#2414: Willa Cather to Mary Virginia Boak Cather, November 11 [1918]

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My Dearest Mother1;

This is the day when Peace has been declared3, and all the church bells are ringing and the bands playing and thousands and thousands of people of all nations are walking through the streets packing them so that no wagons or streetcars can run. All businesses have been closed. I walked a mile or two up the middle of Fifth avenue this morning, for it's a fine bright autumn day, and I passed so many old French and Italian and Irish women, carrying little service flags for the sons they had lost and smiling through their tears. Some of them were so old they had to be supported, but they would drag themselves in the procession of the Free Peoples. We sent Josephine4 and her little girl5 off this afternoon, carrying french flags, to walk in that great company.

Last night I went to dine with Mrs. Kirk6, the fat, jolly Pittsburgh7 woman who was always so kind to Jack8. MrsKiefer Mrs. Kiefer9 of Bradford, Pa.10 was there, and she told me so many nice things about Jack's wife11. She says she really is the prize girl of all that community. Mrs. Kirk, who is always so funny and frank, said, "It's true, my dear, I made especial inquiries in Bradford, for you know Jack was just the boy that some cheap skirt could impose on if she got hold of him." They say she is very pretty, and aside from her good looks has a great deal of personal charm. Now do NOT send this letter to Jack, mother!

Elsie12 will be sorry to hear that Celia Harris'13 only brother14 died of influenza in a military camp, and she herself has been sick with it. Alfred McClung15 has been dangerously ill with double pneumonia for a long while now, and on Saturday very alarming symptoms began by blood–clots forming in his legs, as they do when a woman has what used to be called "milk–leg"16. His condition looks very doubtful. His wife17 is expecting a baby at any moment.

Ethel Litchfield18, whom we all love so much, is spending the winter in New York2 while Dr. Litchfield19 is away at the war, and she is yab having such a hard time. She has a little flat for her and her two daughters20, and little money, as the Doctor has no patients now, of course, and nothing but a Major's salary. First the oldest daughter had influenza21 and was ill three weeks, and now the younger one is very, very ill with it, and Ethel does all her own work and has to nurse the girl besides. She looked so thin and pale when I went to see her. On Saturday night I made her leave her patient with the od older sister and come down here and have a good dinner and a quiet evening. She had got so tired of her own cooking that she had not eaten anything solid for several days. She relaxed and smoked several cigarettes before our wood fire and got quite rested. Today her daughter is very much worse again, so everything looks discouraging.

I hope the weather is fine there22, and that you get out every day and see people. Give Molly23 and Marguerite24 my love when you see them. I have seen both my doctors and they say it will be just as well if I wait to go into a hospital until the influenza has quieted down a little. If I get started on a new book I may be able to think about it in the hospital, for of course I wont feel ill, I'll simply have to lie still for five or six days.

Tell father25 I have had the most wonderful letter from a Mr. Wih Winter26, one of the best known of Civil Engineers, who in his youth helped to put the Union Pacific across Nebraska27. He said he picked "Antonia"28 up at his club and that it brought all his youth back to him and moved him so powerfully that he had to write and thank me. An old Bohemian monk29 has written to thank me for the book, and several professors of Literature in universities have written me letters th that I am very grateful for. Ivv I've certainly never written anything that people seemed to take into their hearts and love as they do th this. I am very glad to give people so much pleasure, but it is hard to get round to answering all the letters that come about the book.

Now, Mother, I must say goodbye for this time, and I send you a great deal of love.

Willie

Please send this to Elsie, mother, to give her the news.