My granddaughter, Cornelia Josephine Agrippina Zweibel, recently had her coming-out ball, during which she managed to turn quite a few heads. Ever since that magnolia-scented evening, a considerable number of young gentlemen have been paying call to the Zweibel Estate. With ukuleles, portable Victrolas and boxes of sweetmeats in tow, these cheeky swains hope to eventually win Cornelia's lovely hand, much to my great dismay.

A prisoner in my own bedchamber-annex, I have been given very little say in the romantic prospects of Cornelia. This is mainly the doing of my daughter-in-law Irene, Cornelia's mother, a hideous, sperm-whale-shaped woman with all the cunning ruthlessness of a Manchurian warlord.

When Cornelia was still in pigtails I suggested she be betrothed to J. Titian McBrodie, the bachelor steel magnate. But Irene nixed the idea, saying that McBrodie was 64 years older than Cornelia and was dead. Utter nonsense! A May-September romance never hurt anyone. Why, Mrs. Zweibel was 12 when she married me, and they never did prove that her habit of scraping the skin off her body with a file had anything to do with our holy union.

Anyhow, you would not believe the sad specimens that Irene considers eligible escorts for my granddaughter. Most of them are effete college boys who would blow away in a light breeze. One of them, Thad "Bubbles" Bainton, heir to the Bainton soap fortune, bore the fussy, weak-willed demeanor of someone who spent hours in the bath-tub. As he and Cornelia played croquet and ate cucumber sandwiches in the courtyard, I watched from my window in silent fury, wishing that my nurse had not confiscated my musket.

But don't count me out. I did not get where I am by letting some Yalie with tuberculosis best me. I've prevented Cornelia from marrying before, and I'll do it again. Thanks to my vigilance, she's still single at 54 and sits in a high-chair at the dinner-table. So let this be a warning to all would-be suitors: Stay away from my granddaughter, or you'll wear buckshot on your britches!