CHAPTER NINE
From the Little Missouri
to the Potomac
1886-89

There was another sign pointing in the same direction, for those in a position to read it. After a season in the wilderness, love once more had entered Theodore Roosevelt's life.

It caught him quite by surprise--unlike the first time. Falling in love at twenty hadn't been a question of whether but of who; if Alice hadn't stolen his heart, someone else would have--Annie Murray or Nana Rotch or Bessie Whitney or Fanny Smith or someone else. The loss of his father had primed him to form a deep emotional attachment to someone; his personality and prospects made him a very eligible young man; and the circumstances of his social life placed him in nearly constant contact with young ladies likewise eligible.

The second time around was different. Alice's death had been even less expected than his father's, and the blow had sent him reeling once more. It left him hesitant and apprehensive about forming other such close attachments; with life so uncertain, how could one risk that kind of pain again? Alice's death also left him torn and confused about his rights and responsibilities, emotional and otherwise. His abandonment of baby Alice certainly preyed on his mind. He could rationalize leaving her with her aunt, contending that his busy life afforded him little time for tending to a small child, that the Dakota frontier was no place for an infant, that Bamie could provide Alice a far more stable and nurturing environment than he could, that in any case he was furnishing financial support for the baby.

These were all valid reasons, but they don't account for the extent of his lack of interest in the child. He almost never spoke of her in his

-193-

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