338 My Brother Theodore Roosevelt
ment of the head might bring about a fatal result. My readers must remember what was happening on the other side of the ocean as Theodore Roosevelt lay sick unto death in the city of his birth. The most critical period of the Great War was at hand. Very soon the terrible "March offensive" was to begin. Very soon we were to hear that solemn call from General Haig that his "back was against the wall." We were all keyed up to the highest extent; all of my brother's sons were at the front, my own son was about to sail, and at this most critical moment the man to whom the youth of America looked for leadership was stricken and laid low.
As I entered the sick-room, all this was in my mind. Controlling myself to all outward appearance, I put my ear close to his lips, and these were the words which Theodore Roosevelt said to his sister, words which he fully believed would be the last he could ever say to her. Thank God he did speak to me many times again, and we had eleven months more of close and intimate communion, but at that moment he was facing the valley of the shadow. As I leaned over him, in a hoarse whisper he said: "I am so glad that it is not one of my boys who is dying here, for they can die for their country."
As he gradually convalesced from that serious illness, many were our intimate hours of conversation. The hospital was besieged by adoring multitudes of inquirers. I remember taking a taxicab myself one day to go there, and when I said to the Italian driver, "Go to the Roosevelt Hospital," the quick response came: "You go see Roosevelt they all go see Roosevelt -they all go ask how Roosevelt is-he my friend, too-you tell him get well for me." Every sort of individual, as he grew stronger, waited in the corridor for a chance to consult him on this or that subject. Of course few were allowed to do so, but it was more than ever evident by the throng of men, distinguished in the public affairs of the country, who begged admittance even for a few moments that the "Colonel" was still the Mecca toward which the trend of political hope was turning !