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#0017: Willa Cather to Mariel C. Gere, June 16, 1894

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My Dear Mariel1;

I arrived in this substitute for Africa4 in due season and found the children all togged out in their new dresses in honor of my arrival. I wish you could see the little ones this summer. Jack5 is just as pretty as he can be. I used to think he was a decidedly homely baby, but the charge won't hold good this summer. Those big gray eyes and long black lashes make 2 him quite a masher. Elsie6 is much better looking than she used to be, too, she is not so fat as she used to be and is as cute as ever. The evening I arrived she asked me if I were going to stay all night and appearantly with out conscious irony.

Roscoe7 and I are reading Virgil8 at at lightening speed. He is still wild over botany and when we are up to your place this summer we will capture that Jack-in-the-pulpit. He is 3busy classing and pressing flowers most of the time.

Mr. Wiener9 boards over at Mrs. Garber's10 now. Mrs. Garber came over yesterday and asked me to dine with them Sunday. Mr. Wiener has a new trotting horse and takes me out driving almost every afternoon. As a proof of my gratitude I gave him The Heavenly Twins11 to read!

We have had a little rain here and are hoping for more. Of course, I want it to 4 rain but I am rather disappointed in loseing loseing such a good crop of suicides as dry weather would certainly have brought.

Smile sweetly upon Edgar12 for me, I like the little chap immensely. I have spent the day sending all my acquaintances photographs. I send yours by this mail. You have probably already been overwhelmed by it before reading this. They are certainly the best I ever had taken. I sent one to Ally13 at Rising14.


Now I am writing this letter as a pretext to tell you something that I had neither nerve nort opportunity to say to you. It is not exactly a declaration of love, but of very great gratitude. I was in pretty hard straits15 this winter and spring. I sometimes came nearer the verge of desperation than even you knew. The fact is the thing I had been living for and in was torn away from me and it left just an aching emptiness in me. I dont think the scar will ever heal. 6 But the fact is, if it had not been for you Mariel, I never could have stuck it out in Lincoln3 at all. I dont believe you know quite how good and patient you were with me. I know I a took an awful lot of your time, but I suppose soul-saving is a fairly respectable business, even when the soul is as worthless a one as mine, and you are certainly responsible for my pulling myself together. Of course my me meeting with Miss Craigen16 helped me lots, 7 but that was merely a lucky chance. It came and went like a flash and was'nt the steady light I needed. She made me forget a entirely for a little while, but you made me forget a little all the while which was much better. I told Miss Jones17 I never felt quite sure of Kit18 because she just withdrew, as it were, for about two years. Miss J— responded warmly that a friendship that could lie under ground three years and then come up stronger than 8 it was at first was a thing to be proud of. Yes, but I prefer friendships that have always kept on their pins to resurrected ones. Miss J— said Katharine practically considered me dead those two years. Kind of her! Perhaps I was, so she and the Prof. did not find the company of dead folk festive and they withdrew, but you stayed by the corpse and and sort of held on to it, and the corpse in its blundering way is deeply grateful. 9 How awfully patient you have been all these years. Patient when I raved over her19 grace, her beauty, her beautiful playing, her beautiful dancing! Patient and sympathetic when I was in rapture because I had accidentally touched her hand, and still patient when even the happiness of was loving her was lost to me forever. Well, I can't thank you, I can only hope that you will never know such pain to need such a consoler. It is 10 a good thing to love, but it don't pay to love that hard. It makes a fool and dupe of you wh while you are at it, and then it must end some time and after it is taken from you the hunger for it is terrible, terrible!

Be sure to go to Crete20, we will have a good time21 there I know. Doug22 will come too if he can leave the farm. He is cultivating 90 acres of corn himself this year. That is pretty steep work for a little boy. I hope that old paper23 wont 11 take too much of my time. I want to have leisure to knock around with the rest of you24. I guess I can make time though, I generally can. Write to me if you want to. That is, dont make yourself if you dont want to.

Yours Willa. [illegible] T P Henry after break with Louise
University of Nebraska. Miss Mariel Gere1 D. & 9th Str. Lincoln3 Neb. June 16 94
After break with Louise
LINCOLN NEBR.3 JUNE 17 1894 8 30 AM after break with Louise