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Crusty’s Lament (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCXXVI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular has detoured into an examination of the life of Crusty, Lady Margo Cargo’s crusty butler.

Born Ignatius Mangrove Crusty in 1782, Crusty’s hard-up parents traded him for a chicken. His new master had a thing for frogs and taught Crusty to imitate their mating calls. Tiring of this, Crusty ran away to join the circus but wound up in butler school. He has been Lady Margo’s butler since 1808.

“That is all I wish to say about his life,” adds Ms. Crepuscular, and moves on to Chapter CCXXVIII, leaving Chapter CCXXVII unwritten.

We take up the thread of the story as Lord Jeremy Coldsore, now disadvantaged by having two left feet, hires an Austrian dancing master named Cliff to teach him how to waltz on two left feet: there’s sure to be a waltz danced at the wedding. Little does he know that Cliff is a fugitive wanted for masterminding the theft of several Prussians.

“You know virtually nothing about dancing!” declares Cliff. “Ach, will you please get your hips into it?” That he has to practice with Cliff is embarrassing. “On the count of three, both your feet must leave the floor, coming down again on the count of four. And then, on the count of one, your partner must jump–like so!” He springs a good ten inches into the air. How Lady Margo is to manage this on her upholstered wooden leg is more than Jeremy can imagine.

“It sure don’t look like no waltz to me,” mutters the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. “Looks like some kinda Egyptian polka to me.” To liven things up, he draws his six-gun and fires several bullets at the floor, occasioning more jumping from both dancers.

“That is not how we do it in Vienna!” Cliff complains.

The waltz lesson leaves Lord Jeremy bruised and exhausted.

“In the next chapter,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “something magical is sure to happen.” We can’t even guess what that might be.

 


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