James Holland Posted December 13, 2022 Share Posted December 13, 2022 May 27, 1905 The White House grounds were redolent with the scent of cherry blossoms, fresh-cut grass and something distinctly….mechanical. Alice Roosevelt wrinkled her nose. The pungent odor reminded her of kerosine. Alice trotted to the fence surrounding the property, peering through the iron bars. No motorcar accidents on H Street. Alice’s long-haired chihuahua, Leo, scurried over and dropped off a stick. Alice dutifully tossed it while checking her watch. Maggie would arrive soon to pick her up for tonight’s party. Too bad they were in Washington, D.C., instead of New York. Everyone in the Capitol stared at her like the prize cow at a state fair. Leo halted halfway to the stick and scrambled back to Alice, quivering with excitement. Something was happening on the other side of the grounds. Her Father’s unmistakable voice drifted over. Men started to yell, and dogs barked. Did her brother’s pet badger get loose again? Alice sprinted to her left and spotted orange flames igniting in neat parallel rows across the White House lawn. Thick clouds of ashy smoke billowed, smudging the White House. As Alice moved closer, she thought she heard a faint sizzle as the dry grass caught flame. My God, the blaze moved fast. Guards raced toward the fire, followed closely by a pack of children, shouting and skipping with excitement. Close behind came the Roosevelt family pets—dogs and other animals darting among the scurrying firefighters. Alice grimaced as she recognized her brother Quentin and his badger in the middle of the melee. Alice squinted as a figure emerged from the smoke. Father took charge—directing the guards and organizing a bucket brigade. Now he ran toward the fire, a barking Saint Bernard close behind. The president’s high-pitched cry carried over the tumult: “Get the children out of the way!” Bells clanged in the distance—a fire wagon approached. The rickety vehicle, swarming with men, swerved down the parkway and screeched to a halt. The firefighters clambered off the wagon and unloaded their hoses, searching for a water source. Alice needed to help somehow. Gather up the children, if nothing else. Alice threw off her hat and shoes, grabbed the hem of her dress and raced toward the fire. She arrived breathlessly and pushed through a crowd of onlookers until she collided with the considerable bulk of her Father, who grabbed her by the shoulders. “Slow down. We’ve got the blaze under control. Everyone’s safe.” “Already?” “Only a small fire. More smoke than flame.” Alice’s shoulders sagged. “The only excitement all year, and I missed it.” The president rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry we didn’t have a conflagration to keep you amused.” “You know what I mean.” The president patted her on the shoulder. “I appreciate your willingness to jump in the breach.” A butler arrived. “Excuse me, Miss Maggie’s here.” Alice’s Father sighed. “Another party?” “A small gathering.” “What time can we expect you back?” “I am twenty-one, Father.” Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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