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#0029: Willa Cather to Mariel C. Gere, August 10, 1896

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Pittsburgh, Pa. My Dear Mariel1;

I wrote you a sort of cross-patch letter the other day, but if you knew the dilicious irony of saying "Bohemia" to me in my pesent mode of existence you would not wonder. The idea of saying Bohemia to one who has taken the black veil and retired to convent life. And the most inexplicable part of it is I really enjoy it. I suppose I am rather made of on a cheerful plan or it would get away with The same objectionable temperament that would probably drive me to suicide in Bohemia is certainly what keeps me from it here, that and that good Mr. Gerwig4. O he is so nice to me. He understands things like another girl might and just simply does for one all the thousand things one cant ask. In devotion he is quite a Dr. Tyndale5.

Lets see now, what have I been doing. Last week I went on a picnic with the Press Club6 up to Erie7. Sunday I went on an excursion up to Rock THE HOME MONTHLY
Pittsburgh, Pa. Point, thats way up in the mountains. Best of all though was a steam launch party Mr. Gerwig [illegible]took me to on the river. There were twenty of us and we went thirty miles, up the river to Economy8, and back again. We had a caterer on board who served dinner and two darkies with banjos who sang all the way back. It was great coming back by moonlight: there were those big strong green hills rising three hundred feet sheer from the water and fleeced here and there with big splotches of white river mist. All along the shore the iron furnaces glared like calcium lights and the gas wells shot out long plumes of flame. Then the hills of the city loomed up with a thousand lights of a thousand colors and so close together that the hills looked great honey-combs of fire. And all this accompanied by "Loves Serenade" and "Last Night" and a delightful THE HOME MONTHLY
Pittsburgh, Pa. Princeton boy, Tony Cornelius9.

This week I intend to spend in returning my calls. Was ever a poor mortal so called on! I have fifteen before me. Its very unusual to be called on so early, the Axtells10 are very much surprized and a little haughty about it. They are'nt "in it" at all socially and dont seem anxious for any one else to be. The way it came about was this, Pittsburgh is ruled by women's clubs. All the four hundred are club women. Mrs. Gerwig11 took me to a high tea given the city federation by a the editor of the Dispatch12. Their exercises were on Carlyle13 and they called on me for an impromtean, and so help me, I had the consummate nerve to get up and spiel off that old 2nd Prep. essay14 with the fire and fervor of the Tragic Muse15. The rashness of the idea fascinated me, I just soared. It all came back to me. Well, I modestly assure you that they fell over each other to shake hands with me. They are awfully stupid here and thought it THE HOME MONTHLY
Pittsburgh, Pa. was really made up as I went along and they like that sort of Sophomoric thing. Since then I have been called on until I am almost distracted. I will just have to shut right down on it so it wont interfere with my work. Dont be afraid I'll let it do that, I wont. O, the Axtells never see any one but their relatives, and they never go anywhere! A niece of Mrs. Axtell's16 lives with them and she says she would rather not live at all than go through that sort of an existence. It's too bad the Captain seems to love them so, they speak of him with polite frigidity. They are nice, considerate people, but they simply could'nt be fond of anything. It isnt in them. But they are nice people and I ought not to say anything. By the way, they are very much like Mr.17 & Mrs. Pound18 in many things. Well, I must go down town to meet a Boston19 artist20 who is to illustrate my story.

Yours as Ever Willa.