Where’s the Lost City? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Big Brother and also Big Sister and Big Father | Book humor ...

By now most people in Scurveyshire realize that the only place they haven’t looked for the Lost City of Driphdrash is under Coldsore Hall–a serious problem which very nearly caused author Violet Crepuscular to throw in the towel on her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, somewhere back around Chapter CCCLV. Now we’re on Chapter CCCLVIII, which she introduces thus:

“Welcome, dear reader, to Chapter CCCLVIII of my epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney.” She’s off to a good start, don’t you think? “With the entire shire afire with Driphdrash fever, it looks like Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s ancestral home is about to be torn up by the roots. How can he possibly save it?”

A mob of peasants has camped out on the grounds of the hall, clamoring for it to be pulled down so they can get at the lost city.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone but the author herself–this is entirely her fault–Britain’s most wanted aristocratic criminal, Sir Robin Banks, has gone into hiding somewhere in Scurveyshire. He is markedly similar to another aristocratic criminal, Raffles the Gentleman Thief, only ignorant, functionally illiterate, slovenly, and really quite ugly by anybody’s standards. Why Scotland Yard can’t catch him is one for Mensa to chew over some dark night when they have nothing else to do.

There is no bank in Scurveyshire, so what can he be plotting to steal? “I know you will be upset to hear this,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, laboring under the delusion that most people like to read Oy, Rodney aloud to their families (“Because I have written it chock-full of otherwise unnoticed moral lessons!”), “but Sir Robin’s target is none other than Lady Margo Cargo–that is, her priceless collection of glass eyes and other family jewels. It gives me the vapors just to think of it.”

It ought to be rather easy to commit a crime in Scurveyshire just now, with practically the entire population demonstrating in front of Coldsore Hall and no one but Constable Chumley to maintain law and order. Wrapping up the chapter, Ms. Crepuscular lets the constable have the last word:

“Rill thee mear no brocken bree! I kinna theer yon yerkin tree!”