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#0224: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, April 26, 1912

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Elsie1

People are the only interesting things there are in the world, but one has to come to the desert to find it out, and until you are in the desert, you never know how un-interesting you are yourself. When it’s too windy to walk or ride, I am a punctured balloon. My brother6 is out with the construction gang most of the time. He shares this casa with a well-informed brakeman named Tooker7. Douglass has been away for three days now, and Tooker and I have been living on together, which is quite in accord with the pro- prieties of Winslow. Tooker has been off on his “run” two of the nights, and then I’ve been quite alone. (The tipsy London cockney8 whom my brother picked up overcome by thirst in the desert, and who does does the housekeeping! would afford small protection) But dear me! I don’t mind being here alone at night. I’m so glad to get the well-improved Tooker out of the house that I’d gladly get up at any hour of the night and make cocktails for any wandering Mexican who would come in to relieve the boredom of life. Tooker reads Emerson9—in full Morocco10all the time. He is one of Nature’s Noblemen and looks just like Henry Miller11 in “The Great Divide”12. Also dresses as such. Don’t tell me that life is anything but a poor imitation of art—and of mighty poor art, always. I’ve been doing target practice with a pistol, and I know the day will come when I shall let drive at Tooker. I cannot stand either his information or his nobleness much longer. He has done a lot of prospecting in South America13 and worked in mines in Mexico14 and he really can tell one a good deal. But the square jaw and the bold carriage of the head make him useless to me.

I would perish if it were not for the Mexicans. We have an inferior lot, of course, but it’s a lovely speech, and they have such nice manners and go their own way. They all live “south of the tracks” and their village is a delight after this hideous little railroad town.

I do want to hear from you. I shall hope to get a letter by Saturday or Sunday. I suppose I really am very lonely. But you would die here; you are at least one thousand years more civilized than I. You’d simply go up in smoke. I can see you getting on the train in your little nightie; you wouldn’t stop to dress. Maybe you could save your soul by studying Spanish with the priest! I can’t even do that. But my brother returns tomorrow and then we are off for Flagstaff15 and the Cliff Dwellers16.

Tooker never permits himself an action in one syllable. He “arrives”, and he “removes” his hat, and he reflects. When the wind blows the sand it “retards” his freight train and he is late on his runs.

The cockney housekeeper is good fun, but he is reeling drunk all the time, and has to be sat upon and sent away. He once worked in a stable in Paris17 and speaks an awfully funny kind of French very fluently. When he is at his worst he recites his poem “The Widenin' Foam” and weeps bitterly. Every verse ends: “Where’ere I look, on sea or skies, I see them fair, decevi deceivin' eyes.”

But really, with the best will in the world, one tires of freaks. Please write to me. I’ve been thinking a great deal about you.

Buenas noches18W. S. C.
Miss Elizabeth Sergeant1 Tryon3 Polk County SouNorth Carolina (Mimosa Inn) ALB[missing]4 ASHFORK5