#1985: Willa Cather to Mary Virginia Boak Cather and Charles F. Cather, [September 1923]

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Dear Mother3 and Father4:

If you look Aix-les-Bains2 up on the map, you will find it around a hundred miles south of Lake Geneva, beside a little lake—Lake Bourget. Long ago, when I used to complain of a sore arm, Mr. McClure5 used to beg me to come here—I suppose it's the most famous resort6 for rheumatic people in the world. The first week of my stay I did not see much improvement, and my writing arm was so badly crippled7 with neuritis I could hardly write at all. But all through the second week my arms and back have got much better, and I hope the third week will almost cure me. It's the same old backache I've been having for years, and Dr. Litchfield8 and the doctors here say it is intercostal rheumatism9. You tell Carrie Sherwood10, and she'll get Dr. Creighton11 to explain it too her.

I take a bath every morning at nine oclock—it takes about an hour. Two husky women massage me under a stream of hot water. Then I go back to my hotel12, all bundled up, and stay in bed until noon. That's part of the treatment. But after lunch I am quite gay. I take motor rides or go up the mountains in a little narrow-guage. The French Alps are so beautiful I never tire of them. I love to see the cottonwoods and chestnut trees growing side by side—like Virginia13 and Nebraska14 being married! I have found an eager little man with an eager little car who will take me about the country all afternoon for about two dollars. I don't see how he buys the gasoline for that. I wrote Elsie15 how comfortably, even luxuriously I live at this hotel for about $2.50 a day.

Splendid news comes from my publisher16 about the large advance sales17 of "A Lost Lady."18 But I can quite truthfully say that this does not please me half so much as mother's Mother's liking for the story pleases me. I do love to have my own folks like my stories—I hope the granddaughters19 will all like them when they are older, too.

I expect to sail the first week of November. Both Dr. Litchfield and my doctor here at Aix advise me not to try a winter in France20 until my rheumatism is better. The house are all so much colder than ours. Even is Isabelle's21 house, though she has a furnace, is very draughty and cold in the halls, and there is no heat in the bedrooms. In the spring I felt the cold there very much, and coal is so dreadfully expensive that one hates to keep asking for more heat.

Now I have just got such a nice letter from Elsie that I must say goodbye to you, dear daddy and mother, and reply to her. She has been such a dear good girl to write me so much this summer and tell me everything I want to know. I know how precious vacation hours are, and I do appreciate Bobby's kindness to me. You will probably see my letter to her, too, so it's the same as writing another letter to you.

Now I have written on my manuscript paper, because I can write more plainly on a hard paper,—and all the note-paper Isabelle ordered for me is soft, and I can't write plainly on it even if I try. I hope you will find this easy to read, dear parents!

Your very loving daughter Willie