#2074: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather [August 20, 1916]

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NUMBER FIVE BANK STREET4 My Dear Boy1;

This is first moment I've had alone. The day after I got here I had to make a speech to Gertie Coon5's Institute. West Virginia6 is such fun that I fool a lot of time playing with her. She's a totally new kind of child to me and mighty interesting. I love her pretty little voice and cunning face. Her grandmother7 makes a brave show of discipline, but she babies her in secret and I fear the strong hand has relaxed a good deal. I don't think Virginia has ever been homesick8 except on the one sad day when she saw her grandfather9 with his teeth out and cried all day, wailing "I am so ashamed of my grandfather." She will be a hard child to bring up, I suspect, because she is very individual and because she seems to have no eye to the main chance. She will spoil a 3 whole picnic about which she really cares a great deal because she can't wear a certain hair ribbon, when she does not really care which ribbon she wears. Compromises seem foreign to her, and I suppose she will have to learn to yield in triples to get the big thing about which she really cares. After she and her grandmother have a strong difference of opinion as to whether one should play in the rain-water tub with one's white dress on, she never holds a grudge but comes up smiling. Her uncle Doug10 and I both think she has about the sweetest little voice in the world. You must be stern with her when she is fussy about which seat she will sit in or which ribbon she will wear, brother, for it will make her life simpler and stronger. People's lives always get messy if they don't learn acquire a sense of proportion. It's about the only [illegible] direction in which I think NUMBER FIVE BANK STREET she needs improving. All her personal habits are charming. I want to see her learn good business, and not spoil the party for some little personal quirk—it will smooth the next ten years out for her so. I think she's intelligent enough to see these things even now if you talk to her. Her dear grandmother can't help her much there, for the ribbon or the jelly we forgot to bring have spoiled so many hours for grandmother herself. Mary Virginia11 and Tom12 have learned not to fuss because they like to do things with their grown up aunts and uncles who won't be bored with it—and this in spite of the fact that their mother13 encourages them to fuss.

I don't know what Jim14 is going to do—no mortal could tell!—but if you have to come for V—, don't come too soon. We all get so much pleasure of her and would 7 miss her terribly. She and her grandmother have lovely times and I like to see them together. It's quite touching the way mother loves her and keeps coming in at night to look at her—and mother is sure no sentimentalist.

Do you know, I miss Margaret15 and Elizabeth16 as if they were real persons, and I wish they were old enough to write letters to. Please ask Mr. Sproul17 to make four prints of each of the three pictures18 of me and the twins in the back yard. I am very proud of them and want to send them to several people, Jack19 and Isabelle20 among them. Ask him to mail the pictures to me, with the bill, just as soon as he can.

When I went21 to Lander3 I was certainly sick in my mind. I was morbid and saw everything darkly. I came away another person. I am NUMBER FIVE BANK STREET happy and well, and everything looks good to me. The twins really smoothed out my troubles with their sweet good little ways, and our long horseback rides just set me up in spirit. Then it was such a pleasure to get to know Meta22 and to find that we could be such congenial companions. You know how I am—I don't mean to be difficult, but if I can't like, I can't. I've always been just a little timid about going to Lander, for fear that Meta and I couldn't catch step, and I know it would make me very sad, and you, too. Now I feel as if Meta and I could travel about and take the twins along and not get bored with each other. And travelling is that high–pressure test of congeniality. I hope we three can run about together a little someday. I wish I'd gone to Lander five or six years ago, but it never could have done me more good than it has this summer. I miss the twins aw–ful–ly! I find myself talking about them all the time. Did they like the bear Isabelle sent?

With a whole heart–ful of love to you and Meta Willie

Don't forget to order the photographs of me and twins!

Mr. Roscoe Cather1 Lander3 Wyoming RED CLOUD NEBR.2 20 AUG 1916 730P