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“You’ll make more, Theodore. You always have when you were in a position of power just as every man does.”
“Those fellows infuriated me by implying that at this stage of my public life I would risk being devious. All right, my dear, I won’t let them spoil our Christmas, what’s left of it. You are an angel to listen so understandingly to my tantrums. And before I forget it let me tell you you are just as pretty and sweet and cute as you were when you were sixteen years old.” He bent and kissed her.
“When I was sixteen I was an awful prig,” she said. “I remember. I wasn’t much better when you married me.”
“You were perfect when you married me. I was the humblest, most grateful man on earth that you were willing to risk a life with a rough, tactless fellow like me. But it has all been pretty good, hasn’t it, Edie? Now,” he promised, “it will be even better.”
Alice came in then looking a trifle wan. “Aren’t we going to have supper soon? I’m starving. The boys and Ethel are eating already in the nursery. I tried to beg a piece of cold turkey but Mame made me go out and leave them alone. Mame,” she remarked, with a little flare of self-importance, “ought to realize that I’m almost a young lady.”
“Mame will realize it when you act like a young lady,” said her father, “and not like a spoiled child. Let’s go now. Mother has to put the baby to bed, then she’ll be down.”
He took his daughter’s hand, though he sensed that irritated her, but squeezed it gently with a comradely pressure and they ran down the last few steps laughing as they entered the dining room, where a cold supper was spread.
“We’re both out of breath,” he remarked. “We’ve got to run more. We’ll start tomorrow. In Albany—”
“I don’t want to go,” she wailed abruptly. “I want to stay here.”
“We’d all like to stay here,” he said, “even if there are times when this house is as hard to heat as it has been lately.”
“Davis tends the furnace better,” said Alice with the bluntness that was beginning to be a characteristic of hers. It was like his own forthrightness, he admitted. Fortunately as the years went on an acquired tact and his innate kindness saved him from too many blunders, and Edith’s influence helped tame his impetuous instinct to speak out before he thoughtfully considered a subject.
Edith came in then and Roosevelt gallantly seated his wife and daughter, making both gestures equally formal to Alice’s evident approval. Then he picked up the carving knife but laid it down at an admonishing look from Edith.
“Alice, will you say grace?” he asked politely.