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#0602: Willa Cather to Dorothy Canfield Fisher, [June 21, 1922]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Dorothy1

The amount of ground you got over on Claude3's account when you were in town (to say nothing of all the other things you did) writing ads and signing slogans! The "slogan", by the way, was an invention of Knopf4's. He blushed very red when he said he thought I said you'd said something of that sort in a letter, when I declared you never did, he murmured "Oh, never mind!" I'm doing my best to get the price reduced5—the difficulty is that it will, he argues, make trouble about his other $2.50 novels, "Cytheria"6 in particular, if he cuts the price on this one. But of course my future relations with him depend on what he can do with this book, and he is fully aware of that.

It does seem a shame that you will have to bother about that review7 on a sea voyage that ought to give you nothing but rest and relaxation for your own work in Rome8. You probably won't have a typewriter and will have to worry it out by hand. I only hope you won't have to take those heavy proof sheets along with your cabin luggage,—that you remember it well enough and won't have to carry pounds of Claude out to sea! How that to-me-unknown man, Mr. Fisher9, will hate me if he has Claude stuffed into his steamer trunk!

Well, I'm looking forward to your return and for the day with you you've promised me, when we can begin to talk about everything that has happened in the world, and to us, since the years when we used to talk. So far, I can see in you only the things I always knew in you—there must be some changes, but I suppose its the person one knew that one looks for first. As I think I wrote you last spring, I've always dreamed about you, and I don't dream a great deal—at least not the ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ kind of convincing, sane dream that one remembers after one wakes up. And in dreams there was never a shadow of change or misunderstanding. I remember once, away back when in was in10 England11 for McClure's12, I had such an extraordinarily strong and living dream that when I awoke I resolved to write you and tell you I thought there must be something in it, when a feeling like that, a sense of perfect accord and harmony, with such happy affiction, persisted on underneath life, in spite of changed conditions. But there was really, then, no way to say such a thing without blubbering. Think of it, that was actually before Freud13 had escaped into the English tongue, at least, and there was no sub-conscious—except that which everybody always knew there was—from personal experience. But I can remember half-a-dozen or more dreams like that, years apart, and they always pleased me. I never wakened with the bitter feeling that I had been fooled, with that a delightful feeling and a delightful part of my life had been revived for a little while. Now I suppose a Freudian would explain all this quite glibly, but I prefer my own explanation. I always knew that sometime I would be in touch, in some actual relation with you again. There were certain feelings connected with you that never changed a particle. And isn't it funny; when one is ancient enough to begin to look back on one's own youth as an ended thing, then the people who were the lovely and precious figures acquire a sudden dearness, our minds turn and clutch at them, it is almost as if we saw them clearly for the first time. I came to the reflective stage later ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩than most people—until four or five years [illegible] ago it was impossible for me, like abstract reasoning. My mind couldn't be made to do it. Then quite naturally I found myself drifting into it. And that process brings one close to the figures in that world behind. And what a dear figure you were in it, absolutely the only younger person for whom I had any deep affection. The people I liked were always years older, if not hoary with age! The young ones were blank sheets of paper. The only trouble with you was that you always had so many engagements which I considered trivial!—like taking a fencing lesson with Jessie Lansing14. I could not see why you would not rather translate Victor Hugo15 for me. (I shall give out an interview someday on you as I first remember you. I can do a nice picture of you.)

If you are to live on the road to Versailles16 and I am to live on the same road, I should think we might meet up whenever you didn't have to fence with Jessie Lansing or go to a faculty party. I suppose now you fence with Sally17, though! But as for you and me, that was always one of the things which ought to have come out right, and it will, if we give it half a chance. I am just as sure of it as I am that everything was all right once. And what a deep pleasure it can be to both of us,—if for no other reason than to remember what tremendous excitement we used to find in each others society, the times when you came18 to Pittsburgh19 for instance, and the time20 I went to Vermont21.

I feel as if you'd sort of rescued Claude, Dorothy, as if you'd snatched him up when he fell and born him off through the fray. When I was reading proofs alone up at that sanitorium22, I surely learned how black defeat can look. The book seemed dead. Then I got home and found your letter and that he was alive to you. You'd caught him like a ball, and the world has looked cheerfuller to me ever since.

So lovingly Willa