Tag Archives: Lady Margo Cargo

The Arrival of a Rival (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCCXI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular exults:

“I have introduced a new stylistic flourish to English prose, dear readers! I shall call it the Crepuscularity. ‘The Arrival of a Rival’ is a shining example of the technique! Allow me to provide two more. ‘A Man’s Laughter at Manslaughter,’ and ‘Where Is a Wombat’s Womb At?'” Here she inserts several kissing emojis, which I am unable to reproduce here. For that matter, I am also unable to define “crepuscularity.” What the dickens is she getting at?

We were all waiting to see what would happen when the three seventh sons of seventh sons, expert morris dancers and all named Squeeb MacTavish, attempted to lift the curse on the vicar’s backyard wading pool, following the instructions of the Wise Woman of the Woods. But do we get that?

“Bear with me, dear readers,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “as I heighten the suspense by introducing a necessary complication into the plot.”

The complication takes the form of a well-dressed but also very rugged-looking man who shows up at the door of Lady Margo Cargo’s luxurious country house.

“Who the devil are you?” demands her crusty butler, Crusty.

“I was Lady Margo’s girlhood boyfriend, pledged to become her husband after I made good in the world. I then went off to seek my fortune. Now I have returned.” The man pauses to scratch at a livid scar in the shape of an exclamation point. “Please tell her that Mr. Agamemnon Frizzle is here to claim his bride.”

Crusty, whose own marital ambitions have been thwarted by Lord Jeremy Coldsore, is in no mood for the arrival of a rival. (“There! I did it again!”)

“I don’t see no fortune,” he drools. (I cannot explain why Ms. Crepuscular chose this verb.)

Mr. Frizzle grins, a horrifying sight. “And no one saw the lost city of Shopworth, either,” he declares–“until I found it!”

Crusty is perplexed. The city of Shopworth, Saskatchewan, has never been lost, to his knowledge.

Here the chapter breaks–again “to heighten the suspense,” explains Ms. Crepuscular. Or maybe she just doesn’t know what to write next.


Lady Margo Hires a Detective (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Coldsore Hall needs a new roof, people are packing up to flee the shire, and Lord Jeremy has to find the seventh son of a seventh son (who must also be an expert morris dancer) to lift the curse off the vicar’s backyard wading pool. Does that say “Pick me up and read me!”, or what?

Welcome to Chapter CCCV of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. Chapter CCCIV didn’t get written because the police came over to take samples of Ms. Crepuscular’s toothpaste. The less said about that, the better.

As the richest widow in Scurveyshire, Lady Margo summons up enough public spirit–and money–to hire Sir Ranulph Toadsome, London’s premier consulting detective (Sherlock Holmes is still a schoolboy). Sir Ranulph is only some two feet tall, but people pretend not to notice that.

“The seventh son of a seventh son, expert morris dancer, lives on an island off the coast of Scotland which only appears on a map in a church that’s not a church.” Sir Ranulph sums up the case. “And you need him as soon as possible! Is that the mission?”

“In a nutshell, Sir Ranulph,” Lady Margo replies.

“You got it, shorty,” says the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. Lord Jeremy kicks him in the shin. Sir Ranulph Toadsome glares hypnotically.

“The last man who called me that died in Broadmoor,” he declares. He is, of course, referring to the notorious high-security psychiatric hospital; but Twombley thinks he means an almost equally notorious township in New Jersey. He is about to say something about that when Lord Jeremy kicks his other shin.

“Cases like this only appear to be difficult,” Sir Ranulph says. “To the experienced deductive reasoner, they present only slight difficulty. In the meantime, why don’t your people just keep their distance from the wading pool?” To this question no one has an answer. They are not big on answers in Scurveyshire, these days.

“I must break the chapter here,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “and clean up the mess those loutish policemen made of my bathroom. As if there could be anything wrong with my toothpaste!”


Lady Margo Gets Out of Bed (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCLXXXII of Violet Crepuscular’s monumental epic romance (just “epic” won’t suffice anymore), Oy, Rodney, Lady Margo Cargo finally gets out of bed, where she has been recovering from her ordeal in the dreadful Scurveyshire fens.

Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, have been taking turns to visit her. Because she believes them to be the same person, it troubles her when they show up together. She and Lord Jeremy are still engaged to be married, and Mr. Twombley still thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad.

What has motivated Lady Margo to roll out of bed and bounce painfully upon the floor, where she flops around and yells until Crusty the crusty butler can make his way up the stairs and struggle, with his failing strength, to sit her on the bed?

“Crusty, summon my lady’s maid to help me dress! I must visit Coldsore Hall before Lord Gwonleigh and Lady Petunia depart.”

“You don’t have a lady’s maid, you silly old trout.”

Lady Margo is perplexed. “But Rubella–”

“Rubella died two years ago, from a surfeit of lampreys,” Crusty reminds her. “Blimey, can’t you remember anything?”

“You mean I’ve been dressing myself every day, for two years?”

“Well, I flamin’ well ain’t been doing it!”

Lord Gwonleigh is the Marquess of Grone, one of the wealthiest men in England, and it won’t do, not to pay her respects while he’s in the neighborhood. As best she can, Lady Margo dresses herself. No one is there to tell her that in the process of pulling on her dress, she got her wig turned backwards. But in all other ways, her efforts are as successful as the wine-dark sea–

“I know what you’re thinking,” Ms. Crepuscular interrupts the narrative in an aside to the reader. “I will use this aside to the reader to put your mind at ease, dear reader.

“I realize the Homeric tag, ‘the wine-dark sea,’ may seem out of place in a lady’s private bedroom many miles from the sea. It’s my writer’s intuition that bids me use it. Besides which, my neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, has sworn to have a tantrum very soon if I don’t write something about the wine-dark sea.”

And now, having altogether lost the thread of the story, Ms Crepuscular breaks off the chapter with a recipe for boiled pizza slices.


The Return of Lady Margo (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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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.”


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.


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