In Chapter CCLXXXIV of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lord Jeremy Coldsore hosts a formal dinner for his Aunt, Lady Petunia, and her husband Lord Gromleigh, the Marquess of Grone. Also at the table we find Jeremy’s friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, and their fiancee, Lady Margo Cargo. They are served by Lady Margo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, Lord Jeremy’s butler having mysteriously disappeared, probably under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard.
“The problem with aged relatives who knew you as a child,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “is that they know things about you that will embarrass you if they trot them out in company. Alas for Lord Jeremy, he is about to be subjected to this.”
Having quaffed at least a quart of imported Philistine wine, Lady Petunia is in a festive mood and prone to reminisce.
“I remember one time when Jeremy was only four or five years old, and I was minding him while his mother and father went to Brighton to see The Four Churls play unfamiliar musical instruments. Poor little Jeremy came down with an earache, and I had to summon Dr. Flabb (I’m sure you must remember him, dear–he had the most unsightly nose in Britain), who prescribed some ear drops.
“Well, he had little Jeremy bend sideways so he could drip the drops into his ear. And imagine our surprise when the drops came right out the other ear! Dr. Flabb couldn’t believe his eyes! ‘Why, this child has no brain!’ he cried. ‘His head is completely empty!’ Oh, Jeremy, you remember how terribly funny that was!”
Jeremy cringes hypnotically. He does not think it was funny.
“No wonder he’s such a fool!” grumbles Crusty.
“Aunt, that story isn’t true!” Jeremy cries.
“Let me have a look, there, Germy,” Twombley says, leaning in his chair to peer into Jeremy’s ear. Jeremy pushes him away. Mortified beyond words, he suddenly leaps from his chair and flees the dining room.
“I thought we were going to have kippers,” mutters the marquess. “Not this muck.”
Lady Margo is aghast. She does not know whether she can, in good conscience, marry a man without a brain. “It might be catching!” she thinks.
“I now draw the curtain on this pitiable scene,” concludes Ms. Crepuscular. “We all have childhood secrets that we wish would stay buried forever. I certainly am not going to tell you mine.”