Just before Christmas 1982, shortly after the stars began to twinkle in the firmament above the East River, John and Susan Gutfreund graciously welcomed their guests to a Sunday buffet. Round about the Gutfreund home everything glittered splendidly, especially the Christmas tree standing by the window. But this was no ordinary Christmas tree. For the Gutfreunds were no ordinary host and hostess.

John H. Gutfreund, the 52-year-old chief executive of Salomon Brothers, was a very wealthy man. In October 1981, the Phibro Corp. had acquired Salomon Brothers, and Gutfreund, Salomon's managing partner, became cochairman of the merged company. As a result of the coup, Gutfreund added a reported $13.6 million to his already considerable fortune, making him a king among the paper potentates of the city's moneyarchy.

That made his wife a queen. And what a promising sovereign she was. Her face might have been woven of Saint Laurent's choicest lily-white and rose-red silk, her eyes were like little sparkling baubles and her coiffed locks shone like threads of gold. Recently wed, the royal couple now required a suitable palace in which to establish their rightful domain.

In all the city, there was but one such magisterial residence -- a palace so exclusive, so magnificent and kingly, and whose overlords were so rich and powerful, that it was truly a kingdom unto itself. It was called River House, because of its distinctive propinquity to its river. The Kingdom-by-the-River, at the end of East 52nd Street, was secure as a fortress. The palace and its surrounding landscaped grounds were shielded by mighty walls on all sides. Its rococo gateway was made of iron and flanked by immense ziggurated stanchions and a pair of forbidding Art Deco eagles. From its secluded cobblestone entrance-courtyard -- the width of a city block -- River House thrust upward in twin plinths, supporting a single, spectacular, soaring tower, 27 stories tall, topped by a rounded crown.

Just below the pinnacle of the tower there were two splendid dwellings of nearly equal supremacy: a penthouse on the entire 26th floor and a duplex on the entire 24th and 25th floors. Originally, in 1931, all three floors had been owned by one feudal lord, Marshall Field, heir to the largest dry goods fortune in all the world. In 1948, Field had expanded his triplex suzerainty by turning one of the motor rooms on the roof into a guest room. Sometime thereafter, he divided the triplex in twain, and the dwellings were owned separately, as 26/27C (allocated 500 shares by the privy council) and 24/25C (700 shares). His divorced widow, Mrs. Diego Suarez, abided in 24/25C until her death. In 1981, the duplex came up for sale.

It dazzled the eyes of the royal couple. They wished to purchase this preeminent piece of the palace posthaste. But even for Wall Street monarchs, much less presidents of the United States, ownership was not guaranteed. For this was indeed a closely guarded cooperative kingdom. In addition to the unpredictable privy council -- a powerful board of overlords that had lately blackballed the deposed King Richard (Nixon), while rubber-stamping the application of Manhattan's Metternich (Henry Kissinger) -- there were the sentries at the palace gates, the chef-doorman, the sous-doorman, the lobby deskman, the hall captains and 27 additional servants and scullions, all of whom were instructed to devote their considerable skills to making parvenus look worse than they probably were.

What's more, there was fierce competition -- another hopeful buyer aspiring to the duplex that the Gutfreunds so fervently desired. But she was just a poor little orphan named Gloria. Her family name (Vanderbilt) stood for all that had once been sacred among the Kingdom's old-money aristocracy. But in Manhattan's new moneyarchy -- ruled by Wall Street paper potentates, many of whom governed the intramural privy council while scratching each other's backs downtown -- a famous little orphan girl worth $7.6 million was not the peer of a consequential Wall Street king worth about $40 million. So the privy council turned the little orphan away from the palace gates, and the Gutfreunds were swiftly ushered into the palace. In April 1982, they purchased the $1.1-million tower duplex, and the whole kingdom was delighted.

Soon, the queen had renovated her domain. She gutted the interior of the 24th and 25th floors, transforming the living room into a sublime double-height chamber. She redecorated with monumental slabs of marble and delicate pieces of 18th-century French furniture. But the king scarcely had leisure to enjoy the new million-dollar living-room rug and the king-size double-marble Jacuzzi. Each morning, the royal husband journeyed down to The Street to orchestrate the big deals and add the great sums to the royal treasury. That left the royal wife in the palace tower with her new ladies-in-waiting, the court secretary, the royal head cook and the scullery maids. But, observed a former royal Girl Friday, "She didn't really need a secretary, because every time you answered the telephone and said, 'Mrs. Gutfreund's residence,' you heard her picking up the receiver in the bedroom, and listening."

She entertained extravagantly for her new friends -- "ostentatiously," whispered the court gossips. For the royal husband's clients, a little dinner for 350 at Blenheim Palace. For the ladies of the Citizen's Committee (Blanchette H. Rockefeller, Carol F. Sulzberger, Marietta Tree), lunches upon table settings of Bohemian crystal, hand-embroidered linens by Lygia Mattos and 17th-century German flatware. For Kissinger's 60th birthday, certain crowned heads and former empresses foregathered at her court, attended by a Brazilian millionaire, Mrs. Johnny Carson, Stavros Niarchos and a tall German princess in silver shoes. For dessert, the royal head cook spun sugar into iridescent green apples, a technique he had acquired from the glassblowers of Murano.

But this Christmas, 1982, was to be the grandest of all. She decided to dig deeply into the royal treasure and treat her guests to something truly astounding. First, she planned to give "a proper English Christmas dinner." But, when the royal head cook informed her that the court Anglophile had informed him that the traditional dish for the proper English Christmas dinner was a barrel of oysters, the queen resolved instead to serve coral of scallops -- known to lesser viscounts and barons as scallop caviar.

Next, the queen determined upon having the largest Christmas tree that could fit into her exalted living room. The court mathematician was summoned to measure the royal ceiling, whose height he calculated at 25 feet. But where was such a lofty tree to be found on the untimbered island of Manhattan? She lamented, surveying the 360-degree view from her tower windows. There was not an evergreen anywhere in sight. The Tree

Undaunted, the queen summoned the royal florist from his shop at 398 E. 52nd St. A Brazilian named ZeZe, he announced that he had discovered the finest Christmas tree grower in the land, a certain Mr. Guy Cockburn of Garrison, N.Y., who had twice had the honor of donating his trees to the White House -- a 20-foot Douglas fir for the Blue Room and a 15-footer for the president's quarters. The august Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga taxifolia, possessed exceptional traits, Cockburn explained. "I wouldn't say it's the best tree in the state or the country. It's the best Christmas tree anywhere in the world. We've tried all the known strains, and this one is superior. It's not coarse, it has a nice soft needle, very good branching habit and excellent needle retention . . ." (The royal wife was most especially pleased with the tree's retentive abilities, for no one wants little fir needles, however nice and soft, all over a million-dollar rug.) "Nobody has that size tree like we do," Cockburn continued, "and we don't have an awful lot of them either."

Luckily, Cockburn happened to have a mighty specimen growing on his plantation. That particular tree had sprouted in 1953 from a seed found in the Sacramento Mountains in southern New Mexico. It had spent two years in Cockburn's seed bed, two years in his transplant bed and 25 years in his well-drained field, shooting up to a height of 22 feet. The tree weighed a quarter of a ton, measured 14 feet at the base, eight inches at the butt of the trunk and had a 60-degree taper to its blue-green branches. On behalf of the Gutfreunds, the royal measurer purchased the fir for $400. Cockburn briskly chopped down the tree and loaded it onto his truck for the journey to the big city. "The tail end stuck out from behind the van quite a little," he remembered. The Party

Night fell upon the twinkling Kingdom-by-the-River. The queen and the court florist had been hard at work for seven whole days. All was in readiness. Bells jingled and trumpets tooted. The Christmas dinner guests swept grandly into the queen's court -- Mica Ertegun, Felix Rohatyn, Saul Steinberg, Jerry Ziplin . . . Ecstatic, the queen and her guests embraced and air-kissed, air-kissed and embraced. The royal guests had scarcely arrived when each was drawn to the royal tree. "They were absolutely astounded, mesmerized by its girth," one of them remembered.

The tree stood proudly before the double-height windows, inviting the guests to examine it from all sides. It was decorated with all types of satin ribbons, fine old lace, silk bows and costume dolls from Russian ballets. But the most astonishing thing about this lovely tree was that hundreds of orchids and mimosas hung in hothouse profusion from every branch. No one, not even the court mathematician, could count the number of blossoms. The court florist had been bedeviled. When he had first come to trim the tree, he found it already decorated "with small plastic apples and glitter things. Just forget about it ! I have to take everything off the Christmas tree and redo my own way. We don't have ornaments. We put the flowers on it, put the mimosas and orchids, because the time is so short to get the ornaments."

Nevertheless, the tree was a triumph. Long into the night, the guests rapturously admired its floriated boughs. "But how did you ever get it up here?" they all wanted to know. The queen simply smiled. Her king was the happiest of men. In short, everyone was joyous. Only the upstairs neighbors were troubled, though no one except the queen knew why. The Penthouse

Perhaps if the owners of the palace penthouse had been invited to the royal Christmas dinner, the trouble might never have started. It began a fortnight before, when the court mathematician pronounced the palace service elevator simply too small to carry the royal Christmas tree from street level to the 24th floor. The whole matter was referred to the court carpenter, who took counsel with the court wizard, who consulted ancient texts dealing with thickness, narrowness, verticalness, horizontalness, lubricants and other mysterious things. Even the court astronomer was perplexed. Finally, the queen herself consulted the overlords on the privy council. Soon, they found a solution.

The overlords granted her permission to raise the tree by attaching hoisting equipment to the palace roof. They specified that the hoist should be made from the roof's southwest corner, which adjoined the fan and motor rooms, stacks, vents and drains. The southwest corner, proclaimed the privy council, "is nowhere near the one room on the roof" (not to mention the rooftop terrace), which belonged to the owners of the 26th floor penthouse. "The 27th floor is the building roof," declared the overlords. "It is and has at all times been the property of the cooperative corporation." So saying, they felt legally entitled and happily disposed to permit the queen temporary access to the roof by way of the palace fire stairs. Greatly relieved, she engaged the court architect and the court hoisters and riggers -- the Auer Van & Express Co.

Meanwhile, Joan and Robert Postel, the owners of the penthouse, maintained a very different view of the palace roof. Although they as yet knew nothing of the plans to hoist the royal Christmas tree, they saw the rooftop terrace as their sole and exclusive domain. Indeed, their proprietary lease, which they signed on Nov. 2, 1978, stated quite clearly that "a lessee of an apartment embracing the penthouse or a portion thereof shall have and enjoy the exclusive use of the roof appurtenant to such apartment . . ." Moreover, Robert Postel, an attorney, a former city councilman and chairman of the First Wall Street Corp., claimed to have "paid a very substantial consideration" for such "exclusive use and enjoyment" when he had purchased the penthouse in 1978 for a reported $260,000.

Indeed, Postel and his wife, Joan, an opera singer, and their 12-year-old son, Darren, had abundantly enjoyed their tip-top piece of the palace, until the arrival of the royal couple in April. But soon after the Gutfreunds had moved in one floor below, relations between the neighbors grew strained because, large as their respective domains were, the two families shared certain areas of the palace tower: the elevator from the lobby to the 24th floor; the 24th-floor landing hallway; and the five stairs to another, separate elevator that ascended from the 24th to the 25th and then the 26th floor.

By the advent of the Christmas season, the Postels' complaints about the royal couple were many and varied. The Postels objected to the Gutfreunds' practice of festooning the 24th-floor hallway with lavish floral arrangements, to which Madam Postel was "highly allergic" -- a fact made known to the privy council by the Postel physician, who insisted that because of exposure to the queen's flowers, the Madam's operatic vocal cords were suffering "not merely a serious medical problem but a disastrous professional impediment." They took exception with the royal wife's habit of extinguishing the Postel chandelier which illuminated the five stairs to the tip-top elevator: "She had this need for the sole-apartment-on-the-floor look," Madam Postel complained. "She used to turn off my chandelier every time she had a party, so that people who came to her home didn't realize that there was another residence up the stairs -- which is a joke because I'm the penthouse. She's not the penthouse at all. I'm the penthouse." They took issue with the fact that several of the city's magazines had made notice of the Gutfreund "penthouse apartment" and expensive jewelry collection. "She seems to have some social snobberies and to call herself the penthouse," Madam Postel protested. "I don't care, except that when she talks about her jewelry and the penthouse in the same sentence, because if burglars ever come to look for her jewelry they're going to be coming to my penthouse, and I'd just as soon they go to her apartment."

But all these complaints were just so many snowflakes compared with the blizzard of Postel grievance visited upon the kingdom by the hoisting of the royal Christmas tree. For it came to pass that with only a fortnight of shopping days left until Christmas, Madam Postel was confronted one morning by the queen's architect in her very own penthouse. Penthouse Invaded

For some years, the Postel domain had been under renovation. Indeed, that very morning, Madam Postel was having a meeting with her construction foreman in the kitchen, when she was suddenly, and without any advance warning, interrupted by the queen's architect. He had entered the penthouse without so much as a "by-your-leave, Madam," offending Madam Postel greatly. His statesmanship was far from astute, for in his very next breath he inquired whether Madam Postel would immediately grant her consent to the queen's hoisters and riggers, who planned to deploy their equipment on the roof-terrace several days hence.

This was the first Madam Postel had heard of the royal Christmas tree. Incensed, she informed the architect that she was shocked at his discourteous invasion of her penthouse, and furthermore, that she absolutely forbade the queen, or any of her men, to use the penthouse roof-terrace. "What if that damn tree falls down and kills some old lady?" she cried. "They'll sue the pants off me. I am totally responsible liability-wise. I have to say no."

With that, the architect vanished. But several days later he telephoned Robert Postel, and again he requested consent to use the roof-terrace. Postel denied the request, but said he would consider the matter further if the request were made in writing and contained descriptions of the insurance coverage that would protect him from liability.

No such written request was received by the Postels and, naturally, given the circumstances of their frosty relations with the downstairs neighbors, the Postels never personally granted their permission to use the roof-terrace. In fact, the two families never once spoke directly to one another about the Christmas tree, preferring instead to communicate through subordinates -- an ancient custom of warring tribes that survives today among nuclear nations and between very wealthy men. Strange Happenings

During the renovation of the Postel domain, the rear service door was often left unlatched, affording the Postels' construction crew easy access to the penthouse. So, on Dec. 8, several days after the offending visit of the architect, it was easy enough for a stranger to enter, undetected.

The lady of the (pent)house was at home, alone. Her husband was at work, her son at school, her construction crew on coffee break. All was quiet round about. So you can imagine how Madam Postel must have felt when she realized that a stranger was inside her very own penthouse, scouting around in the most surreptitious fashion. She was alarmed, especially when she noticed that the stranger seemed to be observing her and tracking her movements around the penthouse.

"Who are you?" Madam Postel cried out. The stranger did not reply. He seemed to be a workman of some kind, possibly a mute workman, for he said nothing and was clothed in a workman's garments, which were curiously similar to those of her own construction crew.

At last, the stranger reluctantly stammered, "I'm a workman."

But Madam Postel did not recognize him as one of her own construction crew. "What are you doing here?" she demanded. "What's your name?"

"I'm a workman," he repeated, suspiciously. "Just looking for some nails."

And with that, he vanished. The Hoist

Moments later, the stranger -- who was actually an associate of the queen's architect -- rejoined the queen's men on the stairwell outside the penthouse service door. The coast was clear, he whispered. Madam Postel was not now likely to go up on her rooftop terrace.

Unbeknownst to Madam Postel, the stranger had entered into the Postel domain as a lookout, cleverly disguised as one of the Postel construction crew. Thus assured that Madam Postel was otherwise engaged, the queen's band of men now stole up the palace's fire stairs, capturing the roof. There were nine men in all -- the superintendent of the palace, the architect and the lookout, as well as the Auer Van & Express Co. hoisters and riggers.

Quickly, quietly, they deployed their equipment. In the southwest corner, they established a heavy block-and-tackle. A very long outrigger pole, equipped with ropes and pulleys, swung out horizontally from the roof. Meantime, down in the courtyard, the ropes, dangling from the outrigger 27 stories above, were hitched to the 22-foot Christmas tree. Then the queen's architect commanded the queen's hoisters to hoist.

Up, up, up it came -- 500 pounds of evergreen timber swaying in the wind -- for a total cost, in dollars at least, of over $3,000. The block-and-tackle groaned. The hemp rope sang. The hoisters heaved and grunted. Then the outrigger swung 45 degrees, and the royal tree was safely guided through the Gutfreunds' 24th-floor windows. Even Stranger Happenings

Meanwhile, Madam Postel was huddled behind her service door, listening to the loud voices that rang up and down the stairwell outside. "The tree is in now!" shouted one. While listening, Madam Postel had summoned the city police to the kingdom. She kept her vigil and soon heard the men gathering around the stairwell, congratulating one another on the success of the mission despite the queen's failure to acquire Madam Postel's consent. Madam Postel, in a towering rage, swung open the service door and demanded to know how the architect could explain this "outrageous conduct."

"I'm sorry it was behind your back," replied the hapless architect, "but I was only carrying out the orders of Mr. Gutfreund."

So saying, the architect and the hoisters began filing back up to the roof to retrieve their equipment. Madam Postel protested, her operatic vocal cords straining prodigiously, but to no avail. Filled with consternation, she rushed out into the hallway and threw herself before the queen's men, blocking the stairs to the roof. But strong as she was, Madam Postel was no match for the queen's burly men, who then, she later claimed, "assaulted her and pushed her against the hallway wall." Madam Postel's construction foreman, working in the penthouse, heard her cries and came to her aid at once, "physically interceding to protect her."

Just then, a patrolman from the city police arrived at this sorry scene. He commanded the queen's men to leave their hoisting equipment on the roof and depart the premises immediately. With that, they vanished and were seen no more. For a short while, peace was restored to the Kingdom-by-the-River during this most joyous of all holiday seasons. March of the Attorneys

What suffering Madam Postel endured in the New Year. She put almost all the blame on the queen, claiming that the "trespassing on her penthouse terrace" had caused her "to suffer severe and extraordinary emotional and psychological distress and damages." Apparently, her heart was also filled with a thirst for justice. Madam Postel wanted her neighbor punished severely. So she took her grievances before the privy council's annual spring meeting, and again to the more informal autumn meeting.

The overlords were mightily vexed at this latest complaint. The president of the privy council, Carl M. Mueller, vice chairman of Bankers Trust -- described by one palace dweller as "a very cool chairman" -- reportedly "lost his cool," so annoyed was he by Madam Postel's new grievance. "The roof of the premises belongs to the cooperative corporation," proclaimed the overlords. "The cooperative corporation has every right to grant permission to one of the tenant-shareholders to use the roof for the purpose of hoisting a Christmas tree," the overlords declared.

The ensuing debate notwithstanding, Madam Postel was temporarily satisfied because, in her words, the queen was thereafter "chastised severely" by the overlords. But, as you may imagine, Madam Postel was not happy for long.

As the new Christmas season approached, the kingdom was abuzz. Everyone was asking, "Will the king and queen dare get another 22-foot Christmas tree?"

Then, a year and a day after the trouble started, the sous-doorman in the palace lobby happened to spy Madam Postel entering the palace along the cobblestone footpath. The sous-doorman notified the hall-captain, who notified the lobby deskman, who in turn notified the chef-doorman, who humbly approached Madam Postel to notify her that at precisely 10 o'clock on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 1983, the Gutfreunds' hoisters and riggers were once again scheduled to hoist a gigantic Christmas tree, using the rooftop terrace for the hoist. Madam Postel, as you may expect, was aghast. But now she was prepared to fight. The Battle

The Postel attorneys sounded the charge. On Dec. 12, at 9:30 in the forenoon, Nitkin, Alkalay, Handler & Robbins, Esquires, marched into the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, seeking from the court an instant application of a temporary restraining order to prevent the king and queen, and all their men, from using the palace roof to hoist the new Christmas tree. The king and queen, declared the attorneys, "are at this very moment planning and conspiring to enter upon the penthouse terrace on Tuesday, December 13, 1983 at approximately ten o'clock in the morning for the purpose of repeating their intentional willful, malicious, wrongful and otherwise corrupt activities."

Not incidentally, the Postel attorneys also filed suit against the king and queen, the entire kingdom and its corporation, the palace superintendent, the palace managing agent, the queen's hoisters and riggers, the queen's architect and the queen's architect's associate -- seeking injunctive relief plus monetary damages totaling $35.5 million.

"First things first," said the wise old judge, lowering his spectacles very gravely to read the Postels' preliminary motion for the temporary restraining order. Therein, His Honor found that the Postels prayed that the court would also immediately restrain the king and queen from: entering the penthouse; enticing burglars by publicizing the queen's jewelry; festooning the shared hallway with floral arrangements; entrapping and falsely imprisoning their child, Darren, in the palace elevator; and verbally abusing the lad by repeating to him that he "is from the other side of the tracks" -- among other sundry complaints, none of which raised the judge's bushy eyebrows even the smallest fraction of an inch.

Forthwith, and et cetera, the judge tossed out all the lesser preliminary complaints and postponed the suit and eventual hearing to a later date (he was a very busy judge). But he promptly ordered that the king and queen, and all their men, be served an order, temporarily restraining them from in any way using the palace roof to hoist the new royal Christmas tree.

Meanwhile, back at the palace, the kingdom was in an uproar over the Postels' charges. The overlords immediately took counsel with their attorney, Leon Brickman, Esquire. Afterward, the privy council president addressed all the palace dwellers: "Counsel is of the opinion that we have sound and meritorious defenses to this action," he told them. "Your board of directors, after reviewing the claims, is determined to make a vigorous defense. We will post you as there are further developments." That calmed the kingdom, and they all went back to their chambers.

The queen was the calmest of all. "I do not know what happened with respect to last year's Christmas tree," she began innocently, "that has so angered the Postels that they would seek an injunction to block someone from celebrating this joyous season by bringing in a Christmas tree." Confident that her strategy would be executed without a hitch, she added, "I still have difficulty believing that any rational person could make such charges at any time -- much less in the Christmas season."

Madam Postel, meantime, rejoiced. For justice had temporarily been served. But she lived with deep suspicions, for she knew the queen like a book and felt sure she wouldn't take the court's order lying down. True enough, the very next day, at precisely 10 o'clock, the queen's hoisters and riggers hoisted a 20-foot Douglas fir Christmas tree into the royal chambers. This time, however, they deployed their equipment on the queen's own balcony, lifting the tree from the kingdom's eastern greenswards. For this hoist, the queen was charged twice what she had paid the year before, not to mention the awful bother of it all: This year's hoist, the queen complained, "necessitated the removal of almost all of our living room furniture as well as a window and door to get the tree inside, and resulted in approximately seven moving men being in our apartment for most of a day."

Still, what fun the queen had when the court florist scurried over with oodles of orchids. The Legal Ballet (Pas de Deux)

Wearily, the wise old judge listened as back and forth across the courtroom floor the plaintiff and defense attorneys twirled and pirouetted, prancing through page after page of affidavits and arguments which wreathed the chamber like a flurry of snowflakes. With the matter of the 1982 and 1983 royal Christmas trees temporarily resolved, the bulk of the Postels' charges against the king and queen remained before the court.

The Postels' attorneys recited chapter and verse, cause and result, damages and punitive damages of the woeful wrongdoings allegedly visited upon each of the Postels by the king and queen (but mostly by the queen). There was the Case of the Extinguished Chandelier and Mr. Postel's Wounded Foot; the Case of the Musicians and the Harp Greeting the Nude Mr. Postel; the Case of the Postel Boy Imprisoned and Terrorized by the Queen -- among other, lesser cases.

Piffle! cried the queen after each charge was made: "The bottom line is that there is simply no basis for any of the Postels' claims." Composing herself, she added: "The Postels have sprinkled so many false claims throughout their papers that it is difficult to know where to begin."

Perhaps true, but for all involved, it seemed even more difficult to know where to end. ("There is no penthouse!" the palace secretary respecfully roared at one point, when trying to prove a certain intricacy of the case.) Suffice it to say that the wise old judge, his eyelids drooping slightly, continued to listen judiciously to both parties as the pages flew from the calendar. Epilogue

The battle progressed through one year and into the next, with fresh accusations and fresh rebuttals -- now the palace attorneys accusing the Postels of attempting to use their differences with the royal couple to usurp the palace roof (perhaps even the throne), now the Postels accusing the kingdom of attempting to "merge and acquire" their penthouse. And still, the lawsuit lingers before the judge.

For the king, there was only good news in 1984: At Phibro-Salomon Inc., the king's cochairman, David Tendler, resigned after being pushed aside as co-chief executive, thus giving King Gutfreund complete control of the company. He was a very happy monarch.

And the queen? She was so happy that she threw a big birthday party for the royal husband at a palace outside Paris. But back at home in the kingdom, she was unhappy again, for the footsteps of Madam Postel and the engines of discontent were always grinding one floor above. So the king purchased for his unhappy queen a brand new six-bedroom palace on Fifth Avenue. The asking price was $6.5 million, but that made the queen very happy indeed.

And the snow fell and the rains came, and the leaves grew and the leaves fell. But in every season, up on Guy Cockburn's Christmas tree plantation, the dependable Douglas firs just kept on growing at the rate of 9.1 inches with every Christmas.

Now, as this new Christmas season fast approaches, the stars begin to twinkle in the firmament above the East River. While the king and queen's old domain stands empty and dark, the lights still burn brightly in the Postel penthouse high atop the Kingdom-by-the-River. No matter what joyous yuletide fetes and gladsome tidings ring within, to good children in the kingdom who truly celebrate this joyous season, we bid peace and goodwill. To bad children, and their neighbors, a happy Christmas -- and to all a good fight!