18 My Brother Theodore Roosevelt
a delightful hour was passed in listening to her wonderful renderings of the "Br'er Rabbit" stories.
Both my aunt and my mother had but little opportunity for consecutive education, but they were what it seems to me Southern women ever are-natural women of the world, and yet they combined with a perfect readiness to meet all situations an exquisite simplicity and sensitive sympathy, rarely found in the women of the North. This sensitiveness was not only evidenced in their human relationships but in all pertaining to art and literature. I have often said that they were natural connoisseurs.
I remember that my father would never buy any wine until my mother had tasted it, and experts of various kinds came to her in the same way for expressions of her opinion. She was very beautiful, with black, fine hair-not the dusky brunette's coarse black hair, but fine of texture and with a glow that sometimes seemed to have a slightly russet shade, what her French hairdresser called "noir dore," and her skin was the purest and most delicate white, more moonlight-white than cream-white, and in the cheeks there was a coral, rather than a rose, tint. She was considered to be one of the most beautiful women of the New York of her day, a reputation only shared by Mrs. Gardiner Howland, and to us, her children, and to her devoted husband she seemed like an exquisite "objet d'art," to be carefully and lovingly cherished. Her wit, as well as that of my aunt, was known by all her friends and yet it was never used unkindly, for she had the most loving heart imaginable, and in spite of this rare beauty and her wit and charm, she never seemed to know that she was unusual in any degree, and cared but little for anything but her own home and her own children. Owing to delicate health she was not able to enter into the active life of her husband and children, and therefore our earliest memories, where our activities were concerned, turn to my father and my aunt, but always my mother's gracious loveliness and deep devotion wrapped us round as with a mantle.