The Field of Honor (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“I fell down and sprained my coccyx a few days ago,” Violet Crepuscular confides in her readers, “but did that hold back the creative processes? You should live so long!”

Thus turn we unto Chapter DXXXVIII of Ms. Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

Lord Jeremy Coldsore has let his impetuous nature get the better of him, and has challenged himself to a duel–with sabers! He has asked the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, to be his second.

“What’re you gonna do if you go and stab yourself?” Twombley asks. He thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad, but we can’t go into that just now.

“Tell Lady Margo that I died for love!” says Jeremy.

However, a snag has developed. It seems the only field in all of Scurveyshire suitable to be a dueling venue was once, and not so long ago, a cow pasture.

“This is ridiculous!” Jeremy fostulates. “I refuse to fight a duel in a field that used to be covered with cow-poop!”

Then he says, “Hah! Unless I’m very much mistaken, I’ve got him on the run!”

Twombley withdraws to The Lying Tart for a gin and hair tonic. There he finds Johnno the Merry Minstrel composing “Ye Olde Ballad of Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s Affaire of Honour.” News travels preternaturally fast in these rural communities.

Lord Jeremy’s Accursed Slippers (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Violet Crepuscular, the Queen of Suspense, has sent me an email in lieu of a new chapter of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

“Dear Mr. Dugong,” she writes (this is gonna be hard on me, I can tell), “your slipperational vexations are nothing compared to Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s! He, too, can never find slippers that fit, plus he is handicapped by having two left feet. The only slippers he can wear are the Accursed Devil Slippers that his great-great-etc.-grandfather, Sir Reginal De Borscht, brought home from the Crusades (not that he got any farther than Wallingford before he turned back).

“The last time Lord Jeremy wore these slippers, his entire gumball collection melted into a shapeless mass that attracted multitudes of rats…” And so on. What good this is supposed to do me, I have no idea.

Yes, those Accursed Devil Slippers bring bad luck! Sir Reginald, the last time he wore them, fell into the only moat in Scurveyshire. There were signs posted all over the place, warning pedestrians not to walk into the moat, and a crier posted to cry “Stay back from the moat, you stupid lubber!”–but he fell in anyway. He died 64 years later.

Meanwhile, we have not received Chapter DXXXVI of Oy, Rodney and I’m not hearing any great demand for it. I knew this would happen.

Ms. Crepuscular’s Revenge–and a Lesson in Evolution (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter DXVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Well, we visited Johnno the Merry Minstrel in the hospital on Wednesday and I need hardly describe the occasion. Let us move on with the story!”

Lord Jeremy is still up a tree, menaced by a rhinoceros below. In yonder Coldsore Hall, they’re having a wild party and no one wants to go out and help the poor sod in the sauerbratten tree. But Jeremy has hit upon a novel solution to his predicament.

“I shall evolve!” he confides in the reader, bypassing the author altogether. “I am not going to do whatever Violet Crepuscular says I should do anymore! I shall evolve a pair of wings and merrily fly off to another tree–and so long, Mr. Rhino!” To get the evolutionary process started, he begins to flap his arms.


These exertions cause Jeremy to fall out of the tree. Instantly the rhino jumps on him, then thrusts him through with its horn, tosses him twenty feet into the air (a nasty fall, that!), sits on him, runs over him 15 or 20 times, and then wanders off to lay some more eggs.

Jeremy rises with a groan. It’s no use complaining to me, I didn’t write this schleck. I think Ms. Crepuscular’s intent was to teach her fictional characters a lesson.

Desperately wounded, Lord Jeremy crawls to the front door of Coldsore Hall and tries to whisper through the mail slot…

Trust the Queen of Suspense to leave you hanging there.


Return to Coldsore Hall (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Suddenly we find ourselves at Chapter DXIV of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy Rodney… without a trace of Chapter DXIII. We wonder what was in it.

“I am not to blame for chapters missing from my book,” she confides in the reader. “All faxaltation aside, the important thing is that Lord Jeremy, having made his hairbreadth escape from Mom’s Dungeon, now finds himself back in the familiar embrace of Coldsore Hall.” She hastens to add, “‘Embrace’ is a figure of speech! Us authors use them all the time.”

It might be nice if she used a plot from time to time. I just work here, what do I know? Last we heard, a burrowing rhinoceros was making a shambles of the gardens in the vicar’s neighborhood. The latest development there…

“Well shut my mouth!” exclaims Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad. He and Lady Margo Cargo are organizing a safari. He points to the earth, to three or four roundish white objects. “Y’know what those are?” Lady Margo does not know. Her upholstered wooden leg is giving her trouble.

“Those,” he proclaims, “are rhino eggs! We have found the rhino’s nest! I found one in Ohio once, but there was something wrong with it. Only chickens came out of the eggs.”

“This is a calamity which no mortal flesh should have to bear,” Lady Margo says.

The chapter ends before Lord Jeremy can actually re-enter his ancestral home. This is either a stroke of literary genius or merely running out of time.

Rhino on the Rampage! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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We left Scurveyshire last week with a rogue Indian rhinoceros digging burrows all over the place, Willis Twombley outfitting a “shikari” because an African-type safari simply won’t do, and Lord Jeremy Coldsore locked up in a tower by Constable Chumley’s mother.

Introducing Chapter DVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “In introducing Chapter DVIII of my epic romance, Oy, Rodney, I take the opportunity to introduce both a new character–and a new dimension to the plot!”

This woman has no mercy on her readers.

And so we meet Johnno the Merry Minstrel’s long-lost cousin, Jerrold Coelocanth, best known as “the Man with the Unpronounceable Word.” And if you think that’s bad, you should hear him try to say “hypoteneuse.”

As he enters the great public square of Scurveyshire Village, he exclaims, “Fbthhiw!” A statue of Mr. Spock falls off its pedestal. We are at liberty to wonder what it was doing there in the first place.

Meanwhile, his desperation increasing by the hour, Lord Jeremy continues to write messages on dinner plates and throw them out the dungeon window to various notable European rivers. Today it’s the Danube. “Alas, poor prisoner of love!” he caliphritates. (Take that, Mr. Spell-Check! Thought you knew it all, did you? Got that one past you, though, didn’t I? … Okay, I feel better now.) He has forgotten to include the dungeon’s address in his messages.

Next: The Return of Chief Oxyartes

Rescuing Lord Jeremy (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Lord Jeremy Coldsore is infatuated with a ghost, The Woman in Moldy Knickers, who died 600 years ago but–so it seems–has been reactivated by the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney. This puts at grave risk his marriage to Lady Margo Cargo.

Introducing Chapter CDXXVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular, in a confidential aside to the reader, muses, “What have I gotten myself into? The ghost can only be laid by a man who looks like Lee J. Cobb, and there is no such man in Scurveyshire. Lord Jeremy’s friends are desperate to rescue him and save his impending marriage–but how do I write my way out of this?”

She unexpectedly finds a solution in a letter from an avid reader, Mrs. Phyllis Gillis, who has been prospecting for gravel in Turkmenistan.

“Once I adopted my pet whelk, Lawrence, I had no more time for hopeless love affairs with ghosts and could turn my attentions to more productive enterprises,” Mrs. Gillis writes. Ms. Crepuscular loses no time in sending Johnno the Merry Minstrel all the way to Baffin Island to obtain a pet whelk for Lord Jeremy. As a bonus, the whelk does bear a faint resemblance to Lee J. Cobb.

By this master stroke, Rodney’s evil spell is utterly defeated. Lord Jeremy now ignores The Woman in Moldy Knickers when she flits past his bedroom window.

“I don’t know what I ever saw in her!” he funambulates. “Those knickers–disgusting! Here, watch my whelk creep around the aquarium! I can hardly wait to show her off to Lady Margo!”

Molluscs have always been a big deal in Scurveyshire. Much more so than dogs or cats. Lord Jeremy has named his pet whelk Stuart.

Will the marriage now go forward?

“You’re asking me?” writes Ms. Crepuscular.

[Editor’s Note: Sorry, but all the available pictures of whelks just look like sea shells.]


That Woman in Moldy Knickers (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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We join Chapter CDXXVI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, in progress. That means she hasn’t finish writing it. And she has left Chapter CDXXV blank to denote that nothing in particular happened. I hope she’s all right.

As the new chapter opens, we have Constable Chumley, Johnno the Merry Minstrel, and the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad, holding a secret meeting to decide what to do about Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s sudden infatuation with the ghostly Woman in Moldy Knickers. They have been arguing for two solid hours over what to use as a password to open the secret meeting. Nobody wants to fall back on “Our Secret Password”–much too easy for any villain to figure out and use against them.

Finally Johnno comes up with “Mghawlwhg.” “It’s perfect!” he crepusculates. “No one will know how to pronounce it.” But this hope is dashed when the constable pronounces it easily. It turns out he says that all the time.

“Boys, we ain’t getting nowhere without a password,” Twombley says. “If we don’t come up with somethin’, Ol’ Germy’s marriage to Lady Margo will jist go belly-up! And I’ve got a stake in that, bein’ as she still thinks Germy and me are the same buckaroo.”

Eventually they discover that Chumley can’t say “catsup bottle,” so that’s the word they’ll use. The constable accepts it philosophically: “Aye, thurrup’s a frizzin baggy,” he declares. One cannot but agree.

That brings them to wondering if it will do any good to point out to Lord Jeremy that the Woman in Moldy Knickers has been dead for going on 600 years.

“To heighten suspense,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “we will take that up in the next exiting chapter!” When she gets around to writing it, of course.

Scurveyshire’s Unexplained Paranormal Romance (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Sargon of Akkad – Lee Duigon

(Editor’s Note: We couldn’t use this cover last week because people wrote in to say they thought the man in the tube socks was Sargon of Akkad. The management regrets the confusion.)

Introducing Chapter CDXXIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular shares a letter from a reader: “Phoebe, writing from a place in  Ohio that I have promised not to mention, wishes my book would feature a paranormal romance. What a coincidence! I was only just saying, to myself and to my neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, that this book needs a paranormal romance almost as much as I do!”

To this end, she introduces the mysterious and vaguely threatening Woman in Moldy Knickers, who haunts the tool shed on the grounds of Coldsore Hall. Her ghost was supposed to have been laid to rest 500 years ago by a man who looked like Lee J. Cobb. But now the sorcery of Black Rodney has brought her back. You could look it up.

Her purpose seems to be to seduce Lord Jeremy Coldsore into a relationship that is something other than wholesome. He first sees her floating past his bedroom window, softly tapping on a set of bongo drums and grinning like a queen of Elfland.

“Forsooth!” he circumvallates. “Margo, Schmargo, I’m in love! Who is this glorious creature that floateth past my bedroom window?” He goes into a regular theme song which I will not attempt to reproduce.

“Will this destroy his chances of wedding Lady Margo Cargo?” Violet challenges her readers. I thought she was supposed to write the book. Is it fair to lay this burden on the reader? “Be sure the next chapter will include the most dramatic expostulations I can find!”

Mr. Skraeling’s Revenge (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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You would think, with the curse of the Bug-Men lifted and nothing left to do but round up the sated chameleons who feasted on the Bug-Men until none were left in Scurveyshire, that all was well and nothing remains but to get Lord Jeremy Coldsore and Lady Margo Cargo married. If only life were that simple.

For Olaf Skraeling, the owner of all those chameleons, double-crossed in his plan to marry Lady Margo himself, has vowed revenge. Introducing Chapter CCCXC (the Roman numerals are getting tricky) of her interminable–sorry, I mean “epic”!–romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Olaf Skraeling is a Welshman, dear readers, and all Welshmen are able to do black magic–or at least know someone else who can. Scurveyshire knows Mr. Skraeling as an impoverished and unsuccessful forger, but he is much more than that! He is also a master of deceit.”

On this ominous note, we join Mr. Skraeling as he forges a letter to Lady Margo that’s supposed to be from Lord Jeremy. It reads thus:

“Dear Lady Margo Cargo, Its me Lord Jerramy and this is to tell you that i dont whish to marry you anymore! So you better marry Mr. Olaff Skraeling insted, he is a very nice man! Yours truely Lord Jerramy Coldsore (not a nice man!).”

The crusty old butler, Crusty, hands the letter to Lady Margo on a silver platter.

Upon reading it, she sighs, “How romantic!”

“Eh?” marvels Crusty. “Why, the man’s a total blackguard! You should sue him for breach of promise.”

“You have no romance in your soul, Crusty!”

“And you’re a daft old trout,” rejoins the butler.

“I wonder what’s happened to Jeremy’s handwriting,” Lady Margo muses. “It’s totally changed, I’d never think it was his, except he’s signed it, hasn’t he? Even his signature is totally different.”

“I’m sure he was drunk when he wrote it,” says Crusty.

Ms. Crepuscular closes the chapter: “Will this devious ploy succeed? Will Olaf Skraeling win the hand of the richest widow in Scurveyshire? Will he resort to black magic? The next chapter will tell all!”

Promises, promises…

How to Get Rid of Bug-Men (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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The problem, as elucidated by Violet Crepuscular in Chapter CCCLXXXVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney (we do not know what happened to Chapter CCCLXXXVII), is how to get rid of the Bug-Men now infesting Scurveyshire. Johnno the Merry Minstrel has been researching it, and thinks he has a solution.

“The bad news is, we’ve got Bug-Men,” he explains to Lord Jeremy Coldsore, justice of the peace. “The good news is that chameleons have an insatiable appetite for Bug-Men. More bad news: chameleons don’t live in Scurveyshire or anywhere else in England. But the best news–” here he smirks charmingly–“is, I know someone right here in town who raises chameleons! He has dozens of them.”

“Well, then!” exults Lord Jeremy. “What are we waiting for?”

“The bad news,” says Johnno, “is… he’s Welsh!”


“So Welsh people are notoriously averse to parting with their chameleons!”

“I don’t believe it,” cries Lord Jeremy. “We don’t have any Welsh people in Scurveyshire! Lord Frump chased them all out, after the Wars of the Roses.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, my lord! We have Mr. Olaf Skraeling, the noted forger–and he has a ton of chameleons.”

“Olaf Skraeling is Welsh?” Lord Jeremy is incredulous.

“You could look it up,” says Johnno.

The two of them make a beeline for Mr. Skraeling’s palatial hovel, which they find overrun with chameleons. Here is a picture of one. His name is Ariobarzanes.

Chameleon Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

At first they find it very difficult to persuade Mr. Skraeling to unleash his chameleons on the Bug-Men. We are cautioned not to imagine that he keeps all of these little lizards on leashes. “I am averse to parting with my chameleons,” he declares.

“But they’ll eat the Bug-Men!” exclaims Lord Jeremy. “And then you can have them back.”

“Only for a price,” says Mr. Skraeling. Lord Jeremy suspects he’s not really Welsh. It is traditionally an ancient Viking ruse to pretend to be Welsh. But Jeremy, desperate for a solution, replies, “Name your price, and we’ll pay it!”

“My price is this,” proclaims the uncrowned Chameleon King of England: “the hand of Lady Margo Cargo in marriage!”

Ms. Crepuscular draws the chapter’s curtain on this dreadful news.