The Nursery and Its Deities 13
York, the older brother of my father, Theodore Roosevelt. This
same Hilborne West, a young physician of brilliant promise,
adored the informal, fascinating plantation life, and loved the
companionship of the two dainty, pretty girls of fourteen and
sixteen, Martha and Anna Bulloch, his fiancee's young halfsisters.
Many were the private theatricals and riding-parties, and during that first gay visit Doctor West constantly spoke of his young connection by marriage, Theodore Roosevelt, who he felt would love Roswell as he did.
A year afterward, inspired by the stories of Doctor West, my father, a young man of nineteen, asked if he might pay a visit at the old plantation, and there began the love-affair with a black-haired girl of fifteen which later was to develop into so deep a devotion that when the young Roosevelt, two years later, returned from a trip abroad and found this same young girl visiting her sister in Philadelphia, he succumbed at once to the fascination from which he had never fully recovered, and later travelled once more to the old pillared house on the sandhills of Georgia, to carry Martha Bulloch away from her Southern home forever.
I cannot help quoting from letters from Martha Bulloch written in July, 1853, shortly after her engagement, and again from Martha Roosevelt a little more than a year later, when she revisits her old home. She had been hard to win, but when her lover leaves Roswell at the end of his first visit, immediately following their engagement, she yields herself fully and writes:
THEE, DEAREST THEE: Roswell, July 26, 1853.
I promised to tell you if I cried when you left me. I had determined not to do so if possible, but when the dreadful feeling came over me that you were, indeed, gone, I could not help my tears from springing and had to rush away and be alone with myself. Everything now seems associated with you. Even