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232 My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

fore he went to the office at 9 o'clock, and whenever I visited the White House (my visits were rather rare, as my husband, being a busy real-estate broker in New York, could not often break away) that half-hour was always given to me, and we invariably walked around the great circle at the back of the White House. It was his most vigorous moment of the day, that hour from 8.30 to 9. He had not yet met the puzzling defeats and compromises necessitated by the conflicting interests of the many appointments in the office, and he was fresh and vivid, interested in the problems that were to be brought to him for solution that day, and observant of everything around him. I remember that morning as we walked around the circle he was discussing a very serious problem that had to be decided immediately, and he held his forefinger straight up, and said: "You know my temperament always wants to get there"putting his other forefinger on the apex of the first. "I naturally wish to reach the goal of my desire, but would I not be very blind and stupid if, because I couldn't get there, I decided to stay here [changing his right forefinger to the base of the left] "rather than get here"-finishing his simile by placing the right finger to the third notch of the finger on his other hand.

Just as he was finishing this simile his eye caught sight of a tiny object on the pathway, so minute a little brown spot that I should never have noticed it; but he stooped, picked it up, and held it between his forefinger and thumb, looking at it eagerly, and then muttering somewhat below his breath: "Very early for a fox-sparrow." He threw the tiny piece of fluff again upon the path. "How do you know that that was a feather from a fox-sparrow, Theodore?" I said, in my usual astonishment at his observation and information. "I can understand how you might know it was a sparrow, but how know it belonged to the fox-sparrow rather than to any of the other innumerable little creatures of that species?" He was almost deprecatory in his manner as he said in reply: "Well, you see I have really made a great study of sparrows." And then we were back at the

Home Life in the White House   233

entrance to the White House, and in a moment I leaned out of the dining-room window and watched him walk across the short space between that window and the office, his head thrown back, his shoulders squared to meet the difficulties of the day, and every bit of him alert, alive, and glowing with health and strength and power and mentality.

I went up-stairs, put on my "best bib and tucker," and proceeded to go around the other way to the front door of the offices. As I rang the bell the dear old man who always opened the door greeted me warmly, and said: "Yes, Mrs. Douglas Robinson, your appointment is at 9. It is just time." I went into the outer hall, where a number of the appointees of 9.15, 9.30, etc., were already waiting, to be surely on hand for their appointments, and in a moment or two Mr. Loeb opened the door of the private office of the President, and came out into the hall and said in a rather impersonal way, "Mrs. Douglas Robinson's appointment," and I was shown into the room. My brother was seated at a large table, and on it was every imaginable paper marked "Porto Rico." As I entered he was still reading one of these papers. He looked up, and I almost felt a shock as I met what seemed to be a pair of perfectly opaque blue eyes. I could hardly believe they were the eyes of the brother with whom I had so lately parted, the eyes that had glistened as he recited the poems of Kipling and Swinburne, the eyes that had almost closed to see better the tiny breast-fluff of the fox-sparrow. These were rather cold eyes, the eyes of a just judge, eyes that were turned upon his sister as they would have been turned upon any other individual who came to him in connection with a question about which he must give his most careful and deliberate decision. He waved me to a chair, finished the paper he was reading, and then turning to me, his eyes still stem and opaque, he said: "I believe you have come to see me on business connected with Porto Rico. Kindly be as condensed as possible." I decided to meet him on his own ground, and made my eyes as much like his as possible, and was as condensed as

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