the method is simplicity itself. So simple, the patient will practically cure himself.”
“So what is this method?” cries Jeremy.
The Wise Woman lowers her voice and, almost whispering, replies, “You must read him, aloud, the funniest book in the world! That’ll stop the conniptions.”
“Excellent!” Jeremy exclaims. “And what is the funniest book in the world?”
She shrugs broadly. “So what am I–the London Times Review of Books? I haven’t read a book in 30 years. And that one wasn’t funny.”
MUCH LATER THAT DAY… A search of Lady Margo’s copious library turns up only one book that might be amusing, in a way: Baby-Talk Made Simple, by Benjamin Franklin.
“It’s our only hope!” says Margo… TO BE CONTINUED!
(“There! How’s that for heightening suspense?” crows Violet. We sigh in unison.)