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

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[Editor’s Note: I had a thought in the middle of the night. It struck me that I have created several repeating characters for this blog–Byron the Quokka and Dr. Fantod, the life-coaching spider; Joe Collidge; and the whole crowd that inhabits Scurveyshire. What if I were to put them all into one novel? What kind of book would that be?]

Introducing Chapter CCCXCIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular has suddenly realized that Scurveyshire’s current craze for reddling–reddle-ing?–has gotten out of hand. “Dear reader,” she writes, “it appears that Scurveyshire’s current craze for reddling has gotten completely out of hand. Finding myself unable to deal with it artistically, I have decided to bring it to an end.”

It won’t be easy. Olaf Skraeling, posing as a reddleman in a bid to win the hand of Scurveyshire’s rich widow, Lady Margo Cargo, has created a demand that he cannot fulfill. For one thing, he’s out of reddle and doesn’t know where to get more. For another, Lady Margo blames him for her glass eye falling out while playing hopscotch. “Here’s where it gets tricky,” Ms. Crepuscular warns the reader.

You guessed it–one step too close to the fateful wading pool in the vicar’s back yard, and Mr. Skraeling, reddled clothes and all, gets sucked right under! Shloopf! That fatal sound is the last thing Olaf hears.

“Who’s going to pay for my glass eye?” demands Lady Margo. “I thought it was so romantic, the way he reddled my upholstered wooden leg–and now he’s gone!”

Constable Chumley has already stepped in to take care of Mr. Skraeling’s menagerie of chameleons, which creates a suspicion that he somehow maneuvered Olaf into the wading pool’s clutches. The constable refutes the charge: “A’ niffer blayed yon burzey wout a mair windring!” he declares.

Ms. Crepuscular goes on to object strenuously to any proposal to blend marsupials or daft college students into her romance. “It would ruin the whole thing!” she exclaims passionately.

Scurveyshire’s Reddle Craze

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Introducing Chapter CCCXCIII (Chapter CCCXCII seemed to be missing) of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Olaf Skraeling’s diabolical plan to win the hand of Lady Margo Cargo by disguising himself as a reddleman has worked too well! All of Scurveyshire has gone absolutely mad for reddle-ing (or should it be ‘reddling’?), and he suddenly has so much business that he has no time to woo the rich widow!”

She takes the opportunity to soliloquize about the pitfalls of crime, adding certain lewd comments about her neighbor, Mr. Pitfall. We will spare the reader. Feel free to tear out those two dozen pages.

Suddenly everyone in Scurveyshire wants everything reddled–doors and windows, dogs, children, tools, underclothes… “They’ve all gone mad!” cries Lord Jeremy Coldsore. They have even reddled the bearded barmaid at The Lying Tart. Desperate to curb the craze, Lord Jeremy summons Constable Chumley and orders him to arrest the reddleman.

“Withy me aw’ yon firthin mizzle, m’lord,” demurs the constable. His keen police instincts aroused, he already knows the reddleman is none other than Mr. Skraeling, and therefor that worst of all malefactors–a fraudulent reddleman.

“Just do it!” sighs Lord Jeremy.

As for Lady Margo, now that her upholstered wooden leg has been duly reddled, she has attempted to play hop-scotch with some of the reddled children. Hopping awkwardly from one box to the next, her glass eye falls out and shatters on the slate. The children, horrified, run away screaming.

“I must now interject my recipe for cat-food turnovers with a dab of toothpaste on the crust,” Violet interjects. It plays hob with the novel’s continuity.