On the night of December 28, 1850, the clan’s elders met to resolve the issue of the family’s growth and the possibility of war. “We have two issues before us,” said bent, old Cyrus Manigrove, the most senior and shrewdest of the clan’s hierarchy. “First, we must staunch the bleeding of our wealth. Second, we must deal with the dark clouds of conflict. My plan for the first is harsh in some respects and may limit our immediate objectives. But as always, we must survive before anything else.” He paused for a moment, then continued. “If you are in agreement, we shall ban all marriages outside the Manigrove clan. Henceforth, Manigroves must marry their second and third cousins only. Those who refuse will be shunned and denied a share of the family’s wealth. No one goes outside the family,” he added for emphasis. “The family fortune stays locked within the family circle.”
Only Jacob Manigrove, second to Cyrus in age and authority, offered objections. “I fear that it will cut us off from valuable connections with other influential families, and it will thicken the Manigrove blood. Too thick a soup becomes a tasteless porridge,” he warned.
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