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#0280: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, [April 28, 1914]

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I certainly do not deserve the splendid heartening letter I got from you last night, but I enjoyed it as much as if I merited it. And I have laughed all these weeks about the story you wrote me about the Outlook5. If that isn’t the skimpy old maid among magazines!

I’ve been out of bandages6 for five weeks now, and after I first got to work everything went swimmingly. I went to Atlantic City7 for a few days, and to visit Mrs. Davidge-Taylor8 on Staten Island9. Then I got off my trolley and couldn’t get on with the story10 for two dismal weeks. Now I seem to be on my wire again and I hope hope for consequent peace of mind. But there have been singing-teachers, more young singers, Fremstad11’s last performances, all the petty politics of an opera fight12—disgusting enough, but interesting when it’s new to you. All these things—except the Fremstad ones—would have been cut out if I’d been working, but since I could not figure out my next move, or rather how to make the next move, I they kept me from getting sullen and taught me a good deal. I I’ve been perfectly well for more than a month, but I had three months of unanswered letters to take up,—and work going in jumps, like the weather; now all tension, now all sag. Very unsatisfactory way to have your brains behave.

Elsie I so l-i-k-e (like) the Hoyts13! They are about the only married people I know in New York2 who are both nice. Before I was ill I had a string of endurance tests, enduring stupid wives for clever husbands and vice versa, until I was a-weary of the world. One is so pleasantly NUMBER FIVE BANK STREET sure with the Hoyts that one won’t suddenly become conscious of a strain between them. I went to their exhibit and there was so much freshness and charm about the out-of-door things. The portraits I did not care for so much.

I expect to leave for Pittsburgh14 on the fifth of May. But if my time is extended beyond that, I shall certainly stay until the tenth to see you. Is Mrs. Greenslet15 writing novels, I wish to ask, and many other things. But also I would like to show you a fat and grinning face and to convince you that I am no longer of the Caliban16 mood. But when I’m hurt like a beast, I’ll always become a beast, NOT a saint! Cum Lupibus Vivens, Lupus Sum17. I invented that in the hospital so I’m not sure about the participle. I have not quite got back my drive for the story yet, but otherwise I think I am as well as I was before.

I’ve ordered “The Romans on the Riviera”18 but it’s not come yet. I’m eager to see it.

I don’t think there will be much trouble with Mexico19. Yes, I wish they would take a nerve tonic and repose themselves and let us go and explore the buried cities. I’ve found some lovely cliff-dweller things20 in the Natural History Museum21 here—a really rich find. If we meet on the 10th I may drag you to see it them. Please send me some more Provence22 things23 when I get settled in Pittsburgh14. I have such peaceful hours of reading there. I hope you’ve been going at a more even pace than I have. With joyful thanks to you for yesterday’s good letter.

Yours W

Fremstad flees on Friday to the inclement wood of Maine24.

Miss Elizabeth Sergeant1 4 Hawthorn Road Brookline3 Mass. NEW YORK, N.Y. STA. C.2 APR 30 1914 4 PM