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#0310: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, June 27 [1915]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Elsie1:

I have just read the Mistral5 article6 in the Century7 with the greatest delight! I think it the best of those Provencal studies8 I have seen and quite wonderful in the way it rolls up so much of the soil and air and breath of the place. It’s lovely and warm and most satisfying.

I’m still here, bound by proofs9 which dribble along slowly. Wonderful weather for New York2; either green and gray like London10, or blue and breezy like Denver11. Never 2 knew anything like it here.

Jack12 is Morris dancing13 at Eliot Maine14, with Cecil Sharp15. He got some sort of scholarship and was sent up from Pittsburgh16 with five other lads to Sharp’s summer school. I believe they are to help teach it in the Public schools next winter in return for their month at Eliot. Jack is simply dizzy with joy. He writes that he’s so happy he wakes up at night and has a terrible moment of fear that it may not be true. He’s shockingly poor, so I sent him some “sport shirts” Saturday.

When I get a big fat wad of page proofs, I’ll joyfully send 3them along to you. But the first book part ought to be read with no long waits.

The best and most musicianly musical critic17 I know is reading the galleys with me, and his enthusiasm is the greatest possible reassurance. We are two-thirds through and so far we have not differed on anything, except that he has urged me to keep in some musical details of her student life which I had decided to cut. In the singing lessons he says that the points are not only correct, but very telling ones to anyone who has worked with voices, in his own phrase “eloquent.” That pleases me, 4because I got such pleasure out of all the singing lessons I heard. If I’d gone wrong I’d have hated myself! Then, too, the musical part of it is so much disguised as to be very unobtrusive to anyone who isn’t interested in voices. The critic, knowing nothing about the story, was able to tell from her early lessons, just what characteristic I want her voice to have in later life, and yet nowhere in the early lessons is her voice described or defined.

This sounds laughably boastful, ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩Dear Mrs. Burke[?] doesn’t it? But you see it was a very real difficulty, and I’m still panting with relief at having got over it without disaster—until Mr. Keeble agreed to read the galley proofs for me, not one musician had seen a line of it. It was a risky method of proceedure, but I wanted to work it out my own way.

Mary Jewett18 was so pleased by the article19 on S.O.J.20 in the New Republic21, and so was I. I sent it her at once. Have you seen article22 on Mrs. Fields23 by H. James24 in June Atlantic25? Weren’t you disappointed in Owen Wister’s26Quack Novel27”? Ah why is he a rough-neck? When he is really so clever! Well, “Litracher” (I mean lit’ra’cher) is a skin game, and no mistake.

Yours Willa

Oh my new kakis for the Cliff Dwellers28Just like29 Kurt’s30 in Fidelio31.

Miss Elizabeth Sergeant1 4 Hawthorn Road Brookline3 Mass. NEW YORK, N.Y. STA. C.2 JUN 28 1915 8 PM (Please forward)