Just back from two weeks in the French and Bohemian area watching the harvest. Saw some old friends, like fictional characters whose story she [Cather] keeps reading. Weather very hot. Surely she will not go abroad with the Kaiser acting like another Napoleon. Will get back to work in about a month in Pittsburgh. W. S. C. [Stout #285]
Not writing a love story, but a story of the Southwest at the time New Mexico was seized from Mexico, centering on two Catholic missionaries. Hero is Father Latour, modeled on Bishop Lamy of N.M., who became archbishop and died in Santa Fe in 1886. Lamy saw the transition of N.M. from a wild country to a civilized one. Has been working from a large collection of letters written by Lamy and his vicar to their families. Some incidents invented, some given almost exactly as they occurred. All of part I now written, though not all typed. Part II will not be as long but more solemn in tone. Willa Cather [Stout #826]
Is sending a little money to help out. Congratulations to Julius on Super-Anxiety II. [Encloses a letter from a member of the English Department of Hastings College, Frank S. Hewett, to a Mrs. Woodward, identifying Julius as the brother of Lydia Lambrecht and owner of a prize bull named Super-Anxiety.] Willa Cather [Stout #1486]
Has been meaning to answer Elsie's letter about My Ántonia. Readers seem to respond more personally to Ántonia than they did with the others. One must be more experienced and skilled to write truly about actual events than to invent stories. Increasingly desires to write true stories. So many average people seem to really love the purely literary treatment in My Ántonia. Was recently in a book store and saw two women buying it! One very striking woman wearing furs told the store-keeper to send the other copies of the novel, then left carrying an unwrapped copy. Edith is better, but has no job yet. Alfred is near death, and Isabelle is strained. Food so expensive and influenza all around. Scrimping on household costs is depressing, especially when one wants to serve a good dinner to friends. Today is Peace Day. Sad that the Kaiser ended so many monarchies; would like a few weak ones left. Hopes she won't get too exhausted during her vacation. Why should flu strike Albuquerque? [In Elsie Cather's hand: "Please send this letter back. Elsie"] Willa
Sprained a tendon in her left wrist weeks ago, it got inflamed, and now is forced to wear a splint. Is not supposed to write, because of overload on right hand, so hasn't corresponded recently. The heat therapy takes hours each day, and every daily process takes more time and effort. Does not attempt to work. Thankfully, Yehudi and his family have kept her company; the pleasant children always distract her. Menuhin children are divine. Have just finished reading Richard II together. Supposes she would not have understood the quality of Yehudi's character if she had not had her injury, so there is a silver lining after all! Willie
A fine baby! So full of life and cheer! Is so pleased she sent the photograph at Christmas. Enjoys winking at it. Another grand-niece is only four blocks away, but she's not big enough to be a distinct person like baby Margaret. Means Yehudi's daughter Zamira. Though they don't bring the baby when they come for dinner, on her birthday they marched in and laid the baby on the bed with her while she was enjoying her tea there. More tea was brought in, and it was like a surprise party. Didn't even worry about the old bed-jacket she had on. Had been fussing with all the flowers, and just decided to lie down for a nap before tea—to enjoy a little undisturbed quiet time. Tell her sister Margaret but no one else, and let Margaret II know she is already loved. Aunt Willie.
Received the beautiful violets on Christmas Eve shortly after dinner with Yehudi, Nola, and the baby. The lovely scent and card ended the day beautifully. Flowers from Roscoe recall so much. Wants to talk it all over, and they will one day. Might meet in secret at a hotel on the C.P.R. or another railroad. Maybe in Vancouver? PS: Margaret II is so full of life. Elizabeth sent a picture at Christmas. Willie.