Another miserable year on this dismal rock has come and gone. As for myself, this was one of the worst years I've ever experienced. It was right up there with 1892 and 1921. Among the events of this hateful year: I tried in vain to run away from my estate; I was horrifyingly suckled by a wet-nurse; I received not a single application for my official-mistress position; I was stalked by assassins; and I was assaulted, on separate occasions, by a lowly mule and an automatic enema-dispensing machine. What's more, my hated rival William Randolph Hearst continues to draw breath.

There is some-thing else, how-ever, that really sticks in my craw. As everyone knows, I am the richest man in the state, and I own virtually all the property in the village that cringes in the valley below my mountain-top estate. I am also the president and majority stock-holder of the village bank, which has a virtual strangle-hold on the meager finances of the impoverished villagers. I charge such exorbitant interest that the debtor is beholden to me to the grave, and, after his demise, his family must shoulder the remaining debt.

There's a building-and-loan in the village, too, but it has only a fraction of the assets of the bank, and it's always a mere whisper away from insolvency.

Yet, to my great dismay, it somehow manages to stay afloat. If I could just find a way to break this miserable building-and-loan, my conquest would be complete!

There is a soft under-belly of the organization, Uncle Billy, an absent-minded relative of the head-strong young executive secretary who manages it. He's always misplacing important items of business. One day, one of my goons at the bank managed to snatch a large bundle of cash Uncle Billy had laid down, and brought it back to my estate. And all on the same day the bank examiner paid a surprise visit to the building-and-loan!

Well, I thought this would spell the ruin of the building-and-loan once and for all. The next day, how-ever, Standish informed me that all the villagers had banded together and raised enough money to replace the lost bundle. That young executive secretary must lead a charmed life, or perhaps he has some omnipotent guardian angel.

You can see what kind of a year it has been for me. I should just give up. I would ask Father Christ-mas to bring me a big sack of death, but I am certain I wouldn't get it anyway.