Not long ago, I was the master of all I surveyed. As I gazed down from my mountain-top estate, I was confident in the knowledge that the fate of the yeomanry that cowered below was firmly in my grasp. I owned all the property in the local village and took 15 percent of the harvest. If a peasant wanted to leave the county, he had to pay a toll on one of my bridges and had to be back before night-fall, lest my feared mastiffs track him down and tear him limb-from-limb. Then the nouveau riche started moving in. Yes, I realize I just used a phrase from the hated French language, but it is the best way to describe the Johnny-Come-Latelies who have decided to pollute my environs with their effete ways. They claim they like to "winter" here, far from the chill and coal-smoke of the city, and hunt foxes, play polo and enjoy "cocktail" drinking-beverages and other silly nonsense.
The worst of these sap-heads are my closest neighbors, the Baintons. They are the heirs to an enormous soap fortune and are easily the worst idlers I have ever laid eyes upon. Rather than responsibly hoard their precious wealth in a large under-ground cave, they fritter it away on lavish parties, fashionable apparel and priceless jewels. And they're about the weakest-minded bunch I've ever seen. Last week, Chauncey Bainton, the paterfamilias, paid an uninvited call to my bed-chamber. "Zweibel, old stick, how the devil are you?" he said. "Care for a few holes of golf?" Now, who in their right mind would invite a 130-year-old man encased in an iron-lung to play golf? Barely controlling my temper, I said I would be in-disposed for the remainder of the after-noon. "What a pity," Chauncey said. "But not to worry—my wife C.Z. is arranging the most absolutely cozy little supper with a few of our dearest friends this evening, and we'd be ever so thrilled if you'd grace us with your presence. And please bring along your delightful great-grand-daughter Livia. Our sons Bubbles and Busby are just mad about her, really they are!" I'll be damned if any great-grand-daughter of mine ever consorts with those balloon-headed Bainton twits! But before I could react, Chauncey had scampered out of my bed-chamber, no doubt to mingle with one or more of my equally fatuous sons, who think the Baintons are, to use a slang term preferred by the youngsters, "the bee's knees." How I despise those neighbors of mine!