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#0282: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, May 26 [1914]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Elsie1:

You are a bold sport, and that’s the truth! Your account of the fishing expedition is downright tempting, and I wish I could have seen F. G.4 under those conditions. I always enjoy him when I can see—or hear!—enough of him to enjoy. But he was made for his fate. His method of taking his holiday proves that. What H. James5 words[?] terms the “bright stigmata”[illegible] shine upon him. By the way, I can’t find the ideas in that last book—"Brothers and Son"6—worth the trouble. The syntax eye hurts my eyes, too, like a Cubist7 picture. It’s the most un-restful sort of book, and so riddled and shot with after-thoughts and retractions—grammatical retractions, at least, that its like a sum in cancellation.

Speaking of Cubists! Mr. Greenslet wrote me a fierce little note from his sanitarium in which he mentioned that you were NOT going to marry a Cubist. I remarked to him once that I wished you would write on that brand of painter, that you knew one, and that I wished you would marry him and ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ and explain them and all their works. My intent was to be funny, probably, but I think he resented my saying anything so light-minded. He evidently thought the suggestion very unworthy to be put upon you.

I am so glad I left New York8; I had hated it for three weeks before I did leave. Don’t know why, not the least reason, but I was heartily sick of it. Here I am working regularly and am perfectly happy, getting well rested for the pull of a long trip about the West. I shall probably run up to Maine9 sometime in June and help Fremstad10 weed the garden. She’s going in for heavy field-work and wood-chopping. She has a brutal love for axes. She has no man on the place and splits wood for three fires, after it’s been sawed into lengths. When she gets an ax—well, it will take quite as much courage as to go fishing!

Have you seen that new Scribner translation of Knute Hamsun11's “Shallow Soil”12? It’s an interesting thing; very dry dry and rather hard, but the people seem very like the Norwegians I used to know13 in Washington14. There is no fool like a little Norwegan painter or poet.

Just now I’m loafing along as if I were never going to stir. The heat is enervating, but I work only a few hours and walk a great deal. All the East End is greeen green and fresh as yet, and the roses coming along—exactly like English roses in this damp atmosphere. Story15 goes along pretty well when I am at it, and does not bother me much when I am not. I go to two dinners every week, and no more. Two are just enough. Some of the people are very jolly.

I’ve never been so grateful to you for anything, not even for conducting me away from Boston16 two years ago, as I am to you for looking me up in New York that day before I left. I needed to see you. I’d been grubbing at a job I disliked until I had lock-jaw. You were looking so well and pleased and handsome that it did me good to look at you. I hope you will live in New York for a part of next winter, anyway.

The umbrella was a stolen one, ah-Ha! with a curse attached to it. I am glad to have passed the curse on to you, or your cousin, or the Tagore17 she married. Since you took it, I can’t return it, and there’s an end of trouble.

Don’t forget to send the new Provence18 things19 soon.

Yours W.
Miss Elizabeth Sergeant1 4 Hawthorn Road Brookline3 Mass. PITTSBURGH, PA2 MAY 27 1914 1:30 PM