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as to the deadly nature of the wounds, gave him assurance that the President would live. Then, worn by the terrible strain of the situation, he retired to the solitude of the mountains, praying that the prediction might be fulfilled.
To no one of all the hosts of President McKinley's warmest admirers was the shock of the nation's tragedy so severe as to him who was nearest in honor and counsel. During all his later years of public life Mr. Roosevelt had been in the confidence of President McKinley. During the preceding campaign they had been drawn closer and closer together and a friendship had grown up between them that was closer than any that ever existed between two men similarly situated. The President found in this strong, energetic man a comrade he could trust in every particular. He admired his fearless espousal of practical reforms and seconded his efforts in that direction on every possible occasion. On the other hand, Mr. Roosevelt saw in President McKinley what many of his closest friends failed to recognize: the expansive mind that led the people onward toward the heights of civil government, but in such a gentle way and with such marked deference to their wishes that they often believed they themselves were leading him. Colonel Roosevelt recognized the true greatness of William McKinley almost from their first introduction, and loved him always as a younger brother might have done. The attempt upon the life of the President unnerved him as nothing else had ever done. When he was told of it he turned white, and, strong man as he is, would have fallen had he not been supported. When urged to speak he said: “I am so inexpressibly grieved and shocked, and horrified, that I can say nothing."
How great was the strain on the minds of every one during those first hours immediately following the shooting is beyond description. Some who had never looked upon the wounded President lost their reason under the stress of it. Then came the assurance of the physicians that the President would live and the pendulum swung the other way. There was praise and thanksgiving everywhere.
In full confidence that the President would recover, Vice-President Roosevelt retired into the solitude of the forests to add his supplications to those that were being offered up to the Author of All from every pulpit, as well as from every fire
side in the land, for the President's recovery. Nature is his cathedral, and in her solitudes he felt himself nearer to Him who holds the fate of all nations and all peoples in the hollow of His hand.
When the relapse came and the physicians were forced reluctantly to inform the world that the President could live but a few hours, a message was sent to inform the Vice-President. He was in the Adirondacks, the nearest telegraph station being North Creek, New York. As soon as the message arrived at the station a number of guides were secured, and, having been given copies of the dispatch, were hurried away in search of the Vice-President. One of them found him a little before sundown at the top of Mount Marcy and delivered the sorrowful summons. The Vice-President immediately started for the Tahawas Club, some miles distant. From the club-house to North Creek station it is thirty-five miles. He reached there at 5:21 the following morning and went at once aboard a special train that was being held in readiness for him. At seven o'clock the party was in Albany, where Vice-President Roosevelt was officially informed by Secretary of State Hay of the death of President McKinley.