210 My Brother Theodore Roosevelt
those who have studied the conditions of American politics, and the merits of the particular economic question involved, so far as they are intelligible to us, or last but by no means least, the character and personality of President Roosevelt. It would now seem that the people of the United States are at the parting of the ways between the corrupt, old political system and a newer, manlier, honester conception of public rights and duties."
Perhaps this sentence foreshadows more than any other contemporary expression the enormous instrument for honesty in high places in the history of his country which it was Theodore Roosevelt's destiny to be.
Mingled with these great cares and far-reaching issues came, later, brighter moments, and it was about that time that during an interval of play at Oyster Bay, he started the custom of his famous "obstacle walks." He would gather all the little cousins and his own children and mine, if I could bring them down for a week-end, on Sunday afternoon at Sagamore Hill (even an occasional "grown person" was considered sufficiently adventurous to be included in the party), and would start on one of the strenuous scrambles which he called an "obstacle walk." It was more like a game than a walk, for it had rules and regulations of its own, the principal one being that each participant should follow the presidential leader "over or through" any obstacle but never "around." There were sometimes as many as twenty little children as we stood on the top of Cooper's Bluff, a high sand-bank overlooking the Sound, ready for the word "go," and all of them children were agog with excitement at the probable obstacles in their path. As we stood on the brink of the big sand-bank, my brother would turn with an amused twinkle in his eye and say: "There is a little path down the side, but I always jump off the top." This, needless to say, was in the form of a challenge, which he always accompanied by a laugh and a leap into the air, landing on whatever portion of his body happened to be the one that struck the lower part of the sandbank first. Then there would be a shout from the children, and