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#0098: Willa Cather to Dorothy Canfield, [May 1904]

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My Dearest Dorothy1;

I dont wonder that you think me a chilly proposition, but you must remember how pathetically little I know about the method of Ph.D. examinations and how indefinite your letter was. You said you dreaded the oral examination which occurred "in May." Now however was I to gather that it was to be a continuous performance, so to speak? I never dreamed of its lasting more than a day or so, and I hadn't the least notion of when in the month it came off. Your last letter convinces me that it was an ordeal, and I dont wonder that you felt hurt at my stony silence, but I really did not think you were alarmed about it before, I did not see how you well could be. I realize from your last letter that it must have been a strain, and I'm heartily thankful that its over and especially that it came out all right— tho though I felt very confident of that. It is surely an ungrateful business to have your friends expect so much of you, they never really appreciate anything you may do, but calmly remark "I knew you would." If it were something I understood better I could be more alive about it, but it has all been past my ken for so long that I simply cant follow you at all and even the difficulties seem dim and vague, so that I cant really see imagine them to myself. If I had been in the house with you and seen you prepare for the exams, as I did see poor Miss Power3 in Paris4, I should certainly have made my presence felt.

I expect to be in New York5 by the 28th of June. For mercy's sake stay or run down if you can. If we dont soon get together we'll be like the proverbial palm and pine6, rooted in different climes. I dont know just what sort of place Miss Lewis7 can get for our joint, but I hope we shall be fairly comfortable. I shall get on well if only my novel8 seems to be worth rewriting. I have'nt decided on that yet. If you should be there when I arrive I would give a good deal to have you run over it with me. I dont think we could get at anything by my sending it on to you in its present state. Do you suppose you could possibly stay until then? We could do it up brown9 in two days at the most.

Next summer Isabelle10 and I hope to go abroad again, and we are already making rosy plans to that effect. I do wish I could run out to Red Cloud11 for a few weeks this summer, but it would knock my work out and the trip is so beastly expensive. I want awfully to see my family12 in their new house13 and to help Jessie14 with her preparations. I should like to see poor Mrs. Gere15, too. If she ever needed her friends it is now. Between getting ready for my examinations16 and shopping for my sister I have had a hard grind for the last months. Mrs. Collier17 has been in town playing and I have had scarce time to be polite to her, have spent one day with her and made one call. I fear she finds me old and sour and she, by my faith, is younger and kindlier than ever. I have found time, however, to get in two evenings with the Willards18 and Miss May has spent an afternoon with us. I do rejoice in their good fortune. A friend of theirs has gone away and given them her furnished house for the summer, big yard, lots of trees and flowers. How they do enjoy it all! It's fun to see them.

My examinations begin tomorrow and last forever. I pant for the end of June. Do try to be in the city after I get there. I somehow feel that once out of Pennsylvania19, I shall rejuvenate. God grant it.

My love to you, my girl, and my congratulations and good wishes, and please believe them true, though they are late.

Yours always Willie Next Summer I