Tag Archives: Lord Jeremy Coldsore

Trouble in Scurveyshire (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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I am happy to report that Byron the Quokka has returned. He was not able to squeeze Ms. Crepuscular through the bars of the holding cell, but he did succeed in rescuing the manuscript, along with a note from Violet to her readers. We quote:

“My dear readers, it’s really too silly for words, my being in jail like this for the sake of a few harmless toothpaste rolls which I eat all the time and have never gotten sick! True, Mr. Pitfall ate all two dozen of them–but it wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t stop him. And it’s not like he’s died or anything! The doctors expect him to be back on his feet in just a year or two. My thanks to Byron the Whatchamacallit for saving my manuscript! The detective who read it said he would surely destroy it, as a service to world literature. Yours sincerely, Violet M. Crepuscular.” She will not tell us what the M stands for.

Moving on, we now have a Chapter CCCI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, which is somewhat below her usual artistic standard–or anyone else’s, for that matter. In this chapter, all of Scurveyshire, led by the few survivors of the Peasants Benevolent Assn., is in an uproar. They have assembled at Coldsore Hall to yell at Lord Jeremy.

“They’ll skedaddle, ol’ hoss, if you let me shoot a few of ’em,” offers the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. “Back home, them Elamites was always tryin’ to riot their way into my palace.” He thinks he is Sargon of Akkad. “But they always gave up when my archers started usin’ ’em for target practice.”

“I’m dashed if I can see my way to that, old boy,” expostulates (I just work here) Lord Jeremy. “If they’d just stay away from that deuced wading pool in the vicar’s back yard, they wouldn’t get sucked under it in droves.” He finally placates the mob by promising to get rid of Black Rodney, the medieval sorcerer responsible for all these objectionable happenings.

“How you gonna do that, Germy?” wonders Twombley. “Him bein’ a ghost and all, and havin’ just blown half the roof off’n your house, I mean.”

Jeremy smiles slyly. “But we now know what he’s afraid of, don’t we?” he replies. “Antimacassars! We’ll drape antimacassars over all the shire!”

Here the chapter breaks off. She had to stop writing, Byron reports, because the jailer was coming to take her for a walk. He had only time to gather up the manuscript and, as he put it, “vamoose!” The quokkas have been watching a lot of old Westerns lately.


One of the Skipped Chapters of ‘Oy, Rodney’

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Turn we now unto one of the chapters skipped over by Violet Crepuscular in her mad rush to Chapter CCC of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. Constable Chumley, with Lord Jeremy Coldsore, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, and Johnno the Merry Minstrel peering over his shoulder, at the start of Chapter CCXCIII, is picking the lock so they can search the attic of Coldsore Hall for the missing Marquess of Grone, Lord Cromleigh or whatever his name is. Sheesh, what a sentence!

“Yeer, us’ll see now,” Chumley mutters, “that’s a fithul bricken yairst…”

Click! The door is unlocked. The constable begins to turn the knob–

“By Jove, the attic’s the only place where we haven’t put in any antimacassars to fend off the spirit of Black Rodney,” Johnno is about to point out. But before he can admonish Chumley to be careful, a tremendous explosion nearly hurls the whole group back down the stairs. “Kaboom!” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “I have always found, in describing an explosion, that ‘Kaboom!’ is preferable to ‘Blasto!’ or ‘Boom!'”

When the smoke clears, the door is hanging from a single hinge and half the roof of Coldsore Hall has been blown off. Lord Jeremy, briefly contemplating the cost of repairing it, faints. Twombley just manages to grab him before he tumbles down the appallingly long flight of stairs.

“We never put any antimacassars in the attic,” Johnno remarks.

“A little late for that, ol’ hoss!” parries Twombley.

The constable’s helmet has disappeared, his uniform is in tatters, his hair disarranged, and his face awash with soot. “He looks rather like Wile E. Coyote after one of those Acme sticks of dynamite blows up in his face,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, in an intimate aside, “but of course I can’t mention that because it would be an anachronism.”

The attic is now in considerable disarray. If the missing peer is there, does he still live?

“I shall divulge that in the next chapter, breaking off here to heighten the suspense,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. She has forgotten that this has already been divulged by her writing Chapter CCC before Chapter CCXCII. So there’s no suspense to speak of.


The 300th Chapter of ‘Oy, Rodney’

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In her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular has skipped from Chapter CCXCI to Chapter CCC. “I crave the reader’s indulgence,” she writes, “and I promise to go back and write those intervening chapters as soon as the police stop coming around here to investigate the toothpaste rolls I made for Mr. Pitfall. It was not my fault he ate too many and is now in intensive care at the hospital. Besides which, Chapter CCC is a milestone which I wanted to reach as soon as possible.” Of course, she could have written it first and saved herself the trouble.

This is how we wind up with half the roof blown off the top of Coldsore Hall, the Marquess of Grone found crouching behind some old steamer trunks in the attic with his hair frozen straight up from his scalp, babbling about the ghost of the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney, stealing his pocket watch, and a whole mob of Scurveyshire peasants, armed with torches and pitchforks, disappearing under the vicar’s backyard wading pool. We have no idea how any of this happened.

Chapter CCC opens with the marquess in bed and Lady Margo Cargo bending over him with a can of fishing worms. He thinks she’s Queen Victoria, with whom he once played Chutes and Ladders.

“Please, my lord, try to concentrate!” Lady Margo coos. “Tell me what these things are, wriggling around inside this can.”

“I’m sorry, Ma’am, Your Majesty, but I am allergic to frumpweed and I wish you would remove it from under my nose,” whimpers the peer of the realm.

“Is he any better today?” asks Lord Jeremy Coldsore, standing in the doorway and doing his best to strike a dignified pose despite having two left feet.

“Oh, much better!” cries Lady Margo. She and Lord Jeremy cannot get married until the stricken peer recovers. “As you can see, those frozen hairs are falling out and his eyes have stopped rolling. But he’s still confused about certain objects.”

“My aunt is still weeping in the garden.” Lady Petunia, the marquess’ wife, has been weeping steadily ever since a piece of the chimney fell on her. And of course there was that business with the sliding board.

“I showed this chapter to my editor,” Ms. Crepuscular interjects, “and he says it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. He is a great believer in skipping chapters. And now I have to stop because the police are at my door again.”

 


The Missing Peer (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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I fear Violet Crepuscular has been eating too many of her own toothpaste rolls. Chapter CCXCI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, suggests that maybe these confections are not quite as good for you as might be hoped.

With Lord Gromleigh, Marquess of Grone, still missing, Lord Jeremy Coldsore summons Constable Chumley–but he seems to be missing, too.

“Fear not, dear reader,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “I know where he is. It’s the writer’s responsibility to know more than the characters.” Especially these characters.

Totally captivated by his study of moles, the constable has joined the Greater Scurveyshire Mole Study Club. Imagine his disappointment when it turns out to be just another one of those clubs whose members do nothing but sit around and brag about how difficult their lives have been.

“I went to a school where they used to make us do everything backwards. We tried to tunnel out of it, but we only succeeded in tunneling back in!”

“When I was born, my mother sold me to a fisherman to use as bait. And she only got sixpence for me!”

“You think you’ve got troubles? My wife has no nose!” And so on.

Meanwhile, Lord Jeremy’s wedding to Lady Margo Cargo cannot possibly be held as long as a peer of the realm is lost somewhere in Coldsore Hall. After failing to find him anywhere else, Johnno the Merry Minstrel proposes to search the attic.

“I don’t know about that,” Lord Jeremy says. “No one has been up there since Lord Hucklebutt went in 1673–and he was never entirely rational afterward. Eventually he had to be put down. Besides, no one has the key.”

“But Germy,” interposes the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, “ain’t it a well-known fact that nobody’s better than ol’ Chumley when it comes to pickin’ locks? He’ll get in, if anyone can.”

“I have ordered peasants with torches and pitchforks to search the shire for the constable,” declares Jeremy.

“And that, dear reader, is where we must let it stand for the nonce,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in the reader. “You really ought to try those toothpaste rolls. They’re wonderful with catsup.”


The Wedding’s On Again (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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And so we come at last to Chapter CCXC of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. Nothing happened in the preceding two chapters except for the installation of Babylonian antimacassars, imported by the London firm of Dombey & Son, on all the furniture in Coldsore Hall. “I am sorry that took up two whole chapters,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “but there’s a lot of furniture in Coldsore Hall and I just couldn’t help it.”

Assured that the antimacassars will keep him safe from the malign spirit of Black Rodney, the medieval sorcerer who has been persecuting him from beyond the garve (who can resist such a typo?), Lord Jeremy has plunged into rescheduling his wedding to Lady Margo Cargo. He hopes his Aunt Petunia and her husband, Lord Gromleigh, Marquess of Grone, will give him a vast amount of money as a wedding present.

“You really must stay for the wedding, Aunt!” he urges her. “You and the marquess will be the guests of honor.”

“But Jeremy, my dear–I don’t know where my husband is!”

This is a difficulty. Lord Gromleigh has a habit of hiding in unusual places so he can jump out at people and scare them.

“Oh, he’s just hiding somewhere, Aunt. He’s sure to turn up.”

“But he’s been gone two days!”

With the help of Johnno the Merry Minstrel, Jeremy’s close friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley starts a room-to-room search for the missing lord. “I tell ya, Germy ol’ hoss, I don’t like this!” whispers Twombley. “The old coot might of hidden in some place that he can’t get out of. This is a big house with a ton of hiding-places in it. What if he laid hisself down in a cedar chest and then couldn’t get it open? Or maybe he ain’t here at all! He might of run away. You never know what one of them peers o’ the realm might do.”

“I don’t see how we can have the wedding with the Marquess of Grone having misplaced himself somewhere in my house!”

“I remember when this happened at the king of Ugarit’s palace: his brother-in-law, the high something-or-other of Phoenicia, got lost in the palace and they never could find him, not even with fifty or sixty servants lookin’ up and down for him.” Twombley sighs. Believing himself to be Sargon of Akkad, he finds these memories of ancient times to be rather bittersweet. “We’ll keep lookin’, but don’t get your hopes up.”

Here the chapter abruptly breaks off with a barely coherent recipe for toothpaste rolls.


The One Thing Black Rodney Hates Most of All (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Violet Crepuscular introduces Chapter CCLXXXVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, with a flourish: “Dear reader, you have surely been wondering what Johnno the Merry Minstrel has been doing while Lord Gromleigh and Lady Petunia, who is Lord Jeremy’s aunt, married to the Marquess of Grone, have been visiting Lord Jeremy at Coldsore Hall. If you haven’t, I fear you may be losing the thread of the story.” To say nothing of the thread of that sentence.

Well, Johnno has been busy in Scurveyshire’s Library of Forbidden Books. No one is allowed to go in and see the books–they are, after all, forbidden–but Constable Chumley has been so busy studying moles, he has rather neglected his duty to watch over the library and see that no one enters. In fact, it has been quite a long time since he paid any attention to it at all.

At dinner that evening, Johnno is called upon to perform Lady Petunia’s favorite song, I’ve Got Rabies, singing it while also playing it on his harmonica. This puts everyone into a festive mood except for the marquess, who wanted kippers for supper and didn’t get them.

“Johnno, ol’ hoss, that was great!” exclaims Lord Jeremy’s friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad. “How’s about an encore?”

“Sir, I have something better than an encore!” Johnno replies. “I have discovered, through my perusal of certain ancient books whose titles are better left unsaid, the one thing most abhorrent to the spirit of Black Rodney–the one thing guaranteed to keep his evil presence from this house!”

“Kippers, I shouldn’t wonder!” grumbles Lord Gromleigh.

“Lord Jeremy, your troubles are over! Black Rodney will persecute you no more!”

“Well?” cries Lord Jeremy. “Speak up, man! What is it?”

Johnno takes a moment to beam beamingly, then answers.

“Antimacassars, my lord! Black Rodney can’t stand antimacassars! He won’t venture within 50 feet of one. All you have to do is place them on every piece of furniture in Coldsore Hall.”

“My word!” cries Lady Petunia. “But Jeremy–I don’t think you have any antimacassars.”

“That’s no problem, lady!” exults Twombley. “I sure hate them Babylonians, but you got to give the varmints credit for one thing–they make the best goldarn antimacassars in the world! I’m surprised old Queen Victwhatsername ain’t got a passell of ’em in her palace. There’s an English firm right there in London that imports ’em by the bloatload–Dombey & Son. Dirt cheap, too. Germy, old pal, we can order a whole cartful of ’em right away.”

Here Ms. Crepuscular accommodates the reader with a picture of an antimacassar. Three of them, in fact.

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Lord Jeremy’s Shameful Secret (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCLXXXIV of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lord Jeremy Coldsore hosts a formal dinner for his Aunt, Lady Petunia, and her husband Lord Gromleigh, the Marquess of Grone. Also at the table we find Jeremy’s friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, and their fiancee, Lady Margo Cargo. They are served by Lady Margo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, Lord Jeremy’s butler having mysteriously disappeared, probably under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard.

“The problem with aged relatives who knew you as a child,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “is that they know things about you that will embarrass you if they trot them out in company. Alas for Lord Jeremy, he is about to be subjected to this.”

Having quaffed at least a quart of imported Philistine wine, Lady Petunia is in a festive mood and prone to reminisce.

“I remember one time when Jeremy was only four or five years old, and I was minding him while his mother and father went to Brighton to see The Four Churls play unfamiliar musical instruments. Poor little Jeremy came down with an earache, and I had to summon Dr. Flabb (I’m sure you must remember him, dear–he had the most unsightly nose in Britain), who prescribed some ear drops.

“Well, he had little Jeremy bend sideways so he could drip the drops into his ear. And imagine our surprise when the drops came right out the other ear! Dr. Flabb couldn’t believe his eyes! ‘Why, this child has no brain!’ he cried. ‘His head is completely empty!’ Oh, Jeremy, you remember how terribly funny that was!”

Jeremy cringes hypnotically. He does not think it was funny.

“No wonder he’s such a fool!” grumbles Crusty.

“Aunt, that story isn’t true!” Jeremy cries.

“Let me have a look, there, Germy,” Twombley says, leaning in his chair to peer into Jeremy’s ear. Jeremy pushes him away. Mortified beyond words, he suddenly leaps from his chair and flees the dining room.

“I thought we were going to have kippers,” mutters the marquess. “Not this muck.”

Lady Margo is aghast. She does not know whether she can, in good conscience, marry a man without a brain. “It might be catching!” she thinks.

“I now draw the curtain on this pitiable scene,” concludes Ms. Crepuscular. “We all have childhood secrets that we wish would stay buried forever. I certainly am not going to tell you mine.”

 


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.


Lord Jeremy Gets a Break (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCLXXX of Violet Crepuscular’s interminable–er, I mean “epic”–romance, Oy, Rodney, Lord Jeremy Coldsore has an unexpected visitor: his aunt, Lady Petunia, now a marchioness owing to her recent marriage to Ponsonby Lord Gwomleigh, eighth Marquess of Grone. They have invited themselves to spend a fortnight with Jeremy at Coldsore Hall.

Lord Gwomleigh is one of those annoying people who walks into a restaurant for the first time and perplexes the waiter by ordering “the usual.” He also has a rather jarring habit of hiding so that he can jump out at people and scare them: not the sort of thing one expects, normally, from an 86-year-old peer of the realm.

But he is also one of the richest men in England, having cornered the guano concession of Bleary Island, and famous for his liberality.

“This is the best luck I’ve ever had!” Lord Jeremy confides to his friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. “I’m Aunt Petunia’s only living kin, she’s always been quite fond of me, and I’m sure she can get the marquess to pay off most of my debt!”

“Are we still gonna marry Lady Margo, then, with you not needin’ her money after all, Germy, ol’ hoss?”

Lord Jeremy jacks himself up to his full height, despite stumbling over his two left feet. “Please, Willis! Do you want me sued for breach of promise? Am I such a cad, to break my engagement as soon as I come into money?”

But immediately there arises, as Ms Crepuscular puts it, “a snag.”

Hiding himself in one of the linen closets, Lord Gwomleigh emerges with an expression of mild disgust.

“I say, Coldsore! There appears to be a dead body in that closet! Rather a nasty odor, that!”

It’s one of the creditors shot by Willis Twombley, the discovery of which might prove to be a sticky wicket. (This is a cricket term. I don’t know what it means.) But Jeremy, thinking quickly on his two left feet, replies: “Oh, that’s just poor old Bango, my father’s favorite footman. His last wish was to be entombed in that particular closet–didn’t want to leave the house, don’t you know. There are plenty of other hiding places available, my lord.”

As the marquess ambles off, grumbling under his breath, Jeremy’s mind races frantically as he tries to remember how many other creditors are concealed on the premises, and where.

“We’ll jist have to dump ’em in the swamp,” says Twombley. “Relax, Germy–we’re practically home free.”


A Celebration Spoiled (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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We skip over two chapters dealing with scrubbing all the mud off Lady Margo and putting her to bed, and notifying Lord Jeremy Coldsore that his fiancee has returned from wherever she was. She has not told anyone that she was in the Plaguesby jail. Those two chapters were very badly written.

In Chapter CCLXXVII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lord Jeremy has proclaimed a holiday to celebrate Lady Margo’s return. This time he first consults the Wise Woman of the Woods before proceeding with his plan.

“Go right ahead, my lord,” says the Wise Woman of the Woods. “This time absolutely nothing will go wrong. Your troubles are over!”

And so all of Scurveyshire gathers on the village green to play swallow-the-pebble, to drink copious quantities of ale, and rejoice for Lady Margo and her upcoming wedding to Lord Jeremy and his friend, Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad. Lady Margo believes them to be the same person and gets flustered when she sees them both together.

The merriment is interrupted by the sudden arrival of an ominously tall figure clad in an unimaginable (I wish she would stop using that word!) black cloak, out of which peers a dreadful papier-mache skull.

“Hear me, Scurveyshire!” bellows the stranger. “It is me–I mean I–Black Rodney! Woe to all of you! From now on, no happiness will ever be allowed again in Scurveyshire! You are hereby cursed, all of you!”

For Lord Jeremy, this is just too trying for words. “This is just too trying for words!” he exclaims, “and it’s time we put a stop to it.

“We have an ancient law in Scurveyshire, you villain, dating back to a time before the Romans came and made a hash of things. A native king named Porky decreed a law that anyone who brings bad news should be immediately put to death–a law which I, as justice of the peace, do now invoke. Black Rodney, I sentence you to death!”

“It’s about time!” mutters Twombley. He draws his Colt revolver and shoots the black-clad stranger where he stands. As the figure collapses on the sward (“I am so happy I finally got to use that word!” remarks Ms. Crepuscular, in an intimate aside), no one hears Jeremy mutter, “It really ought to have been a hanging, old boy.”

But wait! As all gather round the fallen sorcerer, it is soon discovered that the black cloak and the dreadful mask are… empty! Empty!

“I break the chapter here,” explains Ms. Crepuscular, “to heighten the suspense.”


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