The Zweibel Estate is no longer merry and gay. The weeping willows droop even lower to-day. The milk-maids' tears mix with the milk in their buckets. Even the lowliest, most tooth-less field-hand is rending his thread- bare garments and howling in the most abject agony. Miss Bernadette Fiske, my fiancée and mother of my child, is no more! Having perished from the very femininity that I treasured above all else, she now belongs to the ages.

I, the bereaved swain, whose once-tender heart is love-sick, shall for-ever don a mourning shroud. Curse this moribund, woeful orb, where all that is beautiful and good is so cruelly ephemeral! t

So wracked with anguish was I that I begged to be buried with my deceased beloved. I wished to share her very coffin and be placed on top of her eternally slumbering corpse, ideally with her legs drawn apart a little. Alas! I was denied my request, and Miss Fiske's earthly remains were, I was told, interred at sea, as stipulated by her last will and testament.

I retired to my death-bed, determined to join her in short order in Heaven above. My attempt at expiration was short-lived, how-ever, when I learned that Miss Fiske's will granted me custody of the son I have never seen, N. Aeschylus. My son! My son! The sole product of the love between Miss Fiske and I would finally be coming to the Estate at last! From the grim sepulcher of Death emerged the promise of Life!

When Standish entered my bed-chamber to announce that my son was in the main sitting-room, my melancholy heart was leavened with joy. "Bring the dear tot to my bed-chamber, Standish, perambulator and all! I wish to hold him in my lap. But since my lap was surgically extracted long-ago, perhaps you could balance him on my shoulder!"

"Sir," Standish said, "I'm afraid that N. Aeschylus has rather out-grown his perambulator, or any other trappings of infancy, for that matter."

Before I could respond, a seven-foot-tall man in a black suit lumbered in. He was very broad in the shoulders and stiff in gait. His skin was bluish and looked as though it was stretched to the breaking-point over his squarish head. His gait was very stiff, and I could have sworn I heard a metallic squeaking noise every time his joints bent.

"My son!" I cried. "How you have grown since your December birth! But there's no mistaking it: From your piercing red eyes to the heavy iron feet emerging from your trouser legs, you're every inch a Zweibel!"