Tag Archives: Lady Margo Cargo

Lady Margo’s Great Escape (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“I have had a difficult time writing this chapter,” Violet Crepuscular admits, introducing Chapter CCLXVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, “because my neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, was released from the hospital this week and is a bit put out with me for poisoning him, and I’ve had to lie low for several days. I must send him a Lobster-Gram to make it up to him. I do hope he remembers to cook the lobster before he eats it.”

Back to the story! Lady Margo Cargo, languishing in the Plaguesby jail, does not wish to marry Tom Squim, the Great Conquering Khan of Plaguesby; nor does she wish to experience any of the various “ways” they have in Plaguesby for forcing people to marry against their will. All she really wants to do is get back home to Scurveyshire Village and marry Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his boon companion, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. She still thinks the two of them are the same person.

And so the plucky dowager, the richest widow in all of Scurveyshire, manages to squirrel away a spoon and uses it to tunnel her way out of the jail. Ordinarily this would take several years. But because of the incredibly shoddy construction of the jail, she is able to tunnel through its easily crumbled wall in a single night. Before the next sunrise she is on her way back to her beloved–hopping on one leg because she has lost her upholstered wooden leg. She has resolved to ask Lord Jeremy to please do something about Tom Squim and his mad dream of conquering all England.

Everyone else, meanwhile, is waiting for the expedition under the vicar’s backyard wading pool to return, hopefully having rescued Lady Margo (who isn’t there), or else to perish valiantly in the attempt.

“I promise, in the next chapter, to tell of the adventures of this expedition, so bravely led by Constable Chumley,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in the reader. “But for the time being, I have just seen Mr. Pitfall emerge from his house with a shotgun, so it behooves me to resort to my hiding place behind the sofa.” I have always wanted to use that word, “behooves,” but Violet has beaten me to it.


The Expedition Under the Wading Pool (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCLXVI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes–

Whoa! Hold it! What happened to Chapters CCLII through CCLXV? That’s fourteen chapters missing!

Ms. Crepuscular explains, “A few readers may be confused by the absence of the intervening fourteen chapters. Well, I removed them from the story because nothing happened in them. Really, we are all better off going directly to Chapter CCLXVI.”

Somewhere in the missing chapters, Lord Jeremy has organized an expedition to go under the vicar’s backyard wading pool and rescue Lady Margo Cargo so that he and she can have their wedding. In fact, Lady Margo is languishing in the Plaguesby jail; but no one in Scurveyshire Town knows that.

Pressed into service for the expedition, whether they wish to go or not, are fifty bearers to carry supplies and equipment, a dozen armed askaris for defense–

Where in Scurveyshire did they find askaris?

“In all those famous expeditions to find the source of the Nile,” Lord Jeremy explains, “bearers and askaris are a must. For our purposes, a dozen Scurveyshire lads with slingshots and rakes will have to serve. We don’t have time to order a dozen genuine, authentic askaris from Zanzibar, where they are always looking for work.”

Handicapped by having two left feet, Lord Jeremy cannot lead the expedition in person. This job he has given to Constable Chumley, admonishing the bearers and askaris to obey the constable’s every command as if their lives depended on it. “And probably they do!” he adds.

The constable’s first command is, “Arree, sumble yer batpins and grith bair lunnies!” Everyone just stands around staring at each other. A few shots from Willis Twombley’s Colt revolver, fired judiciously around their feet, get them moving. One by one, following Constable Chumley, sixty-two men march under the wading pool and disappear from sight. A dreadful calm descends on Scurveyshire.

Meanwhile, back in Plaguesby, Lady Margo does some more languishing in jail before that hamlet’s chief magistrate, Tom Squim, the Great Conquering Khan of Plaguesby, offers to let her out if she will marry him and help him to found a dynasty rivaling, he says, the Plantagenets. She scornfully rejects him. “The Plantagenets are highly overrated,” she sniffs.

“We have ways of making people get married, here in Plaguesby,” he sneers. He does not reveal what those ways are.


The Scourge of the Swamp (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Mr. Pitfall having been sedated with a certain powder surreptitiously added to his Strawberry Quik, Violet Crespuscular has moved on to Chapter CCLI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “I had to do it,” she confides to her readers. “He was getting altogether too impatient with that length of rubber hose, and I found it distracting.”

Hopping along on one foot and often falling face-first into the soupy mud, Lady Margo Cargo has finally made her way out of the terrible Scurveyshire Fens, emerging near the village of Plaguesby covered with mud from head to toe. As she approaches a band of jolly milkmaids, the girls flee, screaming: “Swamp fiend! Monster of the Fens!” In no time at all, Constable Chumley’s counterpart in Plaguesby, Constable Flumley, arrests her and locks her in a holding cell. He has one eye much larger than the other, and the way he leers at her is most unsettling. “Y’iv sharred a mickle millen!” he growls, in his quaint rural dialect.

Technically under Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s jurisdiction as Scurveyshire’s justice of the peace, Plaguesby has a unique form of government that would not be allowed if anyone were noticing. A rat-catcher named Tom Squim rules the village as its Great Conquering Khan, assisted by a Council of Nimrods who have no power and are expected to refrain from speaking. In return, they get free melons when those become available.

Lady Margo is disquieted when her eyes adjust to the dark and she finds a mouldering skeleton chained to the wall of her cell. Is this to be her fate?

The next two pages of the book are blank. It seems to be an error on the part of the publisher. Ms. Crepuscular opens Chapter CCLII by blaming the publisher for the oversight. “I will provide the missing material in another chapter later on,” she writes, “after the ambulance comes for Mr. Pitfall. I fear I may have overdosed him.”

 


More Unimaginable Peril (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCXLIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “I have been reduced to the expedient, as I write this, of having my neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, stand over me with a length of rubber hose to make sure I finish the chapter. He is actually a very nice man, but for his ungovernably violent temper and his penchant for unpredictably flying into rages.”

It seems Lady Margo Cargo has not been sucked under the vicar’s backyard wading pool, after all, but instead suffered a bout of extreme absent-mindedness during which she lost her upholstered wooden leg and, hopping along on one foot, wandered into the dreaded Scurveyshire Fens. She does not know where she is. All she knows is that she is probably going to be late for her wedding. The only silver lining to this cloud is that she forgot to wear her wedding dress. The sticky black mud of the Fens would have spoiled it.

Sardanapalus Tingleworth (or whatever his name is), the man with only one buttock, has volunteered to go under the pool to try to rescue Lady Margo. Seizing an opportunity when no one was looking, he has fled Scurveyshire. He will eventually wind up joining a traveling “curiosity show” in Alsace-Lorraine and make a decent living exhibiting his unusual anatomy.

But what of Lady Margo’s crusty butler, Crusty, who was pulled under the pool by a gigantic tentacle? “Mr. Pitfall has encouraged me to tell you that after some fifteen minutes which seemed more like fifteen hours, Crusty was thrown out from under the pool.” He makes his way back to the now disorganized wedding party, where everyone is very surprised to see him.

“It didn’t want me!” he reports. “It thought I was disgusting! So it threw me back.”

“But did you see any sign of my bride?” cries Lord Jeremy. “What did you see, down there under the pool? Speak, man!”

“Mostly I saw a lot of flattened grass that’s turning yellow, and some large earthworms,” says honest Crusty. “Not a sign of my poor mistress! She should’ve married me instead of you–then this wouldn’t have happened!” He leaps for Lord Jeremy’s throat, but Constable Chumley collars him before he can do any damage.

“There, yair,” the constable consoles him, “‘twon’t do nae brecken to flur thy wakes.”

Ms. Crepuscular has Mr. Pitfall’s permission to conclude the chapter there.


Unimaginable Peril (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCXLVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular confesses that she has been having difficulty imagining an unimaginable peril of any kind.

“Last night,” she confides in her readers, “I had a most unsettling dream in which I was walking, with a man who worked for the gas company, over an endless field of light bulbs which burst under our feet. I woke in a cold sweat; and that very morning, the light bulb in my writing lamp expired with a loud pop! It took me half the day to put in a new one. This is why I have had so much trouble describing the unimaginable peril under the vicar’s backyard wading pool.”

Moving on to Chapter CCXLVIII, Ms. Crepuscular dodges the issue by writing a flashback of Lady Margo’s fifth birthday party. It is hoped that she remembers that she has stranded Lady Margo somewhere in another dimension–or wherever it is you go to, under the pool.

“It’s such a lovely birthday cake, Mummy!” squeals the delighted little girl.

“Don’t call me ‘Mummy,’ Margo. A mummy is a dried-up Egyptian cadaver. You must learn to speak as befits our class. ‘Mater’ is the preferred form of address.”

Margo’s father, Lord Fopwell, an amateur entomologist of some standing, gives his daughter an unexpected birthday present: a jar full of newly-hatched mantises, tiny little things prowling around in search of prey. As soon as she unwraps her present, little Margo screams and drops the jar. Tiny mantises are all over the floor. Mater screams and runs outside.

Here we are interrupted by an angry reader who demands, “What the devil is this? Where is the unimaginable peril?”

I try to soothe him. “I’m sure Ms. Crepuscular will get to it in the next chapter. Look, she even says so, right here in this footnote: ‘I promise to take up the matter of the unimaginable peril in my next chapter, once I am over my disquieting experience with the light bulbs.'” The reader’s wrath subsides.


The Man with One Buttock (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCXLIV, or somewhere, of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lady Margo Cargo finds herself sitting in the midst of a dense stand of bulrushes. Her upholstered wooden leg is missing. She does not know how she got there. All she can remember is taking a shortcut through the vicar’s back yard on the way to her wedding, suddenly feeling dizzy–and now she’s here, wherever here is. And somewhere in the distance, an unpleasant nasal voice is singing “It Isn’t Monday Anymore,” the same line repeated over and over again.

“I shall be late for my wedding!” she exclaims.

Meanwhile the disappointed groom, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, orders the arrest of the man with only one buttock, whose appearance at the wedding, contrary to the warning by the Wise Woman of the Woods, has brought a curse upon what should have been a festive occasion. The man with one buttock, who hadn’t meant any harm and only stopped by to see what was happening, tries to escape; but with only one buttock it is difficult to get up any speed. Constable Chumley collars him and drags him back to the scene of the unintended crime.

“Yare’s a fritten poor zeedem,” explains the constable.

Taxed beyond his powers of emotional endurance, Lord Jeremy, in his capacity as Scurveyshire’s justice of the peace, is in no mood to be merciful.

“What’s your name, villain?” he growls.

“An’ it please your honor, sir, I’m Sardanapalus Tingleworth, sir–and I didn’t mean no harm!”

“Sophistry won’t save you, rogue! I sentence you to death! Sentence to be carried out immediately!”

“Oh, I say!” interjects the vicar. “That’s a bit harsh, what?”

But here the chapter breaks off. Ms. Crepuscular’s one light bulb, she informs her readers, has unexpectedly given up the ghost. She is already having second thoughts about naming one of her characters Sardanapalus. It is bound to offend the American best man, Willis Twombley, who already has an itchy trigger finger.


Where Is Lady Margo? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Chapters CCXLI and CCXLII are taken up with author Violet Crepuscular’s current personal problems, which she insists on sharing with her readers. We gather she has heard from an old high school boy friend, whom she hadn’t heard from at all in over 40 years. He phoned her from a state prison somewhere in Utah and invited her to come and see him. “He wants me to sell my house and donate the money to his legal defense fund,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “I don’t know where he got the idea that I own a house.”

As if that weren’t distressing enough, she laments the disaster of the “tricky tray” she organized for her chapter of the Daughters of Wombat–does anybody out there know what a “tricky tray” is?–and apologizes for all the injuries incurred. It takes her halfway into Chapter CCXLIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, to pick up the thread of the narrative.

At last we have the wedding! Lord Jeremy Coldsore is to be wed to Lady Margo Cargo, the richest widow in all of Scurveyshire, in an outdoor ceremony at Gibbering Jessie Park (where they hold the annual crab races), the vicar officiating–he is temporarily free of conniptions–and the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, serving as best man and a kind of co-groom: Lady Margo believes he and Lord Jeremy are the same person.

Everything is ready! All that is lacking is the presence of the bride. She is already three and a half hours late, and the vicar’s cheek has begun to twitch.

Suddenly Lady Margo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, comes running up to the wedding party, gasping frantically and brandishing Lady Margo’s newly-upholstered wooden leg.

“She’s gone! She’s gone!” he cries. “I’ve looked everywhere, I’ve turned the whole house inside-out for her, and I can’t find her! Lady Margo is gone!”

Lord Jeremy is exasperated: he needs this marriage to keep creditors from seizing Coldsore Hall. “Oh, bother!” he hisses under his breath. “Only place in the whole dashed world where a man can’t have a bally wedding!”

The vicar topples over, and begins to make noises reminiscent of a steam locomotive about to give birth to several little locomotives.

“Where could she go, and leave her leg behind?” Twombley wonders.

At that moment one of the small crowd assembled, but not invited, for the wedding, is exposed as a man with only one buttock.

“The curse!” cries Jeremy. “The curse has struck! We couldn’t avoid it, after all!” He then faints, falling down beside the vicar.

“Gettin’ kinda crowded down there,” Twombley muses.


‘Beware!’ (Oy, Rodney)

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“Now that the story makes sense,” writes Violet Crepuscular, we can proceed to Chapter CCXXXVIII of her epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney, in which Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, prepare for their wedding to Lady Margo Cargo–who thinks they are the same person, and is troubled when she sees them together.

“It gets awfully confusing sometimes, Sargon, dear,” she confides to Twombley, who believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad.

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, darlin’,” he replies. “It’s only ancient Akkadian magic, which I got to do because there’s a lot of Babylonian secret agents after me. Jist remember that I’m only Sargon when I’m me.” This answer satisfies her. Whether it satisfies the reader or not remains in question.

But wait! Lord Jeremy has received a cryptic warning from the Wise Woman of the Woods–written in Old Estonian, for security’s sake. Twombley translates:

“Dear Lord Jeremy, how are you? I am fine. It’s me, the Wise Woman of the Woods.

“Beware the wedding guest who has only one buttock. He will put a curse on your marriage! You must take decisive action to stop him.”

Responding with alacrity (a word I seldom get to use), Lord Jeremy orders Constable Chumley to arrest everyone in Scurveyshire who has only one buttock. “Frae the decken with a crooster, m’lord,” replies the constable. He makes a beeline for the pub, The Lying Tart.

“Unless I am much mistaken,” says Lord Jeremy, “this is more of Black Rodney’s work. But it ought to be pretty easy to find a man with one buttock.”

“I knew a man like that in Dodge City,” Twombley recalls, “but I bet it ain’t him.”

Ms. Crepuscular concludes the chapter with a recipe for wood.

 


The Annulment (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“Now that the story makes sense,” writes Violet Crepuscular, introducing Chapter CCXXXV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, “we can proceed with the thorny business of annulling Lady Margo Cargo’s accidental marriage to Constable Chumley.” Meanwhile, her editor has failed to inform her that she has entirely skipped Chapter CCXXXIV. This omission will surely come back to haunt her.

The problem is not the constable, who has forgotten all about the marriage, but Lady Margo herself, who believes she is with child by the constable–which the doctor insists is medically impossible, the marriage never having been consummated. There is doubt that Chumley knows what “consummated” means.”I gae frather in a fairn!” he asserts.

Johnno the Merry Minstrel thinks he has the solution.

“That fool of an assistant justice of the peace, Master Roger Addlepate, my lord, who brainlessly performed the marriage, must be persuaded to un-perform it.”

“How is he to do that?” Lord Jeremy wonders. He needs to marry wealthy Lady Margo to save his ancestral home, Coldsore Hall, from a growing army of creditors.

“We must re-stage the ceremony,” Johnno explains, “and do the whole thing backwards. All the words must be spoken backwards, in reverse order from that in which they were originally spoken. So we start at ‘I do,’ which must be spoken as ‘do I,’ and work our way, backwards, all the way back to the beginning, when the A.J.P. will say, ‘God of sight the in together gathered are we.’ And then you declare the whole business undone and annulled!”

“Dontcha think that’ll be kinda complicated for the poor idjit who has to do it?” asks Lord Jeremy’s friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. “Might be a far sight easier if I jist shoot him.”

“Let’s try the sane way first, old boy,” says Lord Jeremy. Happily, Lady Margo gives her consent to the procedure.

There is some trouble getting Chumley to participate, but a few tankards of rich brown ale do the trick. “He never said anything the first time out, anyhow,” Lord Jeremy remarks.

The backwards ceremony takes all day, owing to the participants getting confused about the word order, and Twombley suffers from an increasingly itchy trigger finger. Finally Addlepate is able to utter the words, ‘Wife wedded lawful your for woman this take do you?’, and the business is concluded. Imagine how much easier it would have been, had rewind buttons been invented in the 19th century.

Lady Margo jumps up and cheers, which causes her upholstered wooden leg to fall off. She doesn’t care. “I’m not with child by the constable anymore!” she exults. “Thank you, Johnno!” But Johnno already has his harmonica out, playing and singing (at the same time) “My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean.”

Ms. Crepuscular concludes with a gentle reminder that the movie rights to Oy, Rodney are still for sale.

 


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.


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