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Check Off One Orchard

Well, my month-long travail as an enormous cock-roach has ended, and not one God-damned minute too soon! Though I truly enjoyed the benefits of insect life, such as the adhering to walls, the brisk scuttling, and the ability to eat the toe-nail parings of others, it did begin to wear on me after a while. Between the fondness I developed for dank, cramped under-sink areas and the attempts on my life by my staff, being a cock-roach was becoming a decidedly unnerving ordeal.

I will spare you the tedious details of how I returned to man-form. But I awoke that day to find that business had been neglected!

An atmosphere of despair and lassitude pervaded my 652-room estate, and the staff languished about in the most gumptionless fashion it had ever been my displeasure to witness. It was almost as if my strange transformation was part of some sort of sea-change, as everyone at my estate felt with their bare nerves the tragedy of human life: its slow, cruel path from birth to death, the brevity of joy, the impossibility of dreams, and all that malarkey that gets in the way of having the meals served on time.

I summoned Standish and demanded an account of things. His explanation was as depressing as it was amazing.

"Sir," he said, his eyes wandering to the window, where even now a fell Autumn light had grayed the sky, "the house-hold is in anguish over the fate of the cherry orchard which your father's Muscovite half-brother, U. Vanya Zweibel, had planted behind the mansion. For generations, its sad beauty has haunted us. But due to our fading news-paper fortunes during your recent illness, we may need to chop the orchard down, cut the land into lots, and lease them out for summering-cottages to guarantee an income for the estate. We must have porridge. But would we not break our own hearts if we were to raze the beloved orchards where we used to run barefoot in the too-brief spring?"

As I write this, the happy ring of axes can be heard through-out my estate, and I look forward to a respectable cash influx very soon. As for those mopes in my house-hold, all they needed was good hard work to rouse them from their stupor! Now, if only Standish would quit muttering, "Forgotten... and no one can remember it," under his breath all the time, I would be content for the first time in a damned month!

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