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Before the dessert was served, the maid approached the head of the table.
“Three gentlemen to see Mr. Roosevelt,” she announced.
“Ask them in to the fire and invite them to sit down and wait,” said Theodore. “Are they elderly gentlemen?”
“No, sir. They’re young and sort of brown and tough looking.”
He jumped, upsetting his glass of water. “My boys!” he exclaimed, hurrying out while Kermit and Archie scurried after.
“Soldiers, Mother,” Kermit ran back to report, “and Father’s hugging them.”
“How do you know they’re soldiers?” demanded Ted.
“They saluted!” Kermit was triumphant. “Just like Father taught us.”
Oh, me! wailed Edith Roosevelt silently to herself, not even Christmas dinner alone! She rang the bell quickly.
“Set three more places,” she directed the girl who answered. 25“Mr. Roosevelt will have guests. But you are all to sit still,” she ordered the children.
“Don’t I stand up and bow like you told me?” asked Ted.
“No, you only bow a little when you are introduced.”
“You only stand up for ladies,” explained Alice.
Edith rose herself to greet the three young men who followed Theodore into the dining room. They were plainly dressed and obviously slightly embarrassed. Roosevelt introduced them by name or rather by nicknames.
“This is Lew, and Ike, and Cricket. They shared their shelter with me one rainy night in Cuba.”
“We hate to bust in this way, ma’am,” said Cricket, who was older than the other two. “We asked the Colonel to let us go and wait and come back.”
“Nonsense! You’ve come a long way and it’s cold outside,” the Colonel said. “Sit here, and here, and you, Ike, over there.” He introduced the children who forgot to eat in their excitement.
“Mighty pretty daughters you’ve got, Colonel. Smart-looking boys, too,” said Ike.
“Thank you,” Edith replied graciously, not looking at Alice, who had murmured thanks and straightened her shoulders, posing a little as she was inclined to do.