Lord Jeremy’s Love Triangle

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This is supposedly Chapter CXXXI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, but I couldn’t swear to it.

The wandering spider collector, Miss Lizzie Snivel, has taken to hanging around Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s driveway lemonade stand and frightening the customers by trying to give them spiders.

“Want me to shoot her for you, Germy?” asks Willis Twombley, the American adventurer. He has been methodically picking off Lord Jeremy’s creditors, one by one. The most recent victim, this morning, he has concealed in Coldsore Hall’s infamous Haunted Bedroom.

“Rather you didn’t, old boy.”

The problem here is that Miss Lizzie is dazzlingly beautiful, except for the unsightly ruin of her nose, where she was once bitten by an Australian Venomous Horror Spider named Jeff. She has fallen in love with Lord Jeremy and can’t bear to be away from him. He finds it very flattering.

The Japanese ambassador makes another cameo appearance here, but no one wants him.

“Lady Margo ain’t gonna like yer flirtin’ with that spider gal,” Twombley warns. “If’n she gits word of it, she might not marry us. There ain’t nothin’ as jealous as a woman with a wooden leg. Believe me, I know!”

“If only she wouldn’t keep trying to sneak into Coldsore Hall at night!” cries Jeremy. Against his will, her persistence is beginning to win her over. Unknown to everyone, Miss Lizzie has amassed a colossal fortune by collecting spiders. She has not yet mentioned this.

“Lady Margo been tryin’ to sneak in? What’s wrong with that?” wonders Twombley.

“Not Lady Margo, old boy! It’s that spider girl. She won’t take no for an answer.”

Meanwhile a loud brawl breaks out in the taproom of the Lying Tart that night between villagers who believe Black Rodney is a dangerous sorcerer returned from the dead to put curses on the shire, and those who are convinced he is a kind of catfish. Constable Chumley restores order with a speech that no one understands. It is not reproduced here. “I am afraid his language is not what it should be,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers.

Trouble in Scurveyshire

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Turn we unto Chapter CXXX of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

All is not well in Scurveyshire. The vicar is laid out with conniptions. Jasper the village idiot is in jail with Princess Didi, who, it turns out, is neither a princess nor any relation at all to Queen Victoria, but only an outcast from the nearby village of Plaguesby. Lady Margo Cargo, claiming a touch of leprosy, has gone into seclusion.

Worst of all, various people of questionable morality are whispering that “Black Rodney” has returned from the dead and is “at it again, puttin’ curses on the shire.” No one dares approach the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard.

Meanwhile, desperately trying to raise money to keep Coldsore Hall, Lord Jeremy Coldsore has opened a lemonade stand at the entrance to his palatial drive, selling it for five guineas a glass. As an economy measure, he has dismissed all his servants except for his footman, Sir Reginald Fumfer, who works for whatever food he can scrounge from the larder. Sir Reginald has descended to this lowly estate as a result of an unnamed spot of trouble out in India. Her Majesty’s Government have forbidden him to speak to anyone. But at least Lord Jeremy has enjoyed a brisk business so far.

“Say, Germy ol’ hoss, jist how much debt have you got?” asks his friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley.

“Roughly one million pounds, old boy.”

“That’s a lot of lemonade!”

“I do what I can, Sargon.” Twombley still thinks he is Sargon of Akkad.

“Well, so do I, Germy. I jist shot another one of those creditors of yours. I put him in that closet in your billiard room. No one’ll ever find him there, as long as they don’t look in the closet.”

“That’s a great comfort to me,” says Lord Jeremy. He has given up trying to dissuade Twombley from murdering the creditors. It does no good.

Now arriving on the scene is a wandering spider collector, Miss Lizzie Snivel, a character left over from one of Ms. Crepuscular’s unpublished novels. “I could not bear to see her go to waste,” Violet confesses to her readers.

‘Oy, Rodney’ Continued…

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Willis Twombley, the American adventurer, has shot another one of Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s creditors. This was a Mr. Hornswoggle, whom Twombley caught fumbling around in the cellar in what was once the fifth Baron Coldsore’s torture chamber, estimating the resale value of the thumbscrews.

“If’n I can pick off all these leeches, Germy, your problems will be over,” Twombley says, as he and Jeremy hide the body in an unused cedar chest.

“I truly wish you wouldn’t, old boy. Once we are married to Lady Margo, her wealth will make my creditors disappear. I don’t fancy a date with the hangman.”

This is Chapter CXXIV, by the way. The author, Violet Crepuscular, has tried to slip it into the text without a number. She apologizes later.

Meanwhile, Lady Margo is distracted by the erratic behavior of Oswin, her pet crayfish. “He has been acting like a hamster lately,” she confides in Mother Fong, the wise woman who lives in the woods and is believed to practice witchcraft. She is a dues-paying member of Amalgamated Wise Women of the Woods, AWWW, an organization which some people persist in thinking has something to do with cute puppy and kitten videos. Mother Fong examines Oswin, at the cost of several painful nips.

“I like this not,” she says. “It fears me that Rodney has returned to our peaceful English shire.”

“Rodney!” Margo cries. “Do you mean Black Rodney? But he died when I was just a little girl, and he was already an old man then!”

Mother Fong mutters cryptically. “Dinna ye know Black Rodney fuddered in the forbidden arts of Evil Hobart? Forsooth, ’tis rofin time I mithered off to Floridy!” She packs her toads and roots, and nothing more is heard of her. We have Ms. Crepuscular’s promise that we have seen the last of her.

For the time being, Lady Margo has no alternative but to install a hamster wheel in Oswin’s aquarium.

‘Oy, Rodney’ Gets Mushy

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I am tempted to pass over Chapters CXX and CXXI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney because they are intolerably mushy. Ms. Crepuscular acknowledges that. “You may find these next two chapters intolerably mushy,” she warns.

Lady Margo Cargo, the richest widow in Scurveyshire, is prepared to marry Lord Jeremy Coldsore and the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad. Twombley has convinced her that he and Lord Jeremy are one and the same person.  But the wedding was disrupted and has not yet been rescheduled: Lady Margo thinks she might have a touch of leprosy.

“It’s only wind, you silly old bat,” says her crusty old butler, Crusty.

Then the mush creeps in as Lord Jeremy renews his wooing, this time in person.

“Madam, as soon as the vicar gets over his conniptions, we must be wed,” says Jeremy. They are having rock-hard biscuits baked by Lady Margo’s lunatic aunt. In the opulent comfort of Lady Margo’s parlor, her pet crayfish, Oswin, sulks in his aquarium.

“I love you so much, I could plotz,” says Jeremy. “Your ears are like prize cabbages.”

“Eh?” Those ears do not always function as they should.

“Your hair–” a wig, actually–“is as soft as yogurt,” Jeremy continues. This goes on for the whole two chapters.

Meanwhile, the whole village is startled out of sleep one midnight by horrible groans and shrieks issuing from under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard. A crowd of peasants armed with scythes and torches descends upon the scene, but then goes home because no one dares lift up the pool and look under it. Constable Chumley reassures them: “‘Tis only yair fickling rawstie,” he explains. This gives them something to think about for the rest of the night.

‘Oy, Rodney’ Gets Rather Odd

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Violet Crepuscular leads off Chapter CXVI of Oy, Rodney with the admission that she has borrowed much of the story from a not-quite rational neighbor. Then she remembers that she has left Queen Victoria waiting in the church for the wedding that hasn’t come off, and quickly returns her to Buckingham Palace.

Meanwhile, Lady Margo Cargo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, tries to convince her that she can’t marry Willis Twombley, who she thinks is also Lord Jeremy Coldsore of Coldsore Hall, because she is already married to another man–the mysterious stranger who stood up to object to the latest wedding but was interrupted by events beyond his control.

“Really, Crusty, I am sure I’ve never seen that man before,” she says, as he reattaches her wooden leg.

“He married you by proxy, Ma’am. He was in India at the time, so he sent a proxy.”

“I thought that man’s name was Mr. Proxy. And no one ever told me it was a wedding. I thought it was a game of blind man’s buff, without the blindfold.”

The scene shifts to Scurveyshire’s favorite pub, the Lying Tart, where Lord Jeremy  and Twombley are concealing the body of Lord Jeremy’s chief creditor, Mr. Softy, shot by Twombley as he tried to take possession of Coldsore Hall. They are breaking into the pub because everyone else has run off to take part in the strange events around the vicar’s backyard wading pool.

“I’m not so sure we ought to be doing this, Sargon, old boy,” says Lord Jeremy: Twombley still thinks he is Sargon of Akkad.

“Well, Germy, you don’t want to git hanged, do you? Let’s put him somewhere down the cellar. No one’ll look there.”

Lord Jeremy is upset. “Are you mad?” he cries. “They keep all the pub’s supplies down there! Of course they’ll find the body.”

“Not if we stick it behind some barrels. Trust me, ol’ hoss. I’ve done this several times before.”

This task accomplished, Lord Jeremy is suddenly stunned and shocked by a message scrawled in the dust on the floor.

It is a single word. Rodney.,

Bonus ‘Oy, Rodney’ Episode

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In Chapter CVI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lord Jeremy Coldsore requests an audience with the Queen so he can invite her to stay the night at Coldsore Hall. Currently the Queen and her entourage have taken rooms at Scurveyshire’s most popular inn, The Lying Tart.

The most Lord Jeremy can get from the Queen is a bored “We’ll see,” and he is too nervous to invite Her Majesty to his wedding, and his friend Willis Twombley’s, to Lady Margo Cargo. On his way out of the inn, the discouraged young baron, or whatever he is, is buttonholed by the vicar.

“Lord Jeremy! A word, sir, a word!” He looks like he is about to relapse into conniptions, so Jeremy must hear him out.

“That woman, sir–that, my lord, is not the Queen of England! She is an imposter!”

“Not Queen Victoria?” Jeremy wonders. He looked it up yesterday: Victoria is presently Queen of England. Not Suzie, as he’d thought. “Go to, Reverend! She is the spitting image of the Queen. Why would you say different?”

Distraught, the vicar lapses into dialect. “Why, firmy man, yen jingly fleem be all ye throcken simbly–!” Lord Jeremy has to slap him. The vicar responds with a kick to the shin. In between agonized hops on one foot while holding his shin, Jeremy demands the vicar explain his allegation.

“Sir, I know the Queen like she were my own sister! We are lifelong friends–why, it was I who introduced her to Prince Albert, and got him to come out of the can!” Lord Jeremy stares. “I guess I ought to know her when I see her, sir–and that woman is not the Queen of England! There is devilry afoot, sir–devilry and danger, no doubt to the entire realm!”

The remaining paragraphs of the chapter are devoted to a description of Ms. Crepuscular’s hamster, Nestor.

By Popular Demand: The Queen’s Not There Yet

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All right, everybody, you asked for it: another installment of Oy, Rodney by Violet Crepuscular: Chapter CIV.

As Lady Margo tries to find out who is Queen of England at this time, Princess Didi visits Scurveyshire incognito to get the lay of the land. When she approaches the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard, Constable Chumley promptly arrests her. “Ye come alang wi’ me, lass,” he says, “ye’ll not be wilmin’ by yon brawnnick gulsen.”

“You fool, take your hands off the daughter of the Queen!” Her protests are to no avail, and she is deposited in the local lockup.

Meanwhile Lord Jeremy Coldsore, awaiting his marriage to Lady Margo, fobs off his creditors with a promise that the Queen herself will pay his bills. “Her Majesty is to be an honored guest at my wedding, and will spend the night in the Royal Suite of Coldsore Hall.” He does not mention that no one has spent the night in the Royal Suite of Coldsore Hall since 1603, when the Duke of Dobley went in one night and never came out.

Having convinced Lady Margo that he and the American adventurer Willis Twombley are one and the same and that it therefore doesn’t matter which one of them appears at the wedding as the groom, Lord Jeremy’s peace of mind is rattled by Twombley’s off-hand question: “Say, Germy, was you really jist a foundling left on the steps of this here hall? Margo says so.”

This is the first Lord Jeremy has ever heard of it. “I am sure the lady has me confused with someone else,” he replies.

“Someone else besides me?”

“Please, Sargon!” Twombley believes he is Sargon of Akkad. “Please concentrate on the arrangements for the wedding! I’m growing rather concerned about the vicar. Ever since recovering from his conniptions, he skips everywhere instead of walking, and makes cryptic remarks about some writhing tentacles he thinks he saw under the pool. I fear his mind may be unsettled.”

“Oh, he’ll be all right for the wedding,” Twombley says. “Anyhow, it’s your turn to go to Margo’s tonight for supper. Try to be cheerful, ol’ hoss! Soon as the Queen gets here, we’re goin’ to get hitched and all your troubles will be over.”

Given the prodigious length of the rest of the book, we are at liberty to doubt the accuracy of that prediction.

And we still don’t know who the dickens “Rodney” is.

‘Oy, Rodney’ Gets Serious

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I don’t know what possessed me to write that headline. Sorry.

In Chapter LXXXXI of Oy, Rodney by Violet Crepuscular, the jovial shepherd known as Mack the Jovial Shepherd goes missing overnight. His sheep are nonplussed. The next day he is found floating face-down in the vicar’s backyard wading pool. There are tentacle marks all over the body. Constable Chumley shakes his head and opines, “Aye, me gangers, ’tis a murragh dally-dooly ront, so I tell ‘ee.” The townspeople continue to believe they really ought to get a constable who speaks English.

Meanwhile Lord Jeremy Coldsore is horrified that the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad, is going to marry Lady Margo Cargo, the richest widow in all of Scurveyshire. Lord Jeremy was supposed to marry her, as his only hope of staving off bankruptcy and losing Coldsore Hall. How this came about is very difficult to explain, and Miss Crepuscular finally gives it up as a bad job.

Willis comforts his friend. “Donchew worry none, Germy! Oncet me and Lady Margo is hitched, you and me, we’ll jist change places an’ the ol’ gal’ll never know the diff’rence!”

To everyone’s surprise, the vicar suddenly recovers from his conniptions and declares himself anxious to perform the marriage between Lady Margo and Sargon of Akkad, Ruler of All Mesopotamia. This is accompanied by a sinister smile that he never had before. When asked what he saw when he peeked under the wading pool, he only smirks and says “What conniptions?”

The other mysterious stranger who came into the book a few chapters ago hasn’t said or done anything yet.