Violet Crepuscular opens Chapter CCLXXIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, with a Homeric flourish: “Just as rosy-fingered Dawn was parting the velvet curtains of the night, Lady Margo Cargo has arrived at the front door of her palatial country house. I have always wanted to use that particular Homeric touch. If only I could find a way to use ‘the wine-dark sea’!”
If you are wondering what became of the two intervening chapters, I cannot find them in my copy of the book. No pages have been torn out. It’s a mystery.
At the end of her strength, after having to hop on one foot all the way, and struggling out of the dreaded Scurveyshire Fens after escaping from the Plaguesby jail, Lady Margo finds she cannot stand up to open the door. She has to wait for two hours on the stoop before Crusty the crusty old butler opens the front door and finds her.
“You stupid old cow!” he cries. “Where have you been? We thought you were under the vicar’s backyard wading pool. What a nuisance you are!” The warmth of his greeting quite overcomes her. She is covered head to foot in thick black mud, so the fact that he has recognized her is a point in his favor.
“Help me into my bath, Crusty,” she gasps.
The bath being upstairs, lugging her up the grand spiral staircase practically kills him. With his last ounce of strength he rolls her into the tub, then crawls back to his butler’s pantry to recover. “I’d like some water, Crusty!” she cries. But he’s too worn-out to pay any attention.
“I really must pause here,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “to confide in you, dear readers! My neighbor, the erratic Mr. Pitfall, now insists that he and I are man and wife. Really, it’s just too much! I am sure I never married him, but now he’s in my kitchen breaking dishes! Something tells me his eccentricities may be getting out of hand. Steps will have to be taken, I fear.”