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#0103: Willa Cather to Viola Roseboro', [February 19, 1905]

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My Dear Lady1;

You were the most tactful as well as the most generous of people when you gave us that picture of yourself. It has been a singularly actual comfort in a rather gloomy and disheartening period. As I told you before, it's to me what country folk call a speaking likeness. And as I'd been feeling eternally disgraced in the eyes of everyone connected with the firm, it brought me to my feet with a start. The whole affair3, you see, has been the nearest approach I've ever made to a personal disgrace, and the whole row has been so incomprehensible to me,—I seem to have done something4 so horrid and am so utterly in the dark as to what it is,—that I've been seriously questioning as to whether I have any moral sense at all. If Isabelle5 didn't feel just as I do, and If I had not such entire confidence not only in her very vigorous sense of right and wrong but in her admirable taste in matters of conduct generally, I should certainly think I must be deficient in the finer kind of moral rectitude. I'm sure that some day the humor of the whole complication will stand out above everything else, but so far I've been rather too sore to laugh much.

I have a week's vacation the last of March and I am hoping to go to New York6 then. One gets so terribly in the rut here in the winter, though, that one's rather timid about venturing out. I don't know whether you've ever been in a grind long enough to realize what that feeling is, and how stupid and flat and dull it makes people. You get to wanting to stay at home just to hide your own dullness—you're so afraid you'll be found out and your shameful nakedness exposed. Isabelle frequently threatens to drug me and put me in a Pullman and ship me off for parts unknown, so that I'll have to waken up and use my wits. So I may arrive in New York in a semi-conscious state sometime in the last week of March.

The exceeding heaviness of my mind accounts for my not having written to you before. I've been really too dead to address so living a person as yourself. You may remember the shadows who came up and accosted Ulysses in Hades and tried to communicate, but only succeeded in troubling the air with a sigh or two and then drifted back into the myrtle wood. Well, I'm not reclining under the myrtles, and outwardly I'm pretty active, but I feel something of the impotence and timidity of the aforesaid ghosts. I went7 to hear Paderewski8 the other night and I verily felt so much a ghost that I wanted to quit the hall. My silence, you see, has been gracious. It was almost like seeing you myself to have Isabelle there, and I was particularly glad to have you see her again.

Faithfully Willa S. C.