Black Scarlet Returns!Commentary • ISSUE 35•06 • Feb 17, 1999 By T. Herman Zweibel, Publisher Emeritus (photo circa 1911) Even though I ought to have been dead long ago, I must confess that I still love to sit in my counting-house, counting all my money. My riches alone take up an entire wing of my vast mansion, which is filled to the ceiling with gold bullion, silver chalices, emerald diadems, platinum candelabras, Egyptian tomb idols, enormous jars of frankincense, several Excaliburs, and a magic lamp. Over the years, my various advisors and aides-de-camp have tried to persuade me to put my vast riches in a bank. Never! I shall never trust those Hebrew money-lenders and usurers! Besides, if I kept my fortune in a bank, I would not have the opportunity to count it, which is what I intend to do right now. Standish, my faithful man-servant, throw open the counting-house doors! Wait—what's this? Why, the room is bare! Not a single sou is to be found! Perhaps we are in the wrong wing of the estate, Standish. But that can't be, because the other wing is filled with meat. And the pungent fragrance of frankincense still haunts this abandoned chamber! This is the doing of those damned wastrel sons of mine. They have squandered the entire family fortune at last! I would not be surprised if the street-walkers and harlots they call their wives hocked it all for bon-bons, sweet-meats and cheek rouge! Miserable tarts! Standish has spotted some items on the floor in the middle of the chamber and is retrieving them. It's a red rose, black gauntlet and piece of parchment! Well, don't just stand there slack-jawed, Standish, read it to me! Chop chop! To my dear adversary, Mr. T. Herman Zweibel, Esq.:Sorry to have to clean you out, old boy, but others less fortunate than yourself have a much greater need for your erstwhile plenty. Pray forgive my haste, but I must to horse before the coming of the rosy-fingered dawn.Respectfully, your arch-enemy, Black Scarlet.Black Scarlet! Ruthless high-way-man, thief and stealthy absconder! He has struck again, and this time has plundered every penny of my riches! I am ruined! I am ruined! Woe is me! At the age of 132, T. Herman Zweibel will have to seek his way in the world once again, with nothing but a shawl and a broken catheter as company. O agony! O sound! O fury!