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SAGAMORE HILL

CHAPTER XVIII

SAGAMORE HILL

T

HE other day I motored out to Sagamore Hill; the visit was very different from earlier ones.

The house was closed, the children had gone out into life, the wife who had so much to do with the character, happiness and success of her husband had gone to France to visit the grave of Quentin. As I came up the hill a feeling of insufferable sadness came over me. As I looked at the vacant house from which the strong man had gone and the stillness of the house, once the home of about the happiest and liveliest family in America, my eyes moistened. I felt that I should never see the face of my friend again, or enjoy his sweet companionship in that house and on that porch. But suddenly the spirit of Roosevelt came to me that of courage and hope. And a light shown about me and I felt that the ground on which I stood was holy ground, because it had been sanctified by his footsteps. I did not feel so much like crying as I did like singing a psalm of thanksgiving that he had ever come into my life and that the world had been so blessed by him. I stopped at the old elm tree at the corner of the porch which the Colonel loved almost as a person, and through whose beauty and refreshment he so often communed with his Maker. He loved it so dearly, and was so afraid that the storms might hurt it, that he had the great lower branches fastened with iron stays. He called it his weeping elm.

I went around to the other side of the house and looked down into the thick woods where he went so often to chop. And I seemed to hear the strokes of his axe and the crash of the tall tree as it fell. I looked down into the field in which he worked at har. vest time as vigorously as any of his farmhands and thought of how he used to toss the hay with his strong arms up to the man on the top of the wagon. I saw the cows in the pasture of which he was so fond. I breathed the perfume of the flowers that were so delicious to him, and listened to the song of the birds that knew him and gave him a continuous serenade. I went down to the stable and there met a very remarkable character, the Colonel's chauffeur, Charles Lee. I knew how much Colonel Roosevelt trusted and loved him and I said to him, “I know a good many things about Mr. Roosevelt, but you were with him so much that I thought you might tell me some things about him I had never heard."

He said to me, “You need not introduce yourself to me, for I have seen you and the Colonel together so often and I will gladly tell you something about him.” “Come indoors," he said, “and sit down and I will talk to you." I said to him, “This piece of board that comes out from the wall on the porch is about the right width and height for a writing table, and so if you will give me a chair I will sit down here and make notes on this writing tablet, which I desire to put into the book I am writing on the Colonel.'

He went into the garage and came out with a chair in his hand and set it down by this improvised writing-desk, and as he did so said, “We will begin with the chair in which you are seated. That was the Colonel's favorite study chair. In it he did much of his reading and writing; I think it was the last chair in which he sat downstairs. He said a little while before his death, 'Lee, you have been with me a long time and a true friend; I am going to give you my chair that I love so well, to remember me by.' And that is the chair. It is precious to me. There is not money enough in the Oyster Bay bank to buy it." “Lee, how long were you with the Colonel ?” I asked. "Seventeen years," he replied. Then I said, "You

” I were a lucky man and a rich man to have been so close to so great and good a man for such a length of time.'

He answered, “I certainly appreciate my opportunities and blessings in my relation to him. My employment with him began while he was in the White House. I was counted quite a driver of horses, and he selected me as his coachman, for they used horses more than cars at that time. I drove a carriage and two horses, except once a year when I drove four horses on Inauguration Day." I said, “Do you mean to say that you drove him in his carriage on Inauguration Day?" "I certainly did,” he replied, “I had four fine black horses and I was the proudest man in Washington as I drove the President that day.' “Well, then,” I said, “you know something about horses.” “Let's go back into the stable here

" “ and look at some of the horses." He took me out and showed me a line of empty stalls, saying with a sad voice, “The man that rode them is gone, and it made Mrs. Roosevelt so sad as she looked at the horses the Colonel loved so well that we sold them all.

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