CHAPTER XV
TIME TO THINK

THE VERY DAY after the election, full consciousness of the weight of his mantle fell upon the prophet. Still as intellect-conscious as when he had first boasted to his father that he had a mind, Wilson felt that the issues of the campaign had been vague and nothing of importance had been settled. The prophecy of Henry Adams had been fulfilled: the progressives had voted for "anybody sooner than Taft"; the conservatives had "let in anybody sooner than Theodore." This political shindy had not satisfied a man who aspired to debate great issues in parliamentary dignity.

To his family he remarked: "One is considered queer in America if one requires time for concentrated thought." And yet he said boldly to the people: ". . . the time has come now to do a lot of thinking." Wilson now considered himself free to let his mind work at its natural pace and depth, at whatever cost in popularity.

However, some fifteen thousand messages came in and challenged his desire to meditate. Many of them were more concerned with preferment of the writers than with congratulation of the recipient. McCombs brought a list of Democrats "entitled to immediate and generous consideration" and reminded Wilson that party men wished to have their say about appointments. But the President-elect replied icily: "I must have a chance to think."

To cut himself loose from such stifling concerns, Wilson escaped to Bermuda. There--in a cottage1 "free to the wind, open to the sun"-- he relaxed and played with those dearest to him. He was getting "many kinks" out of his head, he wrote to McCombs. He wore old clothes, did the family marketing by bicycle, and brought food home in a basket hung on the handlebars. Sometimes the Wilsons would picnic on a beach, and he would display the treasures of scenery that he had discovered in previous visits. Then coming home for tea they would criticize canvases that Ellen Wilson had painted; and at supper, sitting

____________________
1
With his wife and two younger daughters Wilson occupied the home of Mary Allen Hulbert, who was in New York. Margaret Wilson stayed at New York to continue her singing lessons.

-254-

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