During the four-week siege of Tientsin, in the June 1900 Boxer Rebellion, Herbert Hoover helped erect barricades around the foreign compound and organized all the able-bodied men into a protective force to man them. Mrs. Hoover went to work, too–helping set up a hospital, taking her turn nursing the wounded, rationing food and serving tea every afternoon to those on sentry duty. Like her husband, she remained calm and efficient throughout the crisis, and even seemed to enjoy the excitement.
One afternoon, while sitting at home playing solitaire to rest after her work at the hospital, a shell suddenly burst nearby. She ran to the back door and found a big hole in the garden. A little later a second shell hit the road in front of the house. Then came a third one. This one burst through one of the windows of the house and demolished a post by the staircase.
Several reporters covering the siege rushed into the living room to see if she was alright and found her at the card table. ‘I don’t seem to be winning this hand,’ she remarked coolly, ‘but that was the third shell and therefore the last one for the present anyway. Their pattern is three in a row.’ Then she suggested brightly, ‘Let’s go and have tea.’