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#0289: Willa Cather to Frances Smith Cather, November 17 [1914]

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Dearest Aunt Franc1:

I have been getting through with a great deal of work in the long weeks since your good letter came to me. I am so glad that the flowers reached you at last if they were, like Gilpin's hat in the old ballad5, a long while on the way. I have heard of you since I got your letter from Auntie Sister6, and from Mother7, who saw Carrie8 at the Bladen3 Fair. I spent two weeks of October in New York9, but I hope to be in Pittsburgh until Christmas.


Jack10 is doing well at his school11, and I see a great deal of him and often drop in at his rooms when I am out walking. My friends here have been very cordial to him, and he is with older people a great deal, which is very good for him. He has grown much more manly and serious since he has been here, and it is a great pleasure to me to watch him. He says he was never so happy before.

We talk and think of little but the war. My friend Mme. Flahant12, a Belgian woman, has just landed in New York. She writes me that her brothers 3and sisters are starving13 in Brussels14. She can get no word or money to them, their houses have been destroyed and they cannot get out. Last night I went to hear an address by Mme. Vandervelde15, wife of the Belgian Minister of State16. She speaks English fluently and is in this country soliciting money to feed her starving countrymen. She spoke for more than an hour, and I think I never heard such a good address by either a man or woman. It must be a great joy to be able to do such good work for one's country. She is not more than thirty, and is a very beautiful as 4 well as a very intelligent woman.

I have a letter from one of the Belgian Relief Committee in London17. He tells me that unless America18 can carry Belgium19 through this winter, the civilian population must starve to death. Neither England20 or France21 can spare anything, and the Germans will allow no food bought in France or England to be shipped into Belgium. The United States is the only power which has official assurance that the food stuffs it sends may go unmolested to the Belgian people. There are now actually four million people there on the point of starvation, (inside page) more than a million are living on three ounces of flour a day, doll doled out by the relief committee. There was never such famine before in the history of Europe22, and now the hardships of winter are being added. I mean to give no Christmas presents this year, but to give what I can to that fund instead.

I wish there were some way of arousing the little towns of Nebraska23. If every family in Red Cloud24 gave a dollar or half a dollar, and other towns did the same, think what a stream of money that would soon make. We are the only nation not suffering, and I do think History will be ashamed of us if we are niggardly.

I am well and hard at work, dear Aunt Franc, and happy to have Jack here. Write me a line when you can, but do not put a tax on your poor eyes. Call Bessie25 up on the telephone and give her my love and tell her she must write and tell me how you are. Take the best care of yourself that you can, and do not forget that you have a niece who loves you very dearly.

Goodbye for today Willie
Mrs. Franc Cather1 Bladen3 Nebraska. PITTSBURGH, PA2 NOV 17 1914 530 PM