the inbred 'splendor' of the European aristocracy.
Remote from everything modern is to be found the picturesque country seat where the oldest scion of my father’s family has just celebrated a very advanced birthday. She is an aunt of mine and if the last fifty years of her life have been spent in her retreat, so secluded from the world as to be almost forgotten, it is on account of her marriage, which created quite a scandal so long ago.
The story goes that Auntie had been traveling and was passionately fond of sailing, a form of sport in which she was an adept. In one of her excursions her life was saved by the most wonderful presence of mind, muscular strength, and pluck of her guide who narrowly escaped being drowned. He managed to drag her back into safety, though with the utmost difficulty, and at great personal risk. Auntie naturally was filled with sentiments of gratitude towards her savior, and, as he happened to be an extremely handsome man she determined to prove to him her gratitude by marrying him. True, she was some twenty years his senior. But she was a good looking woman.
Of course, there was a tremendous outcry on the part of the clan and all sorts of stories were circulated as to the origin of the romance. The head of the family eventually gave his consent to the marriage on the condition that she lived abroad with her husband, and thereupon conferred upon the latter, by way of a wedding present, the title of Baron.
The union turned out to be a happy one. They bought a house abroad and the couple lived there until the Baron died. Since then his widow has never left the estate. She lives there all year round, greatly loved by her neighbors on account of her boundless charity, her gentle, unaffected manner, and of that gracious consideration for the feelings of others, which, alas!, belongs to another generation. Her relatives, however, visit her every year, paying their respects to the heroine of a glorious romance.
Aunties Ahnenreihe is a gem of inbreeding. Her ancestry is a tightly woven web of intermarriage to the ninth degree. Of the first ten generations out of a total of 300 possible ancestors, Auntie has only about five ancestors that appear once in her family tree, leaving a total of 295 ancestors repeated more than once in the first ten generations.