“That particular branch of the family tree died with Mr. Baines, who would have been…let’s see…your third cousin once removed.”

“How do you mean it died with him? Family tree says he had a daughter.”

“Yes, but mind the dates: she died a full two years before he did: April 1918. There’s something of a salacious story that came down to me regarding that.”

“Really? Tell me.”

“Well, as I remember it, Mr. Baines was the chair of the local draft board. He was a businessman of some means and well-positioned to sway the other members’ opinions, quite the literal first among equals. Then one day he tried to use that power, much to his sorrow.”

“He had someone drafted?”

“It seems his daughter, Isabella, fancied a young man of very modest means. She was all he had after the death of Mrs. Baines in–what’s the chart say?–yes, in 1889, by the Russian flu. He was determined to arrange a suitor for her that matched his aspirations for her future. But, as it always does, love had other plans.”

“He drafted his daughter’s suitor? That’s horrible.”

“He threatened Isabella with that, yes. Story goes that Mr. Baines picked out a young dandy for his daughter and threatened to draft the poor boy she preferred straight into the Ardennes if she didn’t break it off and marry his preferred gent.”

“What happened next?

“Well, that’s the salacious part. Isabella refused, and Mr. Baines, in a fury, followed through on his threat. That young boy–don’t rightly know his name–was shipped off to France. He fell at Château-Thierry in 1918; the very day she got the telegram young Isabella took her own life.”


“Yes, and I imagine the horror of what he’d done dawned on poor Mr. Baines as well. He was, after all, the only child of only children and the legacy of his entire line had been bound up in that child. Is it any wonder he died not long after? Our distant side of the family inherited his holdings and sold them off piecemeal. You owe your college education to that sad turn of events, matter of fact.”