Tag Archives: silly romance novels

Plaguesby Declares War! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCLXXVIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, the shooting of Black Rodney the sorcerer, by the American adventurer Willis Twombley, has all of Scurveyshire in what she has decided to call “a tizzy.” You may recall that when Tombley shot the black-robed sorcerer, the robes proved to be empty; and Black Rodney has laid a curse on Scurveyshire: no more happiness there, forever. So everyone is sad.

“There is a feeling among the community that Mr. Twombley is very much to blame for this,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. Constable Chumley, she adds, has said it best: “We’uns do gravin noo bleskit afore!” He couldn’t have said it more clearly.

Meanwhile Tom Squim, the Great Conquering Khan of the nearby hamlet of Plaguesby, is rather annoyed by Lady Margo Cargo’s escape from the Plaguesby jail and her refusal to marry him. He has ordered hand-written placards to be affixed to certain trees, declaring war on the rest of Scurveyshire.

“He can’t do that!” objects Lord Jeremy Coldsore, in his capacity as the whole shire’s justice of the peace. “I have half a mind to have him arrested!”

“A whole mind would be better, dear,” says Lady Margo, still confined to her bed after her exertions in the dreaded Scurveyshire fens.

It is well known that the Great Conquering Khan’s army consists of three rather foolish young men notorious for their inability to concentrate on whatever they are supposed to be doing. When Mr. Squim declared war on the hamlet of Pig’s Delight, the three soldiers wandered off and were found a week later, aimlessly turning over logs in Pocking Forest. No one expects them even to show up in Scurveyshire, much less conquer it.

“But I don’t see how we can stage a wedding with the whole shire feeling hopelessly sad and refusing to set foot outdoors,” says Jeremy. “Confound it! A whole community terrified of an empty suit of clothes! We’ll be the laughing stock of England.”

“We’d better find a way to cheer ’em up,” says Tombley. “If I could just lay my hands on some o’ that Philistine joy-juice we used to serve at my palace, I’d have ’em dancin’ in the streets.”

“And so,” concludes Ms. Crepuscular, “was launched the quest for Philistine Joy-Juice–surely Homeric in scope!” She’s getting that “be like Homer” itch again.

 


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.”


The Return of Lady Margo (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Violet Crepuscular opens Chapter CCLXXIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, with a Homeric flourish: “Just as rosy-fingered Dawn was parting the velvet curtains of the night, Lady Margo Cargo has arrived at the front door of her palatial country house. I have always wanted to use that particular Homeric touch. If only I could find a way to use ‘the wine-dark sea’!”

If you are wondering what became of the two intervening chapters, I cannot find them in my copy of the book. No pages have been torn out. It’s a mystery.

At the end of her strength, after having to hop on one foot all the way, and struggling out of the dreaded Scurveyshire Fens after escaping from the Plaguesby jail, Lady Margo finds she cannot stand up to open the door. She has to wait for two hours on the stoop before Crusty the crusty old butler opens the front door and finds her.

“You stupid old cow!” he cries. “Where have you been? We thought you were under the vicar’s backyard wading pool. What a nuisance you are!” The warmth of his greeting quite overcomes her. She is covered head to foot in thick black mud, so the fact that he has recognized her is a point in his favor.

“Help me into my bath, Crusty,” she gasps.

The bath being upstairs, lugging her up the grand spiral staircase practically kills him. With his last ounce of strength he rolls her into the tub, then crawls back to his butler’s pantry to recover. “I’d like some water, Crusty!” she cries. But he’s too worn-out to pay any attention.

“I really must pause here,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “to confide in you, dear readers! My neighbor, the erratic Mr. Pitfall, now insists that he and I are man and wife. Really, it’s just too much! I am sure I never married him, but now he’s in my kitchen breaking dishes! Something tells me his eccentricities may be getting out of hand. Steps will have to be taken, I fear.”


The Survivors (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCLXXI (nothing happens in Chapter CCLXX) of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lord Jeremy Coldsore is a bit cut up about having sent sixty men under the vicar’s backyard wading pool and getting back only one–Constable Chumley, whose explanation of what happened to the others is cloaked in his quaint rural dialect which no one understands.

All alone, in the dead of night, Johnno the Merry Minstrel sneaks out of Coldsore Hall and takes up a position near the wading pool and next to the full-size concrete Iguanodon pull-toy, which is too massive to be pulled away just now. He is wearing his special dancing pants and carrying his harmonica. “What he is about to do,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “requires inimaginable courage.” Is it me, or is she getting rather too fond of that adjective?

Johnno, dancing all the while, strikes up a special tune known only to the merry minstrels of Scurveyshire and handed down for untold generations. This song is believed to have magical powers. It is called “The Old Oaken Bucket.” Only the merry minstrels know how to dance to “The Old Oaken Bucket.” Johnno dances, plays the harmonica, and sings, all at the same time. It takes much practice.

After several hours of this, the sinister rubber pool humps up and down, emits a terrifying burping noise–and out from under it, by twos and threes, hobble Constable Chumley’s lost bearers and askaris, seeming none the worse for wear. However, they now speak in an unknown language which is not pleasant to hear. “It is an unimaginable”–there she goes again–“babble which no one in Scurveyshire has attempted to speak since they all hid themselves under baskets to get out of having to help build Stonehenge.”

After a few moments of confusion, the survivors rush en masse to The Lying Tart, break down the door, and help themselves to the landlord’s stock of second-rate Scurveyshire Ale. They’re still at it when the next day breaks. When the villagers discover that their stout lads have returned alive, there is much celebration. When they discover that they can no longer communicate with them, it takes some of the edge off their rejoicing.

For a music video of Johnno performing “The Old Oaken Bucket,” contact your Congressman.

 


Yet More Unimaginable Peril (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“I write this chapter under some duress,” Violet Crepuscular confides in her readers, introducing Chapter CCLXIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “My neighbor Mr. Pitfall has forgiven me for poisoning him, but I fear he has developed some rather strange ideas about our relationship. I have written this chapter to distract him.”

Deeming it a potential public relations bonanza, Sir Henry Smedley-Foover has lent one of his life-size Iguanodon concrete pull-toys to Scurveyshire Village as a sacrifice to whatever entity lurks under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard. Its enormous weight has required the combined efforts of every able-bodied villager to haul it into position by the wading pool.

“O, evil entity that lurks under this wading pool,” Sir Henry intones, with the whole village looking on and the vicar complaining about the damage to his lawn, “accept this sacrifice of our deluxe Iguanodon pull-toy, retail value 1,458 pounds and 13 shillings, and release your captives!”

“This is stupid,” mutters Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad. Lord Jeremy Coldsore shushes him. “It’s the only way we’ve got to get Lady Margo back!”

For a full six hours, nothing happens. Just as everyone is preparing to go home before being called upon to drag the Iguanodon away, the pool gives a noisy shudder and out from under it struggles Constable Chumley–alone, without his bearers and askaris. He does look considerably the worse for wear.

“Constable!” cries Lord Jeremy. “Where the deuce is everybody else?”

Chumley replies in his quaint rural dialect which no one understands. “They be fair luftin’ all aboot yon cleefer blawn, m’lord!” he gasps. “Us fennies a reet great meshter.”

“I think he’s trying to say that unimaginable perils done ’em in,” says Twombley.

“But where is Lady Margo?” wails Jeremy. “Have you not rescued her?”

“Throck us nigh bittle ‘ee, m’lord!” The constable faints.

Meanwhile Lady Margo has finally emerged from the dreaded Scurveyshire Fens, never having been under the pool in the first place. Hopping all this way on one foot has gravely depleted her strength.

“I’m sure to be late for my own wedding!” she gasps.

At this point Ms. Crepuscular is interrupted by a peremptory pounding on her door, and most retreat to her hiding-place behind the sofa.


A Knight Visitor (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCLXVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney–with Constable Chumley’s rescue expedition still wandering around somewhere under the vicar’s backyard wading pool–Violet Crepuscular brings a new character into the picture.

Sir Henry Smedley-Foover, the adult pull-toy magnate, has been knighted by the Queen in recognition of the fantastic amount of money he’s made, devising and selling pull-toys for adults. His motto is, “Why should kids have all the fun?” It is rumored that the Queen herself is now the proud owner of a Foover Megalosaurus pull-toy, illustrated below. This is the only illustration in the book so far, so we must make the most of it.

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As you can see, it doesn’t have its wheels yet, to say nothing of the stout marine cable by which it must be pulled. It takes at least 20 strong, healthy men to pull this rather large toy over level ground. There are smaller models, of course, but the full-size dinosaur pull-toys are the Foover Company’s trademark.

Sir Henry is intrigued by the current crisis which preoccupies all Scurveyshire. “If only I had arrived here sooner!” he laments to Lord Jeremy Coldsore, whose bride, Lady Margo Cargo, is the person in need of rescue. In reality–if we may use that word in this context–Lady Margo is not and never has been under the wading pool. Having escaped from the Plaguesby Jail, she is currently trying to make her way through the miry Fens of Scurveyshire, hopping on one foot all the way because she has lost her upholstered wooden leg. But no one in Scurveyshire Village knows that.

“What would you have done, Sir Henry, had you been here?” Lord Jeremy asks. He doesn’t like adult pull-toys.

“I could have offered one of my pull-toys as a sacrifice to whatever evil entity lurks under the wading pool, my lord. Even evil entities like pull-toys! May I recommend my life-size Iguanodon pull-toy? You could offer it in exchange for your bride. I’ll let you pay for it in installments!”

Meanwhile, what of Constable Chumley and his bearers and askaris?

“They are facing unimaginable perils which I’m having difficulty imagining,” she confides in her readers, “but I am sure one of my subsequent chapters will prove to be worth waiting for.”

She pleads with us to continue reading.


Lady Margo’s Great Escape (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“I have had a difficult time writing this chapter,” Violet Crepuscular admits, introducing Chapter CCLXVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, “because my neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, was released from the hospital this week and is a bit put out with me for poisoning him, and I’ve had to lie low for several days. I must send him a Lobster-Gram to make it up to him. I do hope he remembers to cook the lobster before he eats it.”

Back to the story! Lady Margo Cargo, languishing in the Plaguesby jail, does not wish to marry Tom Squim, the Great Conquering Khan of Plaguesby; nor does she wish to experience any of the various “ways” they have in Plaguesby for forcing people to marry against their will. All she really wants to do is get back home to Scurveyshire Village and marry Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his boon companion, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. She still thinks the two of them are the same person.

And so the plucky dowager, the richest widow in all of Scurveyshire, manages to squirrel away a spoon and uses it to tunnel her way out of the jail. Ordinarily this would take several years. But because of the incredibly shoddy construction of the jail, she is able to tunnel through its easily crumbled wall in a single night. Before the next sunrise she is on her way back to her beloved–hopping on one leg because she has lost her upholstered wooden leg. She has resolved to ask Lord Jeremy to please do something about Tom Squim and his mad dream of conquering all England.

Everyone else, meanwhile, is waiting for the expedition under the vicar’s backyard wading pool to return, hopefully having rescued Lady Margo (who isn’t there), or else to perish valiantly in the attempt.

“I promise, in the next chapter, to tell of the adventures of this expedition, so bravely led by Constable Chumley,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in the reader. “But for the time being, I have just seen Mr. Pitfall emerge from his house with a shotgun, so it behooves me to resort to my hiding place behind the sofa.” I have always wanted to use that word, “behooves,” but Violet has beaten me to it.


The Expedition Under the Wading Pool (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCLXVI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes–

Whoa! Hold it! What happened to Chapters CCLII through CCLXV? That’s fourteen chapters missing!

Ms. Crepuscular explains, “A few readers may be confused by the absence of the intervening fourteen chapters. Well, I removed them from the story because nothing happened in them. Really, we are all better off going directly to Chapter CCLXVI.”

Somewhere in the missing chapters, Lord Jeremy has organized an expedition to go under the vicar’s backyard wading pool and rescue Lady Margo Cargo so that he and she can have their wedding. In fact, Lady Margo is languishing in the Plaguesby jail; but no one in Scurveyshire Town knows that.

Pressed into service for the expedition, whether they wish to go or not, are fifty bearers to carry supplies and equipment, a dozen armed askaris for defense–

Where in Scurveyshire did they find askaris?

“In all those famous expeditions to find the source of the Nile,” Lord Jeremy explains, “bearers and askaris are a must. For our purposes, a dozen Scurveyshire lads with slingshots and rakes will have to serve. We don’t have time to order a dozen genuine, authentic askaris from Zanzibar, where they are always looking for work.”

Handicapped by having two left feet, Lord Jeremy cannot lead the expedition in person. This job he has given to Constable Chumley, admonishing the bearers and askaris to obey the constable’s every command as if their lives depended on it. “And probably they do!” he adds.

The constable’s first command is, “Arree, sumble yer batpins and grith bair lunnies!” Everyone just stands around staring at each other. A few shots from Willis Twombley’s Colt revolver, fired judiciously around their feet, get them moving. One by one, following Constable Chumley, sixty-two men march under the wading pool and disappear from sight. A dreadful calm descends on Scurveyshire.

Meanwhile, back in Plaguesby, Lady Margo does some more languishing in jail before that hamlet’s chief magistrate, Tom Squim, the Great Conquering Khan of Plaguesby, offers to let her out if she will marry him and help him to found a dynasty rivaling, he says, the Plantagenets. She scornfully rejects him. “The Plantagenets are highly overrated,” she sniffs.

“We have ways of making people get married, here in Plaguesby,” he sneers. He does not reveal what those ways are.


The Scourge of the Swamp (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Mr. Pitfall having been sedated with a certain powder surreptitiously added to his Strawberry Quik, Violet Crespuscular has moved on to Chapter CCLI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “I had to do it,” she confides to her readers. “He was getting altogether too impatient with that length of rubber hose, and I found it distracting.”

Hopping along on one foot and often falling face-first into the soupy mud, Lady Margo Cargo has finally made her way out of the terrible Scurveyshire Fens, emerging near the village of Plaguesby covered with mud from head to toe. As she approaches a band of jolly milkmaids, the girls flee, screaming: “Swamp fiend! Monster of the Fens!” In no time at all, Constable Chumley’s counterpart in Plaguesby, Constable Flumley, arrests her and locks her in a holding cell. He has one eye much larger than the other, and the way he leers at her is most unsettling. “Y’iv sharred a mickle millen!” he growls, in his quaint rural dialect.

Technically under Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s jurisdiction as Scurveyshire’s justice of the peace, Plaguesby has a unique form of government that would not be allowed if anyone were noticing. A rat-catcher named Tom Squim rules the village as its Great Conquering Khan, assisted by a Council of Nimrods who have no power and are expected to refrain from speaking. In return, they get free melons when those become available.

Lady Margo is disquieted when her eyes adjust to the dark and she finds a mouldering skeleton chained to the wall of her cell. Is this to be her fate?

The next two pages of the book are blank. It seems to be an error on the part of the publisher. Ms. Crepuscular opens Chapter CCLII by blaming the publisher for the oversight. “I will provide the missing material in another chapter later on,” she writes, “after the ambulance comes for Mr. Pitfall. I fear I may have overdosed him.”

 


More Unimaginable Peril (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCXLIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “I have been reduced to the expedient, as I write this, of having my neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, stand over me with a length of rubber hose to make sure I finish the chapter. He is actually a very nice man, but for his ungovernably violent temper and his penchant for unpredictably flying into rages.”

It seems Lady Margo Cargo has not been sucked under the vicar’s backyard wading pool, after all, but instead suffered a bout of extreme absent-mindedness during which she lost her upholstered wooden leg and, hopping along on one foot, wandered into the dreaded Scurveyshire Fens. She does not know where she is. All she knows is that she is probably going to be late for her wedding. The only silver lining to this cloud is that she forgot to wear her wedding dress. The sticky black mud of the Fens would have spoiled it.

Sardanapalus Tingleworth (or whatever his name is), the man with only one buttock, has volunteered to go under the pool to try to rescue Lady Margo. Seizing an opportunity when no one was looking, he has fled Scurveyshire. He will eventually wind up joining a traveling “curiosity show” in Alsace-Lorraine and make a decent living exhibiting his unusual anatomy.

But what of Lady Margo’s crusty butler, Crusty, who was pulled under the pool by a gigantic tentacle? “Mr. Pitfall has encouraged me to tell you that after some fifteen minutes which seemed more like fifteen hours, Crusty was thrown out from under the pool.” He makes his way back to the now disorganized wedding party, where everyone is very surprised to see him.

“It didn’t want me!” he reports. “It thought I was disgusting! So it threw me back.”

“But did you see any sign of my bride?” cries Lord Jeremy. “What did you see, down there under the pool? Speak, man!”

“Mostly I saw a lot of flattened grass that’s turning yellow, and some large earthworms,” says honest Crusty. “Not a sign of my poor mistress! She should’ve married me instead of you–then this wouldn’t have happened!” He leaps for Lord Jeremy’s throat, but Constable Chumley collars him before he can do any damage.

“There, yair,” the constable consoles him, “‘twon’t do nae brecken to flur thy wakes.”

Ms. Crepuscular has Mr. Pitfall’s permission to conclude the chapter there.


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