#0024: Willa Cather to Mariel Gere, May 2, 1896

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May 2
1896
21[?] My Dear Mariel1;

you are a trump and you seem to have the knack of soothing the afflicted spirits of the undersigned when no one else can quite reach them. You have sort of been a bracer to me ever since I was a shaved headed Prep with very idiotic notions about things and a sweet confidence in myself which, odious as it must have been, I wish to God I had back. I never should have got through that Pound5 scrape without you, as I have told you before. No matter how daffy I may seem sometimes I have never forgotten that when my father6 and my mother7 and Katharine8 and the Lord himself deserted me, then you took me up. Heavens Mariel, I wonder will I ever be done making a fool of myself? There has been another little scrap recently with some one I like that I may tell you about sometime if I can get my nerve up. It 2 was all my fault and I am an unspeakable fool to let it hurt me but you it it is not in one's power to help being hurt sometimes. Lord but I have always been a monumental idiot and I dont see how you have stood me at all. For a time I affected the scholastic and quoted Greek at you, and then I affected the Bohemian and what not. They were all honest enthusiasms at the time, and but they seem terribly silly now. I think I should get so disgusted with myself that I would just quietly take a dose of Prussic acid to rid mysel myself of my own company if it were not for this one thing, that most of my idiocy has come from liking somebody or other too well. That's a very pitiable sort of justification, but it's the best I've got. I might say from liking things as well as people. Its a curse to be built that way. In the years I have been away I have kind of grown away from my family and there their way of looking at things until they are 3 not much comfort and I have the unpleasant feeling that they are all the time kind of waiting for me to "do something." People have have joshed them about my "ability" until they sort of expect something unusual of me and the Lord only knows where its coming from for I dont. I feel all played out. How can I "do anything" here? I have'nt seen seen enough of the world or anything else. I am a terribly superficial person. If it were not for Jack9 I should get quite desperate sometimes. That little chap's big gray eyes have a power of consolation in them, he comforts me just as he comforted Katharine in her woe last summer. He is just made to love people dearly,—a sweet enough thing for other people but it will cause him suffering enough I am afraid.

Yesterday I drove overland twenty miles to Blue Hill10 with Douglas11 to a dance. It sounds giddy, but I went because that kid was wild to go. I did'nt expect to have a good time but I did. In the first place I found a dandy sort of a girl12, handsome as a picture 4 and finely educated, reads and speaks French and German like a top. She is teaching for the first time and by some strange chance drifted to Blue Hill. She is boarding with an old high school professor13 and his wife14 whom I went up to visit. Then at the dance who should I meet but old Fred Gund15, once an a co-editor of the Hesperian16 with me. He was a cigarette smoaking sport of the Sawyer17 gang then, but now he is a sane manly business fellow and cashier of the Blue Hill bank. He was awfully nice and devoted himself to me the whole evening and it was good to see him and talk over old times. a There were thirty five dances and I danced them all. After the dance Professor Curran13 ha had a lunch for us and Fred went with us. After lunch the Miner girls18—they went up to the dance too—played on the violin and piano a long time it was half past three when the young gentlemen said good night. We had danced 5 until two. Then the h Nice Girl—Miss Gayhardt12—and I went to bed, and she was so glad to meet someboy body "from civilization" that we talked books and theatre until the daylight came through the shutters. Then we slept just two hours hours and got up for breakfast. I came home on the train at noon. The worst about going out and having a good time is that it makes you all the blue more blue when you get back to your solitude and your accursed un- finished manuscripts19 that you have'nt got the heart to work at. "Life is one d—d grind, Cather" as Prof. Hunt20 used to say. There is nothing to do but just quietly peg along and lie low until I get out of debt, for I have'nt got the nerve to ask my family to help me out any more. Besides they cant. Hang it, I've made a sweet muddle of things for a maiden of one and twenty. I'd be all right if the several act fair actresses to whom I have rashly loaned money would see fit to remit, but bless 6 bless you, they cant live without paste diamonds and champagne and I haven't the heart to dog them about it. I suppose they would do as much for me. Anyway I have learned a lot from them—not that it's much worth knowing, but I suppose I must consider it all for the "good of the cause of art" and let it go as the price of experience. Only there have been times when I could better afford to pay for experience than just now. I cant tell this sort of thing to Katharine—you know why. Well, I have bothered you enough for this time. I want to come up to Lincoln3 sometime this month and I'll be only too glad to stay with you a day or two—my stay in Lincoln wont be for long. I get the happiest letters from poor old Bates21, he is so gay now that he is in a hill country where people care about Paderewski22 and Swinburne23. I think he has come into his kingdom. Not a big one, but he will get a sight of pleasure out of it.

Yours as Ever Willa.
Miss Mariel Gere1 D & 9th Str. Lincoln3 Nebraska FORD DI4 MAY 3 1896 [illegible] She is 21
Break with Louis again
May 2 96
LINCOLN NEBR.3 MAY 4 96 630 PM