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#0252: Letter from Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, [February 1913]

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No, my dear Elsie1, I honestly don’t think I’m so bad as that! I can miss people even when I am happily and gainfully employed. But there are times when I am very little on an individual and when everything about me is rather pale. In Pittsburgh4 I was working in a house5 over hung with the shadow of a distressing and hopeless illness. Life and the world and the weather were pale, and if one got enough blood to journey into one’s daily stint of work, one did well. There were many days when I didn’t get it, and went out and kept the pale weather company. But when I got back and began to go to the opera twice a week and feel the world go round again, then I began to want things—and people. I never get much satisfaction out of seeing the people I care for under the wrong conditions, and the last time you were in New York2 conditions were bad enough—I hated the place6 where I was staying, and I hated myself for a piece of damaged goods. But if you can stop here in June, we’ll better it. I’ll be here through June, though I may go to the Blue Ridge7 for a few weeks in May. Please stop here in Bank street with me. If its Hellish hot I won’t keep you, I’ll be strong minded and send you away, so you’ll be taking no risk.

The Pioneers8 are on their way to you—must have gone out on yesterday’s boat. For the love of Gawrd tell me the truth about it. I know how hard it is to tell people the truth, but one can do it. And I promise you I can take it. I’m not sentimental about things just because I’ve made them. I’ve a notion there may be some flossy writing in this, too emotional, I mean. And if so, please hit it a swat. I can use the blue-pencil9 with a light heart. Shall I have Mr. Greenslet10 include “The Bohemian Girl”11 in the same volume with this, or do you think it will go better alone? It’s long enough to make a good sized book. I await your verdict—with terror!

W. S. C.