- Text Analysis
Accompanied by two of her intimate friends, Mrs. Creighton and Mrs. W. A. Sherwood, Miss Willa Cather, noted Nebraska Authoress motored down from Red Cloud Wednesday afternoon and inspected the new hospital donated to the people of Superior and vicinity by her old friends The Lady Evelyn Vestey and Lewis T. Brodstone. The ladies also visited a short time in the home of Mr. Brodstone. Enroute home the party stopped at the plant of the Superior Floral Company where the proprietor, Victor Ryhd, universally known as the "Rose King of Nebraska," presented the famed writer with a bouquet of beautiful roses.
The visit of Miss Cather had not been given publicity and only a few of her Superior friends were at the hospital to greet her. Several other friends, not knowing of her contemplated visit, were in Lincoln Wednesday, for which fact they were much disappointed upon their return to the city when they learned of Miss Cather's visit.
Conducted through the hospital "from cellar to garret" by the Superintendent, Miss Grandy, and the staff surgeon, Dr. McMahon, Miss Cather found much in the institution over which to enthuse. She remarked particularly over the beautiful steel furniture, saying that she had never realized that furniture of such beauty, color and warmth could be constructed out of such a cold and repelling substance as steel. The window drapes, the beautiful furniture in reception rooms and parlors and the many attractive pictures also called forth exclamations of pleasure from her. Visiting the operating room she stated that her experiences in such places would not permit her to enthuse very much over them, but that she thought it was as pleasant as a room of its kind possibly could be.
Miss Cather has a right to feel an air of proprietorship over the hospital for it was she who wrote the inscription for the dedicatory bronze tablet which is to appear at the doorway of the hospital. It was much regretted by the management of the hospital that this tablet, as well as the accompanying picture of Mrs. Brodstone were not in their places. The tablet and the bronze frame of the picture are in the hands of a bronze manufacturing company in the east and their manufacture and delivery have been unavoidably delayed.
Miss Cather, who, for the past several years, has maintained a residence in New York where the bulk of her writing has been done, returned to the home of her parents in Red Cloud early in the winter to attend their wedding anniversary. Later she was again recalled to Red Cloud by the serious illness of her father, and, upon his improvement remained in Red Cloud to spend the holidays in her old home. It is the longest visit she has paid Red Cloud in many years and her pleasure in her home stay has been equalled only by the pleasure of her family and friends in her extended visit. It was her first visit to Superior since 1893.
The distinguished authoress, during her Red Cloud visit has decided to surrender her New York apartment, at least temporarily, and will make an extended tour of the Pacific Southwest, the scene of several of her novels. She expects also, to make a tour of Europe before returning to New York.
It is not difficult to understand, after meeting her, why Miss Cather is so popular and beloved by her friends and acquaintances. Despite her literary successes her personal charm is augmented by her democracy, and her easy and gracious commonness. In her presence one realizes that the greatest source of the charm in her delightful novels and sketches lies in her pleasant and versatile personality.
After spending fourteen years in industrial surgery in the mining centers of America, Dr. McMahon has become convinced of the large and almost undeveloped field of romance and novelty in the life of the American miner. To Miss Cather he spoke of this field and stated that he felt that no American Author was better equipped to enter this field than herself. "But Doctor," she said, "I know nothing of this life. A novel is not the result of a mere interest and the realization that in a field lies the basis for a novel. One must live the life, without thought of a novel until suddenly in its living there comes to a person the understanding that here is a story worth writing down." "I can easily understand that about your epics on Nebraska," returned the doctor, "but what of your tales of the southwest, as Death Comes to the Archbishop?" "Doctor," replied Miss Cather, "I spent a large part of fifteen years in the southwest, living the life of the southwestern people. I have ridden thousands of miles on ranch ponies, and the experiences I have related in the stories to which you refer are not based upon fancies or upon reading of that territory and those people, but upon my own life and experiences there."
There is little doubt that many of the experiences mentioned by Miss Cather were undergone without the present realization that in them lay the basis for a great novel. But later, in connection with other related events she has woven them into her novels with dexterity and effect. And who knows but that in her future and greater novels—for each of her novels seems successively finer than those that have come before—there will some time be a place for the authoress' visit to the beautiful House of Mercy donated to Superior by her girlhood friends?