Ah, the sunny clime of Scurveyshire! What a relief to get back to it.
In Chapter CDLX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular, “the Queen of Suspense” (oh, forsooth, I’m getting tired of having to plug that in!), takes us to the village common of Scurveyshire for the annual Boxing Day Boxing Tournament for Boxers. Ever since the 13th century, every man, woman, and child in Scurveyshire is required to box, with the winner given the ability to see the future. It’s good old-fashioned bare-knuckle boxing, and no one is exempt. Matchups are all drawn out of a hat. Whose hat, we are not told.
Some of the matches are, of course, unfair: Hercules Machiste, the brawny village blacksmith, against 98-year-old Widow Westley, for instance. Helped out of her wheelchair by two of her great-grandchildren, the widow flabbergasts all Scurveyshire by landing what seems barely to qualify as a love-tap and knocking out the tower of muscle men know as Machiste.
With the odds against the widow listed as 20,000 to 1, Bob the Bookie is ruined. But who was it who actually bet five pounds sterling on the Widow Westley?
“Dear reader,” Ms. Crepuscular juxtaposes, “I have not forgotten the hydra lurking in the middle of the village, nor the fearful jackalope! But surely you can imagine the stink of fight-fixing arising from this seeming triumph of a little old lady against a veritable mountain of a man! Machiste once knocked out a statue!”
Instantaneously arises a demand to investigate the controversial bout. It falls to Lord Jeremy to carry out the investigation. Before he can do so, Machiste sits up and wonders, “What hit me?”
Jeremy turns to Constable Chumley. “Constable, arrest that man!” But Chumley demurs: “La, m’lord, ane vivvle yinter stock wi’ only borret yon beeve!” Jeremy does not know how to answer that objection.