A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Mrs. George P. Cather [Aunt Franc]Nov. 11, [1918]UNL-Ray 

Thinking of her on this day of peace. For the first time in all history the sun rose on a world without monarchies. A fulfillment of Ralph Waldo Emerson's prediction that God would one day say He was tired of kings. Wishes Grosvenor had lived to see it, but he is now God's soldier, as the line in Macbeth says. The old is gone for good. Now more than ever the flag belongs in churches.   Willie   [Stout #440]

To Twinnies [Margaret and Elizabeth Cather]August 12, [1936?], on W.S.C. letterhead ; UNL-Roscoe 

Roses and hollyhocks are blooming, and the goldenrod on the cliff plays beautifully against the violet sea. The moon has tracked through the sky the last week until it seemed to rise out of the sea right in front of them, looking like a dented copper cook pot as it became gibbous. The streak of light from it looked like a footpath from moon to cliff. Have had rainy nights and bright days. The grass has greened, and the monkshood provides a purple border to the gray house. Warm weather brings them out to their chairs after dinner. Have had no need for a fire for a week. Ralph and Mrs. Beal are cleaning while she writes in the attic. The proofs of the new book were read last week. Went to Bright Angels on Saturday, but no twin was there with them. Oh, how they are missed. Misses Bromhall, Jordan, and Glissing send regards. They must come again before something monumental happens in their lives, like a marriage. The visit will happen if they all wish it. Perhaps next time it should be August, when the water has warmed and the whales appear. Were looking for their boat from the shore the day they departed, but couldn't see it. Maybe their parents could join them next time. Going to Southern Head if the weather holds tomorrow, and will remember their time there together.   Aunt Willie. 

To Roscoe Cather [1938?] UNL-Roscoe 

Was consoled by his letter, both because it contains good news about his health and because he admitted his vulnerability. She is vulnerable herself: has not written to him more often because whenever she does—or writes to other family members—is overwhelmed by guilt over her negligence through the years: she should have shown more care to their parents, should not have spent an evening of Douglass's brief visit to New York meeting with her British publisher. Her life is full of such failures. But did not so much try to build a career as try not to have to ask her father or any other member of the family ever to send money to support an endeavor so foreign to them. Wasted a lot of time that way. During three long summer visits, witnessed Jim pressing father so hard to start him in business that he hid in the bathroom. Hated to see that, but perhaps avoiding such nagging cost her something more important. To answer his question: her health is improving. Was having trouble sleeping, had shaking hands, and hair falling out in clumps. Apparently, such things can come from anxiety. Is now sleeping better and hands not trembling, but still feels down. Surprisingly, Alfred Knopf, such a wonderful friend and colleague, gave her the only recent snapshots of Douglass she has. He took them with his small Leica without Douglass even realizing it. They're not of high quality, so Alfred didn't give them to her until after Douglass died. Please share one with Elsie and send a copy of the account of its origin. Retain a copy, and send one to Jack and another to Jim. Elsie reports that he has books of hers that belonged to Douglass. He can send one to Jack and one to Jim, but only ones with inscriptions to Douglass. Wants to avoid their use by club women. Please keep the others. Please inform Margaret that she is glad for her happiness. Only a year ago was invigorated by the presence of five young playmates—twins in summer, Menuhins in winter. Now all have married. Has to keep at the new book begun last fall, even though the energy has drained out of it. But consistent work hours are the one way she may get to feeling like herself again. Both Alfred and Dr. Garbat concur on that point. Correspondence is difficult. Will send Margaret a wedding present soon. Is leaving after September 15, but does not yet know where she is going. Is writing on the old typewriter Douglass got for her thirty years ago when the three of them were all in Cheyenne. It has been damaged by the ocean air, though Ralph has tried to fix it up with mechanic's tools.   Willie.