#0021: Willa Cather to Mariel Gere, Ellen Gere, Frances Gere, Mary Ames, and Althea Roberts, January 2, 1896

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Mariel3,
Ellen5,
Frances6,
Allie7,
and Maysie8;
My Dear Push9,

I address you thus in a bunch because I dare not address Mariel singly as I do not feel equal to discussing Love and Live and Death and Alvary10 and German opera11 with her by mail. My spirit is willing but my pen is weak12. When I see her I will consent to talk it however. I wonder if it would diminish Mariel's adoration to know that all Alvary's real name is Max Achenbach and that he has nine charming little Achenbachs and a Frau who weighs three hundred.

I had a fine time in Beatrice13, the fascinating Katharine14 is just as fascinating as ever and Bertie's15 charms grow apace. He and I used to sit around and quote Ella Wheeler Wilcox16 untilltil we wellnigh drove Katharine crazy. He was very nice and I dont blame Katharine for liking him, I do and he is not my brother either.

Well, girls, I must tell you about a New Year's dance Douglas17 and I went to last night. Douglas made me go, for about sixteen girls wanted him and expected him to ask them and he thought it would be nice to make them all furious. He sent to Lincoln4 for a lot of flowers for me and so on and I really had to go with them. And of all rough-house affairs, of all cake walks! The hall was big and the floor might have been good, but they had the floor heaped with shavings and chunks of wax, chunks which you had to leap and mount and clamber over with an alpenstock. For seats they had big rough planks on resting on chairs. The boys and girls had the same dressing room. The refreshments consisted of ice water in a wooden pail, coffee and ham sandwitches which they passed in a bushel basket, a potato basket. But this is only the setting, the environment, the dance was the thing! The men caught your arm just as high as your sleeve would permit, fortunately they could not get up any farther than my elbow, and they hugged you like ten thousand Oury18s. I had a terrible feeling that they were likely to lay hands upon my bare neck at any moment and wished for a high neck. yet this The men fell down every now and then and you had to help them up. Yet this was a dance of the elite and bon ton of Red Cloud2. Mary19 and Margie20 and Hughie21 and my fair cousin22 were there. One thing was a comfort, Douglas did splendidly and he certainly was the most civilized looking object in the crowd.

Say girls, you remember our handsome preacher Putnam23 whose bible Maril3 returned two years go, well he is pastor of the First Christian Church of Denver24 now. He was in town yesterday and he is better looking than ever.

I suppose poor Ned5 and Frances6 are getting the best out of their vacation ere their period of servitude begins again. Smile sweetly on Mr. Oury for me, Neddy. I send him some literature on Virginia25 today. Have you heard any th thing from John Charles26 or from the sister of John Charles?

Say Mariel, I am going to ask a favor of you and if you hate to do it, why just dont. Sarah Harris27 has a little book of mine, "Sapho28", by Alphonse Daudet29, which I am very fond of as it is illustrated by Rossi30 and every picture is a whole French novel. Now considering the existing relations it would be snippy of me to write and demand it from Sarah, and alas I know too well her habit of forgetting to return things. Would you please tell her sometime that you want to read it and I asked told you to ask her for it? I really want the thing awfully and I dont want to ask Mrs. Imhoff31 to get it for me as I am afraid it the book might corrupt her morals or dispel her illusions or something, but you see I have confidence in Mariel.

I dont know when I will appear in Lincoln next, nor do I much care. One of the charms of the Province32 is that one gets indifferend toward everything, even suicide. "Then think of me as one already dead, and laid withing the the bottom of a tomb." Please let me know the university and "social" news from time to time, you know I really am interested in all those complicated matters. When you next see "all my friends" give them my love, unqualified and unmodified.

Farewell, O Maids,

"And when like her, O Saki! you shall pass, Among the guests star scattered on the grass, And reach the spot where I myself made one, Forget me33 and turn down an empty glass."

Thats poetry34, I quote it to Jack35 and the cats now that I have not Allie and Bert Weston anymore.

Farewell all of ye Willa

Love to your Papa36 & Mamma37.

Miss Mariel Gere3 D & 9th Str Lincoln4 Neb. RED CLOUD NEBR.2 2 JAN 1896 8 PM Jan 3 1896Letter to the push LINCOLN N4 JAN 3 830 AM