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52   My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

advertised for families of field-mice, and the influx of the all-tooprolific little animals was terrifying to the heart of so perfect a housekeeper as my mother. The horror produced by the discovery of several of the above-named families in the refrigerator was more than trying to the nerves of one less devoted to science. My sister Anna, the most unselfish of older sisters, was the chief sufferer always, as, in spite of her extreme youth-for she was only four years older than my brother-her unusual ability and maturity made her seem more like a second mother than a sister. On one special occasion Theodore, having advertised and offered the large sum of ten cents for every field-mouse and thirty-five cents for a family, left for a trip to the Berkshire hills, and my poor sister was inundated by hundreds of active and unattractive families of field-mice, while clamoring country people demanded their ten-cent pieces or the larger sum irrelevantly offered by the absentee young naturalist. In the same unselfish manner my sister was the unwilling recipient of families of young squirrels, guinea-pigs, etc., and I can see her still bring= ing up one especially delicate family of squirrels on the bottle, and also begging a laundress not to forsake the household because turtles were tied to her tubs !

Those summers on the Hudson River stand out as peculiarly happy days. As I have said before, we were allowed great freedom, although never license, in the summer-time, and situated as we then were, with a group of little friends about us, the long sweet days passed like a joyous dream.

Doctor Hilborne West, the husband of my mother's halfsister, stands prominently out as a figure in those childhood times. My mother writes of him as follows: "Dr. West has made himself greatly beloved by each child. He has made boats and sailed them with Ellie; has read poetry and acted plays with Conie; and has talked science and medicine and natural history with Teedie, who always craves knowledge." In spite of his craving for knowledge the boy, now nearly fourteen years old, had evidently, however, the normal love of noise and racket,

Green Fields and Foreign Faring   53

as evinced by the following "spread-eagle" letter to his aunt, who, in her turn, had gone abroad that summer.

DEAR AUNTIE   Dobb's Ferry, July 9th, 72.

We had the most splendid fun on the fourth of July. At eight o'clock we commenced with a discharge of three packs of firecrackers, which awoke most of the people. But we had only begun now, and during the remainder of the day six boxes of torpedoes and thirty-six packs of firecrackers kept the house in an exceedingly lively condition. That evening it rained which made us postpone the fireworks until next evening, when they were had with great success, excepting the balloons, which were an awful swindle. We boys assisted by firing roman candles, flowerpots and bengolas. We each got his fair share of burns.

Conie had a slight attack of asthma last night but I took her riding this morning and we hope she is well now.

We are permitted now to stay in the water as long as we please. The other day I came near being drowned, for I got caught under water and was almost strangled before I could get out. I study English, French, German and Latin now. Bamie spent the fourth at Barrytown where she had Tableaux, Dances, &c to her heart's content. Give my love to Uncles and Cousin Jimmie. Aunt Hattie &c. Tell Aunt Hattie I will never forget the beautiful jam and the splendid times we

had at her cottage.   Ever your little

Later in life, in thinking of this same uncle, whose subsequent career never squared with his natural ability, I have come to feel that sometimes people whom we call failures should not be so called,-for it is often their good fortune to leave upon the malleable minds of the next generation an inspiration of which they themselves fall sadly short. In the character of this same charming uncle there must have been some lack of fibre, for, brilliant as he was, he let his talents lie dormant. Yet, perhaps, of all

T. D.

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