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Lady Margo’s Error (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCXXXI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lady Margo Cargo, the richest widow in Scurveyshire, laments, “I always manage to make a hash of things!” That’s putting it mildly.

Confused by the incessant delays of her marriage to Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley–she thinks they’re the same person, and gets bewildered when they’re both in the room at the same time–and another marriage proposal from her butler, Crusty, Lady Margo has mistakenly married Constable Chumley.

It only happened because Lord Jeremy, the shire’s justice of the peace, was indisposed with a toothache, probably due to a spell cast by the medieval necromancer, Black Rodney: this time Johnno the Merry Minstrel was unable to find the applicable cuss bag, cunningly concealed in one of the pockets of the billiard table. By the time Johnno finds it, the damage is done.

With Lord Jeremy groaning in his bed, and Twombley temporarily prostrate with strong drink, the assistant justice, Master Roger Addlepate, who is also the assistant village idiot, steps in to perform the wedding. He meets the constable on his way to Lady Margo’s opulent country house and recruits him as the groom: there are plentiful gaps in his understanding of the situation.

“Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife, etc.?”

“Wore the weevil in a sorthing mole,” declares the constable. He is actually thinking of a correspondence course in mole-ology, but Master Roger takes his answer as a “yes” and then pressures Lady Margo into going along with it. “Will you please hurry!” he cries. “I am late for a darts match at The Lying Tart!” Flustered, Lady Margo blurts out “Yes!” without knowing what she’s yessing.

“I now pronounce you man and wife!”

Crusty bursts into the parlor to put a stop to this nonsense, but he’s too late.

“What have you done, my lady?” he cries. Meanwhile, Chumley departs with Master Roger because he’s scheduled to play darts tonight, too.

“I think I’ve just married that man,” admits Lady Margo, in a hushed tone. “I’m not even sure which one.”

“Words fail me to describe this lamentable scene any further,” adds Ms. Crepuscular.


Bram Stoker Visits Scurveyshire (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCXXX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney–we’re still waiting for Chapter CCXXIX–Violet Crepuscular writes of a visit to Scurveyshire by Bram Stoker, the famed author of Dracula. It is vain to protest that Stoker wasn’t born until 1847 and would have been only three years old in 1850. “I do not believe the dates commonly given,” asserts Ms. Crepuscular. Nor do we get anywhere by denying that Stoker spoke fluent Pidgin with a broad Irish accent. “My sources are impeccable,” she says. We are not sure she knows what “impeccable” means.

Stoker comes to Scurveyshire to do research for Dracula, which was not published until 1897. He is immediately informed that “We ain’t had but one vampire in Scurveyshire, and he retired from it long ago to go into the tea business. Last we heard, he had a big plantation in Norway.” But before he can leave, he learns that Scurveyshire is being terrorized by the long-dead necromancer, Black Rodney. His interest is piqued.

Stoker interviews Constable Chumley at The Lying Tart, where the local brew goes straight to his head and incites him to entertain the night’s customers by reciting rather lurid nursery rhymes. “Yer flothering bandy fair made a clogger that brawsty night,” the constable recalls.

The next night, Stoker disappears. Forever. It is discovered that the itinerant spider girl, Lizzie Snivel, fell madly in love with Scurveyshire’s exotic visitor: and also that he took advantage of her infatuation to purchase from her a rare Tasmanian blow-dried spider at a shamefully low price. Miss Lizzie, the only witness, insists that Mr. Stoker, hunting for traces of Black Rodney, ventured dangerously close to the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard. “I fear he was dragged under by them tentacles!” she cries. “Oh, I should have stopped him!”

Still trying to plan his wedding to Lady Margo Cargo, Lord Jeremy Coldsore finds it hard to do his duty as Scurveyshire’s justice of the peace. “I don’t have time to investigate the disappearance of a Pidgin-speaking Irishman!” he cries. So there is no investigation, and the wading pool has claimed another victim.

We are promised that in Chapter CCXXXI, Lord Jeremy will acquire a new cravat especially for the wedding.


A Book to Avoid

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Violet Crepuscular, celebrated author of the epic romance, Oy, Rodney, has another book out which I urge you to avoid. It is unworthy of her.

In Nazrat of the Moles, the infant son of an English lord and lady, orphaned when his parents are attacked and eaten by hedgehogs, is adopted by a family of moles and taught how to live underground. That means no one ever sees him. And he makes quite a mess of the neighborhood’s lawns.

Nazrat has many of adventures as he pursues earthworms and beetle grubs, runs into a lot of stubborn tree-roots, and eventually rises to become chief of the moles.

His idyllic existence is disrupted when a party of homeless Swedish nobles gets lost in the suburban subdivision in which he lives. As he tries to protect them from the hedgehogs, Nazrat falls in love with the Swedish mole-ology professor’s daughter, Janie. I am not convinced there is such a word as mole-ology.

Nazrat teaches Janie how to burrow, and she joins him in his underground life. Now no one sees her anymore, either.

Really, Violet–how could you?


‘Oy, Rodney,’ the Missing Chapter

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“Something magical” was supposed to happen in Chapter CCXXIX of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, but for the time being she has noticed that she’d left Chapter CCXXVII unwritten, so she has gone back to that. “The only reason I can think of for having left Chapter CCXXVII unwritten,” she confides in the reader, “is that I was having trouble with my toilet flapper.”

In Chapter CCXXVII, Johnno the Merry Minstrel discovers the biggest cuss bag yet cunningly hidden in the Fourth Earl’s suit of armor, which he wore during the Wars of the Roses and then couldn’t get it off. The presence of the large cuss bag suggests that the earl’s skeleton is not, after all, still inside the armor. Which probably means that the ghost that occasionally appears, and likes to fill the upstairs bath tub with fried gloves, is not the Fourth Earl, as has been long believed.

The cuss bag contains cat hair and other detritus. “The other contents cannot be mentioned in polite society,” adds Ms. Crepuscular.

“It’s a good thing I’ve found this, my lord,” Johnno tells Lord Jeremy Coldsore, debt-ridden master of Coldsore Hall. “If I hadn’t, you would have had a fatal accident involving cat hairs. Only Black Rodney could have thought of that!”

“Well, how the deuce are we to be rid of him!” cries Jeremy. “What have I ever done to Black Rodney, that he should plague me with his sorceries?”

“I think he’s after Coldsore Hall, my lord,” says Johnno. “But let me soothe you with my rendition of ‘Down by the Old Mill Stream,'” which he sings while accompanying himself on the harmonica.

“I still expect something magical to happen in Chapter CCXXIX,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “but I can’t write it until I get this confounded flapper replaced.”

 


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.

 


The Wine Controversy (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Something always seems to crop up to jinx a wedding. In Chapter CCXXV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, author Violet Crepuscular, in an aside to the reader, recalls her own experience. “If I may digress for a moment, as an aside to the reader, my own wedding was thoroughly ruined by the absence of the groom, a hard-working horseshoe customizer named Sidney. He never showed up for the ceremony, and to this day I’ve never heard from him again.”

Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his friend, the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, find their wedding to Lady Margo Cargo–she thinks they’re the same person–held up by a disagreement over which wine to serve at the reception.

“I’ve already ordered a whole crate of Chateau LaFong!” cries Jeremy. “And that miscreant of a butler refuses to serve it! He insists we serve Chateau D’If, and he has mesmerized Lady Margo to take his side.”

“Ain’t that a school for the deaf, or something?” asks Twombley.

“It’s a notorious French prison,” Jeremy informs him, “and the wine they make there isn’t fit to serve to pigs–and I have heard the pigs turn up their snouts at it. By Jove, I hate that stuff! And I’ve paid for the Chateau LaFong, so we can’t afford for it to go to waste.”

“For my money,” says Twombley, “it’s the Philistines who make the best wine, hands down. We always served Philistine wine at our shindigs.” Twombley believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad. “You should have asked me first, Germy, before you ordered that Chapeau Fungus or whatever it is. I could’ve gotten us a case of Goliath’s Joy Juice, from Gath.”

“I suspect Crusty the butler is trying to undermine this wedding so that he can marry Lady Margo and gain control of her wealth,” opines Lord Jeremy.

“You want I should shoot him?” Twombley asks. And the chapter ends with Lord Jeremy contemplating his options.

“I must add,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “that I have tried Chateau D’If Red and it really is swill.”


The Annual Scurveyshire Fete (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCXXII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular treats us to the annual Scurveyshire Fete, which has been held every year since 742 A.D., when a Saxon lord named Fulda Basket had to sell off the contents of his castle and made festival of it.

Ancient games, whose meaning has been lost in the flow of centuries, abound: Hit My Hand, Throwing the Titmouse Nest, Dig That Hole, Stone-Swallowing, and many others. Colorful tents spring up everywhere. Booths sell old-time Scurveyshire snacks like grass, cricket pie, and incredibly foul-smelling foot cheese. A festive time is had by all.

Right up until the moment the local folk-singing group, The Five Churls, is sucked under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard. This puts a damper on the occasion.

“I thought I told the constable to get rid of that pool!” Lord Jeremy Coldsore cries. He has been trying all day to romance his bride-to-be, Lady Margo Cargo, but she has been distracted by the disappearance of the Churls.

“I haven’t finished paying for it yet,” explains the vicar.

“Then we must skip the rest of this chapter,” decides Lord Jeremy.

In Chapter CCXXIII, villagers have begun to complain that the Old Bathhouse catty-corner from the pub, The Lying Tart, has become haunted. As Justice of the Peace, Lord Jeremy is expected to do something about it. Before he can, a mob of sulky peasants burns it down. Only the bathtubs are saved.

“What else can happen to our shire?” wails Lady Margo. She has all The Five Churls’ albums and was looking forward to purchasing the next one.


How Lady Margo Lost Her Husband and Her Leg (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Chapter CCXX of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney, is something of a flashback.

Lady Margo Cargo seldom reads the local newspaper, The Scurveyshire Serf; so when a stranger asks her, “How did you come to lose your husband–and your leg?”, she answers candidly.

“I took my husband, Sir Largo Cargo, to London to see the monkeys in the zoo, and I’m afraid he just wandered off when I happened to let go of his hand to buy some peanuts. That was fifteen years ago, and I haven’t seen him since. As for my leg, a few days after that, I woke up one morning and it was gone. We looked all over the house for it, but it never turned up.”

Imagine her embarrassment when this story was reported by “The Inquiring Lackwit” in the Serf. She wrote a letter of complaint to the editor: “I thought I was talking to an inquiring lackwit. I didn’t know I was talking to The Inquiring Lackwit! Have you people no respect for someone’s privacy?”

Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who, along with his friend, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, is engaged to marry Lady Margo–she thinks they’re the same person–tries to comfort her. “You want me to shoot that varmint of an editor, li’l honey? We can dump the body in that abandoned mine over yonder.” But Lady Margo is not prepared to go that far.

Lord Jeremy, in his capacity as the only Justice of the Peace in England with two left feet, takes more positive action, ordering Constable Chumley to arrest the editor. “Lock him up and throw away the key! I will not have my fiancee made a subject of public comment.”

“Aith me sore unclunner, your lordship,” replies the constable, resorting to his quaint rural dialect. He obeys the order literally, and now can’t find the key.

Ms. Crepuscular concludes the chapter with an admonition to her readers to avoid conversing with lackwits of any kind.


‘Oy, Rodney’ Explodes with Action!

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I only wrote that headline because Violet Crepuscular introduces Chapter CCXIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, with the teaser, “Chapter CCXIV of my epic romance, Oy, Rodney, explodes with action!” I suppose it had to, given the total lack of any action whatsoever in Chapter CCXIII, about which the less said, the better. I suspect she may have been impaired while writing it.

Before he can commandeer and hitch up a team of oxen to drag away the sinister wading pool in the vicar’s back yard, Constable Chumley has had to ask the vicar’s permission to do so. This should have happened in Chapter CCXIII. At any rate, the vicar demurs.

“My dear fellow, you can’t do that! I haven’t paid for it yet!”

“Yair, vicar, I screeve a delly mure,” says the constable.

“That’s exactly what I would say, if I were you,” replies the vicar.

At this point Ms. Crepuscular interjects a political observation. We shall pass over it.

Unable to get the vicar’s permission, Constable Chumley abandons that part of his assignment and returns to Coldsore Hall to search for clues that might lead him to Black Rodney’s hiding place. Lady Margo Cargo is present at Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s bedside, feeding him mealworms to speed his recovery. Both are disconcerted when the constable enters the bedroom and begin feeling about under the covers.

“What the deuce are you doing? Stop that!” cries Lord Jeremy.

“M’lord, ’tis nae fairthy twa’ wee trilling clues,” explains the constable.

“He’s right, my love,” says Lady Margo.

But there are no clues hidden in the bedclothes, and Lord Jeremy continues to complain. “Your hands are like ice, Constable! Go look for clues somewhere else!” No one minds when the constable departs to look for clues at the bottom of a tankard of ale at The Lying Tart.

Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad, enters the room. Lady Margo thinks he and Lord Jeremy are the same person, so it always dazzles her to see both of them at once. In deference to her feelings, he exits without a word.


Constable Chumley: Detective (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCXII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, having discovered that the medieval sorcerer Black Rodney has been secretly planting cuss bags throughout Coldsore Hall, Lord Jeremy orders Constable Chumley to put a stop to it.

Here Ms. Crepuscular feels the need to interject some background material.”I feel the need to inject some background material,” she writes. “It must be stated that Constable Chumley is married; but his wife, Boudicca, left him because she could not understand his quaint rural dialect. She is currently serving as a mercenary soldier in Bolivia, where she is widely known as The Terror of the Andes.”

Be that as it may, the constable reports to Coldsore Hall for orders.

“I demand that you find Black Rodney and arrest him!” says Lord Jeremy. He is still confined to his bed, with his only entertainment provided by Johnno the Merry Minstrel, who can sing and play the harmonica at the same time, although he does neither especially well.

Constable Chumley’s expression turns grave. It’s quite a daunting sight.

“Aye, weel,” he replies, “that’s a snicket fair whittum, m’lord!” He shakes his head. “Gare Rodney, he’s a-flarrin’ tidy skipster, noo miscork aboot it.”

“I don’t care what you call him!” snaps Jeremy. “He’s holding up my wedding! And for heaven’s sake, get rid of that wading pool in the vicar’s back yard!”

“Nae veen, m’lord, ’tis a wallow thing, right enough.” He salutes Lord Jeremy and plods off to do his duty.

“What did he just say?” Jeremy wonders.

“He’ll give it his best shot, Germy,” explains the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, “but he don’t expect he’ll live to tell about it.”

Lord Jeremy sends for Johnno to perform “The Old Oaken Bucket.” This will require him to sing a duet with himself.


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