#1981: Willa Cather to Elsie Cather, March 23, 1941

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My dear Elsie1:

I have been a long time in replying to your letter. My old friends, (and young ones, too,) east and west, have been leaving this world3 like the autumn leaves in a gale. I have had to dictate letters of condolence (and how one hates to dictate letters of that kind) until I am worn out. I pretty well need the kind words4 of Justice Holmes5 dead, in the review6 of his correspondence in the New York Times7 this morning. I had kind words from him when he was living. Perhaps then I didn't need a 'bracer' quite so much.

The important part of your letter concerned the little house you have built for yourself in Lincoln8. The moment I began to read about it I called Edith9, who was in her bedroom, and read it aloud. She kept exclaiming: "How smart of Elsie! to go and make it all by herself, and to make just what she wanted." I felt the same enthusiasm and (since I am both very selfish and very tired) I felt a deep gratitude to you for not consulting me at all, and for not trying to make me in any way responsible for your final decision. I was not in any position to give advice, since I know so little of the present conditions both in Red Cloud10 and Lincoln. Poor Willard Crowell11 keeps writing me such hopeful letters every year, persuading me to pay my taxes12 and telling me that one good year will make up for it all. Last year he even persuaded me to let old Witwer13 dig a well and put in a windmill on some property in Jewell County, Kansas14, where the creek had dried up. As a result we were [illegible] "in the red", as Willard said. He seems to feel it would be disloyal in me to stop paying out money for taxes. This is merely an aside, to explain one of the influences that kept me from realizing quite how bad conditions are in Webster County15.

[missing] -4-

P.S. I must apologize16 for having kept you in uncertainty about my going West this winter. I certainly had hoped to spend Christmas in Red Cloud, but unfortunately I had to spend it in a hospital17. The whole question has been, shall I ever be able to use my writing hand18 again? Painful experiments and anxiety have kept me unable to make plans and set dates. When your right hand is in a metal glove19 and has to be bathed and fussed over often during the day, you cannot travel without a personal maid. I cannot set any date, so please do not think of hesitating to dismantle the house20 in Red Cloud on my account. I didn't know this miserable hand was going to get worse instead of better. Had I known I would have let both you and Carrie Sherwood21 know long ago. The orthopedist22 who comes down from Boston23 seems to be the first man who has been able to give me any encouragement at all. He comes to New York2 twice a month. He has a number of patients here.

With honest
With my earnest good hopes for your happy life in your new house.