“There is only so much stress a man can take,” writes Violet Crepuscular, introducing Chapter CCCLXXXIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “Confined to his bed with injuries sustained in his fall from the tree, and confronted with a virtual civil war in Scurveyshire over the crayfish food controversy, Lord Jeremy Coldsore has reached and exceeded his limit–and snapped!”
Summoning community leaders and crayfish food activists to his bedside, Lord Jeremy proceeds to lay down the law–new laws, and a great many of them.
“By the power vested in me as justice of the peace,” he declares, “all pet crayfish in Scurveyshire shall now be fed filet mignon! Furthermore, all women over 16 must now wear conical hats at all times and all men over 16 must wear thick woolen mittens on their hands at all times. Ownership of hamsters is now against the law. All private business transactions must now be conducted in sign language. And in the interests of peace, and until further notice, all persons living or working in Scurveyshire must observe a curfew from 11 a.m. to 11 o’clock at night.” He has proclaimed quite a few more laws, but as those were motivated by mere peevishness, adds Ms. Crepuscular, “We’ll leave them alone.”
“Ain’t you layin’ it on a bit hard, ol’ hoss?” says Willis Twombley, the American adventurer.
“The mandates don’t apply to us, old chap.”
Lady Margo Cargo is displeased. Her pet crayfish, Oswin, does not like filet mignon. She sends a brief but telling note to Lord Jeremy: “Sorry, but I cannot marry a lunatic.”
“Who’s a lunatic?” wonders Jeremy. “I didn’t think we had any in Scurveyshire.”
“We’ll have to find one, then,” says Twombley. “I heard they’ve got a reg’lar herd of ’em in Plaguesby.”
Will this be the end of the romance between Jeremy and Lady Margo? “I will revisit this crisis,” pledges Ms. Crepuscular, “after I perfect my recipe for raw clams in toothpaste sauce.”