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#0363: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, August 3 [1916]

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Your letter was a week old when my brother5 brought it in his pocket up into the Wind River mountains, and there was no pen or ink there. I came by into Wildcat Wyoming6 from New Mexico7 two weeks ago.

The question you put up to me is a hard one. It is awfully hard to advise anyone about places to go in the west unless they have been about in this country a good deal. Then one can say of a new place that it is like such-or-such another place. I think Taos (TAOS) New Mexico8, is the best place I know to go alone. The adobe hotel is clean and comfortable, the food poor but passable, the water questionable—though no one has ever been ill from it—The well is in the middle of the court with two closets very near by. It is the way of the country. The court is always attractive; sometimes smelly, often not. The country is glorious—lots of lovely little towns within easy riding distance; all Mexican and Indian, no gringoes. You can get good saddle horses for little money. It’s more comfortable than camping. In the South-west9, at least, you need a cool, shadowy adobe house after you’ve been out in that blaze of heat and color. Taos is decidedly the best place I know. The only place I know where the best of the country lies close at hand, and where the hardships are very mild. In most of the glorious places, you have to take it pretty rough. This is wonderful enough country up here, but to me, the Wyoming and Montana10 are always tame compared with the Southwest.

I know, by the way, an ideal dude ranch about 87 miles from here. This is nearest railway point, auto mobile stage from here, fare $10 each way. The Amoretti Ranch11 Eugenio Amoretti12 Du Bois, Wyoming13

Why Amoretti AMORETTI? Thereby hangs a long tale! NUMBER FIVE BANK STREET

I had three heavenly weeks in Taos last month. There is only one hotel14 there. My name would introduce you to the proprietor, Mrs. Pooler15, or her executive, Miss Refugio Lucero16, known as “Ruth”. Taos is 2 35 miles from the D. &. R. G.17 Good automobile stage. The railroad trip is hard, but best up the Santa Fé to Santa Fé18, then by D. &. R. G. to Taos Junction, then John Dunn19's stage.

I shall be here for two weeks longer, then go to Cheyenne20 & Sheridan21 for short stays, and finally to Red Cloud22 to see my mother23. The heat throughout the west has been terrible. It has been as high as 95° at noon, even here, but a mountain storm soon cools the air. It is never hot in Taos, except for three hours an in the afternoon, when everyone sleeps.

I haven’t done any work, because I’ve been doing more interesting things ever since

I suspect I would feel like writing if I stopped long enough, however. I had been seeing too much of the wrong kind of people—wrong for me—last winter. Of course Isabelle’s24 marriage25 is still hard enough—always will be, for I’m afraid—but the rest of the world looks as it used to and is not overcast. I am here with my older brother and his wife26. They have such a comfy little house, three youngsters27, and two rivers flow through the back yard,—one of them full of trout. We get good saddle horses and take long rides—fine sand hills to the east of us, the Wind River range to the west.

I’m so glad you have had a last good spurt on the book28. That ought to put it through in good shape. I almost think you could actually write at Taos. Surely a Provençal story is an exciting possibility. The sun down there might help you. At any rate, it couldn’t hinder.

I shall be in Red Cloud by the end of August. If, in the meantime, I can tell you about western places, address me at Bank Street. I wish you’d thought of coming west earlier.

I sold the long Nordica29 story30 to McClures31 just before I left N.Y.32 for a very fat price33. Wasn’t that luck? Here’s to your new idea!

Miss Elizabeth Sergeant1 Chocorua N. H.
4 Hawthorn Road Brookline3 Mass
LANDER WYO2 AUG 4 1916 6 AM If