WOODROW WILSON had never in his life been so lonely as in the early months of 1915. He was bereft not only of his Ellen, but of Colonel House, the man who could best counsel him with the sympathy that Wilson found so agreeable in ladies. The Colonel was in Europe, "Miss Margaret" was more interested in concert singing than in the duties of a first lady, and moreover, she and Cousin Helen Bones were too young and inexperienced in public affairs to be comforting confidantes.
Fortunately the President had a masculine friend who, though not competent to share the burdens of state, could minister to him in body and spirit. During the mortal illness of Ellen Wilson, Cary T. Grayson had established himself as a "Dutch uncle" to all the family. Not long after Wilson's inauguration the President had asked this navy surgeon why he, like many others, had not applied for permanent assignment to the White House duty that he was tentatively performing; and Grayson had given an answer that had melted his chief's heart: "I do not think that it would be in good taste." The doctor's tact proved to be as infallible as his droll good humor; and soon Wilson had been moved to say to Secretary Daniels, while laying a hand upon Grayson's arm: "I wish this part of the Navy for my very own."
Noticing that Helen Bones was still grieving for Ellen Wilson and lacked feminine comradeship, the doctor introduced her to an energetic matron who could persuade her to take outdoor exercise. Thus it was that Edith Bolling Galt, who was some fifteen years younger than the President, came into his family. A descendant of Virginia plantation owners and professional men, Edith Bolling had been married to Norman Galt, a Washington jeweler. Before his death, in 1908, her husband had given positions in his store to several of her brothers; and the widow had arranged to have the business carried on and drew from it enough income to live comfortably in the Galt house on Twentieth Street.
To Edith Bolling Galt, Woodrow Wilson had been just another transient in the White House. Dipping into The New Freedom at the urging of a sister, she had asked how such things could possibly be